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Discussion Starter #1
I recently bought a 1966 Mustang 289 C-Code Coupe with factory air and a C4 auto. I was under the impression it only needed a little work until my mechanic recently informed me that the rod bearings on the engine were going out. Because the transmission and engine are the original components and therefore about 50 years old, he recommended putting in a new motor and possibly a transmission as well. The car is by no means mint so I am not worried about originality. I am, however, on a tight budget and would like to keep costs as low as possible without making any major sacrifices to quality. I don't need a lot of performance, just a reliable daily driver engine. If the transmission needs replacing I'd be interested in swapping in a T5 or toploader. What kind of cost am I looking at for a basic well built carbureted 289/302/351 for daily driving, keeping in mind that I am on a tight budget?
 

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Seriously? Replacing the engine will cost ten times as much as fixing the bearings. Your mechanic doesn't have much respect for your budget, does he?
 

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Tight budget, rebuild what you have. Pick someone other than your current mechanic. The modifications mentioned will only cost you more money.
 

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Hello noma289,
FIRST - - Welcome to the forum.

I am assuming that your wrenching skills are limited
at this time. (Sorry if I am wrong - -BUT not matter
we all learn everyday and we all start out knowing nothing.

As I see it - you have several options and I will try to expalin a few of them.


You could purchase a rebuilt short block. This means the internals of the motor
are new but the add on's like carb, alternator, water-pump etc etc
need to be added. If you get the same size motor, you can pull the parts
from your motor. This involves work and time. If you are paying a mechanic
it will cost some good money

OPTION 2 - Find a decent motor at a salvage yard and have it installed in your car.
Once again this requires taking your motor out and installing the "New" motor.
Not really too hard to do.

OPTION 3 - -Have your motor rebuilt.

I mean no disrespect to your shop - -BUT it may be likely they have a motor
and transmission sitting in their shop waiting for an install.

Things to consider - -
1. - Mechanics time is expensive
2. - The more work you do the more it will cost - I would NOT mess with the transmission if you are on a budget. Just adds to the expense.Perhaps down the road you could swap.

I would search several salvage yards and see what they are asking for a used motor with lower mileage. Try to stay less than 60,000 miles.

I would find another shop and ask them what they would charge to rebuild your motor. Make sure you get refrences on any shop.
It would seem FAR less expensive to fix the motor you have.

Keep in mind - -if you rebuild the motor, you will need to pay for pulling the motor, the machine work and re-install.

Before doing anything - -I would have the motor checked at another shop and ask their advice and opinion. Perhaps another shop may think that all you need is a st of lifters or somethng else.
Have a shop run a compression test on the motor and let us know.

I am NOT saying the shop is currently trying to take advavntage of you. I do not know what the status of the motor is. Perhaps machine shops are VERY expensive in your area. I just don't know.

I would get several opinions and do some reseaarch before doing anything.

BUT as David suggests - it would seem more logical to work with what you have.
Keep in mind any transmission swap will add close to $2000.00 to the job.

Good luck and don't get discouraged - -this is just the start of a GREAT ride,

Print Dad
 

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New rod bearings + main bearings cost MAYBE $40...

The hard part is actually getting to them to replace. As PrintDad and the others said, it depends on how much of the work (if any) you want to do yourself. Pulling the engine and trans out together as one piece isnt hard to do if you have the lift (which you can rent) and an engine stand, and of course all the regular tools like sockets and wrenches.

as everyone said, rebuilding your existing engine is far cheaper than replacing it unless you find some amazing deal for a 289/302 that still runs good and is cheap.

however, there is an elephant in the room. while you could just pull the engine, tear it down, replace the bearings, and put it all back together with new gaskets, it would be kind of a waste. just replacing the rod bearings on a 45 year old engine is pointless because sooner or later other thing will wear out like piston rings or lifters. The ideal thing to do is pull the engine, tear it down, have a machine shop clean it up and then replace all the wear parts like pistons, rings, bearing, lifters, cam, etc.

as for the trans, it just cost me $600 even to get my c4 completely rebuild including a shift kit install and new torque converter. this can always wait tho.

so how tight is your budget?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the quick responses. I thought that rod bearings were an interesting reason to call for a complete engine swap. My mechanic is a good friend and has gone out of his way to save me money, so I don't think he's taking me for a ride. I will look for quotes from other shops, however. A rebuild would be ideal. I'll grill mechanic on what exactly he has found that makes him think I need to replace the motor. Keep you all posted
 

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Ok let us know.

There would have to be some catastrophic reason why you would have to replace the entire engine... something like the block is cracked or something to that effect
 

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I think you have better things than to spend 6-7 grand on a new motor & tranny. Print Dad hit the nail right on the head. From what you are describing with what your plans are for the car just use what you have and save yourself some money.
 

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Before going farther, exact knowledge is key. I would suggest investing a few bucks in some Plastigage, and actually checking the bearing clearances. This could actually be done with the engine in the car, although the oil pan must be removed.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Picked up the car from my mechanic today. He said rebuilding the motor is a valid option assuming it isn't to bored out already. I have no record of the engine being rebuilt before. Still, I'd like to go ahead with rebuilding it. So with that I have a few more questions:

1. Before I start calling shops, how much will I be looking at for an engine rebuild, if I plan to keep it relatively stock? Does it make sense to go to a 4bbl carburetor?

2. As someone with relatively limited wrenching skills and toolkit, how much can I do on my own (pulling the engine?) and how much will it save me?

3. Are there any notable shops for engine rebuilds in the SF Bay Area?

4. How much will a rebuild on the C4 transmission cost me?

Thanks
 

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Rebuilding your C4 , if you pull it out and install it should be parts $150 - $300 and labor 6-8 hrs. The hours are at shop rate. 6 hrs x $90/hr = $540 + parts at $225 = $765 pluss taxes and hazardous waste fees. Make sure you request your old parts back and an itemized receipt. That way you get a complete break-down of parts and labor charges and you can compare the parts list with the old parts that you get back - anything you get charged for that isn't in the box you should get a refund for.
To find a good shop or person to rebuild your C4 ask for references and contact them - ask them how long the job took and what it cost. Ask if they are completely satisfied and if they would have them do the same job again.
Call the Better Business Bureau and see if they have complaints - call the Attorney General and ask if they have any complaints.
You can even ask for a credit report from them - the business should have a separate credit report than the owner.
If any red flags come up then start over with a diffrent place or person. Never pay for anything until it is done. This adds an incentive to get your work done fast. My customers never paid for anything until they got their transmission - neither should you.
You should know that the most complete rebuild kits always have all the seals (gaskets, rubber, metal clad, metal sealing rings), the friction plates and metal plates for the clutches, and the pump and extension housing bushings in the kit. other parts that should be replaced are the modulator, intermediate band, and the rear servo piston/seal assembly. I always replace all the bushings and thrust washers and list the overall end play and the free play in the clutches but then I built performance transmissions that had to hold up abuse long enough to keep my customers happy. If yourconverter was working before then chances are it will work with the rebuilt too but they will likely not guarantee the transmissions unless you buy a new one. the reason for this is the debris that gets circulated through the transmission from an old converter. My advice is to buy one but not necessarily from the guys who build your transmission - take the new converter -still in its packaging to them with the transmission to be rebuilt - and get a receipt for them receiving it from you. that way they can guarantee the transmission and install the converter.
If the converter isn't properly installed when you bolt it to the engine you can break the pump in the transmission and have to pay more to get it fixed.

I hope this info helps,
Paul
 

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1. to give you a better estimate, think of what exactly you want done... for example what parts you want to replace and what parts you want to keep and just clean up/rebuild (such as cylinder heads). personally, the only thing original on my engine is the block, crank, main caps and connecting rods. Everything else is aftermarket. I took the engine out myself and tore it down to the just the block. It cost me $450 for machine work (bored, honed, hot tanked, decked, new freeze plugs, new cam bearings and micropolishing the crankshaft). It would have cost more if the crank had to be cut down. Usually the highest you'll pay for machine work, depending if the shop is going to do any assembly/disassembly, is around $1k.

2. a shop will probably charge a few hundred to pull the engine and put it back in. as with anything, the more you can do yourself, the less money you'll have to spend paying someone else to do it. you can pretty much tear down the whole engine with a complete socket set (1/2", 3/8", 1/4" socket wrenches and sockets sizes from 1/4" up to 1") and some rental tools from Napa or Advanced or whatever auto stores are around you (like a harmonic balancer puller). You can also rent an engine lift. I went on craigslist and found myself an engine stand for $40 almost brand new. There's countless videos on YouTube on how to remove an engine... they're all the same pretty much. However, it is a fairly detailed job and if you don't feel up to it you should let a shop do it instead.

3. no idea I live in New Jersey lol

4. PaulS already thoroughly covered that... it cost me $600 even to rebuild my c4 including a rebuilt torque converter and new shift kit. Usually local mechanics that don't do their own transmission work will know reputable trans shops
 
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