Castlemaine is well known as the Hot Rod Centre of Australia also a Big centre in the Transport Industry, so this is what happens when the two collide ?
Simon Muntz's F4 project started back in late 2001 with a purchase of an original 1948 Ford F4 cabin and chassis. The F4 is a bigger version of the more common Ford F1 pickup and the forerunner of the F series of trucks. This truck had seen service as a Farmers truck at a small place called Lorquon in Western Victoria before ending up at another small town also in Western Victoria called Marnoo, a place Simon often traveled through whilst relocating his business from Dimboola to Castlemaine. The F4 was reasonably straight and very little rust for a Farm truck of the era. A later Ford F-350 chassis was found that had a disc brake front end as well as a suitable rearend. The Sidevalve V8 Ford motor was later sold off (to another Hot Rodder) and the original Chassis then sold to a restorer.The slow process of stripping the vehicle then began also the design and mock up as to how the vehicle would be assembled as well as the task of sourcing parts for the build.
From the start it was intended that this would be a real truck and have a real Diesel truck engine, so a connection was made with Cummins who then helped locate a rebuilt 6BT (5.9 Litre Turboed inline 6 Cylinder) and the parts required to adapt the Ford C6 automatic gearbox. Fitting a Japanese Diesel was not an option as that would have been like asking a Harley Davidson owner to ride a Japanese motor bike. As much as possible from the later chassis was used so as to make the registration requirements with Vic Roads as easy as possible.
An artists conception of what the F4 would look like was one of the first things to be done and the little logo has appeared in many places during the building of the project.
A US Gear Overdrive was sourced from Wignell's in Euroa and then the process of joining the 6BT Cummins with the Ford C6 and overdrive began with an adapter that Cummins help source. A Castlemaine made Hi Torque starter was also used with this application as a conventional Cummins starter could not have been used. Tim Rhone from Rhones Mechanical Repairs was called on to source a suitable Torque convertor and then put it all together. Next was to fit the Engine etc. into the chassis. New engine mounts had to be fabricated along with modification to the sump (prostocked) so as it would sit correctly in the chassis as well as hold more oil than standard. Lionel West Fabrication helped in this area with the fabrication of many parts. A new radiator was made by Aussie Desert Cooler along the same design as the original F4 radiator but with the intention it had to cool the Cummins. Simon fitted Cool-Flex radiator hose from his business. At the same time a Peterbilt Sleepercab was located and with Frank Chrytstie's (Customs by Chrystie) help it was soon fitted. Frank took on the job with the sleeper and it got the full Hot Rodders treatment being a Chop and Channel or perhaps most would understand that it had a shrink in size to suit the F4 cab.
The Diesel Fuel tanks have been hand made as have the rear guards and battery box cover all fabricated by Allyworks in Castlemaine. Many of the parts on the back of the F4 if not powder coated have been Jet Hot Coated as this silver finish is so much easier to clean and one of the requirements was it be easy to clean as the F4 was built to be driven but at the same time it had to be a practical work, tow and show vehicle to promote Simon's business. The full exhaust system is also finished with the Jet Hot Coating with the exception of the Never Rust Stainless Steel Muffler.
ALCOA Hot Shot wheels have been fitted with MAXXIS Bravo Radial Tyres. The spare wheel and inner duals are Canadian Imports and not the usual Split rims that you see on the Australian F-350 Fords.
The Air Conditioner was set up with most of the parts located under the chassis and behind the sleeper cabin as well as the transmission coolers so as to keep any heat well out of the way from the Engine bay and at the same time to make the Engine bay look tidy. A surprise to many once the bonnet is opened is the 6BT Cummins fits in place of the Sidvalve V8 with no modifications to the *** cabin firewall at all. CSMU supplied the LPG kit, another surprise to many that the F4 runs the Diesel LPG mix making the performance on the open road so much better. An even bigger surprise for many is the system is tuned via Modem by the staff at CSMU and have not even seen the vehicle in the flesh.
The task of the electrical wiring of the F4 was given to Neil Davis from Romsey Auto Electrical. Neil wired the CSMU LPG computer as well as the Cruise Control and Clarion Radio/CD/DVD system, the head unit is hidden in what should be the glove box and the Amplifier and speakers along with the TV are all in the sleeper cabin. CB radios and mobile phone have also been fitted. Also hidden in what should have been the glove box are the connections for the LPG Modem. Having so many electronic components in the vehicle required a Matson Surge protector to be fitted for electrical protection.
Late in 2007 the truck was started for the first time. Then the hardest part of the build, the truck had to be torn down, panel beated and painted. Peter Clapton who mostly restores Mack Trucks at his business Sherwood Restorations in Castlemaine was chosen for the job to restore and to modify the body work of the F4 and to apply the paint. Many subtle changes have been made to the cab whilst the body work was being done, some are not obvious to the casual observer others may pick the cowl vent is no more and that door locks are missing and now included as part of the original looking handles. Also missing is the fuel tank that originaly sat in the back of the cab and behind a bench seat, this was removed giveing access to the sleeper and more seat room in the front cab for the new sports seats. The running boards have been painted in a no chip type finish and have also had rubber strips added to the steps as to keep those boots from creating any wear and tear on the paint finish.
As Simon's main business is Street Rod Parts (Simon Muntzs' Street Rods & Accessories - www.streetrod.com.au ) so he used many of these parts to showcase what he sells, Bear Claw latches are fitted to the cab, along with inertia real seat belts in the cab and lap belts in the Sleeper Cab, just some of the requirements with the Engineer needed to register the *** The decision for the colors when the time came was easy for Simon as he has used these colors before. The Sleeper Cabin and Cab have been painted a 1960's Ford Color called Green Velvet Metalic with some extra metalic added and the front guards another 60's Ford Color, Merino. The chassis has been painted flat black for practical reasons.
Peter Clapton's connection with Grant at Tylden Trim was also very handy as much of the trim work was done whilst the truck was apart for body work and painting.
One of the last things to be done prior to obtaining an Engineers Report for registration was for Tim Rhone to again work his magic on the C6 Automatic gearbox setting it up with a full Manual Shift kit to handle the torque from the 6BT Cummins. The manual shift Auto makes the F4 much easier to drive.
As pointed out earlier Simon's business supplied many of the parts that he could use such as the LED lights on the F4 as well as the Automatic gearshift indicator in the dash and on the gearbox from Watsons Street Works and the Purple Cool-Flex radiator hose on the engine, the matching Purple Air Cleaners and the Sports seats in the cab, the trick manual looking floor shift for the Auto, the transmission coolers hidden in the chassis rails, the Smiths gauges in the custom made dash, the TV, Electric brake controller, turbo timer, Air horns, head lights, mirrors, rear wing with the hidden LED's that you only see when they are on, all just some the parts Simon got from his business and what parts he could not purchase he made himself or had made for him.
Not long after registration was obtained late in 2009 a problem with the rebuilt 6BT came about and Cummins once again helped out with a brand new 2008 East Wind built 6BT. A lot of the parts from the old Engine simply swapped onto the new engine as the Cummins block has kept the same design for many years. The new Engine has a wastegated turbo, with the newer style injection system and it is far more responsive to drive than the older Engine, specialy when the LPG injection system comes on.
Simon would like to thank Cummins (Laverton, Campbellfield & Swan Hill), Lionel West Fabrication, Peter Clapton - Sherwood Restorations, Tim Rhone - Rhone Mechanical Repairs, Frank Chrystie - Customs by Chrystie, CSMU Technologies, Neil Davis - Romsey Auto Electrical, Grant - Tylden Trim, Travis - Clarion, Loctite, Jet Hot, So-There Speed Shop and my many friends that came to help when called.