F350 Cool Down and Stop It
We’ve rounded third and are headed for home on Project OBSessed. It’s been a year in the making but this 1996 F350 has been transformed into quite the nostalgic diesel hot rod. Stump pulling torque, all-new suspension and a host of chassis upgrades to keep it driving nicely. We turned your run of the mill 200,000 mile Ford Power Stroke into quite the head turner. We tried not to stray from the original 90’s OBS Ford F350 look but changed virtually everything you don’t see in order to hang with the newer diesel trucks normally seen passing an old rig like this. As the project comes to an end, we still have a couple things left to really dial in towing capabilities, both of which result in better cooling under load.
Since this truck was built to tow in the summer, obviously keeping engine coolant temperatures under control is key. While the F350 factory radiators worked okay at stock power levels, at the new 400hp towing tune, there was some room for improvement. The Mishimoto all-aluminum radiator offers many advantages over the stock piece, the main ones being cooling efficiency and longevity. The Mishimoto unit is a direct fit piece for the 1994-1997 7.3L applications and uses a 2.28” thick, two-row, aluminum brazed core to better dissipate heat and maintain optimum fluid temperature within your cooling system. The slightly larger core also increases fluid capacity which again helps keep temperatures more consistent under load. When paired with one of Mishimoto’s new thermostats and their silicone boot kits, it makes for a great upgrade over stock. The new core design with welded metal end-tanks offers better durability over the factory radiators plastic end tanks, as you’re much less likely for a sealed joint to fail and leak. It’s also worth noting that Mishimoto offers a lifetime warranty on all their products.
On this older F350 Power Stroke, swapping out radiators is pretty straight forward and won’t take much time at all. Obviously, the cooling system needs to be drained, which is made easy with a factory drain spout in the stock radiator. Once drained, there are just a few bolts and the radiator hoses that need removed. This is also the perfect time to replace the thermostat with new, and possibly even the water pump if you know it’s been a while. However, swapping the water pump does at some labor to the job as the fan clutch would need removed to access the water pump, whereas with just a radiator swap the fan can stay on the engine. Mishimoto offers a couple thermostat options depending on your application, their low temp pieces will open sooner, helping keep coolant temps down in hots climates, while cold weather climates may opt for their high temp units. Their high-temp unit can help with cabin heat, as it would allow you to run closer to 203-degrees before opening.
With cooling under acceleration and load taken care of, we need to turn attention to cooling under load on deceleration. Brakes. It’s one thing to have enough power to get a load over the hill, it’s a whole other thing to have enough brakes to stop it. To say that braking technology has advanced in the last twenty five years since this truck was produced is a bit of an understatement, so upgrading that factory setup with newer brakes is a no brainer. The rear axle on this F350 truck still uses the old drum brakes, but they’d already been recently serviced with all new parts, including a recent adjustment, and while there are rear disc brake conversions on the market, these seem to be working quite well for now. The front brakes however needed some major help for sure. The stock rotors had a little shimmy to them when you’d get aggressive with the pedal and you could see minor cracks developing all the way around. It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t install new rotors and use old pads, so this was the perfect time to replace it all with something better.
EBC Brakes has been a leader in braking technology for years and their light duty truck kits have worked incredibly well on some of our previous project builds. For this 1996 F350, their daily driver and towing package offered drilled and slotted rotors along with their Yellow stuff pads for great pedal feel and stopping power under heavy load situations. The dimpled and slotted rotors help dissipate braking heat, so the rotor won’t warp and fail under the abuse of heavy towing and paired with their pads, you should expect thousands of trouble free miles and consistent braking performance. The Yellow Stuff pads also offer their best technology for quite and dust free performance, so you won’t have to worry about constantly cleaning wheels off from brake pad dust. On this older one-on truck, the rotor and pad swap isn’t as easy as the new trucks are, as it requires removal of the entire hub assembly to remove the rotor from the axle. This obviously also makes for a great time to replace your wheel bearings and repack everything with new grease to make sure that front axle stays happy for a lot of miles to come.
Unfortunately, at this point of the build, while there are still a few things that could use some love on the old truck, we’re coming to the end of the build for Diesel World Magazine and it’ll soon be time to start on a new project. This one will need some attention paid to the transmission and the factory driveline could use a new carrier and u-joints just for safe measure. The F350 Project OBSessed has been a major success and receives looks and comments just about everywhere we take it. When we started out with this truck, the idea was to build something readers can relate to and the OBS Ford is exactly that. Anyone that has been around diesel trucks in their life have some kind of memory of this Ford truck. You’re dad had one, you’re neighbor, maybe you once had one for yourself, regardless of how the connection is made, it’s hard to find anyone that uses a truck for a truck that can’t say something good about the OBS Ford F350.