. Any temp between 190 and 220 is fine and will never hurt your engine. the oil needs to be over 212 to vaporize condensation. The 190- 195 thermostats lets the engine and the oil heat up as fast as possible. ......"
zray ...yep, have the manual but maybe I just read past the answer to my question. InfraRed gun is what I have at the moment so maybe I'll be able to get better diagnostic tool soon....regarding who wrote the manual, probably a fun discussion but not answer to the question 'what is considered a normal operating range for a 302?' (Topic of this thread). Thanks for taking a couple minutes to post.
The answer to your question is in my post quoted above (post #4), minimum temp 190 maximum continuous temp 220. Very brief temp of 225 F , like in traffic or at stop lights , won't hurt anything
also you can find the spec. For the stock thermostat in the back of the cooling system section of the Ford shop manual.
Since your question has already been answered a couple of times, I didn't think it going OT and rogue to mention the shop manuals as an aside. Sorry if that was offensive.
Re using an IR gun, IMHO, they are a very ineffective way of measuring the coolant temp. The surface of hose or metal you point at is not the same as a quality temperature probe reading immersed in the coolant. Plus, what you want is a temp reading WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING and with the engine UNDER A LOAD.. a quality aftermarket gauge, such as the autometer mechanical temp gauge, is the only way to get consistent reading . https://www.summitracing.com/parts/atm-2432
A full sweep gauge will give you the most usable information. In a mechanical version, the full sweep gauge is not expensive. Reasonably priced electric gauges are usually 90-120 degree sweep, and therefore not as easy to read precisely. . Full seeep electric gauges are available, but usually cost double the price of the full sweep mechical gauge.
pulling the car over and doing an IR reading with the engine under NO LOAD doesn't tell you much in the way of relevant information, again, just my opinion, based on 50+ years experience. Of course the makers of the IR gums are very happy you are buying their product....