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Technical Help needed for 61 econoline Hot Rod being built by a 17 year old...

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Steve Brush, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. Econoslime
    Joined: Nov 1, 2018
    Posts: 4

    Econoslime

    Hello H.A.M.Brs...
    Like the old saying goes " it takes a village to raise a child" I'm hoping to change that to to "It takes the H.A.M.Brs to help a 17 year old build a hot rod"
    I aplogize for what may be lengthy, but I think some back story is important. When my oldest son was in high school several years ago, he struggled with some depression and anxiety issues and in a desperate attempt to find something that he could really dive into, we bought a 64 triumph spitfire to restore. Now, I had never done anything like this and really didn't know much about cars at all. We stumbled and bumbled and shortly after starting the process my son lost interest and didn't want to work on things. I really needed to get this car done and out of my shop. I soldiered on, and every time I went to the shop to work, I would look out from under the car to see my 10 year old son just sitting and watching. Pretty soon he was grabbing wrenches and finding you tube videos and doing what he could to help, he was hooked.
    When he was 13 he got a free, non-running case 442 tractor from a friend. He tore it down, got it running, painted it up, won a couple lawn tractor drag races and sold it. With his new found wealth ($1,000) he bought a 1981 ford f-150 2wd pick up from rural ND. We dove it 90 miles home (on 4 out of 6 cylinders) and started working. His goal was to have it ready for when he turned 16.
    We spent 2 years applying the knowledge we learned on the triumph and ended up doing an almost frame off resto on the ford. It was a great truck, but at the end of the day it was still an 81 f150 2wd farm truck with an inline 6. He decided it was time to move up to some HP
    He has now a acquired a 61 econoline pick up and 1969 ford 302 to go in it . The previous owner of the econoline already put a 240 in it so it has the tubular cross member and some of the dog house modification has already been done. It also has a ford 9" with 3.50 gears in it.

    So here's where I need the H.A.M.B. ,
    He wants to do it right, but we don't know what that is gong to entail. He wants to go with a fitech EFI, that parts easy, but he also wants to go with a automatic transmission.

    So what do I need to consider for an automatic transmission?
    What Transmission?
    I know I will need a new flexplate, but are there lots of choices? What do I need?
    How do I figure out what torque converter?
    What considerations for a shifter?
    On and On and On. And, Oh yeah and this being done on a 17 year old who works as a oil change tech at the car dealerships budget.
    I look forward to creating some new relationships, as well as learning as much as I can.

    If there happen to be any H.A.M.Brs in the Fargo, ND area that want to share knowledge/parts in person with a pretty darn cool kid, you are always welcome in my shop.
     
    czuch likes this.
  2. town sedan
    Joined: Aug 18, 2011
    Posts: 1,067

    town sedan
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I'll just throw this out..., starting sometime in the 80's Ford changed the balance on the 302. Since your son has a 1969 engine the flex plate will need to be for the earlier 28oz imbalance engines.
    -Dave
     
    Clay Belt likes this.
  3. J. A. Miller
    Joined: Dec 30, 2010
    Posts: 1,198

    J. A. Miller
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Central NY

    You are probably going to want a C4 from around the same time period as the engine. If you are lucky, you might find a steering column and shifter linkage from a '65 -'67 Econoline that had the 240 and C4 transmission.

    See link below.
     
  4. J. A. Miller
    Joined: Dec 30, 2010
    Posts: 1,198

    J. A. Miller
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Central NY

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  5. Gearhead Graphics
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 3,086

    Gearhead Graphics
    Member
    from Denver Co

    I'm no help. But I've gotta say kudos to you for trying to teach your kids wrenching, and to your youngest son for what sounds like really taking to it!
    He will love that econo far more than the plain jane truck.
    I've always had a soft spot for an econoline truck. Someday yet I might own one
     
    czuch, NashRodMan and Clay Belt like this.
  6. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,623

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    The last time I saw an automatic in an early Econoline was in 1979, but that one had a dash mounted shifter. It was in a junkyard, and may have been a shifter from a Dodge A-100, or who-knows-what. Corvair vans had one also, IIRC.
     
  7. Fortunateson
    Joined: Apr 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,307

    Fortunateson
    Member

    17 years old and a van! Those were the days...
     
    czuch, NashRodMan and firstinsteele like this.
  8. "If this van's rocking don't come knocking" :D HRP
     
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  9. vickckik
    Joined: Dec 21, 2011
    Posts: 64

    vickckik
    Member

    If you google early econoline engine swap there's page after page of instruction and pics from those who have done it. The Ford Truck Enthusiasts (FTE) forum has a section about early Econolines.
     
    seb fontana likes this.
  10. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 1,859

    F-ONE
    Member
    from Alabama

    Since this has just started....I can't think of a more "pain in the butt" vehicle to work on. It's going to be a challenge. A conventional pick up or car would be so much easier.


    I question the basic stability of the design. Add a 300HP engine, a relatively low gear ratio, more weight up front, a high school age driver...I'm sorry but I don't like it. I don't like it at all.
    As a father you have to think about things like this.
    I'll admit they're cute little trucks but is it a piece of dynamite with a very short fuse?


    I would go with a mechanical fuel pump and carburetor.



    C4.
    Get a '69 302 flex plate.
    Since it has a 240 the 302 will bolt up to whats in it. Shifter.....you'll have to figure that out. Auto econoline may be the best bet....
    A stock SBF 240/300 C4 torque converter should be fine. Personally I would not cam up a engine for this application.

    It's neat truck but the stability worries me. In a way I think it's as dangerous as a cocked cannon.

    My recommendation for a young man....
    Find a full frame conventional pick up or car from the period or earlier....
    Galaxie...Impala....F100....C10....3100....Bel Air....Mo-Par....
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  11. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 2,457

    Boneyard51
    Member

    I rebuilt a van , back years ago. Put a 200 in it, not a 302, it ran fine. My point being, make sure you fix everything on the suspension, including heavy shocks and replacing the brake lines. Might consider updating to a dual master cylinder.
    Those vans don’t “handle” the best, even when perfect. I replaced my king pins, bearings, spring bushings,all steering parts, brakes and mine handled “good”, but not great.
    Just a word of caution.
    I remember when I was 17, with a 55 Ford that I put a 430 MEL in.....I’m lucky to be here.


    Bones
     
    czuch likes this.
  12. Hellfish
    Joined: Jun 19, 2002
    Posts: 6,389

    Hellfish
    Member

    Keep in mind F-One that the video was produced as an advertisement for Chevy. They did things to the Econoline to make it unstable, like removing the rear weight. There's a big chunk of iron above the gas tank that helps with stability. DO NOT REMOVE IT. When I swapped out the 170 for a 305 v8, the added weight made the van feel a LOT more stable and handled better.

    If you do a search here, you'll find my posts about engine swaps in Econolines and maybe my posts on the trials and tribulations of working on one. They're not that hard and parts are available.

    There's an active web forum called Vintage vans that will be very useful for asking question.
     
  13. Have fun, be careful and take note of advice.

    I also don't believe the words hot rod and Econoline belong in the same sentence.

    Sometimes and engine swap is just an engine swap.
     
  14. town sedan
    Joined: Aug 18, 2011
    Posts: 1,067

    town sedan
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Maybe, maybe not. An A100 is very similar to an Econoline truck and both can be built into a wheelie standing 1/4 mile machine.
    -Dave
     
  15. ...or you could use a tank body or a fire truck. That's not the point.
     
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  16. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 2,856

    southcross2631
    Member

    Econoline pickups make very cool hot rods done right. I would use a C-4 behind that small block.
     
  17. I don't see where you are from but go to some car show and look at what other have done and ask questions. You might find parts and help on it, glad to see some young guys doing things. good luck.

    The Turkey run in Daytona Thanksgiving weekend has had some Econolines the past few years
     
    jakespeed63 likes this.
  18. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 10,602

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    Fargo, ND is a fur piece from Daytona.....:eek:
     
  19. 6sally6
    Joined: Feb 16, 2014
    Posts: 685

    6sally6
    Member

    Maybe lowering the center of gravity (slamm'in -it in todays terms) should help with the stability and add to the cool factor. High back bucket seats (to help incase of rear collision/whip lash) would also be on my list of must haves. Cool factor bump also!
    Cam it up to enhance the hot rod sound but.......don't put a gear any stiffer than 3.00:1 in it. Sound like a hot rod but NOT a big performer!! (a safety valve if you will) Carb and not FI.
    Headers(with cut-outs) and blowmaster 40's for the sound. Again ...a restrictive muffler but sounds very wicked. NO X-pipe...you want that exhaust to really sound BADDDD!
    Be sure and adjust gas pedal so it will hit the floor BEFORE the 4-barrel opens all-the-way. (Get were I'm going here?!)
    Wide tires with trick rims....nice paint.....etc.
    I grew up in the era of 300 HP 4 door granny grocery getters. HiPo Mustangs and 335HP MoPars and Road Runners were the NORM.(with drum brakes and NO seat belts)
    We didn't ALL kill ourselves.
    Its not so much the vehicle...its the operator. Plenty of kids today"do-themselves-in" in Altimas and Civics.
    If he builds it with HIS $$$ and his insurance and his gas.............that will go along way to safe/sane driving.
    Remember...you're the Dad.....you ultimately call the shots....so long as he lives with you.
    Done!......getting off the soap box.
    6sally6
     
  20. dan c
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 1,890

    dan c
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    loved the one i had back in the '70s. mine was a van, so the 170 came out through the side cargo door and a 250 replaced it. sounded stock, but ran like a striped ape. keep it low or it'll handle like it's going to turn over. i stayed with small 14" tires after trying 15s. my only other beef was the piss-poor heater; the heater hoses are long and run out in the open air, so either your feet stay warm or the defroster works. the sunroof helped a lot on cold days!
     
  21. Kerrynzl
    Joined: Jun 20, 2010
    Posts: 2,284

    Kerrynzl
    Member

  22. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,623

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    My old 240 powered Supervan was a blast to drive, I would love to have another one.
     
  23. mountainman2
    Joined: Sep 16, 2013
    Posts: 298

    mountainman2
    Member

    I owned a couple back in the day and swapped to a V8 in both. First one got a rebuilt (basically stock 4 barrel version) 289/C4 combo. Was a fun ride with no handling or driving properties that were not present with the stock 240 inch I6. THEN, I decided to step it up on the next one. Built a 302 with all the goodies that would fit under the doghouse. LOTS more power and the "demons" began appearing. Weight balance was virtually the same and I noticed no difference as far as CG was concerned. The problem was the short wheelbase coupled with too much power required constant vigilance and common sense. The Econo has a 4-1/2" shorter wheelbase (90")than the VW beetle (94.49").
    So, free advice from an old man is keep it sensible and make him aware of peculiarities of the design.:cool:
     
    czuch likes this.
  24. Our delivery truck at work was a yellow 67 van with factory 289/automatic. It was probably a C-4 transmission but ford did use cast iron cruisomatics in some of their vehicles.
     
  25. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,623

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    Rocky, I'm pretty sure no early Econolines came with a V8 from Ford. I think the first year was '68, when they stuffed the motor up under the dash, and got away from the "mid engine" design.
     
  26. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 2,457

    Boneyard51
    Member

    2303D3F4-9443-4361-B26B-97823500E517.jpeg 8E54DB82-3E5D-45E1-A03B-5EAB1E3586F1.jpeg 9ADA238D-0AC8-4150-A2AC-5F538896A641.jpeg Take a look.... it can be done!
     
  27. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 2,856

    southcross2631
    Member

    I have seen a 302 mounted in the bed of an Econoline pickup. He used a home made dog house to keep the engine out of the weather.
    The guy drove it daily for years.
    In Detroit I saw a short bed van with a tunnel ram equipped 429 with a C-6 . It was a mid engine street sleeper.
     
  28. mnjeff
    Joined: Oct 17, 2006
    Posts: 73

    mnjeff
    Member

    AD38126A-9491-4D35-BBFD-13454E9D283E.jpeg 06B5F9C2-F992-4EAA-848D-B50346822A08.jpeg 03FDE41A-8814-488F-BA21-2C974F0D6012.jpeg A44F8D03-140C-4055-B4A6-53E940BDB202.jpeg AD38126A-9491-4D35-BBFD-13454E9D283E.jpeg Epups are a blast to drive, sitting behind that big picture window with the whole world out in front of you. Seems like nobody’s got them anymore, here in the midwest the unibody rusted severely, and decent ones are getting tougher to find. The van version was my high school rig, and they were the shit for several years, then the fad seemed to die off. My current 61 is a keeper, runs and drives great with the v8 and auto. One upgrade I would strongly recommend is a 9 inch rear, as the 7 and a 1/4 inch in the 61 to 63s will not last long behind a v8. Ford put 9 inchers in most 65 to 67s, or do what I did, find one from an early 60s fairlane or galaxy, same width. Build that puppy and have fun!
     
  29. lake_harley
    Joined: Jun 4, 2017
    Posts: 616

    lake_harley
    Member

    After watching the video in post #10 I want one....Ford, Chevy, Dodge, I wouldn't care as long as it could do "stoppies"! I'm too much a puss to do that on a motorcycle, but it looks like fun in the little trucks.

    A friend of mine had a flat-windshield Chevy van back in the early 70's when vans were the cool thing. We had some fun in that. He eventually put a SBC in it but it was eventually destroyed in a tornado.

    Lynn
     
    czuch likes this.
  30. Powertrain
    Engine
    144 cu in (2.4 L) Falcon Six I6
    170 cu in (2.8 L) Thriftpower Six I6
    240 cu in (3.9 L) Truck Six I6

    Yup, you're right. The one I remember must have been a 68 or later. BTW, in looking this info up I found ford offered the cast iron cruiso as the econoline's only automatic trans in the first series..no C-4s
     

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