1997 MM 5.0 TC & WP refresh & ignition coil-near-plug conversion-98-08 4R70W solenoids arrived/exhaust work- | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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1997 MM 5.0 TC & WP refresh & ignition coil-near-plug conversion-98-08 4R70W solenoids arrived/exhaust work-


Elite Explorer
February 6, 2016
Reaction score
City, State
No. Alabama USA
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 Blue Ex 4.0 SOHC
KAGG 3611 (CB)
Recently, 2 years ago anyway, The MM broke down on me. I will not go into the details here but I'm sure many of you remember. You can read this thread if you need any more back story. '97 MM 5.0 FAILURE
There are several reasons that I am going to get it going again however the 2 main ones are I don't like seeing my 5.0 powered truck sitting and I want to be driving my favorite Explorer Mountaineer again. It's the one with the heavy-duty hitch on the back and the power to pull my old heavy steel car trailer.
I will be focusing on mainly the mechanicals from front to back and any wiring issues beyond the original SLL4 PCM and accompanying wiring harness.
Late last week and Sunday I started working on the engine and I'm this far so far.

I will be ordering parts today. Monday at work the I-net wasn't working. I'm ordering timing chain and gears, Fel-Pro timing & water pump gaskets, water pump, AC bypass idler pulley and a new alternator to replace the new one pulled from this to fix the '97 V-6 truck. Also I picked up a new battery. During teardown I discovered that lower idler pulley is just a few squeaks from going out. Everything else looks pretty good. I noticed that another forum user put masking tape on his info sticker on the radiator support which I assumed was to protect it during all of the work being done to it. I'll use low tack blue painters tape to avoid a masking tape nightmare. Also field mice have made a dining room under the upper plenum and a sun deck on top. I guess that is why I found a snake skin under the hood. Something else is dining there too. Popular place.
ADDED some time later. I removed the painters tape before it got old and became a removal nightmare. I have not replaced it.

I need a little more space for what I want to do and after I get a little more info about the internal EGR I want to install a one inch spacer to make room for LS style coils. 4 per side mounted on the top of the valve covers. I haven't found a good write up about doing this to this particular engine or other 5.0s for that matter so I'm not actually sure exactly what parts I will need. I do know that the big part/s that I need is the Holley Terminator X Max and accessories. Any suggestions or recommendations much appreciated. I also see where the '96-'97 header type of exhaust could interfere with the plug wires a little bit, so I am considering 1998 exhaust manifolds or some other type of Ford log style manifolds for now. Some of you may ask yourself "Why is he spending all of this money on a beat up 25 yo Mountaineer?" Well some of you are familiar with my 1954 F100 onto a 1999 Ranger short bed project.1954 F100 on a 1999 Ranger short bed project. Ultimately this entire powertrain will end up in the truck. Several years from now, when the 5.0 comes out of the Mountaineer it will get entirely rebuilt and maybe even turned into a 347 before it goes into the 1954F100/ranger. Edited 7-07-24: The 5.0 will be staying in the Mountaineer and a different 5.0 will used in the '54 project. At that point new headers will be used. For now just freshening up the 5.0 to hopefully get the last 50K out of it. Added 5-19-22: 347 stroker is economically unfeasible. My truck will be for cruising and NOT bracket racing so a 347 is not necessary.
I have the cash to put into the Holley system and coils and such for now. Also I will be installing my old ZOOMBAK device from an old project or something similar to help protect the Holley stuff. I may can put it on the F100 Hagerty policy too.
Added: Holley parts shopping list
Holley Terminator X Max kit for Ford with transmission control for 92-97 4R70W I'm no longer going to use the Holley system
Holley EFI Coil-Near-Plug Smart Coil Kit

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That engine is the GT40 version now and has the early 96/97 exhaust manifolds. Those kind will fit the best with the heads that have normal plug angles. The P manifolds would be too tight for the plugs I'd say for sure.

You have an oil cooler on that too, the early ones got that and the aluminum oil pan. I don't know whether the oil coolers are a problem, but some report them to leak internally. I don't think anyone knows for sure how reliable those are, it might be that all of the leaking issues have been reported on forums, so the ratio of bad to good may be insignificant. The forums explode with any bad vehicle issues. I have three of those coolers, two on my 98 Explorers, and one spare I got with low mileage parts from about 1998. Unless I read of more accurate data about the coolers failing, I will use the one I have for sure, on my final 337 blown Explorer. That's a tough call, but if you keep it, be sure to replace the short radiator hose at the same time the water pump is off(it has to be on the WP when it's installed).

I wish you well with the Holley EFI, I'm on the fence myself about which system to use for my best project.

@CDW6212R Thanks for info on the manifolds. I was at the junkyard today and under the hood of a '98 explorer 5.0 I could see the plug angle and the manifolds. I wonder why FoMoCo did that and did it make the P heads that much better than the GT 40s?
My main two reasons for the 87-93 Mustang aluminum valve covers are to dress the 5.0 up a bit and be able to heliarc little 3/8" diameter bosses to them and have a place to attach individual coils.
I'm wondering if I should expect to see a pcv filter screen down in a hole on the back of the intake like the old Mustang 5.0s?
Also how does the internal egr function and is it going to bea problem adding a 1" spacer to the upper and lower intake?
@Josh P Thanks for the link to the spacer. I assume that the 6 bolts that come with it are an inch longer? I read MountaineerGreen's phenolic spacer install Click Here and way back then it sounded like the spacer did not come with bolts. Too bad all of his pictures are gone but I read the text and understand it.
The Internet is still down at work so parts are going to have to be ordered from brother's home.
I was looking at pictures from working on the Mountaineer before we went to Florida

camsync01.jpg camsync02.jpg camsync7.JPG I see from the date on the pictures that it wasn't too long ago. 10,000 miles ago.

Screw the bypass pulley, mine caused the belt to fray.

Get a Duralast 865K6 belt which works perfectly on a 5.0 without going around the ac compressor.

@MAS Tequila I forgot that we use to put the shorter belts on the old Fox body Mustangs. I guess that it was the AC we were bypassing unless it was the power steering pump because we were going to manual rack & pinion. Thanks for the tip.
@Josh P What's the budget I think that you asked. I think it's over the original budget now that I have been adding up all of the Holley TMX stuff to do this. First I may need to spend the budget on an extra car or two of mine to fix and re-sale to fund this project. The Holley "guesstimate" keeps going up. It is now over $xxxx-.

added: 1992 cadillac seville 4.9 belt ra continental 865K6MK

The P heads are identical except for the plug angle and a very slightly smaller chamber. So the ports are identical and the compression is a hair(maybe 0.2:1 higher), the plug wires are the main noteworthy change. Many have burned up nice wires due to the close space there.

The 302's all have the PCV screen under that grommet. Definitely replace the grommet, the PCV is loose in the old one, and the screen is easy to clean with carb cleaner etc.

Other people have welded coil mounts to VC's, those HO covers too. I hadn't decided if that was the only good place to locate them, on Mustangs they often put them on the firewall.

@CDW6212R I'm hoping with the 1 inch spacer and not having coil brackets like the Vortex that I looked at yesterday at the JY that the coils have plenty of clearance and would almost touch the valve covers. Aluminum would help a bit at dissipating heat. I can experiment with clearance while the upper plenum is removed. I'm stuck on the valve cover location for the coils. I think I am going to make a Lexan cover to bolt to the exposed lower half while it is apart.
I think that I might need the 2 wire camshaft sensor to use with the Holley set-up.
Will I create an EGR issue with the one inch intake spacer?
Y'all forgive me for saying a bad word, Vortex...

Do you need the EGR if you are going with the Holley efi?

No trouble, if you need the two wire sensor for the Holley EFI, get that. The wiring is not complicated there to change those wires and connector. You can buy the connectors new with a short bit of wires on them.

The EGR goes through the intake/heads, to the elbow. You just have to use the early intakes and have the hole in the spacer between the front and back ports.

@Josh P I may not. I wonder what Don thinks about that. We've been talking back and forth about 2 vs 3 wire cam shaft sensor for the Holley. I need to search more and find someone who has done what I want to do. there has to be several who have.
Now I keep getting pop-up Holley ads. They know...

The EGR is a good thing unless it malfunctions, then it's about fixing that rare happening. It doesn't cost any power, only functioning at low throttle. people claim it saves gas while cruising, but it's so small that you can't measure that either. So if it's not hard to keep it, I would.

Check with Holley to find out which cam sensor type you need, they should be very familiar with the Explorer system, it's the factory benchmark people have been using in all Ford conversations about DIS ignition.

I think I'm at the point of more research and needing to talk to a Holley Tech too. I'm seeing that this must haven't been done here on Explorer Forum.
I'm going to order the front of the engine stuff that I need to freshen up and get that part back together while I'm researching. At least that way I can get some oil moving through this again. It's been since last summer since oil has moved through this engine.
Thanks for your help y'all.

Can you do the WP and/or the timing chain also with the front stuff? That's the big items which will slow you down as you work to get it going well again. The WP bolts are hell in some old examples. I had leaks in my last 98 from prior idiots not sealing the timing cover properly. The WP was newish but off brand, and a couple of bolts had been changed. The timing chain should be changed if the mileage gets to 150k, and the WP bolts are time bombs getting worse with age. I used a lot of anti-seize on the bolts, all original except for about three I replaced. They don't go into water jackets, that's wrong, but the threads and the shanks all corrode with the aluminum, so coat all of that evenly.

Don, I read what you said about the damper bolts and attempted to reply but I'm temporarily unable to start a new discussion for 24 hours. I will make sure that I ask the Holley TXM Specialist about the 2 or 3 wire Cam Position Sensor. Also I will about the analog vs Digital shifter position sensor etc. It seems that the early is 8 pin and the later model is 12 pin. I see that we have another 4R70W specialist here. maybe after I find a 1998 and up transmission, I could ship it to him to build if shipping both ways wouldn't be outrageous. I think that may be all of the questions related to the specific Holley system.
There are a couple of Ford specific questions.
1st question: I have the 2 line fuel delivery and return line configuration. I assume that it stays intact and does what it is suppose to do.
2nd question: A vacuum line is open where I took the vaper control parts from, the ones from under the battery, I took them off to use on the V-6 truck. I assume that they wouldn't function with the Holley system anyway. Can I simply hook this line to the vapor line attached to the fuel rail and runs back to the tank. I would assume that as long as my gas cap doesn't leak or breath then I won't have a vacuum leak.
Tomorrow I am going to order the 1" spacer and also the front engine inner and outer parts.
I like @MAS Tequila suggestion about the 865K6 belt to bypass the AC compressor. I'm not finding one locally. I'll call the Zone tomorrow.

Also ask about the EGR with Holley, that is run with the PCM, and the early internal type has slightly different EGR parts and connectors.

The trans DTRS you can alter the wiring as needed to match what's in the trans/harness. So you use the DTRS required by the computer version(98 and up), and make the wiring match it etc.

You can maintain your return fuel system unless Holley requires a change. That vacuum line you mention is for the charcoal canisters in the rear. You need that to work if possible, you can tell it's not when you smell gas in hot weather after parking. The solenoids up front are almost all the same, the different engines have different hoses that go up to the engine/intake. You should be able to make that work I think, again ask Holley about that.

I tried to reply back to you this a.m. about the water pump and timing cover bolts. I didn't have any trouble at all with any of them. not the dreaded 7o'clock one or any adjacent to the water pump port holes. Someone had been into the timing cover in recent years. You can see blue Felpro timing cover gaskets sticking out from behind the cover.

Earlier in the week I saw the heat exchanger oil filter adapter and wasn't too crazy about that. I would prefer to have a simple angled filter adapter of some type and one that doesn't use a metric thread filter. This engine needs an FL1A like the original 289s used. The undersized filter is asking for trouble and the heat exchanger thing is too. I have searched and searched and I thought that I would find one in the hotrod or racing branch of the industry. At this point, a remote access set-up would be ok. Just as long as an FL1A or PH8A filter will fit. I prefer FL1A but they are hard to get at our local Wal-Mart. Sometimes just have to settle for what's available. So many people are moving to the area in such a short time that the stores can't get there inventory levels leveled out. Or is it covid-19 that is the problem? By the way, our Wal-mart Automotive has been closed since 1-22-2022 because just about every Tire Tech has some version of the virus and this is the 3rd of February. 13 days?
I'm just a short time away from talking to Jamie and his associates about the Holley Terminator X systems now that most of the other details are ironed out. I say short time, that could be 5 or 6 weeks from now with dealing with the winter weather surging back in the going on through only to come back again. And the '92 V-6 4dr is on the 4 post with 4 torque converter nuts and 3 more bell housing bolts to remove. Hopefully it will be an easy fix. I may have broken a band with only 18K on it. I'm not a Transmission Man by trade but I can build C-4s and C-5s, Early A4LDs and the old ancient 4 speed Top-loaders.
I'll be back soon. Everyone stay safe and well.

Oil Adapters
I removed the original heat exchanger off of the '97 MM today and also was looking at a straight out type of remote filter and block adapter. You can clearly see that it won't work because of the frame rail. The Canton block adapter is real nice and later when I rebuild I will use it and an AN fitting oil cooler. In the meantime here is a complete kit that I can use.
Remote oil filter kit Picture below of the two adapters. Original up top.

I bought a FMS oil filter adapter a few years ago when I was trying to replace the o-rings in my black one's cooler. I think it will work, it's made to swivel to any position, and it turns right at the block. Plus it uses the FL1A, but note the metric thread thing is also the change of the block adapter. So if go that route, find an adapter with the SAE threads, those all come out with a large Allen wrench(It's about 5/8" I think).

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I forgot to mention that but I did get an FL1A block adapter from Summit also. Sitting here at a late lunch about to order the inside engine parts. It's raining now. Next week I will remove the harmonic balancer after I get a few more feet of air hose and the balancer puller makes it back to the shop. Good thing I was talking out loud here about what I'm gonna do. Summit didn't specify FL1A but the threads are right and said small block Ford. I hope I'm right.
block filter adapter