My ’66 F-100 Gets A Wash, A $10 Dyno Tune Up and A Set of $225 Used Tires

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I try to show my faithful old truck a little love once in a while, but it’s been a couple of years since I touched anything other than the controls and seat. Three years ago, I serviced it and fixed a sun visor, and reported that here. It always starts and hauls whatever I need, even if the load is an overload.  But the faithful 240 six has felt a bit down on its pep, actually, for some years now. I probably could have fixed that in 30 seconds, but just couldn’t be bothered; until now.

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So I decided a tune-up was called for; it’s been about a decade since the last one, more or less. I lost my service log book, and am going on memory, but it’s been close to that. Of course, I don’t drive it much; maybe a thousand miles or so a year. It depends how much (other) work I’m doing.

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I Bought some points, condenser, cap, rotor  and plugs from my local purveyor, and went to it. But I should have checked the status of mine before I did so. The points looked very good still, just a wee bit of visible “wear”. They were only a couple of bucks, so I decided to change them. It felt good to do the old routine, going back to my Corvair in 1972. Just make sure not to drop the mounting screws into the bowels of the distributor!

I set the gap, and dabbed on a bit of grease on the rubbing block, and popped in the new condenser for good measure.  But the rotor they gave me was the wrong one, and my rotor and cap  looked fine, so I just ran a bit of fine Emory cloth over the edge of the rotor and called it good.

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I removed the plugs, and inspected them. No visible wear; the gap still exactly where I had set it when they went in. And the coloration on their electrodes is picture-perfect (tan-light brown). This means that the engine is not running rich or burning oil. I just couldn’t bring myself to throw them away, so back they went in, for another decade or so.

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I can’t vouch for the originality of this motor. When I bought it in 1987 (for $500), the seller said something about it having been rebuilt. Given that it doesn’t have the original oil pan, but one from a van or 4×4 — which means that oil always hits the cross member when draining it — I’m inclined to think maybe it was a lower-mileage unit swapped in at some point.

I was sure that the timing was retarded, and since I lost my timing light ages ago (someone borrowed it, IIRC), I did the PN dyno-tune method: trial and error. I just kept loosening and bumping the distributor (opposite of its rotation), and drove it, until I started getting pinging when accelerating hard at low rpm. That took about four or five times; it really was retarded. And Oh how lively it felt now! And it pulls so cleanly right up to 4000 rpm! I was pretty impressed by how hard this engine pulled when I first got it, and have just kind of forgotten that the past some years.

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Well, it is only pulling against about 3700 lbs. These trucks don’t weigh much, as there’s not a whole lot to them except a frame, drive-train, suspension and a cab, which is only getting a bit lighter as the years go by and the rust holes in the floor get bigger.

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After the oil change and filter, I swung underneath and hit the chassis lube points. This truck is the easiest vehicle ever to service; the engine bay is massive and almost empty, and there’s enough room to just easily slide slide underneath.

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A couple more U-joints back here, and the job is done.

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The tires worn totally worn down and ancient, at least 15 years old. So decided that some new skins were called for. A set of new 235 15 75s run about $550 or so. I dropped by a used tire store, and he had just gotten s et of Michelin LTs, with about 90% tread. They looked pretty good, but he was cagey about their age ( forgot about how to read the year of manufacture on the DOT code). And he wanted $400, no wiggle room.

I passed, and headed to craigslist, where I found a set of Goodyear Wranglers with 90% tread being offered by a little tire shop nearby for $225, fully installed. He showed me the year of manufacture (2012), and I said yes. And what a difference; the steering was dramatically lightened up. That also reminded me of how it used to be. Unlike the aging in our bodies, it’s possible to rejuvenate a vehicle. Between the peppier engine and the new tires, It felt…almost youthful again.

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Since the F-100 is the official company truck of CC, I’ve had it in my head to get the business name painted on the doors. I decided to try that idea out first via some vinyl adhesive letters (that gray blurry spot just above and below are dirt in my camera lens, once again). So what do you think? And now I can deduct the cost of the $10 tune up on my taxes.