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1955 Ford Part 88: Parts is Parts! or...

Updated: Dec 27, 2019

"Parts is Parts! or..."


If you know the Y Block Ford engine at all then you are probably aware that unlike the small block Ford or Chevrolet, the engine block cover and intake manifold are separate pieces. This piece is called the "valley pan" and was installed on every Y block produced; the pan is secured by two long bolts that drop through the centerline of the pan and are screwed in to bosses in the lifter valley itself. This can be a very pesky item to seal because many shade tree mechanics over-torque the bolts transforming the sealing surfaces into a banana-like form! You can visit Post 8 to read about the trouble I had in getting the valley pan to seal on the Y Block before I put it back under the hood.

The link is here:

Just copy and paste to your browser and it will take you straight to the post.

Ford only made four versions of this part. The first was a solid plate in 1954 with just a straight oil fill tube at the front. The second, coming out in 1955 for the 292 c.i. Thunderbird, was a plate that had both the straight oil fill tube and a rear oil baffle with which a draft tube could be attached just behind the intake for fumes to exit under the vehicle at speed at the bell housing. Ford used this same valley pan in the early 60s to route a PCV valve and tubing like many small block Fords had in later years. A third version had the rear baffle like the one introduced in 1955, but it also included a modification to the oil fill tube with a slight bend to accommodate a small radiator overflow tank. All versions that I have seen included a removable breather cap whereby the engine could intake fresh, clean air that would later evacuate the crankcase fumes through either the draft tube or a PCV system.

And the fourth version - the one that Ford produced in a very small amount - had a recess along the solid plate. The recess was for the 2x4 barrel intake manifold only sold across the counter in 1956 and then from the factory in 1957.

Earlier this year I came across a good deal on a 1957 2x4 intake manifold. Since I knew that I had several Holley 4000 "teapot" carburetors in my stash I thought it would be interesting to work over the winter to build a matching set of carbs, fabricate a few pieces of hardware, find the necessary parts, and then test a 2x4 setup on the 55 next summer. Well, to be able to install the intake without damage I needed to locate the special valley pan. Would you believe that a fellow enthusiast heard I was looking for this item so he gave me a call and JUST SENT IT TO ME FOR FREE? I thanked him much and asked him if there was anything that I could "swap" or help him with - I did offer to pay for the pan. He was looking for a solenoid for his overdrive and I happened to have an extra in my stash so I sent it to him.

Another part that I had been looking for (see Post 85) was rocker panel trim. My search at the Carlisle, Pennsylvania swap meet yielded nothing but dead ends. A helpful Ford lover contacted me about a week later with pictures of these:

I know that there are companies that make these as reproduction items but I have not been impressed with the quality. It was not so much the finish or shine, but the issue has always been the thickness. New reproduction items such as these are way too thin when compared to original FoMoCo items. The owner said they were not perfect but in good shape, and he only charged me $50 plus shipping (he was kind enough to ship them in a PVC tube as well for protection). When they arrived, the parts I received were better in person than in the photos!

These pieces should clean up well. My plan is to install these next spring or early summer. (I have to finish my fender skirts as well!)

Speaking of parts, how about this for the difference between vintage thermostats and modern thermostats?

Recently while driving my son to the airport for a recent college trip, I noticed two things: the check engine light was on and at a cruising speed of 70 mph the engine coolant temperature hovered at 160 or so. This temp is not very conducive to burning off condensation in the engine crankcase, nor is it helpful for a cold cabin in 20 degree weather!

The vehicle is my wife's car - a 2013 Chrysler Town and Country - and she had reported to me a couples days previous that the check engine light came on, but she assumed that was because of the gasoline she had purchased at what was thought to be a less than quality establishment. (She had also left the gas cap loose - that light was on as well.) I did not think much about the check engine light because I figured with the gasoline issue that was normal. We have had that problem in the past. But that temperature was an issue. With the coolant level correct, I assumed it was the thermostat. On the way back from the airport I stopped at a local auto parts and did two things: 1. picked up a thermostat and 2. had the code checked. Of course the parts man laughed, "Yep, it says you have a thermostat problem!"

I took it home and went to work. Check out the "kit" that was sold to me to replace the thermostat.

Y blocks have a one piece thermostat like many other engines. The little Chevrolet HHR we have also contains a one piece unit. Nope, not Chrysler. This one was three pieces.

The first picture above was the OEM from Chrysler and the picture immediately above was the install of the replacement. Pretty much the same, but a little bit of an odd thing because I had never seen this before. One thing I did like...

An O ring! I wonder if the Y block could have something like this? I guess the housing would have to be machined and the intake manifold would have to be machined as well. But this provides such a good seal. Way better than dealing with a paper gasket and sealant. Nope, things are not like they used to be. Sometimes though that is good - and at other times it is quite depressing. Oh well, parts is parts and we will keep dealing with it, good or bad!

Thanks to all of our new subscribers this past month! Let me invite you to look over the rest of the website - you can discover how I got that name, take a look at the CD's of Ford manuals I have for sale (available on thumb drive as well, just inquire), and discover what makes me go - nope, it ain't the Y block Ford!

The Hot Rod Reverend

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