Two Letters Re: Some Thoughts on the Survival Vehicle

Hi James,
Regarding the article “Some Thoughts on the Survival Vehicle” – I couldn’t agree more with the choice of an older Ford truck. I love mine. The only part I take exception to is converting permanently from electronic ignition to a mechanical point type distributor. I understand the EMP and other concerns, but there is a caveat readers need to be informed of.

Some/most Fords with 302 or 5.0 liter engines in the mid- to late-1980s and on were equipped from the factory with a hydraulic roller lifter camshaft. The roller cams are made of very hard steel, harder than older hydraulic “flat tappet” camshafts. On these “Roller Cam” engines the roller camshafts must be mated to a special hardened distributor drive gear (a hardened gear is on the factory electronic distributor) or the roller camshaft drive gear will destroy the softer standard (ductile iron IIRC) point type distributor drive gear in short order. I found out the hard (expensive)way!

I know that there are some aftermarket hardened distributor gears that might be retrofitted to a point type distributor. Some racers use bronze distributor gears with roller camshafts, but these softer bronze gears are only intended for racing and would have a limited life when used on the street.

One might be able to retrofit a standard “non-roller” camshaft to a new engine, but that’s likely beyond the skill sets of the average Joe.

There is another distributor related issue to consider – assuming you already have or will have a points type distributor. There is an aftermarket electronic ignition kit made by a company called Pertronix. The Pertronix Ignitor made for Ford V8 point type distributors installs in place of the original points. (Pertronix make models for many types of vehicles, not just Fords). All the Pertronix components install under the distributor cap. I’ve equipped 10 vehicles with these ignitions over the years with no ignition failures of any kind. My truck has had a Pertronix Ignitor since 1999 making it almost maintenance free for day-to-day operation, as opposed to points. If, God forbid, an EMP or other factor rendered the Pertronix inoperable I keep a set of points/condenser in the vehicle to reinstall in the original point type distributor. I also keep a spare Ignitor in a sealed metal cookie can (EMP proof). Assuming you know how to change a set of Ford ignition points, reinstalling the points will take about 20 minutes or less. (Maybe longer if the engine is hot 😉 ). I don’t work for Pertronix, I’m just a very satisfied customer. Food for thought.

Kind regards, – M. Artixerxes (a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber)


Some of the March 12 comments in SurvivalBlog discussed belts, hoses and tires. Here is an additional consideration, and has served me well for 30+ years. I buy spare belts, hoses, vacuum lines and tires – before I use any of them, I coat the outside of each of them thoroughly and liberally with mink oil, all over the outsides and let “set up” for a few days before installing, or for longer term storage.

These items deteriorate from dry rot over time when exposed to harsh temperatures, and extremely small “cracking” appears, from which failure is born . Even yet-to-be-used spares deteriorate when stored in most instances. Mink oil coated/treated rubber extends the useful service life of these items far beyond expected shelf ( or use ) life, in my experience. I even work it down inside the treads on tires.For true spare use, I then wrap tires in plastic trash bags, or sealed bags for smaller items such as belt and hoses and assorted lines.

FWIW, the same idea applies to storing leather coats and boots. – KT in Texas