1988 4cyl 5 speed (Compression issues) [Help!]

Golypon

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Just got a convertible '88 2.3 5spd and it's got a laundry list of issues. Right now I'm just trying to get it to run and drive safely without having to call AAA (again.)
It recently popped and ejected a plug on the highway. It was overheating, the temp sender was gunked up and it never went above like 1/4 on the temp gauage, therefore the fan never kicked on and it overheated on the highway and I think I blew head gasket. (I think it was already messed up and I sent it the rest of the way)

That being said, it's now home and I'm trying to diagnose it. Here are my compression numbers, with 4 revolutions.

After Head Gasket Sealer (dry)
1 - 185psi
2 - 175psi
3 - 100psi
4 - 185psi

with oil in plug holes
1 - 205psi
2 - 180psi
3 - 125psi
4 - 205psi

I'm thinking the gasket is blown on plug 3, which is the one that ejected (blew sparkplug in half, bottom was still screwed into the head, top half was dangling from distributor wire) , let it cool and replaced plug and it went the rest of the way.
Ran blue devil through it, followed all instructions, didn't change a whole lot except psi on cylinder 3 went from 111 to 100 dry.

Now I'm thinking the rings are messed up and head gasket. Not sure if this provides evidence of anything else? Plan is to replace head gasket and just leave the rings and I think it'll go for quite some time. Maybe have head machined. Anything I should be concerned about? I mean it runs and drives for the time being. Flushed radiator and the temp sender started working again and fan kicked on @ 50%
Way more than 10% diff lol
 
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junkyardwarrior

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#3 is low.

Pull valve cover, inspect the followers and hydraulic lash adjusters (HLA's). Sometimes an HLA will "stick" and cause a valve to hang open a little. Occasionally an intake valve will hang open due to the valve sticking in the guide. Usually this results in a loose follower and/or a follower completely off of the valve. If nothing there, remove the head and inspect the cylinders for scoring. Inspect the gasket while you have it off. USUALLY a gasket will exhibit a low/no compression on adjacent cylinders (like #2 and #3 for example). If it runs now, you can also remove the radiator cap (engine COLD), then start the engine and observe the coolant in the radiator. If you see a constant stream of bubbles, you have a leaking head gasket or cracked head or both. Head cracking isn't too uncommon on the 2.3 and 2.5 OHC engine.

pretty easy to remove the head while still in the car. I'd suggest removing the exhaust manifold though, since it alone is pretty heavy. I've done it with the manifolds (exh and intake) still on and using an engine crane to lift it off of the engine. That head-is pretty heavy just by itself, then add the cam, followers, HLA's and manifolds and I bet it's well over 100 lbs which is a little under 1/3 of the weight of the entire engine. While the head's off, rotate the engine over by hand until a piston is at TDC. You can kinda run your finger across the crown of the piston and to the block and feel how high the piston is out of the cylinder or how low it's into the cylinder. Then rotate it over and do the same for the other 3. If you find one that is lower than the other 3, you would most likely have a bent rod.

If head looks ok and gasket look ok, go ahead and remove the engine an figure on a rebuild. They're cheap to overhaul even if you need pistons and everything.
 
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Golypon

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#3 is low.

Pull valve cover, inspect the followers and hydraulic lash adjusters (HLA's). Sometimes an HLA will "stick" and cause a valve to hang open a little. Occasionally an intake valve will hang open due to the valve sticking in the guide. Usually this results in a loose follower and/or a follower completely off of the valve. If nothing there, remove the head and inspect the cylinders for scoring. Inspect the gasket while you have it off. USUALLY a gasket will exhibit a low/no compression on adjacent cylinders (like #2 and #3 for example). If it runs now, you can also remove the radiator cap (engine COLD), then start the engine and observe the coolant in the radiator. If you see a constant stream of bubbles, you have a leaking head gasket or cracked head or both. Head cracking isn't too uncommon on the 2.3 and 2.5 OHC engine.

pretty easy to remove the head while still in the car. I'd suggest removing the exhaust manifold though, since it alone is pretty heavy. I've done it with the manifolds (exh and intake) still on and using an engine crane to lift it off of the engine. That head-is pretty heavy just by itself, then add the cam, followers, HLA's and manifolds and I bet it's well over 100 lbs which is a little under 1/3 of the weight of the entire engine. While the head's off, rotate the engine over by hand until a piston is at TDC. You can kinda run your finger across the crown of the piston and to the block and feel how high the piston is out of the cylinder or how low it's into the cylinder. Then rotate it over and do the same for the other 3. If you find one that is lower than the other 3, you would most likely have a bent rod.

If head looks ok and gasket look ok, go ahead and remove the engine an figure on a rebuild. They're cheap to overhaul even if you need pistons and everything.
Okay, I'll take a look. I've got the top half of the engine mostly apart.
Exhaust manifold passenger side is loose and dangling by the EGR valve LOL. The hard wire tube thing that goes up to the intake from exhaust is kinda in the way and not trying to move very much (inconvenient), wish it would be more flexible. Intake is loose, but not off yet just needs unwired sitting there atm.

Took the alternator, tensioner pulley + bracket, and water pump pulley off. Pulled timing belt cover and can't get the tensioner to release. Read it needs a special tool, I'm going to order the tensioner tool. You think the company 23 one will work? I've seen all sorts of DIY s**t like making your own tool or feeding a screw in to release tension and that's just too over the top for me. I need to order head gasket set anyway. Might as well get em both.

For the "if you can observe bubbles in the radiator" , there was a constant stream of bubbles into the overflow which I believe is the head gasket. I don't understand how there is so much pressure in the other 3 cylinders, it's like the pressure from #3 is going to them.
Also the front strut tower on passenger side is on its last leg. Any suggestions? I would think it would need welded but it's awful rusty and there's not much to weld TO , the suspension sits on it and it's practically rusted in half. Couldn't tell before I bought the car, noticed when all the hoses and bs was out of the way and it was exposed. Really need to do something about that asap. Open to any and all suggestions. Same with the engine if you have any tips. I'll check followers, HLA's, and for bent rod. gonna pull the head as soon as I get timing belt off with tool.

Keep in mind it goes 70 easily with weak cylinder, so I doubt the valve follower is off. Also an unaddressed issue is a popping in the muffler, periodically typically around 1,200 rpm going up and down anytime it passes 1,200 sounds like loose exhaust rattling, but it's not loose. There are dark sprinkles of liquid coming out of the tailpipe also, idk if it's oil or antifreeze + oil mix or what is going on back there. Any feedback would be nice
 
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91TwighlightGT

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Here is the correct way to tackle this problem...

#1 - Pull the engine. You can either rebuild the engine you have, or replace it with a used one. Used engines can be had for fairly cheap depending on your area, but a full rebuild would be more reliable based on the age of these vehicles and associated engines. If you plan to turbo swap, this would also be the correct time to do so.

#2 - While the engine is out, you can repair the strut tower. This is, unfortunately, a common failure point on these vehicles. Fortunately, there are repair kits available and if you are handy with a welder they are repairable. I would check out this thread for a current ongoing repair of this nature...


I may be misunderstanding you, though. The frame rails rust, the tops of the tower would be more uncommon. At that point you would probably need to source a clean tower from a donor vehicle. Pictures are worth a thousand words in this scenario.

Last thing - if you decide to go with a used engine, it would still be worthwhile to go through it before installing. While it it is out, replace the oil pan gasket, all timing components, and honestly I would probably pull the cylinder head to have it checked for cracks before reinstalling with a new gasket. It's not that expensive, and it's so much easier while the engine is on the ground.
 

Golypon

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Here is the correct way to tackle this problem...

#1 - Pull the engine. You can either rebuild the engine you have, or replace it with a used one. Used engines can be had for fairly cheap depending on your area, but a full rebuild would be more reliable based on the age of these vehicles and associated engines. If you plan to turbo swap, this would also be the correct time to do so.

#2 - While the engine is out, you can repair the strut tower. This is, unfortunately, a common failure point on these vehicles. Fortunately, there are repair kits available and if you are handy with a welder they are repairable. I would check out this thread for a current ongoing repair of this nature...


I may be misunderstanding you, though. The frame rails rust, the tops of the tower would be more uncommon. At that point you would probably need to source a clean tower from a donor vehicle. Pictures are worth a thousand words in this scenario.

Last thing - if you decide to go with a used engine, it would still be worthwhile to go through it before installing. While it it is out, replace the oil pan gasket, all timing components, and honestly I would probably pull the cylinder head to have it checked for cracks before reinstalling with a new gasket. It's not that expensive, and it's so much easier while the engine is on the ground.
I'm hoping this is what you're saying can be fixed with repair kit?

I'm stuck between turboing the 4cyl in it (probably a bad idea), swapping a tbird turbo coupe engine, or just fixing the head and putting this engine back together.

Here's pics so you can see what I'm saying
Here's the tower
SHSB9gk.jpg



3oOjyxl.jpg



Zjg4pGH.jpg



B6t1S7I.jpg


c4UMlo0.jpg



& the engine
WfoVb1q.png
 

91TwighlightGT

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Yes, that is the common frame rail rot. Check out the link I posted earlier as well for more information on it.

as far as the engine, the Turbo swap can be done pretty easily on your car, and based on the issues with the current engine it would be better to get a turbo engine from a Thunderbird if you can source one.

your Engine could be modified to reliably accept a Turbo if it is rebuilt with new pistons and rods. The factory pistons will not survive long term under even mild boost.
 

Golypon

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Yes, that is the common frame rail rot. Check out the link I posted earlier as well for more information on it.

as far as the engine, the Turbo swap can be done pretty easily on your car, and based on the issues with the current engine it would be better to get a turbo engine from a Thunderbird if you can source one.

your Engine could be modified to reliably accept a Turbo if it is rebuilt with new pistons and rods. The factory pistons will not survive long term under even mild boost.
Having trouble finding tbird motor that's mostly complete, idk if I should start calling junkyards? I think that'll be my next step. Got the motor, trans, and driveshaft out. Luckily the only spot that's really rusted is the frame rail, so after that's welded it should be pretty solid. Would it be worth it to get a motor that isn't complete and search for the last parts? I'm really not trying to get a junk motor with 1,000,000 miles that doesn't run. Most of the "motors" haven't been in a car in a long time and probably haven't ran in a while either.

Any ideas? I appreciate all the advice everyone has given me. Btw based on the picture I sent could I use a repair kit for rail or would I need to source new tower?
 

91TwighlightGT

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The tower is going to depend on how good you are with a welder and how much concern you have for it's physical appearance. Depending on your area, it may be difficult to find a good donor piece. You will want the kit regardless, it is just going to depend on how much fabrication you will need to do to have something to weld the kit onto.

As far as engines are concerned...


You can check there and see if there is anything local. I would plan to rebuild whatever you buy anyway if you want any reliability. The engines are pretty stout, but they are obviously older and known for cracking cylinder heads in any form.

The problem with this engine is that it is relatively expensive compared to the 5.0L. Esslinger makes an aluminum head, but it's $$$. You can replace your stock pistons and drill an oil drainback into the pan for a turbo, but it's probably cheaper to get an entire engine, rehone the bores and have the head checked, and put in all new seals and gaskets. Then you have to source a turbo and a computer, or (my recommendation if you are serious about a 2.3l turbo) buy the PiMP ECU. It's a bit spendy, but in my opinion the benefits outweigh using a 35 year old Turbo ECU.

Or you can find a wrecked 5.0L and swap it all over.
 

Golypon

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The tower is going to depend on how good you are with a welder and how much concern you have for it's physical appearance. Depending on your area, it may be difficult to find a good donor piece. You will want the kit regardless, it is just going to depend on how much fabrication you will need to do to have something to weld the kit onto.

As far as engines are concerned...


You can check there and see if there is anything local. I would plan to rebuild whatever you buy anyway if you want any reliability. The engines are pretty stout, but they are obviously older and known for cracking cylinder heads in any form.

The problem with this engine is that it is relatively expensive compared to the 5.0L. Esslinger makes an aluminum head, but it's $$$. You can replace your stock pistons and drill an oil drainback into the pan for a turbo, but it's probably cheaper to get an entire engine, rehone the bores and have the head checked, and put in all new seals and gaskets. Then you have to source a turbo and a computer, or (my recommendation if you are serious about a 2.3l turbo) buy the PiMP ECU. It's a bit spendy, but in my opinion the benefits outweigh using a 35 year old Turbo ECU.

Or you can find a wrecked 5.0L and swap it all over.
Alright, I'm using site you linked looking for turbo tbird, there's surprisingly quite a few results. I'm surprised. It's also not all overpriced like Craigslist. Tysm
A few questions, what's the difference in 8th digit VIN T & W
9zqTnYa.png

You think the entire turbo engine, bores, head, seals and gaskets are cheapest? PiMP is $800, kinda overkill because that would be the most expensive part of the budget LOL. I would prefer to stick with stock ecu until I need better. I just wanna get the car on the road... (isn't that what everyone here says)

I think it's good up to 250hp according to Stinger I believe.
Plus anything over 300hp would prolly twist the chassis and send the car to oblivion don't you think? I really just want a solid summer daily with boost and reliability. Not trying to have to call AAA every other week with this car, which is how it's started :lol:
 

Golypon

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edit: I found turbo coupe motor and trans! A grand and they'll pull it, with intercooler and ecu. Should be ready to pick up next week.
Now for the welding... you think frame rail needs MIG welder? Arc won't work?
 

91TwighlightGT

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Okay, a couple things...

#1 - Yes, PiMP is expensive. It depends on where you want to go with the project, but IMO you will be able to get better driveability, fuel economy, and power from it than with the stock ECU. With that said, it is an option, not a necessity, and if you plan to keep modest power levels you will be okay with the stock ECU.

#2 - Good job on the purchase. You should be able to recoup a bit by selling your stock T-5, too.

#3 - These cars will handle 300HP from a Turbo 2.3L with ease. The V8 cars tend to be harder on the chassis due to their torque, but the 2.3L will not put down that much torque at low RPM compared to the 5.0L. Many people will suggest swapping the rear end to the 8.8 for durability - but the 7.5 will live under a street driven 2.3L. You may want to swap rear ends down the road, and if you do then upgrading to an 8.8 does make sense due to the relatively low cost, availability, and differential options.

#4 - You will want to upgrade the exhaust, the turbo engine will be choked by your stock exhaust.

#5 - As far as the welding goes, I am not an expert. I have MIG welded, and that and TIG are pretty standard for automotive. I would mainly be concerned that the welds are strong, and then do whatever you can to make them corrosion resistant.

#6 - Apparently the difference in the VIN had to do with whether the engine was from a manual or automatic transmission vehicle.

For the 1987 model year, the exterior of the Thunderbird was updated to further improve its aerodynamic performance. The headlights were changed from sealed-beam units to flush-mounted composite units and the rear quarter glass was also flush-mounted. Thunderbird Turbo Coupes were distinguished by their own front bodywork, which did away with a traditional front grille, featuring functional hood scoops directed to the intercooler. In sharp contrast to the Thunderbirds of a decade before, chrome trim was used only sparingly; on Turbo Coupes, the only chrome trim on the entire car was the Thunderbird emblems and lettering. The model lineup was further changed; to bring the Thunderbird in line with other Ford models, the élan trim was dropped, replaced with LX and Sport versions. The LX was equipped with the V6 while the Sport was equipped with the V8.

Turbo Coupes gained an intercooler, essentially giving the car the powertrain of the Mustang SVO. Models with the five-speed manual were given a power increase to 190 hp (142 kW), making them capable of attaining a top speed of 143 mph (230 km/h). Models with the four-speed automatic transmission (new for 1987) were detuned to 150 hp (112 kW) in the interest of transmission durability; turbocharger boost was reduced to 9.5 psi (65 kPa or 0.65 bar) instead of 10-15 psi (70 to 100 kPa or 0.7 to 1 bar). Turbo Coupes were equipped with anti-lock disc brakes on all wheels, Automatic Ride Control, and 16-inch 225/60VR performance tires. The Turbo Coupe also featured a performance-styled front valance with fog lights and special trim with "Turbo Coupe" badges on the doors, as well as "Snowflake" 16 inch alloy wheels. The Thunderbird Turbo Coupe was named the Motor Trend Car of the Year for 1987. 1988, the final year for the Turbo Coupe, saw only minor changes. The five-speed manual transmission now allowed the full 15 psi of boost in all forward gears (as opposed to excluding the first two gears).
 

junkyardwarrior

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Does the turbo engine run? Have you heard/seen it run? $1000 is a little on the high side for a stock 2.3 unless you've got proof of the goodies inside are anything but stock stuff and/or the head ain't cracked (cracked 2.3 heads are VERY common--about 80% of the turbo heads are cracked including mine)

Keep the boost low and stay on top of maintenance. They are pretty tough engines but they are NOT bulletproof.

Figure on an 8.8 at some point. The 7.5 will live a while. BUT, one wheel peel in the first 2 gears is no fun if you're trying to get somewhere. And yes I have plenty of experience with that. Right rear goes up in smoke at about 2500RPM with your foot anything 1/2 throttle more more on a cold day. With that said, you'll quickly find that one-wheel peel sucks and you'll want to put a LSD in it. That is entirely possible using a LSD carrier assembly from a bronco II or whatever that had a 7.5 rear end (look at the tag, a limited slip diff will have something like 3L73, which would be 3.73 limited slip, and an "open" diff will just be 3 73 with no L). B2's had 4.10's factory, as did some rangers. That bad--a rebuild kit (clutches, steels, and shims) for a 7.5 LSD is quite expensive and hard to come by in comparison to the 8.8 stuff, so if you can find an 8.8, rebuild it and toss it in. Can you get the 8.8 out of the Thunderbird? Those had disc brakes too....87-88 only.

Then the 87-88 Thunderbird turbocharger is a little bitty IHI unit (the 86-earlier were Garrett/Airesearch TB03's which are bigger and will make more power). The IHI won't live long with more boost. About 15psi and it's blowing hot air and bordering overspeed. Figure on a T3 at some point, very common swap, and that'll let you run up to about 20-22 psi reliably with a GOOD intercooler (not the top mount stocker). It's possible to squeeze 300hp out of a 2.3 without doing a lot of mods. At that point the fuel system is maxed, the VAM is maxed, and the turbo is maxed. More than 300 (flywheel), you're going to have to port the head, bigger turbo, injectors, fuel system upgrades, etc etc and at that point you're talking about $$$. Rods start getting weak too, so you'll probably be best figuring a bunch more in a short block rebuild. These things get expensive QUICK. Crower announced today that they're no longer making 2.3L Ford Sportsman rods, and those were the only affordable rods left (and they were about as much as a cheap set of 8 aftermarket V8 rods), so I can almost guarantee that the price of aftermarket 5.5" rods is going to go up some more. It's almost as much to build a V8 short block now. But the good thing is that a V8, while it might be more responsive off idle, the "hit" of the turbo 2.3 is addictive and honestly FUN. With the stock T3 and 3" exhaust with a good intercooler, it is absolutely GUTLESS from idle to about 2000 RPM, 2200 it's making about 5 psi, 2300, 8 psi, 2500, 12 psi, then hang on and start pulling gears.

Full 3" exhaust from the turbo to the bumper. You can run a muffler if you want. Lot of guys run it straight with no muffler or cat, and it's kinda loud. The turbo whistle is there and it too is kind of loud. Mine has a dynomax super turbo muffler. Perfect. Barely hear the whistle. The exhaust note is not loud but it's not quiet either. You can hear it for sure. Sounds like a tractor because, well, that's basically what a 2.3L Lima is, an industrial engine. They were used in forklifts boats all kinds of industrial equipment generators pumps, and of course cars/trucks. The local scrap metal yard's car crusher is powered by a 2.3 Lima, complete with E6 exhaust manifold but it has a pipe bolted to it instead of the turbo. That's the way it was made, it is all original. It powers the hydraulic pump that runs the crusher. Owner says he changes oil about once every 10 years, changes the air filter once a year and puts gas in once a week and that is the only maintenance, but it also only runs 2300 RPM max governed speed.

Someone said it's not as torquey as a stock 5.0 and while there is SOME truth to that, the torque spike when the turbo lights up is pretty violent in comparison.
 
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Golypon

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Does the turbo engine run? Have you heard/seen it run? $1000 is a little on the high side for a stock 2.3 unless you've got proof of the goodies inside are anything but stock stuff and/or the head ain't cracked (cracked 2.3 heads are VERY common--about 80% of the turbo heads are cracked including mine)

Keep the boost low and stay on top of maintenance. They are pretty tough engines but they are NOT bulletproof.

Figure on an 8.8 at some point. The 7.5 will live a while. BUT, one wheel peel in the first 2 gears is no fun if you're trying to get somewhere. And yes I have plenty of experience with that. Right rear goes up in smoke at about 2500RPM with your foot anything 1/2 throttle more more on a cold day. With that said, you'll quickly find that one-wheel peel sucks and you'll want to put a LSD in it. That is entirely possible using a LSD carrier assembly from a bronco II or whatever that had a 7.5 rear end (look at the tag, a limited slip diff will have something like 3L73, which would be 3.73 limited slip, and an "open" diff will just be 3 73 with no L). B2's had 4.10's factory, as did some rangers. That bad--a rebuild kit (clutches, steels, and shims) for a 7.5 LSD is quite expensive and hard to come by in comparison to the 8.8 stuff, so if you can find an 8.8, rebuild it and toss it in. Can you get the 8.8 out of the Thunderbird? Those had disc brakes too....87-88 only.

Then the 87-88 Thunderbird turbocharger is a little bitty IHI unit (the 86-earlier were Garrett/Airesearch TB03's which are bigger and will make more power). The IHI won't live long with more boost. About 15psi and it's blowing hot air and bordering overspeed. Figure on a T3 at some point, very common swap, and that'll let you run up to about 20-22 psi reliably with a GOOD intercooler (not the top mount stocker). It's possible to squeeze 300hp out of a 2.3 without doing a lot of mods. At that point the fuel system is maxed, the VAM is maxed, and the turbo is maxed. More than 300 (flywheel), you're going to have to port the head, bigger turbo, injectors, fuel system upgrades, etc etc and at that point you're talking about $$$. Rods start getting weak too, so you'll probably be best figuring a bunch more in a short block rebuild. These things get expensive QUICK. Crower announced today that they're no longer making 2.3L Ford Sportsman rods, and those were the only affordable rods left (and they were about as much as a cheap set of 8 aftermarket V8 rods), so I can almost guarantee that the price of aftermarket 5.5" rods is going to go up some more. It's almost as much to build a V8 short block now. But the good thing is that a V8, while it might be more responsive off idle, the "hit" of the turbo 2.3 is addictive and honestly FUN. With the stock T3 and 3" exhaust with a good intercooler, it is absolutely GUTLESS from idle to about 2000 RPM, 2200 it's making about 5 psi, 2300, 8 psi, 2500, 12 psi, then hang on and start pulling gears.

Full 3" exhaust from the turbo to the bumper. You can run a muffler if you want. Lot of guys run it straight with no muffler or cat, and it's kinda loud. The turbo whistle is there and it too is kind of loud. Mine has a dynomax super turbo muffler. Perfect. Barely hear the whistle. The exhaust note is not loud but it's not quiet either. You can hear it for sure. Sounds like a tractor because, well, that's basically what a 2.3L Lima is, an industrial engine. They were used in forklifts boats all kinds of industrial equipment generators pumps, and of course cars/trucks. The local scrap metal yard's car crusher is powered by a 2.3 Lima, complete with E6 exhaust manifold but it has a pipe bolted to it instead of the turbo. That's the way it was made, it is all original. It powers the hydraulic pump that runs the crusher. Owner says he changes oil about once every 10 years, changes the air filter once a year and puts gas in once a week and that is the only maintenance, but it also only runs 2300 RPM max governed speed.

Someone said it's not as torquey as a stock 5.0 and while there is SOME truth to that, the torque spike when the turbo lights up is pretty violent in comparison.
$1,000 includes trans, intercooler, and stock 87-88 ecu. Plus all pulleys and pumps everything minus alternator & starter.
It's from scrapyard but they rated it an A and said it ran and has like 125k miles.
8.8 swap would be good for brakes and not blowing the diff right? I'm learning most of this so bare with me. Does this stuff bolt on to the mustang? Would the rear end from the tbird go on pretty easily if I had them pull it with the other stuff? Car is convertible, I'm slightly worried about torque. Would probably need better clutch too.
That would get it on the road and running? My budget isn't infinite here but I would like the car to be fun, and I wanna get it on the road soon too. Also will the stock 2.3 mustang fuel pump run this motor? I have more questions but I'll start with that. Also speaking of the exhaust I would like it to have a nice flutter / blow off, without being earrapey. I only really need like 200-270 HP, that I can comfortably daily drive if I wanted without having something blowing up. Not pulling on it all the time, being able to cruise it, but pull on it when I want to.
 
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91TwighlightGT

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I agree with Junkyardwarrior, his post is pretty spot on. With regard to the 7.5 axle - It is not ideal, but my point was simply that you are unlikely to break it just cruising around on the street. Since the 2.3L doesn't make a lot of torque down low, by the time it does come on you will already be rolling and it won't deliver a huge shock to the drivetrain - although it will probably spin the tire pretty well being an open diff.

The Turbo Coupe axle will fit, although it is a bit wider. Here is a link to a guy who did the swap...


It's an older link, and he did not swap to disc brakes.

With the power levels you are shooting for, I don't see a need to change the fuel pump. Funny enough, the 2.3L and the 5.0L both use the same stock fuel pump.

Since you will have the transmission and engine out, you can certainly replace the clutch - but again the stock unit should be fine for your power level.

Since your car is a convertible, you should add subframe connectors. This is true of any Fox Body, but convertibles even more so IMO.

Here's the main thing, though... A lot of this stuff you can do later on. You don't NEED subframe connectors to cruise around. You don't HAVE to swap to the 8.8 right away, etc. Focus on getting it on the road and running, then upgrade as your time and money permit.
 

Golypon

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I agree with Junkyardwarrior, his post is pretty spot on. With regard to the 7.5 axle - It is not ideal, but my point was simply that you are unlikely to break it just cruising around on the street. Since the 2.3L doesn't make a lot of torque down low, by the time it does come on you will already be rolling and it won't deliver a huge shock to the drivetrain - although it will probably spin the tire pretty well being an open diff.

The Turbo Coupe axle will fit, although it is a bit wider. Here is a link to a guy who did the swap...


It's an older link, and he did not swap to disc brakes.

With the power levels you are shooting for, I don't see a need to change the fuel pump. Funny enough, the 2.3L and the 5.0L both use the same stock fuel pump.

Since you will have the transmission and engine out, you can certainly replace the clutch - but again the stock unit should be fine for your power level.

Since your car is a convertible, you should add subframe connectors. This is true of any Fox Body, but convertibles even more so IMO.

Here's the main thing, though... A lot of this stuff you can do later on. You don't NEED subframe connectors to cruise around. You don't HAVE to swap to the 8.8 right away, etc. Focus on getting it on the road and running, then upgrade as your time and money permit.
so should I wait to do the 8.8 rear end? I have a list of stuff I need, what all sensors and such do I need for the motor? Should I use the stock turbocoupe intercooler initially? I paid them extra for it so I figure I might as well use it for a while. Also I think I need a bigger / better radiator and more powerful fan. Any recommendations that would bolt on pretty easily? Also do I need a donor piece for the strut tower or will the repair kit work for it? I have a friend who was gonna weld, but doesn't think he can do it because he thinks the whole tower needs replaced. He only saw pictures though, the same ones I linked above. What do you think? Will the LMR frame rail kit work? What do I need stockish in terms of boost controller, and stuff like that to just get it running with stock ecu, intercooler, etc.

I was gonna put boost gauge and A/F ratio on A-pillar, then get a radio gauge pod for fuel pressure, oil temp, and one more thing.
When I get the motor I was gonna pull head and do gaskets. I'm assuming then would be a good time to check for cracks and stuff. Should I have the head machined or bolt it back together and transplant it into the car? Do I need a different hood to feed that turbocoupe intercooler?
When the time comes for t3 swap, I would need bigger injectors, better ecu, new wiring, head work, rods, and fuel pump? Figure I'd do the 8.8 swap then aswell?
 

Golypon

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if anyone could weigh in, as for the tower, do you guys think it's the rail or the tower? I don't think the rail is rusted out... in those pictures you can see I believe it's the tower. Should I just take it to a body shop? What's a fair price to have both sides welded?
 

91TwighlightGT

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It’s the frame rail. I posted a link in an earlier reply to someone doing the same repair. You should check it out, they did one side repairing with only the frame rail kit, and the other using the kit and a donor piece. He’s also been a helpful forum member for a long time and would shoot you straight if you ask him for his opinion.
 

Golypon

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It’s the frame rail. I posted a link in an earlier reply to someone doing the same repair. You should check it out, they did one side repairing with only the frame rail kit, and the other using the kit and a donor piece. He’s also been a helpful forum member for a long time and would shoot you straight if you ask him for his opinion.
I don't really have any welding experience, and my friends are a bit shaky about their confidence on whether they can do it or not. A shop said they can do both sides for $1,200 - $1,500 altogether

what do you think? Also what about the radiator stuff I mentioned above, I imagine it's going to be hot this summer and the stock rad on fox or tbird prolly won't be very solid. I've had enough issues with it as is. Any solid replacements or aftermarket recommendations / feedback on this?
 

91TwighlightGT

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Hard to say if that is a good price, it’s really dependent on your area because labor prices can vary. Best I can say is get multiple estimates, and feel free to ask for recommendations for local shops in the general section of the forum.

For your power levels, the stock radiator would be fine assuming it is in good working order. The 2.3l and 5.0l use the same radiator from the factory.

If you wanted to upgrade... there are a lot of choices. I don’t have a specific recommendation, although LMR has a radiator and fan kit.


No idea what people’s experience has been with it.
 
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