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Replace heads or 4.0??

rusty ol ranger

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Thank you!! That helps more then you know.

I'll definitely look into doing flat top pistons and an electric driven fan. I may look into a 4.0 radiator if that would help. (how do I go about that?)

I am pretty worried about MPG (I'd rather not take the lift or tires off) so if that helps that would be huge.

I do have the chance to buy a 83 Mustang with a running 302 in it for pretty cheap so I'm curious what the input is on that.

The plan is to do a cross country trip in a few months for work so I am building a camping setup. Would the 302 be better with all the extra weight? Or should I stick with the 2.9, flat top pistons, etc.
A 83 stang 302 is going to be pretty weak. A stock 2.9 makes 140hp/170ftlbs. The 83 302 is probably in the 150hp neighborhood but with around 230-240ftlb. Might be a bit more as those are crown vic numbers IIRC.

That being said the build options on a 302 are basically endless (including stroker builds).

The 2.9 should return the best mileage of the things youre considering, with the 302 being the worst. The 4.0 falling somewhere in the middle.

The 302 is going to handle the weight the best. The 2.9 will for sure do it, and once you get out of the mountains should chug along pretty good with the proper gearing, but its not going to be fast. Honestly, under your conditions with 9 inchs of total lift and 35's if you dont think youll be happy with a 2.9, youre pry not gonna be happy with a 4.0 either, and should pry just go 302.

I would try to find a later model (94+) roller 302 as they were the strongest power wise (205ish hp, 275ish ftlb) and use that. Unless you plan on building it then the 83 block is fine to start with.

Honestly, even a 351W isnt that hard to get in (a bit harder then a 302, but its been done semi often) and would give you all the power you ever need even stock.

A 4.0 radiator from an automatic explorer literally bolts right in you just need to use the explorers upper radiator hose

Also remember, if youre on the factory D28/7.5 axles, youre gonna have to swap at some point. With a 2.9 (and probably a 4.0) the rear 7.5 should do ok as long as you dont hammer it to hard, but with a V8 i wouldnt expect to much from it.

The front D28 under 35's probably isnt going to go far even with a stock 2.9
 
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gaz

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aintskeered,

A well thought out 2.9L is an excellent power plant for your vehicle; if fuel economy is even a consideration, then your choice has been made.

Since you know that want a little more torque to climb the passes, do not think twice:

- Ford 2.8L flat tops
- multi angle valve job
- 2¼", unless you P/P, then 2½" single
- quality headers
- swap to electric fan
- auto explorer radiator
The compression bump can be just the pistons (+5 hp) or mill the heads too (+8 to 11hp, depending on head mill). A free flow exhaust with headers(+20hp) is easily felt by driving through a pass.


It will be a bit more money but worth it to have a complete bottom end balance [(+10% hp/tq and fuel economy) $275+ parts].

If you really want your powerplant to roll effortlessly over the passes:

-flow bench port/polish the heads to the intakes
- custom reground cam
- remote engine oil filter/cooler ($75)
- extra tranny cooler ($75 if an auto)
To achieve the full value of a build, use with fresh valve job [$175+parts], port work [(+20hp) $800+ parts] and custom reground cam [(+20hp) $180 including shipping].

This is not the formula for race engine, just a reliable Ford 60°v6, 2.9L daily driver. This engine LOVES a little extra compression. Use 1 to 2 heat range cooler spark plugs. A high power ignition can easily be added (example: MSD-AL6)

On 35" rubber I would consider either 4.56:1 or 4.88:1 gears for fuel economy. My math suggests 4.617 so 4.56 would be my mostly highway choice and 4.88 would be my choice for more off-road than not. Knowing a built for torque 2.9L's behavior, I would chose the 4.56 gears either way.
 
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aintskeered

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I'm looking for flat tops. Not sure which year, model or anything else.

Does anyone have a link? Or some info on which car they would come out of.
 

rusty ol ranger

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I think all 2.8's had flattops. Pintos, 83-85 rangers/b2's, mustang 2''s....
 

AndyB.

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There are also different heights of 2.8 pistons. I used silvolite 1174 on my 2.8 rebuild. They were the taller height, but no idea how they’d work in a 2.9.
 

Shran

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I would not expect much for mileage in a V8 swapped truck on 35's - I have that exact combo and it tops out at about 14mpg (around town.) On the highway it's probably in the single digits, my four speed manual and complete lack of aerodynamics really put the hurt on gas... a 5 speed and some engine mods for more power would probably help. Late 80's big car 302s are turds.

Best I have ever done for mileage in a 4.0 powered vehicle was 26mpg on one tank between Cheyenne and Colorado Springs. 85 octane, stock 4 door Explorer with a 5 speed and 3.73 gears. Normally mid-high teens is about where 4.0s end up.

I got 20+ regularly with a stock 2.9 powered truck. 25 on the highway was totally possible. That was with tiny tires, a 5 speed and 3.45 gears.

I would not expect much for mileage. Especially from a brick on 35s. I think you will be doing well if you can hit mid teens...will have to be geared just right. I would probably be looking at a D35/8.8 swap and 5.13s
 

gaz

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I'm looking for flat tops. Not sure which year, model or anything else.

Does anyone have a link? Or some info on which car they would come out of.
Yes, there are 2 different deck heights for the 2.8 pistons, the lower compression height set must be used on the 2.9L. The taller 2.8 piston's deck heights (compression height) is too tall for the 2.9L..
 
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aintskeered

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I posted a separate question in a FB book about getting some more power out of the 2.9 and a gentleman said “High output ignition coil, cold air intake, get a throttle body off a 86-87 2.9, high flow exhaust, lower gears, e fan, 180* thermostat so you can advance the timing a couple degrees, take the ac belt off, delete the cats if possible, headers.”

Any opinions of doing this with the lift and whatnot? Would that increase mpg at all?

Sorry for all the dumb questions and thank you for all the help so far.
 

gaz

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Ranger 32", BII 28.5"
aintskeered,

My Ranger with a stock 2.9L, 4" body and 2" suspension lift on 32's with 4:10 gears. This setup with C.A.R.B legal hi-flow cats, free flow exhaust, headers, hi power ignition, 87 t/b and electric fan made 28 mpg highway, going 65 mph on highway hauls including mountain passes.

Better fuel economy can be achieved using a balanced bottom end, hi compression pistons and flow benched port/polish work on the heads/intakes with a custom reground cam.

That port/polished high compression custom reground cam driven rebuilt engine liked 27° of advance with hi power ignition and stock computer.
 

rusty ol ranger

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I posted a separate question in a FB book about getting some more power out of the 2.9 and a gentleman said “High output ignition coil, cold air intake, get a throttle body off a 86-87 2.9, high flow exhaust, lower gears, e fan, 180* thermostat so you can advance the timing a couple degrees, take the ac belt off, delete the cats if possible, headers.”

Any opinions of doing this with the lift and whatnot? Would that increase mpg at all?

Sorry for all the dumb questions and thank you for all the help so far.
Ignition coil and cold air intake are wastes of money. Factory coil ignites just fine and a "cold air" intake that removes the airbox actually sucks in hotter under hood air then the factory box that breathes from the fenderwell.

The later 2.9s did have a smaller TB then the 86-87's....but ford rated power output the same across all years and some say it makes a difference, others dont. Your call.

The rest are decent suggestions
 

Shran

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I immediately turn off my ears when someone starts talking about adding a "cold" air intake on our trucks... if he believes that sucking hot air from under the hood is better then you can assume everything else he says is BS too.

Bottom line in my mind is that you're talking about getting better mileage from a tall brick with big tires and a small V6. It is only capable of so much because of simple power-to-weight ratio math. You can do a lot with that engine but none of the bolt on junk is going to make a difference. Listen to gaz and PJ - they know what they are talking about - much more so than some tard on Facebook.
 

ecgreen

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I immediately turn off my ears when someone starts talking about adding a "cold" air intake on our trucks... if he believes that sucking hot air from under the hood is better then you can assume everything else he says is BS too.

Bottom line in my mind is that you're talking about getting better mileage from a tall brick with big tires and a small V6. It is only capable of so much because of simple power-to-weight ratio math. You can do a lot with that engine but none of the bolt on junk is going to make a difference. Listen to gaz and PJ - they know what they are talking about - much more so than some tard on Facebook.
Truth!!!

I installed a snorkel, now that is cold air lol. Shameless truck pic below...

20210603_185812.jpg
 

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