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Discussion Starter #1
I have had my 88' for few months now and have been driving it pretty regularly this last week while my primary vehicle is down for repairs. So of course the skeletons are coming out of the closet as I rack up the miles. The truck was pretty neglected for a long time so I expected repairs, mostly just overlooked routine maintenance stuff though. but one I had not anticipated being a big issue is, well, pretty bad.

Looks like the front main is pretty worn out, losing about 1qt of oil every 2 1/2 days (every 150 miles) at this point. I don't think it is burning any oil and the engine runs really well now that it is cold out. It runs rough and seems to struggle in warmer weather but I think that is all either sensors or exhaust issues from what I researched on here. it is certainly nothing that concerns me too much and all of that falls into the repairs I expected to do. Lower end seals is a little deeper then I had expected to go in the first year of ownership so I need to make proper plans for it. Right now, to get through winter, I am just going to keep feeding it oil. I don't have garage it will fit in and even if I could get it in, my landlord has too much crap crammed in it. So i need to get through to the warmer months. I know the engine will have to come out, so already planning on pulling the rad support and coming out low with the engine so I can atleast get that in the garage, the truck will just have to sit outside.

I have what appears to be a solid engine (302) internally, won't really know till the pan is off i guess, but ti seems to run well. There is no knocking and like I said I don't think it is burning oil. Here is my question for you guys with the background. What would you do? Just bottom end seals (front/rear main, pan, and front cover)? Just plan to do a Bottom end rebuild (Seals, main bearings, rod bearing)? Or should I step up, find a 351w, go through at least it's bottom end, do the engine upgrade? I specify the bottom end only because a top end can be done in the chassis later on.

The truck is not intended for heavy off road use, It was mainly bought for winter weather commuting, hauling my RC stuff to events, and family outings to the lake and such. 31inch A/T tires, I do want to do a cage but more for highway rollover safety than anything. It might see some mild trails every once in a while, but it will not be a built crawler. I guess it will mostly be a mall crawler LOL (Ugh, never thought I would call a rig of my own that).

Where is the money best spent in ya'lls opinion?
 

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pull the engine blow bye tube off the air box start engine see how much smoke , if none

compression test / no more that 5 psi per cylinder diff on a street engine

look at plugs shouldnt be any oil on them

look at cap shoouldnt be any carbon fouling

look at wires in the dark shouldnt see any arching / spray a light mist on them shouldnt see anything

make your decision what you want to do

of course and engine will run for a while tired
you can tune it up replace fuel filter /regulater /o2 /map

clean throttle body
yes itll run mine did with 345,000 miles on it ran good too but was tired

same with transmission it is tired too

same with exhaust system

restore the truck !

when you really feel the differance is when everything is rebuilt (right) / old replaced with good parts . then youll notice the differance

youll be happy happy happy
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well it was just pointed out to me by a co-worker that the front main could possibly be done in the chassis. Is there enough room to at least drop the pan? or do I need to drop that pan at all? I have swapped plenty of engines, I have done plenty of diag, but I have never really had to do any major work to any. Now I am thinking just getting it sealed back up (Front main and pan gasket if i have to drop the pan), deal with the minor leaks, and plan for a engine swap next year.

The blow-by was off the box when I bought it and I noted then that there was no smoke and not much blow by. This would give me time to get a replacement found and done up right while spreading the budget out. Like I said, it runs well enough right now so even if it is tired, it is at least still doing the job. This is the first time I have had a chance to really figure milage over a decent period, I got 11 MPG on about 150 miles, running it up to around 260 this week and am kinda expecting closer to 12. Will know tomorrow when I figure it.
 

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If your sure its your front main seal then I would just replace it. Its only a couple hour job to do it and its peace of mind that it wont get worse while its going down the road. I recommend the 351 but thats personal preference. The front main seal is an easy job. I would follow the steps for checking everything else from bronco12372.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
yeah, If I swap I will go with the 5.8. I had one a few years ago that came out of a early 80's 3/4 van. It had been in two of my own vehicles and was waiting to go into a third but I ended up selling the truck it was going into before I put it in. The Engine was in storage at a buddies place and I needed to get it out of the way. I sold it and wish now I hadn't, all I would of needed was the EFI intake, right oil pan, and a flex plate. I knew it's history and it was a damn good setup: 5 star reman with a mild cam, was set up with a Victor Jr intake and 650 Holly. Oh well, such is life, live and learn, never sell anything LOL.
 

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Keep in mind when driving that the 302 doesn't really get up there in HP till its over 2000 RPM, and closer to 2500. 11 mpg city is about what I get on my less tired engine, but its my DD and I rarely take it over 40 with a commute of only a few miles.

To answer your question about dropping the pan in the rig, no, it won't just drop down. There just isn't enough room between the pan and the cross-member. Trust me, I've tried when I had to replace the pan seal a year ago. You might be able to slip it out if you undo the motor mounts and try lifting it up a bit with an engine hoist, but I'd be EXTREMELY careful doing that. If you do go that route, go ahead and pick up some new motor mounts and replace those while you have the engine raised.

Also, pull your EEC/PCM, the little computer that controls all the engine electronics. There's been a rash a failed modules lately. They're just getting old and the old capacitors are leaking onto the boards, corroding the circuitry. The engine will still run like that, but it will run like shit. If you're any good with a soldering iron, you can sometimes just replace the capacitors and have it fixed for a few $$, otherwise, you have to buy a rebuilt module.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Someone else mentioned the EEC but I assumed it was more of a routine thing, thanks for the detailed heads up. I am pretty handy with an iron and if it is too tight for me I have an electrical engineer buddy who loves this stuff. Does cold effect this behavior any? I ask because mine is running better in this cold weather (40f and below).

My commute is 32 miles on open highway one way, average speed is 60mph, very little city street driving really. So that 11MPG was mostly highway, maybe 20 miles of it was city. Tomorrow's fill up will tell me a lot about what it is doing as that is almost 100% highway/ 60 MPH. Until this week it had only been used to go pick kids up after I got home from work (about 10 to 15 miles a week), and some family outings. That last 150 mile fill up had one day of driving to work on it (about 64 miles), picking kids up (15 miles) and the rest was driving to a nearby town a few times for shopping and such ( 30 some miles round trip, mostly highway)
 

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There is plenty of room to replace the front timing seal in the truck. I have done mine on my 5.8 and it was pretty easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
There is plenty of room to replace the front timing seal in the truck. I have done mine on my 5.8 and it was pretty easy.
Did you have to drop the pan or can it be done in place? It's been so long since I even looked at the front of a SBF. Last time I did anything with that 351 besides moving it when I sold it was what.....6 years ago?!?!?!? ugh, glad I have a project again!
 

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there are 2 seals one on the timming chain cover and one for the pan .
wich one is leaking?
the seal on the timming cover is behind the harmonic balancer is a pretty easy job with a harmonic balancer puller or a autozone rental.
the pan seal i would buy the 1 peace one and yes you can remove the pan without removeing the engine depending on the condition of your engine mounts . you can always use a floor jack and a peace of wood under the trans pan to jack it up to remove the lower engine mounts to raise it too. you would have to find a way to use a jack stand for safety . pain in the ass job because its messy so clean that area before working on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the information guys, I can probably knock this out once this winter storm moves through, just need a good 50 degree day.
 

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How much longer until primary vehicle is running?

I would keep driving as is if in the short term the primary will be back on the road. (2-3 weeks)

If primary will be longer than a couple of weeks, then replace the front seal.

I remember replacing a piston in the driveway, because I had to get to work on Monday. Now that I am older, I enjoy working on motors but only want to do it once. If you are only replacing the front seal, you will expend about 2/3 the time necessary to actually pull the motor - exhaust, trans and wiring are the other 1/3.

I agree completly with Bronco1273, the overall condition of the motor via compression check etc should drive the long term decision
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Trying to track down a hard to find part (01 dakota, heater core tubes, dealer only part, overpriced, need to check the JY) I hope to get it back up in another week. If I don't have the part for it by then, then I will be doing the seal in the Bronco that weekend. Either way I will be working in the cold and snow lol.

I am just going to do the seal and run the motor out. When I am out at the JY i am going to see what they have for 5.8s and what their pulled price is. I agree with your time estimation in comparison to just pulling the motor, but i would rather pull it once and go back in with an upgrade. The motor I have is good enough to get me through, it's primary duty right now is provide me a better drive in crap weather, most of the time I will be driving the Dakota. This spring and summer I can get serious about repairs and mods. The Bronco is limited to 7k miles a year on the insurance anyways, so i am trying not to drive it alot. that gives me about 500 miles a month which when I have my dakota back is very doable, just wasn't expecting the failed part in the Dakota to be the hardest one to find.
 

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Agree with the need for a working heater in KS, especially this week. Could a radiator shop fix or fab a heater core or tube? Dakotas are kind of rare, at least arond here. Good hunting.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well, that could be an option. Just need to be able to roll a bead in a tube. It is two metal tunes with a cast aluminum bracket around them. They insert into the core header which is plastic. then there is a bolt the goes through the core header into the aluminum bracket and pulls it all together. A blue oring seals up each tube, I assume it is a special compound.
 

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im new here but...

I may be way off but that seems like a lot of oil loss for a front seal. In my experience it is usually the oil pan gasket that has been blown out if you are going thru that much oil. I have had it happen on 2 of my 302's. Replace with a good oil pan gasket with metal sandwiched between and you wont have that problem again. (if indeed that is the issue). Stay warm!! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I may be way off but that seems like a lot of oil loss for a front seal. In my experience it is usually the oil pan gasket that has been blown out if you are going thru that much oil. I have had it happen on 2 of my 302's. Replace with a good oil pan gasket with metal sandwiched between and you wont have that problem again. (if indeed that is the issue). Stay warm!! :)
good info, I will plan to do the pan and all of the front main.
 

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I used Lucas Oil Stabilizer to stop my rear main seal leak. About a half quart per oil change, after three or four changes later, it stopped leaking to a small penny sized drip every week or so, from a quart a week. I think I even added some in between changes to see what would happen. Had it like that for 6 years now, and rarely put more than a 1/2 cup of lucas in with oil changes, if ever. Do you have a check engine light on? I know Kansas doesn't smog vehicles, at least Wichita doesn't smog em.
 
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