The engine was rebuilt to stock specifications, except for the addition of an Edelbrock Performer-Plus camshaft, at 165,000 miles. I upgraded the ignition system with an MSD-6A box and an MSD adjustable timing controller, plus a Ford TFI coil and large-diameter cap.

I retained the stock ignition box and wiring, and used GM style Weatherpack connectors so I can swap back to the original ignition system with switching two plugs. I also upgraded the battery cables with 0-gauge ground wires to the battery (visible above) and between the engine block and the frame.

The stock Motorcraft 2150 2bbl provides great off-road performance, but a 4bbl upgrade may be in the cards for the future to improve its get-up-and-go on the road. All emissions controls are in-place and functional, due to the emissions-testing required in our area. Most of these components are available from regular parts houses, though the catalog listings for Grand Wagoneers is usually incomplete. This was especially frustrating when I had to replace the Coolant Temperature Override (CTO) switches (Thermostatic Vacuum Switches, in ordinary language), which most shops had no listings for. This led me to create a CTO interchange chart, with listings for aftermarket part numbers for most FSJ applications.

I've improved the cooling system with a 4-row GDI radiator and a Hayden 14" pusher behind the grille, behind a relocated factory transmission cooler. I've also added a second external transmission-cooler from B&M because, well, it was sitting in my garage from another project and there was space for it behind the grille in front of the extra opening (on the left in the picture above).

To improve the flow of air through the engine compartment, I cut away a portion of the hood flange on both sides to serve as a side vent; you can really feel the hot air flow out this vent when the engine is running.

The exhaust is a stock-style 2" single-exhaust system using Walker pipes, but with a Random Technology #902501 Super High Flow catalytic converter and a Flowmaster #52571 Big-Block II 70-series muffler. The original converter was plugged up badly, resulting in miserable performance; the new high-flow converter and muffler certainly add power, especially on the highway. While the Flowmaster model I used was their quietest model, and is definitely quieter than their 30, 40 or 50-series mufflers, it certainly isn't as silent as the factory-issue unit. It's definitely rumbly, especially around town at 30mph, but on the highway it simply blends into the road and wind-noise, so I don't think I'll have any resonance headaches. I'd like to thank T-Byrne Motorsports for ordering up the Random Technology catalytic converter for me, and Muffler House of Delray Fl. [800-276-6399] for having the Flowmaster muffler in stock when everybody else was quoting me a 3-week wait. Both the converter and the muffler are perfect replacements for the stock pieces, so I didn't have to resort to adapters or expand any pipes to get everything to fit; they make for a perfect bolt-on emissions-legal high flow exhaust system for the relatively low-rpms that this engine sees.


I rebuilt the Torqueflite 727 transmission and NP229 transfer-case at 188,000 miles. The 3:31-geared Dana 44 front and rear axles remain as they came from the factory, with new bearings and seals. These are heavy-duty enough for the on-road and mild off-road use this truck sees.

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