Drag Truck - The Danger Ranger

Discussion in 'All Non-S197 Media' started by ksack, Jun 19, 2016.

  1. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    After being project car-less for almost 2 years to the day, I finally got to a point where I have the time to tackle something new. I picked up an 86 Ranger XLT Long Bed with the 2.9 V6 and a 5 Speed this morning for $300. He was running straight water in it and forgot to change it out before the first freeze and claims that 2 of the freeze plugs let go. I got eyes on one of the front that looks like it leaked something out but the other one is hidden way back on the block. I reckon I'll have to pull the motor to get a good look at it.

    Wouldn't start at the guy's place so I towed it home and got to work. After some troubleshooting, determined the tranny was in gear and that's what was preventing it from cranking. I can't explain why it wouldn't turn over out of gear, but found that that the clutch reservoir was empty. Filled it up and bled it. Also removed the AC belt to see if the compressor was frozen, and i was able to turn it by hand. Fired up and let it run for a couple seconds and called it a day.

    Plans- working a V8 swap that I won't announce until I have that locked down. 8.8 swap in the back, strip the interior, shorten the bed

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  2. tjm73

    tjm73 of Omicron Persei 8

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    Explorer 8.8 is an almost perfect swap. Have the long side shortened to be the same as the short side. Makes it 56.625" wheel mount to wheel mount. Disc brakes, big 31 spline axles.
     
  3. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    I was just going to accept that the explorer 8.8 is 3" wider and get some drag wheels with more offset. I like this option though :clap:
     
  4. lindertw

    lindertw forum member

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    f150 ecoboost swap would be sweet and would move out with something that light
     
  5. Shaffe

    Shaffe forum member

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    Guy I used to race against all the time when I ran a local series ran a ranger like that with a 5.0 swap. The Danger Ranger was my nemesis lol.

    Sounds like a fun project!
     
  6. tjm73

    tjm73 of Omicron Persei 8

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    My brothers ranger before getting laid up for a few years. Broke it, then got divorced. Going back together now.

     
  7. tjm73

    tjm73 of Omicron Persei 8

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    Two methods I've read about are 1.) cut and weld the end back on and the other 2.) is get two explorer axles then is drill out the plug weld holding the axle tube in and put the short side from the other axle in it. You end up with a narrow and a "wide" axle. One is 56.625" wide and the other is 62.375" which you can then sell to get back some money. This method gets you everything you need to complete it and let's you sell what left.

    The last option is the harvest the brakes off the 8.8 and have a 9" narrowed to your desired width and mount the disc brakes on the 9". You need a 2.5" offset axle if memory serves. Effectively bombproof and has axle retention which may be a thing to think about with a drag truck.

    Longer wheelbase may a benefit in a high powered drag truck. Would help keep things going straight.
     
  8. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    Not much happened today. Took the battery off the battery tender (it was dead when I picked up the truck) and torqued the old rusted bolts on the leads off and put on a pair from my random bolt bin. Truck fired right up. Then I went about looking for the freeze plug on the side of the block the guy claimed was blown out. Couldn't find it so I just dumped water into the radiator until it came gushing out the side of the block. Found it! Impossible to get to without yanking the motor so I made a run to harbor freight and bought their 2 ton engine hoist. Now I guess I have no excuse to do more swaps.... Next plan of attack is to start taking the front of the truck off and yanking the engine to fix those freeze plugs and clean everything up.
     
  9. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    Thursday- removed the bumper and started disconnecting hoses. Lucky me the A/C system wasn't charged. I'm going to leave the power steering hoses alone and just remove the pump so I can maybe take it out for a drive before getting rid of the drivetrain. Had my girl up on Skype so I had some company while I worked.

    Friday- Made another run to HF and got a jack, jackstands, load leveler and various other knick knacks. That place is dangerous...

    Today- removed the hood, grill, headlights, and both fenders. Ran out of daylight and I need a center punch to get the spot welds drilled out. Tomorrow I want to have the entire front end off and maybe even get the drivetrain pulled. I'll be happy if it is just prepped for pulling

    I'll put a plug out there for this poor fellow who hasn't gotten any appreciation for his how to on removing the front end.
    http://www.therangerstation.com/forums/showthread.php?t=152293

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  10. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    Progress for today. Got the front end off after about 2 hours. There's about 50 spot welds that need to be drilled out. I used the HF spot weld bit and it worked wonderfully. Seemed to like lots of pressure with a medium speed and that would get me through in about 30 seconds. I center punched each weld and then deepened the hole with a 5/32 bit and that helped keep the bit in place vs just centerpunching. Attached my shiny new engine hoist to the front and pulled it off the frame with ease. Definitely doable with 2 people lifting from either side but too big to do by yourself. The bed of the truck is proving to be a great place to store body parts.....hopefully no one steals them. Took a lunch break then got back at it.

    The A/C compressor and PS pump are both located on the same bracket and I want to retain the power steering for now so I can take it for a test drive once I have everything fixed (primarily freeze plugs and brakes) and not deal with removing the fluid and subsequently filling it back up, only to turn around and part it out. It rests nicely off to the side out of the way. Finally, I tackled the wiring harness and removed every plug and connector and labeled them with tape. I managed to only snap 3 of the connectors. Just as I wrapped up disconnecting everything, thunderstorms started rolling in so I taped over exposed holes and then secured a tarp around the whole front of the truck with about 5 minutes to spare before the downpour started. All in all a solid half day's work and I figure about 2 more hours before the motor is ready to come out.

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  11. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    Update time. Tuesday, I spent an hour and a half removing 6 bellhousing bolts. I used about 3 feet of extensions and 2 u-joints to come at them from the back of the transmission. Those suckers were in there tight and made me wish I had an impact wrench. I decided to stop after that as my headache I'd been having on and off all day caught up to me.

    Today- woo woo motor is pulled! Undid the exhaust flanges (difficult just like the bellhousing bolts, but used some WD40 to help loosen them up. PB blaster is on the list of stuff to get), removed the starter, disconnected the throttle body cable, unbolted the motor mounts, and loosened the transmission crossmember so it could lift a bit as the motor came off the mounts. Lucky for me the lifting brackets are still there so I just bolted up to those and starting lifting. Needed a pry bar to pull the motor off the dowels in the bellhousing. After that, disconnected a couple plugs I had missed and the 2 grounds that are on the back of the motor. From there it was smooth sailing on the pull. Unfortunately, the power steering pump got knocked from it's perch and the plastic nipple on the reservoir sheered off. I think it is the return line (I'll have to verify next time I work) so I should be able to clean it up and tap it and install a new nipple for the hose. So much for not disconnecting it to not deal with the fluid. Half of it ended up on my driveway and I was able to catch the rest.

    Now I need to remove the one freeze plug that burst but didn't pop out. The other one came out completely. Going to hit the motor with some degreaser because it has 30 years of crap built up. After that, I'm probably going to put it back in the truck and get a baseline 1/4 mile for my own gratification. It's going to be about 6 months before I can start the actual swap so why not have some fun while I'm waiting?

    Next update won't be until next week as I am going out of town for the long weekend. Happy 4th and don't forget about those overseas protecting our freedom.

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  12. AndrewNagle

    AndrewNagle forum member

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    Very cool thanks for sharing.
     
  13. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    Of course! I regret not documenting my mustang as it evolved and I always love following build threads. This one is going to be for the long haul!
     
  14. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    So it turns out the motor was missing 3 freeze plugs. Vatozone only had 1 brass in stock so I went with steel instead. Sealed them off with Permatex Indian head at the recommendation of a google search. Tried the whole big socket thing to tap them in and didn't work for me so I just gently tapped them in with a hammer and 3/8" extension. Worked great! That was this morning...

    Friday evening I tackled cleaning up the motor a bit from the layers of crap that had been accumulating for the last 30 years. I highly recommend scraping off as much as you can with a flathead screwdriver before going at it with degreaser. I used 2 cans of Gunk and it did a pretty good job but some stuff was really stuck on there. Came back through this morning and scraped some leftovers off and went at it with a wire brush. Doesn't look too shabby now compared to before. Fair warning - all that crap in conjunction with the degreaser will stain your driveway.

    While the freeze plugs were drying, I decided to flush/bleed the brakes since they didn't work. Lots of air bubbles. In retrospect, I wish I would have started at the master cylinder and then just emptied the system but I chose to bypass it thinking the fluid was just old and needed to be changed. Either the master cylinder has a huge pocket of air or the booster is broken because they work no better than before. That whole process was a bust.

    Spent the afternoon putting the motor back in. Hardest part was getting the bellhousing flush with the back of the block. For some reason it didn't want to slide all the way in. Luckily I had an extra long bolt in my random bolt bin that I was able to use to pull it in close enough to get the stock bolts to catch. Hooked up all my labeled connections and put the front clip back on and got all the essential hoses and wires hooked back up. Filled the cooling system up with water and noticed a small leak from one of the heater core hoses so I really clamped that down and it stopped. Truck fired right up! Idle was a little rough and I found one of the vac lines had come off. That helped the idle a bit but it still shakes in the mounts. Looked underneath and there was a steady stream of water. It appears the main seal on the water pump is shot...but my freeze plugs were all good! It was about 615pm by this time so I called it a day and cleaned up.

    I put the motor back in to 1- test it to make sure my freeze plugs were good and 2- I was hoping to get a baseline 1/4 mile time for my own edification. Between the brakes not working, the water pump needing to be replaced, and the PS reservoir needing to be replaced, I think I'm going to call that one a loss and move forward without the baseline time. At least that'll save me the embarrassment of a high teens pass at the strip.

    In between cans of Gunk
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    Steady stream of air bubbles
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  15. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    Not much this week. I put the rear up on jackstands to do a test of the drivetrain. Ran well through all 5 gears and had it up to around 65mph with no problems noted. Speedo works and I kinda like the retro look so I'm contemplating leaving the dash in. While it was running I tested all the HVAC controls and those all seem to work as the puffs of dust and dry leaves would indicate.

    The guy I bought it from didn't have time before the sale to take them out, but he wanted his radio and speakers back (aftermarket, most likely from walmart). I took the 20 minutes to take it all apart and whoa...this guy needs to keep his day job because wiring is not his specialty. To start, he didn't take the time to tuck the wires...they were just laying on the floor and running straight to the door. Then I pull the head unit out and BAM! wiring sadness. Everything was just twisted together and I'd say only about 2/3 of the twists were covered in electrical tape. Anyway, the previous owner was grateful he had his shitty audio equipment back and I was glad to have it gone. In retrospect, he wasn't super knowledgeable about the truck when I went to go look at it so this doesn't really surprise me at all. I wonder what other fun things I'll find?

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  16. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    Saturday afternoon I got the motor and trans pulled in about 4 hours. This was my first time using a slip yoke drive shaft so I learned the hard way that tranny fluid comes out that opening. Conveniently enough, my housemate was using the oil drip pan to change the oil on his motorcycle so I had to use a cooking bowl to catch all the fluid that came pouring out. All the bolts were much easier to take off this time round as I didn't torque everything down to spec. I had to drop one side of the trans crossmember in order to get the tail low enough to get the oil filter and starter to clear the motor mounts on the way out. Now I have a rolling chassis and that makes me happy. Motor and trans will be in the classifieds once I can find the model # stamp on the trans. If you are interested in those, or really any part from the truck, feel free to message me directly.

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  17. ksack

    ksack forum member

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  18. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    Wednesday I started getting the dash taken apart. Got the outer plastic off and the instrument cluster out and called it a day. The first pic is my progress at the end of that day. The two dash mounted speakers were a pain in the ass and they had to be removed in order to pull the plastic part of the dash. They are held in with 3 screws each and one is so close to the windshield that I had to use a phillips bit and a 1/4 wrench to turn it in order to remove the screw. Of course I dropped the bit and it conveniently landed *sarcasm* on the far left side on a wire harness that I couldn't see. It took me 20 minutes wiggling around the plastic part of the dash to get eyes on it.

    Today I spent two hours this afternoon finishing up the dash removal. Hardest part was pulling the wheel without a puller so I jury rigged something up with a C clamp and a wrench and got it off. Last two pics are of the contraption and where I left off for the day. Next step is to get the harness removed and pull all the HVAC crap.

    I must say, they just don't build cars like they used to. I used to be able to disassemble my 06 Mustang interior pretty fast with all the snap in panels. This thing is held together with so many bolts and screws it really is a sturdy piece of machinery.

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  19. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    Spent about another 2 hours on it today finishing taking out the dash, HVAC and harness. All electrical is off the car except the one part of the harness that runs back to the fuel pump and tail lights. All that's left is to take out the insulation, floor and seat. Pedals and steering column will stay installed for when I move around the end of the year. The one connection that connects to the O2 sensor on the midpipe was fused together from the heat so I ended up just removing the sensor with the harness.

    Local pull and pay has a deal next Sunday where you and a buddy can take as much as you can carry out for $59.99 so I think I'll try to get my new 8.8 then. Looking for opinions. I can get one that is 2" wider and just get some wheels with more backspacing or not be super picky and get one that I'll have professionally shortened. The wheel wells already overhang about 3" past the tires so I'm not worried about an inch on either side. The drivetrain I'm planning on swapping in runs down centerline unlike the stock drivetrain which is slightly offset to the passenger side. If I kept the approx 2" offset in the rear, it gives me 2-2.5 degrees lateral pinion angle. I know that having a compound angle is fine, but I'm worried about it causing issues at higher power numbers (500+hp). So do I accept the compound pinion angle or get an axle to shorten so that the axles are equal length and the housing is centered up?

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  20. ksack

    ksack forum member

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    Finished up pulling 98% of the interior today. Really just had insulation, floor and seat to pull. All that's left is the steering column, the two seat belts, and whatever the membrane is between the floor pan and flooring. Door trim is going to stay put for now unless someone wants to buy it. I tried going at the membrane but that stuff is caked on there pretty well so I'm going to invest in a decent scraper and go at it another time. Hoping to get an 8.8 from pull and pay on Sunday with a pull-a-thon they have going on.

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