The best part of any build, for me at least, is when all those plated, painted, and polished parts start going back together for the final time. Whether it’s bolting new accessories on a freshly painted engine block or hanging new suspension components on a chassis, final assembly time is one of my favorites. Not only is that long-winded project finally starting to take shape for good, but it seems as each component is installed a slight uptick of excitement is experienced. As things move ever forward, the desire to keep going increases, making it much easier to drag myself out to the shop to work on my truck.
My 1952 Ford F-1 build has been steadily building steam as of late, culminating most recently in the completion of the interior. Like we did with the bench seat a few months back, we’re going to tackle everything DIY style, ordering up everything we need from LMC Truck and installing it ourselves. While most interior/upholstery jobs might be more than a guy in his garage could handle, the great thing about classic trucks is that their Spartan interior makes for a rather simple restoration job. In fact, the majority of the interior panels for our F-1 are simple-colored fiberboard panels held in place with interior screws. No upholstery necessary! In fact, the hardest part of our interior job was restoring and re-covering the bench seat, which we’ve already handled.
But before we get too carried away, we’ll begin by locating and installing the American Autowire Highway Series 22-circuit fuse panel and running and connecting all the necessary wiring before any upholstery panels or material are installed. Then we’ll start at the top and work our way down, installing the LMC Truck headliner kit and rear window. The rest of the glass has already been installed, but we left the rear window until after the headliner is installed since the seal covers the edges of the headliner where it meets the window frame and helps hold everything in place. We’ll then install the carpet kit, also from LMC Truck, followed by the bench seat. With the seat in place, the Lokar shifter can then be located and installed. The dash will be the last thing we’ll assemble, including the custom 1952 Pontiac cluster restored by Classic Instruments.
Before any of that happens however, we need to seal the sheetmetal of our cab to prevent any further rust and to make things pretty. For that end, we’re going to be applying a couple coats of Eastwood Rust Encapsulator, using their Concours Pro HVLP paint gun kit, to the ‘jambs, doors, floor, roof, dash, and firewall of the cab. Once dry, the end result is a bulletproof coating ready to ward off rust and corrosion for another 65-plus years. Oh, and it looks good to boot; good enough to be used as a topcoat, in fact!
Before we can move forward on our cab’s assembly, we need to coat the interior surfaces to prevent things from getting rusty.
To accomplish this, we’ll be using Eastwood’s Concours Pro HVLP Paint Gun System. It comes with two separate guns, one for larger areas like our firewall, roof, and floor, and a detail gun that’s great for smaller areas like the doorjambs and dash. Both guns come with the corresponding-size fluid nozzles, taking the guesswork out of setup.
A gallon of Rust Encapsulator will be sprayed over the entire interior of our cab, as well as the doorjambs and firewall. This will ensure any existing rust that didn’t get blasted away will be neutralized while preventing any future development. Eastwood’s Rubberized Undercoating has already been applied to the bottom of the cab.
Shot straight out of the can, the Concours Pro gun delivered a very good finish, surprising given my lack of experience when it comes to painting. What’s great about Rust Encapsulator is that it can be left as-is or topcoated, if desired.
Since the majority of the interior surfaces of the cab will be covered with a material of some sort, the finish wasn’t that important. But when it came to the dash and firewall, that’s a different story. Unsure how the final finish would turn out, I was half-expecting to need to topcoat the dash, at the very least. Surprisingly, the Rust Encapsulator laid out very nice and only required a quick sanding between coats in an effort to reduce the orange peel ever so slightly.
With the interior of the cab sealed, a layer of Dynamat was applied, stem to stern, to curb heat intrusion and reduce road noise. A thin layer of Dynaliner will also be applied to the floor and firewall as well as the roof in an effort to further increase interior comfort.
The first part of our interior installation we’re going to tackle is to install the headliner. Shown here are the two panels that install behind the gas tank and the two that trim the rear window. Not shown is the three-piece headliner, which comes from LMC Truck sewn together and ready for installation.
And the reason it’s not shown is because we’ve already installed that section in the truck. At the front, the headliner tucks above the sheetmetal windshield brow, while the side panels are fastened to the tack strip using a couple interior screws. The rear of the panel butts up against the rear window frame and will be held in place by the rear window seal once the glass is installed.
The two panels that flank the rear window tuck under the back of the doorjamb and are gently formed to the curvature of the back of the cab, held fast by more trim screws. The two lower panels slide behind the gas tank and run up against the rear cab tack strip. Once everything is in place, centered, and straight, the interior screws and gas tank can be tightened up, holding the panels in place.
Up front, a pair of black, padded vinyl sunvisors from LMC Truck are installed on the sheetmetal brow, complementing the headliner.
LMC’s headliner kit fits the F-1 trucks spanning the years 1948-1952, but savvy Ford fans will point out that the earlier trucks had a smaller back window. That means for our big-window 1952, we’re going to need to trim the rear headliner panels. First the panels are marked by tracing the window opening, then carefully cut to fit.
Our tinted rear glass and seal came courtesy of LMC Truck as well, seen here ready to be installed with a rope inserted between the pinch weld portion of the seal. A plastic trim tool and a source of lubrication help ease the glass in place and prevent tearing the seal during installation.
Here, my righthand man Chris “The Wizz” Arriero gives me a hand while the glass is installed. We started by placing the bottom of the glass over the pinch weld, then worked the seal in place by slowly pulling the rope out, working outward toward the corners. At this point the glass should be falling into the opening nicely. A little motivation from the trim tool and plenty of lube gets the window to fit in the hole nicely.
With the glass installed, the headliner is complete. Note the original-style dome light available from LMC Truck.
To power our pickup, we’ll be installing a Highway Series 22-circuit kit from American Autowire. This kit allows the fuse panel to be installed in any location and the wires run from the accessories, terminating at the fuse panel. This makes for a clean install, without the clutter and confusion that can come with a prewired fuse panel. Each accessory can be wired, one at a time, making the sometimes-daunting task of wiring a vehicle much simpler.
We mounted the fuse panel in the stock location, on the firewall, under the dash. Note the lack of extra wire, bundles, loops, or other unnecessary clutter, thanks to the terminated-at-the-panel nature of the Highway Series. All the wires have been routed cleanly and cut to length.
Of course, it wouldn’t make sense to upgrade the wiring without replacing those old dash switches. American Autowire includes a new headlight, ignition, and dimmer switch as part of the Highway Series kit.
We sent the stock 1952 Pontiac gauges out to Classic Instruments where their custom shop totally restored the cluster, as well as the clock, with new pointers, faces, and updated motors.
The new cluster will be mated to new, modern sending units, delivering accurate information to the cluster at all times.
To row through the gears of our Gearstar Performance Transmission’s AOD, or at least select P-N-R-D-L, we’ll be using a floor-mounted Lokar shifter with a 16-inch double-bend lever. Here, the shifter has been mounted at the chosen location.
Lokar included three different arms with their shifter and we chose to use the arm on the far right as the top of the AOD body is pretty wide.
With the arm selected, two starter holes are made at either end of what will become the slot that will be cut through the floor, allowing clearance for the shifter arm.
A cut-off wheel is then used to finish the slot in the floor.
With the arm installed on the shifter and the unit reattached to the floor, the reason for the slot becomes apparent.
Under the truck, the distance from the shifter’s arm, in the Park location, and the transmission’s shift arm, also in the Park location, is measured.
That measurement is then transposed to the threaded rod provided in the Lokar shifter kit, with consideration given to the specs of the two rod ends that will be used to attach each end to the corresponding arm and cut to length.
Here’s the linkage assembly attached to both shifter arms. Note the dogleg that needed to be made on the threaded rod to clear the transmission housing and keep things all lined up. When the shifter can move the transmission linkage through all the gears smoothly, the jamb nuts are tightened up and the installation is complete.
With the initial shifter installation complete, the LMC Truck carpet kit is installed and the Lokar shift boot dropped in place, completing the shifter’s installation.
When it came time to address the doors, we again turned to LMC Truck, selecting their fiberboard-painted door panels and a pair of door handles. The very savvy F-1 fan will notice that we mounted the door handles where the window cranks are typically located. We initially installed them in the stock location but found them to be a bit of a knee knocker. Since we had installed power windows in our truck and located the switches hidden in the ashtray, the stock window crank location was unused and proved a much better location, comfort-wise. The five-star metal upper door panel was covered with thin foam and vinyl to match the rest of the interior.
Our DIY bench seat that we covered a few months back looks great installed in the cab. New doorsill plates finish the carpet installation and come courtesy of LMC Truck.
It took us a while to select the right steering wheel to top off our Flaming River polished stainless steering column, but I think the three-spoke black wheel from Mooneyes fits our restomod interior perfectly. A handful of Vintage Air Streamline dash knobs tie the switches together and also look the part.