It's not unusual for a vintage truck to have a long list of contemporary electrical accessories added to it: ultra-bright headlights, stereo, air conditioning, power windows, and more. And just as often as not a big-amp alternator is added to handle the load. Power steering is another modern add-on most people can't live without. And while life gets easier for the passengers with these additions it gets tougher for the truck. In our case, it's a constant battle to keep all three V-belts tight enough to keep them from squealing.
The problem with noisy belts came about partially because we couldn't leave well enough alone. One of the three belts on our 460 Ford was showing some wear so we decided to change all three. That's where the trouble actually began. The new belts from the local parts house were made so far off shore that the country doesn't have a name and the quality was so poor it was impossible to keep the alternator belt from squealing on start-up. According to Powermaster's Brady Basner, belts made from inferior materials and don't fit in the pulley's grooves properly are a growing problem and will actually create so much heat from slippage that the lube in the alternator's front bearing will liquefy and run out with predictable results. To add insult to injury, the fan and water pump pulley must be removed, along with the power steering and A/C belts, to change the alternator belt. With a new engine about to slip into place we decided to be proactive and install a March serpentine drive kit to prevent further frustrations.
1. Our fresh engine ready to drop in place with a March Ultra Style Standard drive kit for 429 and 460 Fords installed. March offers serpentine systems for a wide variety of contemporary and vintage engines.
2. This is the way the engine came off the dyno, with pulleys for the crank and water pump only. It’s hard to tell, but originally the alternator ran off the crankshaft pulley only—the fan and water pump pulley had to be removed to replace the alternator belt.
3. The March kit comes complete with pulleys, brackets, and nose covers. We chose clear powdercoating, black is also available. Other kits are available polished or chromed.
4. The provided mounting hardware includes Grade 8 fasteners and the necessary spacers.
5. Ford 429 and 460 installations require a ’70-and-later water pump and a four-bolt vibration damper.
6. Our first chore was the installation of the crank and water pump pulleys.
7. We’re using a Powermaster 164-amp alternator (it puts out 100 amps at idle). We used an impact wrench to remove the nut retaining the V-belt pulley.
8. After the pulley is removed a small spacer will be found. It must go back on the shaft before the new pulley is installed.
9. The new pulley and fan are held in place with the original nut and a new lock washer.
10. Ford heads can be found with different size accessory mounting holes so two sizes of alternator bolts are supplied with the kit: a 3⁄8-inch with a 7⁄16-inch o.d. sleeve to fit the alternator and a 7⁄16-bolt. We elected to drill and tap the hole in the head for the 7⁄16-inch bolt.
11. With the alternator bolted in place a 46.5-inch belt was installed. Tension is easily adjusted by a link with left- and right-hand rod ends.