This is a crate engine story that talks about everything except the crate engine. We did that last month when we detailed our new M-6007-X302 engine.
Just in case you missed it, the X302 is Ford Racing's affordable stock-block small-block. At a competitive $3,495, it's ideal for real-world projects, either fuel-injected, such as our '91 5.0 LX hatchback, or carbureted. Under best conditions, it's rated at 340 hp and has a rumpty-rump E303-cam persona.
This month we address everything else surrounding a crate-engine install. That's because it's natural to get excited about the crate motor and the intake or blower you're going to put on it, but oh-too-easy to overlook the mundane, such as engine mounts, fan clutches, and radiator hoses. It sounds pedantic, but you must have a plan. An engine change is relatively easy work-a collection of many small, easy steps-but the key word is "many." Not thinking it through is begging for frustration and disappointment.
Slipping in Ford Racing's...
Slipping in Ford Racing's X302 crate motor has invigorated our '91 LX to no end. The process is straightforward, but considering the lifting tools required and the numerous steps involved, it's a pro job for all but experienced enthusiasts. For someone wanting to step up their wrenching game, however, it's a great first "big" project, as long as you have some experienced help.
On its second time around,...
On its second time around, an odometer like this means your old Fox is going to need more than just a new crate motor. Consider all supporting systems, such as cooling and fuel supply, when penciling your plans.
When ordering a crate engine,...
When ordering a crate engine, it's best to have it shipped right to where the engine installation will take place. If not, then it's good to have friends with a forklift. Tom Aberle got our X302 into our F-350 shop truck for us, and he eventually filled the bed with the engine, transmission, driveshaft and boxes of small parts. There's a lot of stuff involved.
The first step is setting the scope of the work. Are you changing just a blown engine in an otherwise great-running car? Or, like us, are you making the pivotal improvement on a high-mileage daily driver? Obviously, you need to set a budget.
As you think through where you want to be at the end of the project, we think you'll be surprised at how many parts you want to change besides the core engine. Don't be surprised when your simple crate-engine job turns into a full-car restoration. That's what happened to us.
Our case is hyper-typical. Our '91 LX hatchback had 198,062 miles when it's original engine came out. As a daily driver, the car was up and running, but it was used up in so many mechanical ways. The valve covers and oil pan had never been off, nor had we changed the ignition wires or upgraded the stock exhaust manifolds. The radiator had who knows how much gunk in its tubes, the power steering pump was grrrring a little, the engine mounts had sagged. Furthermore, the clutch was unknown, the transmission noisy, and the U-joints were likely original.
We opted to change everything. Along with recent upholstery and other interior work, plus cutting and polishing the paint, a new set of mechanicals would give us a fairly new Fox-and no new car payments, big insurance, or registration bills.
GTR Performance did our engine...
GTR Performance did our engine installation, and they had all sorts of tricks to ease the job. GTR main man Ricardo Topete started by wrapping the front of our 5.0 with packing plastic. The material sticks enough to stay, doesn't hurt the paint, leaves no residue, and kept all sorts of nasty chemicals off our fenders.
It won't be long before people...
It won't be long before people will be searching for vintage 5.0 speed parts, so keep your eyes open. As we were undoing the EGR hose tanglement on the passenger side, we noticed our old plug wires were marked "Motorsport." The new ones are marked "Ford Racing." We think the old ones are worthy souvenirs. You'll want the wiring separators and standoffs, too.
Aftermarket fuel rails are...
Aftermarket fuel rails are not necessary for the X302 crate engine, so plan on re-using your stocker. The chrome finish cleans easily and we also re-used our existing Aeromotive adjustable fuel pressure regulator. These 19-lb/hr injectors were swapped for FRPP 24-lb/hr units, however.
We're covering most of our parts details in the photos and captions, but in general overview, consider the following. You need a place to work. Do you have a home shop? Great. If not, go with a local shop. We chose GTR Performance, and the staff not only did the work, but provided indispensible knowledge and support services (receiving, research, and bargaining with suppliers).
All crate engines come bare from at least the valve covers on up. Select the intake manifold, throttle body, and cold-air intake that work with your heads and cam. We chose Edelbrock's Performer RPM II because it's a good power maker and has an E.O. number.
What about your front-of-engine accessories? The alternator, water pump, power steering, and so on are normally changed as-needed, but you might want to upgrade now to reset the clock on high-mileage units and gain shiny new parts to match your new engine.
Interestingly, we swapped what we thought was a noisy but still working power steering pump against Ricardo Topete's recommendation at GTR. He was right. Our zillion-mile PS pump was much quieter than the one we got from NAPA. Water pumps we would change no questions asked, but alternators, air pumps, and so on we'd clean and re-use.
If the original radiator is old or you're stepping up the power with the new crate engine, then a new radiator is smart; ditto for the fuel system. Old in-tank fuel pumps, tired filters, and new injectors don't mix.
First time out after 19 years...
First time out after 19 years and 198,062 miles, it was a big moment when our engine lifted out. As the engine hangs from the hoist is a good time to strip off the parts you'll reuse. It is not necessary to remove the hood if you tie it back, nearly upright.
Two chronic problems in this...
Two chronic problems in this era of tired 5.0s show here-wasted engine mounts and leaking oil-level senders. New engine mounts are absolutely mandatory with a crate engine. Urethane mounts are likely best as they are extremely durable and offer a minimal increase in NVH. The obvious oil washing from the oil-level sender is one issue you won't have with the X302 crate engine, because its oil pan doesn't have the sender or a hole to put it in. You can simply tape off the electrical leads to this sender and remember to check the dipstick occasionally.
Looking humble but still in...
Looking humble but still in the chase is our viscous fan clutch. Unless it's leaked or offers zero resistance when spun, you can likely reuse the fan clutch as they've proven durable. Cadmium plating makes them easy to clean, too. We washed this one and put it on our new engine.