Scott Drake Oil Pan is to Blame

Scott Drake Oil Pan is to Blame

The Scott Drake Oil Pan is Responsible for my Clearance Issues

I’ve had a positive experience with Scott Drake reproduction parts on the Disgustang ’66 Mustang build.  Much of his stuff is excellent.  His concours-quality outside mirrors?  Perfect.  His styled steel wheels are works of art.  The trunk weatherstrip he sells is great.  His windshield weatherstrip?  It’s a not-so-great re-boxed foreign-made piece that tore a corner while I was installing it.  I’ve purchased more than $5,000 in parts on the strength of the Drake name, but they also put their name on a lot of re-boxed cheap stuff and then mark it up. In general the quality of the cheap re-branded stuff has always been fine.  The Scott Drake oil pan, though, is so bad it puts the Drake name to shame.

The pan is not a copy of the stock 289/302 oil pan.  It’s deeper all around than the factory pan was in 1965-1966.  It holds about (not exactly) 6 quarts of oil instead of the 5 the factory pan holds, and the curves the pan takes are different.  As a result of its size difference, it hangs down lower than the factory pan by almost an inch where the drag link crosses under the pan.  That inch makes the huge difference between the drag link rubbing on the pan and gliding freely with plenty of clearance.

But don’t they warn you?

Scott Drake’s company is apparently aware of the clearance issues that may occur when using this oil pan.  On their website page detailing the similar pre-painted version (I bought the unpainted version), they note that this pan is, “slightly deeper than original,” and that “on 64-65 Mustangs with power steering this deeper pan will rub the power steering center link.”  Great.  But I don’t have a ’64-’65, I have a ’66.  What about that?  Well, their description continues and notes that the ’64-’65 clearance issues can be ameliorated by “either running the taller and stronger 66 engine mounts or by simply adding a ¼” shim of washers to 1965 motor mounts.”  Guess what?  They’re wrong.  I’m running 1966 motor mounts already and it’s still a problem.

You were warned, why are you complaining?

It’s true, the Scott Drake oil pan web page for the almost identical pre-painted version clearly identifies that there might be an issue, although it’s a little misleading because it simultaneously implies that the issue only applies to 1964-65 cars.  But what about their own page for the raw/un-painted version I bought?  There isn’t any mention of the clearance issue as of this writing.

My real problem, though, and the one with which I take the most issue, is that CJ Pony Parts (who sold me the pan) doesn’t mention the problem at all in their descriptions of either of the pan versions they sell.  Not only do they not mention that there are differences, they make it seem like it’s an identical replacement.  Their description for the one I bought goes so far as to call the pan a “standard factory design…direct-fit replacement.”  They call it a “reproduction of the standard factory design” and a “replica.”  By definition, a replica is “an exact or very close copy of something,” and a reproduction is “something that is made to look exactly like an original.”  Based on what I’ve seen?  This product doesn’t fit either term.

That’s not to say, of course, that this oil pan isn’t functionally equivalent…it holds oil just fine, but it’s mis-represented, and that’s frustrating.  Not having a description would have been better than the inaccurate one CJ’s has.  Oh, and a quick check of RockAuto appears to list three stock-capacity pans I would’ve bought instead.  Darn.

Why don’t you fix it, then?

I’m upset, that’s blatantly obvious.  I need to change out the oil pan.  Easy, right?  I’ll clean up the old factory pan and replace the bad new one with the old one. Except my old pan is dented and unusable.

What does changing the pan really entail?  I have to source a new or good used OEM Ford 5-quart replacement oil pan.  That could take a week or two.  Then I have to clean and paint that replacement (a full day before the last coat is dry).  I’ll need to drain the break-in oil from the “bad” pan, which means basically throwing away good, expensive oil.  I’ll need to remove the drag-link, cross member, and bad pan (easy).

But that also means opening up my very expensive rebuilt engine and exposing it to dirt and dust, which I’m loathe to do.  Prepping the new pan includes cleaning the gasket mating surfaces without getting any dirt on the brand new bearings, crank, etc., and then test-fitting the replacement pan.  The oil pump pickup will need to be re-fit for the shallower pan.  That’s a risky endeavor.  If I get it wrong, the engine could be starved of oil. Oh, and then I need to put everything back together.

Can I fix it?  Yes.  But this sets me back weeks, and it entails risks I don’t want to take on after having spent thousands.  Live and learn, I guess…I’ll survive to wrench another day.