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I need help, please and thanks! 1990 Ranger 2.9L

Spadilla7

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Ford Ranger XLT
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I am new here, just did an introduction on the introduction forum. I am in need of help for those that have experience with the ranger. First, I will give some background information on the truck. Then what’s been done to it, and finally where we are today.
Myself, my wife and my son and drove down to GA to pick up a running 1990 Ranger XLT with a 2.9L. The kiddo wanted a truck to tinker on and drive around town in. It is his second car. The problem with the truck was it had a known blown head gasket. It ran but we couldn’t run it for long, less than 5 minutes or it would start to overheat. The engine ran great otherwise. Ok, no big deal.
We trailered the truck home and proceeded to pull the heads and sent them to a machine shop to have them checked out. In the meantime, we replaced items in the engine bay: new radiator, carbon canister, new coolant reservoir, radiator hoses, water pump, t Stat, engine coolant temp, coolant temp sending unit, replaced the o rings for the a/c system, new accumulator., and a new O2 sensor. There is only one to my surprise located where the down pipes meet down by the transmission.
We got a call that the heads were cracked so we got remanufactured heads complete with new valves, guides, seals, and springs.
Installed all new head gaskets and installed the heads with 16 new bolts and torqued them down in the 4 steps as instructed. Installed the rods and rockers arms back to their exact locations. Installed new gaskets on the lower intake manifold, Installed the distributor back to where it was, TDC on compression with rotor pointing to number 1. Installed 6 new fuel injectors, and proceeded to put the rest of the motor back together using new gaskets where applicable. Connected all of the vacuum lines, hoses and electrical connections. Installed new plugs, wires, coil, cap and rotor. Reconnected the battery. Cranks but no start.
Listened for the fuel pump to kick on when ignition is turned on, it does.
Double checked the firing order and the plug wires on the distributor, 142536. All good. Checked the fuses, relays all good. Double checked the injector harness to make sure all injectors were plugged in correctly, they were.
Time to do the 50/50 test. Sprayed starting fluid, No joy, just cranks no sputter.
I grab a Ford OBD1 scanner cause I don’t have patience to count sweeps on a voltmeter. I get code 21 and 14. 14=PIP. So, I go ahead and replace the TFI and I decide to replace the distributor as well since it is 30 years old. Put the engine back at TDC on compression stroke. Replace the distributor and TFI with the dizzy point at #1. Code 14 is now gone, but still no joy, cranks but doesn’t turn over. 50/50 test again nothing.
I have a code 21 which is the engine coolant temp sensor, it’s a new sensor so I’m not sure what that is about.
I have adjusted the distributor in increments as I have cranked it, nothing.
Now, here is one issue. I found a broken wire that I have no idea where it goes. It is attached to the same harness that the oil pressure sending unit and the coolant temp sending unit. I have no idea where it goes. The coloring on the wire seems faded so its either a white with pink stripe or a white with red stripe. It has to go somewhere in that vicinity around the ac compressor, power steering pump, etc. I have been under the truck all over the top of the truck and I cannot locate where it goes.
So, that is where I am, y’all. It’s a long read and I appreciate those that stuck through it. But, I wanted to make sure everyone that reads it gets a good picture or where the truck was and what’s been done to it, and where we currently are.
I hate the thought of no compression since the heads are fresh, with new gaskets and the motor ran prior to the tear down, so I guess that will be my next test if nothing else comes up.
Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
 
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franklin2

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Oil pressure and the water temp sending unit for the guages are white with red stripe wire and a red with white stripe wire. I can't remember which one goes where. You have two temp sending units. The one with the two wires goes to the computer, the one with the single wire goes to the gauge.

You will always get a code 21 if you are pulling codes with the engine cold. So don't worry about that.

Get a spark tester and check for spark. Harbor freight sells one you plug inline to one of the plug wires.

And one question; When you stabbed the distributor and got the rotor pointing to #1 cylinder, how did you determine #1 was at TDC? Tell me the procedure you used.
 

Spadilla7

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Hello, Franklin,

I removed the #1 spark plug, manually turned the crank until the orange TC marking on the pulley was lined up with the pointer on the block, and the distributor rotor pointed to the number one position, somewhat pointing to the passenger seat. Checked #1 cylinder to verify piston position was at TDC on compression stroke. I then removed the original distributor prior to the engine teardown. When I replaced the new distributor yesterday, I followed the same procedure. The distributor rotates as it engages the gear, and then it seats once I line up the oil pump spline. I make sure that as it rotates it seats pointing to #1. Then, I reverified the firing order as 142536, yet again, and hooked up the spark plug wires in that order on the cap in a clockwise rotation.

Am I overlooking anything?

Regarding the wires, I have those two wires as you described, they are connected. Now I am wondering if the white/red was broken somewhere under the harness and that is why I have three wires. I will check that out. I was looking for another sensor or connection location.

Thank you for the info on code 21, makes sense.

I appreciate your response to my issue.
 
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gaz

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Spadilla7,

1) There is a small Resistor (I think it is called a Balast Resistor) on your coil, they go bad and cause a No-Spark, they cost $5 @ The car part Depot.

2) check the output from your new coil.

3) Check the connector/plug with the two wires (secondary) remove it, inspect it and clean it. If it's too rough, replace it and or the wires.
 

Spadilla7

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Gaz,

Thank you for that info. I will check those out today as well.
 

franklin2

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Hello, Franklin,

I removed the #1 spark plug, manually turned the crank until the orange TC marking on the pulley was lined up with the pointer on the block, and the distributor rotor pointed to the number one position, somewhat pointing to the passenger seat. Checked #1 cylinder to verify piston position was at TDC on compression stroke. I then removed the original distributor prior to the engine teardown. When I replaced the new distributor yesterday, I followed the same procedure. The distributor rotates as it engages the gear, and then it seats once I line up the oil pump spline. I make sure that as it rotates it seats pointing to #1. Then, I reverified the firing order as 142536, yet again, and hooked up the spark plug wires in that order on the cap in a clockwise rotation.

Am I overlooking anything?

Regarding the wires, I have those two wires as you described, they are connected. Now I am wondering if the white/red was broken somewhere under the harness and that is why I have three wires. I will check that out. I was looking for another sensor or connection location.

Thank you for the info on code 21, makes sense.

I appreciate your response to my issue.
There are only two ways to determine you are at TDC. You get someone to turn the engine by hand while you hold your finger over the sparkplug hole, or you take the valve cover off and watch the valves on #1 as the piston comes up to TDC. The piston comes to the top and the marks line up on the pointer two different times, this is a 4 cycle engine. It comes to the top during the exhaust stroke, and it comes to the top during the compression stroke to fire.

The valves will be shut during the one you want. If you put your thumb over the sparkplug hole, and you are on the wrong one the exhaust valve will be open and the air the piston is pushing up will go out into the exhaust. If you are on the correct cycle, both valves will be shut and the air will try and blow your thumb off the sparkplug hole.
 

Spadilla7

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Franklin,

You just opened my eyes. Let me put try it again. I am probably 180* off.
 

Spadilla7

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Ok. Confirmed compression stroke by the finger test. Rechecked position of the rotor, no change. Pointing towards number one. Just for kicks I rotated the distributor 180 degrees, points to number 5, no change. Put back to original location.
Cranks but no start no matter what I’ve tried.

Also, here are two pictures of the mysterious, rogue wire.
 

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franklin2

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No codes. If you have spark and fuel, it should run or at least spit and sputter like it wants to run. Have you confirmed you do have spark?
 

Spadilla7

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I have no spark. Fueling is good.
 

franklin2

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Have you pulled any codes since putting in the rebuilt distributor and trying it a few times? I don't trust the rebuilt distributors you get now from the store.
 

Spadilla7

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I have just code 21. That’s it.
 

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What's the worst that could happen?
Even if the timing was off, you still get some spark, yes? (I'm not an expert when it comes to this)
Have you traced back from the plug wire(s) to the coil and checked to see if power is actually getting to the coil?

How does that go: Compression, Air and fuel.

Sometimes the simple things.
 

Spadilla7

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Hello, All.

I took a break from working on the truck for a while, actually about a month, but I am now back at it. The same issue is still at hand, which is I do not have spark.

Ok, so here is where I am at the moment, I have this white wire with a pink stripe on it. Doing some research, I read where this white pink wire is related to the ignition switch, and somewhere it connects/splices to the red/blue stripe wire that connects to the TFI harness that plugs into the TFI. The fact that this wire is not connected makes me wonder if it is indeed my no spark culprit since it allegedly ties into red/blue stripe wire on the TFI harness?

This wire was broken somewhere when we were moving the harness out of the way. It is one of three wires on the little pigtail harness that goes from the grey connection that is mounted to the driver's side inside fender (below the coolant reservoir and next to a black connector also connected to the fender) to both the coolant temp sending unit (W/R stripe wire), oil pressure sending unit (black/blue stripe wire) and this unknown white/ pink stripe wire. The harness splits and the other, larger part of the harness routes down to the NSF and another connector on the transmission.

I have removed all of the wire loom coverings from most of the harness where I think this wire would connect given its length, and I haven't found anything yet.

One diagram shows that the splice, assuming it's a splice, happens at a location called S121. It ties into the r/ blue wire AFTER the neutral safety switch, which leads to the TFI module.
Another thing I read says that the white/pink wire is a ground wire, but I am not so sure about that one.

Does anyone know or can check to see where this wire leads, or possibly tell me where the location of S121 may be located in a diagram?

I can provide pictures of the wires and their locations if need be.

Thanks again!

-S
 

franklin2

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Here's a diagram of a 1990 ignition. Looks like you only need power on the red/lightgreen and the red/blue only during starting. I think I would get a meter or testlight and check the wires at the TFI instead of chasing other unknown wires. The same red/lightgreen also powers the coil which you could check also for power with the meter or testlight.

 
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