My first inkling that things weren’t going to go very smoothly was when I began to swap the almost-new water pump from the 289 to the X302. I wanted to equip the new engine with the early style V-belt rather than a serpentine setup since the A was built in a traditional style. The pump looked as though it would fit but once I attempted to bolt it on it didn’t take long to see that it wasn’t going to fit, well, it would bolt in place, but it wasn’t going to seal correctly. Jeez, maybe I should’ve taken a look at the installation instructions beforehand after all. Once I did, I learned that there was a recommended water pump listed in the instructions. For a standard-rotation pump the instructions recommended water pump PN M-8501-G351. Luckily for me my local Ford dealership had one in stock. This was just the first situation that caused me to stop wrenching and hit the road on a parts run.

Once back home I installed the pump without a problem—or so I thought (we’ll get back to this later). Next, I pulled the flexplate off of the old engine and, using a brand-new set of crank bolts, attached it to the crank. After that I prefilled the new torque converter, slid it into place on the fresh C4 trans, and bolted the tranny to the new block. I also swapped the engine mounts from the 289 to the X302 and, using my handy cherry picker, slid the new engine/trans combo into place between the A’s framerails and bolted it into place. It was shortly after this that I ran into a couple more discrepancies.

The first was the realization that the crank and water pump pulleys weren’t going to work. The new balancer had a different bolt pattern and even if it did fit, the crank pulley would touch the bottom edge of the water pump pulley. This was getting to become a bit aggravating. I jumped in the car and headed to the local bone yard to hunt up a set of pulleys that’d fit. After an hour or so I found a later-model F-150 that had a pair of pulleys that looked as though they’d fit and headed back to the garage. Once home with the new pulleys that did fit (thank goodness) I thought it may be to my advantage to research the balance of the task to see if I was going to run into any more surprises. I called a friend of mine who’s a lot more engine savvy than I and explained to him what I’d been through so far. After he stopped chuckling he informed me that the engine and trans needed to be pulled back out and the flexplate from the old 289 removed from the X302. According to him, the early 289 was built to use a 28-in/oz reciprocating assembly and newer (I believe he said post ’81) engines use a 50-in/oz setup. He told me that if I had proceeded I would have rattled the engine to bits because it would have been out of balance. On his recommendation, I hit the Ford Racing Performance Parts website and found the appropriate tech note section for the X302, which indeed stated the need for the 50-in/oz balancer and flexplate combo (the crate engine comes with the correct harmonic balancer). The X302 requires flexplate PN M-6375-A50 for automatics, or flywheel PN M-6375-B302 for manual shift vehicles. Needless to say, I was done for the day, shaking my bowed head all the way to the shower.

The following Monday I started my search for the correct flexplate, finding a TCI Automotive branded plate in my latest Summit Racing catalog. I immediately placed my order and the new flexplate showed up in a couple of days—just in time for another weekend out in the garage.