d_rock's backroad 78 Ranger XLT - Ford Bronco Forum
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post #1 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-03-2019, 08:58 PM Thread Starter
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d_rock's backroad 78 Ranger XLT

I found my Bronco in the summer of 2011 on a local classifieds website, and immediately reached out. At the time, I was driving an '82 Toyota pickup which I rebuilt during high school. It was a fun little machine, but I had always liked Ford trucks, and was itching to get a full size Ford like my dad. When I showed my dad the Bronco ad later that day he told me the owner was a co-worker of his! I drove my 78 Ranger XLT home the next day!







I've picked up a lot of good info on this forum over the years, and I'm stoked to finally be sharing my build with you all. Early on, I didn't have a clear goal for the Bronco besides being a daily driver. Now, it will serve not only on my commute, but as an adventure rig for exploring the backroads and wilderness of the Canadian west coast. If I can afford the right parts over the next few years, I'd love to check out MOAB one day... but lets not rush things.

There's a lot to share before we get to my latest work, but here's a teaser (just got the truck back from paint!):


Derek



From a 4x4 family: '78 Ranger XLT build thread... 4.9L EFI, ZF5
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post #2 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-03-2019, 09:01 PM
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Beautiful


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post #3 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-04-2019, 07:38 AM
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Looks Nice. Can't wait to see more.
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post #4 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys

Original color was two tone brown and white; someone along the way put orange over the white metal, giving it the A&W look. I dug the retro look of the orange/brown combo, kinda fun compared to all the black/white/silver cars around these days. Some details on my Bronco at this point, nothing out of the ordinary:
- 351M, 2 barrel carb
- C6 automatic trans
- NP205 t-case
- D44 front / 9 inch rear, 3.50 gears

The Bronco came with a new 25.5 gallon fuel tank. I don't recall if the original 33 gallon was actually leaking, but it was definitely in bad shape. The skid plate was rusted in half, and the wrong size for the new tank, so I bent up some steel flat bar to use as lower straps. Some pieces of old heavy duty tie down webbing were used as cushions between the straps and tank. Found a new sending unit to match the tank through JBG.



The previous owner bought it off a guy who brought it up from California. I'm not sure whether it was originally sold there by Ford, but it definitely spent most of its life in a drier climate, as there was virtually no rust. Just a little bit of scaling on the floor of the cab, and some bubbling in the bottom of the door skins. The wire wheel and some primer were used to keep this at bay for a while. There was also a lot of powdery sand up in the body... got some in the face when air hosing things down. Good thing for safety glasses. Here is the nice solid floor:



A couple of other early additions:
- 32in BFG All Terrain KO tires
- Hella 500 halogens on the front bumper
- Cab clearance markers

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From a 4x4 family: '78 Ranger XLT build thread... 4.9L EFI, ZF5
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post #5 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 03:37 AM Thread Starter
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This was enough to get me and some friends out of town for surfing and camping. Like a fool, I didn't take enough pictures. Can't find a single one showing 5 surf boards on the roof, resting on a simple gutter rack up front, and the shiny air deflector in the back. The extra load ended up breaking the air deflector brackets out of the topper, so I removed the deflector and filled the holes with bondo.

At this point I was into my second year of university. Every morning I would drive from my parent's place to the bus exchange, and take transit to school. This cost me approximately an hour each way by bus, and $60 per week in fuel. I figure I was getting 34 L/100km (~7 mpg), which really hurts on a student budget. I continued to suffer like this for while, then eventually parked my Bronco and relied on my student bus pass.

… Until I found this: 1994 F150 XL, 5.0L, M5OD 5spd, with a blown out slave cylinder.



This truck was a heap, had high kms on it but the motor seemed to run strong, and the trans shifted well. I got if for $400, did the clutch for $300, and figured I would shake down the setup and maybe swap the whole running gear into the Bronco. It was a decent enough run-around truck, but left me stranded a few times (cracked ignition coil would intermittently cut out). I began to lose confidence in this pickup as a good donor, so I went back on the hunt. I found another 1994 F150 with a 4.9L in it, and one of these in the box:



I got that truck, along with the ZF5 for $450! Needless to say my parents weren't thrilled with the fleet I was building. But now we have all the ingredients to build the Bronco that was growing in my mind.

Derek



From a 4x4 family: '78 Ranger XLT build thread... 4.9L EFI, ZF5

Last edited by d_rock; 03-05-2019 at 03:40 AM. Reason: picture correction
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post #6 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 04:00 AM
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This was enough to get me and some friends out of town for surfing and camping. Like a fool, I didn't take enough pictures. Can't find a single one showing 5 surf boards on the roof, resting on a simple gutter rack up front, and the shiny air deflector in the back. The extra load ended up breaking the air deflector brackets out of the topper, so I removed the deflector and filled the holes with bondo.

At this point I was into my second year of university. Every morning I would drive from my parent's place to the bus exchange, and take transit to school. This cost me approximately an hour each way by bus, and $60 per week in fuel. I figure I was getting 34 L/100km (~7 mpg), which really hurts on a student budget. I continued to suffer like this for while, then eventually parked my Bronco and relied on my student bus pass.

… Until I found this: 1994 F150 XL, 5.0L, M5OD 5spd, with a blown out slave cylinder.



This truck was a heap, had high kms on it but the motor seemed to run strong, and the trans shifted well. I got if for $400, did the clutch for $300, and figured I would shake down the setup and maybe swap the whole running gear into the Bronco. It was a decent enough run-around truck, but left me stranded a few times (cracked ignition coil would intermittently cut out). I began to lose confidence in this pickup as a good donor, so I went back on the hunt. I found another 1994 F150 with a 4.9L in it, and one of these in the box:



I got that truck, along with the ZF5 for $450! Needless to say my parents weren't thrilled with the fleet I was building. But now we have all the ingredients to build the Bronco that was growing in my mind.

Hey, having a fleet of vehicles in various states of disrepair is half the fun! I'm trying to offload some of mine, so I can buy some more jalopies.
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77 F100 Custom SWB - 302/C4 2wd ~ My Daily Driver
78 Bronco Custom T/S - 351M/NP205/NP435 4wd ~ For Fun
75 F150 Custom LWB - 460/C6 2wd ~ Deceased
77 F150 Custom LWB - 351M/C6 4wd ~ Sold
88 Civic Hatchback - D15B1/4Spd ~ Sold
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post #7 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Doosenberry View Post
Hey, having a fleet of vehicles in various states of disrepair is half the fun! I'm trying to offload some of mine, so I can buy some more jalopies.
I know what you mean! There is a special kind of freedom that comes with driving a beater... people give you lots of space in traffic, you don't mind if half the rotted exhaust system falls off in a parking lot, or if the SRS module starts to smoke like a chimney. They also make great workbenches!

On the flip side, there's the pride of driving something nice (but usable) that you built
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From a 4x4 family: '78 Ranger XLT build thread... 4.9L EFI, ZF5
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post #8 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 11:01 AM
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She's a beauty.....
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post #9 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 09:02 PM
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Great looking Bronco, that's a keeper for sure with a body that clean
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post #10 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! Now lets dig into this engine swap...

I drove the 351M/C6 combo into my dad's shop for the last time, and started tearing things apart:



My dad regularly referred to this motor as a boat anchor, but I hung onto it for a couple years as a backup plan. Eventually I sold the motor, before my dad could buy a boat and push it overboard. Here's the old V8 out of the way, and the gaping hole it left between the frame rails:



Engine mounts for the 4.9L are easy enough to come by, and fasten to the block identically over the years. Since the carbureted 300ci motors were available in the 70's trucks, and the trucks and Broncos share frame geometry... I just need to find the right set of perches for the frame. Easier said than done. The EFI mounts drop straight down onto their perches, while the carbureted mounts use perches with diagonally positioned isolator blocks, similar to the old 351M above. Not sure who to credit with this image, but I managed to find the right part numbers for the perches I wanted: 6028 and 6029. My local Ford dealer had to look this up in their archives, but confirmed that with the 70's style mounts bolted to my engine, they would be a fit.



I searched around, called places, but no luck. Very few trucks are left around here with the 240, 300, 352, or 360. Those that are around are cared after, thus not suitable for pillaging. So I decided to make my own "factory appearing" perches. First I had to test fit my 4.9L and ZF5 and take some measurements:



Engine mounts bolted to the block, and using 2x4's off the frame to position the engine:



With the ZF S5-42 resting on the stock transmission crossmember and the engine oil pan about an inch off the front crossmember. Its tight, but looks like everything should fit alright... except that the transfer case will hit the structural member under the floor. I was not interested in cutting the floor of such a clean body, so I opted for a body lift. For the sake of fitting parts, I used hockey pucks as spacers at the body mounts... ended up needing 3 inches to fit the BW1356 that come with my donor truck.


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From a 4x4 family: '78 Ranger XLT build thread... 4.9L EFI, ZF5
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post #11 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 02:47 AM Thread Starter
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I created CAD models for my custom engine perches, and had them waterjet cut from cold rolled steel sheet. My dad had this old makeshift brake kicking around, fabricated from chucky pieces of angle iron. I bolted it to the rear bumper of my beater/workbench pickup, and tried bending a piece of scrap of the right thickness. It took a lot of effort, and I thought for sure that the brake was going to snap... the brake flexed a lot so I had to clamp the part near the end. Not a bad finished bend considering the tool I used...



Here is the passenger side perch mocked up on the frame:



Both perches mocked up, and the frame partly cleaned:



At this point my dad and I had an old Clarke 110e MIG welder in the garage. I had burnt up all the tips for it back in high school while building and "racing" demo cars, and parts for that welder were not readily available. Fortunately, I had access to a nice Lincoln TIG welder through the Formula SAE team at university. One of my teammates there was a certified weld inspector, and showed a few of us the ropes. I always liked the smoothness and control of TIG and quickly became more proficient at that than MIG. So I welded up my engine perches. Next I sandblasted them then coated them in POR15 Chassis Coat, along with the front part of the frame:




Some close-ups of the finished perches, and the gussets underneath the bottom edge:




Derek



From a 4x4 family: '78 Ranger XLT build thread... 4.9L EFI, ZF5
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post #12 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-07-2019, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
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Some goodies for the motor: I had the valve cover, lifter cover, and motor plate powder coated black, and I painted the oil pan. No budget for a rebuild at this point, but I did poke around inside... reasonably clean, no obvious damage. I did hear it run before I bought it, sounded like a typical 4.9L. Threw in some new seals to keep the oil in and the world out.



Back under the Bronco, I got going on a custom crossmember for the transmission. Having replaced the clutch on my 94 F150, and given that I was planning to use a concentric slave cylinder, I designed this with maintenance in mind. Murphy's law, right? I cut the center section out of the original crossmember, leaving the ends tied into the radius arm brackets. Back to the waterjet for a set of 1/8 inch cold rolled plates and gussets to create a drop-out center section. The tubing is extra DOM that a friend had from back-halving his Toyota.



Back in with the motor to check fit... the custom engine perches worked! Shifter position on the trans is going to work also. I thought I might have to make a custom shifter to get around the dash, but the one that came with the tranny ended up working, and was within comfortable reach.



I used the transmission isolator that held the M5OD in my donor truck. Mounting hoop for the isolator is just held in place:



This design allowed me to tilt the running gear back a bit more and gain some more clearance to the cab floor. Here is the clearance between the bellhousing and firewall... enough room to reach in and get those bolts:



Got the rad support back in to check fan clearance: about 1/2 an inch. Its about the same on the back of the engine, between the firewall and the intake plenum (specifically the flange between the upper and lower intake). Also, forgot to mention in an earlier post, but I'm not running the original radiator. I removed a nasty old trans cooler that wasn't even hooked up, and found a massive rad leak. Picked up this rad from an old Camper Special, 76 I think. Takes forever and the neighbor's pool to fill this thing up.

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Last edited by d_rock; 03-07-2019 at 10:19 AM. Reason: typo
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post #13 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-08-2019, 02:12 AM Thread Starter
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Here's the transmission crossmember all welded up. The vertical tubes are capped across the top and house the bolts for the isolator block. The bottom of the tubes will get trimmed down at a later date to avoid catching on anything. Overall, the radius arm brackets are still the lowest point under the truck.



With the motor and trans in, there were a lot of other things to start working on... from the date data in my pictures, I bounced between tasks more than I recall. Here are the fuel line clips out of my donor truck:



I recall having the finger type clips on the pressure and return lines for the fuel pump, and on both sides of the fuel filter; there may have been 2 different sizes. A few got mangled while tearing down the donor truck, since I didn't have the right tool and had to use a piece of sheet metal to release them, but I easily found replacements at the local parts store. I have the right tool now. The other clip pushes onto the outside of the fully connected fitting. Since my donor was a short-box single-cab truck, the wheelbase was quite similar to the Bronco... the fuel lines transferred over pretty easily. The only hassle was positioning them at the engine end to provide slack for strain relief.

Here we have evidence of that body lift... I have a proper 3 inch kit installed here. The bumper will get lifted up later to address that gap.



At the front end, I've got the upper intake in place, and am starting to sort out the wiring. No pictures of it, but I ended up laying out the original wiring harness in the carport. Next, I removed all the wrap from the 94 harness and rearranged it as much as possible to match the layout of the original. Cool thing with the 90's harnesses is that they were meant to be somewhat modular for the sake of manufacturing. Separate harnesses were produced for the engine, chassis, and interior to suit the various options. I understand that some of the connector pinouts may not be directly compatible across the years, but re-pinning is do-able with the right references.



In this picture you can see where I have drawn a place for the PCM to fasten on the firewall. I made a bulkhead for the connector sockets, which was riveted to the firewall; the PCM and connectors fasten from the outside, accessed under the fender. Right beside my PCM sketch you can see where my hydraulic clutch master cylinder is mounted, to the left of the brake assembly.


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From a 4x4 family: '78 Ranger XLT build thread... 4.9L EFI, ZF5
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post #14 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-08-2019, 04:03 AM Thread Starter
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Since I like the original 70's style instrument cluster, but wanted to use the "new" instruments from the donor, I started to plan a custom assembly and gauge faces. I will get to more on this later, but the important part now is that there was no space for a tach within the 70's cluster. Rather than use the plastic bracket that came with my column-mount tach, I machined a custom aluminum shroud for the upper part of the steering column, which included a mounting tab. These parts were clear anodized, and then bonded together.



For now I have kept the stock steering box; it seems to be in decent shape still. For the power steering pump, I transferred the 94 pulley onto the 78 pump, which bolts directly onto the 4.9L bracket. The pressure hose barely reaches.



What was left of the emissions gear on my 4.9" was in bad shape, so I got new parts directly from the manufacturer (PCI). They took a while to process my order, but everything showed up in good shape and as advertised.



So the BW1356 came with 2 different tail housings… a slip yoke type for use on the trucks, and a flange (aka companion) yoke type on the Broncos. My donor had the slip yoke, which adds a great deal of length and would have resulted in a terrible drive angle. Also, these cases do not accommodate a gear driven speedometer, and I was not ready to put a tone ring in my 9 inch, or swap to the 8.8. There is a VSS relocation kit available (easy enough to make with machine access), but that only applies to the models with the flange yoke.

I found someone selling a BW1345 with an M5OD stuck to it. I only needed the t-case, so I traded the M5OD from my donor truck plus some cash for the setup. I got them apart and sold off the spare tranny, recovering my cost. This case has a 32 spline front output and a 31 spline rear output, and is a few inches shorter than the BW1356. There is a provision for a cable speedometer, and with the correct adapter, it will also output a signal for cruise control. I might be able to use this same piece to switch to the electronic speedometer later, and add the RABS parts from my donor... The BW1345 got some new bearings and seals before going into the Bronco.



Driveshafts all cleaned up and painted. Front to back:78 Bronco rear shaft, 78 Bronco front shaft, 94 F150 front shaft.



Spicer CV centering yoke with a new bearing installed:



The original rear CV driveshaft became my new front driveshaft. For the rear, I used the front (non-CV) driveshaft from the F150 donor. Both shafts got shortened and balanced at a local shop. I did not rotate the rear axle downwards to correct the drive angle and reduce vibration, as I was still holding on hope that I would find a flange output for the rear of the case.



And to finish off for today, a few more items showed up:
  • Coolant hose couplings (from JTR Stealth Conversions)
  • T-bolts for my custom fuel tank straps
  • Non-adhesive vinyl harness tape (like they use from the factory on wiring)


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From a 4x4 family: '78 Ranger XLT build thread... 4.9L EFI, ZF5
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post #15 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-09-2019, 03:48 AM
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Nice rig fellow Canadian!! I'm currently your next door neighbor living by Calgary, Alberta
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post #16 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-12-2019, 01:49 AM Thread Starter
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Nice rig fellow Canadian!! I'm currently your next door neighbor living by Calgary, Alberta
Thanks, nice one yourself! I see yours is from the states too. My girlfriend's dad lives in Calgary, we've been through Cochrane on one of our visits out there
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post #17 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-12-2019, 02:51 AM Thread Starter
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Alright, here we have the BW1345 installed, along with both driveshafts. The front driveshaft and the exhaust both clear over the transmission crossmember nicely:



I used as much as I could of the stock exhaust off my 94 donor truck. The tube got cut a few inches back of the air injection port, and I franken-pieced the rest of the exhaust system together. Muffler is a Cherry Bomb that came with the donor. I would love to weld up a full stainless system one day. Checking the exhaust routing around the frame and engine perch:



Those coolant hose couplings were put to good use adapting my engine to the big 70's rad. I did look into fitting a 90's rad, but the width would have required substantial changes to my rad support. Only one connection seems to have ongoing drip, where the bottom hose connects to the engine... I may have overtightened that clamp.



This is where my parents really got freaked out... seemed skeptical about it ever running again. I re-used most of the 78 switches, so that meant rearranging the harness a bit:
  • the 78 ignition switch has fewer "run" circuits, so I piggybacked off one to actuate a relay for another
  • the 78 heater circuit was retained
  • the 78 tailgate circuit was retained
  • the 94 multi-function switch was removed, and the 78 wiper circuit retained. The extra wires running through the firewall were coiled up for later... will likely use these as signals for light and winch relays
  • the 94 light switch uses the same body as the 78 light switch, so it was a direct bolt-in

I mounted the inertia switch high up on the passenger side footwell, beside the glovebox. There is plenty of room there for the RABS unit to be added in later.



Can't find any pictures of it, so I'll talk about the fuel tank. The fuel lines are run back to the tank at this point, but need an in-tank pump to draw from. The tank out of the donor truck was too wide at the flange to slip up between the frame rails, BUT the Bronco frame rail geometry is pretty much unchanged in that area from 78-96, so I ordered a new 96 Bronco fuel tank and pump, and it slipped right in! The lower straps were re-made from steel flat bar, nothing too tricky there.

For the upper straps, I folded the end of a piece of flat bar over, bent into the right curved shape, and welded up those edges, plus drilled a hold and welded that up to really fuse the layers together. The folded region needs to be in a slight bend prior to welding, otherwise after welding this whole region will be too stiff to bend around the tank. Next I performed some angle grinder surgery to carve away the edges of the thickened region, leaving a t-hook with a tapered undercut. These edges then got welded up. At the other end, I created a slot, dropped in one of those t-bolts from Summit, folded the flat bar over the bolt, and welded it down along both edges and through a spot in the middle.
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Last edited by d_rock; 03-13-2019 at 01:42 AM. Reason: typo
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post #18 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-12-2019, 05:49 AM
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Thanks, nice one yourself! I see yours is from the states too. My girlfriend's dad lives in Calgary, we've been through Cochrane on one of our visits out there
I always have cold beer in the fridge, shoot me a message on your way through and stop over for a cold one!!
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post #19 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 01:48 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Cobra07 View Post
I always have cold beer in the fridge, shoot me a message on your way through and stop over for a cold one!!
Thanks man, not sure when we'll be out there next, but I'll keep that in mind!
Same deal if you're ever passing through Vancouver... pretty awesome selection of craft beer out this way (and to a lesser extent in my fridge)!
Bronco Al likes this.

Derek



From a 4x4 family: '78 Ranger XLT build thread... 4.9L EFI, ZF5
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post #20 of 81 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 02:43 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: BC, Canada
Posts: 144
Bronco Info: 1978 Bronco Ranger XLT, 4.9L EFI, ZF S5-42, BW 1345, 32in BFG A/T
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Garage
Finishing up the engine swap
  • hood is back on
  • power distribution box located to make space for the intake air filter in the front driver side
  • engine wiring is all loomed up and partially wrapped with that nice non-adhesive harness tape
  • coolant and heater plumbing completed
  • cleaned the fuel rail and put new seals on the injectors
  • new fuel regulator
  • new spark plugs, wires, ignition coil, and distributor cap+rotor
  • cleaned throttle body and IAC valve
  • MAP sensor mounted to firewall, connected to vacuum tree via semi-rigid plastic tubing (thick red tube in picture)
  • new EGR valve
  • AIR system restored (minus a smog pump intake muffler that was discussed in another thread... were these even used on Canadian trucks? neither of my pickups had it...)



Here's proof that I got the cab wiring put back together. The 94 cluster is zip-tied in place for now, since the custom cluster is still being designed. The speedo has no sensor to pick up off yet though, so no out-pacing traffic. Also got the tach mounted up... kind of blocks the fuel gauge here, but I typically keep it above 1/4 tank anyway. The position is set to work with the 78 bezel, so this will be resolved when the new cluster goes in. No I don't ever expect to rev my 4.9L up to 5600 rpm like the redline in the picture.



SO... DID IT START?!
  1. Battery hooked up, fuel in the tank, all fluids topped up.
  2. Ignition on, fuel is priming... primed.
  3. Crank it over, and over, and over, and over, and over.... its sputtering but not catching.
  4. Check all fuses, relays, wiring connections... all good.
  5. Check for spark... yes we have a spark on all cylinders.
  6. Check timing while cranking it over... looks about right. I never dicked around with the timing anyhow.
  7. Check TDC by pulling a spark plug... seems about right. I never dicked around with the timing anyhow.
  8. Scratch head and second guess everything.
  9. Repeat 1-8 until your head is sore from scratching.
  10. Check the distributor position and discover that its out by 180 degrees I guess I dicked around with the timing.
  11. Re-install the distributor and try to start it again...

YES!!!

She started right up. I will now understate the great deal of effort it takes to bleed the power steering system. Here it is parked in a rather generously sized spot at the liquor store... had to pick up some celebratory beer!



Washing off all the dust from the past year in my dad's shop:

Bronco Al and cdmck like this.

Derek



From a 4x4 family: '78 Ranger XLT build thread... 4.9L EFI, ZF5

Last edited by d_rock; 03-13-2019 at 06:10 PM. Reason: typo
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