If you're thinking the 1976 Ford F-250 featured on these pages looks a little familiar, you're right. In last month's "A Classic Truck Can Survive" we covered installing a set of smog-legal Hedman Elite headers sourced from Summit Racing, and replaced a bad freeze plug while it was exposed. I did the work in my driveway on jackstands and, as usual, I made a few missteps determining the best order in which to do things. The corrected methods will appear in the captions.
In addition, time constraints associated with meeting a deadline caused me to use parts that I wouldn't recommend. A good example was not opting for a mini-starter when I believe that all header installations should include a mini-starter to provide more room and avoid future starter problems associated with heat exposure.
The main idea is to inform CT readers that a nice original truck doesn't have to be scrapped just because it's a year/model that's required to pass a smog test. Vehicle emissions inspection requirements vary from state to state and in different countries. For specific information check with SEMA SAN (www.semasan.com) to find out what the emission requirements are in your area. It's surprising how many states require smog certification. All it takes is a little research in Summit Racing's catalog to find the right parts and pick up performance, while still retaining smog compliance.
Before I could drive the 1976 up to the Muffler Man in Placentia, California, to have the Flowmaster catalytic converters and 2-into-2 muffler installed, the cooling system had to be reassembled. A point made in last month's issue was anytime one disassembles a truck to install a specific part it's always a good idea to check if there's anything else that needs attention. There's no sense in having to do the job twice. Removing the water pump, radiator, and hoses made it a lot easier to install the Hedman headers, plus make some much-needed repairs and improvements to the stock cooling system.
Something that few people seem to understand when they have a shop make repairs to their vehicle is the chain of events that can occur. Because I did the work myself I was able to watch the cooling system fall apart in steps before my very eyes. The radiator leaked, so I took it to a local radiator shop for repairs. I prefer a brass and copper radiator over anything, but when the shop owner said he wanted over $400 to re-core my original radiator I popped for the $200 plastic and aluminum cheapie from China.
At the time I was planning on selling the truck, but I changed my mind. With the radiator now able to hold full pressure, next in line to fail was the water pump seal. Considering the labor involved, a cheap rebuilt pump was out of the question, plus I was now looking to make the truck perform at its best. The obvious choice was an Edelbrock aluminum water pump because aluminum dissipates heat better, weighs less, and yes, everything looks better with a cool Edelbrock logo on it.
The stock Ford mechanical fan pulled a lot of air through the radiator whether it was needed or not, plus it made a tremendous amount of noise and robbed horsepower. Couple this with the fact a mechanical fan puts a lot of unnecessary load on water pump bearings and seals, the swap to Summit Racing's dual electric fan with a Derale controller was a clear choice. Not only do electric fans save on wear and tear, they free up horsepower and greatly improve A/C efficiency by accelerating heat exchange through the condenser at all speeds.
Lee and Jake at the Muffler Man did a really sanitary installation of the Flowmaster catalytic converters and 2-into-2 muffler with dual tailpipes. In addition to knocking the exhaust emissions way down, the Flowmaster cats seem to act quite well as resonators. Lee was careful to make non-restrictive bends in the head and tailpipes, and the system sounds powerful without a lot of extra noise or drone.