This engine is a 5.0L that came out of a 1987 Ford F150 that I parted out. It is destined to be installed in a 1989 Ford F150 that I bought off Craigslist that turned out to have a cracked block. This engine was supposedly a good running engine when the 1987 F150 was rolled, but before I stuck it in the 1989 F150 I wanted to verify all was well - removing and installing an engine is a non-trivial exercise. This page documents what I've done to get this engine checked out and installed in the 1987 F150.
Teardown, Assessment - and Decisions
Basically, I started this as a simple plan to tear the engine down to the short block, pull a main bearing cap and a rod cap, and verify the bearings looked good. That was going pretty well until I was pulling the lifters to set the aside (in order) so I could install them all back in their original locations later on. To check the bearings, I needed to turn the engine over, and I didn't want the lifters to fall out onto the ground into a pile. The first couple of lifters came out OK - but the third one came up a bit and then was stuck solid. My lifter puller slipped out of it twice, and on the third try things got ugly - the top of the lifter body shattered into many pieces with the bulk of the lifter still stuck solid in it's bore! At that point I knew the cam had to come out so I could remove the remnants of the busted lifter. Then three more lifters stuck and shattered in the same manner. Ugh. That's when this went from a simple inspection to more work - I knew I had to clean out the engine to remove and junk that was now in it because metal shattering (like the lifters did) leaves fun little metal shards all over the nearby area and my chances of successfully getting it all cleaned out were pretty slim. That started things down the "well, since you're in there, you might as well do <insert project here>" series of possibly expensive decisions.
The rest of the engine was reasonably clean, with minimal sludge and deposits, the major exception being the lifter valley and the underside of the intake manifold. They were each covered in an inch or more of light, fluffy, oil soaked carbon deposits that flaked off as soon as you touched them. Maybe the engine never got warm and was used for a lot of short trips? I'm not sure. It sure was gross to clean up. Using screwdrivers as scrapers, we gently removed as much as we could and vacuumed up the rest. A few rounds of that got most of it off without major trauma.
The next thing was to check the main and rod bearings as well as the timing chain. The bearings were worn into the copper, but not gouged, scarred, or damaged - it looked like a typical high mileage motor that was tired but would have run fine for a while. The timing chain was very stretched but intact, and the inside of the front cover was very clean. I grabbed my bore gauge set and micrometer set, and checked a cylinder. There was no ridge (I couldn't catch anything with my fingernail), and in the main wear area at the top of the cylinder we measured the bore as 4.005" - a mere .005" of wear over the standard 4" bore of a 1987 5.0L! Some of the original cross-hatching was even still visible in the cylinders and the rotating assembly spun over very easily. So, the innards of the engine seemed to agree with the seller's story about the engine condition, which was good news. It probably would have run just fine if I had buttoned it up and put it in the truck. But, based on the lifter incident, the amount of odd carbon deposits, the condition of the bearings, and the slack in the timing chain, I decided to go for a full teardown and at least a basic re-ring job on the motor. Since I was in there, I might as well do it, right?
The next step was to removed everything else from the block to get it ready to take to a machine shop and to verify it's condition. I pulled the timing chain and gears to make it easier to spin the motor around, and I pulled the oil pump and pickup assembly to get better access to the bottom end. The rods were stamped (presumably from the factory?) for the cylinder numbers, so there was nothing to do there. With no discernable ridge on the cylinders, the rod and piston assemblies came out easily once the caps were removed. The main caps came off without any problems and the crank came out without incident. All of the bearings were worn pretty uniformly, with no unusual damaged areas or problems to note. The cam took a bit of persuasion to get started on coming out of the block, but once it got started moving forward in it's bearings, the rest came out quite easily. I then used a brass drift and a brass hammer to drive the lifters out of the top of their bores - in theory, the brass is soft enough that it won't scratch the lifter bores. I then cleaned the engine with some Castrol Super Clean (a very potent degreaser) and the garden hose. The oil pan, valve covers, lower intake manifold, and heads all got the same treatment. The valve covers and oil pan came out very clean - pretty much all of the oil and grime came off without any scrubbing and the original grey paint was nearly completely intact and in good shape. After drying, I sprayed everything with a liberal coating of WD-40 to prevent rusting - once wet, exposed machined surfaces like cylinder bores can start to rust in a matter of hours if left unprotected. Since the machine shop will be hot tanking the parts anyway to do the final cleaning, it's no big deal to have them oiled up for storage until I get there.
With the engine apart and reasonably clean, I then checked all of the key measurements to see how they compared to the published engine specs. As the above notes indicate, this is pretty darned good for a higher mileage motor. The cylinder bores are only slightly worn, the main journals on the crank are just past the high side of the spec, and the rods journals are still (barely) within spec.
Here's some pictures we took during teardown - check out the caked on grime on the bottom of the intake and in the lifter valley - yuck!
Parts Gathering and Machine Shop Work
Next up is gathering parts for the basic rebuild of this motor. Here's a list of what I need. I got most of the parts in a basic rebuild kit from PAW. The gaskets I already had from the teardown step, and the paint I got a my local parts store.
I took the engine and parts to the machine shop for a final inspection and cleaning. The hope was that they would not find anything major and I could re-use the existing pistons and pins without needing to remove and re-hang them on the rods, that the rods would not need to be resized, the crank would be fine, and the block would not need to be bored. It mostly went well - the crank needed to be turned, but the cylinders were barely within the range of what I could do a re-ring job on. The extent of the "machine work" was applying a new set of cross-hatching to the cylinder walls so the new rings will seat properly and getting the crank turned .010"/.010" under size.
The machine shop also disassembled the heads and magnafluxed everything to make sure nothing was cracked - and everything was sound. The heads needed to be rebuilt, so I bartered with a friend to get that done on the cheap - he's good, he works for beer, and he's been doing all of my head work for a while. :-)
No pictures for this part. Sorry. Read Car Craft to see one of the regular "here's all the machine work we did on our engine rebuilds" articles to get the idea. You typically get to see very little of this anyway, so it's no big deal. You drop off a pile of greasy parts at the machine shop and tell them roughly what you want. Then the machine shop will call you back once things are cleaned and checked for size, etc. to tell you what they found and confirm the plans. Then they call back again when the work is all done to tell you to come get your pile of clean and freshly machined parts. You hand them your Visa card after cringing at the total on the bill, and thank the machinist for doing great work on your pride and joy while loading your stuff up into your truck/car/whatever to take it home.
Painting, Cleaning, and Assembly
Below is the motor after I got it back from the machine shop, and the heads after I got them back from my friend. The outside of the block had already been cleaned pretty well, in fact the machine shop had primed the outside of the block, so it was ready to go for a final painting. I did have to do a bit of quick sandblasting on the valve covers and the thermostat housing, but nothing major. The heads had been briefly sandblasted also, and after a final blowing off with compressed air, they were ready for paint as well. They did dribble sand while being moved around, and will need a more thorough cleaning before they are installed onto the engine.
The plan was to paint the pieces first, then clean out all of the passages of any remaining machining dust, then re-oil the insides, and finally, assemble the motor. The outside of the motor is getting a quick shot of Ford grey paint, the same as it had originally. I just don't want it to be rusty/nasty when I have to work on it later - a show-perfect finish is not the goal. The intake manifold is getting installed as-is - it was simply cleaned at the machine shop and should be ready to go. Again, I'm not going for show quality, just making sure it's reasonably clean today and easy to work on down the road.
I also opted to paint the lifter valley with oil-based paint. Why? Because the painted surface is smoother and because all of the pores in the metal are sealed - which helps with oil drain back and makes it harder for sludge to have something to "grab onto" and form the large deposits that were seen when this motor was torn down. I did this same thing on the engine I rebuilt for my 1975 Suburban, and that seemed to work pretty well. I had to remove the intake on the Suburban and replace the intake gaskets about 10,000 miles after the rebuild and the lifter valley was still as pristine as the day I assembled the motor. The only problem area is in keeping the lifter bores clear of paint. On the Suburban I did this by carefully cutting in with a brush and then using an old lifter to "scrape the lifter bores clean". On this motor, I simply inserted all of the old lifters into their bores upside down and painted. When I removed the old lifters after painting, they had helped keep most of the paint out (self masking) and the lifter removal itself scraped some of the remaining paint off the lifter bores. I also ran the lifters in and out of the bores a few times to remove any other bits and chunks of paint that would later be in the way. In addition to the lifter valley, I also painted the sections of the heads that overhung the lifter valley to help prevent sludge from gaining a foothold there. Why red paint? It's what I bought when I did this for the Suburban. A quart goes a long way - I can probably paint 20-30 engines this way before I have to buy another quart - so if you read my website, you'll be seeing lots of red lifter valleys in engines I rebuild. :-)
More of my typical "luck" reared it's head when I tried to install the first piston/rod assembly. No matter what, I simply could not get it to go into the cylinder. At first I thought my cheap-o $10 piston ring compressor was letting me down, so I ordered up a nicer one (a nice little "wrinkle band" style adjustable unit from Summit) along with a few other tools - like a socket that fit on the front of the Ford crankshaft so I could turn the motor over as I was working on it. So, I get my spiffy new ring compressor and try to use it - no dice. The compression rings simply won't compress far enough into the piston ring grooves to let the piston go into the cylinder. The oil ring goes in fine, but it all comes to a halt at the second (lower) compression ring. I checked the box of rings to decipher the label to be sure it's a standard ring set (aka, someone didn't toss the wrong item into my shipping box) and that's all good. I put a ring in the cylinder to make sure that it fits without having the ring ends ram into each other (aka, not a mislabeled box of rings - oversize rings would not compress onto the piston properly) and that's all good. I decided to check the ring-to-groove fit by reversing a ring and putting it into the groove - and it's too wide. I compare against an original ring and reach the same conclusion - the rings are just to wide by a good 1/16" or so. Not tall (the usual measurement of a ring) but "wide". The depth of the groove in the piston is less than the width of the ring. Huh? I checked the specs on the rings (the internet is a wonderful tool at times) and they're for the right application - they fit pretty much every Ford 5.0L and 5.8L from 1986 to something like 1992 (except for some oddball high output applications like the Lightning pickups) and have 1.5mm compression rings. I checked the factory service manual for the 1989 F150 and it seems to agree that 1.5mm rings are right. So I call up PAW and they're stumped too. The engine has clearly never been rebuilt, yet the rings are just flat out wrong. The kicker? No one specs the ring "depth" that matters here - not the Ford manuals and not the ring manufacturer's catalog - apparently it's just sort of "assumed" based on the application. Ugh. After some more quality phone time with PAW, the best idea that came up was to visit the Ford dealer and maybe a local engine rebuilder and see if they could help. The local Ford dealer was about as useless as they come - the rings are a discontinued item and they can't even guarantee they will fit. Even better, I have to prepay to get a set shipped in and there are no returns on them once I order them. No thanks. I stopped by the local machine shop that did the work for me (Eastside Machine in Kirkland, WA), and chatted with the owner about my problem. His initial look through his catalogs got the same results I got with PAW - the ring set I had was the correct one for this motor. He was even able to decode the part # on the pistons and verify they were really a genuine OEM 1987 Ford part. He said he had a few more places to look, and he said he'd call me back later. Within 2 hours, he gave me a call and said he found another ring manufacturer that listed a "shallow" ring for that application and that he could have them in the very next day. Price was a bit more than I could get mail order, but the quality seemed comparable and he was willing to not make me buy the ring set if they didn't fit, so I went for it. The next day, I stopped back to get the rings - score! They fit! Wahoo! Lucky me - it was only a two month delay while hunting down the right parts in my copious free/spare time.
Once I got the ring issue sorted out, assembly proceeded reasonably normally. I did have some trouble with a few of the pistons until I realized I had to really make sure the ring grooves got cleaned out very well. Unless all of the crud and carbon was removed, the rings couldn't compress properly and the pistons were a very tight fit in the bores. Luckily, one of the "other" tools I got from Summit along with my spiffy "wrinkle band" ring compressor was a piston ring groove cleaner. Mounting that in my vice worked awesome for cleaning out the grooves of all the accumulated crud - and there was a lot of it on some of the pistons. Since this was the first time I've re-used a set of pistons on a budget rebuild, I had little idea what "normal" was or even how to properly use the ring groove cleaner, but I figured it out soon enough and was on my way to getting the engine assembled.
The cam, cam thrust plate, oil pump, oil pickup tube, timing set, and front cover went on without too much trauma. I did have to spend a while hunting down various bolts and small parts (like the thrust plate) - this project sat in my garage for a good six months between teardown and this part of the reassembly so stuff has a tendency to get scattered and hidden. I also realized I had forgotten to clean any of the bolts or small parts, so I had to get into a routine of finding the parts/bolts in the pile, cleaning things, then installing things. Rinse, repeat as needed. The cam was fun to install - after being slathered in assembly lube, it was one seriously slippery little bugger and was somewhat hard to get a handle on to get the final bearing seated. Thankfully I was wearing disposable gloves so cleanup was a breeze.
Due to unrelated circumstances, there was a delay of a few months before I progressed on this. I neglected to get any pictures with the rotating assembly installed before the various other parts went on, oh well. The first day back on the project was somewhat of a mad scramble to find parts, wrap up small details, and clean lots of hardware so we could install stuff. Various parts had gotten moved around the garage, so there was a lot of head scratching on my part to find it all again. It's not the brightest idea to interrupt an engine rebuild like this, but life happens sometimes. You just do the best you can with it. Unfortunately, it meant this simple rebuild was now stretching out past the eight month mark. Ugh.
First up was the oil pan and the heads. Some of the head bolts show so they need to be painted, plus I had to paint the ends of the heads after I installed the freeze plugs in each end. The lifters dropped in mostly without incident, though one of the lifter bores had some gunk in it that needed to be cleaned out before the lifter would go in all the way. I even remembered to put some assembly lube on each camshaft lobe and on the bottom of each lifter - this was crucial since the engine had sat partially assembled for so long and some lube had no doubt dripped off the camshaft while it was sitting. I also had to find all of the original-but-cleaned valvetrain parts and the new pushrods so I could install them, but once they were found and I looked carefully at the assembly diagrams in the factory manual, it all went together pretty easily. The small hand-held oil pump I bought from Summit Racing worked wonders to apply small bits of engine oil to various parts as they were installed - without making a mess. I even cleaned up the grungy oil drain plug before it was installed. I also temporarily installed the oil pressure sender with it's extension. I then installed the new rear main seal and the harmonic balancer - after the balancer was cleaned and painted. At this point I was far enough along to get out my spiffy new Ford oil pump priming tool, dump some oil into the engine, and prime the engine with a hand drill to see if it had any oil leaks. It took a while to get everything full of oil - there is a surprising amount of oil that sits in the oil galleries, lifters, and the oil filter when the engine is not running - but once the oil filled up those areas, I got oil everywhere I was supposed to and no where I wasn't supposed to. Aka - no leaks! Woh-hoh! I also spun the engine over by hand and re-primed it at each point to verify the valvetrain was moving properly and to lubricate everything on the bottom end at all of the various positions. No problems showed up here - so far so good.
Next up was the lower intake manifold and the valve covers - basically enough to get the engine roughly sealed up. Figuring out where all of the intake bolts went was a bit of a chore, and after some futzing about, I'm pretty sure I got them right (there are two length studs plus regular bolts, and they all need to be in the correct places), but we'll find out later on if I got that right or not. The factory and aftermarket (Haynes and Chilton's) manuals all stink on this point, so I spent a lot of time looking at other parts on the engine and guessing what would bolt up to what later on. At this point we ran out of working time for the day and had to call it a night, so I taped up the openings in the intake (both the center air flow area and the injector ports) and carefully set aside the parts I had dug up from the far reaches of my garage so it would be easy to do the next pieces of assembly.
Next up was the exhaust manifolds. I sandblasted the sealing surfaces to clean them, which was pretty easy. Getting all of the studs and nuts figured out was a real chore, though - even worse than the intake manifold. There are a lot of pieces that bolt in one way or another to an exhaust manifold stud. The spark plug heat shields, the engine lifting brackets, the dipstick tube, a brace for the smog gear that sits over the driver's side intake, part of the smog pump tubing, and a brace that supports the upper intake manifold. That's a lot of tidbits to get installed properly with all of the studs in the right places. Add in that there are two different length bolts to get through the manifold, and it took some time to get right. Morale: Take pictures before you take stuff apart and don't waste half a day putting stuff on the motor in different ways to sort out the jigsaw puzzle like I had to.
The water pump had a few issues sorting out which studs went where, but for that I had a nearby motor to compare against so it wasn't too painful. The length going into the motor and size of the bolts on that end was pretty easy to make sense of, and I had to make sure that the ones with studs on them were in the correct places. Not rocket science, just paying attention to details and wishing I had taken more photos on teardown. The crankshaft pulley, water pump pulley, fan + fan clutch, and thermostat + housing, and bypass hose all went on easily - it was a nice change of pace from the previous "where exactly do each of the magic bolts and studs go?" work. I also got the passenger's side front accessories and the associated bracketry installed at this time - smog pump, alternator, and the belt tensioner.
Next up was the fuel rail and injectors. I disassembled the fuel rail for cleaning - including pulling the pressure regulator so I could blow out the fuel rails of any debris they may have collected and any water/cleaner from the cleaning work - and got a pile of injectors ready for cleaning. Courtesy of taking apart two motors (original from the truck + this replacement) and some other parts scrounging, I had something like 40+ Ford orange top fuel injectors laying around ready to be cleaned and used. At least I should be able to cobble together a few good sets out of the pile, right? That's the theory. Based on what I learned reading FordFuelInjection.com, I decided to clean the injectors myself - and I even started a tech page for DIY Fuel Injector Cleaning to cover all of the nitty gritty details for people who are interested. Suffice to say it went well and I got eight clean and reconditioned injectors to put into the motor. I did a quick cleaning of the fuel rail assembly, used some engine oil to lubricate the injector O-rings (top and bottom), and it pretty much fell together and onto the motor.
Next up was the EFI wiring harness on the engine - that took some doing to figure out without any pictures. It was wrapped with a plastic piece to help it stay in place and it went over two special bolts at each end. The trouble was that I couldn't figure out if it was supposed to go over special intake bolts or special valve cover bolts, and it took some doing to sort out where the end of the "U" went - at the front or the back of the motor. The diagrams in the factory manual were elusive at first, and even when found, they did not show the plastic supports. However, they did show the basic harness routing, and from that I was able to sort things out - most EFI connectors are done such that each thing only fits in one place, so it was obvious if it was wrong. It turns out the plastic pieces sit along the inner edges of the valve covers and the inner end valve cover bolts are ones with special studs on the top to allow you to actually "bolt down" the wiring harness, and it looks like the factory did. I settled for just setting the plastic pieces in place on top of the valve cover studs/bolts. They would be hard pressed to fall off even if the engine was upside down with all of what they are plugged into and the tight spaces the harness runs in. I did sacrifice one rag to cleaning the harness before installing it - it was filthy, to put it mildly. Yuck! Also, I found out in the manuals that the knock sensor goes in the block at the top rear on the passenger's side of the center area. I had installed it into the intake manifold on the driver's side, but apparently it only goes there on the 5.8L engines. It's odd that the 5.0L intake had that hole machined, but it looks like it's not used on the 5.0L engines, at least as far as I can tell. Live and learn. There are a ton of connectors on the EFI harness that need to be hooked up - I did a double check to make sure they were all connected properly before I moved on as most of them are not easily accessible (if at all) once the upper intake goes on.
Next was the upper intake manifold, which is easy in concept, but in practice is a rather large bulky piece that is lopsided and wants to fall over until you get a couple of bolts installed. While messing with it, I managed to drop one of the bolts down into the lower intake and I had a real "pucker moment" or two until I was able to fish it out with a magnet. (Moral: Don't let your 5 year old daughter jabber away in your ear while you're trying to rebuild a motor...) I also had to shuffle some of the misc bits bolted to the exhaust manifolds to get the passenger's side brace for the upper intake installed properly. I had just about everything possible installed "backwards" the first time around, and the brace didn't fit. So I shuffled things and made it all work - it seems right now, or at least "more right" than it was before. Along the way, I found out that the smog gear that installs over top of the driver's side valve cover is slightly different for the 1987 vs. 1989 5.0L engines, and I needed to use the 1989 units to match up with the wiring harnesses and such for the truck. Guess which one I had grabbed and installed earlier? Yep, the 1987 piece. And the special intake bolts with long studs on them were different between then 1987 and 1989 engines - and the 1989 bolts were corroded badly. Ugh. I had to drill out the mounting holes on the 1989 bracket to allow using the larger 1987 bolts, but in the end it worked. After that I hooked up all of the connectors on the EFI harness that went to the upper intake - mainly up at the throttle body area. I even remembered to remove the oil pressure sender and extension, seal the threads properly, and reinstall them - and hook up the wire from the harness. I had previously installed them just tight enough to pre-lube the engine and verify all was well. I hooked up the pre-formed "vacuum hose harness" at this time. It goes to a bunch of the smog gear, the "tree fitting" on the upper intake, the fuel pressure regulator, some smog pump gear, etc. It's mostly fool-proof due to molded connectors and different size hoses in critical areas, but it did require a bit of head-scratching to get the initial details sorted out. Once I got going it went reasonably smoothly.
I also hooked up the smog pump tubing and hoses and connected the vacuum harness to the two diverter valves for the smog pump. The driver's side front accessories are all hanging in the engine compartment attached to the power steering system, so they will come later. I also installed brand new studs in the exhaust manifolds to hook up with the exhaust pipe flanges - replacements were cheap and easy to install, so there was no sense messing around with nasty rusty hardware that could fail at any time.
I then moved the engine from the engine stand to a nifty little wooden support/stand that I got from someone who bought a crate motor and didn't need it anymore. It supports the engine under the oil pan rail area and is reasonably sturdy, though you do need to be careful about leaning on or pulling at the motor too hard - aka, be careful if you use a torque wrench to install stuff while it's on the wooden support/stand. I moved the engine because the wooden support/stand allows full access to the front and back of the motor - and that meant I could install the pilot bearing, engine plate/dust cover, flywheel, clutch, and pressure plate. They won't fit between the motor and the engine stand, so you need to install these after the engine is off the stand. In the middle of this, my luck struck again - at some point while the engine was torn apart, I managed to loose the bolts for the pressure plate. Yay. This meant I had to go buy new ones at the last minute - for the record, they're 5/16"-18 x 1" long and need to be grade 8 (or better). Luckily my local parts store had them in their bolt bin in grade 8, so I was good to go. I used lock washers and Loctite on them to ensure they didn't back out on me. The clutch alignment tool came in the clutch kit I bought. Also, I found out that the clutch kit they sold me was a 10" clutch, and it looks like the original clutch was an 11" clutch. The wear pattern in the flywheel is lightly visible even after having the flywheel turned, and the bolt holes for the 10" pressure plate were gunked up badly enough to need a tap to clear them out, but the ones at the outer edge (presumably for the 11" clutch) were clear and ready to accept bolts. It also looks like the 11" clutch bolts are larger - 3/8"-16 x 1" long. Some Ford flywheels even appear to use 8mm x ~1" long bolts for the pressure plate - it's all very fun and confusing. If in doubt, check the bolt holes in your flywheel to be sure. Anyways, I had bought the 10" clutch kit long ago and it was far too late to return it, so I used it. I doubt this truck will see enough abuse to make the additional holding power of the 11" clutch a requirement, and if for some reason it becomes important, I can swap out the clutch. One other minor tidbit I figured out is that out of the six bellhousing bolts, the two shortest ones go in the upper two positions. The other 4 are longer to go through the thicker sections of the bellhousing.
I replaced the O2 sensor in the exhaust pipe before installing the motor. It's easiest to do with the engine out of the truck because you can stand in the engine compartment and do the work.
There are some pieces for the throttle linkage and such I could mess with at this point, but not much else really needs to be done before it's ready to go into the truck. After that I can do the final hookups and see about firing things up. The starter, for example, can't be installed until the engine is in the truck. I'm keeping the radiator and AC condenser out until after the engine is installed to ensure they don't get broken up by a swinging engine. Other stuff is more obvious that it has to wait until the engine is in - radiator hoses, wiring hookups, and other such fun details. I also have to bleed the clutch hydraulic system once the engine is installed. The rest of the details for this will be on the 1989 Ford F150 page since the engine is in the truck and I'm essentially "working on the truck" again.
Page last updated 01/02/2009 01:51:39 PM