Monday, January 25, 2016

I've got this place that I've filled with empty space

Much like the mighty grizzly emerges from hibernation, this blog is slowly emerging from the slumber induced by my wedding and honeymoon. 

The word "honeymoon" comes from the old Germanic tradition of
mooning one's honey on the first day of honeymoon

First off, posted the top 10 most popular posts of 2015 and I was completely stoked to see that this project came in at #10. Read the article here.

A couple months ago, while still working on the Ranger project, I took Grace for a drive to capture some video and audio (which turned out to be nothing but wind noise). As I was getting on the freeway at full throttle, something went wrong. I suddenly smelled and saw oil smoke and it seemed like it was overheating. I took it easy and got off the next exit. I shut the engine down and contemplated the depth and breadth of the universe as the engine cooled off. Restarting was hard, power was low, and the exhaust was full of oil smoke. 

Grace sat for several weeks as I completed the Ranger project, which by the way, successfully made the long journey from Pasadena, California to Provo, Utah over Christmas break. Finally about a week before the wedding, I got a chance to attend to the ailing Falcon. I suspected a head gasket might be the reason for Grace's health issues, so I got out the compression tester. When the readings came out at 158, 138, 157 and 155 psi on cylinders 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively, I was optimistic that the issue was a $13 head gasket while simultaneously praying it wasn't a melted piston.

Oily misfiring plug from cylinder #2
Carbon coated plug due to rich mixture
New spark plug, the old ones were due for replacement
Braided nylon coating on turbo oil feed was damaging the wiring

When I got the intake manifold off, I could very clearly see where the ol girl had puked a gasket. With the head removed I could get a good look at the gasket damage, and the fire ring had pushed all the way out to the oil drain channel, which would explain the oily smoke. I slapped in a new gasket and Grace was happier than a Chinese firework vendor on the Fourth of July.

Fast forward almost two months to mid-January and I'm now the happy Chinese firework vendor because I get some time to work on the car. Grace lives in my wife's Grandma's garage which for some unexplicable reason has tile and carpet on the floor. I half expected there to be a toilet in the corner. In any case, it's not a place where I am able to fabricate. Thankfully, my old roommate Vaughn is willing to let me use the old carport as a workspace from time to time in exchange for Dewskis.

One issue in dire need of attention was that of the vibrations transmitted into the body by the engine. Being an inline four without balance shafts, it has a ton of inherent vibrations. At times, riding in the car was about as pleasant as hanging out in the expansion chamber of a two-stroke bike. The reverberation of the body panels were enough to give me a headache, and I'd wear earplugs any time I drove the car for more than about ten minutes. I decided I would remake the engine mounting bracketry to use the stock style motor mounts for a Ford Ranger with the 2.3. I figured if the damping characteristics of those mounts were good enough for Ford engineers, they would be good enough for me.

Left: new ranger style motor mount  Right: old polyurethane bushing mouts
The size difference should give a clue as to which is more effective in vibration isolation

Passenger's Side
old motor mount bracketry
Cutting frame brackets off

Tacking new mounts in place
New welded motor mount bracket
Bottom view
Finished and installed
Driver's Side

Using g my favorite old trick: cardboard fabrication 
Cutting old bracket off
Bracket needed a slight bend, so I scored it, bent, and welded the gap

Gusset added and installed

Even before I started this project, I knew I was going to have to get a new transmission. The bearings were noisy, and syncros were getting to be oh so crunchy. I knew I did not want to get yet another junkyard transmission since I'd been through three or four of those, so I looked at aftermarket options. I liked the idea of a Tremec T56 6-speed, but they can be a bit heavy and expensive, and the gearing was a bit high for my application, so I would probably have to eventuallly re-gear the rear end. The gearing and price issue was also true of the TKO 5-speed option. In the end I decided a rebuilt T-5 from a V8 Mustang would be my best option. I called Tony at Astro Performance Warehouse to discuss my options. I wanted a bit higher gearing since my 3.97:1 gear ratio was too low, so I decided to switch to a 3.35 first gear ration. This transmission also made the overdrive a bit taller ratio, going from .79 to .68, which should bring the cruising RPM down a bit.

I ordered the transmission last year, and it showed up right about the same time as the wedding, so it sat at my old house and waited for it's time. On Friday I was talking with my all-American friend Andrew (Andrew loves monster trucks, drag racing, and BBQ. Seriously, he loves BBQ more than anyone I know) and he said he wanted to get out of the house. I told him he was in luck because I knew of a car that needed a transmission swapped. With his assistance I got the transmission out and changed in no time. 

Andrew, while similar in appearance to the author, is a separate entity

Unfortunately I didn't get the engine back up and running, because I ran out of time. Before Andrew came over to assist, I spent a couple hours fabricating a new transmission crossmember, instead of getting the engine ready for removal. The new mount is usable, but not finished. I will add an arch in the passenger's side of the crossmember to provide clearance for the exhaust system, which I will soon re-route and finish.

Top: old crossmember  Bottom:new crossmember

In the meantime, enjoy this fine gif Google made from my wedding and a fastback Falcon I found on Facebook.