This Axle Shaft is a Metaphor for the Ranchero Build

Tim Odell November 3, 2015 24 Hours of Lemons

Things were going so well this weekend. I borrowed a tow rig, brought the car home from being caged and we got the engine in relatively quickly. Given that gas tank crude is the #1 hobbler of old LeMons cars, we pulled the gas tank. Thankfully, it doesn’t look too bad in there, just minor particulate and old gas residue. Thus concludes the good parts of the weekend.

The new rear axle was to follow suit, but upon installing the drivers side axle shaft (in the correct order), we noticed this. Before you start your “tsk tsk”-ing, this is not the shaft I wailed on, attempting to remove it. This was the good side. I’m getting a kick out of Google/YouTube’s attempt to stabilize the wobble out of this video.

In addition to this little snafu, we have rear leaf spring plates and bushings that both literally crumbled upon removal. Oh, and a strap broke while we were lifting the engine, but that’s a video of that for another post.

Thus, the shopping list at Tony the Parts Guy’s place now looks like this:

  • Return:
    • Toploader, header, various driveshafts.
  • Pick up:
    • Longer driveshaft, non-bent 8″ short-side shaft, cheap exhaust components.

More to come later in the week.

Wrench Scramble 2015: One Step Forward, One Step Back. Or: Nothing Fits.

20151028_234129Ever finish behind where you started? Such was last weekend. I stepped on my #$% with an axle shaft, but that only half the story. Our Ranchero arrived with a 170ci straight six and the infamous 2.77/non-syncro/”paper”/”peanut” three speed transmission. We’re swapping the five-main-bearing 170 for a seven-main 200, and the dinky trans for a famously beefy Toploader in cheap-as-free three speed form.

Our transmission is actually out of a six-cylinder F-series truck and has a shorter tailshaft than the “proper” Falcon/Ranchero/Mustang unit. Stopping by our parts hoarder friend, I decided to pick up a less aberrant trans in hopes of getting it all bolted up quicker. It wasn’t until we tried to swap the bellhousing off of the truck transmission that we learned our “proper” toploader was actually a V8 unit with different input and throwout bearing shafts. So…uh…guess we can swap that bellhousing back. Ted did manage to get the manual flywheel and clutch assembled onto the 200ci. On the second try, after snapping off a bolt in the flywheel.

Topping that off, we now have four separate one-barrel carburetor candidates: two Autolite 1100s, a Holley 1940 and a seemingly rebuilt Carter D6H1 Ball and Ball . Yes, we bought the last one in our parts collection spree. It’s unclear why. Just to amplify the insanity, I’m seriously considering eBaying all four and just getting a junkyard Autolite 2100 and 2-to-1 adapter. For all the crap leftover parts I hang onto, I’m currently kicking myself for dumping my Falcon’s old 2-barrel on the cheap.

Oh, and there are three driveshafts on the floor. None of them will work due to wrong U-joints or wrong length (or both!). One came with the car and I honestly don’t even remember why we picked up the other two that we did.

This weekend we’ll have the car back from getting a cage at Evil Genius with the goal of getting the motor, trans and axle dropped in. We’ll see what actually happens…


Wrench Scramble 2015: Project Axle Hell

I love drop-out 3rd member axles for how much they ease parts swapping and fabrication. Most famously Ford’s eight and nine-inch diffs, as well as most solid axles from Japanese truck manufacturers allow the differential to be removed and swapped with simple hand tools. Find a lower-geared, limited slip example in a junkyard or on eBay? You could swap it yourself in half a day and keep your old one for a spare. Secondarily, the entire housing is heavy-gauge steel (as opposed to the cast-iron center-section on a Dana-style one), allowing for easy welding of whatever brackets you need.

There is one challenging part, however: the axle shafts are a press-fit into the ends of the housing, one that can occasionally border on permanent. While reassembling the Ranchero’s rearend, I made a bonehead move and tapped the axle in place without putting the brake backing plate on first. Ok, let’s just yank it out with the slide hammer. Nope. Queue two days straight of torching, hammering, yanking, chaining, more torching and finally Dremel-tooling…

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Wrench Scramble 2015: Playing Musical Engine Stands

I have three engines, three transmissions and a spare head in my garage right now, none of which are bolted up in the right combination.

We’ve got a kinda/sorta “built” 200ci six, the original 170ci that came with the car and a donor 170ci I bought only for the transmission attached to it. Our original 170ci ran, but both the exhaust manifold and stripped oil drain plug leaked badly. By the time you price out replacements for both, a whole engine’s cheaper, so we picked up a 200ci motor in pieces at an estate sale along with a C4 automatic to re-sell on craigslist.

Behind the original 170ci was what’s known as the “2.77” three speed, a notoriously weak three speed with a non-synchromesh first gear. Three speeds isn’t a problem, but the high likelihood of catastrophic weekend-ending failure was. Luckily, there’s a three-speed “Toploader” or “3.03” tranny that’s damn-near indestructible, but frequently swapped out for more-geared manuals or automatics. Despite all this talk of Falcon/Mustang/Maverick/Granada/etc parts continuity and interchangeability, Ford once again screwed me by unnecessarily changing bolt patterns around. Turns out the early (pre-67ish) straight sixes have a smaller bellhousing pattern and an 8.5″ clutch, while the “later” ones have a slightly larger clutch. Guess which one our “good motor” 200ci has? Guess which one nearly all the toploaders bolt to?

Aside from spendy aftermarket adapters, there’s an ultra-rare small pattern-to-toploader bellhousing used only in early Econoline vans. Turns out I found one on Craigslist for super cheap. Unfortunately, it was attached to another sketchy 170ci with what looks like JB weld all over the side of the block.

Anyway, the to-do list was as follows:

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Wrench Scramble 2015: Parts Running and Car Delivery, with Bonus Evil Genius Racing Shop Tour

Tim Odell October 20, 2015 Project Cars

wagoneer towing ranchero

The Ranchero needs a cage. Turns out this week was a window of opportunity at Evil Genius Racing, so I had to activate scramble transit mode. To make it all work, I drove an hour to buy a set of wheels, rented a trailer, drove four hours round trip towing with the Wagoneer and made it home in one piece. Along the way I found my new favorite parts guy (sort of a “Jack” of Ford parts in NorCal) and confirmed the Wagoneer’s towing capability as firmly mediocre.

Click through for the whole story.

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Wrench Scramble 2015: Falcon Steering Rebuild Leads to Exhaust Rebuild

Tim Odell October 15, 2015 Project Cars

Several months ago, I clipped a curb with my Falcon after spinning in the rain. 100% driver error (never lift, bro!). I decided to use my newly mal-aligned front end as an excuse to replace pretty much every piece of my front end’s suspension and steering linkages. Follow along to see how what should’ve been a triumph of interchangeable parts turned into a multi-month process of nothing fitting quite right…

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Wrench Scramble 2015 is Underway!

 Five years (to the exact day) ago I wrote about learning to avoid getting stretched so thin that project cars are more stressful than fun. Apparently I unlearned that lesson because as of tonight, all four of my cars are in need of services ranging from routine maintenance to a complete drivetrain swap. I’ve gotta get cranking, because the Ranchero needs to be race ready for the Arse-Freeze-apalooza at Sonoma Dec 5-6th. If I could just take like, two months off from work I could get all caught up, but alas, we don’t have paid leave for vehicular health issues. I can’t tell my family to fend for themselves while I live in the garage, either. So instead, the plan is to re-jigger what I do for Redusernab. Ironically, all too often I find myself deciding between working on Redusernab or working on cars. That’s about to change.

Relax. This isn’t a goodbye or even temporary disappearance post. It’s more a warning about what you’re likely to see Tuesdays and Thursdays (my days to ensure the schedule’s filled out). Instead of beautifully edited prose or eBay/Craigslist finds, you’ll be getting mediocre cell phone picture documentation of the shit-ton of car work I’ll be cranking out over the next two months. It’ll be a mix of How To, How Not To, or even me asking you guys for help.

With that in mind, hit the jump for a rough To Do list

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Mercedes Turbodiesel Swapped YJ Wrangler Depicts an Earlier Bizzaro World Daimler Chrysler

Tim Odell October 6, 2015 For Sale

Last week we showed you the more typical level of attention to detail associated with interesting engine swaps; this YJ Wrangler with a 3.0l Mercedes turbodiesel represents the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s restrained, clean and potentially incredibly useful in daily driving. Since Jeep seems determined to forever tease us about a diesel Wrangler, this seller built his own.

Based on the description 3.0L, turbo and five cylinders, it’s likely an OM617 making somewhere in the neighborhood of 125hp and 170 ft-lb. Not going to counter-rotate the earth any time soon, but still better stats than the that so many YJs came with. While we’re a bit skeptical of the seller’s 40mpg claim, there’s no reason to doubt this could be the most efficient Wrangler this side of an air-drop. The searing question on my mind is what’s downstream of that motor. Either someone fab’ed a crazy adapter between the MB powerplant and Jeep Aisin transmission or it’s got the trans and transfer case out of an OM617 powered G Wagen.

Thanks to user Jeepster for the find via last week’s Craigslist Crapshoot

This 5.0L Powered E30 is Somewhere Between a Hopeless Pile of Parts and a Kickass Race Car

Tim Odell October 1, 2015 For Sale

1987 e30 v8 swap for sale

BMW’s E30 chassis lives on for enthusiasts (outside the rust belt) as a well balanced paragon of durability, sport and efficiency. So obviously it’s a great candidate for a drift car. Personally drifting’s not my thing, but any activity that has guys building unconventional high horsepower machines on the cheap can’t be too bad, right? Besides, , so it’s unlikely a rare classic was butchered just to smoke tires.

The seller/builder juiced this one up with all-iron, carbed Ford 302, thankfully backed by a T-5. He didn’t just drop the V8 in a call it a day, though. The rear diff is a welded 3.73:1 unit that enables easy slides through third gear. Plenty of fun/stupid to be had there. It’s the rest of the mods list that leaves me wondering if this is just a bunch of shit bolted together, or if it just needs a little…um…social norming to be a fun track or touring car.

We’ll let the list speak for itself…

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New Hampshire Estate Auction is a Euro-centric LeMons Goldmine

Tim Odell September 29, 2015 For Sale

Red fiat X19 for sale

I resisted the urge to click on this hopeless , but the . Per the seller’s description they’re auctioning off “70 ” vintage European cars from an estate sale, nary a title among them. From the backgrounds of a few of , we can see a capri, a Triumph or two, a flock of minis and some kind of station wagon all share this lush barnyard together. Currently they’ve got the following on auction…

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