This chapter discusses the systems external to the engine and should be considered when swapping a modular engine into any chassis. Items such as cooling, ignition, and gauges need to be designed to take advantage of some of the improvements of the modular engine over earlier V-8 designs.
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The cooling system capacity must match the capacity of the engine. If the modular engine has been modified and puts out significantly more horsepower, it produces much more heat, and the cooling system must be upgraded to properly cool the engine.
The cooling system should be designed to bring the engine up to normal operating temperature and maintain the operating temperature. The engine is designed to run at a certain temperature: as an engine warms up, the metals expand and seat properly. This is where the engine’s tolerances are designed to work, and at normal operating temperature the engine experiences very little wear. Most engine wear occurs when the engine is cold (especially at start up).
The cooling system is designed to maintain the engine operating temperature, not to keep the engine as cool as possible. Although the internal combustion is creating the heat, the two factors that determine the temperature of the engine are the design of the cooling system and the load on the engine. The effectiveness of the cooling system is dependent on the size and efficiency of the radiator, how well the fan can draw air over the radiator at low speeds, and how well the coolant flows through the radiator.
Speed and volume of the coolant flow is important in the design of the cooling system. The cooling system should be designed to allow the coolant the proper length of time to operate at both the engine and the radiator ends. For example, the longer the coolant is in contact with the radiator tubes and fins, the more heat it can transfer: but the cost is that the coolant is also staying in the engine for an equally long time, and the coolant picks up more heat to dissipate. If the flow through the radiator is too high, it spends less time transferring heat to the fins, and the radiator won’t be able to effectively cool the engine. Proper coolant flow is important to a good cooling system design; not too much and not too little.
Low-Temp Thermostat Requirement
No cooling occurs until the thermostat opens. The thermostat’s primary job is to allow the engine to come up to operating temperature quickly, then regulate the engine temperature by opening and closing to allow the proper passage of coolant and maintain engine operating temperature.
On older modular engines, Ford used a 195-degree (90 Celsius) thermostat, and on later models some engines use a 180-degree thermostat (82 Celsius). As per Ford specification, the earlier thermostat doesn’t fully open until 219 degrees (104 Celsius), above the normal operating temperature.
So does running a cooler thermostat help prevent overheating? Not really. If the cooling system is working properly and the thermostat opens too soon, the engine takes longer to get to its operating temperature (or never at all), and that can cause additional wear and lower performance. Engines that experience more load due to driving styles and performance upgrades may benefit from lower thermostat opening temperatures. However, if the engine is generating more heat from load or is experiencing poor cooling system operation, the thermostat could be running wide open and not regulating engine temperature anymore. If the engine is operated without a thermostat, a lot of load is required to bring the engine up to operating temperature, and if the car is not moving, and no air is flowing over the radiator, the engine eventually warms up because the radiator cannot transfer heat effectively without airflow.
A low-temperature thermostat does not make the engine run cooler. It begins the cooling process sooner, and causes the engine to work harder to get to operating temperature. Performance engines that experience more load may benefit from opening the thermostat sooner. If there is an issue with the engine overheating, there is a problem with the cooling system, not with the opening point of the thermostat.
Cylinder Head Temperature
The cylinder head temperature sensor may report a temperature about 10 to 15 degrees higher than the coolant temperature. This is normal because it is transferring that heat to the colder coolant.
Factory Cooling System
There are a few things you should know about the late-model cooling systems. First, Ford uses a de-gas setup, which includes a separate tank for filling and holding extra coolant without relying on vacuum to open and close the radiator cap. The separate tank allows more cooling fins to be used in the radiator, so there is no need for an expansion area in the radiator. On high-performance installations, Ford uses an oil cooler that takes coolant from the lower radiator hose and runs it through an oil cooler mounted to the block. All but the earliest engines used an electric cooling fan system.
Although the radiator is fitted to the chassis and not to the engine, one quick note for first-generation Mustang builders: The SN-95 radiator fits between the frame rails of the first-generation Mustang and Cougar chassis with minor modifications. The 1965–1966 Mustang applications have the option of enlarging the radiator opening to take advantage of the wider radiator.
Ford factory fans are high amperage, so caution needs to be taken when selecting a controller. Depending on the application, the fan system can be controlling a two-speed fan, a variable-speed fan, or multiple fans. Some aftermarket computers may have a difficult time controlling the factory fan, so conversion to a more traditional fan controller that works independent from the computer controls may be required.
Thermostats and Housings
Thermostat location varies depending on the application. Some thermostats (for example, those on traditional Ford engines) are mounted on the engine, and some are mounted inline in a thermostat “pod,” in either the upper or lower radiator hose. Modular engine thermostats have a bypass port built in, so a path needs to be provided for circulation through the bypass.
De-Gas Coolant Tanks
The de-gas tank takes the expansion area out of the radiator and puts it outside and at the highest point on the coolant plumbing. A pressure port from the top of the radiator connects to the de-gas tank to vent gases trapped in the radiator. The tank is connected to the lower, or cold-side, radiator hose and acts like a reservoir, replacing coolant automatically and as needed. This eliminates the need for the radiator cap to build up pressure to open and act like a valve. Using a de-gas tank or overflow tank depends on the overall design of the cooling system.
The modular engine, like many other late-model engines, has many different sensors to monitor the current operating condition of the engine. Sensors must be integrated into the swap project so that you are fully aware of the engine’s health and operating status. A quick definition of some of the sensors mounted on modular engines follows. Ford has added some sensors to the modular engines that don’t appear on earlier V-8s.
Oil Pressure Sender
The modular engine still uses an oil pressure sensor with standard NPT threads. The late-model “indicator light” sensor works as all sensors have in the past: it is an on/off switch. An oil pressure sender for an oil pressure gauge needs to be matched to the gauge that will be used because different vendors use different methods to read the oil pressure. The late-model gauge is integrated into the instrument cluster.
Starting with 4V engines, the knock sensor was eventually added to the full line of modular engines. A knock sensor senses the shock wave that is generated when pre-detonation occurs in the engine. As the piston fights the compression, it creates a shockwave. The computer can use this information to adjust the timing or fuel delivery to prevent damage to the engine. Engines can have one or two knock sensors installed.
Cylinder Head Temperature Sensor
The cylinder head temperature (CHT) sensors work like coolant senders, but measure the temperature of the metal rather than the coolant drawing the heat of the metal. Part of the reason for using a CHT is to help with torque converter operations. It can also help the PCM if it senses an overheating condition to reduce engine overheating and avoid component damage (e.g., change timing and fuel mix).
Most of the forced induction vendors make pulley sets to match their systems. Pulley sets are available for stock engines to increase performance and improve appearance.
Alternators and Upgrades
Since the 1980s, Ford has used an internally regulated alternator with remote voltage sensing, and it’s different from current aftermarket “one-wire” systems. The Ford alternator uses a remote sensing line that senses the voltage away from the alternator, having traveled through some of the wiring. Sensing at the alternator (true one-wire operation) reports only what is happening at the alternator. Sensing remotely can reveal voltage drops in the wiring and give a more accurate picture of the electrical load use on the electrical system. Some aftermarket wiring harness manufacturers run the remote line back around to the pin at the alternator, eliminating the remote sensing. I have installed many one-wire alternators with new wiring and have not experienced any problems. Keep in mind that you don’t want to necessarily push more current through a poorly operating harness. That can make the electrical system unstable and unsafe as components tend to fry if overloaded. Prep your electrical system properly with good grounds, good wiring, and a proper voltage gauge that senses through a remote line. You should not have any problems with one-wire alternators.
PowerMaster has a full line of alternators for all the modular engine platforms, and most are one-wire installation. Tough Stuff also makes alternators for early modular engines, with some having the ability to work with a factory charge lamp.
The air-conditioning equipment frequently contributes to an engine fitment or packaging problem when modular engines are swapped into classic cars. In addition, the air-conditioning system adds weight, so some owners decide not to transplant the A/C system. Eliminating the air conditioning requires brackets similar to those used for pushrod-style conversions with serpentine belts. Custom brackets are now available for running a hydraulic power-steering pump with the A/C on Coyote engines (see Chapter 3).
Late-model Ford instrumentation is extremely integrated and is incorporated with the PATS system. While it is possible to run late-model gauge clusters in earlier vehicles, it is very costly compared to adapting original or converting to aftermarket. Depending upon the computer system selected, a light to denote check engine/error code should be mounted somewhere in the instrument cluster.
Swap Spotlight: 1952 International Pickup
Most modular engines have been swapped into Ford vehicles. Chevy LS and small-block-based conversions have been the fashion for many decades, and it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Ford purists. But that trend is going away. The LS swap is slowly losing ground to the modular engine swap for one really big reason: the modular engine looks so much better. This truck takes the good-looking modular engine swap to a whole different level, and it isn’t a Ford chassis.
Korek Designs in New Berlin, Pennsylvania, built the 1952 International truck and highlights just how beautiful the engine compartment is with the right conversion. Ryan Korek and his crew have built everything from show-winning numbers-matching muscle cars to high-end NHRA dragsters, and its design and build efforts are phenomenal.
This 1952 showed up at the shop in pretty tired condition, so the group got to work massaging every panel on the car in preparation for installation on a full Art Morrison chassis conversion. The chassis came ready to roll and required only Strange Engineering coil-overs and massive Wilwood 13-inch brakes at all four corners. The fuel tank was custom fabricated out of aluminum, with a Tanks Inc. fuel pump mounted in the tank.
Head fabricator Joe Kahl fabricated the engine and transmission mounts and set the 5.0 Coyote down in the engine bay, then installed the cab and doghouse and began fitting the remaining parts. Engine mounts were made from flat steel, and a Trans-Dapt mount was modified to use with the new chassis. Joe reports that with the body chassis combination no real challenges to making it all work. However, it also custom fabricated everything in house, which makes things much easier.
The intake is a Boss 302 unit that has been heavily modified to match the styling cues under the hood. Both the intake and engine covers were custom reworked with an “International” flavor. The intake tube was also custom-made to fit the chassis. A Ford Control Pack computer was used to operate the engine. The engine is connected to a Magnum T-56 6-speed transmission, which sends power back to the Strange Engineering 9-inch rear fitted with 31 spline axles and 4:11 gearing.
The interior of the truck is full custom, with the dash being lower by 11⁄2 inches and made to flow into the doors. The instrument cluster is equipped with a full set of Dakota Digital gauges, and an ididit tilt steering column is topped off with a steering wheel from a 1965 Avanti. Tracey Weaver, with Recovery Room Hot Rod interiors in Plattesmouth, Nebraska, custom-made the console and built the interior.
Ryan also mixed a one-off PPG metallic cherry color for the outside and then adorned the truck with a set of Foose 20-inch rims in the rear and 18-inch rims up front. The exhaust exits out the sides of the rear bed, and the taillights were embedded in the rear bumper. There are simply too many custom touches on this car to list.
Above all is the stunning work done to the Coyote engine to set this engine compartment off from all the other conversions out there, and it demonstrates why the modular engine is beginning to overtake other conversions on the street rod scene. In the hands of Korek Designs, it is taken to a whole new level.
Written by Dave Stribling and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks