January-February 2004    

It's time to install the engine! First I bought a set of weld-in Ford small block engine mounts from Chassis Engineering (P/N CP-2203G). Then I dug out the original radiator mounting brackets that I removed from the stock front crossmember and cleaned them up and trimmed them a little. Next I took the radiator to Dick's Radiator Shop to have it recored. I also asked Dick to block off the extra inlet and outlet that I won't be using, install a new neck with an overflow pipe that would accept a modern pressure cap, and replace the drain petcock. Dick did a super job. I have seen a lot of stock radiators with a plate soldered over the inlet or outlet. Dick removed the entire inlet/outlet and soldered in a flat plate. Nice! The fins got a coat of "Radiator Black" from Eastwood (P/N 10040 Z). The Mustang motor already came stock with a rear sump oil pan. I was ready to go!!

I needed to position the engine so I could figure out where to weld the motor mounts. I swung the engine in and suspended it just above the front cross member and as far back against the firewall as I could get it. Then I attempted to bold the radiator in. What ever made me think this would fit??? It was apparent the engine was too long. I removed the fan assembly and had barely enough room to mount the radiator. I positioned the motor mounts with magnets right up against the front cross member. That was as far forward as the engine was going to go. It didn't clear the firewall. I think I had the engine in and out at least 30 times during two full days of fiddling around before I made the decision that (1) I had to "shorten" the front of the engine and (2) I had to move the firewall back.

There are two ways to "shorten" the engine. The first is by using a shorty water pump and replacing the brackets and accessories with those from a 94-95 Mustang or V-8 Explorer. That sounded very expensive. The second method is to use an electric fan. An added advantage of the second method is that it adds a few extra HP. I ordered a 16-inch 2360 cfm Spal electric fan from Street Rod Stuff and a Walker Radiator Works ABS molded fan shroud from Yogi's .

After the fan and shroud were delivered, I clamped them to the radiator to check for clearance. I slit the firewall and bent back the pieces so the bell housing and intake manifold would clear. The motor mounts are made long so they could be trimmed to fit your specific boxed framerails. I had to trim 3/4 inch off each one. I welded them into place and painted them. then I removed part of the inside of the firewall. I needed to make a new firewall...

A few days later, my son had the day off from school (which means I have to take the day off from work). We jumped into the Toyota and paid a visit to the big welding shop where I buy my sheet metal. I learned a while ago that the cost of cutting a piece to size was expensive and if I got a larger piece that they didn't have to cut, it was much, much cheaper as well as faster. I told the foreman I needed some 16 gage sheet metal. He checked, and the smallest piece he had was 4 feet by 10 feet. I needed some extra to make the floor so I took it. They dropped it into the Toyota, which has a 6 foot bed. I threw some rope around it so I didn't lose it and headed home. 16 gage steel is fairly rigid, but a 10 foot sheet with 4 feet hanging out the back of a little pickup truck becomes flexible and does some strange and amazing things when you are going down the highway. My son just loves going on these little escapades with me. He asks questions like... "Dad, have you lost your mind." "If it flies out of the back of the truck, will you stop to get it or keep on going?" "I won't mention this to mom if you buy me a new video game." "If the police see this, how long will they keep us in jail?"



March-April 2004    

It's still time to install the engine! I fabricated a new firewall set back 2 inches from the original. After the welding and filler and epoxy primer, it was time to paint the firewall Washington Blue. Did I mention I had already painted the original firewall last fall? I bought a quart of PPG Washington Blue and sprayed the firewall and inner fenders to see if I really liked the color and if I really wanted to paint the whole truck that color. I love the color! I also knocked the can over and "painted" a lot of stuff I didn't want painted. Did I mention I now have Washington Blue sneakers? It was time to buy the paint for the whole truck...

The way to buy paint is to purchase all you need at once and mix it all together so that there is no variation in the color. Since I plan to paint the entire truck inside and out and wanted to save a quart or so for future touchup, and considering my track record with careful handling, I went to my local PPG dealer and requested two gallons of Washington Blue. The quart I bought in the fall used the last of his pigment, so he had to order it. He called me a few days later and said PPG couldn't find any on the east coast and that they were looking on the west coast. About a week later I got a call that my paint was ready. Of course, they mixed up only one gallon instead of two. I came back a few hours later and picked up both gallons. I mixed them together in a plastic three gallon bucket and then poured the paint back into the cans. The color seemed a bit light...

I sprayed the firewall and the color was way light, more like an electric blue than Washington Blue. It was back to PPG. They looked into the problem for about a week and concluded that the black pigment was not up to par. They remixed the paint and gave me some additional black pigment in case the new mix was still a bit too light. I poured both gallons into the big plastic bucket, mixed them well, poured them back into the gallon cans, and repainted the firewall. It was better but still a bit too light. Enough fooling around. Time to get the engine in.

I am a firm believer in the corollary to Murphy's Law that says "Before you can do anything, you have to do something else first." My transmission was still apart. It needed to be reassembled before the engine went back in. The top cover has to be carefully slid on sideways and down so that the shifter forks properly engage the sliders. I can't tell if I have done this correctly until the top cover is on, the tail housing is on, and the shifter is installed. A simple matter but the first 20 times I assembled the transmission, it was locked up and would not shift. After 7 hours of doing this (yes 7 hours!!!), it finally went together properly.


I put the engine back in and set the pinion angle. The rear points upward at 4 degrees, so I set the transmission to point downward at 4 degrees. I think the ideal angle is 1 to 3 degrees, but the main thing is that the angle must be the same so that they are parallel. I attached a new Mustang transmission mount to the bottom of the transmission and a miracle happened! The bottom of the mount was exactly even with the bottom of the frame. I fabricated a transmission crossmember from materials purchased at Home Depot. I used 1/8 inch C channel, which was mounted with the c pointing downward. I drilled the holes for the transmission mount bolts in the center. Just beyond the holes I welded in solid 1/8 inch flat stock which filled the c perfectly. I drilled holes in the frame and frame crossmember and corresponding holes in the transmission crossmember. After painting and installing it, the engine was official in.

The engine is in!



MAY-JUNE 2004    

As happens every year, much of May and June is taken up planning for, preparing for, and enjoying the annual family vacation.

I did manage to get a few things done in May. I figured that the next thing after getting the engine in was to fabricate and install the toeboard and floorboard. After that was done, the wiring, fuel lines, etc. could be installed. Because the firewall was recessed, I could not use the original toeboard. There was no way my skill level was up to making a one piece toeboard, so I made it in three pieces: the two flat sides and the rounded part between them. I made cardboard templates for the flat pieces and used some thin aluminum sheet to make a template for the round piece. I copied the shapes onto some of the abundant supply of 16 gage sheet metal I had, cut them out, and welded them together. Bending the rounded part to the right shape was not easy. I finally ended up hammering it around a length of 12-inch well casing I "obtained" from one of the hazardous waste sites I work on.


To attach the toeboard to the firewall, I welded some angled strips to the firewall and welded the toeboard to the angled strips. Of course while welding these strips to the firewall, I could smell the burning paint as it turned brown and flaked off my freshly painted firewall. I guess it helps to have a good plan. I guess it really helps if you did this before.

Toeboard and floorboard

Once the toeboard was welded in, I made a cardboard template for the floor, transferred it to 16 gage sheet metal, and cut it out. I put it in the truck and oops... something went wrong somewhere. So I made another cardboard template for the floor, transferred it to 16 gage sheet metal, and cut it out. This one was right on. There wasn't much of that 4 X 10 foot piece of 16 gage metal left! I measured the size of the "transmission hump" and fabricated it out of 16 gage metal. I cut out an appropriate size hole (I hope) on the top for the shifter and welded it to the floor. The only thing remaining was a cone-shaped piece to bridge the gap between the rectangular transmission hump and the rounded middle part of the toeboard. This was not easy for me to do, and it took me a long time to do it. After wasting a lot of time (Thomas Edison would disagree with this) trying various ideas that did not work, I made this piece in three parts of easier to work with 20 gage sheet metal. The top piece went from the flat top of the transmission hump to the top half of the rounded part of the toeboard. Then I made pieces to run from the flat sides of the transmission hump to the rounded part of the toeboard. I welded these three pieces to the floorboard and to each other but not to the toeboard. Now I have a removable floor so I can easily get to what is beneath it. I think this will come in handy when I run the wiring, fuel and brake lines, and exhaust pipes. But now I have to pull the engine back out so I can paint the firewall. Again.



JULY-AUGUST 2004     Getting ready to run...    

When I got the engine out for the last (I hope) painting of the firewall, I noticed there was no dipstick. I guess it wouldn't fit with the long tube headers so the previous owner just removed it. The hole was plugged with back silicone sealer. After I got that out, I found some sort of ring with an X pressed in. The only way I could get that out was to drop the oil pan and pound it through. On the good side, everything underneath looked nice and clean.

The engine went back in, and it was time to to start putting back all the parts I removed. I painted all of the brackets dark blue to match the engine. I put in a new water pump because (according to rumor) the pump on the engine was probably nearing the end of it's lifespan, and it is much easier to change a water pump on an essentially bare block. Since I added an electric fan, I also upgraded to a 160 amp alternator to produce enough juice to keep everything running. I had to grind the bracket to make it fit. I ditched the smog pump along with the associated wires, hoses, and charcoal canister. Without the smog pump, the stock belt was too long. I cut the old belt and put it on with vice grips holding it together. I adjusted the tension and got everything right. I marked the belt, took it off, and measured it. On my next trip to NAPA I picked up a belt of the proper length, and it fit perfectly!

The upper intake manifold looked a little ratty. It had some stains, rub marks from the A/C hose, and a big scratch I put in with the chain on the engine hoist. I took it off, sanded out the scratch, sanded the crud off the outside and sprayed it with Eastwood's Aluma Blast. It turned out nice. I also took off the valve covers and replaced them with polished Ford Racing valve covers (my big engine dress-up splurge!).

Before I pulled the engine out of the Mustang, I cut the fuel lines in the middle of the nylon hoses that connect the fuel rail to the lines on the frame. I now know that is something I should have not done. I called Ford to get a new set of hoses. They are not sold separately. Apparently they are bonded on, and you have to purchase the entire fuel line assembly for something like $250. Russell makes some relatively less expensive (at least compared to other brands) fittings that go from the fuel rail to -AN8 (in) and -AN6 (out) fittings. I bought those, and some fittings, and some braided hose. The -AN6 hose is much larger than those skinny little stock lines. I ordered some 3/8-inch aluminum fuel line (they sell only 3/8 and 1/2 inch). 3/8 inch didn't sound big, but when it arrived it was apparent that it is only slightly smaller that the water pipes in my house. My engine surely will never be starved for fuel. I needed a fuel pump, so I went with a Walbro external pump from Auto Peformance Engineering, more fittings, a fuel filter, more fittings, some flexible hose to run to the tank, more fittings, plus some more fittings at the tank. When I finally got the fuel lines done, I had a fortune invested in AN fittings. The fuel pump is mounted on the inside lower frame rail at about the back of the cab. It has to be lower than the tank and also somewhat protected.


I have a bit of a problem with space in my garage. When I am standing at my work bench, I am actually standing inside the frame at the rear of the truck, the same place the fuel tank sits. Since the laws of physics dictates that two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time, I made a temporary tank out of a 2-gallon plastic gas can. That should suffice until I am ready to roll out of the garage.

Gas Can

Next came the headers. The factory Mustang tube headers fit great on the left, but ended at the frame on the right so I had to toss them. I installed a pair of Sanderson block hugger headers I bought at the York NSRA Hot Rod Show in June. I had to grind away part of the motor mount on the left to make them fit. I told the Sanderson guy that I was using CE motor mounts. He said, "No problem." But I guess he meant "No. Problem." The right side is extremely close to the starter and starter wire. It would not surprise me if the starter wire melted. The instructions say tighten header bolts, drive, tighten header bolts, drive, tighten header bolts, etc. you get the picture. To avoid having to tighten header bolts every 50 miles, I bought a set of Stage 8 locking header bolts. Stainless steel. Nice. One of the E-clips was bent and would not go on. My attempt to straighten it resulted in a broken E-clip. I dropped Stage 8 an email, and they promptly sent me three new clips. Very nice people!



SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2004 Wiring the engine to run...    

I cut a hole in the fan shroud the size of the electric fan using my sabre saw. As I was cutting, the hot plastic behind the saw was welding the cut shut, so cutting the hole became quite a challenge. I am sure that there is some trick to this that I am not aware of. I got the hole cut and the shroud and fan mounted on the radiator. I then mounted the radiator on the original mounting brackets, which I had trimmed. I figured out the size and shape of the radiator hoses I needed and went to the local NAPA with pieces of hoses in hand. I explained what I wanted and they laughed and told me to go in the back and find the hoses I needed, which I did. I attached the hoses and filled the radiator with antifreeze, which began dripping, then spurting from a pinhole leak in the bottom. I had to drain the cooling system, remove the radiator, detach the fan and shroud, and make a trip to Dick's Radiator Shop. He fixed the leak in 2 seconds. The radiator went back on, and I re-filled the cooling system with antifreeze. No leaks.

The wiring diagrams that come with the Chilton/Hayes manuals are not very good. Ford publishes a manual called "Electrical and Vacuum Troubleshooting Manual." I picked one up on Ebay for the 1988 Mustang for about $15. I don't think I could have figured out the wiring without it. It is worth every penny and more! It is a little short on trouble shooting, but is loaded with wiring diagrams for every circuit. I brought down the several boxes of Mustang wiring and went to work. One box was full of engine wiring. Fortunately I tagged all the plugs so most things went back together. There were some unidentified plugs and a couple I mislabeled, but with the help of the wiring manual, I got everything figured out.

Next came the two boxes of dash wiring. What a tangled mess! I decided to cut off everything that was not necessary to make the engine run. Some of the stuff I did not need, other stuff I could splice back in later. Fuel door release wire, don't need, clip. Rear window defrost wire, don't need, clip. Seatbelt wires, don't need, clip. Warning chime and wires, don't need no stinkin' warning chime, clip. Unknown little electrical box, clip. Another, clip. Clip, clip, clip. I got rid of a lot of wires and little black boxes, but it is still a mess. I attached the computer to the wiring harness. I mounted the coil and starter relay to a small sheet of metal and then mounted the sheet on the left shock since I don't have an inner fender to mount it on.

Next I located the fuel pump relay and wired in the fuel pump. Then came the ignition switch on the steering column. The plugs almost matched, but some of the wires were in different places. I clipped off the Mustang plug and spliced the wires to the Explorer plug and plugged it into the steering column. Now to turn the key and see what happens -- the fuel pump clicked on. Good sign. I turned the key to start. Nothing. That was not surprising. If fact, if it ever starts and runs it would be surprising. Back to the wiring manual to see what might cause it not to start. Neutral safety switch, probably those wires hanging from the transmission. I wired the switch out. Clutch safety switch. No pedals, no switch. Once I figured out what wires should run to the clutch safety switch, I wired it out. Turn the key again. Fuel pump clicks on. Good. Turn the switch to start. The engine cranked a couple of times and roared to life. It idled nicely, but I had to shut it down because there was gas spurting from several connectors in the fuel line.

I guess I did not tighten the fancy aluminum AN fittings enough. They are expensive, and I was afraid of overtightening and ruining them. I am world famous for overtightening. I am a pro at snapping bolts. Putting the cover back on the transmission and using a torque wrench set to the proper torque, I managed to snap off most of the cover bolts. I could go on... Once I got the gas cleaned up and the fittings tightened, I ran the engine again. Sure is loud with open headers. I made a little video clip with sound of the engine running: SEE AND HEAR MY ENGINE RUN!! It is a 478kb clip and might take a few minutes to download.

  wireing right side engine starter relay

Now that I have the engine running, I will install the brake booster, pedals, and brake lines. Ummm, there does not seem to be enough space to mount the brake booster on the firewall. The intake is in the way. Note to self: Plan further ahead. It looks like, as they say, back to the drawing board...




I found a number of after-market Mustang 5.0 intake manifolds. After eliminating all the brands I never heard of and eliminating the ones that would be too large, I was down to two choices: (1) an upper intake bolt-on or (2) a lower and upper intake bolt-on. Changing the lower intake would involve pulling the injectors and fuel rail and sounded like a lot more hassle than just replacing the upper intake, so I opted for replacing just the upper intake. I ordered a Comp (as in Comp Cams) Power Box. It is made of polymer (fancy word for plastic) and was small. In the accompanying installation video, the swap was done on an '88 Mustang with speed-density, same as my engine. I sanded off the casting marks and painted the Power Box Alumna Blast. Since the intake was rather plain looking, I added a flame decal. Installation was problem free, and the engine started right up and idled nicely. The Power Box is supposed to add 20 or so HP. I guess I will decorate the garage wall with the old intake.

Stock Mustang Inake     
Comp Power Box

Now that I had room for a booster, I decided that my next task would be to hook up the brakes. I went out in my yard and measured the pedal placement on the Explorer, Jeep, Toyota, and Tracker, all of which have a clutch and five speed. I determined the pedal position for the '38, approximated where the booster should go, said a few prayers, and cut five holes in the firewall (one for the master cylinder lever and four for the bolts). I hooked the pedals to the booster and the placement seemed pretty good, given the confines of the cab.

I am using the booster and master cylinder (MC) out of the '88 Mustang and a set of pedals from an '87 Mustang that came missing a few pieces like the clutch quadrant. The '88 Mustang MC is a bit odd -- it has three brake lines. When I pulled it out of the Mustang, I did not make a diagram. I just figured it would be in the Chilton's or the factory shop manual I had. WRONG. All of the diagrams depict a MC with two brake lines. I had to visit my local Ford dealer's parts window and ask them to print a copy of the parts page showing the brake lines, which they did. Armed with that diagram, I now know that one line goes from the MC to the left front brake. Two lines run to a proportioning valve, and from the valve one line runs to the right front brake and one line runs to the rear brakes. I also discovered that the MC side of the brake lines uses some kind of metric bubble flare that requires a fancy expensive tool to reproduce. I had rounded the nuts on the lines when I removed them from the Mustang, and really did not feel like spending big bucks on a tool to make three flares.

I stopped by Eastwood, which is near where I live, and picked up a 25-foot coil of brake line, fittings, and an Imperial flaring tool. I had heard good things about the Imperial tool, and they are all true. I started with the back brakes. I had the drums turned and bought new shoes and a kit from NAPA that had new springs, pins, and washers. I started the assembly on the right wheel when I remembered that the brakes were missing parts when I first removed the hubs. Next chance I got, I paid a visit to the junkyard with a shopping list of parts I needed. The weather man predicted rain in the late afternoon, but I was there a 8 AM when they opened. Unfortunately the rain stated at 7:50 AM, and I did not feel like driving home empty handed. Fashionably dressed in a green trash bag raincoat (hand tailored, I might add) I set out and looked over the rows of Fords, which, of course, were in the farthest corner of the yard. First I found an '88 Mustang and pulled the pedals. I removed the brake light switch, which I then recognized from my Mustang but didn't know what it was, bushings, and some other pedal stuff. Then I found a fairly unmolested 87 T-Bird with the odd three line MC like the one from the Mustang. I carefully removed the lines from the MC. They were not frozen like the Mustang's and came off easily. Pressing my luck, I popped off the brake drums and found a brake setup identical to that of the Granada. Many of the parts looked new. I pulled off everything I needed. I also harvested a couple of throttle cable brackets along the day. Having most of my list fulfilled and being cold and soaked, I called it a day.

After a couple of tries with the flaring tool, I was making nice flares. I made the rear lines and connected them to a universal tee I got from NAPA. I hooked the T to a flexible hose kit from Chassis Engineering. They sent me two of everything. Figuring that they were not having a two for one sale, I called to tell them they doubled my order and asked how to return the extra stuff. They thanked me for my honesty, sent UPS to my house to pick up the extra parts, and send me a very cool free T shirt. Nice people! I determined that the hot rod shop I purchased my front end from got most of the parts from Parr Automotive, so I called them. (The Parr Automotive labels and numbers on the boxes were a subtle clue that the stuff did not come from Heidts as I was led to believe). Parr sent me their Mustang II brake line kit, which did not fit. I called them again, and after a lengthy discussion, determined that I had 11-inch '75-'80 Ford Granada rotors with '78 and later GM calipers (this was news to me, I thought I had Ford calipers). Nice to know these minor details if I should ever need new front pads. They sent the GM caliper brake line kit, and it fit perfectly.


On the Mustang and T-bird, the proportioning valve was mounted on the inner fender, but my inner fender is hanging from the ceiling, and the brake lines wouldn't reach it anyway. I found a nice spot on the firewall below the booster, drilled a hole, and mounted the valve there. I ran lines from the valve to the right front brake and to the rear brakes. I also ran a line from the left front brake to the MC. Ooops. Wrong fitting at the MC. Now, I know that you are not supposed to put a splice in your brake line, but I have seen it done with no ill effects and, in fact, used a splice when I redid the rear lines on my '91 Explorer (It has held up fine for years with no problem). Rationalizing that the splices would be where I could keep an eye on them, I cut the MC lines and flared the ends with a standard double flare. I then hooked them to a 3/8 union and a short line running to the proportioning valve and to a standard double flare on the left front line.

Booster and master cylinder

Now I have a brake system. When I am dome fiddling with the pedals and bolt everything down for the last time, I will tighten the fittings and pour some fluid in the MC.