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1,725 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My "too cheap to buy an Early Bronco so instead I'll spend $10k on an 86" Build

I suppose it's about time for me to start keeping a log of my slow progress on the (still unnamed) Bronco.
I bought her in 2008 from a guy that just could not pass smog. Let him keep the top since I won't use it.

$800, no rust, original paint, in much better condition than anything else on the local market and 1/3 of their price.
The rear driver quarter was curled up about 8", looks like he made friends with a big rock somewhere.

'86, 302, XLT (still not sure what that entails other than the fancy trim). Pretty much stock other than the cherrybomb muffler.

My budget is somewhat flexible, I'm starting easy on the upgrades and jsut working on what needs to be fixed/maintained. After the next year or so I'll actually start digging into the expensive just-for-fun stuff.

Originally my plans were to make this an offroad beast while still retaining daily driver manners. I drive about once a week so it's not so daily.
After a lot of thought, I am going to shift my focus to making her more of a cruiser with enough ability to do some light wheeling here and there (which of course is already done stock). My reason for this is that I want to cut the cab off completely, like this:

From what I've read there are concerns with structural integrity under load in this situation. I'll reinforce what I can, but I won't be comfortable doing any heavy wheeling without the strength of the cab top. In addition, I won't put in a cage with the top off, so the mid/heavy wheeling is completely out.
My plan is to eventually get a 78-9 or another 86 with EFI and turn that into a heavy wheeler.

Power focus will be on the 0-40 and enough power to get around safely on the highway. I don't drive over 65 usually. Since I don't drive a lot, MPG gains are a bonus, not a goal.
Exterior will be olive drab green. Saw it on an old '40s Jeep and I dig it. Started with Krylon OD flat, but I think I'd rather go with the classic army semi gloss here.
Interior will be bedliner, black, probably Al's but not decided.
Not cutting the fenders or going with flares, gonna try to keep that stock.

Brakes will be upgraded eventually.
Suspension will be a secondary concern, looking at the basic 4"-6" lift to fit 35s, half for wheeling and half because it looks damn good. I don't know much about suspension so this in particular will be packed full of learning for me. Right now my garage is too short for ANY lift or tires, so it's gonna hafta wait.

I'm not big on electronics since this thing will be totally topless, but I'm interested in a CB radio, a basic decent sounding audio setup, and GPS for those times I do hop on a trail. I'll need to figure out some sort of nondescript lockable panel to hide it all.

Pics are coming. This is the only one I have, and it's not cause of the truck. :thumbup

1,725 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Mods, Upgrades, Repairs, and Maintenance


Remove carpet - 10/2008, no rust on body.
Plugs changed - 02/2010, good condition a tiny bit of oil on plugs. Gapped to .045.
Fuel filter changed - 02/2010, did not need change tool.
Oil changed - 02/2010, looks good. Filter done.
Seafoamed - 02/2010, through intake and oil. Minor smoke.
Oil changed - 02/2010, to clear out seafoam. Done after fifty miles. Oil was milky. Filter done.
Air filter cleaned - 02/2010, looked great. Oil breather filter replaced.
IAC Cleaned - 02/2010, very dirty. Gasket replaced. Seems to have fixed stalling issue at idle.
Battery replaced - 03/2010, wouldn't keep charge. Replaced with dynolast?
Battery + cable replaced - 03/2010, heavily corroded, replaced with cheapo cable from NAPA.
PCV valve checked - 03/2010, working.
Rubber brake lines replaced - 03/2010, replaced leaking rubber lines with extended stainless. Should be long enough for a 6" lift - need to verify.
Rear drums checked - 03/2010, decent condition, no glazing or gouging, thick pads.
Russell speed bleeders installed - 03/2010, all four wheels.
Master cylinder replaced - 06/2010, corrected spongy pedal issue. Created heavy pull to left when braking.
Brake pushrod extended - 06/2010, firmer brakes, even heavier pull to left.
Hawk SD brake pads installed - 07/2010, brakes are now perfect, no pull to left. Rotors looked good, no gouging or glazing.
EGR cleaned and tested - 07/2010, not too dirty. Operation was fine. Gasket replaced.
EVR-EGR vacuum line fixed - 07/2010, ghetto fix didn't work enough. Fixed with stiff vacuum line coupling.
License plate lamps and lamps holders replaced - 07/2010, lamps are now lit properly.
Dash, dash pad, and bezels replaced - 08/2010, still need pad cover.
Light and windshield wiper knobs replaced - 08/2010, yeah, it's minor. Bite me. :goodfinge
Battery + cable replaced (again) - 08/2010, old cheapo was loose, replaced with another cheapo.:smilie_slap I gots no monies.
Fix window motors - 08/2010, both sides, one motor had broken plastic gear, other had broken uh... "nuggets". Replaced plastic gear on both, put in 1/4" nuts instead of nuggets. Cleaned and repacked with lithium grease. Passenger side was pretty corroded. Seems much slower/weaker after rebuild.
Replace window seals - 08/2010, both sides. Had to glue the inner strips in since there is no plastic interior. Gorilla glue worked fine.
Install strap mounts in bed - 08/2010, Picked eight up from a couple Explorers.
Primered and painted ash tray - 08/2010, another minor detail. suck it.:goodfinge
Exhaust upgrade - 09/2010, 3", Bassani Y, one cat (Magnaflow 38019), muffler, and M3001 tailpipe installed.
EVP Replacement - 12/2010, All voltages were good. Old EVP wasn't applying correct resistance.
Vacuum Lines Replaced - 12/2010, Most lines were replaced. Went through everything with propane, didn't get any change in idle speed. Update 04/26/11: Lines were crap - replaced again with soft rubber, propane tested OK.
New Tires - 08/2011, All tires replaced with BFG KM2's, upgraded to 33 10.5 R15. $932.
Replace the tailgate - 09/2011, primered and painted.
Replace all belts - 09/2011, Napa basics. All greased, broken in, retensioned. No squeals.
Upgrade Power Steering Pump - 09/2011, replaced with a brand new Saginaw. Pump, pulley, and bracket from an '84 E150. E150 bracket needed to be spaced away from the block. New E150 pressure line installed. Generic cap bought from Autozone.
Install front tow hooks - 09/2011, Painted, drilled the sway bar mounts bigger and installed there. From an F350.
Replace brake booster - 09/2011, Napa unit.
Install hitch shackle mount and large shackle - 10/2011, Smittybuilt on from autozone, $20.
Sand/Paint hitch - 10/2011, painted to match tow hooks.
Install stock spare carrier - 10/2011, decided not to paint until I can powder coat it. $25.
Replaced FPR - 10/2011, didn't have any fuel smell on vac side, and the fuel pressure behaved as it should have when the vac was removed, but replaced it just in case.
Cleaned Throttle Body - 11/2011, DIRTY.
Cleaned IAC - 11/2011, bit dirty, still good movement.
Replaced Spark Plugs - 11/2011, motorcraft coppers, old plugs looked great. Front on driver's side looked older than the others.
Cleaned & oiled air filter - 11/2011.
Replaced BOTH fuel filters - 11/2011, low pressure one looked pretty bad.
Repair/Replace Gear Indicator Line - Took line from an F250. Works great.
PCV Reroute - 12/2011, went fine, ran new line to brake booster and PCV.
Replace air bypass valve on smog system - 12/2011, Used aftermarket part from rockauto. Old one wouldn't hold vacuum at all. Checked both check valves too, both seem operable - can blow one direction but not other. No rust.
Replaced PCV - 03/2012, new motorcraft unit.
Tested ECT, came out perfect. - 01/2012
Tested IAC, came out perfect. - 01/2012
Checked for vac leaks, small leak found and corrected. Used carb cleaner on everything, no change. - 01/2012
Installed new horn, new terminals. - 01/2012
Tested Fuel Pressure. - 05/2012, 18 KOER, 33 KOER [email protected], 1-2 psi variation when throttle blipped/dropped, 40psi at idle with FPR vac removed. Driven seemed the same, but couldn't tell for sure.
Changed oil and filter - 05/2012, Mobil 1 Synthetic and Motorcraft filter.
Replaced ECT - 05/2012, Motorcraft unit, seems to have a little more pep.
Battery cable and box upgrade - 05/2012, Starter and Alt cables were not touched.
Removed tail pipe, installed turn down - 05/2012, added second hanger to reduce resonating.
Installed fire extinguisher - 05/2012
Replaced all striker bushings - 05/2012, cut piece of heater hose. UPDATE 06/2012, hose pieces fell off. Replaced with Dorman bushings, fit is better.
Replaced starter solenoid - 06/2012, replaced with motorcraft unit.
Replaced both thermactor system check valves - 07/2012, replaced with motorcraft units. Used Flexpro silicone high heat hose to make connections. Also replaced cat air tube hose just for consistency.
Replaced upper intake gasket, IAC gasket, TB gasket, and reseated injectors - 11/2012, All Fel-Pro, very very little smear of RTV used for plenum gasket (necessary), others dry. Oiled injectors, everything went together smoothly. Pulled battery for an hour before starting.
Chopped top - 01/2012, See later in thread.
Installed offroad lights - 03/2013, used HF long range lights, Radio Shack relays, ORW switches and fuse block.
Oil & Filter Change - 03/2013, Valvoline full synthetic and Motorcraft filter. Only got ~4 qts out. Added 6.
Replaced in-tank fuel pump - 03/2013, PFP unit from o'Reilly's. Replaced lock ring o-ring and filter sock. Gas gauge works great now.
Replace interior door panels - 05/2013, Sheet metal.
Upgrade injectors to explorer - 05/2013, work perfect.
Install KO 12v terminal block - 08/2103, Seen here, check comments for upgrades.
Replaced inline fuel pump - 09/2103, PFP unit from o'Reily's.
Bled Brakes (not MC) - 09/2103
Remove trim, fill holes - 11/2013, Used 3m liquid metal - works great!! In over a year, can't tell where it was done.
Fuel tank access panel - DIY fiberglass panel molded from original panel.
Refinish Wheels - 11/2013, Stripped with B12, waxed and happy.
Upgrade Horn - 11/2013, used this unit. Ran new wiring, relay, and waterproof button off the KO12v block.
Replaced Master Cylinder and Rear Wheel Cylinders - 11/2013, All Bendix parts. Suspect failure of old MC.

1,725 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
As she sits in the garage:

MMMMM, 80-86 grill FTW

Still gotta get me a tailgate!

She used to have a spare carrier but the PO took it off and let the mount nuts rust out. Gonna have to replace the whole plate since I can't weld new ones on yet.

Here's where the PO tucked the quarter panel up. There's also some damage in the bed directly above that but it's been beaten back into shape. Gonna need to be reinforced since it's pretty weak now.

What it should look like:

Got some good looking OEM wheels, great condition, just dirty:

The sound deadener has gotta come up before the bedliner gets rolled on... Boring and time consuming...

Originally had a blue dash and black bezels. Here she is rocking the new stuff:

Love me that fake wood! Looks a lot better than the fake burlwood crap.

Here's the new knobs from RockAuto. Not too bad for $5.

Damn dog spends more time in the truck than I do. :D

1,725 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
A few random notes...
Some of this might be obvious - it's a few simple tips that I have learned as a noob.:thumbup

If you don't have a headlamp, get one. BEST. TOOL. EVER.
This thing makes all of the work I do 1000x less headache-inducing.

If you see the Valvoline Brake Cleaner on sale for $2, PASS. This stuff sucks SO BAD compared to the CRC stuff. I figured brake cleaner is brake cleaner, but I was wrong.

If you're having a hard time getting a bolt/nut/etc to stay in a socket and don't have magnetized tools, dip the head in a bit of grease. Makes things a lot easier.

Mount Points
Here's the mount points I'm gonna install in the bed. These were taken off of a couple of early 90s Explorers, got the tip from another FSBer. I have eight, grabbed some fender washers and small bolts to mount throughout the bed. Pics to come, once installed.

Power Distribution Upgrade
For now, all I can say is don't bother repairing the cheapo battery cables from NAPA. They can't handle the heat.
When I get to it, I will detail my power upgrades here - 2g cables, terminal block for accessories, etc.

Brake Upgrade (pretty basic)
Here's the stainless steel brake hoses I got from Summit. Supposed to be okay for up to a 4" lift. I have no lift. Didn't need to order crush washers, they came with the lines.

Also put in speed bleeders since the pressure bleeder I got from HF was crap.

Put in these pads up front.

Replaced master cylinder with a new one from Napa.

Backed MC pushrod out a bit.

These steps, along with lots n lots of bleeding, took my brakes from barely drivable, long travel, super sponginess to perfect stopping.

Sixlitre Ignition Upgrade

Installed as described in thread:
MSD Coil
MSD Rotor & Cap
Ford Racing 9mm Plug Wires
Autolite Copper Plugs
Timing has not yet been advanced, nor have plugs been regapped, so I can't comment on performance or MPG gains.

Window Repair
Window motors both failed at the same time and the weather strips were falling apart.
Took both motors apart. In one, the white gear was cracked and rounded. In the other, the little white nuggets were shattered and the plastic gear was worn.
I ordered two gear sets from RockAuto.
Also ordered the window strip kit from JBG.
The new plastic gear fit in the motor perfect. The new metal gear did not - the center hole was too small to fit the stock motor. Had to use the OEM metal gear, which meant a bit of cutting to the new white gear.
The new white nuggets would not fit with the OEM metal gear - I ditched them and used stacked 1/4" nuts instead.
Packed with plain lithium grease, resintalled, both now work fine.
The passenger motor is pretty slow - had a lot of corrosion too. May need to be replaced soon.
These do not fit in a stock motor:

Motor all ready to be installed:

The strip kit from JBG fit pretty well. The windows are now very snug. A few pics of the fitment, including a few spots where they don't line up so well...

Since I have no plastic interior anymore, I had to Gorilla Glue the inner strip. Since I have no interior, it does not touch the glass and thus serves no purpose other than aesthetic:

1,725 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Truck cold:
hook vac gauge to TAB vac line
put thermometer in coolant
record thermo temp
check ECT resistance
start truck
check for vac at TAB
60 secs, stop and record temp/ohms. Do this for every 60 seconds of run time for 10 minutes. Check vac at tab entire time. note when it goes away. bump throttle, it should return immediately, then go away after ~20 secs of idle.
Check coolant level

-Check TAB vac operation.

-Check ECT resistance cold and hot. Record ohms and coolant temps.

-Spray down truck body, underbody, wheels, engine bay.

-Pull wheels, inspect brakes.

-Adjust boosted pushrod.

-Check for vac leaks, use carb cleaner.

-Clean up IAC wiring?

-Tail turn signal?

182 Posts
Ill be the first one to call bullshizzle until it is posted. :popc1::toothless

2,974 Posts

1,037 Posts
Once you get past the I don't wanna's, it is n't that bad.. it is the part of my diesel swap I was loathing the most.. pretty painless empty with a floor jack.

1,725 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I started on it yesterday, had to get a new (15mm?) deep socket... Then had to stop and let it soak in PB... Now I just lost motivation. :(
I hate little dumbass hangups...
But yeah, I just gotta quit whinin' and DO IT NOW

1,725 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Long time update:
Decided not to pull the gas tank, instead cut an access panel up top with Steve83's directions. Went smoothly.
Replaced the brass float, the old one looked fine, no leaks.
Gas gauge still did not register.
Possibly the sending unit - need to open up the tank and fool with the arm to see if the gauge responds.

Checked the timing, suspected cause of poor power - turns out it was 10* BTDC on the dot.

Started replacing vacuum lines.

4:20 Enthusiast!
3,277 Posts

816 Posts
Not a fan of chopping the cab off, But curious to see how it ends up.

2nd mouse gets the cheese
614 Posts
just a tip instead of using grease on the bolts. a small piece of paper placed on the bolt head works great for holding it in a socket and is less work to clean up

1,725 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Not a fan of chopping the cab off, But curious to see how it ends up.
I've got a hard-on for the topless thing, but can't afford an EB and won't go for a K5, so I'll have to do this. Maintain structural strength will be the real challenge, I think. Probably won't happen for a year or so, still gotta learn to weld and whatnot. :thumbup

just a tip instead of using grease on the bolts. a small piece of paper placed on the bolt head works great for holding it in a socket and is less work to clean up
Thanks for the tip, I'll give that a shot.

1,725 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Got new tires, 33" BFG KM2. $932 installed, and they drive great.
Took her out offroading for the first time on a ~25 mile trail, had a blast.
Girlfriend and her friend sitting in the back, mom in the passenger's. We went with two brand new stock jeeps and a new yota. Kind of funny watching three $20k SUVs baby along a moderate trail at 6MPH, followed by a roaring $800 Bronco full of screaming women barreling through at 40. :D
Got all four tires off the ground three times and only managed to break my brake booster. 4WD worked perfectly.

Stripped all the old coating off the wheels and getting ready to polish & wax them.

Got a tailgate spare carrier, mounted on and looking good. Still no tailgate though.

Replaced the gas door with a new one. No more flappy!

Going out right now to pick up some Krylon Rust Tough for the bed and interior.

382 Posts
too bad the OP lives in CA.

When i am buying Brake Cleaner i always look for the one that reads not for sale in CA, it works the best. :p I know of a few Germans that have asked me where i got it after they used some at a race event(drag racing) due to it working so much better then the German stuff.
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