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Leaky Jeep Radiator, Ford 460 Swap - Nuts & Bolts

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on March 14, 2015
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Ford 460 Swap
Q I have a 1978 Ford F-250 4x4 with a 351M engine. I just bought a 1996 Ford F-250 with a 460ci engine, and I want to replace the 351M with the 460. Will I have any problems with this swap? Thank you for your help.
John Metzger
via nuts@4wheeloffroad.com

A Anyone considering a 460 swap needs to know about L&L Products (landlproducts.com). The company has been specializing in shoehorning Ford big-blocks into trucks for over 20 years, so we spoke to a company representative about the best plan of attack for your swap.

Mechanically, your swap is nearly a bolt-in affair. The 351M uses the Ford big-block bolt pattern, so it will mate with your truck’s existing transmission. Be sure you use the flywheel off of the 460, but everything else should mate up just fine. L&L offers engine mounts that will enable you to use the existing frame perches and keep the transmission in the stock location, so no driveshaft modifications should be necessary.

The biggest hurdles with your swap are the accessory drive system, the fuel system, and the wiring. L&L cautioned that the steering box on your ’78 truck makes things a little narrow at the front of the engine compartment, and as a result there may be clearance problems with the serpentine belt system. Adding to that, the power steering pump and A/C compressor (if applicable) from the 460 won’t be the same as the 351. Because of this, L&L recommends retrofitting the V-belt accessories and accessory mounting brackets from the 351 to the 460. This shouldn’t be a big deal, but some minor clearancing and alterations may be necessary. We assume you intend to retain the fuel injection on the big-block because otherwise you would have gotten a donor engine from an earlier vehicle. As you can imagine, the fuel system on your ’78 is incompatible with the later EFI engine. Since it sounds like you purchased an entire donor truck, and both are F-250s, the safest and easiest thing to do would be to adapt the later fuel tank to the earlier truck. This will net you a reliable in-tank fuel pump with the necessary pressure and volume to run the 460, as well as provisions for a return line that’s compatible with the EFI. There will be some plumbing involved between the tank and the engine, but this is fairly easy in the grand scheme of things. For the exhaust, you can run the factory 460 manifolds if they fit, or L&L can build you a set of headers with the necessary EGR valve and O2 sensor ports. You could also source manifolds from a 460-powered van, which run a little bit closer to the block if clearance is an issue.

Last but certainly not least is the wiring. To our knowledge, no plug-and-play wiring harness is readily available for the fuel injection system, but it is OBD-I and actually a pretty simple harness as fuel injection systems go. With a good factory service manual and some time, it wouldn’t be a huge ordeal to whittle down the engine harness from the donor truck and make it work. When you’re done, you should have a reliable truck and gobs of torque on tap.

Drippy Wrangler
Q I have a 1994 Jeep YJ with a straight-six and an automatic transmission. The automatic has its own cooler and fan on the wheelwell, and I am running an electric fan on the radiator. I did not have any overheating problems with the stock radiator, but the old radiator has sprung several leaks and I am looking to buy a new or rebuilt one. Any recommendations for the best radiator for the money for my application would be greatly appreciated. Are the aluminum ones really worth the extra money?
TAZ13
Via fourwheeler.com forums

A We’ve never been a huge fan of the plastic tank/aluminum core radiators that seem to be in all newer vehicles these days, and this is likely the type of radiator under the hood of your Wrangler. They often spring leaks where the tanks meet the aluminum core, and what’s worse is you can’t just solder one back together should you punch a hole in it like you can with a more traditional brass radiator. The trouble is you really aren’t going to be able to upgrade over what you have using stock replacement parts. A quality aluminum radiator will last quite a bit longer than a stock replacement, but as you point out, they are quite a bit more expensive.

If your Jeep’s radiator is leaking around the tanks or even has a cracked tank, there’s a chance you can have it repaired at a local radiator shop cheaper than buying a new stock replacement. You mentioned that the Jeep wasn’t overheating before, so that indicates the core is probably in good shape. A radiator shop can even repair one or two leaks in the core itself. A good radiator shop will tell you if they can repair what you have and for how much up front, so you can weigh their prices against buying a new one. But if you plan on keeping your Jeep for a long time, we recommend investing in a quality all-aluminum replacement. Fortunately for you, there are several direct bolt-in radiator options for your YJ from companies like Flex-a-lite (flex-a-lite.com) and Quadratec (quadratec.com). Though it’s more expensive, you will upgrade the cooling capacity of your Jeep significantly and should get years of trouble-free use. Make sure you use good-quality coolant to avoid any issues with electrolysis, and remember to throw a new thermostat in when you do the swap.

My First Trail Truck
Q I am wanting to turn my old 1994 F-150 4x4 into a trail truck/rockcrawler and was wanting to know what modifications I need to do to make it trail-ready I don’t want to blow a bunch of cash on it; I just want something I can use to go play around in the dirt. It has a 5.7L, an E4OD transmission, and 31x10.5R15 tires. It has upgraded rear shocks but other than that it’s stock.
Cazz894
Via fourwheeler.com forums

A The ’80-’96 Ford 4x4 trucks are slightly underrated off-road vehicles, mostly due to their Twin-Traction Beam (TTB) front suspension. Though TTB is a little more problematic than an equivalent solid-axle truck, Fords like yours are otherwise equipped with very solid drivetrain components. Even the TTB itself can be beefed up to yield very good trail manners.

The two biggest areas that will improve off-road performance are ground clearance and traction, so a good strategy is to focus on enhancing those. There are several very good suspension lifts on the market for your truck, and it’s really hard to go wrong with any one of them as long as you stick with name brands that have been around for a while. If you can swing it, we would recommend going with a system that includes longer radius arms as opposed to using drop brackets to relocate the stock ones. The factory radius arms are pretty short and don’t provide much in the way of suspension travel, while longer radius arms can improve travel and reduce suspension bind in general, as well as improve on-road handling traits. A 4-inch lift will clear 33-inch tires without any trimming at all, and 35-inch tires will clear with some moderate massaging of the front fenders. We wouldn’t go much taller than 35s if lockers are in your future without spending some money on upgraded axleshafts for the Ford 8.8 rear and Dana 44 TTB front that are likely under your truck.

Once you have the lift and the tires, spend some time on the trails with your truck and see if it performs like you want. The suspension lift will help keep the frame and body clear of trail obstacles, while the tires help both ground clearance and traction.

If you find yourself wanting to go a step further, then adding more traction with limited-slip or locking differentials is the next logical step. A locker in the rear of your truck will enhance its off-road capability substantially, while a locker in both axles will enable it to handle some pretty serious trails. We hesitate to recommend a full locker for the front axle with the factory axleshafts because they are known weak points (especially the intermediate shaft), not to mention being fairly difficult to replace on the trail. Chromoly front axleshafts are available from a few places, including Yukon Gear & Axle (yukongear.com), and they have even become pretty affordable. If you want to go full race, RCV Performance Products (rcvperformance.com) now offers a set of bulletproof CV axles for your truck, though they aren’t cheap. Keep in mind that lockers are going to make your truck capable of climbing stuff that could easily end up damaging sheetmetal, so body armor should be part of the mix unless you want your truck to end up with lots of trail character.

Regardless of what you do, the important part is to get out there on the trails and use your truck. You don’t have to have all the best equipment or the hardest of the hardcore stuff to enjoy the backcountry. Throw a little bit of lift at your truck and go four-wheeling. Try your hand at a few mild trails and decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t for the type of trails you enjoy. You also don’t have to add everything at once; instead, do things as your budget allows and let your driving skills improve as you go along. Doing things gradually will not only make you a better driver, but also give you a better appreciation for what each individual modification can do.

Submission Information
Confused? Email your questions about trucks, 4x4s, and off-roading tech using “Nuts, I’m confused” as the subject and include a picture (if it’s applicable). Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file. Also, I’ll be checking the forums on our website (4wheeloffroad.com), and if I see a question that I think more of you might want to have answered, I’ll print that as well. Otherwise drop it old-school style with the envelope addressed to the address below. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Write to: Nuts & Bolts, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 fax to: 818.566.8501 Email to: nuts@4wheeloffroad.com

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