jasper.com provides some of the best rebuilt engines and tranmissions, they do carry 2.9L engines.
Autozone carries one with a good warranty, I do not know about quality first hand...
> the 2.9L can be rebuilt with good increased HP
Good by any standard is ci=hp. 177 ci = 177 hp in a 3500+ pound vehicle does not make for good tire spinning performance You are better off keeping everything stock (save your money) or upgrading to a 4.0 or 5.0.
> "Ford" not wanting to talk rebuit crate eng?
Generally speaking, crate engines are available for vehicles currently in production or for performance off-road applications. The 2.9L does not fit either guideline. After the TFI class action lawsuit I doubt Ford wants anything to do with the older TFI based engines.
Anyways, a good rebuilt engine exceeds the used price of most BIIs or Rangers. It is usually cheaper to buy another one or a different vehicle, so it makes no sense for Ford to offer a rebuilt engine. How many would they sell in one year, 100?
ElWhoppo & UncleBS:
Yes, crate engines are available, and the price isn't too bad. They are available at almost any national parts house (Schucks, Kragen, Auto Zone...) or I have found them at http://rebuilt.infoboard.net/fordlookup/display_engine.cfm for around 1895 plus shipping.
As was stated, it's hard to get power out of these engines, but not impossible. Headers and free flowing exhaust help, so does propper air flow such as with a good air filter. However if you are looking to overhaul and build, remember that no matter what you do, you are still working with an engine with aluminum heads, and an aluminum block. Build it too hard and you'll blow it!!!
So to support many others in this forum, there is not replacement for displacement. 302's are a dime a dozen, rebuilds for them are cheap. Take teh $2000 you would spend on a crate motor and get a 302. Conversion kits are only $1000 so you still have 4x4. At any rate, have fun.
I'm trying to figure out what it is thats in a 302 coversion kit that makes it worth a grand? Dose it include a new CPU? Motor mounts, electric radiator fan? I could come up with a whole lot of spare parts for a $1000. Dose the frame have to be motified?
5 years ago I replaced my 2.9L with a rebuilt from Carquest. It had a 3 year warranty with with unlimited mileage. After brake-in I put on some mileage pulling my travel trailer from FL to AZ back to TX. The engine is still running great and to date has about 60k miles.
As the years have gone by, my little engine seemed to be losing performance. It was lacking power when pulling the camper. I started doing some checking. This is what I found. Behind the grill where the air tube to the air box starts, I found the flap to be broken, (after years of use I suspect) starving my little engines air supply. I removed it and cut away the flap and installed a screen behind the frame to keep out the bugs and the little engine came to life. I got greedy and wanted some more hp cheap. I already had a performance chip in the computer and a k/n air filter. I needed something like a 4 barrel, and for $54 I installed a TB from a '87 2.9L with a opening of 58mm verses the 53 mm for the '88. Wow! The difference I could feel in the seat of my pants. I also insulated the air tubes and the air box to keep the air into the TB as cool as possible. I now have some form of a cold air ram induction. I am enjoying the performance.