Operation IDIocracy: Rigid Birthing a 460 Big Block and C6 Transmission

Removing engines from van chassis have been a source of consternation the world over for half a century if not longer. As I explained in the Snekvan extraction post, special attachments are made by the OEM or conjured by the amateur to facilitate this process, often requiring removing the everything beforehand and a series of Old Hong Kong Airport maneuvers with a dangling engine block.

This is what I think makes this engine pull so funny – I’m sure somebody has done it this way before, but I’m going to document it all for posterity to reflect on how dumb it all was. In the last episode, I got to stripping everything off the engine and detaching the engine and transmission mounts.

I created a set of lifting points at the very back of the intake manifold using two 3/8″ eye bolts. The idea is to grab the engine and transmission at this line using a chain. The barycenter of the assembly is still in front of this line, so it will tend to tilt forward as I lift.

The plan was to use a 3rd point of contact at the front of the engine to control the rotation and let me twist it out of the frame and out the hole. For this operation, I was going to use a ratchet strap as said third point of contact.

Let’s do the pull! Here’s the chain looped into the eye bolts and seated in the loving embrace of Econospoon.

A few pumps of the crane cylinder and we are officially off the ground.

I applied the “Attitude Control Ratchet Strap” to the water pump shaft. Sorry, sensitive rotating component I don’t care about any more. You are now a load-carrying member.

After lifting the engine clear of the mounting studs, I pulled it forward out of the cross-member until the oil pan was against the front U-shaped body stamping. Then I had to lift upwards to clear the oil pan over this stamping.

The transmission tail cone will hit the cabin at the back of the doghouse cover area at this point. If I didn’t have the Gear Vendors extension housing, it would have cleared (barely), I think.

This is where the Attitude Control Ratchet Strap comes in handy. By tightening it, I raise the front of the engine and subsequently drop the transmission end enough to keep gently pulling out and upwards.

The last upward raise and pull will clear the engine mounts over the body.

With that pull, we are officially in the clear.

And here it is, roughly 1000 or so pounds on the very end of the crane. Notice my car battery ballast holding the ass down to prevent another oopsie.

The engine decided to puke some leftover coolant from the block drain as it was being tilted, so I washed that off the floor… that’s why it’s in a puddle with the garden hose still blasting away.

The next step is to set the assembly down on a 1,000 pound Harbor Freight moving cart and snap it in half immediately because Harbor Freight, in its wisdom, eliminated the spanning metal tube connecting the long sides of this moving cart.

The only 1,000 pounds it’s ever carrying is a statically placed slab of steel, uniformly distributing the load over the ribbed plastic molding. Don’t even look at it funny.

(Note: As of the Present Day, the version they sell of this moving cart now has a full rectangle of steel tubing)

I was up to my ventricles in van debris at this point, with the IDIot in the foreground and the fresh smoker’s lung in the background. This was enough of an undertaking that I decided to take a break and get rid of some of this stuff first.

I posted the whole package for sale. The engine and transmission, all of the hosiery and fittings, all of the accessory drives. I wanted someone to just make it disappear instead of me dealing with a conga line of tire kickers and ghosters, and would gladly lose money doing so.

Seriously, selling on Facebook Marketplace is a great look at how bad Americans have become at being noncommittal and waffling. It’s like some people get off to the mere thought of almost buying something but then closing the window before they consummate the act. The fantasy of spending money on a whimsy. Whatever the case, I’m sure it isn’t a good health measure of our society.

But I lucked out! Someone actually did want the ENTIRE PACKAGE. A couple of guys from the south side of town resto-modding an 1970s F-100 were quite excited at the prospect of putting the big-block 460 into it, along with everything else it worked with. They didn’t even bicker at my price – which, as I mentioned, is basically buying a FITech head unit and a Gear Vendors overdrive. Probably could have gotten more, I suppose, but I have other things I want to do besides sell car parts.

Honestly, those guys basically funded the rest of Operation IDIocracy. And I hope to see that F-100 at a show some day soon!

There’s no turning back now. The already white elephant was now missing legs too…