Progress Thread fox racer's 89 LX - Earl

fox racer v2

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I've resisted a progress thread for some time - mainly because I'm extremely lazy. Given now I have plenty of time on my hands due to pseudo quarantine and a selfish need to document my car's progress, I'll introduce Earl, my 1989 LX. Bought the car with 76,xxx original miles, AOD 5.0L. Within a week of owning I had a shop in Tom's River put full length Steeda subframes on it then did a few maintenance/reliability items (fluids, plugs, oil pressure sensor, window buttons, cleared codes).

Was originally going to keep it AOD so my wife could move for alternate side (live in Brooklyn & park on the street), but after a few weeks I got real bored. Last November did a factory correct 5 speed swap (A9L, factory harnesses, re-plugged O2 harness, etc) with a new T5-Z, RAM OEM replacement clutch, new aluminum drive shaft, rear main seal, etc. Tossed in used BBK shorties and Mac cat back while I was at it

Earl Lifted.jpg

Earl Trans Tunnel.jpg


Notice the misplaced 25th Anniversary badge on the dash. This is not a 25th Anniversary car (built Jan 16, 1989). Some history on the car: was originally Deep Shadow Blue (N7), was repainted black (you can see the black jamb in the interior picture above), and previous owner painted the shade it's currently painted. It's definitely a 10 footer though, I need to find someone to properly repaint (I'll be painting the door/window trim before that, I really had that it's body color).

Everything works, from the rear defroster, to the funky map/spot light, to cruise control. I'm the fourth owner, but last three kept meticulous records; the first owner's name was Earl so felt it was fitting to name the car after him. I have a 2.5" binder with receipts from maintenance, the original window sticker, the invoice, cash sale receipt, all the original marketing material - almost everything.

Binder.jpg

Window sticker.jpg

Color chart.jpg


As far as this thread going forward, I'm juggling a number of things (5 lug swap, heads/Intake, interior cleanup, 3G swap, contour fan) but it's tricky given I don't have a garage/driveway to work in and people are keeping to social distancing. So, for now, my guest room is a parts closet with a mattress and my living room has a china cabinet next to some Explorer intakes. Will post updates, share ideas, and complain when things don't go right.
 
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fox racer v2

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Guess I'll post some preview stuff for the next few months:
Front Cobra Calipers.jpg

TMoss ported lower Explorer (Right). Stock non-EGR Explorer (left... and for sale/trade):
TMoss ported lower.jpg

TMoss ported lower, in Duplicolor Cast Coat. Plan is AFR 165 w/ pedestal mounted rockers, keeping stock cam and stock valve covers)
Lower Ported painted.jpg

98 Cobra wheels. This is the worst of all four (picture on the old car it came from). May have them cleaned/powder coated locally.
98 Cobra (w Tires) 2.jpg
 

fox racer v2

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Quarantining is keeping me as busy as I can be with no workspace.

TB explorer - not super pumped with the outcome, but good enough for government work. Still need a sacrificial stock TB to complete (there's an off chance I'll just end up donating this to someone else's project and going with a Accufab 65mm, not sure what I want to do yet):
Explorer TB.jpg

Also threaded the 3G. Grabbed this from PA Performance on sale for like, $70 (for 94/95) but it had been mounted already:
36 thread (front).jpg

3G thread (back).jpg


I Helicoil'd using 3/8-16 from Amazon. Used the full length of the Helicoil, so clamping force should be fine & added a wee bit of Loctite blue (whichever is medium strength) to the outside of the Helicoil before installing it. I don't really like how it's a bit shallow, but I'll probably live with it as opposed to getting fancy and starting a second one.

Also killing myself over the "stock" intake color. Still need to compare to the fox intake, but the Explorer intake is a bit more grey, less silver, than the Duplicolor Cast Coat (lower intake on the left). My laziness will probably win out and I'll just go cast coat for the upper as well:
Intake color compare.jpg


More to come as I think out loud and post random parts pics.
 
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95BlueStallion

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Quarantining is keeping me as busy as I can be with no workspace.

TB explorer - not super pumped with the outcome, but good enough for government work. Still need a sacrificial stock TB to complete (there's an off chance I'll just end up donating this to someone else's project and going with a Accufab 65mm, not sure what I want to do yet):
Explorer TB.jpg

Also threaded the 3G. Grabbed this from PA Performance on sale for like, $70 (for 94/95) but it had been mounted already:
36 thread (front).jpg

3G thread (back).jpg


I Helicoil'd using 3/8-16 from Amazon. Used the full length of the Helicoil, so clamping force should be fine & added a wee bit of Loctite blue (whichever is medium strength) to the outside of the Helicoil before installing it. I don't really like how it's a bit shallow, but I'll probably live with it as opposed to getting fancy and starting a second one.

Also killing myself over the "stock" intake color. Still need to compare to the fox intake, but the Explorer intake is a bit more grey, less silver, than the Duplicolor Cast Coat (lower intake on the left). My laziness will probably win out and I'll just go cast coat for the upper as well:
Intake color compare.jpg


More to come as I think out loud and post random parts pics.

Once you have it all back together, you really don’t see the lower intake. Distributor and upper rad hose block the front, fuel rails and upper block the rest. I had my GT40 upper and lower powder coated, and will save the money never doing another lower.
 
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fox racer v2

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Once you have it all back together, you really don’t see the lower intake. Distributor and upper rad hose block the front, fuel rails and upper block the rest. I had my GT40 upper and lower powder coated, and will save the money never doing another lower.

Yea agree. The lower is staying cast, I actually like how it came out. I’m mulling over what color options I have for upper (fallback will be this cast color) - I’ll just torture myself over it for a few weeks in the interim. Think the powder coating of the upper is worth it? The upper I have is ragged, so I’m having someone blast it either way.

One thing I should mention is the goal of this car. Goal is to drive it and enjoy it. I don’t want to compromise the reliability of the car with any mods, all mods need to serve a purpose, and ultimately need to be tasteful. Interior will largely stay completely stock (down to the radio, for now) but will look to freshen it up, exterior will be treated the same (adding correct badging and trim color, no hood changed or kits). Driveline/engine/suspension/brakes will be updated using quality or OEM parts, but nothing radical or that’ll take away from the reliability target.

Oh, goal is to also cherry pick as many awesome ideas that pop up in the forums as possible. I think you’ll see a trend with my mods and other progress threads - will give credit when specific ideas are borrowed (many will be).
 

crazyboycl

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Guess I'll post some preview stuff for the next few months:
Front Cobra Calipers.jpg

TMoss ported lower Explorer (Right). Stock non-EGR Explorer (left... and for sale/trade):
TMoss ported lower.jpg

TMoss ported lower, in Duplicolor Cast Coat. Plan is AFR 165 w/ pedestal mounted rockers, keeping stock cam and stock valve covers)
Lower Ported painted.jpg

98 Cobra wheels. This is the worst of all four (picture on the old car it came from). May have them cleaned/powder coated locally.
98 Cobra (w Tires) 2.jpg
Looks good!
 
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fox racer v2

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Stolen Idea: 1 & 2
Source: Mustang5L5

First stolen idea: picked up the e-brake 'upgrade' to avoid having to weld the handle. There's something behind the reversibility and using Ford's solution I wanted to stick to. Grabbed it from Tasca Ford, was like $13 + shipping:
Ebrake 1.jpg

Ebrake 2.jpg


Second stolen idea: called up Classic Tube and spent the money on a 94/95 Non-ABS driver side (left) brake hardline ($44+$14 shipping + tax). I didn't really want to source decades old brake lines, nor flare my own (partially lazy, but mostly a quality thing given it is the brake system afterall) so threw money at it. Paired with the prop valve adapter off a non-ABS SN95, and I'll have a nice clean 3-to-2 conversion without adding a brake line jungle gym to the engine bay:
FR Brake Line.jpg


I also picked up a Ford Racing adj center e-brake cable, and some 87-92 disk rear ebrake cables. The cables look great and nice quality (87-93 ebrake cables are Daniel Carpenter, which is generally good stuff so I'm happy). One thing I'm a wee bit unhappy about, and it's largely nit-picky: the cables didn't come with 10mm i.d. e-clips. LMR wanted like $5 for these, which is a complete rip-off. Call me whatever you want, but these should have come with the cables IMO (I'll grab a pack of 300 on Amazon for $10, and use whatever fits
 

JNC_14

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Nice! I'm glad you've decided to document this. I've always had a thing for the 89 LX's...think b/c a couple buddies had them and would eat up my poor 86! I believe the 'pseudo quarantine' will find a lot of us with extra time to work on our projects. Keep it up!
 
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fox racer v2

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Had some time after work today so figured I'd put the door switches back in and put on the shifter boot. Switches were done in ~10 min or say, but I struggled and fought the shifter boot and discovered some things:

The LMR genuine leather boot smells fantastic, but mine was largely garbage otherwise. The neck is way too small to fit over the shifter handle threads. Even after digging it out with a drill bit/razor blade I had to spin it down the thread. It felt like a bolt with a nylon lock - it was that snug. Some of the stitching popped during the battle, so overall not happy about the quality. I sent a note to LMR, but I ordered back in December so I understand if I'm SOL. After all of that, the base wouldn't snap down. I could only get the left or the bottom clips plugged in, top right had no shot.

This just confirms what I already knew - my shifter sits pretty high. I noticed this when finishing my 5 speed swap (base of the Tri-Ax would interfere with the console under the radio when putting it back in and the rad fan hit the rad fan shroud on the bottom so I trimmed a small bit to make it not interfere). I used a Ford cross-member, Ford trans mount, and have a T5-Z with Tri-Ax but everything else stock. Motor mounts may be shot, so if they collapsed a bit + new trans mount the motor may be lower/shift handle higher (using the trans mount as a fulcrum). I doubt it, but a thought. I'll get a pic tomorrow form inside the car.

Very meh day in the garage.

EDIT: I'll update through an edit so as to not clutter the main page. LMR refunded me and let me keep the old shift boot. This defenitely goes a long way to keeping me coming back (the initially asked, and I picked a gift card since I have more stuff to get - but they just refunded me). Anyway, a little show and tell, the shifter definitely sits too high, like 0.5"-0.75" too high. I grabbed Energy Suspension motor mounts, hoping that'll alleviate that a bit. Think my lower boot is a little off to the right as well.
Shifter 2.jpg

Shifter 1.jpg


If anyone can, some pics at similar angles on other cars would be real helpful. Maybe even lay a tape measure across the shifter valley (top boot removed)?
 
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fox racer v2

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My mind is running a bit faster than my wallet would like, but we'll just call it planning ahead. I grabbed new ATS calipers/pads for ~$210 shipped, white Brembo stickers and the S&S Engineering thread inserts. These damn things are pretty massive compared to the Cobra dual piston PBRs. I'll probably run the Cobras for awhile then upgrade down the line since I want to experience Cobra brakes first hand (plus long after forgetting I bought these it'll feel like a free upgrade once I decide to put the on...)
Caliper compare1.jpg
caliper compare2.jpg


Putting Energy Suspension motor mounts in next weekend weather permitting. Looking like end if May I'll get the tires, wheels re-finished, and put the 5 lug stuff on finally.
 

90sickfox

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That ATS caliper upgrade is one of the next things on my list.
 

fox racer v2

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So, some updates!

As for the shifter, we swapped in some Energy Suspension motor mounts and pretty much fixed everything. The trim plate still doesn't sit perfect, but think I just have to play with the lower booth a tiny bit to get the required clearanced. This 100% was my issue, the stock motor mounts were trashed pretty bad.

Got the 98 Cobras powder coated and added some Nitto 555 G2 245/45/17s. I love the color, they're bright silver in the sunlight but in the shade they look grey/darker. Extremely pleased all around. Wasn't sold ont eh center caps, but got them for $10/piece on eBay, so couldn't pass that up. I even sold the stock SVT center caps for the same price:
98 Cobra Mounted.jpeg


A comparison shot to my Ponys (Pony Rim/tires for sale now, but need to be re-sprayed). Vital tools captured here as well Big Red 12V impact, cooler with most 2x 12 packs:
Earl 5 Lug Mid.jpeg


And finally the full kit done. UPS got four tires from KC to my local delivery hub, then only delivered 3 tires... took a week to get the fourth tire, luckily the powder coater was cool and waited to mount the last tire for me:
Earl 5 Lug Done.jpeg


Inner tie rods came late so I'm going to be lazy and let the alignment shop put them in for me. Am considering upgrading the power rack at some point, but need to research what other folks have done and decide if I want SN95 or Fox etc. Open to suggestions though

No pics yet, but almost done my Explorer upper intake. Clearing up the manufacturing/molding marks before painting. Was surprised to find paint in the runners (from the factory), so may smooth them out as well - TMoss opened/smoothed the lower entry ports ever so slighty, so I have room to do the same. Depending on price, I may reach out to the powder coater to do the intake the same color as the wheels.
 

fox racer v2

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One other small update mainly because I love the progress of the thing. The stock intake plaque/plate whatever you call it as it was when I bought the car:
Instake Plate Begin.jpeg


Paint was nice and cheap so simple lacquer thinner soak for ~5 min stripped it almost entirely. There was still black OEM paint underneath that was a little stubborn but good enough for me:
Intake Plate Stripped.jpeg


and just before final sanding and minor touch up around the edges. Still deciding between clearcoat or not, will probably go with with:
Intake Plate Painted.jpeg


Used Duplicolor engine primer then their engine black. very happy with the color/results.
 

fox racer v2

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Welp time flies. Summer gone by and I’ve driven the car maybe 100 miles.

The alignment shop wanted almost $600 to swap inner tire rods, align and inspect it (I had the parts). I passed on the labor and they failed me for loose inner tie rods/wouldn’t touch alignment. Out $10 and a walk so I ended up swapping the steering rack with a rebuilt quick ratio piece instead. Very happy with the swap (wish I re-used the stock transfer lines, but that’s another story). Even got my money back on the inner tie rods I had bought, so not bad at all.

Then this:
77E099C4-BA00-4625-9EDC-41C0259BC6B6.jpeg

0BE4A964-668E-4781-9C00-461ADD63A16F.jpeg

494C3FF6-60E1-416B-AD0A-3197D98FD217.jpeg

863FCD9F-C4DD-4494-B906-A213273F8A4C.jpeg

91FB052F-ED46-4FB0-9B31-FEA2B65F4C2D.jpeg

Fresh rims, pretty nasty rash - hitting the A-Arms. Grabbed steering rack limiters to prevent future damage. Little sad by it, but it’s inside the rims, no damage to the tires and only I (and now you folks) know about it.

Think I need to coat the raw metal? Can get some silver brush on POR15 and touch it up when I do the rack limiters.
 

Mustang5L5

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Second stolen idea: called up Classic Tube and spent the money on a 94/95 Non-ABS driver side (left) brake hardline ($44+$14 shipping + tax). I didn't really want to source decades old brake lines, nor flare my own (partially lazy, but mostly a quality thing given it is the brake system afterall) so threw money at it. Paired with the prop valve adapter off a non-ABS SN95, and I'll have a nice clean 3-to-2 conversion without adding a brake line jungle gym to the engine bay:
FR Brake Line.jpg

How did you actually order this line? I just ripped out all my brake lines in the engine bay and need to buy new ones. I called up classic tube and they told me they won't sell it outside of the kit.
 
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fox racer v2

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How did you actually order this line? I just ripped out all my brake lines in the engine bay and need to buy new ones. I called up classic tube and they told me they won't sell it outside of the kit.
I didn’t mention the kit. I just said I needed a left front hard line for a 1995 mustang without ABS. The kind fella at classic tube said they’ll have to make it and invoiced me on the spot. Took about two and a half weeks or so start to finish.

Little surprised they told you that, my experience is they’re usually happy to make one offs or mix/match within a kit - But you’ll pay a premium.
 

Mustang5L5

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I didn’t mention the kit. I just said I needed a left front hard line for a 1995 mustang without ABS. The kind fella at classic tube said they’ll have to make it and invoiced me on the spot. Took about two and a half weeks or so start to finish.

Little surprised they told you that, my experience is they’re usually happy to make one offs or mix/match within a kit - But you’ll pay a premium.

yeah, they pretty much just shut me down, rudely too I might add. They said they only sell kits and not single lines. I'll wait a week or two and then try it again and see if I can talk to someone a little more helpful.
 
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