Rebuild vs. New: Ford 360 FE Truck Engine
Deciding whether or not to rebuild a 1968 Ford F-100 360-cube FE big-block engine.
As a high-mileage, daily driven truck, my FE-powered 1968 F-100 has seen its fair share of bumps and bruises externally, but nothing prepared me for what was going to happen to the tough-as-nails, 360 big-block on a hot summer day.
On a drive out to pick up a basket case motorcycle I purchased via the internet, about halfway into my trip I noticed that the truck's temp gauge was traveling into the red zone and on the stop-and-go SoCal freeways with no place to go, this is not a good thing. Being jammed up on the not-so-open road left me nowhere to pull off, and I was helpless to witness my 42-year-old truck's powerplant melt down like Three Mile Island.
Once the truck was towed back to my house, I was able to put in on my Bendpack lift, pull the motor, and survey the damage.
After some troubleshooting I noticed that one of the four-decade-old freeze plugs had rusted through and left the motor with no coolant, therefore causing some serious top-end head gasket damage due to heat.
I was now at a crossroads. Do I yank the big-block altogether and go with a remanufactured small-block? Or do I keep the numbers-matching mill in it and upgrade the top end?
After racking my brain for what seemed like forever, I liked the current options of FE aftermarket products available and chose to keep the stock engine but give it a top-end redo.
With a call made to Edelbrock, I was able to get an FE-specific parts package that consisted of a Performer RPM aluminum intake manifold and heads and a 600-cfm carb. To add a little snazziness under the hood, Edelbrock also kicked in a set of its classic-series FE valve covers and air cleaner in black.
Further delving into the engine's issue I saw many worn parts that were also in need of an upgrade. Luckily, our friends at Summit Racing stepped in to further ensure this engine redo would be a success.
Summit Racing has a ton of company-branded products that have every bit as much performance and technology behind them as the big brands but at a fraction of the price. We went with Summit's own FE Cam, timing gear set, lifters, pushrods, gaskets, and even some hardware from ARP to keep it all locked down.
Outside of the engine we used a Summit Racing water and fuel pump, thermostat, and water neck.
We also wanted to expand the oil capacity of the FE, and since we put a front IFS from Fatman Fabrications on this truck while it was out of commission, we needed a van oil pan with a rear sump. Yet again we called Summit and ordered a Milodon oil pan, pickup, and gasket as well as a new Summit extra-capacity oil pump to do all the heavy liquid lifting.
Once the motor's top end was back together, we needed to get the engine's electrical juices flowing, so Pertronix supplied us with a new distributor and coil.
To expend all the new gases the Edelbrock carb will be sucking in, we went with a set of Patriot's FE truck headers and secured them to the big-block with a set of Percy's Splitlock locking fasteners.
The engine redo went together rather easily with a set of skilled hands and the right tools, as you can see for yourself.
We will be excited to see what kind of power the truck makes over stock when we get it back in the truck and on the dyno.