Gettin’ Started on the Falcon

1960 Ford Falcon Project

I recently pulled my Ford Falcon into the garage with plans of figuring out what’s going on with it. This weekend I dug in and really enjoyed myself! For years, most wrenching days have a deadline. When Studie was my only car I had to get things fixed right away, which meant some stressful times in the garage. This weekend’s job was nice and relaxing (albeit dirty!) Here’s what I did…

I began with a good solid de-greasing of the engine. Boy was this a messy job! Every inch of the engine and oil pan was covered in oil and grime. One can of engine gunk, one can of brake clean, a good amount of Purple Power, some wire brushes, a scraper, and a roll of shop towels later… The engine was clean but boy was I greasy!

Once the engine was clean, I figured a good place to start was the plugs. Not knowing the history of this engine, I have no idea what’s been done to it! As I pulled the plugs things didn’t look too bad until I got to spark plug #4.  Have you ever seen such an ugly looking plug?! It was handy that we’d just covered reading plugs at the last Gasoline Girls meeting – although it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that this plug is seriously messed up!

After all the plugs were out, I proceeded to do a compression test on the Ford straight six engine. For those of you out there who are wrenching beginners – compression tests are great, learn about them! They’re a simple way to take a “pulse” of your engine and will give you a picture of what’s going on in each cylinder. Unfortunately, my Falcon’s compression test didn’t look so good. The 1960 Ford Falcon manual states that the compression of each valve should be 170 +/- 10 psi. As you can see from my notes, my Falcon is WAY off! Cylinder 1 being the worst with a mere 50 psi – not even a third of what it should be. The amazing thing is…this engine still ran! I drove it into my garage!

Now that I’ve got a clean engine and some solid information, I need to decide what to do next. I could just remove the head and investigate further. Or I could pull the entire engine out – anticipating that it isn’t only the head but the bottom-end too that needs work. Another option is my boyfriend’s favorite…pulling the engine and dropping in a Mustang 5.0 engine and transmission he has ready to go. Leave me a comment and let me know what YOU think!

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11 Responses

  1. Lori B. Law

    Nice work! So excited to see you diving into Davey! Hey, with the compression test, was this cold? Or operating temperatures? Cold, it will give you an accurate idea of the differences between the cylinders, but not a true compression reading. The 170 is probably at operating temp. There’s a big difference between doing it cold and warm.

    Regarding the Mustang 5.0. Nah. I think you should rebuild the six! It would be a great learning experience, and you’ll truly know that car inside and out. Go for it!! And if you need an extra set of hands to dig in… I’m there!

    Reply
  2. jameswaterwolf

    Whenever an engine rebuild is in order, doing a valve-job only will affect the rest of the engine. These parts were evenly worn out and will need to be replaced together. There is no cheap out solution. As I said before, install a rebuilt Ford 300″ straight 6 truck engine with a cam and it will smoke the competition. Those engines are tourqe masters with a four gear transmission and a big 9″rear end. Trust me.

    Reply
  3. Al lan Knight

    I’d put an early hemi in it; but then, I put early hemis in everything :)

    Reply
  4. The Gear Head Skeptic

    Since it sounds like you’ve got time to spend on this project, I vote for rebuilding the motor. It’s a very satisfying and confidence building experience, and it’s not as hard as it seems if you have good reference materials and some smart people to talk to. Pull it out of the car, put it on an engine stand so you can work comfortably on it and take your time.

    If you’re short on time and just want to get it back on the road, drop in that 302. No shame in that. But if you do, you might need stiffer front springs to compensate for the weight, and make sure your brake booster is working well.

    Reply
  5. greasegirl

    After thinking it over for awhile and listening to you all – I think I am going to stick with the six. Now I just need an engine stand!

    Reply
  6. Darryl Nagy

    if you keep the six go to the 250 big boy ,the 240 and 300 are not the same family as the 144 to 170 200 and the 250 sixs check out the 6 cyl forums lots hi po parts are around for these little moters . the 240 300 will fit put sometime hood to engine fit is problem lower moter our a hood scoop tall engine block deck on the 300 6 there truck moters. how about a 4cyl svo mustang moter seen that swap into a 64 falcon or maybe the v6 t bird super coupe engine be a good swap to as these are now just old cars some times a 6 cost more to rebuild than agood used 5.0 if you go with the 6or8 the stock rear end is week link too. lot s of cheap 8 inch rear ends out there if you can find a 57 to59 ford 9 inch its a bolt in .both 8 and 9 inch have the 5 bolt wheels and big brakes lots of good stuff on the net.and these little cars have had moter swaps the day after they roll off the assembly line. just remenber make a plan ,stay on plan ,it gets the car finish ,on buget and tricks are for kids (as in 20inch rims and bling ) your ride will be cool because you build it. just a old hot rodder with a eye for what looks right isn,t a trend.

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