Thursday, July 17, 2014

LEGO 1965 Ford Pickup

In the summer of 2013, I combined two of my favorite LEGO vehicles: the 4404 Land Busters pickup truck and the Technics 8285 Tow Truck.  I took what I felt were my favorite features of both sets to build a roughly-1:12 scale model of a 1965 Ford F-250, one of my dream cars.

The boom was the most complex part of the truck.  I did not disassemble that part.  

The Land Busters pickup shown before suspension was taken.  
"V4" engine was swapped for a carbureted V8.  More on this one later; it has suspension once again.  

I took the steering, engine, differential, and strong Technics pieces from the tow truck and the suspension from the Land Busters pickup truck.  I'd had the Land Busters truck for about eight years, undergoing many modifications before finally taking the suspension.  The tow truck had been around for six years but was too complex for me to modify.  The Land Busters pickup remained intact after this project, just without suspension.  I had to completely disassemble the tow truck, not including the boom, to get the good parts.  I was sad to see the tow truck go, but it was time for something new.

The Ford and its frame in its first design

The first thing I did was change the tow truck's V6 engine into a straight six configuration, reminiscent of the torquey, indestructible 300 c.i. (4.9 liter) six that Ford used in F-series trucks from the 1965 to 1997 model years.  That engine was also widely used in different heavy duty trucks, such as UPS trucks.  The frame design in the above pictures proved way too flimsy and the rear suspension was not very functional due to pickup trucks having no weight in the back.

The underside of the completed truck showing suspension, steering, and the rear differential that turns the engine.  

The 300 straight six here with two carburetors.  The engine is way too big for scale.  

I used independent front suspension for the pickup because not only was that the only way I could make it steer, but 1965 was the first year that Ford (or any other truck maker for that matter) introduced IFS on its pickups for a "car-like" ride quality.  The basic "Twin I-Beam" design was used in two-wheel-drive pickups until 2003.  In 1980, a 4x4 variant of this called the Twin Traction Beam was introduced and also used until 2003.

The steering was tough to line up at first, not helped by the fact that I didn't have enough of certain pieces.  

Rear differential shown here with severely angled rear shocks.  
Also, the back of the bed looks messy and cut off because I literally ran out of pieces.  

I think it took me about two days to finish this truck, but it took a few more days of tweaking small details to get everything as good as I could.  One such change was angling of the rear shocks, an idea suggested to me by my friend Nikolai.  This had to be done because of the stiffness of the springs and the lack of weight in the rear.  The shocks were much softer this way.  Other changes included disassembling the whole front end to move the front axle forward to a more proper position and changing the A-pillars from flexible tubes to actual hard pieces.  

Here it is in all its glory.  You can see the fan spin thorough the gap in the grille, but that was actually done so the fan would stop rubbing against pieces otherwise needed to hold that center piece in.  

Other features of the truck included tow mirrors and opening doors.  I later stuck flagpoles into the door latch pegs to make them more secure.  The tailgate can also be lowered and/or removed.  

Seen here after first being completed (nose-heavy stance and flex tube A-pillars), I had some fun and pinned the old tow truck boom to the bed and added dually rear wheels.  

The '65 Ford sits on top of my desk now, occasionally brought down to be played with.  The frame is still too flexible and twists when one wheel is lifted, instead of activating the suspension.  The photo above was actually done by cheating - the rear suspension has a dead spot because the shocks have such a large angle relative to the vertical.  After a certain point, it becomes much easier to compress to the bottom.  Even at this angle though, the rear shocks are still too stiff.  The weight of the front end makes the suspension stiffness just right but the massive steering system digs into the carpet when I push it all the way down.  Nonetheless, I'm still happy I was able to pull this off with simple trial and error.  

This is an actual '65 F-100, seen here in Ann Arbor.  More on it later, as well as why I lost my marbles when I first saw it.  This one has a 240 c.i. straight six; the 300 is the same engine with a longer stroke.