Pulling the Engine From a 1960's Ford Econoline Van




I'm a game programmer, character designer and musician. I love working on my van, Noistar and o...

Have you ever wanted to own a beautiful, classic 1960's van such as the Ford Econoline but thought that the gas would be way too expensive?   There's a reason they were named "Econoline". 

The very first models in 1961 had a small engine known as the 144 ci Inline 6 and it "theoretically" gets 30 to 32 miles per gallon.  This same engine was available in economy passenger cars such as the Falcon, on which the Econoline is based,  and some early Mustangs and can still be found in good working condition.  

The engine is not a powerhouse at 80 hp. If you have a need for speed you will absolutely hate it but if you want to get to the beach on a budget or pick up some plywood at the hardware store on the weekend this engine will get the job done. 

I'm going to explain, in a few instructable posts, how we pulled out the old broken engine and dropped in a rebuilt 144ci.  Luckily I am a member of TechShop so even though I live in an apartment I have a public place with amazing tools, resources and great people where I can park and work on my van for a few days...so definitely  "I made it at Tech Shop."  

Lets get started.

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Step 1: Workspace

This will be a general overview of one way that it can be done.  The finer points of swapping and repairing these engines can and do fill several books.  I'll also cover other ways to restore and spruce up these great vans... before they all meet the crusher.    

First you need space and a place where you can leave the van for a couple days.  It's possible to do it all in one day if everything goes perfectly, nothing breaks, you have all the parts that you will need to be replaced and you've done it all many times before  but it will still be a challenge.  You will need to have space on the passenger side of the van where you can roll the engine hoist into position.  We took the engine out through the top of the engine bay and out the side doors.  There are other ways such as dropping it out the bottom that I hear are just as good, especially if you have a rare van with no side doors.

Step 2: Help

Another great thing to have is someone to help you, preferably someone strong who knows what they're doing. Luckily I have a brother who has done this stuff literally his whole life who made this project possible.   You can probably manage to pull the engine alone but dropping a new one back in would be crazy difficult.  Be sure whoever helps will not get hurt because it is hard work.  It is also super filthy work.  Wear some coveralls or old clothes that will be ruined.  Also get nitrile gloves if possible and have plenty of handcleaner, papertowels and a 5 gallon bucket full of water around to dunk your hands in.  Your hands will get greasy and its hard to hold tools.  You will also probably cut and nick your hands fairly often when not wearing gloves so you might want to clean the cuts out.  

Step 3: Tools and Resources

Tools you will need:
An Engine Hoist with a fairly long extendable arm because you will extend it to the limit.
If you don't have one you can usually rent a hoist where they rent construction tools.  I had to do this when I picked up my new engine.  They are disassembled and lock together with pins.  Cost around $35 - $40 at the time
A long thick chain that is tested for at least 1200lbs to be safe.  You can find these at hardware stores cut to the length you want.
(Tech Shop's engine hoist is pictured lifting the 144ci using 1000lb twisted nylon rope -- not braided.)
A good Fractional Socket Set and Fractional Wrenches
a lot of the bolts and nuts will be in the 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch range so if there are 2 or more people working it is good to have multiple instances of these sockets and wrenches if possible
Vise Grips, Channel Locks, Adjustable Crescent wrenches
An Air Ratchet or other powered ratchet is almost required.  You can get it done without but it will be slow going.
Sources of power such as air compressor and electrical outlet.
Various lengths  of Screwdrivers.
WD-40 or other penetrating oil to break rusted bolts free.
Pans or buckets to catch draining fluids such as oil and radiator fluid.
Creeper (or something to help you slide around on the ground under your van like cardboard or a smooth tile or polished concrete floor.)

I'm not going to go into detail for removing every nut and bolt but you will most likely find need for all these tools.

Step 4: Remove the Seats and Doghouse

First thing to do is remove the seats and the lid, back and sidewall of the Doghouse.  You can remove the entire Doghouse if you like but we found it easier to leave 2 sides up.  

NOTE:  The nuts that hold your doghouse together are specialized clip on sheet metal nuts and may be rusted out.  They may drop out or break while you're working.  Save them where you can but you may need to run to a big auto parts or hardware store where they sell replacements for these.  Bring an example with you as there are many different types that look very similar.  They can be replaced by regular nuts but they will be difficult to reattach.  The sheet metal nuts are design to catch the metal or clip over the edge and not need a wrench on both sides of the bolt to prevent it from spinning free.

If you have carpet and you can remove it you probably should. Otherwise cover it up with cardboard or plastic.

Step 5: Take a Picture

Take some pictures of your engine so if you need to put it back together it will help you to know what goes where

Step 6: Drain Fluids

Drain the Engine Oil and Radiator Fluid.  While you're at it you may as well change the gear oil in your manual transmission and the rear differential.

Step 7: Radiator Frame

Remove your battery so that no power is going to the engine or components.
Unbolt the radiator frame from the doghouse. 
Remove the radiator hoses from the engine and remove the radiator.
Unbolt the fan blade and belt pulley and remove it. 
Unbolt the alternator and remove it. ( it's heavy and may require 2 people, one to twist bolts and the other to hold it up)
Unbolt the starter and lift it out. (also heavy)
Detach all the hoses especially those connecting back to the van such as the heater hoses and fuel lines.  Fluid is going to come out when you do this.
BTW: Be careful what you do with the fuel line.  Be sure to drain it or clamp it closed so you don't have a pool of gasoline under your van.
Detach the push rod that runs from the gas pedal to the carb.
Unbolt the exhaust pipe from the exhaust manifold but leave the exhaust manifold attached to the engine.
Detach the black ground wire that runs from the battery to the engine.

Step 8: Transmission

Put a floor jack underneath your transmission and pump it up slightly.
Crawl underneath the van.  If there's not enough space for you to fit comfortable and work you will need to put it up on jackstands and block it very securely.  Don't mess around on this point because you will be shaking the van pretty severely to bust the engine loose.  My van is stock and rides pretty high on the leaf springs and 14 inch rims so we could slide underneath as is.
Remove the adjustable push rod that comes from the clutch pedal back to the clutch arm
You may want to remove the shifter linkages and replace the bushings while you're at it.
Remove the bolts that attach the bell housing to the engine. 
NOTE: Alternately some folks may want to remove the transmission with it attached to the engine but we didn't do that here. 

Step 9: Attach the Chain and Detach Everything Else.

Move the hoist into position and attach the chain to your engine.   If you plan to dispose of a broken engine as we were, you may not care how the chain is attached or what it damages.  We looped ours beneath the exhaust manifold and around the back, which isn't the best method.  In the second image you can see the correct way to do it. 

Second image is the 144ci that we later dropped into the van.  On this we attached the chain to 2 points on the engine block using hardened steel #8 bolts.  Do not use anything less than this as they will break and your 500-700lb engine will fall to the ground crushing anything in its way.  If you're lucky they will break before you lift it and prove this point.  Go to the auto parts store and ask for hardened bolts and bring an example of the size and thread you need.  Test out any bolts you can find on the spots where you want to attach the chain and make sure you can get depth and a good amount of threads into a solid part of the engine block.

I also made a spacer bar, using the tools at TechShop,  by cutting 2 feet of angle iron and then notching the ends to accept the chain link.  A simple angle grinder could easily be used to make this bar in a few minutes.  This bar keeps the chain pressure from smashing delicate stuff like the head cover and also helps to adjust the angle of the engine.  You can buy an adjustable bar at the auto parts store fairly cheaply that is designed for just this purpose.

Step 10: Pump It Up.

Pump up the engine hoist to put tension on the chain and make sure it is going to lift the engine and the chain isn't slipping. 
Make sure the chain is as tight as possible and as close to the engine as possible to get the clearance you need to lift it over the floor.
When you know the chain is going to support the engine, crawl underneath and unbolt the motor mounts from the cross member.  There should be 2 bolts on either side. 
In these 2 images I show you where the motor mounts are, circled in the first image, and what the cross member looks like and also what the bell housing will look like when the engine is out.

Make sure all the bolts are removed and all hoses and wires and connectors that will get in the way are removed
You might even remove the spark plug wires just to be safe. 

You might consider putting a strong wire, rope or chain around the transmission to prevent it from dropping down after the engine is out.  Otherwise make sure the jack underneath the transmission is secure.

Pump up the hoist again and rock the unbolted engine back and forth gently until it breaks free from the motor mounts and transmission.  Pump it up while pushing the engine forward to clear the transmission bellhousing.

Once it is free carefully pump up the hoist until the engine is lifted clear of the bed of the van.  If it doesn't clear you may need to drop it down, tighten up the chain and try again.

Step 11: Congratulations! You Pulled an Engine.

If the engine will clear the floor of your van slowly roll the hoist back away from your van and out the door. 
Congrats! You have just successfully pulled the engine.  
You may want to continue to drain the oil and other fluids into a container to prepare it for transport. Don't leave it hanging around too long in case something breaks.
If the engine will be discarded, drop it to the ground on an old tire or engine rack and  pull off any good parts you may need later or may want to trade with other van owners. 

Step 12: Transporting the Engine

If you need to drive the old engine away somewhere there are a few good ways to do it.

One way that most people use is to drop it on top of an old tire.  This will mostly protect the engine and whatever you are transporting it in but it is not guaranteed.  If you don't have an old tire call around and stop by a shop where they change tires and ask them if they have a discard that you can have.  Most of them will give it to you for free.  Get a good sized tire.

For my replacement engine I built this wooden rack (pictured) that was pretty study and lasted long enough for me to drive around a few weeks with the engine in my van but only because it was strapped down really tight to the walls.  I'll do another instructable on how to build that rack.

Professional engine racks are available for purchase as well but most seem to be specialized for V8 cylinder engines.  For the Inline 6 cylinders it seems like most engine rebuilders fabricate their own from steel or wood.  You could mount it on an actual rotating engine stand but good luck taking a corner with that in the back of a van.

Ways to get rid of your old engine:
Give it away or sell it online for whatever it may be worth.
Call around and see if any junkyards want it.
Donate it to a metal recycling scrapyard if they will take it.
Find an old classic car auto shop that might want it.
Dismantle it to see how it works (that's what I did) and then donate for scrap.

Step 13: Curiosity - Knowledge - Innards

Since I was throwing it away I had some fun taking the engine apart to see the innards.

Be sure to read up more in the shop manuals for the Model Year of your van.  

You can often find used copies of the manuals online and there are companies who produce perfect reprints of various auto manuals.  

Also there are often auto swap meets in various cities and county fairgrounds that occur on the weekends of car shows.   Manuals and classic auto repair books and many parts and trim can often be found at these events.

Step 14: Good Luck.

Hope this helps you get some idea of what it takes to pull an Inline 6 engine from a 1960's era van such as the Ford Econoline.

Next I will show how to drop a new engine back in.
Good luck and I hope to see your van on the road.

Here's my '65 Econoline being restored in the auto bay at Tech Shop.


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    30 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 14

    Just bought a 1962 econoline, had no battery so installed one hooked up cranks over looking a little further noticed positive cable attached to block and negative attached to solenoid. Figured thats not right cause I dont think that vehicle is a positive ground so i reversed the cables attaching negative from battery and grounding to the block and positive from battery attaching to solenoid and vehicle cranks. I do not understand how you can hook cables up either way and no spark or smoke. Works well either way. What is the correct way to attach cables?


    Question 1 year ago on Step 8

    Hi, I have a 1962 Econoline pickup with the 170 engine. Would you happen to know the part number for the clutch equalizer shaft (z-bar) nylon bushings? I cant find the bushings anywhere and the one mentioned on the dennis carpenter site is the wrong one. Thanks!


    Reply 3 years ago


    Glad the Monoceros is still alive and rolling. The last engine I put in it was a 200ci i6 just before I sold it.

    It was a great project and I loved working on it. I brought it back from the brink of being crushed.

    I have many photos of the process if you're interested in a before and after.

    I've also been composing an instrumental Rock Opera about the van called The Monoceros. It's up on Band camp for free listening if you like guitar rock. Cognitive Bias is the best song so far.


    Let me know if you want to see some pictures.

    Hope all is good and the van is treating you well.

    Thanks for the picture
    Mark Walsh


    3 years ago

    my grandpa has two econoline pickups and told me that i could have one of them if i could get it running, any advice on how to get the engine out of it? it is realy small compared to a van.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Get all interior out , remove seats and dog house, if you try that and can't get it to fit , you might need to drop the engine down to the floor instead


    Reply 3 years ago

    thanks for the advice! it was running 20 years ago when it was parked, but it had a cloged radiator that exploded.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I had a quick question.. I bought a 1962 Econoline recently and notice there is a fairly strong exhaust smell in the cabin. Is the doghouse supposed to have a seal on it..Either at the top access area or where it is bolted to the floor? I am curious... I just had the exhaust pipes replaced so I know its not that. Thanks for your info in advance.

    4 replies

    Anna. My van had the same problem. There are a number of possible causes:
    My van had a really old i6 170 motor that had a hole in the exhaust manifold. That's the part that is between the motor and the pipes. Also the donut seal/connector between the manifold and pipes can be bad but you or your mechanic probably replaced that with the pipes.
    Another common cause can be the gasoline boiling up out of your carb after you stop. My new engine does that as well. Typically this happens because the motor get so hot inside the doghouse that when you stop whatever gas is still inside the carb gets vaporized by the heat. I've found it is difficult to seal the doghouse enough to keep these types of fumes out. They are powerful.
    The best solution I've heard about is to install a good Electric Radiator Fan to augment or replace fan on your motor. If installed correctly, and it has this feature available, it will continue to run for a few minutes after the van shuts down and blow all the gas away so it doesn't smell so bad when you get back in.
    After I install my motor I spent a day working on the doghouse. I hammered it back into good shape on an anvil, stripped and repainted it with Rust Reformer and Hi Heat Rustoleum paint. When I reinstalled it I used soft rolled plumbers putty or window putty weatherstripping on all the seams and I found a great spongy weatherstripping at home depot for the lid seal around the top. I also used bolts/nuts and metal plumbers tape to seal up any remaining "extra" bolt holes I found that were left over from previous owners and there were a lot of unused holes. Even after all this I still get the gas smell although it it much better while I am driving it and quieter as well.

    Thanks for all the advice. I love my van. Its nice to find someone else who has one and has some experience with it. I know there are some old bolt holes in the floor of the van as it used to be a camper but is now outfitted with seats so I can haul my 5 kiddos around. My buddy is going to seal all those up hopefully in the near future but until he gets around to it I will try the metal plumbers tape. Here is a pic of my beauty... Just to share. Thank you again. I look forward to seeing all the things you do to yours. Do you follow or post on any other forums? Any good ones I should know about?


    Wow! Nice camper. Those are pretty rare and sought after by collectors. It was a very unique design. Don't lose that pop top.
    I would suggest signing up for an old Yahoo Groups account. There are 2 mailing lists full of very helpful people and everyone identifies themselves by region of the country so you can know if someone nearby has parts for sale or needs help.   Two really great knowledgeable guys to look for are Jay who goes by Polecat and Vic in So Cal.
    Here are the 2 mailing lists.
      Some of these guys have been working on these vans and pickups since they were first made. I'm learning so much from them every day. ;) 

    Another place to look might be anywhere in the bed of the van behind the motor or around the wheel wells. I spent an evening in the van with a roll of metal plumbers tape looking for light shining through small rust holes in the bed. The tape is a really great temp solution. It will stick and hold for a long time until you can find another solution, like welding the holes or plugging them with something else .
    One more possibility: Rear windows and doors.  If your rear window or door seams are bad the exhaust has a way of getting pulled back into the van while you're driving.  Also be sure to shut the windows on the back of the van if they are the type that can be opened.  It seems like opening them would help get the exhaust out but it actually makes it worse. it comes in from the tail pipe.  Hope this helps.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I notice the same ting on the AMC/Rambler boards (I'm an AMC/Rambler enthusiast!) -- most of the people who post all the time are the racers and always suggest "bigger is better". In many cases I have to agree, but if you already have a good running small engine there's no problem with using it. In your case I'd have looked for a 200 or 250 as well, but if a great deal on a 144/170 came along first...

    Putting an OD trans behind it would do no good. Most people don't realize that OD transmissions use a lower rear axle than a standard three speed or old style four speed (top gear is 1:1). Doesn't matter if either the old or OD trans is manual or auto. OD is just a cheap way to add another gear. The more gears the easier it is to keep an engine in it's best power rpm range. OD means the ratio is less than 1:1, most are 0.75:1. 1:1 means for every one revolution of the crankshaft the driveshaft turns once also, so 0.75:1 means that the engine makes 3/4 (0.75) turns for every turn of the driveshaft. The rear axle for a 1:1 auto car might be 3.08 (which means 3.08:1), whereas an OD car is typically 3.50. So you're losing some of the rpm gained. If you don't do this the engine won't turn fast enough to produce good power cruising. You need about 2000 rpm to easily hold a steady cruising speed. Some of the newer engines are being cammed so they produce a lot of torque at lower speeds (especially larger V-6s -- 3.5L or more -- and most V-8s) and can cruise effectively as low as 1600 rpm. Smaller motors have to turn faster to produce power though. The most effective cruise speed for most American in-line sixes is the 2000-2500 rpm range. Foreign I-6s (BMW, Mercedes, Nissan, etc.) "want" to run in the 2500-3000 because they have much shorter strokes than the workhorse US I-6s.

    2 replies

    I'm very curious about this topic since thinking about gear ratios, and actually having those options, is new to me again. When I was a teenager I bought a street racer '64 Nova with a slip-posi rear and 4/11 gears. I knew that sounded cool but didn't really knew what it meant till I looked it up. My brother and I were talking about gears ratio options when we were pumping the black pudding that was formerly 40 year old 80/90 gear oil from the rear differential. We were afraid that level of dis repair might have led to damage and require a new pumpkin. So far it has been good. I drained the trans oil on Friday and it ran clear and had very little metal in it. On first drain it too ran black and the magnetic drain plug was furry with metal shards. This week I'll pump out the differential and see what I get after 6 months on clean oil.

    4.11 gears are good for drag racing, but without an OD that's it! You don't look that old (I'm 50!), so "was a teenager" might not have been that long ago. I don't remember buying gas for under $0.65 a gallon as a teen, but do recall it was still a major expense for me! Things haven't changed that much... we make more, things cost more... proportionally they aren't much different!

    Sounds like you did a good job on the gear oil change. You never get it all out. Transmissions (manual and auto) will have a few wear particles in the oil no matter what after a few years, nothing to worry about there. there probably won't be much change in the diff oil, not much to wear in it.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, for some strange reason, I'm drawn to these Ford vans. I think the neighbors had one and we used to drive around in it. It was a while ago. Rumor has it that there is a converted camper ready for me to ask for it and drive/tow it away. I'm wondering if I should really bother with it. After seeing your procedure, I am certainly jealous.

    Anyway, I am interested in the mileage you are getting. As I get older, I find myself driving in the far right lane, and that is fine with me. I suppose the real question I have is the total cost / mile, but the cost of gas is probably the simplest metric to get right now.

    And what forums/boards were you posting on? I can't seem to find a good one to discuss the old fords.


    1 reply

    I still haven't checked my mileage since there's fixes that need to be done to make everything run properly. If you really enjoy tinkering with old cars then these old Econoline might be fun. It takes a lot of work to bring them back to life and tons of searching , patience & connection to online communities for trading.

    If mileage is your primary concern then it's proven to be a very debatable topic. I just love the Mid Century design, have always wanted an early Econoline, need a van for various hobbies, want to go camping in it and really enjoy the process of restoration.

    Finding an engine that even comes close to modern fuel efficiency and isn't in the 8 to 15 mpg range of some classic V8's, is a definite plus.

    If I were you I'd happily grab that camper but be prepared to put a lot of work and cash into it and endless tinkering to keep it running. They are very primitive machines.

    Check out oldeconolines@yahoogroups and econosrus@yahoogroups . Fantastic groups with some serious enthusiasts and mechanics who will help you out.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I'd swap in a 200 or 250 cid I6 from later model Ford along with an overdrive transmission of some sort. Those 144-170 Falcon engines barely made 22 mpg in a Falcon, much less lugging around an Econoline. The freeway cruise rpm for those things was well out of the economy cruise rpm. Ideally you'd want a 250cid I-6 with an overdrive transmission of some sort. It would give you better around town gas mileage because you won't have to jam the throttle to the floor to get the thing to move. I owned a 64 Falcon with a 170 with a 3speed transmission. It was much lighter than an Econoline and it would get 21-22 mpg on the highway, 19-20 city. The Econoline was a brick aerodynamically speaking and anything above 60mph requires more horsepower than any stock 144 could muster.