Wednesday, July 31, 2013

First look under the Hood

Under the hood of Old Blue is the Ford 352 eight-cylinder engine produced from 1958 through 1967 production years. The big block engine featured a single mechanical distributor. Although simple by today's standards, the 352's distributor was still one of the most complex components on the engine. Aside from its electrical components, the distributor features a number of bearings and a large gear on the bottom of the distributor shaft. [From ] 

Uncle Ken did not like the mechanical distributor and when I asked about the Mallory setup we see in the picture below on Jul 31, 2013, he wrote:
I think it was about three years ago that I added the Mallory ignition. I always hated points as they rusted closed all the time and then were a pain to gap properly. Cracks in distributor caps used to drive me crazy as well. Got to the point if I replaced points, I replaced cap at same time. Went to a U-wrench yard here (Des Moines) and bought the Mallory out or a wrecked  Mustang.  Don't recall the year of the car. 

Jack and I were talking about how these engines work and the basic fuel, air, fire requirement quickly came up. We talked about the FIRE part of the "Combustion" equation first and our discussion was simple  - he had played with 'snap circuits' in his younger years so we had a mental image of how from the Battery comes the charge and when the ignition key is turned a circuit is created between the battery and the spark plugs but what is all this stuff in between? 

The Coil: 
The ignition coil is basically a Tesla coil that supplies the ignition spark to the spark plugs, increasing the voltage from the 12V in Old Blue's battery (or alternator - later!)  to 55,000V to ignite the fuel in the cylinders. Since Uncle Ken had replaced the original coil we went looking for information on what was under the hood on the web ... 

The Promaster Classic series ignition coils from Mallory are designed to meet today's specialized ignition requirements. These coils feature a faster rise time and increased spark duration (compared to stock) to increase performance. They have a glass-filled polyester case and oil-filled construction to ensure a long life and no energy loss from arcing. This series also offers better wire retention with a spark plug type secondary post, and brass contact terminals [Marketing Blurb from]

Specifications of the coil include: 

Coil Wire Attachment: 
Coil Style: 
Primary Resistance: 
0.600 ohms
Coil Internal Construction:
Coil Color:
Maximum Voltage:
55,000 V
Turns Ratio:
Secondary Resistance:
12.3K ohms
7.3 mH
Peak Current:
100 mA
Spark Duration:
500 uS
Mounting Bracket Included:
Coil Wire Included:
Ballast Resistor Included:
Coil Shape:
Height (in):
5.297 in.
Length (in):
3.706 in.
Width (in):
3.846 in.

We also found the wiring diagram for installing the coil with the resistor which is the white rectanglular box in the bottom right of the picture above.

Wiring Diagram Mallory Promaster 

The coil is wired as above with the tachometer green lead being spliced into the (-) post wire going to the distributor points. More on that later ...

The Distributor: 
The distributor handles several jobs. Its first job is to distribute the high voltage from the coil to the correct cylinder. We found an excellent explanation of what Old Blues Mallory distributor does to make the car run at

When Uncle Ken replaced the original mechanical style distributor (including the points and condenser, etc.) with a Mallory Unilite Breakerless Distributor P/N 9155301 it seems he found an interesting replacement for the stock ignition systems for Old Blue. I looked around the web and found many great things said about these units including that these are used for racing machines NOT street autos in California becuase of emissions concerns ... Hmmmm

I kept reading and found some very interesting details on this distributor; one of the best descriptions of the Mallory Dual-Point Distributors and of interest to me because I also own an MG was a post by Ben Travato of Santa Barbara, CA on the Moss Motors site

"In this article we will examine yet another alternative ignition system for your British sports car, the Mallory Dual-Point Distributor. What makes the Mallory unique among point type ignitions, is, as the name implies, it has two separate sets of points to do the work of one. What are the advantages to using two sets of points? In the Mallory distributor, one set of points opens the primary circuit and the other closes it, giving a longer period of dwell (the period of time that the points are closed, expressed in degrees). 
The dwell period is the time when the secondary windings in the ignition coil charge the magnetic field up for another high voltage blast when the points open (20,000-40,000 volts!). It can generally be said that the longer the period of dwell, the higher voltage the spark. On most four cylinder engines, the dwell period is about 60°, but the Mallory Dual-Point Distributor has a dwell period of 72°, so even if you choose to use your stock coil, you will still have a "hotter" spark, as the coil has more time to charge itself up than with a conventional distributor. This is accomplished in the Mallory unit by the following process. In the four cylinder distributor the point cam has eight lobes, and as it rotates, it opens the primary set of points completely, triggering the coil. Then the lobe rotates another 8° and opens the secondary set of points. Shortly after the secondary set has begun to open, the primary set closes, and the ignition coil starts charging even though the secondary set is still open. After the secondary set has closed the process starts again for the next cylinder.  
Why not just crank open the points for more dwell in your stock distributor? You could, but this would have an adverse effect on the ignition timing and the points would wear in short order, as they are designed to work at a specified gap, all of which would result in a loss of performance and economy. Another feature of the Mallory Dual-Point Distributor is the fact that it has a full centrifugal advance unit, rather than the part-centrifugal, part-vacuum advance system used on the stock Lucas distributors. This feature may make it illegal for use on pollution-controlled vehicles (check your local and state laws before using this unit on the street) but makes it perfect for use with high performance engines equipped with sidedraft carburetors that often lack a vacuum port for use with a stock distributor. The Mallory unit is also easily adjustable for total amount of ignition advance, and comes preset at 28° allowing the serious enthusiast the ultimate in tune-ability. The Mallory Dual-Point is supplied without a drive dog or gear, which must be transferred from the old distributor. Mallory has been making high performance ignition systems since 1932, was even a popular modification to MG TCs when they were new! 
Today there is a Mallory Dual-Point to fit most British cars, so if you're looking for the ultimate in high performance ignition systems, look no further than the Mallory Dual-Point distributor " .

Wow - it takes a lot of engineering to apply a charge to a spark plug. It took a couple of days for all this to sink in and I'm thinking we will see a bit of complexity with this definite non-stock component!!

Wiring Diagram Mallory Comp9000 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Taking a Look

After reading through many Ford truck forums and the usual HOW-TO, Wiki and other reference sites on the 1966 Ford Trucks I decided I had better take a look at what was delivered to the Casa on that Auto Carrier a few weeks ago and more importantly, come up with some kind of maintenance and possibly even a work plan. What options were available on the '66 ?

According to the book 'American Light Duty Trucks'  the Camper Special option was available along with the in the Custom Cab model in 1966. The Custom Cab package included:
  • striped upholstery with bolster and vinyl facings
  • chrome horn ring
  • cigar lighter
  • left hand arm rest
  • right hand sun visor
  • extra insulation
  • bright metal grille and headlight assembly
  • bright metal windshield reveal molding
  • matched door locks 
  • custom cab plaques 
  • bright hub caps
The Camper Special package includes:
  • dual western mirrors
  • unique fender emblem 
  • extra-cooling radiator
  • ampmeter
  • oil pressure gauge
  • a 300 cid six or a 352 cid v-8 engine
  • cruise-o-matic or 4 speed manual transmission
  • extended tailpipe
  • 70 amp.-hr battery
  • and a 55-amp. alternator
Sitting in the drivers seat, the interior is dusty, dirty but most of the dashboard components are there. The lights work throughout and all the gauges register something  with the exception of the tachometer which sits attached to the column- needle sits at zero.

The kids found out the horn works and lets out a MOAN that reminds them of a hurt cow. The upholstery is in good condition and looks original, there is a small tear on the passsenger side seat that I know was recent as Uncle Ken spokebaout how disappointed he was that after 47 years of NO TEARS he got one as he was prepping Old Blue for the ride to California. . 

This Camper Special was ordered with the split windows in the back and though dirty and move only with a bit of effort .. they work!

So this is the "Medium Beige Cody Pattern Woven Plastic" that Bill the retired parts manager spoke about :)

The Custom cab options for the doors included the arm rests, door panels (black) and the additional option for indoor storage compartments were included on this Camper Special.

The headliner is the cardboard kind with little holes in it. It is bent and warped in areas but stays out the way for the most part.

Old Blue came with West Coast Jr. mirrors which are about 12" long (the mirror itself.). This compared to the standard West Coast mirror which are approximately 16-17" long and typically mounted on the bigger trucks like F600's and semi trucks. We have the two-point mounts so have a little plug in the hole in the top of the door panel which would have held the third mount point. I like this style of mirror because I can collapse them when parking in tight garage space. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Gotta give a WAVE and where can I read more?

Over the next week or so, the kids and I cleaned out Old Blue, washed the dust from her travels across country from Uncle Ken's house to California and I read everything I could find on the web about  the 1966 FORD 250. One of the many resources I found right away and enjoyed reading was the Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forums Website at Here I found so many references to the 1966 Ford F-250  and it became obvious my initial goal of understanding what equipment was on Old Blue was imperative to understanding how to take care of her. I saw a posting by a man who had asked about his truck by copying information from the door plate so I did the same; posting a simple question asking if anybody on the site could help me understand what equipment Old Blue had on her, at least what she had been delivered with.

My simple request brought me a wealth of information from a personable retired ford parts manager who responded within hours of my question.  I spent the next few days reading about MX Cruise-O-Matic transmissions and other seemingly arcane components of the 1966 F-250.

I found that Old Blue was manufactured as follows:

VIN: F25YR845570 / W.B. 129 / Color: WM / Model: F250 / Body: O 81 / Trans: G / Axle: 24 / Max G.V.W. LBS: 07500 / Cert. NetHP: 172 / RPM: 4000 / DSO: 72

F25 = F250 2WD    <----   Model and Drive 
Y = 352 2V*          <-----  Engine size and carburator option
R = San Jose CA Assembly Plant.   
<----   Place of Assembly       
845570 = 1966, assembled April 1966.  <----   Year and Month of assembly
129" Wheelbase.       
<----   space between axles 
WM: W = Marlin Blue / M = Wimbledon White.       
<----   Original Colors scheme
F250 2WD, 7,500 lbs. GVWR           
<----   Gross Vehicle Weight Rating 
D81: D (Medium Beige) Crush Vinyl & Medium Blue or Medium Beige Cody Pattern Woven Plastic / 81 = 81B Custom Cab.      
<----   Interior colors : Old Blue had the Beige 'D' option 
G = MX Cruise-O-Matic.         
<----   Transmission model 
24 = Spicer/Dana 60 Rear Axle / 4.10-1 / No Limited Slip / 5,200 lbs. Rear Axle Capacity.   
<----   Rear end Option 
7,500 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
172 net HP @ 4,000 RPM
72 = San Jose (NorCal) Ford District Sales Office, where the original selling dealer ordered the truck from.

*Original carburetor: Auto-Lite 2100 series 2V

Wow ... I never expected all this information so quickly ... now I had to verify with Uncle Ken what was still on the truck, what had been replaced, and of course - WHY ?

Monday, July 29, 2013 in a note to Uncle Ken ... 
I’ve learned in Petaluma there is an unspoken agreement that IF you drive a 60’s Ford you always give a wave when you pass on the Road. I remember when Leanne and I went with Granny back to Kansas in the early 90's where, because we were out in the sticks, could only find an old 70’s oldsmobile to rent. As we belted along the dirt country roads whenever we passed another car the driver would give a wave .. I learned to give a wave back and now it happens driving around town. I have not seen another blue/white truck but have seen two tone light green and white trucks and lots of everything else ford made during the decade… 

Monday, July 22, 2013

What is Old Blue?

It has been a wild couple of weeks for me as I get used to driving this two tone truck - from the simple things I remember about my dads old Galaxy (driven during my teenage years) like the high beam switch is on the floor and what is a choke anyway (!!!) to the more complicated like how to stop the carburetor intake from leaking ...

Other than some simple introductions to the clean, focused implementation of a mid 60's combustion engine I have come across a few things that are still mysteries to me like - What is the difference between the three DRIVE options on the Automatic Transmission selector. I can guess what the 'L' is for but the other two are nothing like my other daily driver and I suppose I will find out somewhere how the 'dot' and green 'circle dot' selections differ and effect driving.

First thing I want to do is get an idea as to what equipment this truck has, what options came with her, what did she look like when first off the show room floor. I think I would like to keep her a close to original as possible and someday let some else experience what is was to drive Big Iron from the mid 20th century.

Hmmm ... off to google I think ....

Friday, July 19, 2013

New Owner - Old Truck

We recently inherited 'Old Blue' from Uncle Ken, a 1966 F-250 Camper Special with what seems to be only minor changes from original. The kids and I had attended Petaluma's American Graffiti celebration earlier in the year (something about George Lucas having filmed part of the movie in our town) and were taken by the old metal cars that were on display.

Grace in front of an old Hot Pink Studebaker. 

Cricket liked the Cadillacs

and of course who loves RED !!!

We started dreaming about finding something we could drive around town that was a little more aligned to the local zeitgeist .. some kind of auto that has seen the old days, but the prices of running vintage was pretty high and so we thought -- someday ...
Two weeks later I received a call from Uncle Ken and he said he was moving into a smaller house and did the kids and I want to take care of the first 'new' car he ever bought. He had taken care of her for the last 47 years having purchased her 'almost' new way back in 1966 from a lady in Sacramento whose husband had ordered the big truck and upon delivery promptly died of a heart attack. Uncle Ken bought her much to the chagrin of his father (a Chevy Man!) and she came with a Travel Queen camper on her back which for many years served as home away from home for Uncle Ken and his new wife and was even home for me way back in University days when i spent a summer at their house and used her as a bachelor pad for a few months.

She came on Friday July 12th, 2013, delivered by a man who had driven her 2,000 miles from Des Moines to Petaluma on the back of his Auto Carrier.

I remember her in earlier years and this made me think i do not want to change anything about her - just keep her running and as close to tway Uncle Ken used her for the first 47 years. Maybe someday i can add an appropriate for the vintage camper or shell for Old Blue (she was originally sold with a long gone Travel Queen sitting on back) but one step at a time - for now I am just getting used to the drum brakes and the 'growl' of her 352 as I pull away from stop signs.

I must admit there is something about this heavy metal beast that touches a place deep in my heart; perhaps a testament to earlier times and simple, functional design; perhaps my childhood memories of fishing/hunting trips with the elders in the family and the trucks they drove; or maybe I just feel a desire to steward the oversight and care of this fine vehicle for the next few years.