The Ford crowd gets a bad rap when it comes to powerplant options in their classic trucks. Let’s face it, while the Flathead is a very en vogue engine in the hot rod circle, it’s not exactly at the top of the list for many of us truck guys, save for a few purists out there. And the Y-block engine of the ’50s? Forget it. One look at the intake ports and any gearhead worth his salt could realize that the power to weight ratio was skewed in a direction not in his favor. But what of the later small-block family like the 289 and the 302? Those motors make pretty good power and with all things considered, they should be just as popular as their Chevy brethren; but they’re not.

So why are so many Ford trucks Chevy powered? Well, the answer’s not so simple, but I think I’ve scratched the surface.

You see, it seems that Ford in all their infinite wisdom decided it was necessary to make certain changes time and again to various engine components throughout the years. Timing covers differed, water pumps varied, pulleys grew and shrank, and accessories swapped positions enough times to make any blue oval fan red in the face with frustration. Unlike a small-block Chevy which only has two basic differences when it comes to mounting brackets and pulleys (long or short water pump), Ford seemed to be in a constant state of evolution, even going as far as moving the water pump inlet from the passenger side to the driver side in 1970!

The other thing I found is that many Ford engines just don’t accommodate themselves well to a modified chassis due to the large number of front sump oil pan-equipped engines. My ’52 Ford F-1 has a Heidts front IFS kit installed between the framerails and a front sump Ford small-block simply won’t clear the front crossmember.

But in the big picture, all these differences and problems are pretty insignificant after all. The oil pan issue for example is easily remedied using a kit from Speedway Motors that relocates the oil pump pickup and utilizes a rear sump pan. Problem solved.

The pulley, bracket, and accessory issue however is slightly more involved but equally easy to overcome thanks to Billet Specialties and their all encompassing Tru Trac Serpentine system. Beginning with a redesigned billet aluminum timing cover that allows all the components to be bolted directly to it, the Tru Trac system ships complete with a polished Powermaster 105-amp alternator, Ford Racing reverse-rotation aluminum water pump, polished Sanden SD-7 A/C compressor, Maval power steering pump, ARP fasteners, and all the billet pulleys and bracketry needed for a compact, clean, and aligned serpentine belt-driven system. Gone is the guessing game of matching up the proper pulleys and brackets to complete the accessory drive on a small-block Ford engine. And the use of a single serpentine belt with a proprietary billet aluminum tensioner driving the entire kit and caboodle, instead of a handful of V-belts, is just icing on the cake.

We recently ran across the perfect storm of Ford small-block accessory problems when we began to put the finishing touches on a 302 crate engine from Speedway Motors. Based off the common ’70s era 302 components, the guessing game of what brackets and pulleys to use to get the job done proved to be a question no one had all the answers to. We were simply faced with a trial and error situation. Short of bolting on stock, outdated components, we were going to have to do some figuring out of our own if we wanted to use updated accessories such as a smaller Sanden A/C compressor, one-wire alternator, or a remote reservoir power steering pump.

I was ready to hit the junkyards to start putting the front drive components together when a chance meeting with the guys at Billet Specialties solved our problems with a single fluid motion. They recommended trying their Tru Trac setup on our Ford and now having done so, I can honestly tell you that it’s hands down the nicest and most concise accessory drive components install I’ve ever seen.

The days of using a big screwdriver to tighten an alternator belt just to have it continue to squeal are long gone. The Tru Trac system took away the guessing game plagued by Ford engines for years and saved us some serious time and money when it came to buying the right parts. Hell, I’d still be wandering around some junkyard collecting brackets and pulleys like a lunatic if it wasn’t for them!

And did I mention how bitchin’ the installed kit looks? Well, I think the results speak for themselves… it truly lives up to their claim of “cool, compact, complete.” CCT

SOURCE
Billet Specialties
500 Shawmut Ave.
La Grange  60526
800-245-5382
www.billetspecialties.com
Speedway Motors
340 Victory Lane
Lincoln
ME  68528
800-979-0122
www.speedwaymotors.com
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