Don O Jeep FC150

My Ugly Truck (Jeep FC150 - and not really ugly!)

My appreciation for the Jeep Forward Control models started the year they were introduced - 1955. A friend had a portable welding business, and he purchased an FC150 with the pickup bed option for his portable welder. It had 4 cylinders, 3 speed transmission, and 4 wheel drive. I drove it a lot during the winter of 1955-56, and it was amazing. Going through freshly plowed fields to fix a combine - no problem. Rescuing stranded cars during an unexpected heavy snowfall - not to worry. Just having fun driving all around town - unforgettable!

So I promised myself that sometime I would have my own FC150 someday. That day came in the summer of 1992, when I spied an ad for a well-worn truck out in a farmer's field. I bought sight unseen, towed it home and started to assess the situation. Wow! Motor wouldn't run, but that was fixed with a valve job and working the stuck pistons loose. Then I looked at the body, which I thought need minor repair.

Wrong! Closer inspection showed that major rust had destroyed the lower 3 or 4 inches of the body, and had been repaired by shaping screen wire then the liberal use of Bondo. I spent the better part of 6 months creating replacement panels and working just on these panels, including the rear corners which took most of that time.

When the truck was taken to a body shop for painting, I was told he didn't want "that ugly truck" in his lot, so from that point the truck was referred to as "the ugly truck". Naturally, when I registered it for the road, I got plates reading "UGLYTRK". Everyone chuckles over that.

Now that I had it on the road, I found a lot more wrong. The transmission had to be held in second gear, the front knuckles were both bad, the rear differential had a bad whine at speed, and the truck would gradually overheat. I decided to eliminate all of the problem areas by replacing the entire drive system. I removed the body, sold the drive train for almost as much as I had paid originally, and started to work on cleaning the frame. While scraping years of accumulated farm material from the front axle hump, my scraper went completely through the frame! I found that both sides could be penetrated with my fingers for about 8 inches in each side. This frame could not be trusted, and I could not find a replacement, so the decision was to install a modern front clip.

I chose a 1986 GMC van front clip because the steering box had the shaft facing forward, plus it came with power steering and disk brakes. Using parts of the Jeep frame, I fabricated a completely unique frame for the truck. For running gear I chose a Buick V6 with an automatic transmission, and GM rear end, mainly because it had the same wheel bolt pattern as the front end. Instead of the gas tank hanging outside the frame, I chose to use a fuel cell between the frame rails. Also, Jeep had a cast iron weight in their frame to prevent forward tipping under heavy braking. Originally it was mounted flat, but I mounted it vertically behind the fuel cell.

The steering column gets a lot of attention also. The problem was that the original column slanted to the front of the vehicle and the steering box was directly under the seat. I solved that by using three flexible joints in the column. Makes getting in and out sort of difficult.

I wanted power brakes, but the master cylinder is mounted under the dash, with no room for a power unit. So I mounted a second master cylinder under the bed, which was powered by a slave cylinder. The original master cylinder drives the slave cylinder and everything works quite well. The brake pedal and the clutch pedal have been connected so I can brake with either foot.

The original shift lever is used to control the TH350 transmission, using a gate plate I made from aluminum plate.

After mounting the body and getting the truck running, I built the stake bed, and have thanked myself many times for choosing that over a pickup bed. For one thing, if I need extra work bench space, I simply drop the tailgate and remove the side boards! And I can haul much more than with a pickup bed, which sometimes gets me in a bit of trouble. When I roofed my new garage, I took the truck to the Home Center to get the shingles. The loader asked how many bundles I wanted to take in the first load, and I insisted I could take all bundles. He loaded them on, the truck sank down on the springs, and I drove it home - slowly. Later, I figured I had carried over 3700 pounds of shingles! I also hauled a complete skid of bricks which had to have been close to a ton.

I do not consider this to be complete, but a work in process, and continually add or change items. I said earlier that cross frame bracing was added, well, not enough and obviously in the wrong place. This winter I will remove the bed and add more bracing on the top side of the frame to stiffen it up a bit more. Also, I drove this for a couple of years with a few problems, the major of which was overheating in the South Carolina summers. Since I did not have enough room to add a larger radiator in the front, I mounted a second radiator under the bed to assist the original. Although I have fans on each radiator, I have yet to turn the fan on the original radiator on. Problem solved.

Thank you for reading about my journey so far with "The Ugly Truck". I really enjoy driving this truck.

Don Owens

Easley, South Carolina

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