Got me a new truck!

My old Toyota 4Runner went Communist on me in December, had to be parked facing downhill to allow it to be started next time.  A Catch 22 involving if-replacing-the-starter-doesn’t-fix-it has left me having to borrow a vehicle anytime I need to go into town, or have someone pick up what I need has existed from then until now.

Meanwhile this old ranch truck has been sitting up there for the last five years unused after he twisted off a fuel line.  Gale, my old bud who owns this place and the F350, has had a long run of guilt-not-bad-enough-to-cause-him-to-fix-it, but too bad to just free him up, solved both our problems in one fell swoop:

“You can have that old F350 if you’ll fix it.”


It’s an ’83 and hasn’t been registered for public roads since the early ‘90s, but he says it ran fine until he broke the gas line.  Unfortunately, over the years other people tried to fix it, coons lived under the hood, the wiring is chicken noodle soup.

I bought a vintage Chilton Manual from Amazon dirt cheap, but it didn’t have anything much about the wiring.

The coil appears to be made of scrap iron, the electronic ignition might be a retrofit.  Not even going to tell you what the inside of the distributor looked like when I popped it.

It’s not getting fire and I’m about out of fancy ideas.  If I don’t figure something out soon I’m going to have him tow me into town and let a real mechanic work on it, put an inspection sticker on it, and register it for the highway.

I think it’s going to make a pretty good old truck.

Robert Earl Keen – The Road Goes On Forever

About 11:30 AM Saturday

Reading the Terlingua or Bust blog I see he’s blowing out tires something awful out there even when they aren’t on the ground.  Some of the comments suggested it’s the heat, which makes sense. 

I don’t think the roads here are much better than his are likely to be, so maybe I ought to be glad I haven’t gotten that truck on the road yet.  Getting up to Gale’s is the worst of it… about half-mile of badly eroded 2-track rotten limestone trying to tear up tires at the best of times.  But his house to the pavement is another half-mile, better maintained but still rough.  Then the three miles of pavement to the mailbox has several lousily maintained cattleguards a person can never predict whether they’ll have a loose somethingorother pop up and take a whack at something.

From the mailbox to the main highway is a lot better, state road with no more than the usual fry-an-egg-on-it hotter-than-a-$2 pistol   asphalt.

Once again I owe the Coincidence Coordinators a debt of gratitude for sparing me stuff I didn’t even think about might happen.

Thankee Coincidence Coordinators.  I tips my hat to you.

Old Jules

12 responses to “Got me a new truck!

  1. Yep,nuthing like a good ole Ford PU..That the 390 V8? Good ole workhorse engine, Not a race engine, but will pull anything.
    And yea, you may well have to get a mechanic to reassemble the electrical crap that was pulled apart/ re rigged.

    IMHO,,. Good find !!

  2. Morning Ben. Thanks for the visit. It’s a big V8. Sticker under there says it’s 5.8 litre, but I don’t know nuthun about liters. I’m a quarts and gallons kinda guy. Just looking at it I’m guessing you’re right and it’s up in the neighborhood of 400 cubic inches.


  3. Good find, it Could be one of a few built, BUT most likely standard ole Ford Engine.. This link may provide more infor,IF your interested.

  4. Gracias Ben. That’s great info. I don’t know why I never though of looking at Wiki.

    Everything under there looks fairly normal except the coil, which isn’t coated black, isn’t bakite I’m used to seeing for coils, and has a plastic cover over the top …. difficult enough to get out of there so’s I haven’t done it yet. But it might be fried, or the electronic ignition might be, and I’ve figured to try finding old ones to stick in there and replace them both, just in case. But the nearest junk yard’s 60 miles away and they mightn’t have them anyway.

    I’ve spotted a couple of junkers of that vintage sitting up behind things in Kerrville but haven’t quite devised an approach to take to suggest the owners let me look under the hood and rob parts if I can use them.

    Thanks again for the visit and the Wiki link.


  5. Great blog….looks like a good’n that I’ll be checking often.
    You could register that truck as an “antique” (older than 1986)….no yearly inspections needed, not sure about insurance….only costs $65 once every 5 yrs….but you can ONLY drive it to car shows, in parades, and to the repair shop….not for daily driving….but my ’85 F250 is always being test driven.

  6. Additionally…not trying to advertise here…but if you don’t drive more than 12,000 miles per year…you can get some cheap insurance via the internet, on a pay as you drive/use basis. Milemeter dot com….you buy in 1000 mile increments and increase as you need it. Full coverage or just TX minimum. I’ve been using it for a few years…but never had a claim.
    And I’ve got an old Chilton book for Ford trucks that covers your years, if you want me to scan and email you some pages…I’d be glad to.
    Bigfoot in Fort Worth.

  7. Hi Bill. Thanks for the visit and the observations/info. My initial thought is I’ll probably keep everything strictly on the up-and-up, register it the normal, but more costly way. Insurance for me is [relatively cheap because I haven’t had a moving violation or insurance claim in 40 years – runs me about a dollar a mile because I don’t drive much]. But anytime it goes on the road there’ll be something like feedbags or groceries and an ice chest to keep frozen food cold until I can get it home.

    Any chance you might take a picture of that F250 engine with the air cleaner pulled off showing the way the wiring runs coil to distributor, electronic ignition-to-coil, electronic ignition to distributor?

    Don’t go to any trouble but next time you are in there anyway if you’d click a few pics I’d be obliged.

    Thanks again for the visit and comments.

    Edit: Unless your Chilton’s different from the one I bought from Amazon I don’t think it would help. This one’s good for a lot of things but lousy for wiring. Tries to cover too many years and models without covering any of them.

  8. Hello Jules…that Milemeter runs about 35 cents/mile for cheapest level.
    And my F250 is a 6.9 diesel…sorry, different animal.
    The Chiltons book I have is for ’61-’88 Ford Vans….nearly 2″ thick.
    I used to have an old Ford 390 pickup, ran great, pulled great….but 10mpg was the best I ever got out of it, even with headers and twice pipes. Good luck to you.

  9. Thanks Bill. Probably I shouldn’t have asked in the first place. Just as well it was the wrong engine. I don’t like being beholden if I can help it.

    I’ll check out the insurance thing though, and I’m obliged to you for the visit and suggestions.


  10. 5.8 liter was the what Ford called the 351c.i. There were two the Cleveland and the Windsor (I think that’s how it’s spelled). One has a 4 bolt main the other a two bolt. It is a good engine and is easily interchanged with the 302 ci (5 L). They are the same except for stroke. I had one in a carburetor 77 van.
    They came with electronic ignition which is good and pretty bullet proof. My old 66 with a 390 would get about 10000 miles from a set of plugs with the old style points and condenser but the 77 with the electronic ignition never did use up a set of plugs. Some of the ignition stuff looks like the old models, such as the distributor, but they are not the same. Coils don’t look like coils but they are basically all wired the same as the old stick and rock models.
    By the way the ford 360 and the 390 are the same except for stroke.
    I think 87 was the last year carburetors were available on Ford trucks. I’ve had plenty of carburetors and they are a pain in the ass. I’ve never had to do anything to the fuel injected models except replace fuel pumps.
    Terrible mileage but carved from a single block of granite. There will be parts for them until the end of time.
    When I get any vehicle I also get a copy of Chiltons and a copy of Haynes and refer to both. They are enough different that it pays to have both.
    Look for Ford truck enthusiast on the internettubeswebbes and you’ll likely find a forum that has talked or is talking about your truck.
    As much as I dislike motor vehicles and driving I’ll probably have a Ford truck until I go to the great junk yard in the sky.

  11. Hi OF: You’ve jam-packed this with good info and I’m obliged. I’ll check out the forum you mentioned.


  12. funny how decline and stability can dovetail . . .

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