S5-42 Five Speed is Here

A boring post about car parts.

Steph thinks I like to talk about car parts too frequently. Part of the puzzle of reworking a rusty old van is knowing which parts and tools will get the job done most efficiently and for the least amount of $$. So I like to think, search, scheme, plan, shop and talk about old car parts.

I want to get all of the mechanical systems inspected, rebuilt and fully functional before starting on the camper conversion. Swapping out the old Ford C6 slushbox transmission is one of the first major projects. We want a manual transmission and thankfully Ford used the ZF S5-42 heavy duty 5 speed in the F-Series trucks back in the 90s that will bolt up to the old inline six in the van.

The S5-42 has a reputation for being a bit finicky with high miles and abuse. I don’t want to end up stranded somewhere in in the middle of Mexico someday with a failed transmission. I decided we would be better off with a fully rebuilt trans. Shopped around online for a few weeks and called a few different suppliers. Decided to go with Midwest Transmission Center. They were very easy to deal with, the price was great and they waived the core charge for me too which resulted in a significant savings. (I don’t have a core to return to them. Also, I think I just got lucky with them waiving the core requirement because of the timing of the purchase and the beginning of of the pandemic.)

I picked up the transmission at our local shipping depot. “Local” being 75 miles from home. I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the packaging. The transmission looks brand new. I’ve bought rebuilt parts in the past from other suppliers that show up greasy and held to a pallet with ratchet. That wasn’t the case with Midwest Trans. It was packaged like a brand new unit.
S5-42 for E-350

I’ve collected many of the other parts that will be required to convert to a manual trans. Huge thanks BigBlue94, a member of the Ford Six Performance Forum, I was able to source the stock Ford 3rd gen Econoline clutch pedal assembly. These are very hard to find these days. I’ve also have the clutch, pressure plate, clutch master/slave and input shaft bearing. I went with the 11″ clutch which is for vehicles > 8500 lbs GVWR. Still need to order a flywheel but they are easy to get new and surprisingly inexpensive. I’ll likely need to have a custom hydraulic line made somewhere down the line when I get the body back onto the van. I hope I can find a braided stainless one from a different application that will fit the quick disconnects on the clutch master and slave.

clutch parts

I’m going to look into rebuilding/refreshing the pedal assembly. Ford used plastic bushings that suck. There are some good write-ups online about upgrading to bearings.

We’ll start working on getting the body lifted off of the frame soon. It will be much easier to do the fabrication work for the transmission swap with the body off of the frame.

Leave a Reply