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Old 04-02-2009, 06:16 PM   #1
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Freewheeling: A possible match for the 67 Overlander

My wife and I are looking at a Ford F250 Camper Special (vintage) as a possible vintage tow vehicle. Any thoughts on the old Camper Specials? The 390?
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:42 PM   #2
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That was the era of Ford's biodegradable vehicles, and you do live on the fringe of the rust belt. The FE engines were very good, I liked the 390 more than I liked the 360. Bear in mind the 390 will require a fuel supplement to keep the valves from disappearing into the heads, unless it is a post-1972 model.
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:52 PM   #3
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We're here for two more years and then back in to the West... the land of low humidity. We'd garage a vintage TV until we're ready to roll. The truck we're looking at is out of California. The camper special era stuff in places like Maryland has generally been ravaged by rust.
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Old 04-02-2009, 07:01 PM   #4
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The 390 is a great truck engine. Terry is correct about the valve seat issues. The thing to do would be to rebuild the heads using Stellite valve seats. See Stellite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This would bring the heads up to modern standards.
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Old 04-02-2009, 07:26 PM   #5
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I am very partial to the old Fords. When you say Camper Special / 390, I think of 1967-1972 F250s.I have owned several F100s of that vintage. They are great rigs. Fuel milage is generally abisimal- 14 mpg if you are really living right. More likely 10-12 mpg. The front drum brakes are easily converted to disc from the later model F250s. The C6 auto trans is pretty much bullet proof. If you find one with factory air niether the a/c nor the heater will be very effective. Better to add an aftermarket a/c. Adios, John
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Old 04-02-2009, 08:37 PM   #6
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I have some good memories of Fords of that vintage, though I haven't done much in thhe way of turning wrenches on the 390 or the C6. I never expect much out of vintage AC. While vintage rigs have certain charms, there have been many improvements in technology... AC among them. The nice thing is that a guy can still work on a 60s era pickup without needing a bank of computers.
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Old 04-02-2009, 09:06 PM   #7
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Iíve rebuilt a 390. Itís a good engine to work on. Automatic transmissions are unbelievably easy to work on. When I rebuilt irrigation engines the shop I worked in would let us work on our cars after hours. I started on the 727 TorqueFlite from my í72 Satellite Sebring at 5:00 on Friday thinking I would tear it down and if lucky clean some of the parts. Then reassemble Saturday afternoon. By 9:00 I had it reassembled. That included installing a shift kit.

Donít worry about the 390 running gear. The body and suspension are the issues. The Twin I-beam front suspension is one of the strangest things ever invented. I have always suspected that Ford still owned the original King Pin milling machine that Hennery used on the Model Ts and insisted on using it till it wore out. Newer Fords, like my 2000 F150 donít use it. They ride and handle much better. (Probable flame bait, sorry to Twin I-beam fans.)

I think a vintage F250 would be a great TV. I need a F250 myself and the main things that keep me from looking at older ones are the (1) front suspension, (2) improvements in engine technology, (3) the AC units, (4) cruse controls, and (5) the rest of the interior. In that order.

Still, I have an old Dodge Tradesman ĺ ton van that hasnít run in a long time that was my first TV for my old Trade Wind. Every now and then I get an urge to rebuild it, and it needs a lot of work.
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Old 04-02-2009, 09:57 PM   #8
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... The Twin I-beam front suspension is one of the strangest things ever invented. I have always suspected that Ford still owned the original King Pin milling machine that Hennery used on the Model Ts and insisted on using it till it wore out. Newer Fords, like my 2000 F150 donít use it. They ride and handle much better. (Probable flame bait, sorry to Twin I-beam fans.)

...
No flame here. However double shocking the front end helped a great deal with the twin I-beam.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:03 PM   #9
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Donít worry about the 390 running gear. The body and suspension are the issues. The Twin I-beam front suspension is one of the strangest things ever invented. I have always suspected that Ford still owned the original King Pin milling machine that Hennery used on the Model Ts and insisted on using it till it wore out. Newer Fords, like my 2000 F150 donít use it. They ride and handle much better. (Probable flame bait, sorry to Twin I-beam fans.)
I discarded my old I beam bender just prior to our move to California. Up until that time I still owned a Twin I Beam F250. The I Beam bender was something I brought out to stump the newer, know-it-all techs i worked with.
Let's see...Things to watch for in one...
Timing chains and gears went kablooey at 60,000 miles like clockwork.
Fuel pumps and water pumps went about every 30,000.
Flex fans would shuck blades on a whim. My '77 had a dent in the underside of the hood from one that let go at 70 mph...
They HAVE to have the fan shroud.
The front corner cab mounts would rot off and let the cab droop toward the front. Also, the rubber cab and core support mounts would disintegrate causing the same condition.
If the truck comes with the 70 amp alternator, you can directly bolt on a 100 amp in its place.
Radius arm bushings will get oil on them from engine oil leaks, and turn to soggy mush, and the front end will sound like it's going to fall off the truck. Replacement bushings are cheap and easy to replace.
The older Fords with the two piece rear main seal in the engine don't leak oil, they mark their territory.
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:48 PM   #10
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The older Fords with the two piece rear main seal in the engine don't leak oil, they mark their territory.
Hi Terry, Marie, and Sophie,

Yes, the full-circle seals are the only ones that work well. On the older Minneapolis Moline 800’s (800 CID 6 cylinder inline engines [read that 133 CID per cylinder vs. a 1600 CCIC engine on the Volkswagen Beetle] that was 94.6 CID {You get the idea} for 4 cylindes) there was a 2 piece “rope seal.” What a “SOB” to deal with, and didn’t work well. On the HD800s, they had a “Full Circle” seal that was a tremendous improvement.

Other engines, including the venerable small block Chevy (arguably the greatest engine ever designed [at least as first effort out of the block in 1955 and still little changed till today]) have switched over from split seals to full-circle seals. It is still a major design improvement that requires different castings.

The two-piece seals, they work if you pat your head, rub your belly, jump up and down on your left foot (if you are right handed), spin counter-clockwise (if you are right handed), and invoke mystical powers.

A lot of older engines had two-piece seals, so it’s not that bad. Hey, you’re traveling so it’s not your pavement anyway, right?
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Old 04-02-2009, 10:55 PM   #11
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Oh, yeah. About that rear main leak... The flywheel will sling the oil into the starter, and eventually enough oil will leak into the starter it will short the windings, and the truck won't start. This generally takes a couple of years to happen, though, it's not a "replace the starter, drive a hundred miles, replace the starter" scenario.
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Old 04-02-2009, 11:24 PM   #12
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This may be the best vintage TV you could choose. I had a 360 (the 390 is better) Camper Special that I bought with 60k and drove it to 100k. Rebuilt it and drove it another 40k. I'd have kept it forever if it had 4wd. I came across the scales one time in Nebraska pulling a gooseneck flatbed with a load of hay. Truck and trailer grossed at 14,000 lbs. Asking way too much of the truck, but it did it just fine. The AS will make the truck smile.
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:16 AM   #13
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Things didn't quite work out on the camper special, but we're still shopping. We may go take a look at a Fleetside by a guy who has done a frame-off renovation. I had a '52 Chevy as a daily driver for years so I'm aware of some of the issues. I'm sure that like with the Chevy 350, there is a strong aftermarket for improvements on the Ford 360s and 390s. I'm not looking to build a performance big block, but I'm not opposed to adding components that keep me from breaking out the tool chest along side the road.

By the way, have you thawed out of Seeley yet? My folks in Libby say it was a snowy winter.
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:39 AM   #14
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Actually, I rode my snowmobile from the house yesterday. Nine inches of new snow. Lots of snow in the hills. Supposed to be in the upper 50s this weekend. Go figure. It must be springtime in the Rockies.
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