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  #31  
Old 02-09-2015, 12:37 AM
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It is cheaper to overhaul a 390 than it is a 352 because there are many more 390s out there. Ford used them in everything. An ideal 390 comes from a 70s F-series pickup or E-series van. These engines are 'light truck' engines (TE) and a little beefier than car engines.

3-speed Cruise-O-Matics are a little older but will work just fine with a 390. C-6 came out in '66 and are built to haul heavier loads. There is always 'overhead' when using a stronger trans, as it hogs more HP but it is made for 'truck service'.

Whatever trans you get, make sure you get the flywheel and starter motor with it. Ford made changes to the number of teeth over the years so the starter motors are not all interchangeable.

I would never buy a used engine and trans to run. They are 'unknown', old and they need to be overhauled. They were not made for today's gasohol or today's oil reformulations. If money is tight, wait until you can do this job. In the mean time, start pricing parts and find a good reputable engine machine shop. If you don't know of one, go to a car dealership and ask the mechanics. Dealerships rarely ever do machine shop work.

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  #32  
Old 02-09-2015, 01:26 PM
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Thanks again guys. I'll be searching for now, hoping to find something.
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  #33  
Old 02-09-2015, 03:29 PM
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Ryan, put it in the back of your mind that whatever you get will be worn out and badly in need of an overhaul. This is a healthy way to approach any unknown engine. Expect all the parts to be there and the castings are not cracked.

NEVER pay a lot for an engine and trans that you will overhaul. Time is on your side so check Craig's list. You may find some guy has an old pickup truck he wants to get a few bucks out of. Whether it ran or not means very little. In fact, whatever the story is, only believe half of it. Insist that the castings are good or you will receive your money back. If they say, 'no' then keep on looking. Tell the buyer you plan on spending thousands on an overhaul and you only need a core.

If they want several hundred, don't do it. You will need that money for machining costs. Typically (and I know this is a generalized statement) you guys in the South and West wear out your engines long before the body is gone. Your weather is so good that you CAN change your oil anytime during the year. The problem is, everyone keeps putting it off and that causes premature mechanical failure.

In Detroit, we are in trouble if we don't maintain just before snow flies and just after it is done. It's **** cold here and I hate working outside on my back in cold, wet, blustery weather. I don't trust 'Uncle Ed's oil change' either because I have no idea what he is putting in my wife's or my car. I buy the oil and filter and I change it myself so I know, sometimes at a higher cost than Uncle Ed wants. Most folks around here don't pay attention or they don't care about details, they simply want an oil change.

A complete and correct engine overhaul costs many thousands of dollars. It should return 250,000 miles of hard service if properly maintained. If you use modern materials and modern methods there is something wrong if you DON'T get 250k miles back. This also means you cannot use OEM parts because they were not made for today's oil or gas. You must build your engine with today's standards.

If you have questions about any of this, please ask. I want two things for you:
1. Do it once and do it right.
2. Spend as little as practical and save as much money as possible. - Dave
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  #34  
Old 02-09-2015, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyconnected View Post
It is cheaper to overhaul a 390 than it is a 352 because there are many more 390s out there. Ford used them in everything.

I would never buy a used engine and trans to run. They are 'unknown', old and they need to be overhauled. They were not made for today's gasohol or today's oil reformulations. If money is tight, wait until you can do this job. In the mean time, start pricing parts and find a good reputable engine machine shop. If you don't know of one, go to a car dealership and ask the mechanics. Dealerships rarely ever do machine shop work.

Ask a lot of questions and take a lot of pictures. - Dave
I took a risk on the 390 I am running in our 58, paid $600 for a complete motor with an Edelbrock RPM manifold, headers and an Edelbrock cam. Headers I knew wouldn't fit. I ended up dropping the pan on it and installed new main bearings an IRP oil pump shaft and new umbrella seals. That was 6 years ago

So far I am doing okay, but I don't think that is normal, Like Dave said, it's a *&%$ shoot going with a used motor.
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  #35  
Old 02-09-2015, 09:00 PM
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I hear Ya guys. If I was to get a used engine I would most likely rebuild it from scratch. I've never done it and always have wanted to. My Dad knows a little about it, plus with you guys and friends and the web I could get it done. I'm just weighing costs of having someone else rebuild one and then installing everything else afterwards vs the cost of me doing what I can with basic tools and paying a pro to do the intricate stuff. I wouldn't want to buy the specialty equipment needed to tackle engine overhauls for just this one project. Maybe sometime down the road a dream shop will be a reality but not anytime soon. Craigslist has some 390s and C6s available in various conditions. One dude has a setup still in his 75 F100 and says I could come hear it run. $800, plus a little more if I want the Trans. I know there still could be major problems with it I'm unable to decipher... In any case, I think a solid setup would do me just fine. I don't need a completely new crate motor or anything like that. Just something reliable and able to be worked on in the future. But, this is the ultimate question isn't it? How do I know what I'm getting and if the PO is being truthful? The only way to tell is do it yourself. So, in short, I'm still pondering... Thx for the intelligence fellas
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  #36  
Old 02-09-2015, 09:54 PM
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Oh, and Dave, it's 76 degrees here and I think I'll put off my F150 oil change til this weekend. I think you're on to something there! Too many other things I could do today! But as far as the quick and dirty oil change theory, that seems to be Nationwide. Convenience over quality. I do my own as well, can't trust many people these days. Hard to find honest and loyal mechanics that aren't overly concerned with profits. That brings me full circle to my current Squarebird dilemma...
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  #37  
Old 02-09-2015, 10:29 PM
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If you can find a good used 390 that's quiet, doesn't smoke and doesn't leak an excessive amount of oil there's no reason why you can't just drop it in and use it as it is. After all it's not like you need it for your everyday vehicle. If you want to enjoy your Thunderbird as soon as possible there's no reason to do a long involved engine rebuild right now. You can always do that down the road when the funds are available. I wouldn't pay $800 for it though unless you know for a fact that it's been correctly maintained and it has fairly low miles. The problem you will run into is that you need the correct 1958-60 exhaust manifolds if you have the stock exhaust system. Also later exhaust manifolds may not clear the steering box. The C6 will require some transmission mount modification also but other than that it should be an easy installation. You will need to wire the alternator if it comes with it as your car came with a generator. You will also have to decide what to do with the power steering. The original pump is different from the later model pumps. Those are the things that will give you the most problems. Installing the engine is the easy part.

John
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  #38  
Old 02-09-2015, 10:48 PM
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Man, this is good stuff. I really do appreciate it. I'm taking in all the info you and other forum members have given me and calculating my funds, inexperience, opportunities to learn something new as well as final TBird goals. Yeah I'm looking for a weekend cruiser, nothing show quality or daily driver. I only put 1,000 miles on my other Classic last year, so ithis one's not gonna be pushed too hard either. I agree, maybe get her running and when the time comes for paint I could take the motor out and put some work into it as I wait.
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  #39  
Old 02-10-2015, 03:11 AM
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If you decide to follow jopizz's information, to help you make a good decision about any engine you are looking at, I would suggest this. Try to find out from the seller what vehicle the engine and tranny came out of. The engine does not have to be a 390, as a 352 would do the trick also. The tranny does not have to be a C6. It could be a COM. I suggested a 390/C6 because they are a slightly newer engine/tranny version and more available. As Dave says, if it came out of a Light duty F series truck, that would be good. Ask if the engine has been recently overhauled and if so, when and was it redone with hardened components to accommodate today's oils and gas. If it has been, that is even better. If it is an original or overhauled engine/tranny try and find out how many miles it has on it. One of the best things you could do if you are checking on a running engine/tranny or especially one that is not running, is to have a very good engine mechanic with you. Someone that can listen to a running engine/tranny combination, and drive the car if possible. Or someone that can check an engine not installed, all over, looking for cracks, defects, anything that might cause you not to want to buy it.
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  #40  
Old 02-22-2015, 04:08 PM
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Hey guys. I picked up a 390/COM combo from Darrin over at Thunderbird Connection. He's a good dude. Looks to be from an early 60's Bird. It's fairly complete, only missing the RH exhaust manifold and the flywheel cover. Obviously I'm going to replace a lot of other components, but it seems to be a good start. Bustin out the scraper and degreaser and cleaning it up today and after work this week. Going to check the numbers on it and see exactly what year it is. I can finally get the ball rolling on this project!
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