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Old 12-14-2014, 05:48 PM   #1
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Year: 1987
Coachwork: Ford
Chassis: short Thomas school bus
Engine: 351
NEED HELP 1987 Ford E350 short school bus

Hi all,

I'm new to this forum even though I've been reading it for quite a long time now...
I just acquired a 1987 Ford E350 Thomas short school bus. It's actually still in the hands of the previous owner who is pulling his hair to make it
run correctly before I can come and get It...
Here are the symptoms...
- 351 engine with :
. New holly four barrels carburetor
. New timing belt
. New ditrib
. electronic ignition (not computer)
. Compression on all cylinders is 145 psi
. Carburetor has been tested on bench and works perfectly
. Fuel pump is 14lb
. gas lines are ok
. exhaust are ok
. Governor speed control has been removed

SO so far so good except that the bus won't go over 45mph and the engine doesn't kick over 1500rpm
The bus has been been checked by two Ford engines specialist who don't get why ...
It's as if two of the four barrels would not kick in...
SOmebody has an idea ?
Thanks
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:16 AM   #2
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Re: NEED HELP 1987 Ford E350 short school bus

Sounds like they got the timing set wrong. Timing belt? or chain. The 351 was a in block cam design and should have had a chain with timing marks on the gears. That bus should run faster on two barrels then 45 mph doesn't sound like the carb.
Good luck

chuck
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:30 AM   #3
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Re: NEED HELP 1987 Ford E350 short school bus

first off, it hasnt been taken to two engine specialists. if it had been taken to just one................it would run correctly. and that specialist would have immediately told you the 14 psi is too much fuel pressure. but since it runs ok at low speed, im betting that is a lie also.

ditto on timing, then using a vacuum gauge, your specialist would have discovered or not if could have partially plugged converters. the list goes on, and following the flow chart in the specialists manual would have led to the problem being corrected.

the fact that the carb was replaced says they suspected a fuel problem......obviously a bad diagnosis. what was the result of the fuel flow test? is carb jetted correctly? is throttle plate opening fully? is there even a problem in this area?

a mechanic could answer in minutes and tell you exactly what is wrong.

conclusion: find a real mechanic!

good luck!
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Old 12-15-2014, 01:23 PM   #4
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Year: 1987
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Chassis: short Thomas school bus
Engine: 351
Re: NEED HELP 1987 Ford E350 short school bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by claydbal
first off, it hasnt been taken to two engine specialists. if it had been taken to just one................it would run correctly. and that specialist would have immediately told you the 14 psi is too much fuel pressure...

a mechanic could answer in minutes and tell you exactly what is wrong.

conclusion: find a real mechanic!

good luck!
Thank you for your help guys I truly appreciate the input...
My other bus and daily driver is a 1971 VW bay window... So i know a little about flat 4 engines but nothing about V8 let alone 4 barrels carb...
So I'm gonna go get the School Bus and start from scratch...
First thing I did when I bought my VW bus was to buy the two "bibles" every classic vw owner should have : the Bentley Manual and the John Muir's book...
Could you direct me to the same kind of litterature for my School Bus ?
I'm not looking at all for performance but driving a olid 55mph on the highway is more comfortable for the nerves when semi trucks pass you at 75mph
So my question is what can I reasonably expect in term of cruising speed with my short bus once it's fixed ?
Thanks again for your help guys
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Old 12-15-2014, 10:38 PM   #5
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Re: NEED HELP 1987 Ford E350 short school bus

Ok-what was the order of repairs? Were all those changes to solve this one problem? Did it get any better with any changes?
Have you checked if the throttle is opening all the way? (look down the carb while someone pushes the gas pedal.)
Will it rev up in park?
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Old 12-16-2014, 04:40 AM   #6
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Year: 1987
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Chassis: short Thomas school bus
Engine: 351
Re: NEED HELP 1987 Ford E350 short school bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdwarf36
Ok-what was the order of repairs? Were all those changes to solve this one problem? Did it get any better with any changes?
Have you checked if the throttle is opening all the way? (look down the carb while someone pushes the gas pedal.)
Will it rev up in park?
Hi there...
As I said above I'm going to get the bus tomorrow morning so all I can say now is what my seller is telling me...
And this what he told me so far :
- After he removed the governor the bus was still running very poorly... 40-45 mph on a flat road and stalling speed on a hill...
- he thought it was coming from the carb... Since he didn't find a decent joint kit to rebuild it he decided to change the whole thing and bought a Holley four barrel carb..

(a very good question was asked me above : how is jetted the new carb ? well I have no idea)

- so in the end of the day he told me that the carb swap improved the bus a lot : 50-55 mph on flat surface and a solid 45 mph on a hill...

but still he's not happy with the performance... He tells me it should go faster and that the engine won't go 1500 rpm... (see what i wrote above for current performance)
. Is it normal for this kind of bus ? well as I said I'm a complete newbie with a 351... I mean when I hit 65 mph with my 71 VW Bus (I'm talking going down the hill with a tail wind) I feel like the king of the world... So I'm pretty well used to get passed by everything but bicycles ;)

you tell me...
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