Friday, April 26, 2013


Today was an special day. It was Friday. And not just any Friday. It was a Friday on which I did not go to work. It was also a Friday on which I started up the old 88 ranger and drove to Total Cost Involved Engineering in Ontario, California (Which by the way, I find to be a ridiculous name for a city in California. Ontario CA is supposed to mean Ontario Canada, not Ontario California. Guy who names cities in California: You're fired.) to pick up my suspension package.

I drove up there and some guy told me to talk to Suzanne and she'd get me squared away. Suzanne was tall. We're talking over six feet here. And she was blonde. I thought my friend Chief, who is 6'8" and had come along for the ride would be happy to see that. He's always asking me if I know any "tall, blonde betties".  Cheif said she was too skinny and too married for him.

Suzanne took me out in the shop to see this guy Jose who drives a forklift. Jose finished packing my parts and brought his forklift over to my truck. We went through the packing list as he unloaded the pallet into my truck. And it's quite a list...
Jose's handiwork
  • upper A-arms
  • lower A-arms
  • single (rebound) adjustable mustang II front dampers
  • front springs (500 lb/in)
  • Mustang II 2" drop spindle
  • 11" front brake rotors
  • GM calipers
  • 1" front swaybar
  • heim joint swaybar links
  • inner fender panels
  • Mustang II power steering rack
  • braided SS brake hose kit
  • triangulated 4-link cradle
  • rear upper links
  • rear lower links
  • axle brackets
  • rear single (rebound) adjustable coilover dampers
  • rear springs (250 lb/in)
  • 3/4" rear swaybar
  • miscellaneous hardware, tabs, brackets and reinforcing plates

I hauled it home and put it in my garag... errrr, bedroom.

I inspected some of the parts and while playing with the front coilovers, I found something that was slightly unnerving. When I cycled the dampers, there was no damping for the first 3/4" of travel. I could definitely hear air passing the damper piston. After playing with it for a few minutes the damping firmed up and it had consistent damping throughout the whole range. Is this something I should be concerned about?

Last night I got thinking that I will need a good grinder for the upcoming work. Early next week I should have a DeWalt 4.5" angle grinder in hand. Thank you Amazon Prime!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Disclaimer: This post has a lot of words. I promise I won't do that again.

So about nine months ago, I moved to the Los Angeles area. This brought some good things and some bad things. One of the bad things was that my dear old truck became illegal.

My truck and I have been together since summer of 2003. Kinda crazy to think that it's been ten years...   In 2004, I turbocharged my 2.3 liter 4 cylinder engine. Over the coming years, I modified or reworked nearly every system on that truck. I learned a lot (usually the hard way) and spent a lot of money. I'm not sure I have enough fingers to count the number of times I've had the engine out. This was my only vehicle besides my bike through all of college. I rode my bike a lot.

In all it's resplendent Glory, the 1988 Ford Ranger.
After I finished college, I got a job as an automotive engineer and moved to California from Utah. Well here in California, the smog nazis don't take kindly to vehicle modifications. If the demigods of C.A.R.B. do not grace your engine modifications with a holy sticker, you will be struck down and cast into the third level of hell, or Barstow depending on which is hotter on that day.

Not wanting to be banished to the far reaches of San Bernadino County, I decided I needed to do something about this truck. I had rebuilt the engine not more than a month before moving to California so I didn't want to just get rid of it. In retrospect, rebuilding the engine was probably a bad idea, but that's a long story for another time.
5th time's the charm?
So there I was, with a nearly brand new engine that is contraband. One can always dodge the law with things like this, but it becomes tiresome and was not something I felt like doing. My truck was also getting quite ratty, with scratched and flaking paint, rust, a tweaked frame, more rattles than babies 'r' us, that one funky noise when I get off the brakes, that other funky noise when I start to accelerate, the hard pull to the left under braking, I think you get the picture...  I got to thinking that maybe I should do a heart transplant from the ranger to another chassis. Enter Ford Falcon.

My grandpa was a Ford salesman, so there were always a lot of old Fords around. There was a mid 60s Fairlane, my dad's '60 F100, and so on. I always had a soft spot for the 62 Falcon sitting in the weeds though. I thought it would be tons of fun to stick a 2.3 Turbo and 5 speed in an old unassuming Falcon and blow some doors off. Well here was my chance.

Gramps's 1962 Ford Falcon taught me to love patina
Initially I had planned to go back to Utah and haul the old 62 Falcon back for a project car, but then I realized just how cheaply I could get a clean California car. The old Falcon in Utah was missing its windows and had some rusted through spots. A bit of craigslist searching turned up a 1962 Falcon sedan, almost the same as the one in Utah, but with full glass and nothing more than light surface rust. I found it while on a Cold Test in Canada and was all sorts of nervous that it would be sold before I got back. Luck was with me, and when I got back I drove up to the High Desert with $600 and came back with a title.

The following Saturday, Vaughn was kind enough to borrow a trailer and go with me up to haul the car back as it had no engine or transmission. Because we were going out to the desert anyway and we are MURRICAN!!, we brought along a dog. And two dirtbikes. And some guns.

Can ya smell that? It's LIBERTY!

This brings us almost to the present day. I decided that this would need some suspension updating to handle the power output of the 2.3 Turbo. I started by buying an 8.8" limited slip 31 spline axle from a 97 Explorer. The Explorer axle has a reputation for being indestructible in the off road world, and Mustang guys looking to upgrade to 31 spline axles from the stock 28 spline axles will pirate Explorer stuff. The one small issue with the Explorer axle is that is is quite wide at 59.5", and also has an offset pinion. The driver side axle is 3" wider to clear the fuel tank in the Explorer. I went to a salvage yard and pulled a passenger side axle and after cutting off the spring pads and shock mounts, took the axle housing to Sutton Enterprises in La Habra to have the tube shortened by 3".


A week and a half ago, I took a trip up to Ontario, California to visit Total Cost Involved. They are a suspension shop that specializes in Pro-Touring suspensions for Muscle Cars and Hot Rods.  I sat down with one of their salesmen and configured a suspension package for the Falcon. At the end of our visit, I closed my eyes and wrote large check. I was told it would be ready in 7-10 business days. Well, I got a phone call this morning and now I'm taking Friday off...