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1987 - 1996 F150 & Larger F-Series Trucks 1987 - 1996 Ford F-150, F-250, F-350 and larger pickups - including the 1997 heavy-duty F250/F350+ trucks

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Old 07-20-2012, 07:18 PM
Palindrome1983 Palindrome1983 is offline
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1995 F150 Modify for Low-End Torque?

Hi,

I've been trolling this forum for a few weeks and finally decided it was time to create an account. Several months ago I inherited a 95 F150 RWD with the 302 V8, 4R70W automatic transmission, Mass-Air EFI, and 3.31 rear-ratio, along with a 24' Fleetwood camper from my grandfather. It's a great truck (bone stock but with K&N air filter) with relatively low miles (~87,000), it's still in great shape, and I've really enjoyed driving it. My wife and I have also started camping out at the beach (Myrtle Beach, SC to be specific) and it's been a fun experience.

The problem I've been having with the truck is actually the same one my grandfather had, the small 302 engine just sometimes isn't enough pulling the camper. My grandfather had eventually upgraded to a newer truck (2004 F-150) and used this one as a backup. Unfortunately we sold the newer truck to help settle some estate expenses, but we were able to keep the old one. It's my first truck and has been immensely helpful with some recent landscaping tasks at the house in addition to the camping. The truck absolutely suites all of my needs with the exception of the lack of power when towing. It even gets some pretty decent gas mileage on the highway (~17 mpg).

I'm now torn between two choices, we want to start doing some camping in the NC mountains, but I don't have confidence that the truck as it is would be able to handle the roads in that region given the lack of low-end torque (I think it makes around 275 ft-lb, but that's at ~3000 RPM). I even have trouble with some of the hills traveling from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach and back, hehe. It only makes about 195 hp, but I'm perfectly fine with that as I'm able to make about 70 MPH on a flat road while towing. Those two choices are getting a new truck to compensate for the short coming or modifying the current truck to make more low-end torque.

My grandfather and I were close, so the truck does have significant sentimental value and I would like to keep it if at all possible. However, if I can't get the utility I need out of the truck, then I may have no choice but to sell it.

Anyway, I realize the simple way to get more force on the road (for the same torque output at the motor) would be getting a higher rear gear ratio, say a 3.72 or higher. However, I kind of like the idea of the 3.31 being a good balance between economy and absolute force transmitted to the road. I will definitely look into changing out the rear axle if it's necessary, but for now I'm focusing on engine modifications to compensate.

That being said, the 302 as a platform has some significant limitations. Most notably the short stroke appears to limit torque in the low RPM range. I've researched several potential ways to improve the performance of the truck and those are:

1) bore out to 331 (anything more seems to be more complicated, but I can't do this myself anyway)
2) add new headers to improve intake airflow, make exhaust modifications to compensate for increased air-flow (straight pipe, dual exhaust, high-flow CC,etc.) I've been eyeing the AFR 165 headers in particular.
3) 1.7 rockers to increase valve lift
4) New cam

I did some quick calculations to see how much torque I would need to get the performance I want:

What I'm going for here is improved gradeability by increasing the torque, so I needed to determine the maximum grade I might see in the mountains. For NC and the surrounding mountains a grade of 20% if a good upper bound, there are steeper roads, but they are rare. Practically 15% is probably the max I would see, but I'm building in a safety margin. This corresponds to an angle of 11.31 degrees. Given a total weight, including camper of about 11,000 lbs (getting close to the max here ). So 11,000*sin(11.31) = 2,157 lbs which I need to make in order to continue maintaining speed and moving forward. Given that I currently make a max of 275 ft-lb and assuming 15% lose due to drive train, I make 234 ft-lb for the wheels.

The gear ratios for 4R70W are: 1st: 2.84 :1 2nd: 1.55 :1 3rd: 1.00 :1 4th: 0.70 :1 Rev: 2.23 :1

Rear-ratio is : 3.31

Tire Radius = ~13.25 inches = 1.10 ft (found by measuring loaded tire)

1st Gear Road Force = 234*2.84*3.31 / 1.10 = 1,999 lbs
2nd Gear Road Force = 234*1.55*3.31 / 1.10 = 1,091 lbs
3rd Gear Road Force = 234*1.00*3.31 / 1.10 = 704 lbs
4th Gear Road Force = 234*0.70*3.31 / 1.10 = 493 lbs

Currently it seems I can't even meet the requirement in first gear. Given the gearing of the 4R70W, it would take approximately 275* (2,157/1091) = 543 ft-lb at the crank to meet the requirement in second gear. A diesel is sounding great right now.

I would like to be able to meet the requirement of 2,157 lbs of load in first gear with some breathing room and at a lower RPM than I currently make it. There's no magic number, but 350-400 ft-lb would be a ideal for my needs.

I guess what I want to ask is, what would be the most cost effective method of getting more torque out of the 302? I would like to get at least 350 ft-lb and flatten out the torque curve if at all possible. I don't care much about the horsepower, but it would be nice if I didn't lose too much. I would consider a 351w replacement, but that seems to necessitate changing the transmission and I would think the cost/difficultly would go up. Also, I don't have the tooling to do an engine swap.

I plan on doing as much of the work as possible myself, but I realize that I won't be able to do everything. If I need to reprogram the EFI, then I think it's going to immediately be out of my league. Likewise if I am required to change any timings I wouldn't know where to begin. I'm an engineer by trade, but I'm not particularly mechanically inclined for the most part. I'm handy with common tools and I've replaced my own brakes, CV joints, and radiators. The most complicated thing I ever did was calibrate the carburetors on a 1995 CBR600F3 using a home-built vacuum gage. So I can do work that requires basic knowledge of taking stuff apart and putting it back together, but if it requires specialized tooling or skill I would probably have to pay someone else to do it (i.e. bore out to 331). My current budget is $2000, but I think I can talk my wife up to an absolute maximum of $3000 if necessary.

Truck has had a recent tune up and is currently running great. This has gotten a bit long and I apologize, I've been thinking about this for quite some time, hehe. So, to the experts of Ford Truck Enthusiasts forums, is this a reasonable goal, or should I set my sights a bit lower?
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:33 PM
norfolknova norfolknova is offline
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I would say the best thing you can do to improve towing would be to swap the axle gears to 3.73 or 4.11. While you will give up some economy, you will vastly improve the tow capability of the truck without compromising reliability.
Second would be a cam, longtubes, and an x-pipe in the exhaust.

Matt
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:50 PM
Palindrome1983 Palindrome1983 is offline
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Norfolknova,

Thanks for your response. I didn't really consider the reliability aspect, though maybe I should have.

I'm assuming any modifications to the engine that may increase power and torque could decrease reliability by increasing loads on specific parts. My guess is that there might be increased loads on valve springs, crankshafts, etc. I've actually never modified an engine before, but I'm eager to try. Which components might need to be strengthened or replaced in order to maintain reliability if I did go for increased engine performance?

I'm afraid of losing too much fuel economy by switching to the higher ratio rear axle. I would say 80% use of the vehicle is around town or on the highway, but without towing.
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Old 07-20-2012, 08:05 PM
norfolknova norfolknova is offline
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Sticking with strictly engine mods, then going with a camshft swap, headers and exhaust will get you what you are looking for. There are a couple of different approaches you can take.
1. is piece it together yourself, pick a camshaft and lifter kit, change your valve springs to the ones recommended by the camshaft manufacture.
2. You can buy a top end kit, comes with everything and all the issues are worked out, and you can install it in a weekend with general hand tools plus a torque wrench. Although most top end kits come with new heads.

I would say just going with cam, headers and exhaust you cna keep it well with in the wife imposed limit of $2K.

With a new cam it is recommended to install new timing gears and chain. Intake, valve cover, timing cover, and water pump gaskets.

Keeping it where you want to put your power the lower end should be fine if it is still in good shape with good compression

Matt
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Old 07-20-2012, 08:31 PM
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I would start with a regear. This alone will make a tremendous difference and chances are you would be satisfied with the performance. If thats still not enough you can advance the camshaft timing with a new timing chain. I have a 302 in my 250 with the factory 4.10s and i can keep up with the traffic on the interstate and keep the rpms at 2k, but i also have 33s. I think 3.73s would be a good choice for you.
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  #6  
Old 07-20-2012, 08:56 PM
burnout400m burnout400m is offline
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The 302 just doesn't make power low enough in the powerband to be a good truck engine. I say swap to a 351w. They have the same bolt pattern so your transmission should work with either engine, you just need an ECM for a 351/4r70w combo. Buy a whole parts truck and swap the engines and when it's done you can probably get most of your money back. This will be your most cost effective option. Even after that I would switch to a lower ratio. 3.73:1 would be a good compromise between low-end grunt and highway driveability but probably won't be a huge improvement over the 3.31:1. A 4.10:1 should give you all the torque you'll need, anything lower than that would be a waste.
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Old 07-20-2012, 09:06 PM
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your rear end gears are your issue. swap the gears out.

4.10 rear end gears if your not driving long highway distances all the time.

Although I have 4.10's in my 92 f150 5.0 EFI w/ E4OD and I can do about 60mph at 2k RPM and 3kRPM at 90mph in fourth gear give or take. I have no idea what the ratio of the transmission is.

But like the other folks said...Cam and heads would open that motor up so it can breath.
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Old 07-20-2012, 09:44 PM
Palindrome1983 Palindrome1983 is offline
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Haha, it looks like the consensus is that I really need a new rear axle. I'm starting to become tempted to try to move to the 4.10. It would solve my problem in one elegant stroke with the fuel economy compromise. Toplait, what type of mpg do you get on the highway? I'm not in any hurry, so I normally drive at reasonable speeds around 60-70mph.

As for potential engine mods, I've heard that GT40 heads are a good, cost effective solution to improve intake airflow. Alternatively I've also found heads from AFR, TFS, Holley, and Edelbrock. It seems as though the TFS are the most affordable non-GT40 heads, but would they be worth the extra cost? Also, would the longtubes and x-pipe norfolknova mentioned balance out any potential discrepancies between intake and exhaust with gt40 or better heads?

As for cams, I'm having difficultly picking out an appropriate cam because I don't know the criterion. What is most important for towing ability, would it be intake duration, exhaust duration, RPM range, etc.? COMP Cams 35-510-8 seems appropriate, but I have difficultly quantifying the gain I would get.

I'm thinking of taking garthneddy's advice and starting with a regear, and then seeing if it satisfies my expectations or leaves me wanting more.

I also imagine the engine mods would require a full tune afterwards. Any idea what those might cost in the Charlotte, NC area? I might not be able to do everything at once, haha.
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:02 PM
norfolknova norfolknova is offline
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As far as gearing you have two options,
1. find a different axle, straight forward swap, recommend changing axle bearings, wheel seals, and pinion seal.
2. use your axle and just replace the gears. this is not a job for a rookie and rewuires a little more advance tools than basic hand tools. You should have a few speed shops in the Charlotte area that can handle a simple gear swap. Call around and ask them how much, definatley should be under $1K installed professionally. The dealer may also be willing to do the gear swap.

Long tubes help pull exdhaust out of the cylinder which helps with torque and HP. The X-pipe( or Hpipe) equalizes the pressure between the left and right bank. the only way to say which is better , X or H, would be to install both and do dyno pulls and see which gives you better results, some cars actually have better results with H over X. But both will be better than straight pipes with out either. I did get 15 TQ and 6 HP increase with only adding an X=pipe to my 73 Nova. And that was with a Dyno run to prove it.

others with more experience on the Ford 302's can give you better guidance on the GT40 heads.

AS far as cam selection if you call the cam company tech line and tell them what you have (engine size, any mods,transmission, rear gears, tire size and what y9ou want the cam to do) and they will tell you which will be the best cam for what you want.

Matt
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:30 PM
Palindrome1983 Palindrome1983 is offline
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Burnout, I forgot to respond regarding the 351 change. My concern is that the upfront cost of the 351 change would be too great, even if I could make it back by parting the donor or selling it with the 302 installed. Also, did the 351 come with the 4r70w in any models? I thought they were always mated with e40d transmissions. I know you can do a custom chip to solve the problem, but I also don't have any tooling I would need to swap engines. I would need some sort of hoist, haha. Are those expensive?

Norfolknova, I actually live in Mooresville, which is apparently the home of many NASCAR teams. I should have no problem finding a speedshop. I can start making some phone calls next week. Then the only problem is finding an axle, but there's a pull-a-part in Charlotte which might be worth checking out.

Also, if I go the x-pipe route, is it worth considering the catalytic converter and mufflers in the exhaust? I realize I can get high-flow components, but for highest flow I could scrap them. I'm not sure what the common solution is.
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palindrome1983 View Post
Haha, it looks like the consensus is that I really need a new rear axle. I'm starting to become tempted to try to move to the 4.10. It would solve my problem in one elegant stroke with the fuel economy compromise. Toplait, what type of mpg do you get on the highway? I'm not in any hurry, so I normally drive at reasonable speeds around 60-70mph.

As for potential engine mods, I've heard that GT40 heads are a good, cost effective solution to improve intake airflow. Alternatively I've also found heads from AFR, TFS, Holley, and Edelbrock. It seems as though the TFS are the most affordable non-GT40 heads, but would they be worth the extra cost? Also, would the longtubes and x-pipe norfolknova mentioned balance out any potential discrepancies between intake and exhaust with gt40 or better heads?

As for cams, I'm having difficultly picking out an appropriate cam because I don't know the criterion. What is most important for towing ability, would it be intake duration, exhaust duration, RPM range, etc.? COMP Cams 35-510-8 seems appropriate, but I have difficultly quantifying the gain I would get.

I'm thinking of taking garthneddy's advice and starting with a regear, and then seeing if it satisfies my expectations or leaves me wanting more.

I also imagine the engine mods would require a full tune afterwards. Any idea what those might cost in the Charlotte, NC area? I might not be able to do everything at once, haha.
Well, if your truck is equipped with a Mass Air Sensor setup you're probably going to get better gas mileage then my Speed Destiny setup on my 92' On my 19 gallon tank running regular unleaded I can get about 200 miles per tank. I have headers, y-pipe, flow-master muffler, under-drive pulleys, hot-Air intake, throttle Body spacer, Hyper-tech Chip, Transmission has been reworked with shift kit and programming, lightened aluminum drive shaft, 4.10 gears /w posit-track i ripped out of a junk yard. 3-5 Drop kit, after market sway bars and poly urethane bushings.

The Gears and the Transmission being reworked are what I recommend out of what I have for performance upgrades. I can not speak for cam or heads.

I plan on buying a 96 F150 with a 5.8L motor and a 5 speed later on to play around with.

Want my advice...The 302 is just not enough for our old heavy trucks and the Automatic transmission is a pain to work on when there is problems.

Save your money and go all out!
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palindrome1983 View Post
Burnout, I forgot to respond regarding the 351 change. My concern is that the upfront cost of the 351 change would be too great, even if I could make it back by parting the donor or selling it with the 302 installed. Also, did the 351 come with the 4r70w in any models? I thought they were always mated with e40d transmissions. I know you can do a custom chip to solve the problem, but I also don't have any tooling I would need to swap engines. I would need some sort of hoist, haha. Are those expensive?
My mistake. I was thinking the 4r70w was a variant of the E4od but it's actually a descendant of the AOD. I don't know for sure if they were mated to a 351. I do know it will bolt up and it should handle the power the only issue would be the ECM but you can probably find a stand-alone unit for the trans and then use an ECM from a 351 with a c6 or 5speed. overall a little more cost and trouble than I thought but still no major hurdle.

As for the tools you can rent a hoist or get a used one from the classifieds or craigslist. Either would be a good route if you don't see yourself using it in the future (though they can be handy for other things). Harborfreight has decent stuff for cheap for the hobby mechanic. I'm not sure if I would recommend their stuff for a professional or someone who uses their stuff a lot but for most of us their stuff is fine.

I hadn't thought about initial cost vs overall cost but if you shop around you could probably find a truck someone is parting out for a few hundred. Admittedly a total engine swap might not be the best option but it is one you should seriously consider, from my perspective it seems like it would be but I have a limited understanding of your situation.

All that said it would seem like a gear swap is for sure in the works so start there. Maybe you can get by with that for a bit while you carefully weigh your options. You could even get a donor truck and do an engine, trans, AND 4wd swap in one shot. Or just a second truck altogether, you can never have too many trucks
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:02 PM
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My advice would be to invest in a 351w and a ZF 5 speed manual tranny. My F250 came with that combo and it would pull everything the truck was rated for. I'm willing to bet that you could find a parts truck for dirt cheap and just swap everything you need over for cheaper than the cost of all the motor work that you would need.
However if you don't want to change it up that much, a regear to 4.10 would really improve the towing ability without the compromise of reliability.
by the way, its very refreshing to see that you know the math behind the power, too many people come on here and think that power will magically appear.
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Old 07-21-2012, 12:04 AM
Palindrome1983 Palindrome1983 is offline
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Haha, now you guys are all trying to talk me into the engine upgrade. I must admit, when I first started down this road I was looking at engine swaps to the 351w. To me it does seem like a more ideal solution that upgrading the 302, and it gives a much better starting place for any future upgrades, but initially had trouble reconciling the ECU problems. I ended up thinking about upgrading the 302 because it seemed "easier" at the time.

Also, I didn't really want to switch out to a manual transmission in this case, the truck has some sentimental value and I don't want to really do anything cosmetic to the truck such as add a stick shifter to the interior. Also, while the 4R70W is far from bulletproof, everything I've read seems to confirm it is a good transmission, comparatively reliable, and capable of handling up to 500 ft-lb which is more than enough for me. I'm actually still not entirely certain how to get started reconciling that ECU issue, but it definitely seems like its not difficult to solve. Would I lose anything sticking with the 4R70W as compared to the ZF tranny? I'm not really one to work on my own transmissions anyway, and I try to take care of my vehicles as best I can, so as long as its not hideously more expensive to fix than the manual it's not a major issue for me.

As for dealing with the initial cost of getting a donor vehicle, it's all an issue of dealing with my wife. I suppose we all have to compromise a little.

Some quick rapid fire questions:

1) Is the 351w significantly heavier than the 302 and would it affect the front suspension?
2) Where are all these cheap donor vehicles people keep finding? Is there some place I can find side-impact vehicles easily? Pull-a-part usually takes all the good parts out before they put them on the lot and I'm not aware of any real junkyards in my area. (could just be ignorance though)
3) If I have a hoist (I'll do some research here) and the engine matches the tranny, I feel confident I could mechanically install a 351w into the 4R70W. However, as far as the ECU coupling, what type of shop would I need to consult for those custom ECU components? Is that something I can order online or would I need to go to a local shop?
4) Finally, it looks as though 1996 and newer 351w have MAF EFI, is this true?

Thanks everyone for your help so far. I know I keep changing directions, but I'm still learning and correcting my ignorance.

P.S. GNR22, wouldn't it be so much easier if we could just install those magic power modules? Just bolt a blower somewhere near your serpentine belt and you get 250HP!!! Of course, that probably wouldn't be half as much fun.
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Old 07-21-2012, 12:26 AM
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For the trans the only "downside" to swapping to a ZF5 is it's a manual vs an auto. That's totally a matter of personal preference because some guys just prefer shifting manually. The advantages are that it will free up some power and MPG, it's stonger, and it has a granny low 1st gear. They both have OD so you're not really losing anything.

The 351 was availible in half tons so suspension should be the same. If there is extra weight and stiffer springs in the 351 just steal the springs from the donor. But I'm pretty sure the weight is about the same and the springs are the same.

cheap parts trucks are on Craigslist usually. I saw a cherry 2wd Reg. cab F150 eddie bauer for $500 that either had a bad engine or tranny. Someone who could find a donor and could do the swap would have a very nice truck for under a grand. I know another guy that bought a running driving F150 4x4 flarside with a smashed fender for $500 and threw on a new fender. $3k-4k truck by replacing a fender. The deals are out there you just have to watch and be ready. Know when to pass and when to pounce.

You probably don't need a custom ECM. If you can't find one for the 351/4r70w combo look for a stand alone unit for the trans then get an ECM from a 351/5speed. Another last-resort option would be to swap the 4r70w for an E4od. These were available together so finding the right ECM would not be a problem. "last-resort" being key because if you're swapping the trans a ZF5 would be a better option and not be much more work.

There used to be bolt-on superchargers for ~20% more power for the F-series but that was years ago and they're all discontinued now.
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Old 07-21-2012, 12:26 AM
 
 
 
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