Question about 1987 Ford F 350

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87 ford f350, rebuilt ~3000 mi ago, runs strong but will intermittently just die, not sputter, just die. Will do it after running only a few feet or after miles, at a stop or running full speed, and then I crank it over and over but nothing, like no spark. If left to sit for 1/2 hour or more it usually starts right back up. When it doesnt start I check the carb and theres plenty of gas going in the barrels. This is the weird part- when I'm cranking it over (via a remote starter button) it doesn't try to fire up unless I jiggle the key starter switch back and forth. The key ignition switch, all its linkage, the starter switch on the colunm, the ECM, distributor cap and rotor, and pickup coil have all been replaced. I thought I had it fixed when I hooked up an alternate power switch for the fuel pumps because they were not always coming on, it ran without any problems for weeks after I did that, but has started again. Why would jiggling the key almost make it start up? Help!

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Based on what I know about this type of stall I have a few comments to make about the parts you used, number one is the TFI ignition module you replaced on the distributor a MOTORCRAFT OEM REPLACEMENT PART?? if not replace it with the OEM Motorcraft part, the aftermarket ones cause this stall out issue, another thing is the ignition starter switch on the top of the steering column tube, was it adjusted properly when you replaced it? The other issue with this old of a truck is that the wire harness to the engine gets wires broken inside the wire plastic insulator, so most of the time the connection is there, then the engine moves just the right way and it breaks the connection and the engine will just stall out. The other issue is a dirty/sludged up throttle valve blade and automatic idle speed control air bypass valve, it is the cigar shaped thing near the throttle cable, to clean it get a can of throttle valve cleaner (made by CRC) and spray about half the car into the air intake of the engine, when you hit the air bypass valve air in port it will get really loud with a sucking noise, keep the engine running at high idle while you do this, then shut down disconnect the Negative battery cable for 5 minutes and restart and drive it a few miles to clear out the gunk. Another thing you never mentioned is whether or not you did a fault code test on the engine computer (ECM), below is a link to a site where you can see how to do the test.
I was a Ford dealer technician for 30 years and this type of work was my everyday job. I have fixed dozens of trucks like yours for similar stalling issues

http://www.extreme-check-engine-light-codes.com/Ford%20OBD1%20Decoder.htm

Posted on Mar 23, 2011

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