I recently purchased a 1949 3600. The truck came from MO. And the previous owner had it since 1964 by the title. I know nothing about it and from all the negative things I hear about the 216 am paranoid about this engine. I purchased the truck mainly because it did run. I can repair most anything and have been since a teen. I have read many articles and have done research on this " Cast Iron Wonder". My main concern is the rods. The engine runs great. The truck was stock when i received it. sm420 transmission and 4.56 ho52 rear. After repairing brakes and repacking all the wheel bearings and changing all the fluids. I drained engine oil and ran it for a few minutes with 2 quarts atf and 15w40 oil then drained. removed valve cover and engine looked good. Flushed out top of engine while drain plug was out. Adjusted valves. reassembled. Filled with new 15w40 (because I have in bulk in my Truck shop). The engine is quiet. (other than slight valve tick which i hear is normal). No smoke and good power. I drove about 10 miles and transmission would lock in low gear. I removed transmission and swapped with t5 from s-10 .72 overdrive. Now i can drive it and it doesn't sound like it is turning an extreme amount of rpms. I notice at around 60 mphs it runs out of steam. Is this normal for this engine? I realize this is a low hp engine and may be expecting too much. I also know many people say pull it out and repower. But there is something about a truck that is 73 years old and still runs good. The engine at one time was painted blue so I assume it has been worked on. The serial number on block shows to be original. Rear seal is leaking some and so is front. I will eventually pull the pan and inspect. I know the timing advance is dry rotten. So may go to hei. Oil pressure pegs gauge when cold and runs around 17 psi when hot going down road. About 10 at idle. So the question is What to expect from 216? I am good if all i can drive is 55 mph if I know it is going to kill the engine. But would love to run at least 70 . According to all my calculations it should work. But I have no experience with these small engines.
Grease Monkey, Moderator General Truck Talk & Greasy Spoon and HiPo Forum
You’re expecting too much from a tractor engine. Dial back your expectations and drive. Resist the temptation to go HEI without doing some research here first. Enjoy the ticking engine by finding the sweet spot, sit back, relax and go!
Martin '62 Chevy C-10 Stepside Shortbed (Restomod in progress) '47 Chevy 3100 5 Window (long term project) ‘65 Chevy Biscayne 4dr 230 I-6 one owner (I’m #2) “Emily” ‘39 Dodge Businessmans Coupe “Clarence”
"I fought the law and the law won" now I are a retired one! Support those brave men/women who stand the "Thin Blue Line"! Hug a cop! USAF 1965-1969 Weather Observation Tech (I got paid to look at the clouds)
I drove my 1950 216 for work yesterday. The engine is unrestored and the transmission is still three on the tree. It ticks over like a sewing machine.
I put over 100 miles on it making my service calls and stayed at 50-55 on the freeway. That's what you can expect from truck built 72 years ago when they didn't have interstate highways.
If you want to drive 70, don't drive a truck made in the 1940s.
Last edited by Otto Skorzeny; Fri Sep 30 2022 01:15 PM.
1939 Packard Standard Eight Coupe (The Phantom) 1950 Chevrolet 3100 (Ol' Roy) 1956 Cadillac Coupe de Ville (The Bismarck) 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado (The Purple Knif) 1966 Ford Mustang (Little Red) 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 coupe 1979 Ford F-100 1976 Ford F-150 (Big Red) 1995 Ford F-150 (Newt)
Remember that we won a world war with vehicles running Babbit-rod engines. As long as the connecting rods have the right oil clearance, they will last a long time. The clearance can also be adjusted, something that's impossible with an insert bearing engine. The T-5 was probably a huge mistake, since the only time you're likely to be able to use 5th. gear will be on roads as flat as a pool table. The engine needs to be wound up into its useful torque range to perform properly, and most stovebolters get a case of the vapors if they can hear normal engine sounds. Take the fan off and run the truck a few miles, and I believe you'll be able to figure out where most of the noise from under the hood is coming from.
Before you try to keep up with highway traffic be sure the steering, brakes, and lights are in 100% condition. The engine won't have much of a problem making speeds of 60-65 MPH or so, and driving faster than that probably isn't a good idea without major upgrades to the steering, suspension, and brake systems. Have fun! Jerry
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Thank you for your replies. I think I will install a tach to see exact rpm I am turning. 3000 rpm should be safe. I have new brakes all the way around and have installed bendix style lincoln brakes on rear. Stopping isnt an issue. I live on eastern coast of NC so mostly flat land here. If I drop one gear I am back to same gears as old transmission. Finding different ratio for rear is close to impossible. So I went with the T-5. Plus it was cheap.
It is my opinion that the T-5 is exactly what you need to get as much performance out of your 216. What is your tire height? 30.5 inch tires should help dial in that 216/T-5/4.56 gears.\combination. Don't be in a hurry to shift it into overdrive. .72 overdrive creates quite a significant drop in RPM, leading to sluggishness if you shift into 5th gear too soon.
I have to disagree with Jerry about the T5 only able use 5th on “pool table flat” roads, I can only use my T5 5th gear on downhills…..steep downhills, and at that point the speed is beyond my comfort zone…. My truck came with the T5, so I never had the original in this 46 (had them in my younger days on AD trucks though) I have to say the T5 is a sweet gearbox, it’s relatively quiet, and with a Hurst Blackjack short shift kit the rowing it is pretty easy, ratios are nicely spaced, I just dont use 5th…. Chuck
You won't find a stronger 216 proponent than me; still running factory original engine, probably has 175K on it from my estimation, at least 50k of those by yours truly. I rebuilt it once plus highly probable it was rebuilt once prior to 1982 when I got it.
Ive run 25-30K with 3.55 rear end and 30 inch tires. But what I've noticed, and this may not be true for everybody, but my perception once it gets to around 60 in that configuration the low horsepower of the 216 starts to show its true colors on hills, headwinds, etc. It just doesn't seem to have the umph to really do anything extra at that speed, and it's much harder to maintain those speeds than with 4.11 gears at 45-55 mph. It's not a big truck, but definitely suffers some aerodynamic drag, and wind resistance increases proportionally, so 5-10 mph means alot with a low powered engine.
I've changed it back to the 4.11 and even run 15 inch rims with smaller tires nowadays. It's the perfect combo for around town and leisurely backroad stuff, but I do have the complete torque tube with 3.55 and big tires/16inch rims to put back on if there's a reason it really really needs to go anywhere hundreds of miles away.
Last rebuild was 38k miles ago, and the only thing it's needed outside of routine maintenance is adjusting rods/main bearings, easily accomplished by removing shims and checking with a piece of plastigage. Actually, you should consider bearing adjustment routine maintenance with these engines, about every 35-40K miles you'll notice oil pressure on the gauge is much lower when warm than it once was; adjustment boosts it right back up.
(worth noting, they aren't routine scheduled maintenance, but I've changed vacuum advance a couple times, as well as fuel pump, several carb rebuilds, that's about all that comes to mind right now)