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55 Ford truck FE motor and a T85?!?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Diavolo, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Diavolo
    Joined: Apr 1, 2009
    Posts: 810


    Hey all,

    So, before I actually get in there and find myself in a position I can't get out of I figured I would throw this question out and see what experienced minds can tell me to expect.

    1955 F600 I rescued from a farm. Transplanting 1 ton running gear to make a tow rig. I was told by the PO that the ones he got it from pulled the Y block and dropped in a 361 FE which is the current motor. Nothing wrong with it at all other than leaks but the Clark 5 speed behind it is literally a shot in the dark when it comes to shifting gears. I have a 351W and a C6 but I don't want to get too deep into this project and end up with too much to do. I want to work on it in stages and maybe do the engine swap next winter after going thru engine and tranny.

    I have a T85 and overdrive in the garage. To me, it would be just as much a hassle to rebuild that as the C6 so I was wondering what I would have to do to get that T85 in there without major surgery. The overdrive would sure help driveability as this will be my only truck for a while. I'm thinking new clutch and throwout bearing but wonder if I will get away with just replacement parts without having to voodoo a whole new setup. Since the truck is too tall right now to get into the garage, I also don't want to have to pull it apart and then find I have to get the 500# pile of steel they call a transmission back in there if it doesn't go in fairly easy. I'm wishing that most stuff that old will be fairly compatible, but you know what they say about wishing in one hand...

    As an aside, I also have a 3 speed side loader from my long gone 52 F1. It's the one with the Ford bolt pattern and not the integral half bell housing. Either one can go in there for all I care right now so if someone thinks not going overdrive would be easier, please let me know.

    Just to make it more complicated, I even have a SROD overdrive out of a Mustang. I have too many transmissions...

    Any helpful friendly advice before I get myself in too deep?
  2. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,758

    Member Emeritus

    I'm not up on the numbers thing so all I can say is that I wanted to use my original column shift OD unit out of my 56 sedan behind a 1966 352. I had to redrill the stock 66 truck bellhousing. (if you look inside you can see that the old bosses are there but not drilled and tapped.) I did have to get a special Ford pilot bushing due to the different depth of the newer bellhousing. I was too cheap to buy an early FE bellhousing. The 406 guys have them priced out of sight for a piker like me.:D 66 truck bellhousings are cheap and easy to find. I probably wasted bandwidth with this because T-85 means nothing to me so if it doesn't the lady said on SNL...never mind:D
  3. Thunderroad312
    Joined: Nov 18, 2012
    Posts: 159


    The T-85 should work depending on what it came out of, but as usual there are some wildcards here. The T-85 will bolt to most passenger and truck bells, but you have to make sure the front bearing retainer is the correct size for the center register in the bell. Also pay close attention to the lenght of the input shaft and especially the pilot area. There is difference in the depth of a truck bellhousing and a passenger car bell, as well. The truck is deeper. And lastly you stated that the engine was a 361 FE. With the exception of the Edsel 361, all other 361's are FT engines which is the heavy duty truck version of the FE and the crankshaft has a slightly different depth and a different size pilot. So in the end, the answer is get out your measuring tools and check it reall close. If it looks like its gonna work then I would do a test fit with no clutch, and look up in the bell and see if everything I correct. One last thing too, FT truck engines use a different flywheel the passenger FE. The truck engine has a weighted flywheel, whereas the passenger cars FE flywheeels are neutral balanced with the exception of the 410 and 428 which are weighted also, but different than the truck wheel. Clear as Mud?
  4. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,470

    from Quincy, IL

    While the T85 is an excellent and heavy duty transmission for PASSENGER car applications, I would be very skeptical of it's suitability for a rather heavy truck application, especially if it's going to be a tow rig.

    For now, the Clark 5 speed should be adequate to serve as a 'driver'.......with the truck running in an unloaded condition, just skip the 1st, and maybe even 2nd, gears and 5th is likely 'direct' ( 1 to 1) like most other manual boxes.

    If you are determined to delete the Clark 5 speed, and do intend to tow, I would recommend you consider either the C6 with a really good tranny cooler, or a newer 4 speed truck trans from a 3/4 or larger application.

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  5. MeanGene427
    Joined: Dec 15, 2010
    Posts: 1,438

    from Napa

    One thing you can try, as you're having problems shifting the Clark- it may be a "constant mesh" and not a "syncromesh", meaning you have to match the RPM pretty closely when shifting it, and maybe double-clutch- if you haven't driven heavy trucks much, there's a learning curve involved. Practice and patience, grasshopper ;)
  6. Diavolo
    Joined: Apr 1, 2009
    Posts: 810


    Thanks for the responses! I think I am going to try pulling the Clark this weekend and getting some measurements off the snout. I will repost with findings so if someone searches for this in the future...

    MeanGene, it's not the synchros :) The tranny is so worn out I can aim for for 2nd and end up in 4th... or nothing. I can grab the Eaton 2 speed pinion and literally twist it 90 degrees before it hits something. This truck was worn the hell out! There is actually a spot on the frame above the axle where the snubber obviously didn't do it's job. The frame is bent in and pushed up almost a full inch. Fortunately, I don't need 172" wheelbase. :)

    Hnstray, good points. I just want the T85 or something in there until I transplant either the C6 or an AOD that will make it actually easy to drive while I build the flat bed and put the new front end on. Right now it's just going to haul trash to the dump and pull a little trailer to the scrap yard occasionally, doing household truck stuff. First final plans are 351W, C6/AOD, 13-56 transfer case, D60 front, Sterling 10.25 rear, then lower it just enough so it can fit in the garage. Final stage is a few years away and may include a Cummins 6 and an extended cab... but that may never happen.

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