The New Tow Rig
The future plans for my 1986 Ford F-350 have changed. There is an old saying in the custom car world: “How do you know when a project is done? The For Sale sign goes on it!” Rather than do a complete rebuild of the truck, engine conversions, and all that other nightmare work, I decided that I wanted a larger truck with more seating capacity. So I hit Craigslist and started looking for a crew cab truck with a factory diesel engine.
One of my friends and co-workers was helping me look for trucks and stumbled across one of my dream vehicles: a 1996 Ford C-350, also known as a Centurion conversion. The Centurion Company would take brand new Ford F-350 Crew Cab 4×4 and remove the bed, shorten the frame and graft a Bronco back half to the cab, creating a four-door Bronco built on an F-350 chassis. These were one of my dream trucks when I was a mechanic. From 1980 to 1997 I loved the Ford truck platform, despite all of its shortcomings.
This new-to-me truck features a 7.3 Powerstroke engine, E4OD overdrive transmission, Borg Werner 1356 transfercase, Sterling 10.25 rear axle, and a Dana 60 up front. The driveline on the truck only has 136,000 miles on it, which in my mind is nothing for this driveline. Of course I will modify it since I can’t leave anything alone for long.
The truck is already equipped with a 2.5-inch lift reverse shackle kit, 37-inch Toyo Mud Country Tires, 17-inch Mickey Thompson Classic Wheels, and Bilstein shocks. Not a bad starting point, but it won’t stay that way for long.
The first thing in the works is to steal the goodies off my 1986 F-350 before it goes up for sale. Many of the custom and trick parts on the F-350 will swap into the Centurion, like the Dynatrac front Dana 60 king in front axle, Ram Assist steering system, Cross Over steering system, Warn M12000 winch, and the Cobra CB radio. One of the other major mods will be swapping the Sterling 10.25 rear for the Dana 80 disc brake rear axle that I was going to put into the F-350. Both axles will be equipped with G2 4.56:1 gears and Dana Spicer Powerlok differentials.
Before the axle swap begins, I wanted to do a couple of modifications that will increase fuel mileage as well as performance. The first modification is to replace the existing exhaust system with a MBRP turbo back system. The MBRP exhaust system replaces the factory turbo down pipe with a 3-inch mandrel bent pipe that is not crushed from the factory, allowing the turbo to spool up faster. It dumps into a 4-inch system out the back of the truck and caps it off with a polished stainless steel 5-inch tip.
The next modification is an aftermarket air intake system and a turbo air guide to get some more air in now that I can get it out.
Since the truck is new to me and I am not sure of the maintenance intervals, I decided to do a bumper-to-bumper service on the truck. I flushed the radiator, changed the thermostat, changed all the hoses front to back, changed the engine oil, changed the transmission fluid, installed a Mag-Hytec trans pan and filter, changed the transfer case oil with two quarts of Lucas synthetic trans fluid and 1 quart of Lucas synthetic engine oil, lubed all the U-joints, and serviced the differentials.
Stay tuned for the next round of modifications!