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RangerXtraLettuceTomato - Project : Turbo Powa! Ranger


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Florida
Vehicle Year
1997
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Ford Ranger
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Manual
Hello everyone,

The project begins! I received a call today from the shipping company to schedule my "new old" engine for delivery tomorrow. So exciting!!! I will be sure to post pictures tomorrow. I also ordered an 8.8 Ford Explorer 3.73 rear axle that is expected to be here Friday. As I've mentioned earlier in my introduction post, I'm totally new to the Ford scene and all things domestic in general. I've only dabbled with JDM vehicles up until now. I purchased a 1997 Ford Ranger XLT back in September as a work horse primarily. However, I became curious of the potential of this rear wheel drive truck and started doing some reading......Let's just say I was itching to boost this truck before I even test drove it. However, after driving it....I knew a turbocharger was an absolute necessity! I came across a pretty good deal for 87-88 Thunderbird 2.3L Turbo coupe engine last week and decided to purchase it. After doing some more reading, I also decided an 8.8 Ford rear end wouldn't be a bad thing to have either. So there you have it. I'm certainly open to any advice this community has to offer. Every bit of help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!
 


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scotts90ranger

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1990, 1997
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Ford
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2.3 (4 Cylinder)
Engine Size
2.3 Turbo
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
6
Tire Size
35"
Not a whole lot of action in the ol forced induction section anymore, and not many perusing turbo 2.3L's anymore, welcome!

That said having a Turbo 2.3L at hand will help, but depending on your plans it might be worthwhile to combine the stock '97 engine with the turbo version to keep it OBD II if you can find a tuner that can/will work with it or go megasquirt or something depending on your experience level... There's a few differences, the newer engine I think has smaller crank journals (the '87-88 might, I don't remember the breakpoint), the '97 has the oil pump behind the auxiliary pulley as well as a cam sensor there, and the dual plug heads flow better I think... it's on my list...

Curious what route you take, I think my '97 2.3L needs a turbo too, pretty sure I have most of the parts to make it happen...
 
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Hey thanks! It’s nice to finally get a reply around here! Here’s some pictures of the engine:
 

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Not a whole lot of action in the ol forced induction section anymore, and not many perusing turbo 2.3L's anymore, welcome!

That said having a Turbo 2.3L at hand will help, but depending on your plans it might be worthwhile to combine the stock '97 engine with the turbo version to keep it OBD II if you can find a tuner that can/will work with it or go megasquirt or something depending on your experience level... There's a few differences, the newer engine I think has smaller crank journals (the '87-88 might, I don't remember the breakpoint), the '97 has the oil pump behind the auxiliary pulley as well as a cam sensor there, and the dual plug heads flow better I think... it's on my list...

Curious what route you take, I think my '97 2.3L needs a turbo too, pretty sure I have most of the parts to make it happen...
Based on what I’ve read, it seemed as though the 87-88 TBird swap was the best way to go in terms of “level of difficulty”, performance, reliability and cost. If I remember correctly, I read that the block has factory forged pistons and a better flowing head with a larger combustion chamber. This particular engine that I have is apparently from an 87-88 Ford Thunderbird with only 114,000 miles. I was able to purchase the engine for $575 shipped. This seemed like a really good deal to me being that I could not find this engine locally and the only other options online were almost 3-4 times the price. I do plan to change all gaskets/seals. I’m really leaning toward upgrading the turbocharger. Should I replace engine bearings? As far as engine management goes, what’s the next cheapest route I can take being that I do not have the original ecu for this engine? Thanks!
 

scotts90ranger

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Vehicle Year
1990, 1997
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Engine Type
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Engine Size
2.3 Turbo
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
6
Tire Size
35"
That I'm not familiar with, hopefully someone else will chime in, I've looked into it here and there but I don't think I saved links or anything yet...

I think there's a megasquirt that will tie into the factory '97 computer (or replace it) giving you tuning capability. To do this with the turbo block will take some work as the '97 computer uses a crank sensor mounted off the front seal housing and a cam sensor somewhere around the auxialiary pulley, with tuning software you can make it batch fire most likely and get around the cam sensor. I think the fuel injectors are peak and hold (high impedence? I don't remember the terminology...) so I don't know what can deal with what on that.

On the '87-88 Turbo engines the main improvement to the engines was the bigger airflow meter with a computer with better tuning, and I am pretty sure the smaller crank journals... They used a smaller turbo I think to respond faster (I think a IH turbo instead of a Garrett).

I'm going off of memory on a lot, 12 years was a LONG time ago in my world, I started my swap Thanksgiving weekend of I think 2008...

I think I paid $600 for my first turbo 2.3L so you didn't do too bad, and it was an '85 so not as good of parts, but I did get harness and computer...
 
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Thanks for your reply! After some more research I've decided to with a Microsquirt ECU. From what i can understand, this should be more than enough for my goals. I am now looking into my wiring harness now. Based on what I've read it may be better to go with this... https://www.stinger-performance.com/store/mg-65-swap-harness

Any thoughts/advice? Thanks!
 

scotts90ranger

Well-Known Member
RBV's on Boost
Joined
Feb 28, 2001
Messages
4,857
Reaction score
445
Points
83
Location
Dayton Oregon
Vehicle Year
1990, 1997
Make / Model
Ford
Engine Type
2.3 (4 Cylinder)
Engine Size
2.3 Turbo
Transmission
Manual
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
6
Tire Size
35"
I was hoping someone else would chime in... honestly I'm not sure... If it were me I would be trying to work with the stock '97 harness or at least that's what I'm hoping to do when I get there, was it petroliumjunkie that was talking about modding stuff? I don't remember, I'll look around in a while and see if I can remember.
 

waterran

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NW Illinois
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'92
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R10
Transmission
Automatic
Hello everyone,

The project begins! I received a call today from the shipping company to schedule my "new old" engine for delivery tomorrow. So exciting!!! I will be sure to post pictures tomorrow. I also ordered an 8.8 Ford Explorer 3.73 rear axle that is expected to be here Friday. As I've mentioned earlier in my introduction post, I'm totally new to the Ford scene and all things domestic in general. I've only dabbled with JDM vehicles up until now. I purchased a 1997 Ford Ranger XLT back in September as a work horse primarily. However, I became curious of the potential of this rear wheel drive truck and started doing some reading......Let's just say I was itching to boost this truck before I even test drove it. However, after driving it....I knew a turbocharger was an absolute necessity! I came across a pretty good deal for 87-88 Thunderbird 2.3L Turbo coupe engine last week and decided to purchase it. After doing some more reading, I also decided an 8.8 Ford rear end wouldn't be a bad thing to have either. So there you have it. I'm certainly open to any advice this community has to offer. Every bit of help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!
Hello RXLT...want fries w/ that? I'm sure you researched the Explorer rear diff. swap; all the measurements, you know! Also, my '92 Ranger has serp. accessory drive. Various yrs. should work on your engine. D.O.D...Dumb question Of the Day, so far...your trbo looks smaller than my Garrett T3. Is it a Borg IHI? If it's an IHI, would you be so kind to measure the overall length. I'm hoping it's shorter than the T3. My swap is stalled because of turbo exhaust flange clearance @ the evaporator housing. No 'flip chips' & No steel "headers" here. If you're going for more power & you have an IHI, I may be up for a SWAP with my bigger Garrett T3! Does your '97 FRXLT have the evap. core in the engine bay or inside the dash somewhere? Did you get the computer, wiring etc. w/ your engine? I may not need mine. I plan on using my OE computer & installing COP (coil on plug) ignition by removing the 2 FORD coils and bracket (for room) and hard wiring the coils right into the Ignition Control Module (ICM.) The 'normal' HP produced by the turbo will be plenty enough for me. I'm a plug 'n play, set it 'n forget it type. Thanks, watteran.
 

waterran

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Messages
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Reaction score
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Location
NW Illinois
Vehicle Year
'92
Make / Model
R10
Transmission
Automatic
Thanks for your reply! After some more research I've decided to with a Microsquirt ECU. From what i can understand, this should be more than enough for my goals. I am now looking into my wiring harness now. Based on what I've read it may be better to go with this... https://www.stinger-performance.com/store/mg-65-swap-harness

Any thoughts/advice? Thanks!
Thatsa lotta StarBucks coffee in that there "squirt' ECU. Factory O.E. ECU (PCM) computers have been able to handle high HP for years. I don't want to infringe on the M'fr, but, how many ponies are you rebuilding this engine to lay down. Your money may be better spent if this vehicle is a daily driving, grocery getting, hauler....jus' sayin' my say. Thanks, watteran.
 
Joined
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Messages
7
Reaction score
3
Points
3
Location
Florida
Vehicle Year
1997
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Transmission
Manual
Thanks for your reply! I do believe it’s a Borg IHI turbo and sure I’ll measure and post as soon as I get some time. As far as power goals, the plan was to just complete the necessary maintenance and get it swapped in. I was hoping to make around 250-300whp on the stock block for now. However, I could not find much information on what my ECU options are. All I could find was that I need the stock computer/harness (which I don’t have) or standalone ecu. So after having to purchase a standalone ecu and possibly a Ron Francis wiring harness, I’m thinking of whether or not I should go for more power. To be honest this is all new to me. I’m a Honda guy so I’m still trying to learn all I can. However, there’s not a whole lot of information on this swap from what I can see. I really want to get this done the best way possible and I’d being lying if I said I didn’t feel a bit lost. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 


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