About

This website contains all the major DIY fixes and modifications to my 1980’s IDI Diesel vans.  The internet has a lot of information for IDI trucks, but not a lot of info for the Vans, Clubwagons, Econolines, RV’s, and other non-truck using the 7.3 and 6.9 IDI engine.  We hope the documentation here will aide you in restoring your diesel vans.  Also, a lot of the engine information posted here is good for all IDI owners, not just the van guys.

For information on a specific topic, please leave comments in the comments sections of particular posts.  Do not email us directly.

If you comment something particularly interesting, I may use your text in a future article.  By commenting, you agree to the republishing of your comments.

 

DISCLAIMER:  This website is for informational use only.  We are not responsible for any damage you do to yourself, your vehicle, your property, or to others and their property.  Have your vehicle maintained by a professional.

 

Copyright 2000-2018 Nick Pisca.  If reblogging any information from this website, you are required to cite and link the sources.

10 Comments

Ameen

Hi Nick,
Sorry to send a message via your site but Ford-Trucks makes it hard to send direct messages without cluttering someones public convo messages. I am in the process of diagnosing a tick/tap sound and also needing to replace a valve cover gasket driver side. Ran into an issue with the hose that runs by there. Wondering if could tell me what that hose is for? Needing to remove it to get the cover all the way off. Here is a link to the post: https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1510055-e250-valve-cover-removal.html

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genscripter

ahhhhhhh, memories.

That is a PITA to remove the driver’s side cover, but it’s not impossible.

First off, that is your Air Conditioning line. If you removed your AC system, then you could probably just remove that AC line if you want. But if you have AC, then I would highly recommend that you do not disconnect the line because it’s an even bigger PITA to reseal these old systems. Best to leave them as is.

But to remove the valve cover on an IDI van, you do not need to remove that line. Instead, here is the procedure.

1. Undo the valve cover bolts.
1a. (not specific to most IDI vans, but I notice this in your particular van due to an improperly installed diesel injector cap) Remove the diesel return line at the front of the valve cover.
2. From the inside of the van, reach your left arm through the doghouse and use the back of your hand to push the AC line toward the front of the van.
3. While still pushing the AC line with the back of your left hand, grab the front of the VC with your left hand, and then use your right hand to lift the back of the valve cover off.

Since your left arm is moving the AC line out of the way, you should be able to finagle the valve cover off with your right arm. It will not just come off and it will take some time to find a way to curve it around the components on top of the heads. I think i curved it up clockwise toward the intake manifold, iirc.

Since the AC line is somewhat flexible, you should be able to accomplish this. But it is not very flexible, so it takes a decent amount of strength with the back of your left hand to push it forward. Also, you will have maybe 5/8″ clearance from the rocker arms to the doghouse wall, so it will be exceptionally difficult to reinstall the new valve cover gasket. The best way is to use some permatex to hold the gasket in place to the underside of the valve cover, then reinstall using the same arm location technique as described above, but in reverse. Push the AC line forward with the back of your left hand and hold the front of the VC with that same hand, also supporting the back of the VC with your right hand. There is no delicate way to accomplish this, so be sure to have a spare gasket if you F one up trying to weasel it on the head.

Most of all, good luck.

Other issues I noticed in your setup is the use of FRAM diesel filter. You might want to upgrade to a filter setup on the rail, like the R&D Stage 1 deal. Much better filtration without restriction. Also, you should re-orient your injector cap to the correct direction.

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jakob

rev counter install

Hi I´ve seen that you have a rev counter installed on your steering Collum. I have a later 1993 Quigley with a 7.3 N/A, so also with no RPM meter in the cluster.
How did you hock it up?

BTW very interesting website, I have been to some similar issues already … 😉

Reply
genscripter

I bought one of those Auto Meter 2888 Performance Tachometers which has a probe that you clamp to the alternator. It’s really easy to install, but the problem is, you have to calibrate it against a timing gun. If you don’t have an IDI ferret meter and timing gun (see my video on how to time the engine), then it’ll be hard to setup this type of alternator-based sending tach. Thanks for the kind words about my site.

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Casey Cason

I ran across your site last week after being volunteered for a 7.3 idi. Rebuild for my father in law, by my wife 😀 I have to say this has been an excellent read and amazing help. Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate what you have done here . Keep up the good work my friend the site is now in my favorites and will be my go to for idi info!!

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genscripter

Thanks for the kind words. I figure I should post all this stuff I stumble upon when I wrench on these beasts.

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Ian

Good afternoon!

i was wondering if you could give a pity case some attention. My lift pump just went out on my 87 f250 6.9 IDI. it was on the highway and slowly stalled and a knock/tick started to occur. i towed her home and replaced the lift pump and she started right up. but she still had that knock. i let her warm up for 20 minutes but it didnt fade i figured there was a bit of air in the system maybe i would just take her around the block but as i pulled out of the drive i felt uncomfortable because of the increasing noise. I have a video i attached and maybe you can offer some assistance. I am part of the oil burners fourm and i haven’t had match help from that group i know its something simple and im not quite sure i wont to start trial and error yet because that can make matters worse and be expensive.

current thoughts are:
air in the system
IP timing got advanced?
one injector clogged or some how failed otherwise its not stuck open because she still runs fine and no smoke.

afew others that are hard for me to believe because she basically just ran out of fuel include

rocker arms and valves.

to this point i haven’t had to do much work on the fuel system or heads on this truck or my 6.9 IDI in the RV so im a bit confused on how this occurred from a lift pump malfunction. i have a video i can send if you can contanct me @ ianmckenzierebmann@gmail.com

Reply
genscripter

Whenever I accidentally ran my IP dry, it led to some odd behavior. Maybe your knocking sound is from the injectors, maybe IP, maybe a variety of things. I didn’t get a chance to see your video. Can you put it on youtube and link to this thread?

If I were you, I’d fill my fuel filter with ATF, run it so the IP and injectors get a good infiltration of ATF, and then let it sit overnight. That might free up whatever is ticking if it’s in the IP or injectors, which is probably likely since you changed the lift pump.

Another option could be that you just have an accessory or part that is loose in the engine bay, that you took apart when you were workign on the lift pump. Now, when the engine vibrates, that accessory is ticking on the engine, thus creating the sound. IDK. Just a suggestion. Use a 4-foot long heater hose, with one end in your ear, and the other end carefully moving around the engine bay to narrow the location. CAREFUL! DO NOT PUT THE HOSE NEAR THE ROTATING FAN.

If ATF or heater hose search doesn’t work, then idle the engine, and undo the top of the injector line a few threads (on at a time), and see if the sound disappears. That could help you narrow if it’s an injector.

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Tanner

First of all, awesome site! Creating something like it takes alot of time and dedication, so. I commend you.
If you don’t mind answering a quick question of mine, it would be much appreciated, as you know information on vans isn’t easy to find.
I’m in the process of a buying a really nice shape 88 E-250 Camper Van with low oil pressure 5.8 liter, and figured that it would be a perfect opportunity to put in and IDI. From what I’ve read a non turbo version can be installed with few modifications. However, I found a 1994 7.3 IDI turbo truck engine for cheap and thought maybe I could modify it to fit. I just wanted your opinion on if this is at all feasible?
Cheers

Reply
genscripter

Thanks for the kind words.

People have done the gasser-to-IDI swap in trucks, and it’s not that bad, if you know what you are getting into. As far as I know, I don’t personally know anyone that did it in a van, but I’ve seen threads on the net. I never really trust those because most do not follow up with their mistakes or tribulations, but I assume it’s possible.

You can use that truck engine on your van, but you’ll have some accessory changes, which are detailed in this article: http://www.nickpisca.com/diesel/turbo/differences-between-the-idi-van-and-idi-truck-engines/ You will need to search Ebay or CL for the van oil cooler headers, van diesel filter head, EM’s, etc. But that block, heads, intake, waterpump, GP controller, VC’s, etc will swap from the truck to van ok. You WON’T be able to use that turbo, unless you are a welding virtuoso and can make your own turbo pedestal, up- and down-pipes, and air cleaner setup. So, if you want to revert that turbo engine back to non-turbo, then search Ebay for a van air cleaner box, original CDR setup, and probably a GP controller relocation strategy.

For the gasser-to-van swap, you’ll need to find the entire IDI wiring harness. You will need the Ford Diesel van WTS light assembly. Also, you’ll need to upgrade the suspension to the largest coils and struts you can find (i recently upgraded to the MOOG CC860S Variable Rate coils because my stock coils could barely support my IDI), because the weight of a 5.8L is nothing compared to a fully dressed and wet IDI. It’ll bottom out the springs like nothing.

I have videos and pics of all my engine swaps, so please feel free to read up. It will be like giving birth to a watermelon. Be prepared.
http://www.nickpisca.com/diesel/engine/time-lapse-video-and-audio-commentary-of-6-9-to-7-3-idi-engine-swap-in-a-van/
http://www.nickpisca.com/diesel/engine/pulling-a-6-9-or-7-3-idi-engine-from-a-1988-ford-e250-econoline-van/
http://www.nickpisca.com/diesel/turbo/7-3-to-6-9-swap-in-a-e250-clubwagon-van-with-photos/
http://www.nickpisca.com/diesel/turbo/pulling-a-6-9-idi-engine-from-a-1984-e350-econoline-van/

Also, you’ll need to ditch the gasser exhaust system in favor of something wider diameter and ideall, with a straight-thru exhaust muffler. You want the EGT’s to be as low as possible, so clogged up exhaust will hold on to heat. Also, I’m pretty sure most of the gasser accessories won’t work in the IDI setup, and if the truck engine is coming with accessories, they won’t work in the tight space of the van engine bay. I know that IDI truck vac pump is longer than the IDI van, and the truck accessories on the ’94 are usually a serpentine belt, whereas the ’88’s had v-belts. That means your pulley system would be totally different too, so start looking on Ebay for IDI van steering pump brackets, AC compressor brackets, vac pump brackets, and alternator brackets. I would recommend upgrading to an e-pump so you can ditch the mechanical lift pump, which would allow you to design your own fuel supply instead of trying to find the rare IDI diesel fuel lines that run from the diesel selector valve up on the frame and crossmember to the passenger-side of the engine block. Also, I’m not sure if you can use the gasser fuel tanks for diesel. Maybe there is a cleaning process, and you’d have to definitely remove the gasser fuel pump out of the fuel pickup (not that hard of job if you use my sender conversion article as a guide.)

Overall, it wouldn’t be the toughest job, but certainly not the easiest either. It wouldn’t be anything that could be completely prohibitive (except maybe registering it with your local DMV authority and getting it insured), but with enough time and money, anything is possible. I’d usually say, “buy a van with an IDI from the start,” but I know that Camper Vans are not that ubiquitous, so this might be one of the few exceptions to my axiom.

I’ll be coming through Alberta soon in July on my way up to Tuktoyaktuk. Where are you based? If you are near Edmonton or north of there, maybe we can meet up.

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