Old Blue, my 1985 Ford F250

Lootenny's rides

By Lootenny
( 7 )

Old Blue was a Minnesota farm truck when I found him on Craigslist. He’s a 1985 2WD F250, fairly rust free, and while the five digit odometer read in the 35,000’s, I assume it was 135,000 and not 235,000 or 335,000 based on condition. Stock power was a 6.9 IDI normally aspirated diesel with a T-19 four speed manual.

The drive back to Illinois was slow and loud. The first thing I did was source a ZF5-42 five speed OD transmission out of a 1991 F450 Super Duty. This helped drop the highway rpm’s, but was not helpful from a noise standpoint at idle. There is a reason the stock flywheel is a dual-mass unit. It helps to calm the internal shaking in the transmission, but these flywheels are prone to failure and are very expensive when they can be found at all. I used the stock 6.9 flywheel and (new) pressure plate, and had a custom friction disc made in the 6.9 outer diameter but with the ZF 1.25” input shaft center. This works perfectly, but the racket! It’s called “rollover” due to the design of the ZF, lots of bits and bobs jiggling around at an idle.I took it to a transmission shop and he declared it “the high end of normal, no need for a rebuild.” I left off the driveshaft parking brake and installed a transfer case, to take advantage of the low range when backing up trailers. The ZF reverse ratio is ridiculously high, and I was scheming on adding 4WD in the future anyways.

Last year I stumbled across a 1995 F250 on the side of the road with a “for sale” sign on it. I stopped, got the number and called for more info. Nice guy, original owner of the truck, who was using it only to plow the local lake when it froze for racing At this point. It had 225,000 miles, a 7.3 Powerstroke with a rebuilt E4OD automatic, and was a rusted out POS now.  It came with the plow, which was in the bed. “Make me an offer” he said. I offered $500, and he said “sold.” It took plenty of ether to get it running and had rusted out brake lines, so I paid to have it towed home where I stripped it of everything of value and junked the shell. If it had been a super cab like Old Blue, I would have swapped bodies onto its frame, but it was a single cab frame, so no go.

I have cleaned up the motor, replaced the passenger side head because it rusted through two exhaust ports, lapped the valves, installed Comp Cams 910 valve springs and Smith Bros pushrods. I deleted the mechanical fuel pump and bowl and am adding a 99.5-03 intercooler turbo setup. This winter I plan to swap in motor and trans, then look at how I’m going to mount the Dodge Dana 60 front axle to get 4WD. Why Dodge and not a Ford Super Duty Dana 60? Because the Ford is super popular and hence pricey, while the Dodge axle was $50. I have to fab mounts either way, and I’m not goin* rock crawling so it will work fine. 

I’ll keep you posted on progress.


Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Diggymart on 3/31/21 @ 12:38:47 PM

Thanks for the comments! I’ve been busy on this project since last fall. Project creep has been firmly established! I pulled the cab to pull the old IDI out and sold it and the ZF5. I picked up a front Dana 60 axle out of a 1999 Dodge Ram for $50 and put together a 3 link suspension with air ride. I went with the Dodge axle because of the price, it’s at least 10 times cheaper than any super duty axle I have seen for sale, and I’m not building some ultimate rock crawler so it will be fine. It already had the correct gearing for the Dena 70 on the back, but I have since learned that in order for the E4OD to shift right and for the speedometer to work from the stock 95 cluster, I needed the speed sensor in the rear axle. Lucky for me I found a guy fairly Local who had a sterling 10 1/4 axle also from a 95 with the correct gearing in it, so I’m going to swap that in also. Bonus, it is a limited slip differential! I will be keeping the stock leafsprings for now, as the wife is getting very concerned with where the budget has gone on this! I’ll add air to the rear also in the future along with a 4 link.

Posted by Lootenny on 3/28/21 @ 8:06:29 PM

Cool! Looks like a fun project, have you gotten the engine running with the new turbo?

Posted by detroitheaders on 3/31/21 @ 12:44:32 PM

Cool truck! Any updates or pics?

Posted by diyauto on 3/21/21 @ 1:46:58 PM

Nice truck

Posted by miatamatt on 10/28/20 @ 11:43:20 PM

$500s a good deal for that motor and a plow. Going to be a nice truck when finished.

Posted by CCmyVW on 10/25/20 @ 1:20:18 PM

Nice ride, don't see too many of these on the road anymore.

Posted by JimL on 10/22/20 @ 10:36:34 PM

Nice truck! Motor looks clean, bet it’ll move pretty nice with the powerstroke

Posted by MPower on 10/11/20 @ 6:15:12 PM

Do you have a photo? Love the trucks.

Posted by Diggymart on 10/11/20 @ 1:33:04 AM