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KentF New Reader
1/25/18 6:43 p.m.

Battery Relocation - Cables

The cable kit I purchased from Summit is pretty high quality. The insulation is very tough and the clamps and parts are well made. Also,  these big 1 Gauge cables have many fine conductors inside. There are seven bundles of wire in each cable and each bundle has about 18 wires in it. That comes to about 126 wires in the cable. This is very important for two reasons. One, it is more flexible. Many wires allow it to bend and snake through the car to its destination. Two, and most importantly, it can carry more power. Electricity (electrons) travels mostly on the surface of a conductor (because the electrons repel each other). Many small wires have much more surface area that a few big ones.  Therefore the multi-strand cable can carry much more power without wasting it by heating up the wire. The more fine wires in the cable the more power it can handle with a given diameter.

So this kit has 1 gauge cables at 1/2” diameter. They also sell smaller 2 gauge cables that cost less (copper is expensive). The 2 gauge wires would probably work fine, especially since I am only turning over a 3.8 ltr engine and not some big 10 cylinder monster that might be at home in a truck.  The OEM cables in the car are 2 gauge but they are also only a few feet long. I probably would have been just fine with the smaller cables (and the installation would be easier) but I wanted to take no chances and went big and went home. And the big cable looks cool, which is worth something isn’t it?

I connected the ground cable to a new bolt mounted into the main transverse box frame at the front of the rear seat. The frame has a very handy 4” access hole on the front side right about where the arrow is below.

I welded the bolt in from the back side so that I would be absolutely sure it would always have  good connection to some fairly thick steel in a structural part of the body. Here is a photo looking inside the hole at the welded bolt head prior to painting.

Putting the lug from the kit on the cable: Something that has always bothered me was how to make large permanent cable connections like this. Summit has a specialized anvil made for this for about $15 plus shipping. It is by Lincoln Electric and works wonderfully. Lincoln Electric Lug/Cable Crimping Tool KH538. I found it online other places but Summit had the best price. The web page says it has a scale on it to prevent over crimping (it doesn't) but I found this unnecessary if used with a normal ball peen hammer. Three or four hits and that lug is never coming off. Make sure to use electrolytic grease first to keep corrosion out of the connection.

After much consideration I chose a route for the positive cable up the drivers side of the car, into the fender, over the fender liner, and then into the engine bay near where the battery was originally. This seemed to be the path of least resistance in that I did not have to work behind the dashboard and did not have this heavy cable trying to snake through the engine compartment (90% of the route is completely hidden). During installation I found some downsides to this route I will discuss below.

Some words of caution with the positive cable: Choose the route wisely, de-burr all holes, armor penetrations, keep away from excessive heat, secure against vibration, stone chips and so on. If the copper in this cable ever touches the steel body you will have a very bad day.

Across the back seat area (this was later secured with clamps and sheathed in flex plastic covering).

Straight through the transverse frame behind the drivers seat and secured with grommets (Cheese Grommet!). 3/4” holes drilled with a step drill from HF. De-burred with a Dremel tool.

Note there is also a large access hole on this side (under the electric cable bundle). The hair dryer is force drying spray paint inside on the drilled holes. Every garage needs a hair dryer - Really.

The cable then goes under the drivers seat under the carpet. It is sheathed in flex plastic guarding and wire tied to the OEM cables routed there. It pops up behind the drivers kick plate and exits the cabin into the fender just above the dead pedal. Fender liner is removed in the 2nd photo below.

I realized at this point that the cable has to cross the fender wall at a steep angle to clear the fender liner. It is too stiff and pulls the rubber grommet out if you try to make the bend. Even if I managed to make it work it would always be under some stress. If the grommet pulls out someday down the road the steel will rub through the insulation. The sparks would look like a great movie effect but then the car would burn down.

After some fussing and false starts I came up with an aluminum tube epoxied (JB Weld) at an angle on a small aluminum plate. It would be better if this was welded but I can’t Tig.

After enlarging and painting the hole I secured this assembly with rivets and sealed it with RTV. RTV in the aluminum tube with the cable also.

The plastic sheathed cable then runs up over the fender liner (removed below) and into the engine compartment near the front. I realized at this point there is a liability with this route.  This is in the crumple zone outside the hard parts of the body. In the event of a crash on the drivers front fender the cable is exposed to being crimped between grinding bending metal parts. That could cause a short of course. To help minimize this I carefully secured the cable to the underside of the main frame member over the tire. This gets it up high, which will help. But it also would help keep it from getting pinched between that frame and tire in the event of a car hitting me on the drivers side. That is my thinking at least.


One clip is secured with a nut and bolt in an existing hole. The other clip is secured with a plastic fender rivet with the plastic screw removed and replaced with a proper size bolt. These are surprisingly robust if done this way.

I cut the original battery clamp of the OEM cable and mounted a #2 lug (hardware store) to it. The lug crimping tool is sitting on a 2x4 standing up through the engine compartment in the bottom center of the photo. This gives it a support to hammer on.


I then cut the new main cable and mounted the 1 gauge lug in the same manner. All three cables (main, OEM to engine, aux power to somewhere else) fit on the main lug on the distribution panel. Again, a little electrolytic grease in the lugs and all connections keeps corrosion away.

I needed a good ground point to connect to the OEM ground cable which runs to the body and the engine block. On the main frame was a speed nut and bolt that secured the OEM battery tray below the battery. I got a new speed nut and 3/8” stud (hardware store or auto parts store). Cleaned up the mount point with a wire brush on a drill and mounted the nut and stud.

Then for optimum electrical connection I wrapped everything up with weld blanket, sheet metal guarding and a little copper tube to protect the threads (down in the hole in the center of the photo below) and welded the stud/nut to the frame. I was even able to get at this from the underside to put some paint on it.

The OEM ground cable from the battery goes to the engine block, to the body, and some other connectors. The body is already very well grounded back at the battery so we do not need that conductor. I cut off the battery clamp at the right length for my ground stud and mounted a the lug from the kit to it. The other small wires were able to fit in the assembly.

This gave me a real good ground for the engine to the frame.

It must have all worked – The car starts!

Some final thoughts: This project is not highly technical, but it is not really easy either. I think this project was very successful but I had to put a lot of thought into each phase and there were several false starts on each phase. If you gauge the level of difficulty of a project by the number of trips to the store it requires this is a 15 trip job. It is not at all rocket science but it requires patience and a attention to detail.

Overall, I am pretty pleased. I am now working on a custom rear seat delete that will allow the top of the battery case to poke out and also provide storage and passage for the harness straps. I want to get that done quickly and get onto the front suspension.

And joy of joy! Racing season is finally starting with the Rolex 24 at Daytona! Spring can't be to far off.

acheron64 New Reader
1/25/18 10:14 p.m.

Couple of thoughts, oil vapour seperators that drain into the sump, available as an accessory for turbo diesel fours instead of a catch can ?

Around these parts the GM 3.8l v6 came from factory supercharged and rwd lots of aftermarket for it is well. 

Is it culturally appropriate to put a GM motor in a Ford ? :)

KentF New Reader
1/25/18 11:55 p.m.

In reply to acheron64 :

Hello - I see no reason you could not put that style of separator on instead of a catch can. They are basically doing the same thing except for the drain. That would be a nice feature.To that end, there is probably nothing that would be keeping me from putting a drain on the simple unit I am using (Hmmmm). Either way you would have to find, or make, a port for the oil to drain to. One thought comes to mind - On my engine the dipstick is right on the same side nearly under the catch can. Perhaps a tee brazed onto the side of the tube would make for a good drain? We are not talking about a lot of oil.

The GM 3.8 V6 is a nice engine. So nice Ford copied it in the late '70s. I have an article on that in an early post here. Around these parts that engine was used in the legendary Corvette killer Grand Nationals with a big turbo on it in the mid to late 1980s. Man I loved those cars! GM kept the steel heads on it for the duration so it is a little heavier than the Ford. But it is robust and can generate a lot of power if allowed to breath. Check out the GRM thread by Warshrike at: V6 Firebird He is building a beautiful and powerful Firebird with that engine. 

GM motor in a Ford? My answer is - It depends: If someone has restored/customized an old Ford that is used for cruising and/or show and he slaps a GM crate engine in it then I would say he is being lazy. It takes something away from a car like that basically because those engines are so available, robust  and relatively inexpensive. It still will be a great car but it basically has a big short cut under the hood. A Ford motor in a car like that will often be a little more expensive but will be just as good for how that car is used. Same situation but now the owner has a track car and wants the broad power band of an LS6 or something like that. Now the car is a tool. An end to a means covered in non stock parts. Then I say, go for it. Change what ever the rules allow and if that includes the engine go forth and win.

acheron64 New Reader
1/26/18 1:34 a.m.


So thats it thought there was a link between the two engines, making the above one of the last great versions of it before holden swapped to the same engine family as the cadillac cts.

Around here the legendary ford six is the inline barra series 

1/26/18 12:06 p.m.

This is a great thread - your writing and picture documentation is really good.  I'm a huge fan of making the underdog car work, and you've got a lot of very ingenious tricks going on here.  I say stick with your original Ford V6 and the automatic (and the 7.5 axle)!  Keep up the photos and writeups!

KentF New Reader
1/26/18 9:41 p.m.

In reply to FIYAPOWA :

Thanks! I am having a lot of fun writing this. I also like working with an underdog. I am planning on taking the 7.5" dif apart this spring and if the money holds out will change the gears to 3:73 and put a girdle on it I will  probably put in new axles on it also to try and harden it up a bit. The overall assembly weighs about 50 pounds less than the 8.8 but is generally considered to be not as strong. Then again, I am not launching on a drag track.

KentF New Reader
1/26/18 10:06 p.m.

In reply to acheron64 :

Yes there is very much a link between the two 3.8 engines. Here is a link that discusses it for reference: Rebuilding the Ford 3.8

We don't know about the Barra engines here because they were only sold in Australia according to Wikipedia.  From the article they appear to be very successful. I wonder why they limited where they were made?  We really do not get a lot of Australian equipment up here which seems a shame. My wife had a teaching engagement in Toowoomba about 15 years ago and she brought back a Holden hat for me. Nice hat but I had to keep explaining to people what a Holden was. When GM brought that very bad ass Holden/Pontiac here that got some recognition but the car did not sell that well (styling/pricing issues I suspect. It cost $40k & looked like any other GM car but was a real sleeper). We still see them at local autocross events from time to time. 

acheron64 New Reader
1/27/18 11:56 p.m.

Becomes an interesting story of parallels Ford Australia developed an inline 6 from the 80's which become the barra in its last incarnation while in the US they went the v6 route. Holden in the late 80's switched to the GM v6 for the same reasons ford did power economy and weight.

Fond memories of my Falcon station wagon from the late 80's 4 speed manual, with a high flow honda designed head and 2 barrel weber, as ford chased economy and emissions. Was known to nudge 220 kmh on occassion :)

Back on topic enjoying the mods your making and the methodology your following, thanks for the good read.

KentF New Reader
2/5/18 9:49 p.m.

Rear Seat Delete Part 1

I have done quite a bit of online research looking at rear seat delete kits. Most are pretty basic. Some are incredible creations far beyond my skills or budget. None of them seem configured to what I needed.

My requirements were: 1 - Access to the battery in the rear passenger seat. 2 - Access to storage in the rear driver side seat. 3 - Access to the shoulder harness mounted in the floor pan behind the driver. 4 -Split openings to the trunk for hauling large/long things (like the “Easy-Up” we often take on autocross road trips).

Mistress has to be a multi-tasker: Summer daily driver - autocross race car - long distance hauler. My wife often travels to events with me and we have to haul her gear too. We have been known to make day long trips with race gear, Easy-Up, suitcases for a four day stay, all her knitting supplies, laptop, printer, sewing machine, fabric and a portable spinning wheel. Someday I might get a trailer…

Most rear seat deletes have the deck sitting right on the main cross frame which would not clear the battery and leaves a pretty small space underneath. Most do not have split access to the trunk. Most have the rear panels deep in the “hole” where the seat backs were. I would prefer they were nearly flush with the interior panels (aesthetics) and I would rather have the extra space in the trunk.

So I am making what I need out of 1/4” wafer board reinforced with aluminum angle iron. The riser in front is a 1 x 6 ripped to height. The deck has an opening that matches up to the battery box and a matching opening for access to the storage and race harness. With the raised deck there is a pretty good size space behind the driver (for a Mustang at least) and the deck is flat to the trunk. Here is an early photo during fit up.

The top of the battery box would be accessible directly from the cabin. However, I will need to get at the cables, etc. under the deck from time to time so I decided to make this a split deck and hold the halves together with internal latches. This turned out to make some tasks much easier because the parts go in/out of the car without much fuss (and to do this the parts have to go in/out of the car many, many, many times).

The initial procedure was the usual method of cutting down cardboard & taping cardboard back on until you get a reasonable template.  The wood was cut with a saber saw.

To help get things lined up the riser board spanned all the way across until I had everything fitting up then I cut it at the centerline of the car (there is a convenient plastic push plug holding the carpet on top of the main lateral frame right at center).  Before I made the cut I screwed the clasp that would hold the two halves together to the inside across the cut line. That way it will line up later.

The aluminum angles attached underneath would make the assembly stronger and help keep it square. I attached the aluminum with wood nuts pounded into predrilled holes and #8 x 3/8” machine screws. This way I can easily put them on/take them off many times during the assembly process and they are quite strong. Also, if an angle is ever overloaded and bent it can easily be replaced. Getting the holes drilled is a bit fussy and tedious.  Note the clasp in front at the riser. Both clasps are accessible from the storage compartment.

In the photo above not the angle iron overlaps the driver side opening (right side of the photo) by about 1/4 inch. This will support the carpeted lid.

I had to cut/trim and bend the outboard angles to navigate the narrow region between the access holes and the edge. This was dictated by the location of the battery box (already welded in). It would be nice if the battery box were located a little further forward but that would have made adjusting the height on it difficult.

I had contemplated cutting and welding the floor plan of the car to make a flatter surface at the time but decided against it. In the end, I am glad I didn’t do it.

Here is the small latch on the underside of the deck with some leaves from either side to keep the gap level on both sides. I left a small gap (1/8”) in the wood on the assumption that the carpet would fill it and put tension on the clasp (I guessed right, it works well with the carpet in the gap).

Note the aluminum plate also reinforces hole for the clip that is perilously close to the edge of the wood.

The OEM seat hold down clips at the front of the rear seat work pretty well (once you know they are under there). I decided to reuse them and made new studs to bolt onto the inside of the riser. They work well. You need some small rubber feet on each end of each riser to keep the wood from rocking on the OEM clips.

The original plan was to adjust the battery box so that the lid would sit just above the carpet. That is why I made the box mount adjustable.  However, at about this time I finally worked out how the rear panels would open. It came to me falling asleep one night. Hint – My second car was a 1968 fastback Mustang.

This required a change of plans. To locate the back panels forward in the rear seat “hole” the way I wanted the battery box lid has to be nearly flush with the deck. Damn good thing I made that adjustable.  I ended up removing it entirely because I had to cut the right rear corner off of the aluminum plate to get enough clearance.

In 20:40 hindsight I really wish I had made that plate about 1/2” bigger. Very hard to get a socket on those bolts. I also had to re-cut that battery box hole in the deck to slightly larger so the lid would fit in the hole instead of on it.

By the way, If you have rubber shrouds like this on your battery terminals you can often reverse them to help keep the clamps off of the terminals during maintenance.

Here we are with the battery box mounted flush with the deck and the storage insert in place. Note the fasteners (lag bolts) at the base of each riser holding the studs that fit into the OEM mounts.

After some final checks and trimming it was hopefully ready for carpet. I looked at carpet from Home Depot and Menards but in the end went to a local car upholstery shop in town for the materials and some advice. In the end, this was a very good idea. The carpet is a close match to the OEM and it is slightly stretchy. It is made for this. Regular cheap carpet would have much more difficult to work with. I was also told to glue it all down with automotive headliner/carpet adhesive. I bought  about 12 feet of 3’ wide material for $25.

All hardware off, layout on a table cut the carpet , glue the wood well, let it sit until tacky for a few minutes. Start trimming and folding and spraying and stapling. I pre-marked where all the bolt holes were with marker lines extending beyond where the carpet would go so I could find them again. In most cases I trimmed holes as I went (the leather hole punch worked well for some of these).


The finished deck. That was much more work than I thought it would be. The plan for the storage cover is to have a hinged split so that the harness can fit up through a 3” slot in it from below. We will see if that works out or not. The fuzzy carpet covers a multitude of sins.

Next the rear panels.

KentF New Reader
2/17/18 11:25 p.m.

The Rear Seat Delete was finished for about five minutes. Then I took half of it apart again.

I noticed the passenger side seat belt was binding on the harness bar. In taking the clip off I accidently allowed the belt to retract twisted into the retractor (idiot). It got bound up in there and locked. The more I worked with it the more it got bound up. 

It has a double locking mechanism. I took everything apart and removed it from the car. After a while I decided it was time to replace it (spring was weak anyway). $100 at OEM Ford online. Should be here in a few days. That is the cost of not being careful.

So - Some weight summaries for the project. Before putting the rear seat in the trash I weighed it:

Cushion = 10.5#
Seat Backs & Frame = 24.3#
Rear Seat Belts = 4.5#
Total Weight Removed = 39.3#

New Rear Panels and Support/Pivot Tube = 6.4#
New Rear Decks = 10.2#
Storage Access Cover Piece = 1.1#
Total Weight Of Rear Seat Delete = 17.7#

Total weight removed by rear seat delete = 39.3 - 17.7 = 21.6#

Now I also relocated the battery and that added additional weight for the cables, box, mounting plate, etc. I used 14 feet of red cable and 3 feet of black for a total of 17 feet. Weighing the scrap I find that it weighs 0.33#/foot. So the cable adds 5.6# to the car. The battery box and mounting plate & hardware added roughly 5# So the battery relocation adds about 11# back to the car.

Total weight reduction of the project is about 10#. But remember I also moved that 35# boat anchor battery to the lowest part of the car and behind the center of gravity.

Here is a photo just before it was finished. The latch clip is missing behind the battery (was on order from a marine dealer). The storage hatch cover was not made yet.

The rear panels flip up to allow access to the trunk. I will show how that was done in the next post.

KentF Reader
3/4/18 8:55 p.m.

Second Winter Project Under Way - Installing the new K-Member Kit from Maximum Motorsports.

I detailed what I bought and how those decisions were made last November. I can't impress enough how helpful the folks at MM were and how important it is to go through that iterative discussion with them (or someone who is actually knowledgeable) before buying something this complex. It is not the installation that is complex; it is the vehicle dynamics knowledge required to make the right choices. Unless you design suspensions for a living you should get help. Of course, if you are installing a custom suspension on a car like this you probably need a different kind of help anyway.

So, the critical points that make this car somewhat different from many for installing this kit: This is a 3.8 ltr with long tube headers, many miles of wear & tear and some hidden rust. It is a summer daily driver and a heavy duty autocrosser typically seeing  over 120 runs per year. What could go wrong?

Mistress up on jacks suspended from both ends.  The scissors lift is hovering a few inches below the car for safety. Later on when measuring with plumb bobs I dropped the lift about 16" below the car and then put a 4' x 8' board on it as a work surface to measure. 

Here is the plumb bob board noted above. Note the shelf brackets and clamps securing it to the orange stands so that it can't move after being marked. Note also how the plumb bob is hanging crooked (useless). That is because it is very cheap. After I noticed this I re-centered the string with some bits of tiny brass tubing stuck in the oversized hole in top. Then it hung straight. Lesson - you CAN pay too little for a plumb bob.

I took out both fender liners to get more clearance to work. This also allowed me to do some inspecting, touch up painting, fix a horn connection plug and get the air cleaner out easily for cleaning. You can see how the car is supported in front here.

To get the jack up to the car I made some saw horses out of 2x4 and some HF brackets ($6). 

To remove shorter aftermarket springs MM sells a little tool that holds the spring in place while you lower or raise the arm. Works fairly well. It is right at the center at the bottom of the blue spring.

I made an engine support out of 2x4 and some rod eyes. I added a third 2x4 after these photos were taken and I am glad I did. It sagged about 1/8" under the load. One rod eye connects to a bolt on the partly removed AC bracket. The other is on a bolt for the alternator/power steering pump. I had to remove the steering pump pulley to do this.

Jack on saw horses under K-Member. I found the wood helped stabilize things.

I screwed the control arms to the wood to help keep everything from sliding around. There is a 1/8" drain hole in the spring perch on the control arm that the screw is in right where it touches the wood in the photo below.

Notice the missing ball joint in the photo above. That is what started this whole process: Failed ball Joint and wrecked control arm.

I mentioned rust earlier. The internals of the main frame beams above the K Member are fairly rusted. I had to replace two main bolts (below). I have made a note in the log book that whenever the engine comes out of this car someday I will reinforce these structural frames.

More trouble: My BBK header on the right side has been hitting the stock K member. It has a good divot bashed/warn in it. It appears to be intact but eventually may have worn through. I cleaned it up and sprayed it with high temp exhaust paint. I would expect better from BBK.

Another problem that I could not really fix until now. The long tube header rides about 1/16" away from the starter motor. That thing gets a little hot. My fix was to wrap the starter in exhaust wrap held on with aluminum wire.

New K-Member same problem. The new MM K-Member clears the header by about 1/16" (I still blame BBK - The K-Member has to fit many variations of this car. The headers were made specifically for this car and interfere with stock and aftermarket frame parts). When the engine rotates on the mounts it will try to bash a new hole in the header tube.

Only thing for it is to trim the K-Member  with a multi-tool. Took about 10 minutes after a trip to the store for new blades. I took about 3/8" off. I had to re-raise the engine to make sure I did not nick the header.

No shop is complete without paper cups. Here I have sprayed some paint into a cup to brush it on the cuts maid on the new K-Member. If I tried to spray it  directly I would have black paint all over the place.

Working on control arms, etc. now. More to come.

KentF Reader
3/21/18 9:16 p.m.

Scope Creep - Front suspension is all back together. Started checking clearances with the stock tires and the race tires. Both hit the Summit 1 - 3/8" bent sway bar with the tire sidewall when turned full left or right.

Everything else looks good although if camber is full out (positive) the upper spring perches hit the frame limiting movement. I have camber bolts installed also so I should be able to make adjustments. My alignment goal is to have the camber full out in the slots at about -.5 degrees for regular driving and then be able to put it in to -2.5 degrees or so for events.

I looked into wheel spacers and simulated the tire position with wood blocks as spacers. 1/2" spacers would just clear the sway bar by a few millimeter but are not common. Not enough clearance because the tire warps a bit under heavy cornering load (not that I expect to be cornering hard at full lock very often. However, if you ever try that it is quite fun going round and round if you don't throw up).

So using wood blocks between the wheel and hub I found that 3/4" spacers would clear the sway bar nicely but hit the fender. I would have to roll and perhaps even flare the fenders. Not willing to do that at this time. 

Solution - I just ordered a new MM adjustable front sway bar. It has welded plates on the end offering more clearance that the bent Summit bar. That is $$ I did not want to spend. Summit bar is offered for sale on Modified Mustangs of the Midwest on Facebook. Mistress is also on the banner of that page this week.

Over the next few weeks I am going to make my own alignment stands. I will post that here.

Tillerman New Reader
3/28/18 8:24 a.m.

Excellent documentation of your build and a good read. Great work - thanks!

KentF New Reader
4/3/18 9:35 p.m.

In reply to Tillerman :

Thank you. I am having a good time documenting it and it helps me think things through. Hopefully it will serve as an inspiration, or perhaps a dire warning, to others.  Thanks.


KentF New Reader
4/3/18 10:44 p.m.

New K-Member Part 2.

Before I go into the alignment stands I made here are some photos, thoughts and ideas and pitfalls encountered during the final stages of this project:

I had to relocate brake lines on both sides. This was not hard and the MM directions warned it would be an issue. I was able to carefully bend the tubes around the new frames. I had to relocate a support bracket in the passenger side wheel well to make enough slack to make it work.

Here is a photo of how the Summit Sway bar interfered with both the stock and autocross tires. There was still several degrees of turning required to go full lock.

Here is the new MM Adjustable Sway Bar. It has arms welded directly to the ends of the bar and has much more clearance. No problems. It is not quite as stiff as the Summit bar (same diameter but not solid). However, based on my discussions with MM last fall the Summit bar was too stiff for my springs and shocks anyway. This will be an improvement.

In the MM directions for installing the struts they advise putting the lower strut hole to the spindle biased full one way or the other. These holes are purposely left too large to allow this adjustment. However, I am running with camber bolts in the upper holes so that I can switch from street to autocross alignment quickly on site (See Camber Adjust Tool article earlier). The sloppy holes in the bottom have always been a problem. So, as an experiment, I put bushings in these holes to remove the slop. This will make the camber bolts more accurate. I could not find the right size bushings but was able to make some by cutting some 3/4" tubing with 1/6" wall. This was a success in working with the alignment bolts and might be recommended on a stock style suspension. However, I had to remove them as described below.

With the bushings described above I was easily able to use the camber bolts to get the street camber I wanted (-0.5 degrees) and with the CC plates full out.

The CC plates come with a "Street" configuration or, if you swap them side to side, they can be in a very aggressive "Race" configuration. As per the instructions I had the CC plates in "Street" but unlike the directions I had the lower strut bolts centered on my bushings instead of biased outboard.

You can't do that because with the CC plates in "Street" mode there is not enough clearance inside the strut tower for the springs. They hit the outer frame even with the camber bolts. With the lower bolts biased per instructions the CC plates would be inboard enough to clear on a normal alignment.

After a 100 foot test drive I realized the problem and put the car back up for revisions. I found that I could not get the proper alignment without biasing the lower strut bolts per instructions. However, after some messing around I found that with: 1 - With lower bolts biased to give + camber, 2 -The camber bolts biased to give + camber and 3- The CC plates swapped to aggressive "Race" configuration it all worked out. The CC plates can be set to full out for street and I get -0.5 degrees and everything clears. 

With the CC plates full in I get about -2 degrees. We will see how that works at the first event or two.

Here is the clearance at full out now. You can see where the paint is scraped off the Hypercoils in the short test drive:

Here is a photo of the CC plates. the one below, on the car driver side is in "Race" mode. The one above is "Street" mode. you just swap them to make the change. Pretty damn smart.

For Christmas last year one of my boys gave me an Endoscope. This is a camera/light on a flex tube that plugs into the USB on your phone. They are about $30 on E-bay. He got mae a six footer but I don't see needing one much over 3 feet. This was very handy looking for clearance/rubs up in the strut towers. Much better than a mirror. The box was from Hobby Lobby if I recall. Here are pictures of the scope and screen grabs taken with it.

In K-Member Part 1 above I showed a very rusty bolt that held the original K-Member on the car. This was driver side. The others were not as bad. However, there was enough rust inside the frame that I could not quite torque to spec on the driver side rear bolt. All the others were fine. After some thought I decided to tack weld the new K-member to the frame on both sides. If I ever remove it I can just grind this off. It is some insurance to make sure nothing shifts. As I noted above, If I ever remove the engine I will reinforce the frame in these areas. It is not 100% anymore.

I needed a strut adjuster tool and did not have one. A bent piece of flat stock seems to have worked out well enough.

The K-Member is designed for larger engines than this. I was able to install the MM-Solid adjustable steering rack bushings in Full Up position which reduces bump steer. There is still room before the V-6 hits anything below and clearance for the oil pan behind the main K-member frame.  In a future modification (when engine removed) I will have the opportunity to lower the engine, perhaps about an inch, and lower the CG. Hold that thought...

Test Drive - Holy Waa! Much more responsive. Not only is the geometry much better and everything tighter but the ride is better. I am going to like this. The K-member mod removed about 50 pounds from the front of the car. The new sway bar removed 9 pounds. The battery relocation shifted 35 pounds to the rear seat. Overall the front of the car is about 94 pounds lighter. It will take some time to set this up but I am already liking it. Time will tell on the autocross course if this was worthwhile or not.

Speaking of the battery, here are some photos of the finished rear seat delete. The doors open up for access to the trunk and the little deck hatch behind the driver stows the race harness.

That is all for now. I will write up the alignment stands soon. Currently working on the new rear sway bar.

therealpinto Reader
4/4/18 2:35 a.m.

Nice write-ups and I especially like the rear seat delete. I need to to something similar on the Capri and I just need to get inspiration, tools and supplies lined up at the same time.

Much like you, I want "cubby holes" to store some stuff and I think I will let myself be "inspired" by your design!


KentF New Reader
4/5/18 8:57 p.m.

Thank you Gustaf. It would have been easier without the battery move. Almost screwed that up. If the battery was just 1/2" or a cm back it would have gotten into the doors. It is very hard to measure inside of the car. Very few straight surfaces to work from. I think most people could do this but it will take much longer than you think and you have to be pretty fussy to make it look good. Luckily for me this is not a show car!

KentF Reader
4/5/18 10:32 p.m.

Alignment Stands - Part 1

I have been thinking about this for, perhaps, two years. Front end alignment is not that hard on a rear wheel drive car like this IF, IF, IF you have the right tools, do some studying, and are willing do do things over and over until you get it right. The 10th time it gets easier. No really!

I hear stories about people with custom suspensions having trouble with alignment shops. I also hear there is one in Oshkosh about 1.5 hours from here that does a splendid job on a suspension like this. What am I going to do, tow the car there every time after major work? Risk a set of tires? Or build/buy some tools and do it myself.

Besides I want a custom alignment that allows me to switch from street to race mode (on the camber at least) in a few minutes and then switch back. Why? As pointed out in earlier articles it is a certain sort of madness.

One of the things that was stopping me from building these stands was the motion required under them. They have to support the car, move sideways easily for camber adjustments, and rotate/slide for caster by turning the wheels.

Looking at commercial race stands like this I noted several things: 1- They are expensive (at least to me). 2- Many of them cannot support the 900 pound load of a CAM-C car. --> 3250# on a ~55/45 weight biased = 1787# on the front tires. Each front tire has 893# on it IF your car is at minimum weight restriction. Many of the stands I see on line would be great for a Miata or F-Mod but not a big chunk 'O American iron.

Holding up that weight is not the issue. Making it roll about in a small simple package is the problem. Most of the stands use ball rollers under the base. To get four (or six) rollers with the required load rating adds up to several hundred $$ each. Remember, you are setting a car on these things and then working under it. Not a good time to cut corners. I dropped a car partly on myself once and managed to survive with a few weeks of pain during recovery. Don't want to test that luck again.

I finally built the stands because 1 - I needed them to finish the K-Member project. 2 - I figured out how to make them move. That part I give 70% successful. In Part 2, hopefully, I will be 100% successful.

To make the stands move I reasoned I could float them on super slick assembly grease spread between two flat surfaces rather than rollers. That is somewhat of an experimental aspect to this endeavor.

Here is a photo of the finished product in use:

Here are the main parts:

Two small steel jack stands from Harbor Freight.
Two  5/16" plate cut 6" x 8"
Two 5/16 plates cut 6" x 6.5"
Two Grade 8 Bolts -  1/2" bolts 6" long with nuts. Heads ground flat on one side.
Four 1/2" shaft bushings 1.5" long 
Four 5/16" Grade Bolts 1.5" long with washers and nuts
Misc hardened washers
Four 3/4" plywood cut 18" square
Three 18" square smooth floor tiles (one to cut for the stand bases)
Two 3/4" square steel square tubing 36" long
Some 1" angle and misc screws, etc.

The angle measurement bubble I am using is from Maximum Motorsports alignment tool I already had (it comes off easily) ($60). You could use a variety of bubble levels made for this.

I removed the top supports from the stands and the levers/keepers. The remaining holes would support the 1/2" bolts (after they were drilled out to fit).

To get the hole pattern to bolt to the wheels I pulled off a brake rotor and used it as a template. To find the center of each lug hole I used a wheel lug with a 1/2" drill set into it and lightly tapped with a ball peen hammer (just a little tap to make a mark and not hurt the drill). Then drilled them out carefully  on my HF drill press. 

To cut the main bore hole I used a metal cutting 3.125" hole saw after drilling a small pilot hole.

I test fit each plate on the wheels. I had to do a little filing to get thing to fit up right. I screwed up the holes to the lower plates. They are not perfectly spaced and the plates are not interchangeable. Look closely and you will see one is lower than the other. Master fabricator I am not. Still works though.

I cut the lower "wings" on the bottom plates which will support the "Toe In Bars" and also cut off the top of the stands (black line) and drilled out the holes for the 1/2" pivot bolts.

Welding the pivot bushings on the plates was tricky. They both have to be level, aligned and both stands have to match.

I set up a wood surface on some saw horses under the passenger wheel and bolted the plates to the wheel. I put a 1/2" pin through the bushings and each stand and then wrapped everything up to minimize weld splatter. I used a level to make sure everything was square and then tacked the bushings to the plate. Repeat on the same wheel with the other stand. Finished welding on the bench. Did not get any splatter on the brake rotors (yea!).

The bases are made of two sheets of 3/4" plywood glued and screwed together. I have noted that if I leave the car on them for too long (overnight) they will likely warp. The stand bases are made from a single sheet of plywood with some angle iron to keep them centered. Everything gets self adhesive tile stuck to it for the greased surfaces.

The instrument I amusing requires a flat level surface 90 degrees from the rotor. To do this I bought a pair of aluminum carpenter squares and cut them down to fit. They are screwed to tapped holes drilled into the side of the upper plates. That galvanized fish plate holding it together is cut from a wood framing construction bracket from the bins at Home Depot. Everything is held in alignment with four little split roll pins (look closely). The MM bubble level and rocker wheel sits on top. The reading currently shown is -3/8 degrees camber (bubble centered, wheel turned 5 marks to neg).

I tried using the Toe In Bars as a gauge support for the Bump Steer measurement. This was a failure as things kept moving around. The pivot pins are too loose when not loaded. I re-made the support with a simple board on a hinge and it worked fairly well.  I was able to get bump steer set but it still needs some work. I will detail how that works out later.

This did not work...

This worked better:

Here is a final shot of the full rig. Wood blocks support the rear wheels to make the car level. I want to add roll stops to the top plates at the back wheels for safety.


How did it work?

Camber and Caster - Very well. Accurate and easy. The plates slide under load and everything is accessible. Caster will be better with the modification noted below.

Toe In - Fairly well. The plates do not slide well enough to move easily by hand with the tie rod disconnected. I had to raise the car a bit to unload and adjust to get the the tie rod end back in the pin for each adjustment. It worked but too much friction.

Bump Steer - Fairly well on the second try. I need to do this again to see how repeatable this is.

Most of the problems are with too much friction while rotating. I have two lazy Susan turntables made of stamped steel with a 1000# rating on order ($16 ea. made in USA). I think that will do the trick. That will be Part 2.

Total cost of these stands was about $200 or so. Your mileage may vary.

KentF Reader
4/14/18 9:59 p.m.

First local autocross event was supposed to be this weekend in Milwaukee. It was canceled due to winter storm conditions. Up here in Green Bay we have had 8 to 10 inches with another 8 to 10 on the way. Full blizzard with winds gusting over 50 mph. Oh well. Good weather for working on the car. Mistress is up in the air getting new gears in the dif. Going from the stock 3:23 to 3:73 gears. That should translate to a 15% increase in torque. Torque is good. Should also still be fine on the highway for long trips. Next local event is mid may. Hopefully the snow will melt by then.

KentF Reader
5/1/18 9:50 p.m.

Rear Sway Bar Install and Pinion Angle Re-Set

I had to do the entire pinion angle set up twice because of some yahoo Mustang test driving (next entry). Getting good at it so I thought I would include it here.

Some good advice I received a while back: You can’t just modify just one end of the car suspension and expect it to balance out. With the new K member and sway bar on the front I needed a new sway bar for the back. In this case with my slightly soft springs (Ebach Sportline 140-295 lb/In) in back the MM people recommended their adjustable unit with 1-1/4" x .095" wall. This is not the stiffest one they offer but is up there a bit. This is basically a hollow aluminum tube that clamps to the axle. Two aluminum arms extend forward to linkage attaching to the frame. It is efficient, direct, light and adjustable.

It does, however, take up some space on the axle; Space that was occupied by my upper arm strut towers. I had to remove the towers and narrow them to make everything fit. They need to be inspected anyway.

Because I had to remove the towers I had to re-set the pinion to drive shaft angle. The Ford manual has you use a special fancy bracket and angle finder mounted on the U-Joint spindles. First on the drive shaft half to find its angle and then on the differential half to get the differential angle. I don’t have such a specialized tool but I found I could take the same measurements fairly easily and accurately. To do this I used my little MM bubble level meant for front camber adjustments and some spacers all super glued together (I have solvent).

With the car up in the air, reasonably level, and supported on the front tires and axle I was able to get relative measurements between the two parts. After removing the U-Joint spring clips I set the level up on top of the U-Joint spindles. The spacers kept it there perfectly captured in the flat pocket where the spring clip was (would be better if the bottom one was a magnet).

I mounted a magnetic light and a mirror up there so I could see what I was doing.

The axle has to be at ride height and the car reasonably level front to back so the bubble level is within its adjustment rage. Per the Ford manual, IF the car was perfectly level the drive shaft should be sloping downhill to the back at 2.97 degrees. The pinion should be sloping downhill to the back at 0.55 degrees. The difference then is 2.42 degrees between the two parts (GT readers note – Your angles are different than noted here).

I set the instrument on the drive shaft side of the U-Joint and zeroed it. Then adjusted it to 2.4 degrees lesser slope, rotated the shaft and set it on the differential side of the U-joint. With the upper tower clamps loose I muscled the differential up and down until the bubble was level again. More better proper would be to have a third adjustable jack stand holding the pinion but those were holding up the axle.  Tighten everything up and the two parts are properly aligned.

As for the sway bar install: This should be fairly straight forward except the MM directions need to be re-written. There are three or four different versions of this sway bar and they are not all installed with the same steps. They would describe the process for one unit and then show the photo for the other or something from an old version from years ago. There is no excuse for that and it was confusing, even for an engineer.

 This is the weld in version so I had to wrap up everything very well with weld blanket to keep from getting weld spatter onto brake lines, bushings and paint.

I found that Goo-Gone works well at removing most of the burn marks on the plating on the parts.

Another item of note: Gravity is a cruel bitch. Each side of the sway bar gets two stacks of three little washers to space things out properly. They are hard to hold onto and are stainless so a magnet will not work. I think I spent more time hunting for dropped washers than installing them. Do yourself a favor and super glue them together prior to install. 

  All and all – I am quite pleased with the equipment.

KentF Reader
5/3/18 8:42 p.m.

Not the first time I have done something dumb behind the wheel of Mistress. Not the first time I have been lucky and it was not much worse.

Mistress now had 3:73 gears in the 7.5 differential (I will write up what I learned from that effort next). Last Sunday night, after about 100 miles of nice easy break in driving I decided to play around a little out on some country roads away from town. During normal driving you would hardly know the new gears are in but when you mash the right foot down it goes very well (I am pleased).

Once again, not paying attention to gear changes caused the trouble.  Second gear at about 20 mph I hit the pedal way too hard. The car lunged a bit and then decided to downshift.

Now, when this car was stock that action would have resulted in a lagging grunt from the engine, a 2 second pause during the shift and, perhaps a squawk from one or both tires (perhaps... sometimes). Then it would lug itself up to speed but not with undue haste and making more noise than it needed to for such performance. 

If you recall this 4R70W transmission has a "J-Mod" that makes shifts harder and faster. The tune also increases shift pressure. While data logging once I found it was shifting from first to second in 2 tenths of a second (that is actual gear position not request for position). That reading might have been limited by the scan time of the laptop but it is at least that fast. That is pretty damn fast for equipment designed in the '80s. It also has a good bit more power than stock (and makes a lot more noise).

The back of the car squatted and the entire car shuddered from back to front  as the wheels broke free, skipped, stuck, and broke free again. Sh## that was stupid! I let off the gas and accelerated away at a more refined pace.

On coasting I heard a grinding-rattling noise coming from the back. Sh##, Sh##, Sh## that was stupid! Drove home gently listening to that noise every time the gears were unloaded and put the car away for the night.

I did some research. Such a rattle noise on coasting is likely if: 1 - The pinion crush sleeve is crushed and the pinion bearing is unloaded (the sound is the pinion rattling around in there) or 2 - The axle is way out of alignment with the drive shaft (the sound is the U-joints slowly tearing themselves apart). Both things I can fix (I even have extra crush sleeves) but it would take about seven or eight hours to re-do that pinion and I was still sore from doing it the first time.

I lucked out. The axle had rotated under my custom strut towers and the differential was fine. It rotated so much the pinion was on the bump stop while at rest. This took only about three hours to fix and re-align again using the same method as noted above. The strut towers are now clamped on as tight as I can get them and I might put a tack weld on each lower clamp. Then again, if they had not shifted it would have put more of that shock load somewhere else and might have actually broken something. Thinking about that. Perhaps I should just mark them so they could be put back while on the road.

Main lesson is - don't abuse Mistress. She doesn't like it and will get back at you or get you in trouble. The car now makes enough power and torque to do itself harm or send me backwards off the road. It is not an autocross torque monster by any stretch. But that pony does kick a bit.

KentF Reader
6/9/18 10:21 p.m.

New Rear Gears

This spring Mistress was converted from the stock 323:1 gears to 373:1. This was a somewhat iterative process. Let it be known I used four non-reusable crush sleeves in this project. Luckily they cost about $2.50 each and are available at most parts stores (but they do not stock many. I cleaned this town out of crush sleeves that week). I still have two extras.

It was not easy the first two times I had this thing apart. By the third time I was getting pretty good at it. Stubborn, methodical, tenacity would all be good personal traits to have if you are tackling this project for the first time.

This has been on my list to do for some time now but this winter the time was right. This car suffers from a lack of torque in the mid ranges. Horsepower gets all the credit but what actually makes a car accelerate is torque.

Why choose 373:1? Here is my thought process: This is a mixed use car. It gets driven to events (because I can’t afford another mortgage for a truck and trailer let alone a place to store them). It often gets driven to work (because it is a grin-maker) and it gets used for autocross.

On the highway the new gears will run about 400 RPM higher. This is tolerable. The cars top speed is still well above its aerodynamics (I keep the speed limiter programmed to the stock 115 mph. No I have never driven it that fast).

On the autocross course here in the Midwest speeds occasionally get up into the low 70s. With the stock gears and redline set to 5700 RPM the car redlined about 84 mph in second gear. The new gears will redline at 74 MPH. It will be a rare occasion I will need third. The next typical step up to 410 gears would be very hard on the car (and the ears) for long trips and require me to use third often on course.

This is all worked out on the spreadsheet you can download here. There are other online versions of these calculations but I set up this one for decision making with this type of mixed use autocross car. As the spreadsheet shows going from 3.23:1 to 3.73:1 will net an increase in torque by about 15%. That is not life changing but it is pretty significant.

Differential Calculator Spreadsheet

The gears I purchased were made by Motive Gear from Drive Train Specialists (DTS) in Michigan. I have not been able to find Ford racing gears for this differential. I suspect they are not made anymore. I also purchased a Small Parts Kit from DTS. This kit has a set of carrier shims, pinion shims, a crush sleeve, pinion seal, marking paint, carrier bearings and pinion bearings. I also purchased new axle bearings and seals from a local parts store. I did not replace the axles at this time. I plan to do that next year. There are several suppliers that make stronger 28 spline axles for this diff.

Finally, I purchased a reinforcing girdle to replace the cover on the differential. One of the potential weak links is the bearing caps for the main differential carrier. This girdle has bolts that press on the bearing caps to distribute loads and keep them from cracking.

It also helps reinforce the overall differential housing although I expect that may be of minimal effect since we are reinforcing a large cast steel structure with a smaller cast aluminum one. But it does look cool!

I am going to step through this process with the photos below. As I do that I am going to make note of a few pit falls I ran into and some of the things they don’t tell you in the various U-Tube videos, owner’s manual and other step by step sources on how to do this. There are a variety of things typically glossed over. Most of this discussion would apply to the both 7.5 and 8.8 differential and probably a few other units as well.

The photo above is my work “nest”. By the way, the little grey cart came from IKEA. I mounted the light on it. It has proven to be an excellent garage cart.

Some of the videos I have seen showed people performing this work with the car up on jacks, laying on the floor. This would add an entirely new level of difficulty to the job. Muscling the differential carrier in/out/in of the housing to set up the shims would be difficult enough.  Setting up dial indicators, having enough leverage to torque the pinion nut would be very hard with the car up only 18 inches. It can be done or course, but you are going to crawl under that car about 100 times. Even working with a mid-range scissors lift posed problems. I banged my head several times and the lift partially blocks access to the pinion from the front. You have to sit within the scissors which is not very comfortable. The higher you can get the car the better. The effort will be worthwhile.

Keeping organized is important – Clear some bench space, set up a folding table with some cardboard or a pad on it. You have to keep these parts clean and organized.

You will need a micrometer and know how to read it. I have a couple of very old ones from my father. You can get them from Harbor Freight. They do not have to be expensive. A caliper will not be accurate enough. You can get directions online on how to read one (and they are not all the same). Measure the carrier shims and pinion shims when you remove them and write it down. If you are changing gears it is almost a sure bet that you will have to change shims. However, this will give you a reference point. Measure the individual shims and then measure the stack and see if it adds up (it should be very close).


Theoretically you can use a special pinion depth tool to measure the surface of the pinion in relation to the carrier bearings and determine what pinion shim is required.  They don’t make one for this differential that I can find. In the photo below I tried taking these measurements with a make-shift set up just to see if I could. It was not successful. The caliper is not accurate enough and I could not get consistent readings for the bearings. It is also unnecessary. If you do this for a living this is a good process (with the special tool) but for the rest of us a few iterations of assembly will allow you to properly locate the pinion depth.

You can assemble the thing without the crush sleeve and check the gear contact with the yellow paint , take it apart, adjust pinion shims and try again. Perhaps this is a good plan for the first iteration or two. But sooner or later the gear marking will come out right and you will want to leave the thing assembled. To that end : Buy some extra crush sleeves, they are cheap.

Inspect everything you remove looking for trouble. It makes no sense to put bad parts back into the car or, at least, not to plan on replacing them. For example, to save money this season, I did not replace the axles. But I inspected them and they are starting to show some facing wear at the wheel bearing contact surface. Now it is a priority to replace them after this season.

They say you will need a press. Yes, you will. You will likely need it more than once in this process. I priced around local shops. The cost was about $70 to have a bearing pressed on. Trouble is, you have to press off old bearings, press on new bearings to the carrier and pinion. You may have to press the ring gear on/off the carrier (although you could probably make do with a soft mallet and wood blocks for that). If you have to change the pinion shims (likely) you will be pressing the pinion bearing on/off again later in the process. If you are unlucky or made a mistake in selecting shims you could do that again. You need a press. Or you need to know someone with a press.

I bought a 12 Ton floor unit from Northern Tool for $160. HF has a similar unit for a similar price. It does not take up much room in the shop. It also has other uses such as bending metal and such. I think it may be somewhat like a small welder. Once you have one you wonder how you got long without it (I hope).

I bought a medium bearing puller tool from HF. It did not quite have the clearance to get between the bearing and the pinion gear. This was remedied with some grinding.  You can see the “step” ground into the jaws.

To press the pinion bearing on I used a Schedule 40, 1 1/2” x 12” long pipe nipple from Home Depot. It just fit over the pinion. Schedule 80 pipe would not fit. I had to clean off some burrs on the ID of the nipple.

To get the proper preload on the pinion you have to crush the crush sleeve by torquing the pinion nut. To do this you hold the pinion sleeve with a makeshift torque bar. This is fussy work. After some practice I found that you basically make a pull, check if it rattles, make another pull until it is tight. You can use the impact to get it started but be careful; some impacts may be too much and over tighten the thing.

Once the rattle has gone away you can start to feel a small amount of drag on the torque bar between pulls. Then it is time to check the drag torque with a very small beam torque wrench. I bought one on line from Home Depot for $12 (0 to 60 inch/lbs).This gets fussy, take it slow.  It is really easy to go too far. Then you need to take it apart, put another crush sleeve on and try again.

I had to use spacers to mount the makeshift torque arm to the pinion follower or the bolts would hit the housing.

Something they don’t tell you is that your pinion bearing may not fit on your aftermarket pinion properly. Perhaps with Ford Racing parts they might but Ford does not appear to make a full range of gear sets for this differential anymore. My Motive Gear pinion was too tight a fit for the Timkin outboard bearing. The first time I tried to pull this assembly together with the pinion nut I could not tell the crush sleeve was being tightened. It was a bear to get it back off again.

Before assembly in the differential check that the outboard bearing has a “location fit” on the new pinion. It should just press on, almost by hand. No rattle, no looseness but not a real tight press. It has to require less force than the crush sleeve.

Since the main bearing was already pressed on I wrapped it up in a bag and tape (to keep grit out of it) and carefully re-dressed the bearing press surface with a small grinder and emery brush. Very carefully, turning it every 10 seconds to make the pattern even. When I could just force the bearing by hand (with some effort) I stopped.

Anytime you have to remove the pinion it should come free from the housing with some whacks from a rubber mallet on the pinion end. If it is any harder and you have to use more force, put the gear cover on loosely with two bolts to make sure the thing does not pop out onto the floor.

There is not enough clearance to get the bearing puller under the carrier bearings to replace them. You can cut off the outer races and then you will have clearance. But wrap up the carrier. Who wants grit in the differential carrier?

You could use the press to get the inner races off but I was also able to do it with the standard bearing puller assembly from HF.


I was able to press the new bearings onto the carrier using the old inner races as press tooling (along with some scrap plate). It is still wrapped up from the removal cutting process.

I had a slight interference fit between the ring gear and the carrier. I was easily able to press it on with some wood blocks and some scrap metal as tooling.

Standard dial indicator arrangement to get the carrier shims reset. If you are changing ratios it is a sure bet the shims will have to change.

And here is where that pinion depth tool might have come in handy. The yellow paint shows the pinion, with the stock 0.029” pinion shim is slightly deep but still making contact with the gear. I felt it was OK and finished the assembly. I was wrong. Test drives indicated a lot of gear noise. I sent the photo below to DTS for advice. They advised that it was too deep. At the time I also had the back lash at the minimum 0.007”. They advised it would be better at .009” or .010” Back apart again. Use another crush sleeve. I was getting good at it now: Complete disassembly, re-set shims, re-check and reassembly took seven hours. Below is a Prussian Blue check (out of the yellow paint from the kit). If you look closely you can see the gears are meshing right in the center. This time very little gear noise and it has gotten better over time.

I put a new differential cover from DTS on to help reinforce the bearing caps. It also makes things easier to fill and drain. To help keep it looking good I sprayed it with a coating of clear spray paint prior to installing.

The instructions for the gears indicated that you should go easy on them for a while and check temperatures. They will run hottest under highway driving (friction between the gears). Mine never got above 150 degrees F which is just fine. After about 150 miles of driving I changed the regular gear oil with Mobil 1 Synthetic. A very worthwhile purchase is a little hand lube pump for this purpose. The magnetic drain plug (below) had the usual metal filings on it after the break in period.

Very happy with the overall performance. This is a significant change. Now we will see how things shake out at the first event.

KentF Reader
9/11/18 8:12 p.m.

Something very bad just happened…

Summer autocrossing started out very well. The new 3.73 gears allowed Mistress to power around the course breaking the rear tires free and rotating the car whenever desired.  The 95 pounds off of the front end and better front geometry made the car much more nimble in the slaloms. Tire wear on the front was very even. Speaking of tires – I picked up my first sponsor!  Discount Tire of Green bay offered me free tire installations if I would put eighteen inch long decal/magnets on the doors at events.

The new Vibrant cats combined with the cam, long tubes and Spintechs gave the car a nice growl that was mistaken for a V8 motor on more than one occasion (I don’t know how someone could make that mistake, I can hear the difference a mile away). It was actually a bit too loud on the highway. In another article I will detail how I made prototype removable muffler tip inserts that dropped the cabin noise by 3 db.

Then we had a problem. At a two day event with SCCA Lake Superior Region at Sawyer Airport Mistress dropped an exhaust valve on #3 cylinder.  At 5300 rpm the piston smashed the valve into the cylinder head 88 times per second until both were destroyed a few moments later. Video below.

Video - Dropped Valve

Photos of aluminum carnage:

The valve is jammed into the head so tightly you can pick it up by the valve.

This all happened in late July. Mistress has been sitting on the lift with the block open and hood up since then. I am in planning mode…  And things got very busy at work…

The Plan as it stands today:

Get the block out of the car, remove the rotating assembly and have it measured and machined at a local shop. Manitowoc Motor Machining & Parts near here is well recommended and did not bat an eye when I called and told them I had a Ford 3.8 to rebuild. The response was – “Oh, we haven’t done one of those in a while.” Just want I wanted to hear.

New rotating assembly, pistons, rods, valves & head will come from Super Six. It will be converted to a stroker.

Why the extra expense of a stroker?

Analysis of data logs with the new gears indicates that on a typical 1 minute run on a Midwest course this engine spends 60% of the time (about 35 seconds) between 3000 and 4200 rpm. Furthermore, the throttle is blipped from about 20% to near full throttle 10 to 20 times or more in that minute.  About 10 seconds is spent at WOT, give or take, depending on the course.

Very little time (launch) is spent below 2500 RPM. Very little time (one gearshift) is spent above 5000 rpm. Redline is set for 5700 RPM .  Sometimes the engine bounces off of it at the gear change but never out on the run (I am planning on resetting redline for 6000 and installing a shift light at 5700).

So peak HP is of no use to me because the car spends almost zero time at both high RPM AND WOT at the same time. Low end torque is nice but the engine spends very little time there also and is already tire limited anyway. Mid range torque is what is needed.

Mid Range Torque + Limited RPM range = Stroker. With the longer crank throw the pistons have more leverage creating more torque. This also creates higher piston accelerations and velocities as well as higher tip speeds of the crank. This generates higher forces which, in general limits peak RPM on a stroker. It also makes for higher side forces on the piston skirts. There are ways to combat that also but all of those issues are mitigated by limiting RPMs. The way the car is geared, that’s easy – just drive it.

This modification was already on the list of things to do. The dropped valve  just accelerated the timeline. Goal is to have this all put together by early spring.  I will document the process of course.

In the mean time – A couple of other articles I intend to write – Driving and data logging a friends loaned GT at the same airport on my tires in August - Same surface, same tires… interesting data. And the removable muffler tip inserts and the measured results.

Mr. Lee
Mr. Lee UberDork
9/11/18 11:56 p.m.


Mustang50 New Reader
9/12/18 12:04 p.m.

How much is this going to cost versus the cost of a rebuilt 4.2L truck engine?

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