3.8 Supercharged V6 Engine Transplant


Classiccarmartin

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This will be a project I'll be doing a little bit later into spring and summer, but I thought I would start a thread now as the donor vehicle arrived on Sunday.
I have a 1991 Ranger XLT extended cab with a 3.0 V6 and a 5-speed. It has 145,000 miles on it and honestly runs fine. It's just that the factory 140 horsepower (or whatever that's down to now) isn't really enough to satisfy.
25400

I've always liked supercharged engines (bought and fixed up a couple of XJR Jags in recent years) and found a suitable donor vehicle on Craigslist that will give up its engine and a few other parts too. It's a 1990 Thunderbird Supercoupe.
25401

The seller was kind enough to make a deal that included delivery, so now I have it outside the house, probably annoying the neighbors!
There's a flat battery and a small coolant leak to deal with, then I'll drive it to the hotrod shop where I work and remove the engine.
25402

Unfortunately this Thunderbird is an automatic model, but I have also recently purchased a T5 transmission with the correct 3.8 bellhousing. This will be rebuilt and installed in the Ranger behind the Supercoupe engine.

I'm going to try and document the conversion as thoroughly as possible, so that others may find useful information when contemplating or performing similar transplants themselves. It will be a while before I actually start on the truck though, as I have an MGB to fix and a decking to construct behind the house first!

Any comments (preferably positive or constructive) are most welcome.
 


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snoranger

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Let's see how well that T5 holds up behind the SC engine. If you can find a Supercoupe M5OD, I'd ditch the T5. You may get lucky, since the Ranger is a lot lighter then the SC.
I would do the head gaskets before I swap the motor in... they're the weak link in that engine. I haven't had an SC in years, but the big thing used to be 4.2l head gaskets. Do a little research and see what the best gasket is now.
I don't know how familiar you are with these engines, but the tube with the bolt on top at the water neck is a bleeder. Make sure you bleed the cooling system while filling it.
 

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As long as he's not powershifting the heck out of the T5 without lifting, or doing a ton of hard launches on slicks at the track, then the little T5 will be just fine if it's not a sloppy, worn out trans.



GB :)
 

Craig0320

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I am very interested to see how this turns out.
 

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Automatic SC's got the same cam as the NA T-bird. They also use the M5OD which as most on this site know is a very reliable transmission. I would look for a transmission and cam from a manual T-bird SC.
 

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I'd look for a bigger blower, or re-ratioing the pulley. In stock form the Soup-or-Coup blower only adds a little more power than its parasitic drag costs. It's been a while since I looked at the numbers, but IIRC the net gains were in the neighborhood of 13HP.
 

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140hp vs 210.
 

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I admit I'm lazy...so I would have found an M5OD from an F-150 with 4.2. Bolts up to engine & transmission mount , the Ranger clutch would connect, the driveshaft would slip in/be correct length and IMHO ratios are more appropriate for a truck.

But if your heart is set on T5, I would find an S-10 T5 and get the tail shaft/housing - it puts the shifter in more/less stock position. A "Mustang" T5 puts shifter more/less under the front edge of the seat - 60/40 seats no longer work/lousy for any sort of console/armrest.
 

decipha

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yea i would say your best bet is to just find an m5 trans as well. It just makes life easier and no questions about durability behind the sc.

I'm an avid supercoupe collector I have 10 myself. It hurts my soul to see these vehicles destroyed. But in any case, any new sc owner must read the following.



I have the sc ecu pinout on my website too for when you go through the harness and clean it up
 

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Classiccarmartin

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Thank you all for the advice and comments.
I know the T5 isn't the ideal transmission for this build, but I do have a little time before I start so it may be possible to find a more suitable one. Those F150's aren't too common here in Seattle wrecking yards and I haven't had any luck on Craigslist yet. I bought the Mustang T5 completely dismantled for next to nothing and would like to rebuild it. I plan to replace my bench seat with the Thunderbird seats so a shifter position further back wouldn't be such a big issue. Bird 76Mojo's link is a really cool product (thank you!), but a bit more than my budget can stretch to. I could always fit a bent shifter to move it forward a little!
The engine will certainly get a good freshen up before being fitted. Especially after I discovered the source of the Supercoupe's coolant leak tonight:
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We have a missing freeze plug! It's half obscured behind the engine mount, but I think I can get another one in before driving it to work.
I also noticed that the supercharger has a 5% overdrive pulley already fitted, which was a nice little bonus!
Decipha: Thank you for the links and I'm sorry that I'm about to remove a Supercoupe from the herd. If it's any consolation, the left front suspension mounting points on this one are bent, so it's a long way from being a decent roadworthy vehicle.
 

19Walt93

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I wouldn't worry about a T5 behind a S/C 3.8, the one in my Mustang has stood 20+ years of drag racing behind a 302. Freshening the engine before installing it is never a bad idea but we only saw head gasket failures in any number on 3.8's after the cooling system was reworked for front wheel drive applications. Make sure the head and deck surfaces are flat, buy good gaskets( ie-Not Mr, Gasket), and pay attention torquing them.
 

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Yeah, my T5Z behind my 302 is doing fine and I treat the truck like a red headed step child. 👍

The front shift tailhousing is worth the money once you start looking in to the mods on an S10 tailhousing to make it work properly with a T5 meant for a Ford. It's not an easy mod to do correctly. Speedo drive issues, oiling issues, installing a new tailshaft yoke bushing, etc.. I went so far as buying an S10 tail housing and started pricing the machine work/welding to get the speedo drive corrected, and I talked with a couple T5 specialists about the mod and was recommended to steer clear of it. One was Paul from - https://www.youtube.com/user/GearWorldTV - and he really knows these transmissions quite well. The T5's meant for the S10 are inherently weak as well, so that's a bad option. Lot's of issues with that route.

Personally I never liked the way the M5OD shifted, but that's my own personal preference.. They shift very slow compared to a fresh T5. Not even close..

I said screw it and bought this instead. It was WELL WORTH the money in the end: http://transmission.moderndriveline.com/speed/pc/TREMEC-Super-Duty-T5-5-Speed-with-Front-Shift-Rear-Socket-conversion-55p6.htm
 

Classiccarmartin

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Just a quick update from the cold wet driveway tonight.
I decided that my chances of fitting a standard freeze plug were zero as there's practically no room to swing a hammer or a straight shot to strike the plug. A trip to the parts store yielded a rubber expansion type plug and this is what's now in the hole. It wasn't easy in 35 degree rainy weather and required taking the plug apart before reassembling it in situ, as the gap between the block and engine mount was that tight. I've put a gallon of water in it to check and so far it looks to have sealed. I'll fill it up completely on Saturday and go for a quick test drive before taking it to work on Sunday or Monday. I'll have a week to strip the car before the carcass goes to the junkyard.
 

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I've used the rubber expansion plug in the exact same spot, different engine. As long as you cleaned the hole and got the plug in square it will work great.
 


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