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Mad_Ratel Dork
3/23/17 7:21 a.m.

everytime this thread pops up... dangit.

Will UltraDork
3/23/17 7:42 p.m.
Mad_Ratel wrote: everytime this thread pops up... dangit.

Well, I guess that's a compliment, so...sorry for another update?

Way back when I installed a pair of A-pillar gauges: A trans temp gauge, which made perfect sense, and...an air/fuel ratio gauge? WTF, younger me?


Well, let he who is without sin and all that, but I don't need it now. And the Auto Meter Phantom gauges are looking pretty dated, not to mention faded.

I've got Auto Meter Sport-Comp gauges in my Supercoupe, and I like the way they look, so I chose the same style for this car. The trans temp gauge was a direct swap, but I chose an oil pressure gauge to replace the air/fuel.


I also removed the crank pulley from the Explorer engine, but that was it for the night. I guess I could have cleaned the timing chain cover, but then again, I won't be reusing it.


Will UltraDork
3/25/17 5:30 p.m.

Had a bit of a setback today. The Mark 8 oil pan & pickup tube I ordered arrived, but the pickup tube doesn't fit the Explorer oil pump. That means I have to replace the oil pump, and that means I have to remove the timing chains. I was really hoping to get away with not doing that, since mod motor timing chains are basically indestructible and I had no plans to change/remove them. Had to order some special tools to prevent the cams from turning when the chains are removed, and another tool to hold the crank at TDC. This is going to be a pain in the butt.

Will UltraDork
3/30/17 6:01 p.m.

Not much of an update today, but I do have a couple pictures. First, here's the tool for holding the cam in place while you remove the timing chain. Obviously, you need two of them. I used the ones from OTC.


I'm not sure I'm thrilled with them. Judging by the location of the slack in the passenger side chain, that cam moved a bit. I'm really hoping it didn't hurt anything.

A note about mod motor oil pumps: Most 2V engines (I believe) have a 21mm diameter where they mate to the oil pickup tube. Most DOHC engines have a 23mm diameter. I believe the early Mark 8 has the 21mm pickup tube, but the 95-98 (or the 97-98, the internet is a bit unclear on this) have a 23mm oil pickup. Apparently, I have the later style. The oil pump I chose is a standard-volume Melling M-227.


Unfortunately, I couldn't put everything back together. I didn't like the look of the plastic on the curved tensioner guides, so I ordered new ones. I'll put up pics of both when the new ones arrive (hopefully this weekend, but Monday is more likely).

Will UltraDork
4/2/17 5:57 p.m.

Minor update today: I pulled the timing chain cover off my T-Bird to get it ready to swap onto the Explorer engine. You can easily see the difference in idler pulley locations--Explorer on the left, T-Bird on the right:


I also need to swap the T-Bird valve covers onto the Explorer engine. I got the driver side valve cover off, but I may wait to do the passenger side. Most people suggest loosening the motor mounts and jacking up the motor a few inches. If I'm going to do that, I may as well just take the engine out at the same time.

I'm still waiting on the tensioner chain guides before I can get the new engine back together. Annoyingly, the ones in the T-Bird looked brand new.

Edit to add: if you have a 96-97 T-Bird/Cougar or 96-98 Mustang, you'll need the 94-95 T-Bird timing chain cover because one of the 96-98 cover's bolt holes won't line up with the Explorer block. I've heard of some people just using a ton of silicone to seal it up, but I can't say how well that works.

Will UltraDork
4/7/17 7:30 p.m.

Tonight I finally got my new chain tensioner guides in. I had been having a hard time finding good pictures online of what the wear surface was actually supposed to look like, so here you go:


The old one is on top. You can see where the chain wore through the plastic into the metal. Not sure why the color is different, but the new ones are OEM Ford parts.

I got the new guides in and installed the tensioners. Supposedly there are plastic and iron versions, with the iron ones much preferred. These, too, are OEM Ford bits, and they're marked L&R, so installing them on the wrong side is hard.


If you've been inside an OHC engine before, this may be old news to you, but if not: See that pin? Don't pull it out of the tensioner until you're sure everything is back together correctly. It holds the tensioner arm back, and when you pull it, the arm will shoot out and take up all the slack.

Once back together, the engine seems to spin just fine, so I don't think anything got hurt during this whole process.

More progress tomorrow, as I can actually get moving again with this step out of the way.

Will UltraDork
4/8/17 3:59 p.m.

With the timing chain cover in place, I was able to get the Mark 8 oil pan on. The T-bird pan is still in the car, but in the picture below, the Explorer pan is on the bottom, and the Mark 8 pan is on the top:


Both are 6-quart pans, but the Mark 8 pan is the only pan larger than 5 quarts that works with the T-bird K-member.

I also got the power steering pump reinstalled. It's a straightforward job, but I had to remove the metric to AN adapter I had previously installed to get to one of the bolts.


This area is fairly cramped. Knowing what I know now, I'd recommend installing the oil filter adapter/oil cooler, then the power steering pump, then that AN fitting, then the oil pressure sender. I'm going to wait to put the PS pulley on until I get the engine in the car and the high pressure hose in place.

I tried to install the crank pulley, but it didn't seem to want to go on. I was using a longer bolt made for a piggyback underdrive pulley, but I could only get the pulley on part of the way. I was afraid of stripping out the crankshaft threads, so I'll pick up some all-thread and try again another day.


The water pump pulley is from an underdrive set. I'm not sure I'll use it, but it's the only one I have for a T-bird. The Explorer one might work, though. I also replaced the idler and tensioner pulleys with ones that were a little less rusty. Note that the Explorer tensioner pulley is the same size as the one on the T-bird, but the tensioners themselves are different. The Explorer idlers are larger than the T-bird parts.

Another part I added way back when is a B&M deep tranmission pan. It holds 3 quarts more than the stock one--and unlike the stock pan, it has a drain plug. A curse on the Ford bean counter that made that decision.


Anyway, I removed the pan so I could clean it a bit, but also so I could remove the valve body. I'll be doing the J-mod to this car. If you're not familiar with that, it's basically a shift kit designed by the same guy who designed the 4R70W transmission itself. But I'm saving that for another day.

Will UltraDork
4/11/17 7:27 p.m.

I finally managed to get the harmonic balancer on tonight. As I said in the post above, using a longer bolt didn't work, but M12x1.5 all thread and some nuts got the job done.

0092 I'm using an ARP crank bolt--probably not necessary, but it makes me feel better.

I also dug the Explorer water pump pulley out of the box of parts I wasn't planning on reusing. For a DD, the couple HP it might have given me didn't seem worth the loss of cooling performance.


Dirtydog New Reader
4/11/17 8:02 p.m.

Those Modular motors look labor intensive. But they are proven performers judging by all the taxi's. I like what you got going on here, keep up the good work.

Will UltraDork
4/13/17 6:07 p.m.

The first two things I did to upgrade my 95 after I bought it were installing a K&N kit and a 70mm throttle body. Odds are that neither one did much good, if any. The filter's gross by now, but...well, the TB's a little gross looking as well, if I'm honest:


It's dirty and oxidized, but it should work just fine. It still may not do any good, but I have it, so why not use it? I don't know exactly how big the Explorer throttle body is, but the BBK can swallow it:


Will UltraDork
4/15/17 2:48 p.m.

Minor problem: the Explorer engine didn't come with an alternator, and the T-Bird alternator won't bolt up to the PI intake alternator bracket.


Here's a look at the mounting hole on the back of the T-bird alternator:


Potential solutions: get an Explorer alternator and adapt the wiring, buy a bracket for a 96-98 mod motor with the upgraded aluminum coolant crossover (PN F8AZ10153EA), or make something. I chose the third option, making a bracket out of some scrap aluminum: 0100

After a little paint:


I'll have to get some 1/4" ID aluminum standoff to take up the vertical difference between the alternator mounting surface and the bracket:


And yes, I'm replacing this alternator--this is just for test fitting.

Will UltraDork
5/24/17 8:21 p.m.

I've let this thread (and the project) wither a bit, but I just picked up a 97 T-Bird for about 9 cents a pound to use as a parts car. Hope to get some pictures of it up this weekend.

Will UltraDork
5/28/17 12:24 p.m.

I've been slacking, but hopefully my new purchase will keep me motivated. Behold Turdly, the worst 97 Thunderbird in Tennessee. The engine runs, but the only gear that works is reverse, and it barely works. I could win a foot race against Turdly.

Note the 89-95 turn signals, because having the right parts is for suckers. 0110


Hmm, I wonder what's behind the duct tape? 0109

Oh. Okay. 0106

Believe it or not, this door handle works. The interior door handle does not. This is disappointing, as I was hoping to salvage the door handles from this car.


I have zero desire to see what this seat cover is hiding. 0107

Yo dawg, I hear you like steering wheel covers, so I put a steering wheel cover over your steering wheel cover over the factory steering wheel cover so when you steer, you're covered. 0108

When it came time to open the trunk, I felt like Brad Pitt in Seven: I was afraid to find out what was in there, but at the same time, I had to know.

Guess who's got a sweet new hunting jacket?


Nah, man. Don't throw away that spare tire. There's still life in it.


Will UltraDork
5/28/17 12:39 p.m.

I bought this fine machine because as bad as it is, the fact that it runs means that everything I actually need works. If you have a 94-95 T-Bird and you want to do the Explorer swap, you need these parts from a 96-97: fuel rail, EGR system, flex fuel lines from the filter to the rails, upper intake, air intake stuff, throttle cable, cruise control cable & bracket.

In my case, I'll also take the alternator, gas filler door, passenger side exterior door handle, headlight switch, trunk release, hood, hood latch, hood release and headlight mounting panel. I may as well keep the injectors, because at least I know they work.

There are other parts I don't need, but I can probably sell. They include the cupholders, driver side taillight and trunk reflector, gauges, cowl panels, rear seat, differential, rear knuckles and disc brakes. If the crossmember isn't too rusty, I may be able to sell the whole IRS assembly.

Will UltraDork
5/29/17 9:39 a.m.

Between yesterday and today, I removed virtually all the stuff I want/need from the parts car, including some stuff I hadn't originally planned on taking. Got the fuel lines, throttle cable, cruise control cable, upper intake manifold/throttle body, upper radiator hose neck, driver side taillight and trunk reflector, gas filler door, cupholders, passenger side power window motor, grille emblem, gauges, CD player, cigarette lighter assembly, radio surround trim, clock, headlight switch, dimmer switch, fuel rails, injectors, coil packs, air filter box and air intake.

Based on how hard it's going to be to get the EGR disconnected from the exhaust manifold without removing the engine--and I'm not going to do that--I might just delete the EGR system from the Explorer engine.

The headlight panel was broken, so I'll skip the hood/headlight conversion. I may still take the hood and latch in case someone else wants them, though.

Also, this car answers the question "Just how gross does a car have to be before you won't pick up loose change in plain sight?"

The_Jed PowerDork
5/29/17 10:10 a.m.

Thank you for documenting the detail work of the swap!

Will UltraDork
6/3/17 12:35 p.m.

In an earlier post I showed the alternator bracket I built. The parts car had the correct factory steel bracket. However, I'm going to keep the one I built because it looks better and it's about 1/4 of the weight. I might be able to sell the factory bracket.


The intake currently on my T-Bird has two temp sensors in the intake coolant passage. The PI intake is only set up for one temp sensor, but there's a spot next to the thermostat housing that's perfect for the second. You'll need a 37/64" drill bit and a 3/8" NPT tap. You may not need quite as much sealant as I used. 0115

It's not necessary at all, but I decided to use the intake plenum from the parts car rather than the Explorer plenum. As far as I can tell, the plenums themselves are identical. However, the T-Bird plenum has this plaque, which I prefer to the plain Explorer part.


Also, one vacuum hose nipple on the back of the plenum is slightly different. Below, you can see the Explorer part (top) curves while the T-Bird part is straight. I'm sure I could have swapped it over, but swapping the whole plenum was probably easier.


One thing I learned from the parts car is that my BBK throttle body isn't going to work because the linkage is different. I tried swapping the linkage from the parts car TB over to the BBK, but the construction is different, and it wasn't going to work without more effort than it was worth for probably a couple hp at most.


The motor is mostly all together now. Other parts from the parts car include the fuel rails, alternator and the thermostat housing, which seals better to the PI intake than the one from my 95 did.


Will UltraDork
6/3/17 12:50 p.m.

I've come to appreciate the quality of factory parts compared to aftermarket stuff, so I installed new Motorcraft AGSF32PM plugs and Motorcraft spark plug wires. This requires minor explanation.

The Explorer engine, like all PI engines (so far as I know), uses coil on plug ignition. 94-97 T-Birds use coil packs. There's no documented performance difference between COPs vs coil packs, so for the sake of wiring simplicity, I'm using the coil packs. I bolted the brackets to the engine and routed the wires.


At some point in the past, it appears I replaced the factory coil packs with MSD parts. I doubt I'd do that today, but I have them, so I may as well use them. If they don't work, the parts car coil packs seemed to work fine. 0127

Now, with all that said, I admit that COP ignition looks much nicer and would let me eliminate the big coil pack brackets from the front of the engine. It's possible to convert to COP, and I may do that in the future. But I'll wait until after I know the new engine works correctly so I'll have fewer things to troubleshoot if it doesn't work right.

Will UltraDork
6/6/17 8:40 p.m.

No pictures tonight, but I finally got the EGR tube off after soaking it in PB blaster for a week.

Step 1: Remove the passenger side catalytic converter. Step 2: Remove the dipstick tube. Step 3: Swear in ways that R Lee Ermey's never heard before.

The EGR tube nut appears to be metric. My 1-1/16" wrench fit pretty poorly, but I managed not to round off the nut. 27mm, maybe. It's definitely smaller than the corresponding nut on the Explorer manifold.

That's the last part I actually needed from my parts car. Everything else is just scrap or stuff to sell now.

Will UltraDork
6/7/17 7:36 p.m.

I remembered that the airbag light on my SC has been blinking. The car claims it's the clock spring, so I removed that from the parts car and grabbed the airbag, multifunction switch and cruise control buttons while I was at it.

It's not worth a picture, but I'm also excited for the pile of hardware I've been salvaging. In some cases I've removed stuff I didn't actually need just for the nuts, bolts, etc. These cars are basically held together by M6, M8 and M10 bolts, so you can never have too many spares--especially with two of these cars (and another mod motor in my 57).

Mad_Ratel Dork
7/3/17 7:09 p.m.

so, guy I sold the thunderbird to texted me today out of the blue. car is over 200k miles now, two of the cobra rims have huge dents in them, needs tires, probably everything else, wants $500...

I'm really thinking about doing it. list of dreams in order (of thinking about doing it): 5 lug conversion, including mustang brakes. Paint it manual transmission swap. racing seats. someday Coyote swap.

What do you think?

Will UltraDork
7/4/17 6:09 p.m.

I can't see how a $500 T-Bird could be a bad idea.

Also, these cars already have 5-lug hubs. I assume you mean 5x4.5.

I don't have any parts for the hub swap, but let me know if you need other parts.

As for my project, I have no updates. I went on vacation and came back to find Photobucket gutted my thread. I may try to repost the photos elsewhere...we'll see.

Mad_Ratel Dork
7/7/17 10:09 p.m.

I meant 5x4.5 Owner is going to bring it by after work on monday for me to drive and check if I really want to do this again.

Will UltraDork
7/9/17 1:09 p.m.

Only project update is that I've re-hosted all my images using Amazon, so they should be showing up now.

Mad_Ratel Dork
7/11/17 5:01 a.m.

So Met the owner, I'll start my own build thread here shortly, do you have any parts you're willing to sell off of your parts car?

It appears the dumbass tried to take the instrument cluster out for something and shattered the trim around there.

Also found a cobra hood for 200 bucks that's never been installed. (going to try talk them down to 100...) :D

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