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.
Serpentine systems use flat, ribbed belts that are more efficient than the old V-type. They run cooler and are less prone to slip. In some cases, one belt spins all the engine-driven accessories, which may or may not require a reverse rotation water pump. The drive kit we chose, the March Ultra Style Standard, uses two belts with a standard rotation water pump. The only changes required were the installation of a Saginaw power steering pump in place of the original and a new A/C compressor with a serpentine style pulley.
For a replacement power steering pump we contacted Borgeson for a Saginaw unit with an integral reservoir. We explained the application and they adjusted the pressure relief valve accordingly. These pumps were offered with two different pulley shafts. A 5⁄8-inch shaft with a keyway and nut to retain the pulley was used from its inception until 1974. A 3⁄4-inch diameter shaft with a press-on pulley used from 1975 and on. March offers pulleys for either design, we decided on the early style to make installing the pulley easier.
Although we could have simply changed the pulley/clutch assembly on our A/C compressor there are some special tools required and setting the endplay properly is critical. Since our compressor had lots of miles on it we elected to order a fresh replacement, with the correct pulley, from Vintage Air.
Installing the March system is simple enough, although care must be exercised to make sure the necessary spacers are in the proper location as many are similar in size. The system we chose uses a pair of 6-rib belts; one drives the alternator, which we installed first. The second belt drives the A/C compressor and the power steering pump and incorporates an idler pulley.
The finished installation not only looks terrific, it's more efficient, eliminates the annoying squeal that comes along with slipping V-belts, and changing out the belts for new ones is greatly simplified—those are good turns.
12. While we had the engine out we decided to install a rebuilt power steering gear. If just the pump is changed the entire system should be flushed to remove any contaminants.
13. This odd-looking contraption is the original power steering cooler. It will be replaced, along with the lines.
14. When the new hoses are installed this aftermarket power steering cooler will be placed in the return line.
15. The original Ford power steering pump was replaced with a Saginaw unit from Borgeson. The pressure valve was tailored to our application.
16. We chose a keyed shaft pump for no reason other than the special removal/installation tool necessary for the press-on pulley wouldn’t be required.
17. The rear A/C compressor bracket simply bolts to the head with the supplied hardware.
18. Before installing the A/C compressor we did a test-fit of the front bracket.
19. The new Vintage Air compressor has been installed with the required spacer. Do not place the oil fill hole more than 90 degrees from vertical when installing the compressor.
20. The rear power steering pump bracket bolts to the head, the front bracket bolts to the water pump. Note the slot in the front bracket for the initial belt adjustment.
21. With the power steering pump pulley in place, the idler attached to the boss on the water pump, a 61.5-inch belt installed, and the tensioning rod adjusted we were almost done.
22. Finishing up was simply a matter of installing the nose cones on the A/C compressor, power steering pump, and alternator.