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1957 - 1960 F100 & Larger F-Series Trucks Discuss the Box Style Ford Trucks

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Old 02-07-2012, 05:22 PM
bobyunker bobyunker is offline
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Considering installing 390 in 59' F100 stepside shortbox

After doing some research I have found that Ford has three families of engines; the Windsors, Clevelands and the FE's. I have found that the 302 and the 351w have been popular for engine swapping (probably due to there reliability, accessibility of parts and etc). I have been looking for wrecked or out of commission vehicle that still runs to do a complete swap. I have been offered a truck with a 390 4spd manual to do the swamp. My goal for the truck is; 1) it will be my daily driver, 2) replace the engine (the current engine -78 Grenada inline six is going out) and 3) to be an eye catcher with some power and speed.
What are all of the considerations I need to consider if installing the 390?
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Old 02-07-2012, 05:31 PM
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390's can be great engines but they tend to be a bit thirsty
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:22 PM
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But FE's are way cooler than a windsor!

I cant believe you cant find an old crown vic or 2wd pickup to yank the 302/351 running gear out of, I wouldn't worry about a parts donor running very well. The engine is gonna be out and I would hope your gonna go through it before doing all the work to fit it in anyway.

Where are you located?

Scott
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:58 PM
bobyunker bobyunker is offline
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But FE's are way cooler than a windsor!

I cant believe you cant find an old crown vic or 2wd pickup to yank the 302/351 running gear out of, I wouldn't worry about a parts donor running very well. The engine is gonna be out and I would hope your gonna go through it before doing all the work to fit it in anyway.

Where are you located?

Scott
I have been looking for 2wd pickups and yes even cars in the 70's and early 80's. I am located in Burns (4,000 pop.), a small rural town in Oregon, 2 hours east of Bend (28,000 pop.) and 2 hours west of Ontario (12,000 pop.) Portland is 4 / 5 hours away.
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:20 PM
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The 390 was/is an good, long lasting engine, pretty good torque, low on HP, not real fast, but good as a work-horse engine......as previously posted, kinda thirsty on fuel...IIRR, the gas station were i worked at , the owner had one, got anywhere from 12-16 mpg with a C6
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:31 PM
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I am struggling with the tug-of-war of buying engine/tranny as a stand alone purchase or waiting for the "right" runner to come along. Craigslist has plenty of engines that are quoted as saying, "was running good before pulled" I guess it's a trust issue.
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Old 02-07-2012, 11:52 PM
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Are you going to rebuild the engine, or are you hoping to find a runner and just go with it?

Beware the '70s truck FE. Most will be 360s. A fine engine for making modest power with high fuel consumption. Ditto the truck 390. Both have low compression, roundish cams, restrictive exhausts and mostly 2bbl carbs. If you buy a "390" without checking the stroke, chances are it will be a 360.

Power and speed can be had, but not from a stocker.
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:15 AM
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Are you going to rebuild the engine, or are you hoping to find a runner and just go with it?

Beware the '70s truck FE. Most will be 360s. A fine engine for making modest power with high fuel consumption. Ditto the truck 390. Both have low compression, roundish cams, restrictive exhausts and mostly 2bbl carbs. If you buy a "390" without checking the stroke, chances are it will be a 360.

Power and speed can be had, but not from a stocker.
With my limited experience, I will not be rebuilding. I will be “Hoping to find a runner & just go with it”. With minor upgrades, gasket replacements & painting/cleaning.
If I understand what you are saying, I will need to modify the 390 to get both speed & power. Correct?
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Old 02-08-2012, 01:02 AM
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Right. Let's say you find a truck 390. It has 410 pistons in it so the piston is down the hole. (Just as a 360 uses a long rod and a 390 piston, again resulting in a down the hole piston at TDC). Low compression, & lack of quench are power killers.

Having said that, these are big engines, and they do make a fair amount of low end torque. If you changed to a later type cam, "RV" type perhaps, a stock T or S manifold, a 600-650 vacuum secondary carb and some good headers, you would be running some decent power. IF you found a sound motor to start with....

BUT, the newest FE is from 1976. Many rainy seasons, and perhaps lots of wear in whatever you find.

I would always do a rebuild on such an engine, running or not. Too much work involved to end up with a smoker/leaker/dead cylinder pooch.
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Old 02-08-2012, 03:28 AM
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Agreed, But if you can see it run and check for blow by in the crankcase and a compression check is good I would just replace the seals and swap it in, leave the power mods till later.

Scott
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Old 02-08-2012, 09:41 AM
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In a previous forum, one asked regarding weight difference, there was about a 150/200lbs weight difference between a 302 & a 390. Will this create a safety issue (turning & front suspension)?
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Old 02-08-2012, 01:16 PM
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FE weighs about the same as a Y-block which was available in these trucks. About 150lbs over a 302 as you say.

Add an aluminum intake, water pump, and a set of headers and you can loose 100lbs off an FE

Scott
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Old 02-08-2012, 01:36 PM
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Agreed, But if you can see it run and check for blow by in the crankcase and a compression check is good I would just replace the seals and swap it in, leave the power mods till later.

Scott
Regarding: checking for blow by in the crankcase, I have a mechanic that is helping me out during this project, I assume he would know and have the tools to check for blow by. Outside of the appropriate tools, is this something that a novice wrench turner could check?
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Old 02-08-2012, 02:26 PM
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When the engine is running remove the oil cap and look for smoke puffing out, also place your hand over the hole and see if it tries sucking or blowing your hand away. Normally there will be a little pressure both ways but not a lot.

What you are checking for is if the piston rings are worn the pressure will 'blow by' them and the pressure will build up in the crankcase.

Scott
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Old 02-08-2012, 02:40 PM
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I have built running-in stands for several engines. I have one for flathead V8s, one for toyota diesels, and another for the cummins 6at. They don't have to be fancy. I use a plastic lawn mower fuel tank, an angle iron battery tray, an electric fuel pump if needed, a mechanical oil pressure gauge threaded into the block... You get the idea. I make some quick side engine mounts and a couple bolts into the bell housing. My point is, you can get a really good idea of an engine's condition by warming it up, checking the exhaust smoke, the compression, a leak-down test (I've never done this one),the oil pressure, which is a major consideration. The flathead one was actually made of wood(I'm a cabinetmaker) and it was fine. The others have an angle iron frame on casters. I've done them with and without radiators. If you go without, just disconnect the water pump fill the cooling system and keep an eye on the heat. I recommend using a radiator since it can run much longer. Most any radiator will suffice for this test run. That's just what I do when I get a used engine I want to get familiar with before I install it. Great way to work the bugs out. I have done the other way where you do the initial firing with it all bolted in to the truck with some pretty sickening results.
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Old 02-08-2012, 02:40 PM
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