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1968-2013 Full Size Vans Econolines. E150, E250, E350, E450 and E550

Centurion E350

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  #1  
Old 12-11-2016, 03:34 AM
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Talking Centurion E350

Greetings all,

Proud to introduce my most recent van fleet addition, this 1986 E350 Centurion "Cruiser III", purchased from a New Hampshire seller who bought the vehicle in California and took it back across the country.





It has the 460 and C6 combo and runs spectacularly well. I put the 76,000th mile in on the return drive to Boston. This is the first Ford product, pickup truck (...?), and duallie vehicle I've ever owned, so I've spent the past week studying up on Ford trucks.

There are some issues which prevent it from passing Massachusetts inspection which I am working through, such as non-op turn signals and reversing lights. There's also some shenanigans with the fuel tank switching valve so it only works with the rear tank at the moment.



Short term I intend to uparmor the underside against New England road salt, since it's a bare-bottomed California truck, and low-key restore some body damage and peripheral rust. Longer term, I'd like to get it fully repainted - the 80s multi-color geometric plumage isn't really my thing.

In terms of knowledge resources, I'm interested hearing about common failure modes and issues to address with this year/model, as well as where to get parts and potential upgrade paths. Expertise with the Centurion conversion would also be great. I think the front half is all E350, though there seems to be a few layers of non-op aftermarket wiring I need to wade through to find my reversing lights.
 
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Old 12-11-2016, 06:15 AM
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I am honored to be the first Reply to this.

I nominate Teamtestbot for FTE 1968-2013 Full Size Vans member of the year, based solely on his unique and interesting piece.

Moderators, please charge my card for him to receive a Silver membership.

Unrelated: am I having remarkable deja vu, or have you posted this info (without the pics) recently?

welcome to the forum!
 
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Old 12-11-2016, 08:52 AM
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research

I'd go straight 2 the centerion sites rather than here at FTE. My use of our EB forum (the bronks) is not real fruitful cept 4 one or 2 guys...
 
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Old 12-11-2016, 12:34 PM
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Im50fast - I've mde my way here via some other sites while hunting for info on Ford trucks and Centurions. You may have seen the same gist on Reddit r/ford for example.
 
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Old 12-11-2016, 02:04 PM
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Rust? From a Ca. Vehicle?
 
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Old 12-11-2016, 02:43 PM
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If the Econoline was sold new in CA, the DSO code printed on the Certification Label will be either 71 or 72.

Drip rail rust is a somewhat common occurrence in CA, usually found on "beach cars."

These are vehicles that are parked outside in coastal cities/towns. The salty marine layer blows in overnight, settles on vehicles. It should be washed off...at least once a week.

Ford spot welded the drip rails to the roof, then used paintable caulk to fill in the gaps and smooth them out. The caulk chips off, salty marine air seeps in, rust begins, soon spreads into the roof.
 
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Old 12-11-2016, 06:17 PM
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Anyone have experience in where the "next domino" is for the back-up light circuit when the Neutral Safety Switch harness shorts?

Basically the story is, through the Haynes manual and process of elimination, I found the NSS wiring harness very well cooked and destroyed. It was shorting to the block. The NSS on the transmission is also non-op on the back-up light circuit. Ordered a new one, yet to install it.




But just for testing, I tried bypassing the back-up light switch circuit, jumping the purple-orange wire to the black wire. It energizes and doesn't short, but also yields no light.

Both bulbs are good, and the brake lights and rear marker lights do work, which is weird since according to the Haynes, they are grounded in the same locations.

Hence my "next domino" question. If the fuse is good and the switch harness does energize properly, then is there a place where the wiring likes to fail open next assuming some kind of uncontrolled short previously?
 
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Old 12-12-2016, 09:29 AM
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I've repaired back-up lights non-op's from replacing the NSS and the NSS connector, tapping the correct wire from the NSS for the back-up lights, and running a new wire to the rear, connecting it into the back-up lights circuit.

The back-up light wire is powered thru the NSS, returns thru the wire harness back to the front and where it goes from there???
Running it direct to the rear has not been a problem. Yes, the tail lights and back-up lights share a common ground at the rear frame.

The '94 I did had the OEM back-up lights, and a back-up alarm all running off the one new wire off the NSS with no problems.

Besides the obvious problem you found with the deteriorated harness and wires, you'll find more corroded wire connectors with a vehicle that's 30 years old, and by-passing, or just splicing the wires direct to each other will be in your play book for a older vehicle.
 
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Old 12-12-2016, 02:28 PM
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Fair enough! My electrical engineer sense makes me want to reuse as much of the system as possible but at this point I've had a previously running vehicle taken apart for a week and it's starting to bother me

Also I've finally received a copy of the shop book so I can also do some more digging on the fuel tank switching valve front.
 
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Old 12-14-2016, 09:36 PM
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Nailed it. Now I'm marginally more street legal!



I basically had to rebuild the back-end wiring harness. There were so many poorly done splices, wires that led nowhere, etc. Based on the aging of the various nylon connector shells I think at least 2 clowns have been back here before me.

Transmission switch harness repair, with new transmission neutral safety switch down below (shown before tape-wrapping)




Next functional goal is the fuel tank switching system, since it seems silly to have such a big truck with 150 miles of range. Anyone dealt with them before and know of potential pitfalls & places to be aware of?

I'd also like to replace both fuel tank float/sender assemblies, since the one that is working (rear) reads half when full, and empty when half, and the other is in unknown condition (front). Are these the correct part numbers? They're the only results that come up for front/rear tanks when I look for 86 E350s on Rock Auto.

 
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Old 12-15-2016, 05:47 AM
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Glad to hear you got several problem solved

Most of the time you will find a 'rats-nest' of wire in the rear from former owners wiring up trailer connections and band-aid repairs.
Corroded connectors are always a problem, at least that's what I've found.
Another problem is that used a high content of copper in there wires, which is good, but over time, causes a faster rate of corrosion.

Can't help you with the fuel tank pumps, other's on here have a vast more experience with the 2 fuel tank, pumps and switches, I'll leave it to them.

But one word of advice, double check your part orders, as you have what was once called an "incomplete vehicle" which was later labeled as a "cut-away"

At Rock, if you click on the "blue" part number, a pop-up window will appear, and list comparability of the part.

rolled out the chassis and a partial body direct to after market dealers, which then completed the body, as in your case, or a cube-van, ambulance body.
 
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Old 12-15-2016, 04:20 PM
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A lot of awesome with this truck.
 
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:29 AM
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Sup gang,

Bit of help with "truck words"... What is this fairing/cowling thing called, and does anyone have a favorite vendor to support? I'd like to pick one up for the Vantruck. Right now it "ends" very abruptly, so to speak. I'm pretty sure the bed is a few inches shorter height-wise than a regular pickup bed so it might need to be modified, but an example would help greatly.

 
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Old 12-18-2016, 04:12 AM
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I believe that would be called a cab extension fairing or spoiler. That one appears to be 2 separate pieces, the extension mounted to the bed and the spoiler mounted to the cab.
In my opinion, the usability of the bed would be retained by adding a metal headache rack.
 
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Old 12-18-2016, 08:09 PM
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van v p/u

Originally Posted by teamtestbot View Post
Sup gang,
Bit of help with "truck words"... What is this fairing/cowling thing called, and does anyone have a favorite vendor to support? I'd like to pick one up for the Vantruck. Right now it "ends" very abruptly, so to speak. I'm pretty sure the bed is a few inches shorter height-wise than a regular pickup bed so it might need to be modified, but an example would help greatly.
Interesting, never saw 1 on ur type of rig, always saw then on the p/u style.
U lookin 4 one?
Centerion's is no longer in business, they were bought out by southern comfort conversions and ceased to exist. Check them 4 parts? Not sure what they have as I don't own 1 of these kingsa da road!
 
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