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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
In January, only a couple of months after having paid her off, I was involved in the second accident I’ve had in 20 years of driving with the vehicle I probably love the most.

After picking up the parts to do a complete brake overhaul on my sister’s Edge, the heavy and unsecured load, rock-hard Toyos, and making a left turn going too fast and not letting off resulted in this:









No pics from the day of the accident because as luck would have it, my phone was dead. Slid into a curb, destroying the left rear wheel and axle and bending the frame. Came to rest against a concrete and stone restaurant sign, which destroyed the rear bumper, bed, hitch, and bent the frame more.

With basically the entire back half of the truck gone, figured surely it would be written off. After about three weeks, Allstate comes back and tells me they’re not going to declare it Salvage and will be cutting a check to fix it. I’m guessing the going rate for similar mileage and condition Lightnings in California being ridiculous and nothing from the back of the cab-forward being damaged played into this decision, which worked out perfectly because I was dreading having to start the search for another one of these trucks. After researching a bit, the affected major parts (bed, axle, wheel, and frame) were relatively cheap and hopefully not impossible to find.

Luckily, I found a salvage yard not too far from me that had a couple of Lightnings. But the owner knowing what they are, I paid accordingly for the frame, axle, springs, bed, and tailgate. Here are the frame and bed the day I got them home:











Really lucked out with the bed; there was a Bedrug used in it so it was pristine and also the same color as my truck so I could get away with not having to completely repaint and lose the areas of exposed primer from the factory. Only downside was that one of the bedsides was white, but a non-issue since those were always going to be repainted anyway.

Picked up an Eastwood bodycart to move this thing around, with the intention of using it later to move the cab if I had to. As it turns out, it didn’t really work for the cab since its design wouldn’t really allow it to fit underneath, but it was perfect for moving the bed around.

After a bit of measuring, it looked like the frame was straight, but I’d later find out that it looked like the truck the frame came from took a hit to the hitch. The part of the frame rails the hitch bolts to had a little step in them, which a couple of vises clamping 1/2” steel flat stock took care of.

A lot of Simple Green, lacquer thinner, and a couple sessions with the power washer got it clean enough to apply the Valugard frame coating, which Ford and GM spec for frame repair. Debated powdercoating it, but my goal here was to get her as close to factory as possible, warts and all. Hit the bare metal areas with Eastwood satin chassis primer and it took about 14 cans to get the undercoating thick enough to duplicate the thickest areas of coating still left on the old frame.













The new rear axle seemed to be in good shape; fluid had no water in it, no rust inside, had 3.73’s, bearings looked good. Only unknown was the condition of the t-lok and I didn’t want to pull the center section out, so I’ve filled it with the cheapest gear oil O’Reilly’s had so I can drive it around for a bit to make sure everything’s in order and there are no leaks before I fill it with the five qts. of Motorcraft synthetic and friction modifier that will ultimately go in it. Rear also got a coat of Eastwood Chassis Black primer and semi-gloss black paint, the al. diff. cover from the wrecked axle, new Motorcraft pads and rotors, Bilsteins, and lugnuts for the driver’s side. Amazingly, I was also able to salvage the Hellwig rear bar from the wreck.



 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Thanks to my OCD, I’d started collecting all the unpainted plastic outside the truck the week after I bought it, so everything except the side mirrors, which are still in great shape, will be fresh.

With all the major parts on this side, only thing left was to figure out how to move the cab. Ended up with a Maxjax two-post lift, which was perfect; it’s portable, gets up just high enough for what I planned to do, and is rated to 6K lbs. For anyone looking to get one of these, I highly recommend substituting epoxy anchors for the included wedge anchors. Love this thing and it’ll come in handy for when I have the time to finally get around to r&r’ing the clutch in my Cobra.







So with a few subscribed L-rodder threads and the Ford shop manuals handy, I pulled the cab. Really not that difficult or time-consuming (especially when working at a leisurely pace), but the 100*+ weather out here the last couple of weeks made this one of the worst experiences working on a car I’ve ever endured. Only thing I’d suggest is to take pictures of everything, but even that’s not really necessary, since there’s not a whole lot to disconnect and everything really only goes on one way. Was able to keep from discharging the A/C by zip-tying the compressor to the body and just guiding it in and out of place.





Started by moving the front suspension over . With the furniture dollies I picked up from Harbor Fright, I was able to move each side over as a complete assembly.



Next came the engine and trans. Initially, I planned to separate them and move them independently, but after taking the blower/midplate/and lower intake off in order to reach the upper trans. and above-the-waterpump bolts at the front of the block to use as lift points, I thought I’d try my luck and see if I could get everything moved together so as not to have an even bigger pile of parts laying around. If you’ve gone through the trouble to remove the lower intake, it’s probably a good idea to replace the heater tube o-rings while you’re in there. For some reason, these things are ridiculously expensive through Ford, btw….about $15 a piece. I also replaced the turkey pan/EGR valve hose with a new one I’d bought years ago while I had this kind of access to the back of the engine.

With my HF 2-ton engine hoist and some grade 70 3/8” chain and 10.9 hardware to attach those chains, I moved the engine and trans over. I will say that even though the HF crane is rated to 2-tons, I’d have felt a lot better if it weighed more than its 170 lbs; didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence as I rolled it from one spot to the other with the weight it had on it, but otherwise gave no indication it was going to fail. Like I’d read here, only thing to really keep an eye on while doing this is the oil filter adapter/cooler.









Hooking everything up as far as the engine and trans. in the new chassis went smoothly but I discovered a couple of things. First, even though it's an 8-thread '04, plugs have less than 10K miles on them, and were torqued to 15lbs. when I changed them, all of those on one bank (I forget which) were a bit loose. Also, I’d read about the trans. crossmembers sometimes developing cracks around the mount, and sure enough, there’s a hairline crack through the upper layer of sheetmetal where the mount bolts to the crossmember. Just couldn’t see it because it’s not visible from underneath the truck.

Cab and bed went back on without any drama. Everything lined up great and the cab only had to be shifted 1/8” after the initial drop. Spent the next couple of days buttoning everything up, picked up a new battery, and fired her up. Just finishing up flushing the cooling systems and have to still bleed the brakes, adjust the parking brake, refinish the hitch, and torque the suspension mounting points now that she's back together. Here’s how she currently sits while waiting for paint:



 

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Seeing how easily accessible everything is really makes me want to pull the cab when I drop the new motor in, especially since that's the only area that hasn't been thoroughly cleaned and re-done. Good work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My first thoughts were back half, four link and air bag it, but i see you wanted it to be stock
Oh well, good job on the rebuild!
Did want to do headers and a set of Metco traction bars at least, but all the little things I had to buy as I went along and still needing paint and tires really left no room in the budget for extras. Plan is to pick up another high-mile truck for cheap in the future and mod the hell out of that one ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Seeing how easily accessible everything is really makes me want to pull the cab when I drop the new motor in, especially since that's the only area that hasn't been thoroughly cleaned and re-done. Good work!
If pulling the cab is ever an option, it really is the best way to go. Can't imagine having to snake the long block through the engine compartment...let alone with the tranny attached.
 

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Another Lightning saved instead of scrapped...good job!:bigtu
 
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