The CarbuRanger build thread ('94 2.3L Carb Conversion)


ExploreNW

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It's official! I'm sick of chasing problems and throwing parts at this thing. My fuel pump finally went out last week and it's a perfect time to build what I've always wanted: a reliable, mechanically controlled truck.

Why? I know you guys hate carbs. I live in the middle of nowhere, I know carbs inside and out, and I have all this great luck. My F250 got me stuck last December... 5 deg F, blowing snow, perfect time for the EEC to quit on me four hours from home. Not a scan tool nor starting fluid or old school truckers tricks could find the problem after I already threw a bunch of cash at parts chasing intermittent issues earlier in the year. Before it died I replaced the throttle body, rail pressure sensor, 8 coils, 8 plugs (mod motor, they were a **** to get out), FPDM, TWO fuel pumps, EGR, 02s, cats, and more. Ended up with a $4k bill from my mechanic after they put a 3rd pump in it and figured out the EEC itself died and I still couldn't work for 3 weeks. I bought my 94 Ranger as a secondary truck "just in case" but this thing is now slipping down the same slope of wallet sucking sensor failures. Go figure, it has 199k miles on it! I've already been fighting it with parts that patched problems for 3 months or less. EEC won't spit codes in koeo or koer. Looks like the pump quit and the EEC is next. I can't trust it after losing my 250 in Boardman. I know carbs suck but I've never been stuck in a carb'd car since I can carry all of the tools and parts to fix one in my glove box. I will take the MPG hit to build something that gets me home every time.

What I have: A Carter YF/YFA from a 300-6. Grandpa's truck so it means something to me. Thing never quit til it threw the #5 rod and even then it still drove itself onto the flatbed. I have the hose needed to delete the electric pump and I think I also have a mechanical fuel pump from an old Ford, maybe the 300 maybe a Pinto. Not sure, have to dig.

What I need: Ignition - I heard something about the red DIS from the old T-birds not needing a computer because they made their own timing signal based on an internal vac sensor. If I knew which model I could find one and make it work. That way I could keep the 8 plug system because the T-birds had a waste spark. I don't know what year or model to use.

I also need a way to adapt the stock lower manifold to the carb. I can make a carb adapter with aluminum sheet stock and a couple brazing rods.

Emissions: Long story. Remember that guy who ran for president on a global warming ticket, Jay Inslee? Yep, he's the Gov of the state that is getting rid of emissions testing on Jan 1. So No EGR for me. I want to run a cat so I don't kill my dog riding in back and a carbon can so I don't smell like I'm gonna explode at any moment but that's about it. I won't have to pass an emissions test ever again so long as I live in the state of Washington.

In Conclusion I'm a lot more comfortable with carbs and my Ranger got me stuck again so it's getting one. Everything on the farm runs one, both my boats run carbs, and the carb cars I've had have been rock solid so I'm going to make my Ranger into something I can use & fix for many years to come. Stay tuned, I'll write up a thorough build guide because I can't find one for the 2.3. If you guys can find the ignition module that works on vac only send it my way.
 


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PetroleumJunkie412

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Hardcore EFI guy here, but I'm subscribing to this one. Interested to see where it will lead.
 

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Update #1! I did some hunting for that ignition module. They aren't off T-birds, they're off Escorts, and only in Europe where carb'd 4 bangers were sold well into the '90s. I heard about these in a forum post when I did my first bit of research on the carb conversion several months ago.

FordESC.jpg


Here's what it looks like. Note the vac port on the right. It's designed to take direct input from vac, cam sensor, crank sensor, and temps to calculate its own timing without an ECU. Sourcing these from the EU will be a problem and it doesn't seem like it will drive more than one coil so I'm back to square 1. I need to find a standalone ignition module to run the coils - preferably from the junkyard - else I'll be stuck at 10 degrees timing. Do you guys have any ideas?
 

rusty ol ranger

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You made the right choice.

Like you, ive had much better luck with carbed engines.
 

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You'd be much better off with a Holley/Weber 5200 or similar (as was used on the earlier 2.3), or other Weber progressive 2bbl (32/36DGAV, etc). Or just have fun and put a 40DCOE side draft on it.
 

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Rusty, have you carb'd your 2.9? I've read some conflicting threads here about whether or not it can be done. If you did I'm curious how your ignition system works.

8thTon, I agree - The 5200 is a great carb and so are the Autolite/Motorcraft 2100/2150. I have the Carter 1bbl on hand already and I'd like to get the thing on the road as a proof of concept before I spend the cash on a proper carb. I went to the biggest junkyard in town last weekend but couldn't find any of either. There was a 2bbl on an Isuzu motor in a LUV and a few Nissans had 2bbls but they weren't domestic, had smog, and had 1/3 smaller displacement motors attached so trying to get the right jets would be an issue. Everything left with a carb had these Carters in varying states of decay so parts are everywhere. A side draft carb would make a badass looking motor and I could probably get one to bolt to the weird inverted upper intake manifold that came stock!
 

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Rusty, have you carb'd your 2.9? I've read some conflicting threads here about whether or not it can be done. If you did I'm curious how your ignition system works.

8thTon, I agree - The 5200 is a great carb and so are the Autolite/Motorcraft 2100/2150. I have the Carter 1bbl on hand already and I'd like to get the thing on the road as a proof of concept before I spend the cash on a proper carb. I went to the biggest junkyard in town last weekend but couldn't find any of either. There was a 2bbl on an Isuzu motor in a LUV and a few Nissans had 2bbls but they weren't domestic, had smog, and had 1/3 smaller displacement motors attached so trying to get the right jets would be an issue. Everything left with a carb had these Carters in varying states of decay so parts are everywhere. A side draft carb would make a badass looking motor and I could probably get one to bolt to the weird inverted upper intake manifold that came stock!
I'm afraid the days of finding carbs in junkyards are gone - anything there that long would likely have frozen throttle plates anyway. The 2100/2150 are great carbs but I think a progressive 2bbl is better for a smaller engine. That said I had a DCOE on a 1098cc 4cyl once, and it was way too much carb for that engine - but it pulled great nonetheless.

The advantage of something like an actual Weber is the ability to change all the jets with screw in parts, unlike a production carb like a 2150 where some of the jets must be drilled or pressed in/out.
 

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Today's update: we have more parts! I had a successful trip to a few junkyards. The biggest yard around pleasantly surprised me with loads of older stuff that still had carbs & all sorts of carb accessories.

I also found a perfectly good/very clean V6 with blue lifter covers lying on the ground behind a beige Ranger that still had its blown V6. Sad to see that someone spent hundreds on enough Brakleen and didn't complete their swap. Also sad that I don't get paid until the end of the month. If you guys want that V6 it's at Pull-n-Save in Spokane right in the middle of the Ford section about three cars in from the middle. Anyways, back on topic.

Spark: I found a solution, temporary or otherwise, to the ignition issue. I picked up a Duraspark distributor w/ vacuum advance and the Duraspark module from an '81 Mustang. I lose the dual-plug capability but I gain the ability to drive my truck for less cash. The Mustang was spotless without even a door ding which bred suspicions of either a bad ignition, plugged up carb, or massive vac leak causing a no-run scenario that did it in. The Duraspark module carries the "Niehoff" brand label, likely aftermarket, also possibly made in China and also possibly the reason it landed in the junkyard. Or it could be parts catalog gold like some sort of wizard box that squeezed a couple more ponies out of that Mustang. We'll see.

Fuel: The '94 Ranger auxiliary shaft has a timing gear to drive the DIS crank position sensor but it does not have the lobe for a mechanical fuel pump. Back to electric pumps. Because I've dropped the tanks in every car I've owned and it sucks, I'm going to be running an out-of-tank electric pump where it can be easily replaced without bench pressing an overcomplicated gas bucket. I looked under a few F150s and F250s for these external pumps but found they are much more complicated than this cheap one so I figured I'd just order it. Also at (a better) junkyard I found all kinds of carbs - Nikkei carbs on rice trucks, Quadrajets on GM vans, emissions-WTF carbs with a good 15 hoses on it, and four fabled Motorcraft 2100/2150s on a few F-150s. I did not buy a different carb since I want to get the thing running on the carb I have before I start tweaking my build.

Air: Ford's factory dual plug head & EFI intake manifold flows better than any of the previous heads & manifolds. Rather than take home the manifold, I'm going to make my own carb adapter out of some 3/16" sheet aluminum. The '81 Stang that gave me its ignition system made just 88 HP smothered in all that Californian vacuum actuated goodness and the manifold didn't look like it distributed fuel/air mix very well. I'm going to leave the injectors in place and cap the rail. Might want to play with fuel mixtures by adding water or water/meth later, who knows.

More updates and pics coming this week. I finally have the pieces and it'll start coming together soon.
 

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Hey man i just seen you asked me about the 2.9.

No i did not carb it. As bad as i wanted to at one point.

It is *possible* to carb a 2.9, tom morana makes an intake, but im not sure what you would do about the TFI stuff because 2.8 parts dont exactly bolt on a 2.9.
 
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So swapping the engine to carb is easy. Just look at mini-stock engines - they are all carbs.

With the lower intake modified like you are doing all you need to do is either add an MSD 6 module or put in a gear to drive a distributor both are easy enough. You can get the MSD units used for around $75

But just to simplify things check out this guys video
 

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Yes! That video was my inspiration to get this setup on my Ranger in the first place. My truck has the intermediate shaft that has the gear to drive the distributor but it doesn't have room for one - the stock manifold and the power steering bracket both hit the distributor so I'm looking at alternatives. I ordered a manifold from an older truck that had a TFI distributor and I'm planning to take a peanut wheel to that cast aluminum P/S bracket.

IMG_0043.JPG
33464


Here's a little bit of what I cooked up in the shop. Ignore awful harbor freight welding, its what I got. There's the strange "Niehoff" aftermarket Duraspark from a Mustang and stock distributor from a junkyard 2.3. Don't know anything about the Niehoff unit other than where the wires go. I went back to try and get the manifold from that car the next day when I found the distributor didn't clear what I got but they crushed the car by then. It must be a somewhat common conversion since all the carb manifolds from Couriers, Pintos, etc are all picked off by the time I find these cars in the junkyard.

33475
33476


This is the collision point I'm talking about, the furthest rearward bolt point on this P/S bracket is preventing the distributor from going all the way home. By the way this bracket is something else -- I pulled out all the bolts I could see, 4 or so, and this thing is still bolted in somewhere I can't figure out. So I think I'm going to do my peanut wheeling in place, making extra sure to cover those holes so I don't fill my block up with nasty shavings or spilled beer.

33477
33478


Lastly here's where I stuck my fuel pump. It's a generic low pressure pump from Autozone, $35 with tax I think. Mounted it right on the old filter bracket. Not pictured is where its wired in, I brought power off the old in-tank pump connector so it sticks to stock as far as the inertia switch and f/p relays go. I'm considering putting a new filter in there and using it in place of the cheesy pre-filter that came with the pump. This setup is nearly done now and I'm really looking forward to driving it again, love this little truck!
 

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Been a month... Finally had time to work a bit on the project last week with the holidays.

I ended up heading to the junkyard and getting a head from an '84 Ranger. Round port, flat tappet cam. Research showed the heads will bolt up. I pulled my '94 head, converted the '84 head to roller cam with the '94 cam & lifters, then bolted a Scheffield two-barrel round port intake to it. The head, intake, and a Motorcraft 2100 carb were all bolted together under the hood of the '84.

While I was pulling the parts, a guy came up to me and said "ooooh he fawkin' did it, he really brought this pile in....." We chatted for a bit about the truck, he told me they really did fawk that truck up but he was adamant it did not smoke, just didn't run good. I noted the 2100 carb had a 1.21 venturi so I also got a 2150-A with the 1.08 venturi just to be sure.

Got it home, took it apart, and sure enough the flat tappet cam was totally hammered. Cyl #4 intake and exhaust lobes, both, were ground off quite a bit. So without skipping a beat the roller cam went in. I did not do valve stem seals because he said the engine did not smoke...

Well today I got her running! Tuned the 1.08 carb, set the timing to 7 degrees, and holy hell in a handbasket she smokes like a French hooker. The smoke is whitish blue and does not stink of coolant. Seems to happen more when the carb is running rich, but here's the thing, it's all over the map according to my o2 gauge. At idle, feet off the pedals, throttle plate and timing all set right, I see numbers anywhere from 11.1 to 16.0 where it stumbles out. This 2150-A is totally hosed. Shot some starter fluid down at the base of the carb and it revved up indicating leakage, then I looked at the front driver side mount. Shes got a big crack all along the base that I didn't see til it was torqued down.

I also bought a cheap Chinese "Hotsystem" tachometer. I am sure they extracted the finest Chinesium from Chairman Jinping's personal estates but that thing just does not work whatsoever.

So... Back to square three, new carb time... Might just put the rest of my rebuild kit gaskets into that 1.21 unit and see if I can dial it in. Getting anxious because the snow is supposed to start flying at the end of the week. Is it worth it to also do valve seals (I mean the thing even smokes at idle) or should I try another carb first?
 

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On another thread I read today someone bought a 2100 from alie-express for $100. Said it works good. I will see if I can find the link.
 


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