Episode 81

December 21st, 2009

Fabrication is the cornerstone of the custom truck world. “Fabricate This” brings the minds of fabricators onto the pages of your favorite magazine. Read along and try to keep up. Our goal is to publish as many pertinent questions and answers as possible. If you have a question, send it in and we will do our best to have it answered.

Fabrication is the cornerstone of the custom truck world. “Fabricate This” brings the minds of fabricators onto the pages of your favorite magazine. Read along and try to keep up. Our goal is to publish as many pertinent questions and answers as possible. If you have a question, send it in and we will do our best to have it answered.

Time for a Column Remodel!

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Cary Iaccino of IF Customs

Cary’s Final Column
It’s been nearly seven years that I’ve been writing this column with Bob Grant. It’s been fun, informative and challenging; but the time for a column makeover is at hand. After being the lead writer the last few years, I feel that there is some stagnation, so I have asked the Street Trucks staff and Bob to find another truck builder to step in. They have worked out a plan to have Eric Saliba, from The Little Shop of Horrors, pen the column in tandem with Bob Grant of Grant Kustoms. Is this a good thing? I’m not smart enough to know for sure, but I met Eric years ago in Mississippi when he was just starting out, and his early work was sick. His abilities were well beyond that of most customizers even way back then, so he should have no issues conveying knowledge backed with experience to you.

I presented the idea for the column to Mike Self (former Street Trucks editorial staff member) and Bob Grant way back in the day. They were both interested, and Bob and I set off to write columns about working with our medium of choice: metal. We invited other shops to write answers to various tech questions we received and had dozens of contributors. We borrowed the name for the column from some friends in Australia who coined the name for their fabrication garage.

We have addressed a very broad range of issues that readers have been confronted with when building their trucks. We still receive letters and emails monthly with questions from readers about how to build trucks. The letters are from all over the United States and around the world. We took these letters and attempted to impart knowledge to you that we had accumulated over many years of building trucks ourselves. I hope that I have assisted you with my insights over the years, and that you used the information from this column to build your trucks successfully.

My Final Bit — Planning the Next Build
Since this is the final shout out from me to you as a regular contributor, I am going to write about a project I hope to begin soon. It is just an idea or plan at this point, but it is for a great friend and customer of mine named Marty. He has completed a few cars to date that regularly win on the hot rod circuit. I have been after him for years to build a truck. “If you give us the chance to build a truck with no limits on customizing, crowds of heads will swarm your ride,” I told him. He’s finally bought into the idea, and we are currently looking for a ‘57 Chevy truck to once again set a new high bar.

Of course, after talking to Marty about writing about the plans to build his truck in this column today, he was a bit reluctant. “Won’t someone else take the ideas and beat us to it?” he wondered. I had to reassure him that it was highly unlikely that someone would start to build the truck, have the resources to do it, and be motivated to finish it in that much of a hurry. Plus, all of the ideas we have for the project are not individually unique; it’s the combination of them that is. Besides, the actual build-up will have us adjusting what we do based upon various realities that present themselves as we go along; so this is more of a guide than a blueprint. One more thought hit me, though, go ahead and beat us to it, then there will be one more sick truck to compete against!

Follow along with me this month, as we pass along the blueprint that we use when deciding to build a truck, the thought process from the beginning, and the most important aspects for us when customizing.

Street Trucks has agreed to follow us as we build the project over the next year or so, taking it from stock classic pickup to a gravity-conforming stance with eye-straining style. This won’t be the last you hear of Marty’s IFCustom ‘57 Chevy.

Wheel Size
This is extremely important when designing a truck. Those wheels have to fit when you are low, yet roll and turn when you drive. Even without measurements on hand to verify what we can do, 22-inch wheels are a must. So we start with the knowledge that we need 29 inches (wheel/tire overall height for a 265/35/22) of room under the fenders when the truck is laid out. The first thing we will look at is whether or not the stock fenders will take the wheels without being stretched. This determines quite a bit of the visual impact of the finished truck, so we take it very seriously.

Overall Height
At IFCustom we don’t mess around with height. We want this thing as low as can be without losing the overall look and feel of the truck. We are talking about body dropping the truck to the doors, sectioning the body, chopping the top, and making it look “correct.”

Body Mods
Shaving and all that goes along with it is a normal part of building a custom truck, but this truck is very unique because the bodyline of the cab and front fenders don’t line up with the rear fenders. This is an oddity that we will remedy while laying out the initial plans. The fender issues will actually be worked out when we plan the wheel size, body drop and sectioning. For example, we may section the truck below the bodyline so that we drop it to the stock rear fender bodyline height. The other types of things to be addressed on the body are nosing the hood and modifying the bed and/or tailgate. Lights, grille and mirrors will all be looked at as well. The chop top will present some interesting challenges. The big rear window truck, which we are planning on building, has that wraparound, rear-window design. Chopping this will be quite a challenge. Staying ahead of the curve, we have spoken to Keith at Above All Glass about what can be done. He has updated us on the availability of laminated rear glass for this truck that can be cut down fairly easily to accommodate our plans for chopping. At this point, we aren’t set on an amount for the chop, but it will likely be about 4 inches.

Floor Redesigning
Another interesting aspect of building these trucks is that they have a very tall floor in the cab. It’s almost as if the trucks were old school body dropped from the factory. We will cut the floor out and drop it down to where we normally set our stock floor body drops. Our frame design, the transmission and driveshaft location, and exhaust routing will dictate the height and shape of the floor. This becomes very important in a truck where we have sectioned and chopped the cab. We will need as much legroom and headroom as possible, and the 4 inches we save in the floor can make all the difference in comfort.

Frame and Suspension Design
We will likely build a completely new tubular frame. Typically, we run 2 x 4 box tube and 2 x 3 from the notch back. If Marty wants to get more creative, there is a lot that can be done to make the frame stand out. This type of thing will be discussed and decided upon when we are actually laying out the frame rails. It’s likely that we’ll use a 1970-80s front cross member for the front clip and some type of a 2- or 4-link rear suspension. Airbags will be set for ride and adjustability.

Drivetrain
Something modern and powerful will need to motivate the truck. There’s no need for anything exotic; simplicity is preferred. Likely a Chevy truck or car motor built in the new century will be our choice; possibly with forced induction to help it stay out of its own way. Automatic with overdrive is a must, and keeping the fuel injection is non-negotiable. The truck must start up and run like a brand-new, off-the-lot vehicle. The current motors are quiet, powerful, fuel-efficient, emissions friendly, and worth any time and effort required to install them in classic trucks.

Bed Floor
There are no specific plans for the bed floor at this point, though it would be great to go with some type of wood floor. Of course, it will have to work with all of the frame modifications and suspension, which may present some unique challenges.

Engine Compartment
Fender wells and smooth panels all around will be necessary to keep the level of fabrication and finish on par with the customs of today. Engine and radiator covers will possibly be added for a clean look.

Paint Design and Rendering Work
I will have very little involvement with this part of the project. Marty has proven himself time and time again as being able to pick out colors and paint schemes that are beautiful and timeless. We usually commission Travis Pruis to render a few ideas. He’ll work with Marty so they can share ideas. This will not be an important part of getting the process rolling, but rather, a crucial part of finishing the truck.

That’s a bit of the thought process going into the construction of a truck we are preparing to build. Of course, the actual fabrication will be much more detailed and nuanced, and the engineering to make it all work will be intensive. But what really will get it done is stubbornness. That usually is what it takes, from the fabricators to the owner, a lot of push is needed to get the job done. It’s very easy to start a truck and never finish it. It’s even easy to get far along in the process and still let the project languish. To persevere, stubbornness is a great trait.

I would like to thank the staff at Street Trucks for allowing me to work with them over the last half-dozen years on this column. Thanks to Bob Grant for putting up with my phone calls while writing these columns. Thanks to all the contributors from shops over the years for helping keep things interesting and significant. Thanks to Chris and all the I.F. guys for pulling me along when necessary. Thanks to my wife, Sandra, for keeping on my case to finish my “homework” every month. And thank you to all you Street Trucks readers out there for your questions and for reading along every month. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all of you enthusiasts out there.

Please feel free to contact me at ifcustom@aol.com (ifcustom null@null aol NULL.com) anytime.

Good luck, Eric. See you, Bob; it has been a pleasure.
-Cary

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Thanks for reading, see you next month.
If you would like to submit a question for the “Fabricate This” column for either Bob Grant or Eric Saliba, please email fabthis@streettrucksmag.com (fabthis null@null streettrucksmag NULL.com), or contact them directly via www.grantkustoms.com (http://www NULL.grantkustoms NULL.com/) for Bob, or www.friendlychopshop.com (http://www NULL.friendlychopshop NULL.com/) for Eric. Stay tuned next month and keep the sparks flying!

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