Back on the 23rd, I was once again at my parents place, and the time had come to take the Fairlane off the road so that I could really dig into the meat of the drivetrain project.
First step, of course, was to excise the old crap, to make way for the new goodness.
ughh, it's still there.
I then set the old and new side by side so as to better grasp the size differences between them:
The old axle is upside down here, as indicated by the old spring pads (the car is spring under, so the pads should be facing down)
The axles looked pretty darn close, length wise, so we aligned them up as best we could with a straight edge off the wheel mounting surface:
wait a minute.... the new axle is supposed to be a little wider, isn't it?
It turns out, that while the pinion on the 8.8" axle is offset about 1.75 inches compared to the roughly centered 8" axle, the overall length ended up being for all intents and purposes, identical. I was quite presently surprised by this, and didn't ask further questions. I'll just take the win lol
Now, it was at this point that I started to get sucked into the project, so the detail pictures never got taken.
The next thing we did, was pull some measurements regarding the spring perches.
With the old axle available for direct comparison, it was clear that the old spring perch from the explorer was going to be an issue.
While the new spring perch suitable for a Fairlane would fit without issue, the U bolts that secure the axle to the spring were going to need to occupy some of the same space that the old explorer perch was presently existing in.
It's a situation that simply wouldn't do.
My first inclination was to cut the old perches off entirely, but after some consideration, My dad and I decided that we should probably leave a little bit of the old bracket in place, as it was one of the mounting points for the brake lines.
Also, the perches were made of some thick-ass metal, and after making my way through one weld, there was no way I was going to spend so much time using a cutoff wheel to cut through 3 more. (we don't have a plasma cutter sadly, its one of the few tools we really wish we had, but there's no space, and insufficient power to run both a plasma cutter, and the air compressor simultaneously. We also don't have a torch)
Anyways, the result of those decisions is as follows:
Also, we painted most of it. The grey is zinc based weld through primer, the black is tractor enamel.
Then, we fit the axle to the car without welding anything.
We measured everything we could to center the thing, and align it to the car as straight as possible. The pinion angle could not be properly matched yet, as the T56 was not installed, and there was no guarantee I could match the angle of the 302/toploader when I switched over to 302/T56, since the T56 has some considerable dimensional differences.
We cinched down the u bolts to a reasonable tightness, put the wheels on it, and rolled it down to the street to be parked.
I had to be back home on Sunday, and we had finished what I wanted finished for the weekend, so we were done.
The next weekend, on march 30, it was time to dig into the heart of the project. I had the next week off, and I had plenty on the list to do.
The hood came off for better access:
We also removed the seats while our hands were still cleanish. The carpet came out almost immediately following this picture:
We started to disassemble the engine, making sure to pull a baseline measurement for the block angle relative to a part of the car's structure, so that we could see how close we were with the new setup later.
(for reference, we used a digital angle finder, and zeroed it on a section of inner fender. relative to that fender, the engine block was 6° tail down)
then, bada bing bada boom, the engine was out less than 3 hours later.
I do this too often I think....
All told, including the time to take measurements and remove the interior, as well as fully remove the center section of exhaust, it only took 7 hours to totally remove everything.
We also pressure washed the power unit, so as to make it touchable and much less oily and dirty.
My dad had places to be that night, so we called it a day at that point. It was a good stopping point anyways.
Sunday, I unearthed something from a shallow grave, and returned it to it's rightful home.
Yup, that's the original, numbers matching 289 that was in the car back when I bought it in 2008; now stripped of it's innards, and reduced to a more manageable weight.
It served its new purpose well, providing a means of mocking up the shiny new T56.
Speaking of, we attached the t56 to the 289, and started lifting it ever further into place, looking for the first contact points where we would have to trim the hole.
It was quick and dirty, and I have no pictures of that process, but before long, I was able to sketch out a potential hole, and I started drilling.
I remembered to take a picture after drilling a few of the holes.
That fugly monstrosity of a hole is what I did to my floor in order to install the Toploader. It was cold as hell at the time, and I was in a hurry. Luckily, not only did it have to go, it had to go.
Looks mostly big enough now though:
Hmm, that "mid-mount" shifter location is a bit.... forward though:
shown in first gear
The shifter was going to be an issue, but more on that later.
At this point, I had the trans held in place with jack stands. There was no structure to support it yet, but the original cross-member was going to attach fine to the trans mount on the back of the T56, and the height of the thing even looked plausible.
My dad and I theorized that extending the frame stubs about 7 inches would do the job, but we did not have sufficient material for the job, so the day was done.
Monday the first ended up being a bit hectic, and I've got basically NO pictures from the day, nor any from Tuesday.
Anyways, Monday: I got the 302 and the toploader separated while we were waiting for the shop that we get our fabrication supplies to open; and in so doing, I found a ticking time bomb.
well, no, there weren't any explosives, but it could have been pretty bad if it had been left for much longer.
the pilot bearing was thrashed.
As it turns out, that was going to be a major PITA, but that's a story for later.
By the time we had the engine separated and on the engine stand, BMC Fabrication was open, so we went down and picked up some 3" x 3" x 0.25" angle iron to be used in the process of extending the frame stubs.
We ended up using two 12" lengths of the stuff, and trimmed some edges up for better fitment with the existing structure. We bolted the material to the existing structure using some large grade 8 bolts, and that was that.
There was a great deal of test fitting, as well as additional trimming of the floor. This was also the time when we got serious about measuring up the block angle (parallel to the crankshaft, so block angle was also trans angle).
Ultimately, with no shimming, the trans was sitting happy in the car, on the crossmember, and a 6.6° angle down on the block. It was a little steeper than the engine originally had, but we were reaching diminishing returns on cutting the floor to gain additional clearance.
To correct the angle that 0.6°, would have required either some very significant cutting of the floor, or some lowering of the engine in the chassis.
At the point I was at, I was unwilling to cut the floor more, and moving the engine is something that could be done later if it must, though I would prefer not to (I like my ground clearance after all)
With all the measuring and test fitting, it ended up taking most all of the day to get the extensions made. Looking at them after the fact, they don't seem like they'd take so long, but unlike TV, fabricating at home can be slow as hell.
Since I'm so short of pictures from Monday, I guess I'll skip ahead slightly to a couple pictures from Saturday the 6th, so that you can see the brackets at least:
Tuesday, April 2:
So, Tuesday was going to be the day of rebuilding the 302.
It had a moderate rear main seal leak, as 2 piece seals tend to do. Normally, I'd just run it since it wasn't leaking too bad anyways, but since I had the engine out, I might as well, right?
And since I had to remove the rear-most bearing cap to do the seal, I might as well just replace the bearings too right? I mean, I'm in there already....
If I was going to replace the bearings, then maybe I should replace the con-rod bolts too. After all, they are original, and not exactly the strongest things in the world...
Might as well?
... should have left the damn thing alone ...
After getting the bottom end apart, I found out that I had mistakenly ordered the wrong bearings. I needed .010 under bearings, and I had ordered STD ones. No-one in the area had them on hand, and they had to be ordered in, due late Tuesday evening.
OK I figured, I'll just clean up all the mating surfaces, and get the engine as prepped as possible for re-assembly.
I also decided to work on getting the old pilot bearing out, after all, its easier now than when it's all assembled later.
It took 4 hours.
I've never fought one of these things so much.
The puller tool? worthless
Packing the cavity with grease, and pushing it out? No good, couldn't get a good enough fit on the pushing device.
Ok, lets drive some screws into it, and pull it that way.
yeah right, turns out the bearing was gone, and it was just a solid bushing left. It would rather chip than drill.
So, it chips, lets weaken it, and break it out.
Eventually, I was able to chew enough away that we could get a real crowbar into the cavity, and with a combination of finesse and a BFH, I was able to get it out enough, that the puller could grab an edge.
Fuck you china bearing. Fuck you very much.
Finally, after cleaning all the gasket surfaces and destroying the remains of the old pilot bearing. I turned my attention to the connecting rod bolts.
There was only minor drama there, and while it took longer than it should have due to stupidity, it did get finished. I now have some good ARP rod bolts holding my bottom end together.
Wednesday ended up being a bad one for pictures too, and in fact Wednesday turned out to pretty much just be a shit show also, at least at first.
I was going to start the day, again, by assembling the engine. I had the new main bearings, of the correct size now, so it was going to be full steam ahead.
I gave the block a final clean, removing any remnants of FOD, and sat down to get to work.
Only to immediately find that the rod bearings needed to be .010 under too, and like a moron, I hadn't even thought to check.
Again, no-one local had them, but un-like the mains, no-one could get them before the end of the next day either.
Since no-one could get them, and I needed stuff from Summit Racing anyways, I just ordered what I needed from them. It's almost always next day delivery for me from them anyways since their Nevada location is so close (relatively)
I resigned myself to working on other stuff the whole day, and so I set about working on setting the pinion angle.
I measured the engine and trans again for GP's, and loosened the U-Bolts holding the axle down enough that I could convince it to move with a BFH.
I had the whole car set up to be equivalent heights for everything at ride height, as it would travel down the road. The front was on jack stands of course, but the rear had the jack stands under the springs, allowing me to load down the trunk so as to replicate proper ride height.
There were many measurements taken and verified to ensure that the relationship between the ground, the front of the chassis, the rear of the chassis, and the axle to the chassis was correct and representative of the car as it would be on the road.
Most of the time actually was spent ensuring, and re verifying that these relationships were maintained.
Once I was comfortable with the set-up, I ended up setting the axle to be about 0.3° down from the transmission.
I welded the spring perches to the axle with 1 inch beads on either side of the perch, setting the angle.
I still have not fully welded the perches though, as I want to be able to do a quick test drive to ensure I don't have any vibrations. Once it's all been verified, it's all going to come out, and be fully perimeter welded.
I think for a test drive though, 2 inches of weld bead per perch (for 4 inches total) combined with the u-bolts and a light foot should be sufficient.
I also took the opportunity, since I had the car representative of ride height, to work out the expected driveshaft working angle.
Since the engine is not at the same angle it once was, I lost a little angle compared to the old set-up, however, since the pinion is so far offset, I also gain some back.
To work out exactly what the difference is, I worked out two triangles. One being representative of the horizontal offset, and the other being representative of the vertical offset.
From the two triangles, I was able to generate enough information to figure out a 3D angle.
The top triangle is the horizontal, and the lower is the vertical.
Combining them together gives me a working angle of about 1.73°
Most of what I've seen indicates that about 1° to 1.5° is the minimum recommended working angle, so while my working angle is low, it should be OK.
Once the pinion was set, I also spent a little time planning out what to do about the hole in the floor, since I probably don't really want to drive with a big gaping hole in the floor.
I plan to fabricate a frame, to go around the hole, reinforcing the floor. This frame will be attached to the floor with a number of fasteners installed into rivnuts in the floor. When the frame is installed, I will use seam sealer to seal the frame to the floor.
This frame will also have some walls welded to it, and a removable top-cap on a gasket of some kind for maintenance.
We didn't have enough material on hand to make the whole assembly, but we started with some cardboard templates to figure out how much material we would even need.
With some rough guesstimates on material qtys and plans to move forward, we moved on to removing the old clutch master cylinder and pedal, so that we could start planning out how to deal with that too.
As I expected, I am going to be able to re-use the pedal I was using, but it was going to need some TLC, as the various axis holes were all kinds of wallored out. After I had all the parts in hand, plans were again made as to how to deal with things (I was going to have to change to a remote reservoir on the master, and the little U strap that was used to connect the master to the pedal was beyond recovery, a new one would have to be made).
Again, I was short of the exact materials I needed, but we now had plans, so we called it an early day, and I treated my family to dinner.
I was expecting my shipment from Summit on Thursday, but it was not due in till later in the day, so I instead worked on making all the plans from the previous day a reality.
The remote reservoir ended up just being a simple bracket that mounted on top of the proportioning valve I installed last year (you can see it in later pics, but I don't have any of just the bracket)
The adaptor to connect the master cylinder's pushrod to the pedal was slightly more complicated, so I do have a pic of that:
It's not my prettiest fabrication, but it'll be functional. You can also see the bronze bushing that I installed in the adapter.
I've got similar bushings in the pedal, and the pedal hinge now too. No more steel-on-aluminum squeaking or wearing now.
Once the pedal was figured out, I moved on to making the frame to go around the hole in the floor.
Some old school fab, Hammer, Anvil, and a set of dollies that you cant see since they are in the car.
Hand forming metal this way is slooooow, but very rewarding. I was quite pleased with the end result:
(shown from a few days later, after it had paint, and screws installing it, don't mind the shifter, that story is later)
Forming, welding, and painting the frame took the rest of the day, and by the time we were done, the parts from Summit Racing had arrived.
The next day, 3 days late, I'd finally be able to assemble the engine.
The end of my time in Spanish Fork was neigh.
My dad and I had been working 9-10 hour days, every day since Saturday, and while we were making forward progress every day, it didn't feel like we had been getting much done.
The plan for Friday was to get the engine 100% bench assembled, get the clutch on it, figure out if the starter would have to change as I thought it might, set up the hydraulic throwout bearing, do a test mate of the engine and trans on the bench, and finally, install at least the engine into the car onto the motor mounts before the end of the day.
We did all but one of those things.
We checked all the measurements (All good, as one would expect with Clevite bearings) and then it was full steam ahead:
The engine was then flipped over, and the number 1 lifter set replaced (they were not pumping up correctly, and hadn't been for a while, causing a lifter clatter on startup. Might as well right?)
Replacing the lifter necessitated removing the one head, and since one was off, I had pulled the other as well to inspect it back on Tuesday.
I put the new lifter set in, and re-installed the cleaned and inspected heads (everything looked OK)
At this point, after I had put the pushrods back in, I wanted to set the valve lash.
Well, my preferred way to do that is one cylinder at a time, setting the rockers when each cylinder is on the firing stroke.
I usually use the distributor to know how much to spin the engine.
The distributor was nearly seized. Very hard to rotate by hand, though the composite gear looked fine (and the cam gear did too BTW, I checked)
I pulled the distributor apart, and found that the upper bushing had split in half, and there was a big burr on the shaft.
I cleaned it up as best I could, and just re-assembled it for now. It'll work for now, but I need to replace it ASAP.
I'll probably pull a junkyard dizzy soon.
After the dizzy sidetrack, we were somewhat behind schedule for where I wanted to be in the day, but we continued to push forward.
we checked the run-out on the bellhousing, as requested by the American Powertrain instructions (and yes, I did actually look through them at least twice)
Everything was in tolerance, so we moved on to measuring for the throwout bearing, so as to determine the number of shims necessary (one, per the numbers, but I'm concerned I may need two, we'll see)
I also verified that my starter, which was for a 164 tooth M/T transmission won't work with the 157 tooth flywheel that must be used for this conversion (there's no such thing as a easily available bellhousing that adapts the T56 to a SBF, that also accommodates the larger 164th flywheel)
I was expecting that though, so its not a concern.
with all the measurements taken, the clutch and flywheel were final installed and torqued down:
and finally, the transmission was test fit to the 302:
cameo by Dad
We ended up calling it a day after that. It was past 6:00, and we were approaching a non-stop 12 hour day at that point.
Saturday would be my last full day in Spanish Fork for this trip, and we had a hell of a lot still to do...
Saturday started inside the car.
We drilled the holes and installed the riv-nuts to secure the frame for the floor hole first, since it was the last opportunity to do so.
Then the engine was dropped into the car, separate from the transmission:
The transmission was offered up:
and it all slipped together like it was meant to be:
It took less than 1.5 hours to get the engine in the car, and the transmission mated to it. I then spent the rest of my day getting all the parts assembled back onto the engine, from headers to intake and everything inbetween:
(you can see that bracket for the remote clutch reservoir in the upper right btw)
In the meantime, while I was working on getting the engine assembled, My dad was working on the rear axle.
We had noticed that the sway bar mounts that I had hoped to eventually use were in the direct path of the exhaust.
At ride height they would have cleared, but under bump, they definitely would have smashed into each other.
The axle needed to come out anyways to make it easier to assemble the brakes and make new hard lines on the thing, so he took that out, and started cutting the sway bar mounts off.
I'll have to find an alternate solution for a swaybar later I suppose. Oh well.
My last day in Spanish Fork for that trip, and starting the day, the engine was in the car, the trans was in the car, but the axle was not.
I really only had about 2/3rds of a day to wrench too, since I had a 3 hour drive home to look forward too.
We had to get the car together enough to roll out of the garage, and get everything cleaned up.
We started by working on the shock mounts.
The original setup int he car mounted the shocks to the lower spring plate, and we saw no reason to change the setup. The original spring plates were sacrificed to the cause, and they donated their shock mounts to be welded to the new spring plates.
I also worked on swapping the shifter over.
Earlier in the week, I had found that the mid-mount shifter was just flat out not going to work. I got ahold of American Powertrain, and they shipped out a rear-shift unit for me to swap over. I'll be sending the mid-mount back.
Since it was their error (I had specifically asked questions on the subject before ordering, and they had assured me that the mid-mount was going to be correct), I only had to pay the cost difference between the two shifters
The replacement shifter had showed up on Friday, but Sunday was the first opportunity for me to actually change it over.
With it changed over, it put the shifter in just about a perfect location.
I temporarily installed the drivers seat only (it would need to be there anyways to move the car) so that I could see how I liked the shifter position.
The verdict? It's going to be glorious.
I also took the opportunity to hook up and bleed the clutch, and make sure it's going to work.
I dont think I quite got all the air out of the system, but everything looks good.
While I was working in the interior and on the clutch, my dad continued on the rear axle, getting the brakes fully and properly installed:
I ended up using a flex line from a 2000's era chevy truck, and my dad made the hard lines to meet up with it out of some NiCopp I bought a while back.
I helped him get the axle in the car:
and we did a quick and dirty bleed job on the rear lines, just enough to prove that it works and doesn't leak.
With that, we wrapped up, cleaned up, and parked the car.
I was done for the time being.
This up-coming weekend, I travel up-state again, to hopefully finish the job enough to get the car on the road.
The driveshaft arrived yesterday, and I picked up a new starter today.
The engine still needs all fluids, as does the trans and differential.
The brakes need to be bled properly, as does the clutch.
Also, I need to test drive it, and hopefully, final weld the spring perches.
Then, the full interior goes in, and I make a temp cover for the hole.
The final metal cover will come later.
Quite a bit to do for a single weekend, and single day really, but I'm hopeful that I'll get it done.