How To Get More Out Of 2.8?

Thorax456

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Hey so I recently picked up a gorgeous 2.8 l 1974 mustang 2 and absolutely love it! I have a laundry list of projects I've got lined up for this from bumper to bumper, but before I get started on those I want to get the most I can out of this engine so far I've gotten a new carburetor (2bbl) I believe and spark plugs in it. It starts up semi reliably now but doesn't have allot of get up and go any advice on how to get more power out of this or any advice in general would be greatly appreciated!

So far the only advice I've gotten is sell it and buy a nova and I'm not re ally feeling that
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jozsefsz

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I have a '78 with the 2.8, love the little engine. Solid lifters, gear-driven cam, and a sequential firing order that makes it rumble. It also likes to rev to the ceiling which makes it fun to drive.

Out of the factory this engine was rated 95-100hp, which feels very slow in 2018, fuel savings and 55mph highway speeds were the target.

Is your car and automatic or a manual transmission? The manual lets you rev it properly, the automatic must feel extra slow. What kind of 'new carb' did you put on there? Is it properly adjusted and jetted? I picked up one of those 2-barrel Ford-Autolite 2100 clones from Mexico on eBay (brand new for <$100 still being made today) and it's a perfectly decent little carb, but it was jetted completely wrong from the factory (the main jets were much smaller than I needed) and the car was a dog. Some new mains and it improved greatly.

By way of ordinary maintenance, make sure the timing is advanced properly, and that the vacuum advance is actually advancing. If the diaphragm in the vacuum canister has dried up you'll be running very retarded vacuum and the car will feel very slow. Make sure the valves are all properly adjusted, too loose and you'll be running weak with high vacuum and clatter. Too tight and you'll lose compression and get backfires / misfires. Check everythign else for vacuum leaks (power brake booster, all vacuum lines).

99% of owners will just tell you to drop a 302 in there. That's not so simple with a '74 as it's not an easy fit. It's also a much heavier engine - I've always liked how the 2.8 II throws itself around the turns.

Getting a little more juice you have some options. There's an Offy intake manifold and cam setup, to run a Holley 390, which is reported to get you closer to 160hp, but it's pretty pricey. Lots of good info here: http://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/2_8L_Performance.html (the Ranger and Bronco II up to the mid-80's had our very same engine - also good to know if you're looking for parts).

Me, I took a different route and built a custom turbo system. https://www.stangnet.com/mustang-forums/threads/78-v6-turbo.880529/ If you can weld, it wasn't all that hard. Car is MUCH faster. :)

This was my inspiration: View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6bq9aOk2qQ
(they're running 21psi, I run about 6.) The 2.9 is a variant of the 2.8, they did this on a stock block with stock pistons, etc.

So anything's possible, you can get a lot more get up & go out of the 2.8 if you're willing to work for it!
 

Thorax456

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Holy guacamole that is some solid information! Thank you so much!

I agree that rumble is incredible compared to my little hyundai lol!

I've read up on that to it was essentially the perfect car at the perfect time, but nowadays it's looked over for the more powerful alternatives but the body style is gorgeous and I've seen some examples of how great they can be with some love.

Currently it's an automatic, but I have ambitions of swapping it to a manual in the future, but I have limited experience amd only a drive way to work in so I'm taking on one piece at a time. It's been a learning experience to say the least!

As for the carb I cleaned the stock one (basically ruined it) then mechanics put a remanufactured one on so I'm guessing it's the same as the stock? I have bee considering putting a nicer one in because from what I've read the 2.8 can take allot more than what the stock carb gives out

I've read up allot on timing and I understand the concepts of it but everything else that comes with it is still a little over my head, buuut I do know that my vacuum lines are good (not leaking) I had a field day learning what those were when I first started learning what those were hahaha!

Do you know of any good guides for making those sorts of adjustments?

Initially I was on that bandwagon but the only post I've found on here from some one that did it said he liked the 2.8 better and swapped back, and I've seen a few very nice 2's that prove you don't need a giant engine to get results

So hypothetically could you go for both of these routes and get even more results? I've really been pondering on the idea of putting a turbo in mine as well! A long with a million other things

Can you call it work if you love doing it this has been an epicly rewarding/painful learning experience
 

MustangIIMatt

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Another good source for a carburetor upgrade is to get the Motorcraft/Autolite 2100 off of a 302 V8 car (that's what I did with the 2.8 I had in my Capri).

They're the same model number, and the same external dimensions, but the V8 versions will have larger venturis (meaning more air) and larger jets (allowing more fuel). You'll have to tune accordingly, but they are a bolt-on.

You sent me a PM asking how to dress it up to look good.

There are a LOT of dress-up parts out there for the 2.8, the problem is finding them.

http://jrcast.com/?page_id=79 This company in Ireland makes 2.8 valvecovers (valvecovers make the biggest or 2nd biggest impact in engine appearance). They're not cheap, but sometimes used sets show up on Ebay (as do other designs, there used to be several companies making them).

If you stay naturally aspirated, virtually any air cleaner with a 5 1/8" opening will fit on the 2100 carburetor, giving you a lot of choices. Valve covers and an air cleaner do the most for an engine's appearance (and a better air cleaner helps performance a little). If you go turbo, there are other ways to make it look nice (polished carburetor hat with silicone and polished tubing with stainless clamps).

If you want headers, you'll need to find a 1986 Ford Aerostar with a 2.8 in a junkyard... Or a used set of the old PaceSetter headers that have been out of production for years... both would be a challenge to find.

I'm on the other side of the discussion from @jozsefsz though. I have a 1977 Ford Capri (imported from Germany) that had a 2.8 and a 4spd from the factory. While the 2.8 is a fine piece of engineering (and it really is, they're rev-happy, made great horsepower-per-cubic-inch for their day, and that snarl is fantastic). It's damned heavy for it's displacement (nearly as heavy as a 302 due to much thicker castings), is much harder to find parts for, and does suffer from a few design compromises that make getting more power out of them more difficult (the exhaust ports are the biggest obstacle). Those compromises can be overcome ( @jozsefsz is one of the guys that has done it), but I opted to swap a 302 and a 5spd into the Capri, and the 2.8 and 4spd just sit in the corner of my shed collecting dust, it was just much easier to get to where I wanted to be with that car than spending a lot of time scrounging up obscure bits and pieces (mostly from England, Ireland, and Germany, where these engines were used in much larger quantities and into the 80s).

Not telling you what to do. That's for you to decide. That's the best thing about a Mustang II. They're not worth a whole hell of a lot (though that's slowly changing, and already far less true than it used to be), so nothing you can do to one really affects the value, keeping you from getting boxed into keeping it "correct".
 

Thorax456

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So would that be something I could find remanufactured on the internet? I found a few but I'm not sure if that's exactly what I'm looking for?

The ones I've found so far look exactly the same, that's solid advice thank you so much!

Yeah I've really begun to notice that these forums are a tremendous help, I couldn't believe when I found a thread that had a link to some one who makes fiber glass hoods for my car I'd scoured the internet to no avail and bam there was the answer on an old thread! And you weren't joking about being pricey I think for now ill stick to sanding and re painting mine to ease the wallets burden

Right now I have the stock intake in the blue can and the options I've seen look like they'd have way better flow! I'm just trying to find one that will fit but being new to this I'm a little lost, my current intake has two screws that come from underneath the carb and everything o.k. seeing only has one screw? Sorry I'm a total amateur at this, up until recently I was strictly a fluid flusher and could scrape by with Google lol

Are they really around the same weight?! That's insane, from what I've read the dimensions are quite a bit larger, which is crazy. I thought about it but I was a little concerned with becoming to nose heavy.

Hahaha that's really the truth I picked mine hip for next to nothing and I know I can turn it around and make it Into a real gem it's just going to take some time and allot of learning, I actually just learned what the pinion is earlier today. The community of car folk from what I've seen so far is incredibly welcoming and helpful and I am incredibly grateful I never imagined people could be so helpful!
 

Thorax456

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Jun 5, 2017
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So would that be something I could find remanufactured on the internet? I found a few but I'm not sure if that's exactly what I'm looking for?

The ones I've found so far look exactly the same, that's solid advice thank you so much!

Yeah I've really begun to notice that these forums are a tremendous help, I couldn't believe when I found a thread that had a link to some one who makes fiber glass hoods for my car I'd scoured the internet to no avail and bam there was the answer on an old thread! And you weren't joking about being pricey I think for now ill stick to sanding and re painting mine to ease the wallets burden

Right now I have the stock intake in the blue can and the options I've seen look like they'd have way better flow! I'm just trying to find one that will fit but being new to this I'm a little lost, my current intake has two screws that come from underneath the carb and everything o.k. seeing only has one screw? Sorry I'm a total amateur at this, up until recently I was strictly a fluid flusher and could scrape by with Google lol

Are they really around the same weight?! That's insane, from what I've read the dimensions are quite a bit larger, which is crazy. I thought about it but I was a little concerned with becoming to nose heavy.

Hahaha that's really the truth I picked mine hip for next to nothing and I know I can turn it around and make it Into a real gem it's just going to take some time and allot of learning, I actually just learned what the pinion is earlier today. The community of car folk from what I've seen so far is incredibly welcoming and helpful and I am incredibly grateful I never imagined people could be so helpful!
 
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MustangIIMatt

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If you have two air cleaner studs, you have the Weber/Holley/Motorcraft/Autolite/VW 5200 (no joke, all five of them built those carbs). They are fantastic, though a bit complicated, but thanks to the Volkswagen crowd, parts are out there for them, air cleaners included.

A 2.8 weighs 380lbs vs a 302's 460lbs. 80lbs on the nose of a car isn't insignificant, but a battery relocation alone can offset 25% of that. Switching to aluminum heads and water pump on the 302 takes care of the rest, but isn't cheap (nor is the rest of the swap).
 

Thorax456

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Oh good lord that's insanity! Yeah when I took the first one apart I was astonished I actually got it back together they're quite the Lego set that's for sure

So after reading into it a tad more coupled with your advice, the ultimate question is how feasible is this sort of swap in a drive way?
 

MustangIIMatt

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Oh good lord that's insanity! Yeah when I took the first one apart I was astonished I actually got it back together they're quite the Lego set that's for sure

So after reading into it a tad more coupled with your advice, the ultimate question is how feasible is this sort of swap in a drive way?
It's not easy. You'll need a list of hard to find parts for the swap, working conditions are cramped, and everything in the driveline forward of the differential potentially needs changing.
 

IIGood

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A few more parts for the 2.8 can be found through Racer Walsh. I'm personally not sure how their stuff stacks up but when I was in my II hey-day, I remember them being a name used a lot for the V6 crowd.
 

Thorax456

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It's not easy. You'll need a list of hard to find parts for the swap, working conditions are cramped, and everything in the driveline forward of the differential potentially needs changing.
I kind of suspected that much and have ambitions of changing out my rear differential possibly to a 9, do you have any recommended sources for information on the swap and those hard to find parts?
 

Thorax456

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A few more parts for the 2.8 can be found through Racer Walsh. I'm personally not sure how their stuff stacks up but when I was in my II hey-day, I remember them being a name used a lot for the V6 crowd.
Hey thanks for the resource, Another great one for the favorite tab!
 

jozsefsz

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All kinds of good information and advice here @74stang2togo . A couple of points on the 302 swap that bear mentioning since it's where most people end up. Thorax456's is a '74 so there are some extra complexities involved. https://www.stangnet.com/mustang-forums/threads/74-engine-swap.455948/ This might not be an easy place to start of you're just getting into the hobby.

Motor mounts (including the frame-mount) and exhaust manifolds for the v8 are getting pricey and hard to find.
Clutch parts (if you go with the 4-speed) are next to impossible to find so a T5 is probably a better idea.
The springs I believe are different between the 6 and 8, though I see the same part number for a 302 spring without A/C and a 2.8 with A/C - so that A/C is heavy. :)

As to engine parts for the 2.8, the stock parts are pretty stout so I've never had cause to look for anything fancy. The junkyards are full of these engines (useable) as they were in the Aerostar, Ranger, Bronco II, and Mustang through 1979, and Ford sold a lot more of these than v8 II's. The 2.8's kind of an ugly engine so it doesn't surprise me that dress-up parts are hard to come-by. I've never seen one of these looking pretty like a nice v8 but that's not my interest usually, some folks care.

Just wanted to throw another option out there - a common one for folks with a 2.8 looking for a bolt-in upgrade while keeping most of their existing parts (including transmission, mounts, etc.) The 4.0L v6 is a popular upgrade, at least with the Ranger crowd - the modern 4.0 is a grown-up version of the 2.8 using the same dimensions and bolt patterns for the most part. http://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/4L_Conversion_faqs.htm You'd be adding fuel injection and computer control, which (while not easy) is a nice upgrade. I've thought about it a few times but haven't approached it yet as I'm still happy enough with the 2.8. It does put out ~210hp so it's getting into the 302 H.O. ballpark, with arguably less effort and probably a better fit into a '74 (while weighing about 150lbs. less which isn't insignificant).
 
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jozsefsz

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I love my II, but where do you start trying to make this pretty? Clean up the valve covers and paint 'em maybe. All the accessories look like a mess and there aren't really chrome dress-up parts I've seen. The heads are all kinds of ugly - a huge casting with the exhaust ports sticking out of them. And then all kinds of Nader-junk everywhere offending the eye. I think the best you can do is cover the whole thing with a huge chrome air-cleaner. :)
 

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Thorax456

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All kinds of good information and advice here @74stang2togo . A couple of points on the 302 swap that bear mentioning since it's where most people end up. Thorax456's is a '74 so there are some extra complexities involved. https://www.stangnet.com/mustang-forums/threads/74-engine-swap.455948/ This might not be an easy place to start of you're just getting into the hobby.

Motor mounts (including the frame-mount) and exhaust manifolds for the v8 are getting pricey and hard to find.
Clutch parts (if you go with the 4-speed) are next to impossible to find so a T5 is probably a better idea.
The springs I believe are different between the 6 and 8, though I see the same part number for a 302 spring without A/C and a 2.8 with A/C - so that A/C is heavy. :)

As to engine parts for the 2.8, the stock parts are pretty stout so I've never had cause to look for anything fancy. The junkyards are full of these engines (useable) as they were in the Aerostar, Ranger, Bronco II, and Mustang through 1979, and Ford sold a lot more of these than v8 II's. The 2.8's kind of an ugly engine so it doesn't surprise me that dress-up parts are hard to come-by. I've never seen one of these looking pretty like a nice v8 but that's not my interest usually, some folks care.

Just wanted to throw another option out there - a common one for folks with a 2.8 looking for a bolt-in upgrade while keeping most of their existing parts (including transmission, mounts, etc.) The 4.0L v6 is a popular upgrade, at least with the Ranger crowd - the modern 4.0 is a grown-up version of the 2.8 using the same dimensions and bolt patterns for the most part. http://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/4L_Conversion_faqs.htm You'd be adding fuel injection and computer control, which (while not easy) is a nice upgrade. I've thought about it a few times but haven't approached it yet as I'm still happy enough with the 2.8. It does put out ~210hp so it's getting into the 302 H.O. ballpark, with arguably less effort and probably a better fit into a '74 (while weighing about 150lbs. less which isn't insignificant).
That thread was very useful thank you! But on the motor mount subject what exactly would I be looking for with this? I'd almost rather go new so I could just get them but I really don't know what I'm looking for?
 

jozsefsz

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I've not done it so just repeating what I've read. You'd need a new frame-to-motor mount at least on the driver's side I believe. Though I have heard that with the 6 you can re-drill one of the mounting holes and make it work. These guys here: https://www.ebay.com/i/263441233491?chn=ps

The motor mounts themselves aren't available new, you'd need to acquire a used set (expensive) and rebuild them. Good info in this thread: https://www.stangnet.com/mustang-forums/threads/anyone-try-these-motor-mounts.901813/