Way back in February of last year, I made one of maybe the best purchases of my entire life when I picked up a 1991 F150 XLT Lariat. You might be thinking to yourself, “Stephen! Why on earth you would buy a truck that old?” Well, dear reader, I bought it becuase it was crazy cheep, yet in fantastic condition. Other than a few issues, it had a running engine, mostly working accessories, and, let’s be honest, it was a gorgeous truck. It’s one of those vehicles that might be ugly to some people, but to me it was a beautiful truck. I’ve wanted one for years and my wife and I agreed that I could pick this one up. I drove that baby home with a giant smile on my face.
I still have a giant smile on my face. Not because it’s in the same condition as it was when I started, but becuase I have spent countless hours working on it, reading about it, and basically learning how cars work. I have learned so much about engines and all the components surrounding them thanks to this vehicle.
So far, I’ve done the following repairs and maintenance:
- Fixed the air conditioning
- I replaced every component in the air conditioning system. The thing is basically brand new.
- Rewired the stereo
- When I got it, the wiring was incorrect, causing my radio to lose memory every time the truck turned off
- Fixed the blinker switch
- The blinker was broken and would only work if you held the blinker switch up when turning right
- Changed the oil
- Replaced the charcoal canister
- This was optional, but that thing looked terrible
- Detailed the interior
- It’s not perfect, but I pulled a lot of dirt out of those seats with my extractor
- Put new tires on
- I didn’t do this, but the tires it had were pretty dry rotted
- Put a cover over the bed.
- These things are awesome. The truck looks great and now I don’t have to worry about stuff flying off
- Upgraded the power steering pump
- There’s a common upgrade to the pump that comes in E150 vans.
That’s a ton of work I’ve put into this thing, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some routine thing that I’ve done.
The adventure hasn’t always been easy. There were so many mistakes made while fixing the A/C in this truck. I ended up basically having to rebuild it twice, but I learned an enormous amount while working on it. I’ve been to Harbor Freight for a random tool so many times I’ve lost count. The truck was cheap at the onset, but I’ve been spending a little here and a little there as I go. That being said, I have saved so much money overall just by doing this work myself. I’ve even been able to work on our van thanks to the confidence I’ve built working on this. Just the other day I changed the transmission fluid in the van because I’d gotten so used to draining hydraulic fluid out of various things. There’s so much that I’ve slowly learned that has gotten me to where I am now.
I even forgot to mention my gas line issues that I had. I learned how to repair that too. A squirrel ate through my gas line at the elbow joint that goes into the fuel pump. That was no fun, but I got the job done.
My next big adventure is dealing with my water pump. It looks like the original pump has finally gone out. I’ve been slowly leaking coolant here and there over the course of owning this pickup, and I’ve just been topping it off regularly to keep things rolling. After replacing my power steering pump, a hideous squeal started up. I narrowed it down to not being the power steering pump, even though that was the most recent thing I replaced. It’s just a coincedence that these two things happened at the same time. I’ve done a lot of poking around and the water pump is definitly the thing that’s squealing.
The good news is that it’s not an expensive part and I’ll basically have a brand new accessory drive when this is done. I’m replacing my alternator while I’m doing the water pump. That’s gonna be a good upgrade. Moving from a 75amp alternator to 130amp. That way if I want to add more fun electrical stuff to the truck, I’ll have the available overheard to do it.
After all this, the only thing left on my accessory drive that is original will be the harmonic balancer and it’s in good shape, so I have no need to do anything with it right now.
All in all, this has been one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I’m proud of the truck I’ve been putting together, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to work on it. It’s been great for my confidence in mechanical stuff, and really taught me that I can do just about anything I want to do if I’m willing to put in the time and effort to learn. It’s also nice to work with my hands since I spend most of my time on the computer working with digital stuff. Using actual hand tools feels good sometimes.