We normally think of aftermarket bolt-on EFI systems as the perfect modern upgrade for carbureted applications, which they are. But it seems that throttle-body-style systems like Edelbrock’s new E-Street EFI can also greatly simplify the retrofitting and tuning of a modern EFI engine in an older project vehicle.
Our test case is Karl Roekle’s shop truck, a mutated ’47 Ford pickup that was shortened, lowered, and modified with Model A body parts by his uncle many years ago. At one point, this “Roekle rat rod” was saddled with a small-block Chevy onboard, but Karl bleeds FoMoCo blue, so once he got title to the truck, he soon swapped in an EFI 351W sourced from a ’91 F-250 pickup. To run its port injection and processor- commanded distributor, Karl has been utilizing a non-mass air EEC-IV connected via a custom-made wiring harness. Backed by a non-electronic AOD tranny, his Windsor has remained pretty much stock, save for some long-tube headers. The problem? Actually there were three:
First and foremost, Karl and the EEC-IV could never get the combo to run quite right. It regularly fouled plugs and overall didn’t perform the way he thought 351 cubes should in such a light vehicle. Second, with its long-runner factory intake up top, the Windsor just never looked very cool or hot-roddish in Karl’s eyes (or ours, for that matter.) And lastly, if the EEC-IV couldn’t be tricked into making his 351W run properly when practically bone stock, Karl figured it would be utterly hopeless if he ever swapped in a racier cam and/or cylinder heads. And believe us; he wants to.
All of this led Mr. Roekle to Edelbrock’s recently introduced E-Street EFI, a plug-and-play system using a 4150-style, square-bore flange throttle body, and a processor that “learns” as you drive and self-tunes the fuel curve accordingly. It is also custom tunable via an included 7-inch touchscreen tablet with Bluetooth connectivity. In short, this is a sophisticated EFI system that doesn’t require an engineering degree to install or live with. Let’s see how it all worked out…
1. Karl Roekle’s self-described “rat rod” serves as shop truck (and shameless self-promotion tool) for his Ultimate Auto Repair business in Jackson, Michigan. The cut down and lightweight ’47 Ford pickup should run well with a ’91-vintage 351W onboard, but its performance was flat and uninspiring.
2. Plus, its (relatively) modern factory long-runner intake that visually dominated the top of the Windsor certainly didn’t match the truck’s otherwise retro theme. We dig the Mountain Dew overflow bottle, though.
3. The E-Street’s four-barrel throttle body has a 60-lb/hr fuel injector at the base of each of its bores, and can flow 1,000 cfm—enough to support up to 600 hp, according to Edelbrock. Visible protruding into the one bore is the system’s air temp sensor.
4. On the other side of the throttle body, manifold absolute pressure (orange arrow) and throttle-position (green arrow) sensors provide additional data necessary for the E-Street processor’s fuel calculations. There’s also an idle air control (IAC) valve not visible in this shot.
5. The E-Street’s ECU runs the outfit and communicates when desired, via Bluetooth, with the system’s included 7-inch color touchscreen tablet seen at left. This is two-way communication—the tablet can be used to program various functions in the ECU, but it can also display various engine data on the fly. Or, leave the tablet at home and just let the ECU do its thing.
6. If electronics intimidate you, fear not. The E-Street’s main wiring harness simply plugs in with unique, individually labeled connectors. The orange harness connects to your electric fuel pump; there’s a tach input harness configurable for various types of distributor and ignition, and the trio of white pigtails on the left come into play if you have electric fan(s) and/or air conditioning.
7. Like all modern injection systems, Edelbrock’s E-Street runs in closed-loop mode (once the vehicle warms up), taking constant feedback from the included wide-band oxygen sensor to help instantaneously assess and maintain correct air fuel ratios. As with any O2 sensor, unleaded fuel must be used.
8. If upgrading to the E-Street system from a square-bore carb, you’ll be able to use your old manifold, but Karl obviously needed a new one to replace his factory EFI lower, so he opted for Edelbrock’s Performer 351-W casting.
9. Another item on Karl’s required parts list was a new distributor. The factory TFI distributor previously in place had its timing functions controlled by Ford’s EEC-IV processor. The E-Street processor does not control ignition timing, so conversion to a straightforward mechanical/vacuum advance distributor was necessary.
10. If upgrading from a carb, you’ll need to convert to an electric fuel pump. Karl’s EFI-powered truck already had one of course (a 255-lph FRPP unit), but he needed a standalone fuel pressure regulator to dial in the E-Street’s required 50 psi.