The Rise of the Family Kenworth

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Big engines are making a comeback . . . sort of.

You may have caught my article about Ford’s new 7.3 liter V8, the biggest V8 Ford has made in 20 years. It’s not the only new big V8 on deck, either.

GM and FiatChrysler (maker of the Ram series of trucks) also have big new V8s coming. They don’t have turbos – or even overhead cams.

Some are made of cast iron, too.

It’s almost like they repealed the income tax.

But, there’s a catch.

These engines will only be available – absent something analogous to a repeal of the income tax –  in very big trucks. Three-quarter-tonners and up. The F250/350 Super Duty, Ram 2500/3500 and Silverado HD.

Maybe a few super-sized SUVs built on common platforms.

These are the latest redoubt – the last class of vehicle shy of the Kenworth class that people can still retreat to, to get what they want – as opposed to what the government demands. They are the last class of non-commercial vehicles that isn’t subject to the  engine-gimping fuel economy fatwas that now apply full-force to all other vehicles, including “light duty” pick-ups and SUVs.

Which were the previous redoubt.

Initially – and until fairly recently – the fatwas applied much less stringently to these “light trucks” than they did to cars, which were the first to be gimped.

That gimping taking the form of shrunken engines in shrunken cars.

This transitioning – which was just as artificially induced as Bruce-to-Caitlyn – occurred during the mid-late 1980s and into the ’90s. Big cars – with big engines – almost disappeared; they were replaced by much smaller cars – with much smaller engines.

But lots of people still wanted big cars – with big engines.

These were still available, too . . . as “light trucks” – which became “SUVs” when seats were bolted to the bed and the whole thing enclosed with steel and glass.

This is why trucks – and what we now call “SUVs” – have become the most popular category of vehicle – and a pie in Uncle’s face.

Uncle’s response was not gracious. It was vengeful.

The fatwas applied to ordinary passenger cars were applied to “light trucks” and SUVs, too. Uncle could not stand the idea that people were getting away with buying vehicles that used too much gas for his tastes.

No one ever seems to ask why it is any of the government’s business how much gas our vehicles use – or not. So long as people aren’t being forced to buy anything – whether it uses less gas or more – there ought to be no objection.

Or at least, no fatwas.

But Uncle has never believed in free choice. It runs risk of allowing people to make their own choices.

The broadening of the fatwa’s reach to include “light trucks” happened only recently –  and it is the only reason for the sudden appearance of tiny four cylinder and twice-turbo’d V6 engines in half-ton trucks such as the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado 1500 – as well as large SUVs based on them, such as the Ford Expedition.

This would never have happened absent the fatwas for the self-evident reason that it makes no sense . . . from the standpoint of the people buying these trucks. Why buy a twice-turbo’d V6 over a no-turbos V8 for the sake of “saving” perhaps 5 MPG – yes, really; that’s all the difference – at the cost of all those turbos?

The V8 is simpler and less stressed – which generally translates as more durable as well as costs less to maintain and repair. Which usually means it ends up costing the owner less overall than whatever is saved at the pump via the “fuel efficient” twice-turbo’d engine.

Same goes for things like aluminum bodies – also being resorted to for “fuel savings” (really fatwa compliance) reasons. Steel – like big V8s – makes more sense because it’s cheaper both to make it and to fix it. But the car companies resort to aluminum over steel because making sense isn’t the determining criteria any more.

Compliance is.

But as long as there is another redoubt available, buyers will retreat to it.

The same market forces that made “light trucks” and the SUVs they spawned such a hugely popular alternative to fatwa-gimped, under-engined and under-sized cars are likely to trigger a comparably massive uptick in the demand for “heavy duty” 2500 series and up trucks and the SUVs they will likely spawn.

Hilariously – or pathetically – depending on your point of view, the fuel economy fatwas have achieved precisely the opposite of their touted object. Much more gas is being “wasted” in jacked-up, far less aerodynamic and much heavier 4×4 pick-ups and SUVs than would have been “wasted” in the fatwa-retired but far more aerodynamic – and far less heavy – big sedans wagons once so popular with American buyers.

Many of these delivered nearly 30 MPG on the highway – back in the ’90s, without the advantages of a transmission with multiple overdrive gearing. With modern gearing and other such tech, a full-size sedan or wagon with a nice big V8 under its hood would certainly deliver better gas mileage than a twice-turbo’d 4WD truck that’s 800 pounds heavier and has 30 percent more aerodynamic drag.

But the big sedans and wagons are gone.

And because of the effect of the fatwas on “light trucks” and SUVs, expect lots of people to be going to something a whole lot heavier.

In order to get something bigger.

While they still can.

Until it’s time to move to the next redoubt.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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72 COMMENTS

  1. Ah, nostalgia of the “olden days” (1960s to the late 1970s), when almost every driveway in Suburbia had at least one “Family Truckster”, which, whether sedan, hardtop, or station wagon, was tantamount to a main battle tank with chrome and hub caps. These “land battleships” could bomb down the freeway at 80 mph all day, with that slow turning V8 still practically loafing, and room for the whole “famned damily”, whom typically were unfettered by seat belts. Or “ma” could, as long as things were “intimate” with her hubby, snuggle right up to him on that front bench seat, and if the kids were zonked out, maybe put a smile on his face as they headed out in the Truckster towards “Walley World” (and, in the “Vacation”-verse, “Roy Walley” was still alive in 1983).

  2. I just inherited my 80 year old Dad’s 91 Crown Vic. Drove it home 360 miles, got 25mpg out of the 302 EFI/AOD combo running 70. It has a hitch. It has plush, comfortable bench seats, and no cup holders.

    Our world has NOT changed for the better.

    • Sorry to hear about your dad, Ernie.

      Man! Those were the last of the REAL cars! They’re better than half of the “trucks” that’re out there today; and they’re comfortable and efficient. How can ya beat THAT?!

  3. I guess we could call this the Automobile Engineers’ Full Employment Act. Or the Citizens’ Starvation Diet Fatwa. And it’s why necessity is the mother of invention.

    Okay, I’ll get away from the sarcasm.

    The freedom to choose has never been an important part of American government. After all, that’s why Presidential elections are limited to just two REAL choices, such that the people can vote for either the candidate they want, or the candidate they despise less. And every call to patriotism is based upon two choices: You’re either with us; or against us.

    Please understand: I’m not advocating for this system. I’m certainly not in favor of it; I’m just commenting.

    The most important thing to understand is that government = force. Nothing less, and sometimes plenty more. It’s the unbridled right of someone to hold a gun to your head, without the opportunity to defend yourself.

    And the way it’s looking from here, government only breaks things that would work just fine on their own.

  4. @Eric, what do you think of the Achates-Juncker inline 3 that theyre testing out? 35mpg, cheaper to make, and 270 hp and 490 lb-ft. All alleged, obviously. Nobody other than Achates engineers would be able to verify, atm.

  5. Surplus available power always comes with a price tag; usually a higher fuel consumption. This is just basic thermodynamics, since most heat machinery works with a low thermal efficiency at low loads and better efficiency at higher loads. Thus, an engine with surplus power would mostly also consume more fuel, regardless whether that power was accomplished with a higher displacement, higher RPM or with turbochargers.

    Yet, using a (somewhat) higher displacement to achieve more available power, may not in practice use significantly more fuel than obtaining the same with turbos. Therefore I more or less agree with Peters’ statements above. Obviously also a high displacement engine would gain by adding stop/start technology, several over-gears or hybrid technology.

    It would be interesting sometime to see objective tests comparing the fuel consumption of just using more displacement versus for instance turbos to obtain a required power surplus. The difference may not make the world of a difference.

    • Hi Jone,

      We can compare the mileage of – for example – the current F-150’s twin-turbo V6 vs. the mileage of a comparably powerful but much larger displacement V8, such as the current 6.2 liter V8 in the Chevy Silverado 1500.

      The twin-turbo V6 makes 375 hp is rated 18 city, 25 highway in the 2WD F-150 (17/23 with 4WD). The Chevy Silverado with the 6.2 V8 rates 15 city, 21 highway – and also makes 420 hp (torque output is a bit less; 450 ft.-lbs. vs. 510 ft. lbs. for the 3.5 V6).

      So, a roughly 3 MPG difference overall – with the V8 making much more horsepower and without the cost of a pair of turbos and all the related peripherals.

      The 5.0 liter V8 that’s still available in the F-150 makes 395 hp and delivers 17 city, 23 highway – essentially the same mileage as the 3.5 liter Ecoboost V6.

      • Thank you. Your feedback confirms what I suspected, that a more complicated and expensive system, saves a little fuel compared to just adding volume. It does, however, not make the world of a difference.

        • You bet, Jone!

          I can also relate my own experiences – having driven literally thousands of new cars, including almost all of the currently available small-engine/big turbo’d stuff. I find that unless you drive very gingerly, these little-engined vehicles use at least as much and sometimes more fuel than the same vehicle with a bigger (and theoretically “thirstier”) engine would have.

          It’s all for show – or rather, to achieve compliance with the various government fatwas.

          • I remember well the days of the original (the REAL) Minis. I had a range of them, even a Moke. Kewt, that thing was!!

            Had several dead sto
            ck well used 850 cc basic, sipping through a single 1 1.8″ SU carburetter. That combination would cruise on the near level all day long at 70 mph and return a solid steay 55 mpg. Get it into the twisties and start booting it, flooging those few tiny ponies for all they’re worth, mileage would drop to high fortis.. 47, 48. VERY cheap fun, as nothing corners like those REAL Minis.

            Also had a 1275 cc Cooper S in Stage Three tune… redline was 7500, and it gulped though a pair of HS 4 carbs…. 1 1/2 inch, well over twice the throughput. The amazing thins was that the COoper S would ALSO cruise at a steady 75 mph al day long and return the same 55 mpg. The real difference came when you found the twisties and got to work. NOTHING was faster than those cars through the corners. Flogging THAT raised the fun (and danger) quotieint about ten fold, but the price tag was still small. I think the worst fuel consumptioin I ever logged in that beastlet was about 42….. windy mountain roads at apeed, using the right pedal more than the steering wheel to keep it on the macadam. NOT for the novice or faint of heart. BUT.. for a car that would out drag most big V8 powerd muscle cars to about 100 mph, be the fastest thing on the backroads in the turns, and STILL return in the low 40’s when flogging it hard, now THAT was astounding. Wish I had one today…. the Countryman I think would be about right. But with discs all round, wide 12 inch rims, and a five speed Hewland gearbox and since I’m being picky about it all ,make it a right drive car.

        • What Eric says! Automotive engines seem to achieve their best efficiency somewhere between 30-60% of their max capacity. The little engines are always working at 100%+ capacity, under normal driving conditions, being stressed to their limits with turbos and all- which ultimately greatly reduces their efficiency.

          But of course, under the EPA tests, because they are small, and not being operated “normally”, they look good on paper. Oh, wait, didn’t some poor slob from VW go to jail because he allowed VW’s cars to do that exact same thing- i.e. look good in test mode, but slightly worse under real driving conditions? Only VW’s cars got BETTER mileage in the real world…while our ‘Mercan crapboxes get WORSE!

          It’s like I always say: If you want to know what Uncle is really up to; what the results of his real programs and actions will be, just imagine the diametric opposite of what their stated names/goals are.

  6. I’m also wondering if this engine will be available as a crate motor for hot rods/resto-rods and muscle cars…that’s another redoubt to consider. Not only could this go into a vintage Mustang, Cougar, Torino, Or Cyclone, but maybe a Galaxie 500 or Montego…or maybe a Continental or Mark. Find one of those old hoopties with a decent body, but bad engine…swap out the old drivetrain for the 7.3 and AOD…make a few suspension upgrades…I can dream, can’t I?

  7. Eric wrote:

    “Hilariously – or pathetically – depending on your point of view, the fuel economy fatwas have achieved precisely the opposite of their touted object.”

    It wasn’t the CAFE fatwas that did this to me, personally, but the Volkswagen “cheating” Jihad.

    Forced me out of a 50 mpg diesel Jetta wagon, and put me in a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

    Twice the fuel, twice the emissions, heavier…all for four tenths of one percent percent of NoX.

    Thanks, Uncle Asshole.

  8. We did just what you said Eric. Since the big car went away around 90’s, we went pickup for me and suburban for wife since then, 20 yrs?. I dabbled in a few Park Ave’s and Caddy DTS’s to get a better ride since I lived on the road a lot. The kids are gone, so we have just now relegated the truck to 3rd vehicle as we still need one. Now in a 300 which is a good RWD semi-full size car, and Grand cherokee, also RWD based. both good v8’s.
    I would absolutely buy a land yacht today, RWD-only is fine for me. FCA could easily bring back the AWD version of the V8 in the 300/Charger with electronic limiting the front torque. Wife would buy that for sure if she could.

  9. I get it most people want a half ton. Do you know why? I couldn’t tell you how many women I’ve heard say they bought as pickup so they could see over other traffic. That doesn’t take you far in west Tx. though since it’s one pickup after the other, nearly all of them larger and taller than half tons.

    People don’t want a pickup to work, cue the way Dodge makes many models with car style suspension. All people want is the crew cab, hence, if you want a long bed you’ll have to order one or pick of the 2 or 3 work trucks on the lot. I prefer the work trucks with floor mats. I worked for a company that had a work truck, a Chevy, with floormats, manual locks and leather seats. Leather seats last longer and are much easier to clean. I don’t recall seeing another work truck like that but somebody knew what they were doing when they obviously ordered it.

  10. Since I am 45 now, I remember the transition from big full size wagons to big SUV’s back in the 80’s well. Many parents of my friends traded big wagons for Suburbans. My folks made do with minivans, since we didn’t have to tow anything (since we didn’t camp or boat).

    I think a lot of people don’t even remember that you could tow things with a full size car back in the day. You didn’t have to own a pickup or SUV to tow like you do now.

  11. Eric,

    I dislike government “fatwas” as much as you do. But you are overlooking a key factor in the new car buying equation. Here it is………

    ALL 2019 cars and trucks are DISPOSABLE, because of the soon to be obsolete, and too expensive to repair digital devices they are loaded with. And they will be broken or useless WAY BEFORE naturally aspirated V-8s or steel bodywork reach the end of their service life. Fixing that digital crap makes as much sense as spending $400.00 to repair a ten year old cell phone.

    So mechanical longevity beyond the car’s digital lifespan is virtually irrelevant. It’s still annoying that aluminum bodies and twin turbo V-6s cost more initially. But that is a separate, and lesser issue. At least, they get that extra 5mpg. 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Mike,

      Your point is solid, sadly.

      I often wonder how much longer this insanity can go on. I suppose for as long as the system finances it…

      • Actually, if you look at the commercial lines of the big three and Nissan, you find that much of the electronics are eliminated. The Diesel engines are detuned, but still plenty powerful. No small turbo engines. They know that longevity/reliability are more important than door handle mood lighting, panoramic sunroof’s, and a bunch of cool for a week touch screen bullshit. They provide column shifters, bench seats, rubber floors, keyed ignition and even hand crank windows if you want. They do have simple, small touch screens, but other than that they aren’t too bad.

        Toyota Tundra’s are the only half ton pickup that can be had with minimal tech, but that changes in 2020 with a refresh and will be really bad in 2021 or 22 when they redesign. Their lack of tech is what currently puts them in a class of their own for reliability. Uncle scam will need to be appeased sooner or later and that doesn’t bode well for reliability and simplicity.

      • BTW, it is spelled “Peterbilt”, a product of PACCAR, also home to Kenworth,assembled in Denton, Texas.

        How I wish the Big 3made a light truck in the style of the 389 Peterbilt and the W 900 Kenworth.

        Then you could easily reach the back of the engine standing on the ground as well as the top of the transmission.

        I realize most people couldn’t operate one but those who could would be aware of everything going on around them and take pride in such a great machine.

        In Mexico they (parking lot attendant )would clear 3 spaces to accommodate my one ton extra cab long bed Chevy.

        This country is begging for a 389 Supercab style light truck. They’d be an easy sell to truckers.

      • Brent, it’s already to the point where if you need a specific module for a car more than a few years old, if the manufacturer has ceased making it/run out of old stock….you’re SOL. And even if you can get the part- finding out what the problem is on one of these cars once they older, and the connectors and wiring gets a little wonky, with literally DOZENS of computerized modules interacting and communicating with each other, is nigh impossible.

        Go to turn on the defroster in that late-model car with the touchscreen, after it’s out of warranty, and nothing happens, and it’s not a simple mechanical problem….good luck finding what the problem is, or fixing it without spending major money.

        Third-party parts are becoming more and more scarce. Clerks at autoparts counters saying “That’s a dealer-only part” are becoming as ubiquitous as guys in opaper hats saying “Would you like fries with that, sir?”.

        Hard (mechanical) parts, and common sensors, etc., sure…. -and even with many of those simple things, like a crank position sensor, an aftermarket job won’t work right, or last more than a few months- but when it comes to the more nitty nitty-gritty control systems- body and chassis modules, etc…..fuhgettaboudit!
        ________
        BTW: Scotty Kilmer is really starting to creep me out now! As if advocating using compression fittings on brake lines weren’t bad enough, in a recent video, he mentioned that Autozone has a liberal return policy, so he was advocating people try certain electronic parts, and if it didn’t cure their problem “return it”! -Well…thanks to such advice, I guess it will soon be goodbye liberal Autozone return policy! (Not that I buy parts there)

        I mean, isn’t that exactly why in just about every other parts store, they have a big sign saying “NO RETURNS ON ELECTRICAL PARTS”?!

        • You can’t shop for parts at brick and mortar auto parts stores any longer for the most part. A well run NAPA may be able to order you something but the rest is just a sea of crap and incompetent people. I can barely get things like exhaust split flanges and brake line fittings at autoparts stores these days.

          Most things can be found if you use the interwebs and there are people who will rebuild your stuff too. There are also various aftermarket work arounds.

          Autozone has to have a liberal return policy because of the quality of a fair amount of what they sell.

          • T’is true, Brent. Luckily, the small town NAPA closest to me is great, and there are still some old-timey shops around here that rebuild starters and alternators; and radiator shops, etc.

            Far as all the other chain stores that have sporung up….pfffft!! Wouldn’t ya two cents for ’em.

            • I used to really like NAPA a lot, but that was back when this town still had a bunch of old school repair shops. Now the store, moved way to the outside of town so its a pain to get to, is all slick and modren….. don’t have the depth of stock they used to, and the company have made some changes in the way they handle commercial accounts. I used to get great discounts, now I end up paying on a wholesale account the same price the man off the street does. They’ve also taken to stocking the Cardone line of reman products, and I’ve learned NOT to trust that rebuilder. My main supplier treats me very well price-wise, and has some pretty deep tentacles for finding and quickly bringing in the wierd and rare stuff, which somehow I seem to end up needing a lot. They also draw from a couple major import supply outfits and their quality/price structure is excellent.

              Don’t be quick to write off AutoZone, either. When my usual guys blanked on the clutch master for a late ’88 Corolla, priced at $48 but three days away and add inbound shipping, I decided to call the folks at the Offal Zone…. verified build date to make sure, came back on the line to tell me he can have it in store late morning the next day.. and for TWENTY BUX, less than half my usual guys. Score!!! But then, I talk to the commercial desk there, and those are long-seasoned pros. Still can’t bet my usual guys, though, when it comes to finding some rare things. They are my first call, always. Been in this town now for over forty years….. and focused pn serving the trade.

              As to starters and generators, etc, I rebuild my own, have access to all the bits to make them as good as new. Managed to play the HeeRoe a few times…..some customer was dead ended finding the starter for his whatever it was….. bring it to me let me look at it. Oh, its easy… let me rebuild it for you. Which he did. Had it in a few days after waiting for the pieces, but it was all readily available. Used to do a lot of marine work. Funny, they paint it a different colour and put the “marine” label on it, and triple the price. I can usualy bring it in for them at half that and make excellent money.

              • Tio, the NAPA I deal with used to be really good- but a few years ago, new people took over, plus more and more of the other chains came in, and now NAPA is a ghost town- and they’re no longer giving me the trade price, either (But I can just order stuff through my neighbor, as he has a repair shop and deals with NAPA)- Can’t blame ’em for not giving me the price anymore though, since I don’t buy that much these days- although when I do, it’s usually a doozy! (Like $700 when I redid the brakes on my Exc.).

                My biggest complaint with Autozone, is that at least with the one here, you have to go in and wait on line at the parts counter…and then wait on another line to pay. I don’t have time for that nonsense. I go to NAPA and walk in and walk out in 2 minutes…. I only go to “The Zone” for battrees; I use nothing but Duralast Gold battrees- I always get 8 years out of ’em (And could probably go more, but I’d rather change it before it leaves me stuck on a rainy day)

            • Hiya Nunz,

              My local O’Reilly’s is pretty good; I will give them public kudos. They have yet to fail finding me obscure pars, including mechanical bits for my gray market ’80s-era Satoh Beaver tractor!

              • Hey Ya, Eric!

                Wow, that’s good to know! I’ll have to give O’Reilly’s a try- I’ve never been in one thus far.

                Thanks! (Maybe I’ll even have luck finding stuff that’ll cross-ref for my early 90’s obscure Case-IH!)- Last time, NAPA couldn’t even get me the fuel filters anymore, and I had to order ’em on Ebay!)

    • They do have carburetor conversion kits for gm ls/lt series v8 if you ever go that route. You can bypass the ecu in that case but you’d have to figure out how to run everything else

      • Yeah, I was looking at the TBI 5.7 in one of my pickups, and it doesn’t look like it has a place for a mechanical fuel pump on the side of the block?

        • eric, a “safety guy” I knew bought one of the first Ecoboost engine F 150 to pull his travel trailer……sometimes. He said it got good mileage and then said, he’d never figured it. I hear this shit all the time from everyone about every type of vehicle. Whatever it is might get 6 or 60 mpg but you’ll never know listening to this type. He did make one telling remark though “When I’m pulling that trailer you can see the gas gauge moving?”. Whatever that means except it’s gobbling hell out of it.

          I had friends over a decade ago kept trying to find a diesel that would pull their triple axle fifth wheel rv’s and get some “decent” mileage. No matter what they did they couldn’t get over 9mpg. I’d listen and commiserate with them and then go laugh myself silly. You have an 8′ wide, 14′ tall trailer that’s most probably overweight for even the 3 axles and you want something that will get what? 10, 12, 15mpg……20? Dream on. That’s a great big hole you’re poking into the wind, very similar to a big rig pulling a box just not as heavy or quite as square and with a smaller engine.

        • In the 60’s Open made some neat cars. I always want to stick a hot SBC in one with an OD Jag transmission and find the limits.

        • There is a reason there’s no place to mount a mechanical fuel pump. The cam doesn’t have the lobe cause they didn’t use a frickin manual fuel pump. Since the factory didn’t use it, only aftermarket stuff exists for an SBC and their units are all over the place on pressure. If you want a carb, get a pressure regulator, put it on and then hold your breath you don’t OD this motor with fuel which will cause it to have a very short life. OTOH, WTF is wrong with TBI?

          • Nothing, TBI is great but I was considering the complications to retro-fitting the engine into a 1976 C20 – whether to jerry-rig all the TBI stuff into the old truck or convert the engine back to carb?

            GM is(was!) really good about not changing stuff too much so I thought there was a chance they just put a plate over the pump aperture and left everything else the same when they went to TBI.

            I will probably just keep the K1500 together and maybe rebuild the old 1976 350 if I can ever afford to (it burns a LOT of oil but it might just be the valve seals? ). I’d like to find a really nice 88-95 K1500/2500 for a road truck, so I had considered scavenging the junker I have to get the C20 running again. Despite being 2wd it is much handier for most things.

            • Hi No One…

              As many of the regs here know, I am a big proponent of the Quadrajet. Properly set up – and that is the key – it performs as well as FI and costs a fraction of the money. Almost endlessly rebuildable, too.

            • I’m with Eric!

              A carburetor, that works forever; requires no electronics; and can be rebuilt at home, would be my choice!

              Oftentimes in the real world, TBI will get an MPG or two worse than a properly adjusted carb.

              To me, the whole point of an older vehicle, is to be able to keep it simple; mechanical and electro-mechanical stuff, which allows you to do what you want with it, and is more durable, efficient, reliable, and easy/cheaper to repair when it does break.

            • a bit of truth for the consequence here….

              go find a universal 12 volt inline fuel pump, they will come in various pressure ranges, get the 4 to 5 pound, if you can find a 3.5 lb version get that. Your Q Jet likes about 4 psi at the float valve. Mount it somewhere, run new fuel line from tank to filter, then filter to pump, pump to the carbatooter.
              I even keep one of these in my “fuel system” bucket. Wire ot to a key on hot wire, and if you can mount it on frame or body that will be the earth, otherwise run a wire to annearthing lug somewhere. If the carb has an electric choke you could tap into that wire, as it is key on hot. If there is a separately mounted ignitioin coil find the key on hot lead to that, tap in there. If its HEI, I think its the big red wire in the clip on harness.

              I’ve fitted a bunch of these things, they solce all sorts of problems….. such as a work-about for a failed diesel prime pump, or the prime pump itself. Haven’t yet had to use one to crutch a failed mechanical fuel pump on the side of the road, but did come across a job lately where the similar pump had failed, it being the root of a no start condition. They were sure bug-eyed when I tipped out the contents of my fuel system bail and out bumped this box with a new one in it. Hah!! Go
              tchya!!! (charged pelnty for that one, too, it saved a WHOLE bunch of time and hassle for them)

            • I will probably just rebuild the 350 or get a crate engine if I ever have the extra money, and just keep it all basically stock (carb/mech fuel pump, etc). Not much really wrong with the truck: I was driving it until I scooped up the 4×4 real cheap, and then after sitting a while it started burning oil really bad. Until then, I was planning to use the 76 for a fence building/carpentry pickup and keep the K1500 (which is pretty rough!) open for cutting/hauling firewood.

              Just once in a while I get a wild idea to just scrap the K1500 and use the engine in the old GMC. But they ain’t making those anymore either so I better just fix what is necessary to keep it going. It’s been below zero here for weeks so nothing gonna happen for a good long while.

            • No one, it is a PITA requiring a return line and a new tank as well as other small parts but the payoffs are quite good. I’ve never had to fix anything on a TBI, something I can’t say about any carb and their off idle torque is something no carb including Q jets can match. You “might” get some close fuel mileage with a Q jet knockoff but not the overall driveability….and I’m a Q jet fan. Carbs can screw up in various ways like at altitude and on too steep slopes but this doesn’t affect TBI.

              To be honest, I never had anything affect TBI if you were half-ass decent changing fuel filters and even that just generally makes them run shitty to the point of changing the filter and then everything goes back to normal.

              I have something to think about eric probably doesn’t and that’s always having to deal with cycling a/c compressors, fairly much a forgotten thing with TBI and never quite forgotten with a carb. Small blocks are more affected than big blocks with a/c but with TBI it’s simply not an issue. I’d be the first to want to do away with computer control but the simple ECM for TBI is cheap and child’s play compared to the later versions of god awful computer bs like my 2000 Z 71. The engine design is great but the many sensors everywhere are a drag. Even the dash can fuck up and screw everything up.

              I do see people using carbs all the time on LS engines and of course on the old SBC’s but for the most part those engine of the LS variety are not built for the street.

              I don’t even have a problem with computer engine control except for all the EPA fartwars and other NHTSA bs tied to them.

              BTW, crate engines can be a great way to go as you can choose the engine you want and they are warranted and there are a lot of crate engine builders who do a great job, regardless of the engine..

              I just have one bit of advice for whatever direction you go……use synthetic lubricants in everything. They’re so much better you won’t believe how they’ll rejuvenate seals till you see it, experience it. Just do a little research and see how much higher their flash points are to common oils.

              • I’ve actually considered changing the oil to Amsoil as you have suggested and just see if the old truck heals itself. Hmmm…?

                I’ve got two TBI 5.7’s and they are great. But the pickup actually up and quit me going down the road one time. It turned out to be the little module in the distributor.

  12. The reason government needs to tell us what to buy is because we’re too blinded by marketing to make an informed decision. Only a disinterested regulator can put on the “They Live” glasses and make an effective judgement. You don’t really want a cheap to run powerful pushrod engine. You want a complicated 4-banger with tons of expensive add-ons. You don’t want a bench seat and trunk that will hold all the luggage, you want an econobox with uncomfortable buckets that don’t let you move at all, and you enjoy the real-life Tetris game of trying to cram all the stuff in the back after your trip to Costco.

    (sarcasm, in case your regulator can’t tell)

  13. Dammit, this comment belonged on this page, sorry for the repeat, folks!

    My younger brother still has our late father’s 2003 E450 motor-home with the Triton V-10. That mother sucks gas, about 8-10 at best, lol! But it’s an apartment on 6 wheels, so what can you say?

    • I used to occasionally drive a 3/4T 4WD Triton V 10. I doubt it got 6 mpg. It didn’t seem to run rich idling. Put $20 of gas in it, run it 5 miles to the RV park and back and it’s right on empty again. Made my 454 seem like a true sipper.

    • My V-10 4×4 Excursion gets 10MPG….with 4.30 gears and a 4spd. automatic. Imagine if she had 3.73’s and a 5 or 6 spd stick? She’d get 15MPG no problem.

      Hmmm…makes ya wonder; that would be one way of getting around Uncle’s fartwars- but instead, what do we see? smaller and smaller engines; more complex zillion-speed trannies; turbos up the wazoo….

      • My daily driver is a Ford E 359 one tome extended with Powerstroke.
        Autoboa=x s only option, but that E4OD is a brillaint piece of engineering. it is ALWAYS in the right gear. It has the lower of the two final drive options, 4.88 I think ,and not the 4.11 option. Sigh. I get 17 mpg on cheapest diesel I can find, it’s got the pin highway or mixed highway/town driving, with a light foot on the stoplight races. I don’t care if they think I’m a grumpy old gieezer. R
        ocket acceleration at the red lights turning green wastes too much fuel. I can live with steady acceleration. It is heavy.. 6300 empty, and I’ve often fot a half tonne inside. It has passing and hill power at 85 mph (as I learned on a trip to Texas a couple years back) but doesn’t quite return the 17 mpg it does at 70 mph, drops about one per.
        Reliable? I got it even years old when it had 130 K on it. It is now 21 years old and has 355K on it. It STILL does not need oil between changes. The most serious repair Ive done is to rebuild the turbo… took me five hours to R & R and rebuild, the parts kit cost $150. Glow plig rlay, vaccuum punp, power streering pump, alternator.. all at 300K plus. Ball jionts at aobut 350K. I get between 80and 100K miles on the tyres, I insist on the Load range E super heavy duty ones, as I run HEAAVY at times. I’ve had 5000 lbs inside the van, and another 16K hanging off the ball… 28K total GCW heading down the road. At that weight it STILL returns aorund 14 mph and maintains freeway speed.

        Thinking I need to find another one just like it in decent cshape and just park it in case mine gets totalled. I ave NEVEr owned a ore reliable or economoical vehicle in all the 2 million + miles I’ve driven in somehwere above 200 vehicles. (I buy them cheap with some problem, fics them drive them for a while, flip them.. until this van. I cannot afford to get rid of it. Toying with the iea of looking into a 4wd conversion… we get just enough snw and mud hereabouts I’ve had to gt help to get unstuck more than I am comfortable with.

        • Tio, I wish I had never sokld my old gas Ford van…..with 300K miles on it. Ran like a clock; never a days trouble. They were the most reliable vehicles….EVER! No-nonsense vehicles made for fleet use….if reasonably maintained (which doesn’t take much) they can last forever.

          I hooked up a friend with a 7.3 one ton that another friend was selling. It’s been his work vehicle for over 15 years now…not sure what gears it has, but they must be relatively high, as he gets well over 20MPG empty.

          Which tome does your “one-tome” have; War & Peace? 😀

        • Getting unstuck: tire chains, get them plenty wide (long cross links) and they are easy to put on, and stay on even if not drum tight on the tire.

          Ford diesel glow plugs: don’t you need to carry a sack full of replacements? LOL

          • Ford diesel glow plugs: don’t you need to carry a sack full of replacements?

            As described, I bought mine at 130K. At about 280K I had a hard start issue. betteries badly depleted from sitting, was trying to jump from a smallish Audi and cables, it was also low 30’s F outside. Finally got it lit but not before low voltage high amp situation and extended cranking (I was frozen, frustrated, hungry and wanted to get inside and go take care of those issues, thus VERY impatient) heated the insulation for the glows and injectors that pass through the valve cover gasket. When I serviced that I also bought a whole set of new glow plugs…. Autolite brand. The ohmmeter told me one of them was open circuit, so I removed them all and bench tested them. Only one was bad, the others checked out perfect. Put the other seven in my spares locker inside the van. That was 3 1/2 years and about 80K miles ago. Finally got tired of those things popping up here and there, so I took one only and stuffed that under my seat, the other six are in my spares bin in the shop. So, weven out of eight have performed flawlessly for a querter million miles, the eights was fried by my breaking the rules trying to light it off as describe above. As far as I can tell, the seven still in it since I bought it are the originals.

            The shotrt answer to your query: why, no, in fact, I do not. If yours don’t maybe if you’d stop using them to light your Meerschaum they would last a bit longer. They do work well for that, though…… just not for as long as you might like.

            • Sorry, it was the relay that I was thinking about.

              Seems like every ford glow plug relay fails when you need it most.

              • Relays and wiring harnesses…..that’s usually where the trouble lies. Glow plugs themselves almost never go bad…i=unless someone used ether. I think 95% of all glow plug sales are due to someone’s truck not starting, and the first thing they do is run out and buy new glow plugs. Then after installing them, and still having the same problem, they start looking for the real issue.

                If I had a nickel for every time I heard “My truck won’t start. Guess I need glow plugs”…..

              • OHHHhhh.. yes, that now makes sense. I’ve replaced mine twice in the 225K I’ve had it. Even bought the SPENSIVE one from Ford. It didn’t last any longer.

                But I’ve learned how to reliably start the thing in ambient temps down into the low twenties F. Not all of the holes light off right away, and it does blow some heavy smoke… unburned fuel vapour, for a few seconds. So what? Just too busy to take the time to swap it. WHY did they put it where they did? Wunna dem Better Idears frum Ferd.

                • Sorry I didn’t “relay” what I meant more clearly //wink

                  The old Ford at our VFD refused to start shortly after I watched a U-tube of a young couple with a ford pickup and camper stranded on a cold fall morning in WY. Funny how things like that happen.

                  If I ever get an old Ford diesel, I think I will just hard wire in a manual switch (push button so you can’t leave it on).

                  • Uhhhhh.. No!! You could do that… but the typical horn button type, or even a momentary on toggle would never carry the high current required to feed the glows. IF the switch did not immediately smoke the contacts, you may well do the same low volt high amp gig I did, and that froggie don’t jump when ya tickle him.

                    Now you COULD find one of the starter motor contacts as used on the fifties and sixties MG products… a simple cable winds its way up to the fascia (dash for you Yanks) where a handy knob is occupying the bitter end. Speaking of yanks, the commencer is awakened when one yanks on that handle. But rather than cobbing all that together, head on down to your trusty spares house and buy a new one… find out who made it, but there are some big name aftermarket made parts that are reboxed to some housebrand, for maybe forty percent the price, and are every bit as reliable as new MutterCraft from Mr.Ford. The box isn’t big.. maybe four inch cube mas. Tuck it away back where the wheelbrace lives when you are not wanting to use it. Then its a matter of half an hour to fit the new relay and done.

                  • My old 6.9 car-carrier was a bear to start if the temp was much below 70. Of course, back then, I was stupid, and there was no internet, so of course I tried replacing the glow plugs, to no avail.

                    Later traded the truck to a friend (Actually, just got off the phone with him- Still in touch, 20 years later!)

                    He lived on a big hill at the time, and found out that when the truck was parked facing downhill, it would start with no problem- ergo, it had to be a fuel pressurization leak…

                    So, what does he do? He just plumbed in a primer bulb from a portable outboard motor gas tank set-up. He could pak any way he wanted then, and just squeeze the bulb in the morning before starting the truck, and voila!

                    That was a good old truck- wish I still had it. Got 14MPGs empty (17′ steel bed) or loaded with a behicle on the bed and towing one behind- which was twice what my former Chevy 454 got….. No turbo; no high-pressure oil-fitred computerized injectors…no sensors…just a tough old reliable diesel. I never had to do a THING to that truck.

                    • Nunz, that was a hairline leak between the tank dip tube and the lift pump. As it would sit, air would replace fuel, and on cranking it would not draw enough to put full fuel to the injection pump. Once lit, whatever air would be drawn into the low side would bubble off in the fliter block and into the return line. His fix is the pluperfect one…. cheap (10 to 20 bux, depending on where you buy the bulb). I’ve made such a fix when the fuel prime pump is failied so one cannot bleed the air out of the primary side of the system, Diesels do NOT run on air.. (too bad, eh?) so until you get clean fuel to the injectors you have a no start condition. Replaced the leaky O-ring sealing the prime pump to the filter block, where there was a HUGE leak, then fitted the outborad prime bulb. Now I can purge all the air out with a few queezes then it will light instantly. Only need to do that after filter change, or running out of fuel. My Kubota tractor has no fuel guage, and it uses so little fuel I forget to check.. and ran out on a frequent basis. That system has no prime pump, and the injection pump block sits about three inches HIGHER than the fuel level in the tank when its full. Duhhhhh… so, snip snip twist twist, and another ten dollar prime bulb goes into service. Now when I run out, put more fuel in, crack the bleed screw at the injection pump block, squeeze squeeze squeeze and it will light stone cold, no problem. Shouldda dunnit ten years ago!! Sillee Mee!!

                      Im discovering lots of primer bulb nails around here of late….. my newest shade tree fix. Didn’t think I was the ONLY one to ever figure that one out.

                    • Precisely, Tio!

                      Neither my friend nor I knew exactly where to look for that very small leak- so I lived with it (Since it was a working truck, and I didn’t really have the time to futz with it); and when he became it’s daddy, he applied a little Dago engineering- hence the primer bulb.

                      And it had to be a tiny, tiny leak- ’cause once ya ran the truck, she was good for the rest of the day- even if ya let her sit for several hours.

                      I guess that the leak bleeding off the fuel and allowing an air void could be just about anywhere though- ’cause on my current tractor, if I shut the fuel shut-off off and let it sit for more thasn about a week in the cold weather, she’ll be a bear/impossible to start, unless I bleed it at the injector pump (Warm weather, she doesn’t care).- So I just don’t shut the fuel off in the winter (No reason to really, on a diesel).

                      Stuff like this is no problemo on old injection-pump ‘real’ diesels…but imagine the havoc something like that teeny tiny leak could wreak with these modern computerized oil-fired ridiculous things! (Come to think of it, same friend probably has just such a problem with his 7.3 -as he has a cold start issue that appeared to be the fuel pressure regulator….that nothing seems to cure…)

                    • Good conversation here so let me get it…..somewhere.

                      A buddy was working drilling rigs in Wyoming where the weather is always so nice during winter. Even with additive in the diesel it was iffy. The Powerstroke was a dead Mohican if you turned it off for several hours, plugged in and with diesel dope as were all the diesel engines. They had an idea that’s been around a long time, just never turn anything off. In the end, a little extra burned fuel will make up for countless manhours, all sorts of fixes and getting a mechanic 200 miles to tell you your fuel has gelled…..as everyone already knew.
                      So in Tx. we built fires under the oil pan back in the day and put up wind blocks. Don’t ask that battery that was just replace last year at this time to creank it, line up 2-3 vehicles with jumpers after the engine seems kinda, sorta not so frozen to the touch, then have somebody spray either and fire it up.

                      Prolly yall aren’t thinking really cold in Tx. Back in the day when people didn’t finally yell “calfrope’ and build a shop for all the trucks they did other things. Use #1 fuel with some gas mixed in…..and never turn em off. We used to come in and not set the parking brakes on the trucks, just chock em so they wouldn’t be frozen in the morning.

                      I normally in stall a block heater on everything and put it on a switched receptacle you can turn on when you get up. I’m considering going to a timed receptable now that they’re cheap and realiable. Come to think of it, I have an electronic one I used on a pump that no longer exists. Hot dog.

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