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We do have a laugh from time to time at the expense of guys who drive F-250 and F-350 pickups but never seem to actually haul anything. But we figure hauling ass counts as hauling. That’s why we doff our hats to Hajek Motorsports for eking a whopping 182 MPH out of an F-250 at the Bonneville Salt Flats. And by the way, that’s the diesel F-250.

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After changing the heater core on Chuck’s old F-150 we used to joke about the rest of the truck being built around it. On Sunday night, the History Channel’s excellent Modern Marvels episode on American trucking happened to show the Deerborn Michigan plant where F-150s are built — and it turns out that it’s almost completely true.

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In case you haven’t already heard this from other sources, Ford expanded their recall of F150s to include over 1.2 million trucks manufactured between 2003 and 2006 due to an electrical problem that “could lead to the airbag deploying.” As reported in the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, and pretty much everywhere else, it seems that the problem stems from a faulty part in the airbag system. We won’t get into the finger pointing and mess surrounding the recall and its expansion (which you’re welcome to read about elsewhere), but suffice it to say that if you own a 2003 or later F150, you might want to check to see if your truck is affected. If so, Ford has told other sources they’d fix the problem for free in about half a day.

(Thanks, MCS@Flickr, for the great CC-licensed pic of your 2003 F150. Awesome dog, btw. Looks like a good friend.)


Chuck likes to say you could piece-part an entire Jeep from JC Whitney if you were so inclined. This is most likely true from what I can tell. Only slightly lesser known is the vast selection of truck accessories they have on tap.

My new (to me) Ranger had a bunch of small dings and scratches on the top of the bed, as one might expect from a truck that was used like one. I could of course let that go, as it really doesn’t hurt the value of a truck in Texas — however, a set of bed rail caps were a much better solution.

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Inspired by a cool find by Toolmonger reader whiteforge, I dug up a photo of this unusual curved wrench, courtesy of Ron Geeson of Made in Birmingham. The wrench was made for the English Fordson tractor, or “automobile plow,” that Henry Ford & Sons Company developed in 1917 — in the 1920s manufacture moved exclusively to Ireland and England. The Fordson was the first mass-produced tractor that small farmers and ordinary people could afford, and was in production until 1991 when the company sold its tractor division to Fiat.

This particular wrench has a unique snail logo in relief on the handle. It was tough to track down, but evidently it comes from Snail Brand tools, a division of Smith Francis in Birmingham, England, who’ve been in business since 1934. While these vintage spanners are primarily in circulation overseas, a recent eBay auction (now closed) shows you can still get them for around £18, or about $30.

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If you think stainless steel is only good for kitchen appliances and Doc Brown’s home-brew time machine, take a look at this 1936 Ford Deluxe.  Allegheny Ludlum Steel Division and the Ford Motor Company built this and a handful of others just like it as an experiment, and to raise awareness that stainless steel had many applications in the automotive world.

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CNN is reporting that Ford announced a recall yesterday of “over 37,000 of its new 2008 model F-Series Super Duty trucks after reported tailpipe fires in the diesel version of the pickups.”  From CNN:

“Ford said it had received reports of three cases where leaking fuel or oil ignited when trapped in a diesel particulate filter near the tailpipe of the new trucks.  In one case in Texas, a truck’s hot tailpipe set off a grass fire when the driver pulled off the road.”

Considering how popular the Super Duty models are as work trucks here in Texas, I’d imagine more than a few Texas dealerships’ll be seeing these in the near future.

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I’ve had a ’97 F150 for quite some time now; I inherited it from my father who bought it used years before that.  I’m sad to admit, though, that when my Dad bought it, I gave him crap about it.  “You shoulda bought a one-ton,” I said, “It won’t tow enough.”  Well, after a few years of hauling and towing (things I probably shouldn’t have) and even taking trips in it, I’m a fan.  It’s rated for towing over 8k, and I’ve personally pulled more than 11k with it before.  It drives like a car thanks to the modern front suspension.

I’ve even almost come to accept the red interior.

But now I see the 2004+ redesigned model, and I can’t help but wonder if all the same stuff’s still there.  While it’s just a personal opinion, I’m not fond of the little “dip” in the window — modelled, I’d assume, after the F250 and F350.  But what about usability?  Does this model stand up to the previous one?  Or exceed it?

Let us know in comments.



I posted yesterday regarding my, um, surprise when I discovered that I’d have to remove the entire dash to get at the heater core in my good ‘ole ’97 F150 pickup.  Well, the job’s part way done, and we finally exposed the heater core.  The above picture shows what it looks like right now.

I always liked my F150, but this job has taught me a few things about Ford pickups.  First, you obviously don’t want to own one long enough to have to replace the heater core.  People aren’t kidding when they say it’s a big job.  It requires removing the dash, the HVAC vent system (that’s as big as the dash), and — if you beleve the manual — the steering column.  As you can see, we managed to leave the steering column in, but that’s not really all that much help.  We’re currently 12+ hours into the job, and the hard part is yet to come.  And this is a couple of guys who’ve done their share of car work sitting in a shop chock-ass full of tools.

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I generally don’t like to whine on Toolmonger, but screw it, today I’m gonna get my whine on.  It seems like every vehicle has an achilles heel when it comes to repairs.  Sure, it might be easy to replace the water pump, but the fuel pump’s on top of the gas tank.  Or the water pump’s behind half the front of the engine.  You know what I’m talking about.

Well, I found one of those on my ’97 Ford F150.  Guess what you’ve gotta do to get at the heater core: pull the whole f*#$ing dash.  I’m not talking about the instrument cluster, either.  You’ve got to pull the entire damn dash out, including dismantling the passenger-side air bag.  Apparently Ford decided that leaving the core accessible below the glove box — like all sane manufacturers have for years — isn’t the way to go.  Instead, they decided to place it in the freakin’ middle of the firewall behind the dash.

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