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Going Further - 1986 XL 4x4 Restoration Build


Kenobi77

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Hey guys,

I've been a sporadic poster here, so there's a chance you might've seen me around before. You've read the title, so let's dive into this.

THE BACKGROUND
My dad and I bought this truck off Facebook Marketplace back in 2021 when we knew I'd need my own vehicle. There were three characteristics a potential candidate had to have: good mileage, decent safety, and the ability for me to do maintenance myself (ie, mechanical simplicity). These all had fall into a truck platform. I had an aversion to small trucks due to ignorance in assuming interior comfort (mainly legroom) was a sacrifice that came with them; this notion was corrected when the school football coach, 6' 4" in height, told me tales of high praise regarding his 1992 Ranger. The first generation Rangers fit the criteria, so everything worked out.

The condition the truck was in upon receipt was mixed. The PO obtained the truck from his nephew. The last time it was registered was 2006, and according to him, had been sitting under a tree for six years.
Body was and is great; interior, too (though a bit less so), with some work having been done on it by the PO. However, the original transmission ("shot," in his words) had been swapped with one from the junkyard. The 2.9 didn't run right, there were multiple exhaust leaks, and the brakes had frozen up.

WHAT WE'VE DONE TO IT
My dad and I spent a year off/on getting this truck drivable, during which:

- Tune-up performed
- Interior refreshed
- Exhaust leaks taken care of
- New shocks all around (more than likely the factory shocks were in the rear)
- New brakes
- New tires
- Other miscellaneous items which will probably come to mind after I stop writing

In the end, it got on the road and I fell in love. When I first started driving it, I got about 15mpg. That's now fallen to, at last fill-up, an average of 12. Combined with struggling to get up basic hills and other shortcomings...

THE CURRENT SITUATION
In October, I reached out to @gaz for his opinions on a rebuild for the 2.9. Huge thank you to him for putting up with my indecisiveness and for passing on his knowledge over the course of months. Because of him, a rebuild is organized with his trusted machinist. The truck is currently parked, enabling my dad and me to pull the engine (and transmission) this weekend so it can be taken there. My dad and I will be using this downtime to make long-neglected repairs and upgrades that I'll document as everything progresses.

Until then, I'll be using this thread to document a good portion of what we did during the effort to get the truck running. Pictures! (when applicable) will be here and the posts will not be this long; additionally, I'll have no shame asking for advice or recommendations as the build gets going. Feel free to jump in with any questions or recommendations, too.

Stick around...
 


RobbieD

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Looking forward to seeing your truck. Sounds good so far.


My dad and I spent a year off/on getting this truck drivable,
When you're old (like me) you'll think of those times wrenching with your dad, and really, really appreciate it. You're indeed fortunate to have that experience.
 

Kenobi77

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When you're old (like me) you'll think of those times wrenching with your dad, and really, really appreciate it. You're indeed fortunate to have that experience.
Believe me, that’s not lost. Leaves that are green turn to brown and there’ll come a time when I’ll be wishing we could do this one more time. Best I can do is cherish this while it’s happening and enjoy the ride (even through the occasional disagreements) while making this truck the best we can.
 

Kenobi77

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Here’s the picture from the Marketplace ad. This is the probably the best overall picture of it there is, but there should be more as we go along.
IMG_7190.jpeg


One of the first things we did was the tune-up. I’d say it hadn’t had one for a bit before 2006, as the SplitFires were pretty damn fouled.

We also did a SeaFoam treatment as part of it, gas tank first and then the throttle body. The SeaFoam in the tank REALLY helped to smoothen the engine out; throttle body freed up the butterfly plate and complemented the tank treatment:
IMG_0240.jpeg

IMG_0249.jpeg


The exhaust leaks were coming from three places: the driver’s exhaust manifold (no gasket was present), the Y-pipe, and where the Y-pipe meets the catalytic converter. The former two were relatively minor; to give a sense of what we were dealing with underneath:


Not good. The fix was pretty straightforward: the flange on the converter was bent also fastened with the wrong grade of bolts. We unhooked the flange, pounded it flat with a rubber mallet, replaced the gasket, and used grade 8s. This took care of it.

The Y-pipe leak was a testy matter of just retightening the bolts. They were rusted in there, but a generous amount of PB Blaster and swearing later broke them free. The exhaust manifold, however, was a PITFA. Combined with the awkward positioning and one stubborn bolt, it also took the longest to fix. We eventually said “**** it” and purchased a plasma cutter to remove the bolt so we could then put in a gasket. This took care of the leak.
 

Kenobi77

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Next up was the interior. The PO had taken out the original carpet as it was apparently a mess. He had bought some new carpet and had yet to install it. We took the seat and belts out, then degreased it with Purple Power. After that, we laid and rolled some Frost King duct insulation down to help in heat control (this was the fall of 2021, still pretty warm here. Made a decent difference when I opened the door the next day).
IMG_0235.jpeg

IMG_0239.jpeg


While we were doing this, I had let the new carpet lay out in the sun for a few days. I had heard horror stories about ACC’s product, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it fit. The only trimming required was at the kick panels.
IMG_0248.jpeg


The product is fine for what it is. However, the PO had left the original curtain of carpet on the back wall, allowing me to see to directly compare old vs new. The ACC is nowhere near as plush as the original, and its backing makes it feel very cheap. I will eventually redo the interior and scout out junkyards for carpet or find NOS (there’s one on eBay: $350. No thanks).

***
There were droppings and dried urine in the vents that I removed and have written about in another thread before. During this time, the instrument cluster came out in order to ease access and replace its bulbs. Then I got thinking, why not clean it up?
IMG_7175.jpeg


I cleaned the dirt with cheap-o ArmorAll trim cleaner from Walmart, which worked perfectly. I then reglued the indicator screen with clear model glue meant to make windows. After that, I repainted the needles using Testors fluorescent orange paint that guys on an 80-86 F-Series forum had discovered is about as much of a dead-on match as you can get. I finished this up with a coat of Cerakote trim restore on the gauge faces and polished the lenses with Mother’s headlight restorer. I’ll get a good picture later, but minus the faded orange/red numbers and marks on the gauges, they turned out looking brand new.
 

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RobbieD

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Kenobi77

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Welp, pulled the engine (what an experience) and got it dropped off at the machinist’s. Here it is a few hours after the removal:
IMG_7401.jpeg


Yes, that’s oil caking the block, all of which is many years old and would scrape right off with a putty knife. A couple concerning things noted:

- All hoses are original (had suspected but was never able to confirm)
- Exposed wire in the engine bay
- Motor mount bolts were hand-tight (more accurately, finger-loose)

Not concerning, but some “Good Lord” moments:

- One pulley bearing completely worn
- Barely any material left on the friction disc
- Transmission has apparently started to leak

What a bitch the fan was to get off. Wouldn’t budge until taking a hammer to the wrench. Come to find out, the threads were rusted together; it came off at least once before when A/C was installed in 1988. Really wish they had used anti-seize! :annoyed:

Either way, it’s out and I can move on to the other things. Thinking I’ll start with the battery tray and the wiring while I wait on some parts. Stay tuned.
 

rusty ol ranger

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Looks good.

You got a really solid starting point there....that truck looks really straight and rust free. Everything else is just gravy.

I also apperciate the fact youre keeping the 2.9. Youll like it...they are quirky little bastards but keep it cool itll treat you good. They also are fun as hell to drive espicially with a 5sp. Good low end snort to plant your ass from a dig but also can rev out for some higher rpm rips.

The oil caking the block is normal...lol. 2.9 valve covers are notorious for leaking. When you reinstall them use rubber gaskets. I run the felpros.
 

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When you're old (like me) you'll think of those times wrenching with your dad, and really, really appreciate it. You're indeed fortunate to have that experience.
:iamwithstupid:

I'm not as old as Robbie (I think), nor as young as you (I think), but I agree compoletely. That's why I'm trying to involve dad in my projects as much as practical.

I approve. :icon_thumby:

My first truck, an 84 2wd:

7568700001_large.jpg


Wish it was still driveable, unfortunately I wrapped it around a pecan tree back in 2009.

While we were doing this, I had let the new carpet lay out in the sun for a few days. I had heard horror stories about ACC’s product, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it fit. The only trimming required was at the kick panels.

The product is fine for what it is. However, the PO had left the original curtain of carpet on the back wall, allowing me to see to directly compare old vs new. The ACC is nowhere near as plush as the original, and its backing makes it feel very cheap. I will eventually redo the interior and scout out junkyards for carpet or find NOS (there’s one on eBay: $350. No thanks).
I didn't have a problem with the ACC carpet I used in the 84. I think mostof the horrow stories are from people expecting them to be a direct drop in fit. They don;t take the prep steps like you did and don't let them sit out in the sun to loosen up. As for plushness, couldn;t say as mine originally had vynil flooring. IIRC ACC offers a few different styles of carpet direct through their website, maybe one of those would be a closer match. I think they also offer carpet by the yard if you wanted to replace that back wall carpet to make the back wall match.
 

Kenobi77

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Looks good.

You got a really solid starting point there....that truck looks really straight and rust free. Everything else is just gravy.

I also apperciate the fact youre keeping the 2.9. Youll like it...they are quirky little bastards but keep it cool itll treat you good. They also are fun as hell to drive espicially with a 5sp. Good low end snort to plant your ass from a dig but also can rev out for some higher rpm rips.

The oil caking the block is normal...lol. 2.9 valve covers are notorious for leaking. When you reinstall them use rubber gaskets. I run the felpros.
Yeah, I honestly lucked out. The only rust on the thing is the battery tray (working on) and a weatherstrip support, which is an easy fix. Only a couple shallow dents on the body and very few in the bed, I’ll have to get a picture sometime. Was going to swap in a 4.0 and M5 but decided they were more effort than I cared for. The rebuild is focusing more on MPGs and low end torque as I rarely go above 2,600 RPM. Aiming for mid-to-high 20s for MPG, going to see if I can push it over the 30mpg mark.

Lol, so I’ve heard about the valve covers. I had just never seen a picture of an afflicted 2.9, so I didn’t know how bad it’d be. Oh, naivety… :LOL:


:iamwithstupid:

I'm not as old as Robbie (I think), nor as young as you (I think), but I agree compoletely. That's why I'm trying to involve dad in my projects as much as practical.



I approve. :icon_thumby:

My first truck, an 84 2wd:

View attachment 111471

Wish it was still driveable, unfortunately I wrapped it around a pecan tree back in 2009.



I didn't have a problem with the ACC carpet I used in the 84. I think mostof the horrow stories are from people expecting them to be a direct drop in fit. They don;t take the prep steps like you did and don't let them sit out in the sun to loosen up. As for plushness, couldn;t say as mine originally had vynil flooring. IIRC ACC offers a few different styles of carpet direct through their website, maybe one of those would be a closer match. I think they also offer carpet by the yard if you wanted to replace that back wall carpet to make the back wall match.
Nice truck! Would love to see more pictures if you have any. Sorry to hear about its fate, but glad you walked away okay (or at least okay enough to type). I’m not proud to admit I almost ran my truck off the road during the first winter I had my license. Live, learn.

Yeah, I agree about the horror stories and the prep. Guys definitely skip steps and don’t take time when, if they would pay attention, they’d see it’s not the terrible POS they think it is. In regards to the plushness: I had the same thought and ordered samples of cutpile, Essex, 80/20, etc. and “Regatta Blue” cutpile is definitely the closest match. To give some context, 80/20 loop seems like it belongs in a library, and Essex like it was pulled out of grandma’s untouched ‘90s bedroom.


Like, the ACC carpet’s not bad. And I’d recommend it as a replacement or a vinyl swap, but it’s just not satisfying me when I can see and feel old and new side by side. I’ll get a comparison shot of the two soon since I’ll be behind the seat anyway.
 

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Nice truck! Would love to see more pictures if you have any. Sorry to hear about its fate, but glad you walked away okay (or at least okay enough to type). I’m not proud to admit I almost ran my truck off the road during the first winter I had my license. Live, learn.
Me too. Unfortunately I was never good about taking pictures, and most of those I had were lost when Photobucket changed their business model years ago. Only other pictures I know I've got are of the post crash mangled mess, and I'd have to dig to find them.

Walked away, no more than a scratch and sore muscles the next day. Probably shouldn't have come out that good. I'd forgotten my cell phone that morning, so immediately afterwards I was out of the truck and trying to decide which direction to start walking. Nice old couple in a pickup gave me a ride to the gas station several miles away. Called Dad and we headed back to he truck after he picked me up. Dad was amazed I wasn't hurt worse. Just after we got back to the truck a county sheriff came around and asked if we knew who the truck belonged to. Couldn't believe that I was driving it and in the shape I was in, said he and another officer had been cruising around looking for the driver laid out in a field.
 

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Not the most exciting update, but progress nonetheless. I got the exposed wire in the engine bay patched up today; had to cut the wrap lengthwise and superglue it back together. Works well. Apologies for the picture being out of focus.
IMG_7504.jpeg


I’ve also been working on the battery tray for the past couple of days. This is what it looked like when I started. Not the best pic, but it will do:
IMG_7403.jpeg



I honestly expected none of the metal to be salvageable, but taking a wire brush to it revealed good structure. Once again, sorry for the picture.
IMG_7408.jpeg


Have Ospho working magic on it and the weatherstrip rust as you read this. Will update soon. Additionally on the interior, I installed a firewall boot in preparation for gauges under the dash to be hooked up. Was very simple: just removed the grommet in the engine bay, pushed out the precut circle in the insulation, and viola.
IMG_7414.jpeg

IMG_7412.jpeg


Definitely the easiest way to do this. I’m admittedly lazy when it comes to drilling into things and try to utilize as many factory plugs/byways as possible, though I will admit that I’m still trying to settle on the route for the lines to the gauges (right in front of the transfer case shifter). Any thoughts?

On another note, I’m still waiting for parts (yay FedEx :rolleyes:) so I can’t do much else right now. In the order are new u-joints all the way around. Here’s the original rear drivetrain joint for your entertainment:
 

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Not the most exciting update, but progress nonetheless. I got the exposed wire in the engine bay patched up today; had to cut the wrap lengthwise and superglue it back together. Works well. Apologies for the picture being out of focus.
View attachment 111625

I’ve also been working on the battery tray for the past couple of days. This is what it looked like when I started. Not the best pic, but it will do:
View attachment 111595


I honestly expected none of the metal to be salvageable, but taking a wire brush to it revealed good structure. Once again, sorry for the picture.
View attachment 111596

Have Ospho working magic on it and the weatherstrip rust as you read this. Will update soon. Additionally on the interior, I installed a firewall boot in preparation for gauges under the dash to be hooked up. Was very simple: just removed the grommet in the engine bay, pushed out the precut circle in the insulation, and viola.
View attachment 111623
View attachment 111624

Definitely the easiest way to do this. I’m admittedly lazy when it comes to drilling into things and try to utilize as many factory plugs/byways as possible, though I will admit that I’m still trying to settle on the route for the lines to the gauges (right in front of the transfer case shifter). Any thoughts?

On another note, I’m still waiting for parts (yay FedEx :rolleyes:) so I can’t do much else right now. In the order are new u-joints all the way around. Here’s the original rear drivetrain joint for your entertainment:
A little bit of grease would have fixed that joint right up... :)
 

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LOL. I don't think I've ever seen one that bad. At least that hadn't stretched the ears anyway. I sincerely wish you luck pressing that apart. Get the loaner tool.
 

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LOL. I don't think I've ever seen one that bad. At least that hadn't stretched the ears anyway. I sincerely wish you luck pressing that apart. Get the loaner tool.
Who needs luck? A few more miles and it'll fall out.

Hammer and a socket on a concrete floor should have those removed with little trouble. That said, I sure do like my 20 ton shop press. I wish it had air to make things go quicker, but I haven't found anything yet that says no when that asks it to move.
 

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