My 81's Road to Road-Worthiness - Ford Bronco Forum
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post #1 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-28-2016, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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My 81's Road to Road-Worthiness

I had been watching Craigslist and other places for 2 or 3 months for the right Bronco. I started looking for a 78/79, but decided a 300 Six manual trans drivetrain would suit my purposes best. Everything in this neck of the woods is rotted pretty good, so when this one was listed in Phoenix, I jumped on it and had it shipped. My wife's cousin lives there and checked it out and made the deal for me. The PO told me it had a blown head gasket, but the rest of the drivetrain was good. He also told me it had a 4 speed overdrive tranny, but it is a Borg-Warner T18. He didn't say, but I believe he bought it not running and never drove it. The sun has baked it pretty good, but it's 99% rust-free. Tires have a lot of tread, but they are pretty dry-rotted. My goal, as the title says, it to get it road-worthy. Anyway, this is what it looked like when it made it to SW Ohio.



Thanks to everyone here on the forum for all the great info available; it has been a great resource!

When the driver delivered it and we were going to unload it, he said he was going to release the parking brake. My thought was, "Oh no, it'll never move now!" b/c parking brakes do not last long around here due to the rust. But all was good and it rolled on off.

Here's the only place I've found that's bubbled up. As you can see, there's also aluminum plate on the bottom of the tailgate, so I suspect it's covering some rust. As you can also see, something hit or was hit by the bumper.



Here's the motor bay as received.



Here is before pressure washing.

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post #2 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-28-2016, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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I had pretty much decided I was going to have the motor gone through, but decided to try to get it running so when I did have it rebuilt it should fire up right away. I disconnected the gas line and ran one into a gas can. The starter solenoid was bad, so it was replaced. I didn't have any spark, so a new coil solved that. It wasn't getting any fuel, so the fuel pump was replaced. It then fired, but wouldn't stay running. It still had a single barrel, so I got a kit and rebuilt it. It then started and ran! I thought I'd put some water in it (it didn't have any coolant in it, I figured b/c of the blown head gasket) and run it down to have a VIN check (required in Ohio for out-of-state vehicles prior to getting an Ohio title), so I got the hose and started putting it in the radiator. In very short order, water started running out from under the truck! So much for taking it for a drive! I figured I better make sure I could get a title before going any farther, so I talked a dealer into coming to the house for the inspection, then went to the title office, paid the tax and was issued a title. It was officially mine! A buddy loaned me his hoist, so I pulled the big six. I found out why it leaked coolant so bad. PO had suggested I put new freeze out plugs in...



There's a reputable engine builder very close to me, so I talked to him and delivered it last week. They disassembled it and found 1 piston had a broken skirt and the oil pick-up tube bracket was broken, but everything else looked pretty good. The PO had told me the original owner, who he bought it from, had had a Ford replacement motor put in and there was a receipt and a tag that indicated it was done in 95. But apparently it was a rebuilt replacement (my builder said they did do that back in the day) b/c the pistons were .020 over. Hopefully I will have it back in a week or two.

Of course there are other issues to look into while I'm waiting on getting the motor back. I got recommendations on a clutch set from the forum and ordered it. I took a pressure washer to the engine bay and underneath. I'm still amazed at the condition of the metal on this thing. I had a 2000 F150 I bought new and it was rusting much much worse than this 81. I pulled the fuel tank today and removed about 6 gallons of old gas. I had thought I might have to replace it, but it is in very good shape.

I was going to drain the tranny, transfer case and differentials, but I think I'll top them off and drive it first to get them warmed up and check for leaks or other problems first. The next step, I think, is to flush the brake system.
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post #3 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-28-2016, 07:43 PM
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Thats a great find!!! Whats the condition on the interior. The paint looks pretty darn good for something that has been sun baked!
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post #4 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-28-2016, 07:47 PM
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so how come I live in the southwest and mines has a few rust spots despite being 9 years newer :/

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post #5 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-28-2016, 08:01 PM
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very nice find ..
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post #6 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-28-2016, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ahamilton30 View Post
Thats a great find!!! Whats the condition on the interior. The paint looks pretty darn good for something that has been sun baked!
Thanks, the paint looks better in the pics than in person, but it's not too bad. Has at least one repaint. The interior isn't too bad for being mostly original, but it does to be refreshed.Has a rubber mat up front and carpet in the rear. Dash pad is cracked bad. Rear seat looks great, but front seat bottom is rough. I like the bench, that's what I was looking for, so I think I'll put some covers on the front and keep my eyes open for a later bench w/headrests or some 60/40s.





Rear window works by the key switch and PO sent a new dash switch. Headlights and brake lights work, but running lights do not. Windshield wipers work on high speed, but I didn't realize until I tried them that the wiper blades were gone. Whoops!

A couple buddies said it looks like a fun project. So far it has been, hope it stays that way as I don't really enjoy wrenching as much as I used to. Maybe 20 or 30 years ago I would be pulling the tub off like many on here do, but I don't have it in me anymore. I just hope to get it running good, be dependable and look half way decent.
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post #7 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-28-2016, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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I've enjoyed AbandonedBronco's thread Upgrading a 300 carb Straight Six. (Pics)
I am taking his advice on the exhaust system. I have all the system components except for the header pipe for the FI manifolds. It seems to be hard to get right now, but Summit is supposed to have it soon so I ordered it. Hopefully they will come through. I was going to go with the Offy intake also, but a co-worker offered me a good deal on a NOS Edelbrock for the single barrel carb, so I'm going to give it a try. My builder is going to do a 3 angle valve, but other than these upgrades, it is going to be stock. I'm going more for dependability and economy than high performance.
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post #8 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-28-2016, 11:20 PM
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I know I have said it before but man you have a nice clean truck there!
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post #9 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-29-2016, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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A little progress today; some good news and some bad. I got what looks like a home-built receiver hitch off. Sprayed down the brake bleeders and got all of them broke free w/o breaking them. Topped off the drivetrain fluids. None were too low except the transfer case; it took 2 quarts of trans fluid. Hope that's not an ominous sign. I got the numbers off the 9" rear and the Dana 44 front. The bad news is neither is limited slip. I wasn't expecting them to be, but I was hoping for a pleasant surprise. So, after checking the drivetrain out, I believe it to be original to the truck.

Put a couple more orders in for parts today. Summit extended the expected delivery date on the exhaust pipe, so I put in an order for one from JEGS as it showed shipping on 6 April.
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post #10 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-30-2016, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Flushed the brake system today. Had to clean the crud out of passenger side bleeder and punch the hole through the stopped up wheel cylinder hole. The rear driver's side cylinder hole was plugged too. Pretty cruddy brake fluid came out, so I'm thinkin' I'll have to replace the wheel cylinders. The fronts weren't too bad.
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post #11 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-31-2016, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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I ohmed out the fuel sending unit last night and it showed it was shorted out. I removed it and the float had gas in it. So I ordered it and the front seal for the T18 (since I have the engine out, figured I might as well replace it) from Bronco Graveyard. I'm getting really familiar with the different parts suppliers. I've got good discounts from Advance Auto ordering online. I've ordered from Summit, JEGS, Rock Auto LMC and picked up some stuff from O'Rielly's. I've gotten very good service from all of them.

I received 2 boxes last night from Rock Auto. In one of them was the LUK clutch set. So today I stopped by the engine shop to drop off the pilot bearing. The owner said, "I was going to call you." He said they found some damage when they bored and honed the block on the cylinder where the broken piston skirt was and was going to have to sleeve it. He also said a couple of the other cylinders were already sleeved from the previous rebuild.

A couple questions on the gas tank:

1) There is a few spots of surface rust. What is good to use to coat it? Anyone use cold galvanizing?

2) There is what LMC shows as tank anti-squeak strips that go between the tank and the skid plate. Mine are still there, but not in the best shape and I'd like to replace them. LMC is out of stock. What would be a good material to use for this?

They are #10 here: Truck Parts and Truck Accessories

TIA, Stan
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post #12 of 154 (permalink) Old 03-31-2016, 07:35 PM
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Cold galvanizing or rustolium works on the outside, I have used aplience epoxy paint too. A couple bicycle inner tubes work great for insulators.
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post #13 of 154 (permalink) Old 04-07-2016, 11:56 PM Thread Starter
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With work and life getting' in the way, I haven't made much progress lately. I did pick up some Rustoleum cold galvanizing today 445 FE. My engine builder called today to let me know all the machining is done and assembly was to begin today. So, it should be ready to pick up next week.

I decided to replace the front tranny seal while it is apart, so I removed the bearing retainer (man that bearing is a monster!), cleaned it up and installed the new seal. I also cleaned up the clutch fork and have a new dust boot for it, so it's ready to go back on with the new throwout bearing. I have new clutch release shaft bushings to install, so I should be good down there for a while...so, get that back together and I'll be ready to drop the engine back in.

I gave up on getting the Walker WLK-45166 header pipe to use on the FI manifolds as Summit and Jegs both extended the availability date. I found a couple manufacturers who sell the pipe, but only with the cat and list the set as a catalytic converter. For reference, the one I ordered (from AutoZone b/c they had 20% off online orders over $100 and I needed some other items also) is Bosal New York/Catalytic Converter p/n 079-4032 and it's supposed to be here tomorrow.

I dropped off my radiator to get it checked out, waiting to hear from them.
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post #14 of 154 (permalink) Old 04-08-2016, 12:05 AM
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Heck if you're in south west OH then we aren't to far apart. I had good luck with the cold galvanizing compound, but I usually use rubberized under coating though. I also have learned about some oil sprays for keeping seams and whatnot from rusting but have yet to try them. I coated both Broncos we have with Rustoleum Black paint the 85 was a very through job that got sandblasted, primered, and painted. My 89 just got a good pressure washing and a coat of just paint with a hvlp sprayer.
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post #15 of 154 (permalink) Old 04-08-2016, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
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Heck if you're in south west OH then we aren't to far apart. I had good luck with the cold galvanizing compound, but I usually use rubberized under coating though. I also have learned about some oil sprays for keeping seams and whatnot from rusting but have yet to try them. I coated both Broncos we have with Rustoleum Black paint the 85 was a very through job that got sandblasted, primered, and painted. My 89 just got a good pressure washing and a coat of just paint with a hvlp sprayer.
Yeah, I'm not too far from Indiana. As far as the oil sprays, is one of them Fluid Film? I've seen it mentioned in the forum here and it sounds like it may be promising.
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post #16 of 154 (permalink) Old 04-08-2016, 10:28 AM
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Just so you know, that air conditioner compressor is very sought after for onboard air. All you have to do is change the fittings from air conditioning to air compressor style. Luckily, our rigs alredy have the set up to run off the engine's power. It even is self-oiling and has a dipstick
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post #17 of 154 (permalink) Old 04-08-2016, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Just so you know, that air conditioner compressor is very sought after for onboard air. All you have to do is change the fittings from air conditioning to air compressor style. Luckily, our rigs alredy have the set up to run off the engine's power. It even is self-oiling and has a dipstick
I didn't know that, thanks for the info!
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post #18 of 154 (permalink) Old 04-08-2016, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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Well, got some good news and some bad news today. Good news, my engine is ready for pick-up. Bad news my radiator is bad.

The price quoted to repair is $263. So, I'm in the market for a replacement. I've been looking around, but I don't like the idea of plastic tanks. Anybody have experience with them in your rigs? Anybody have a recommendation for a HD radiator?

TIA, Stan
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post #19 of 154 (permalink) Old 04-08-2016, 09:54 PM
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I would do an all aluminum radiator, very effiecient. Maybe an electric fan, save fuel + 20 HP also keeps cool when creeping along or stuck in traffic. Be cool is a nice unit but there are others.
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post #20 of 154 (permalink) Old 04-09-2016, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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I would do an all aluminum radiator, very effiecient. Maybe an electric fan, save fuel + 20 HP also keeps cool when creeping along or stuck in traffic. Be cool is a nice unit but there are others.
I have thought about an all aluminum and electric fan, but I am looking to keep this rig less electric/more mechanical. That being said, anybody have any feedback on this unit? I've looked around and this seems to be the going price, but they have a 'make offer' button.
Flexalite Radiator New 52180L | eBay

Then again, more basic/traditional, does this look like the one for mine w/AC? From my research it is, and I've messaged the seller, but no response yet.
Modine 558 All Metal Radiator 1R558 CU558 DP558 | eBay
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