1977 Ford F-150



April, 30, 2013 AT 5:00 PM

I just bought this truck a few weeks ago. I bought it so I could learn about how they work and learn how to repair most things. I've already taken out both fuel tanks, cleaned the fuel lines and replaced the rubber hose parts, put in a fuel filter, replaced all spark plugs, wires, rotor, and cap, replaced the belts, and put it all back together. Did an oil change, oil filter, air filter, also.

So that is as much as I know about cars at this point. I have two questions:

1. I think I have a sticky valve lifter. Is this a job I can tackle? I've tried treating the oil with sea foam with no luck. Any ideas?

2. I think the transmission might be going. A guy told me that these transmissions are "super easy to rebuild". Is this something I could handle? I would be willing to pay for professional advice but am not sure how to go about it.



3 Answers



April, 30, 2013 AT 5:32 PM

No automatic transmission is "super easy" to rebuild for a do-it-yourselfer. Even professionals usually just remove them and send them to a specialty shop. Only the really tough Chrysler 727 can be rebuilt with no special tools other than a $3.00 seal tool. You will need a clutch spring press to replace the clutch plates and seals, cone protectors to prevent cutting the new lip seals, and everything has to kept spotlessly clean. If you really need to repair the transmission you're better off removing it yourself and having it done at a specialty shop, or you can buy a good used one, then take your old one apart later to see how it works. An even better idea is to enroll in an Automotive program at a community college if you want to become a mechanic. They will get into rebuilding transmissions and you will likely be allowed to work on your own with guidance from the instructor. Most of those programs also have night classes where you can use their equipment with the instructor's assistance.

I have a lot of older textbooks to give away for the cost of postage, and I have newer ones listed on Amazon. You will also likely find them in the library at your community college. They usually go into a lot of theory and not much specific to one brand or model of transmission. For that you will want to get a copy of the manufacturer's service manual. That will walk you through every step of the procedure and will spell out every measurement and specification.

What is the symptom that leads you to think a lifter is sticking? Have you checked the oil pressure?



May, 1, 2013 AT 9:54 AM

Fair enough. Thanks for the advice. I bought a Haynes manual for the truck as well as the 5 volume shop manual (pdf) so I have a lot of information, just no experience. I'd love to take a class at the community college but that will have to wait until my kids are a little older. I may look into some online classes and see if they exist. Anything would be better than nothing.

As for the sticky lifter, there is a loud ticking noise coming from the driver-side of the engine. When I accelerate, the ticking accelerates; when I accelerate up to 50 mph (for example) and then take my foot off the gas, the ticking continues at the same speed as if I am engaging the gas pedal. When I am coasting down a steep hill in 2nd gear and the engine is running pretty high, the ticking turns slightly into a fluttering-ish sound. Those are the symptoms. Also, the guy who sold me the truck told me it had a "sticky lifter" so I went online and looked up what it was.

I was thinking about buying some Marvel Mystery Oil and trying that out before I start looking into taking things apart again. But I'm very curious as to what you think about it. I'm taking the truck in today to have electricity run to the new electronic choke and they are going to adjust the carburetor while it's there. I was told by a friend not to mess with carburetors because they'll "eat your lunch". The truck had sat for about 5 years before I bought it so that's why I cleaned out the whole fuel system and got the nasty oil out of there. Would it be wise to change all the brake fluid, transmission fluid, etc?

Thanks so much!



May, 1, 2013 AT 2:41 PM

Every manufacturer recommends replacing the brake fluid periodically because it absorbs moisture through the porous rubber hoses, but that's one of those things we rarely do. That promotes corrosion and it seriously lowers the boiling point from well over 400 degrees to 212 degrees. That can lead to one type of brake fade.

Ford had a problem with wear on the contact points between the push rods and rocker arms but I don't know if that went back to the '70s and '80s. It caused a clicking noise. You can run the engine with a valve cover removed and a piece of cardboard to catch the oil that gets thrown off, then hold pressure on the rocker arms to find the one causing the noise. Look for an adjusting nut that is backed off too far.

The Ford service manuals are your best bet for learning how to check some items and how to replace parts, but they don't cover theory of operation. The Chrysler manuals have sections on theory but only for the specific parts on specific engines. A text book will cover the theory in general and not for specific engines or vehicles. Both should be considered because Ford has always done a lot of stuff much differently than everyone else. If you're familiar with GM products, for example, you will find Chryslers the same only a lot easier to work on and understand. That knowledge won't help you when you get to a Ford.

You might also look up an Automotive instructor in his office, outside of class time, and ask if he has any old text books to give away. My office was overflowing with stuff like that that I refused to throw out but would gladly give to anyone who appreciated it. I always assigned chapters to read outside of class. I knew who read the book because later they always had questions in class. The readings do not replace "class discussions". They just get the topic started, then there are a lot of demonstrations and more-detailed explanations to follow. You can also come back here with questions. There's eight specialty areas. I can answer most questions related to all of them but I taught and specialized in Engine Repair, Suspension and Alignment, Brakes, and Electrical. If you want to see some of the Electrical resources I put together for my kids, do a search for Randys Repair Shop dot net. I didn't include the pages of basic electrical theory because that isn't the intent of my web site.

Carburetors are not that complicated but you have to watch closely where parts come from so you know where to put them back. The adjustments are spelled out in the instructions that come with rebuilding kits, and they're in the service manual.

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