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post #1 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Newbie just bought a V8 swap...

OK, I'm an idiot... maybe. So I bought a beautiful 97, all original paint. Interior is nice, expect for BO smell. The car seemed original except for the Cobra 3.73 rear, which is one of the few things the seller wanted to talk about. I could have spent a minute to run the VIN, but waited until it was too late... It was originally a V6 car.

There doesn't seem to be anything wrong the V8 engine and its subsystems at all. It runs perfectly. No SES light, no issues whatsoever. Surely something must be wrong... I ran through two tanks of gas wiped a paper towel in the exhaust tips and there was just some dry red dust. The owner told me the engine had the common crack in the intake fixed. There is a new tensioner, belt and hoses. Everything seems normal. There is a K&N air filter.

Most accessories seem to work. A/C, cruise, ABS, traction assist, sunroof, windows, locks, seats all work. The only thing that doesn't work is the OD button on the shifter, which seems to be a common problem and not related to the swap, hopefully.

There are issues in the front suspension. It's probably the normal things like bushings and ball joints and I know it will need work. I was disappointed when I took it on rougher roads. It got mad and took it on some dirt roads in the woods. Man, is this car a blast on forest trails. I'm sure it will fine once the suspension is fixed.

I was told it has a Cobra 3.73 Trac-Loc. There is a shiny webbed pumpkin with a Ford mark in the upper right. I'm familiar with a 351C and 3.50 gears and the Thunderbird seems similar. The owner assured me the speedo gear was changed and that the speedometer read correctly, but that was not true. It reads about 10% slower than the actual speed. I read about some issues with shift points and an electronic governor limiting engine speeds. So far I have only explored the red line in first and second gears and it seems normal.

Apparently, the exhaust pipe is half crushed in a spot. It might have been run over on a garage floor. Maybe it will accelerate faster if it's fixed. It's pretty fast now and the first automatic car I've ever had that can spin the wheels when shifting into third gear.

There was a lot of noise in the rear. There's a big plastic thing under the left rear passenger seat that is loose. I pushed it up and took off a rattling license plate frame and that made a huge improvement.

The owner did not want me to test the parking bark because "it had not been used for a while". I see a tie wrap on a bracket just behind the differential where the cables connect. I figured that might be an issue due to the Cobra gears, but from what I read here, it may be just another common problem.

The owner said he "heard" something from the previous owner about sport springs and shocks. I think it may have sport suspension parts because of the way it rides. The car also seems to have a slightly high stance. I was expecting to have a ride similar to my mothers Riviera. But it does not. I attributed this to bad front end parts. But the trip off road showed me otherwise. The suspension is very firm and I was surprised how well the car handles and it feels lighter than it really is.

The car seems to have perfect wheels. The tires are brand new and so are the front brake rotors. I was expecting the 215/70/15 tires to feel as wimpy as they do on a Riviera. But they do not.

This car must have been a project with bigger plans, and then put together and sold. The owner works in the auto industry. He might be smarter than he appeared. I'm likely dumber than I appear.

My question is what should I look out for with this swap? Is it possible that it is OK and I can fix and enjoy this car?
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post #2 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 01:55 PM
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I don't have any answers for you, but thank you for writing a well articulated post.



She's lookin' good and I hope you can figure out all the little quirks that it currently has. Anyways, welcome to the forum.
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post #3 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 03:46 PM
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Congrats on your purchase and welcome to the forums. While I'm also unable to provide a whole lot of answers, there was a "Sport" trim level, which they may have taken the suspension from a sport level donor car and swapped the stuff in. I will say that a good rear gear really wakes these cars up, and I'm kinda jealous you managed to score a 3.73 without having to do the work yourself. Gorgeous car and I look forward to seeing more of it!

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post #4 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 03:50 PM
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Welcome~!

It looks beautiful and sounds decent. If there are no issues now, then you're good to go. Is the transmission sound? Did you check the trans fluid? I'd drop the pan, check the accumulators and do a J-Mod.

Have you checked the other fluids? Have you checked that parking brake now that you have the car?

Whether or not you're an idiot depends a lot on what you paid for it; you didn't say what the purchase price was ... So, if you paid much over 2K for it yea, you're an idiot. If you paid 1K or less well, you got a deal.

Mods? Yea, I got mods ...
Air silencer delete, warp drive, dilithium crystals, flux capacitor, Slingshot Rubber band power adder, Moonshine & Gas, Leaf Blower Supercharger, Hamster Wheel & Hamster, Energizer Bunny generating 1.21 gigawatts, Mr. Fusion® Home Energy Reactor, hover conversion and a sextant celestial navigation system (The original GPS)
Best 1/4: 1,320 nanoseconds @ 670,616,629.2 miles per hour

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See a list of my real mods and pictures of my car HERE. The true performance of my car was made possible by the Carolinas Crew Chief, RobertP at Rob's Tire & Auto.

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post #5 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 05:20 PM
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Looks like the paint is in nice shape. If everything is working properly you shouldn't be worried about the "swap". Honestly if someone took the time to put in the V8 it would make sense that they went over everything and did it right.

IDK about the price thing... I paid much more than 2k for my Cougar at a dealership; however my tbird was a Craigslist find I bought for 800$... My Cougar is in mint shape so I paid a lot extra for having a really clean low mileage car. Tbird is my daily driver and has faded paint, but mechanically in great working shape too. So take that for whats its worth

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post #6 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 05:23 PM
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If the t-bird parking brake is anything like a Mark viii setup then the tie wrap might be there to prevent it from sagging. Mine is zip tied to the rear sway bar and 100% functional. You might want to try adjusting it to see if that tighten it up at all. My only concern is that he advised you to not try it, as if he did in the past and something went wrong. Again, only if its similiar to the m8 setup.
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post #7 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 05:33 PM
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A good solid body and paint are worth whatever it costs to make a basket case of a car equal. Mechanicals are inconsequential from there.

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post #8 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 06:23 PM
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My 93 rode pretty rough when I got her too. My rear shocks weren't installed correctly, put new ones on and it made bumps much less harsh on impact. Probably wouldn't hurt to take it to a mechanic you know/trust to have it looked over. Put on a lift to check the suspension for looseness or play, the alignment maybe loose exhaust parts.
Sure is a looker!
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post #9 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 09:16 PM
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I wouldn't worry about the "dust" in the exhaust if the engine is running well. Rust will form in the pipes, and it will probably make it's way out until you replace the exhaust at some point in the future.

I have 3.73 gears, with the proper "correction" gear and I have to run a shorter tire to get accurate speedometer readings. I run a 255/40/18 which is exactly 26" tall, where the 215/70/15 is a 26.9" tire, but it shouldn't be 6mph off at 60. So you may need to get the correct gear.

If the car runs well, shifts well, etc I wouldn't be too concerned. It's common for these cars to need new front suspension pieces, the OEM stuff starts to flake out past 100,000 miles. For the front suspension, raybestos or AC Delco for the upper control arms. Moog quality has suffered of late. I would also use Raybestos and AC Delco for the rear upper control arm to frame bushing.

With the 3.73's, traction will be limited on those skinny 15's. an 18x9 with 35mm offset is a GREAT fit, and you can run 255/40/18 (a shorter, wider tire) or 275/40/18 which is "stock" diameter tire.

Do you know what driveshaft you have? If stock, do not rev it too high, as they are a two piece unit, and will start to wobble at high rpms. You'll know you have a tune if the speed is not limited to 80mph, because with the 3.73 and no tune to correct for it, the car will shift very short. A 1993 Mark VIII driveshaft is a direct bolt in, and is a one piece aluminum. Only that year though, all other years used a two piece aluminum shaft.

Beautiful car, hope you enjoy it!

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2003 Explorer WAP block with Modular Head Shop "street ported" heads and Stage 2 PI NA cams, 75mm Accufab throttle body, C&L upper intake plenum, Kooks 1.75" primary/3" collector headers, 2.5" full exhaust with mid mount Magnaflow dual in/out muffler, 24lb/hr injectors, 80mm MAF, Tuning from Don @ www.lasotaracing.com, CAI that feeds from fenderwell. Jmod, 3.73:1 TL in Mark VIII carrier, Mark VIII aluminum LCAs, 93 Mark VIII driveshaft, PBR brakes (soon to be Cobras), 18x9 wheels with 35mm offset, 255/40/ZR18 Tires, Front and Rear strut/shock bracing, GR-2 shocks, Eibach 1.5" springs, 1989 SC front and rear sway bars.
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post #10 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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I put many more miles on the car today. It's awesome! Despite noise and shimmy in the suspension, I have little to complain about. I was following a brand new Mazda Miata being reasonably driven on twisty, bumpy roads and the Thunderbird suspension reacted in a similar way. Once you go fast enough and put a load on the suspension it sort of tightens up.

It as 100 degrees today and the cooling system was fine. I was told the car has fresh coolant along with hoses and thermostat. That appears to be true. I was told the car has a new transmission pan with a drain plug and the old pan was given to me. The first fluid I plan to change is the brake fluid. I'm sure the pedal will have a better feel when I do it. I'm sure I will find some things that will make me unhappy when I pull off the front wheels. I can see the bolts for the upper ball joint clamps are bent from extreme overtightening. The spindle might be damaged from this. From what I've read here, the lower control arm bushings are likely shot.

I did try and see how fast I dared go. It as extremely windy today which doesn't play well with questionable steering parts. At 80 MPH there was terrible rattle that I realized was a plastic hood protector thing being blown by crosswind. I did get the car up to 95 according to GPS and it wasn't wound up. I didn't watch the speedo, it must have said close 110 MPH. It seems to go plenty fast.

The body is super solid. I thought it would be nice to have a quieter car because I have Tinnitus, ringing in the ears. The HVAC fan is nearly as noisy as any Fords. Every time I get in the car and close the door my ears pop and sometimes it's painful. I wish there was a way the sunroof could stay in the "popped" position when the car shuts off. The car is tight and the doors are very heavy.

The "low gas" light comes on just under a quarter tank. Both times it happened I was 20 miles away from a gas station. The first time it took 14 gallons to fill and today it took 15.1. I got 238.2 miles from the tankfull. If the odometer is 10% slow like the speedometer I got about 262 miles out of the tank for a bit over 17 MPG.
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post #11 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-10-2017, 11:37 PM Thread Starter
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I wouldn't worry about the "dust" in the exhaust if the engine is running well. Rust will form in the pipes, and it will probably make it's way out until you replace the exhaust at some point in the future.

I have 3.73 gears, with the proper "correction" gear and I have to run a shorter tire to get accurate speedometer readings. I run a 255/40/18 which is exactly 26" tall, where the 215/70/15 is a 26.9" tire, but it shouldn't be 6mph off at 60. So you may need to get the correct gear.

If the car runs well, shifts well, etc I wouldn't be too concerned. It's common for these cars to need new front suspension pieces, the OEM stuff starts to flake out past 100,000 miles. For the front suspension, raybestos or AC Delco for the upper control arms. Moog quality has suffered of late. I would also use Raybestos and AC Delco for the rear upper control arm to frame bushing.

With the 3.73's, traction will be limited on those skinny 15's. an 18x9 with 35mm offset is a GREAT fit, and you can run 255/40/18 (a shorter, wider tire) or 275/40/18 which is "stock" diameter tire.

Do you know what driveshaft you have? If stock, do not rev it too high, as they are a two piece unit, and will start to wobble at high rpms. You'll know you have a tune if the speed is not limited to 80mph, because with the 3.73 and no tune to correct for it, the car will shift very short. A 1993 Mark VIII driveshaft is a direct bolt in, and is a one piece aluminum. Only that year though, all other years used a two piece aluminum shaft.

Beautiful car, hope you enjoy it!
Thanks for the good advice!

I'm not worried about red dust in the exhaust. It's the best thing to find!

I'll have to check and see what speedo gear is installed. This seems just like my 70 Cougar that went from 3.00 to 3.50 gears. I put the purple gear in and it is off just the same as the Thunderbird. And the purple gear is even a 1970 part number. I've always thought one way to fix it was to get smaller tires. I see many good tires available in the 255/40/18 size. With the 5.25 bolt circle of Thunderbird, I probably won't find many cheap 18x9 wheels.

So I should put AC Delco parts on a Ford? AC Delco parts are sometimes quite different from original parts even though they work. I noticed AC Delco upper ball joints for Thunderbird that only work in AC Delco control arms. I put some AC Delco parts in my Toyota and they were difficult to install because of adapters. The Thunderbird upper control arm looks a bit delicate so I don't want to skimp there. So if AC Delco is better than Moog I'll use AC Delco.

So if the car goes over 80 with 3.73s there must be a tune. Maybe that's what the seller meant saying the gears are set up. It seems like a good thing to have the tune because I can't imagine driving any car can only go 80!

What's the maximum speed of a two piece driveshaft? The fastest I ever go is 95. I very rarely venture over 100.
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post #12 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by 97 V8 Swap View Post
Thanks for the good advice!

I'm not worried about red dust in the exhaust. It's the best thing to find!

I'll have to check and see what speedo gear is installed. This seems just like my 70 Cougar that went from 3.00 to 3.50 gears. I put the purple gear in and it is off just the same as the Thunderbird. And the purple gear is even a 1970 part number. I've always thought one way to fix it was to get smaller tires. I see many good tires available in the 255/40/18 size. With the 5.25 bolt circle of Thunderbird, I probably won't find many cheap 18x9 wheels.

So I should put AC Delco parts on a Ford? AC Delco parts are sometimes quite different from original parts even though they work. I noticed AC Delco upper ball joints for Thunderbird that only work in AC Delco control arms. I put some AC Delco parts in my Toyota and they were difficult to install because of adapters. The Thunderbird upper control arm looks a bit delicate so I don't want to skimp there. So if AC Delco is better than Moog I'll use AC Delco.

So if the car goes over 80 with 3.73s there must be a tune. Maybe that's what the seller meant saying the gears are set up. It seems like a good thing to have the tune because I can't imagine driving any car can only go 80!

What's the maximum speed of a two piece driveshaft? The fastest I ever go is 95. I very rarely venture over 100.
I know it seems bad to use AC Delco parts on a Ford, but they bought Raybestos, and the Raybestos stuff was always good. Now they have Raybestos as the "low price" brand, and AC Delco as the "high end". For most things, Motorcraft is the way to go. There are stickies in the suspension area that have all the proper replacement parts you'll need. It's a good car to work on, replacing the upper control arms isn't too bad, new bushings really tighten them up. In the rear upper control arm to frame bushing in particular, the Moog part doesn't have the factory two piece design, and since that is a critical part for aligning the rear wheels toe in/out, you need that factory design. AC Delco does have the proper design. I just used Moog rubber front swaybar bushings, and they suit my needs just fine, so they're not all bad, just in that one particular application.

For your brakes, go ahead and get some 99-04 Mustang GT calipers. They'll bolt right on, you'll have to do a little grinding on the spindle and the caliper for clearance, but they'll work with your 15" wheels and give you a dramatic improvement in stopping power thanks to increased pad surface. Once you go with 18" wheels, then you can swap to the Cobra style 13" brakes and rotors. Again, look at the sticky posts in the appropriate sub forum. I have the GT brakes on mine, they help keep your rotors from warping, a common issue due to the small pad/small rotor/heavy car.

I don't know "top speed" of the driveshaft, I believe that the factory limited it to 110mph on stock gears (3.27 in your case), which would be 3150rpm in OD, 4500 in 3rd. Using my calculator on this page http://www.andysautosport.com/learni...r/calculators/ you're looking at around 96mph as the "factory limit".
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2003 Explorer WAP block with Modular Head Shop "street ported" heads and Stage 2 PI NA cams, 75mm Accufab throttle body, C&L upper intake plenum, Kooks 1.75" primary/3" collector headers, 2.5" full exhaust with mid mount Magnaflow dual in/out muffler, 24lb/hr injectors, 80mm MAF, Tuning from Don @ www.lasotaracing.com, CAI that feeds from fenderwell. Jmod, 3.73:1 TL in Mark VIII carrier, Mark VIII aluminum LCAs, 93 Mark VIII driveshaft, PBR brakes (soon to be Cobras), 18x9 wheels with 35mm offset, 255/40/ZR18 Tires, Front and Rear strut/shock bracing, GR-2 shocks, Eibach 1.5" springs, 1989 SC front and rear sway bars.
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post #13 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 10:57 AM
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Nice looking updated look of my old 1992!!!

I think you have the AR470W transmission in that and I'd figure out what you have and read up on it here. I know my in my AOD tranny I'm supposed to be careful about not doing a high throttle shift into overdrive.

I imagine you are getting into 4th/overdrive if you got up to 100 mph. So the O/D button not working may not allow you to shut off automatic shifts into overdrive.
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post #14 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 11:26 AM
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Nice looking updated look of my old 1992!!!

I think you have the AR470W transmission in that and I'd figure out what you have and read up on it here. I know my in my AOD tranny I'm supposed to be careful about not doing a high throttle shift into overdrive.

I imagine you are getting into 4th/overdrive if you got up to 100 mph. So the O/D button not working may not allow you to shut off automatic shifts into overdrive.
I missed that part of the original post.

Yes, fix the OD button. The 4R70W (in all 4.6 based Thunderbirds) is based on the AOD, using the same (updated) internal parts. Thus, the "careful" shift into and out of OD is still a requirement. You do not, under any circumstances, want to shift into and out of OD at high throttle. What I do on my car is if I am preparing to pass, I'll push the OD button to kick it down into 3rd and once I'm in third mash the gas and get around whatever slowpoke is in my way. (for some reason, the area I live in people get very offended if you pass them, and will attempt to block you by accelerating as you pass, I don't get it, but I have better gearing so I just plan ahead and pass with purpose).

You can upgrade the 4R70W with better internals, but I'm a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kind of guy. So, if the transmission shifts fine, leave it be. Just fix the OD button (often a loose wire if the previous owner removed the shift handle and wasn't careful) and enjoy the car. Regular transmission fluid changes with real Mercon V fluid are always a good thing.

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2003 Explorer WAP block with Modular Head Shop "street ported" heads and Stage 2 PI NA cams, 75mm Accufab throttle body, C&L upper intake plenum, Kooks 1.75" primary/3" collector headers, 2.5" full exhaust with mid mount Magnaflow dual in/out muffler, 24lb/hr injectors, 80mm MAF, Tuning from Don @ www.lasotaracing.com, CAI that feeds from fenderwell. Jmod, 3.73:1 TL in Mark VIII carrier, Mark VIII aluminum LCAs, 93 Mark VIII driveshaft, PBR brakes (soon to be Cobras), 18x9 wheels with 35mm offset, 255/40/ZR18 Tires, Front and Rear strut/shock bracing, GR-2 shocks, Eibach 1.5" springs, 1989 SC front and rear sway bars.
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post #15 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 11:29 AM
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Congrats on your purchase and welcome to the forums. While I'm also unable to provide a whole lot of answers, there was a "Sport" trim level, which they may have taken the suspension from a sport level donor car and swapped the stuff in. I will say that a good rear gear really wakes these cars up, and I'm kinda jealous you managed to score a 3.73 without having to do the work yourself. Gorgeous car and I look forward to seeing more of it!
The "sport" option in 97 always had 16" wheels and JJJJ code springs. They also had the larger Mark VIII front brake rotors, so the 15" wheels will not fit. Pretty much a guarantee that his car is not a sport unfortunately.

All 97's had 3.27 gears stock, 4 wheel disc, and the "good" cupholders. ABS, Traction control were optional. Can't have traction control without ABS, as it uses the ABS system to control wheelspin. If it was optioned with a trackloc (and when they put the 3.73 in, I hope they added one if it didn't have one), it didn't have traction control.

97 Thunderbird LX (The GT Bird)
2003 Explorer WAP block with Modular Head Shop "street ported" heads and Stage 2 PI NA cams, 75mm Accufab throttle body, C&L upper intake plenum, Kooks 1.75" primary/3" collector headers, 2.5" full exhaust with mid mount Magnaflow dual in/out muffler, 24lb/hr injectors, 80mm MAF, Tuning from Don @ www.lasotaracing.com, CAI that feeds from fenderwell. Jmod, 3.73:1 TL in Mark VIII carrier, Mark VIII aluminum LCAs, 93 Mark VIII driveshaft, PBR brakes (soon to be Cobras), 18x9 wheels with 35mm offset, 255/40/ZR18 Tires, Front and Rear strut/shock bracing, GR-2 shocks, Eibach 1.5" springs, 1989 SC front and rear sway bars.
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post #16 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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The "sport" option in 97 always had 16" wheels and JJJJ code springs. They also had the larger Mark VIII front brake rotors, so the 15" wheels will not fit. Pretty much a guarantee that his car is not a sport unfortunately.

All 97's had 3.27 gears stock, 4 wheel disc, and the "good" cupholders. ABS, Traction control were optional. Can't have traction control without ABS, as it uses the ABS system to control wheelspin. If it was optioned with a trackloc (and when they put the 3.73 in, I hope they added one if it didn't have one), it didn't have traction control.
The car was originally a V6 and I'm not sure if you could get a V6 Sport with 16"wheels. But the "donor" V8 car may have been and they transferred just the springs/shocks. Or maybe they are aftermarket. Whatever they are, I like them. The wheels are perfect and the tires were brand new. This is some sort of unfished project car that was thrown together with what they had. It seems to have a custom three tone interior. Most of the interior is 2 tone tan. But everything on the drivers' side of the dashboard is black. This includes the bezel on the driver door with the switches. On the passenger side it is tan. Also the console top and door, as well as the steering column and driver airbag and steering wheel, is black. I've looked at some pictures of other 97s and something about the dash color scheme seems different. I'll take some pics later.

It has traction assist. I've read it doesn't do much. But I played with it on dirt roads and it does do something. Mostly it works at very slow speeds with a light throttle. It allows you start on loose surfaces with less wheel spin. It might help in very slippery conditions. It's more so grandma can get up a snowy driveway than for drag racing. Trac-Loc is effective too. It's nice to know it's there when the tires chirp at higher speeds.
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post #17 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 01:11 PM
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The car was originally a V6 and I'm not sure if you could get a V6 Sport with 16"wheels. But the "donor" V8 car may have been and they transferred just the springs/shocks. Or maybe they are aftermarket. Whatever they are, I like them. The wheels are perfect and the tires were brand new. This is some sort of unfished project car that was thrown together with what they had. It seems to have a custom three tone interior. Most of the interior is 2 tone tan. But everything on the drivers' side of the dashboard is black. This includes the bezel on the driver door with the switches. On the passenger side it is tan. Also the console top and door, as well as the steering column and driver airbag and steering wheel, is black. I've looked at some pictures of other 97s and something about the dash color scheme seems different. I'll take some pics later.

It has traction assist. I've read it doesn't do much. But I played with it on dirt roads and it does do something. Mostly it works at very slow speeds with a light throttle. It allows you start on loose surfaces with less wheel spin. It might help in very slippery conditions. It's more so grandma can get up a snowy driveway than for drag racing. Trac-Loc is effective too. It's nice to know it's there when the tires chirp at higher speeds.
That is a stock interior. The Thunderbird had a "cockpit inspired" interior, where all of the driver side was blacked out so that the gauges and HVAC/Radio controls were "driver oriented" and the passenger was along for the ride. Cougars didn't do that. It's not "pieced together" basically.



I am fairly certain the "sport" package was only on the V8 cars. It really is just slightly stiffer springs and bigger wheels, and the stock LX springs do a great job, and the suspension overall is wonderful. Don't worry about it.

Yeah, these were the early days for traction control. I live in northern Minnesota, and it was all but useless to get out of my snowy driveway in my first 97 (which saw winter duty) on all season tires. I had to do the old peg leg trick by putting the parking brake on lightly to get traction to the other tire. Once I put good snow tires on, never was an issue again.
So, with the traction control, you have ABS, which is good. I would still upgrade to the PBR calipers off a 99-04 Mustang GT. Much better clamping force, much more surface area, and works fine with stock rotors. You'll appreciate not warping the rotors every time you have to brake hard. Also, don't let anyone use an impact on the lugs, the stock rotors warp if you look at them funny, and hitting them with an impact will more than likely cause them to warp as well.

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2003 Explorer WAP block with Modular Head Shop "street ported" heads and Stage 2 PI NA cams, 75mm Accufab throttle body, C&L upper intake plenum, Kooks 1.75" primary/3" collector headers, 2.5" full exhaust with mid mount Magnaflow dual in/out muffler, 24lb/hr injectors, 80mm MAF, Tuning from Don @ www.lasotaracing.com, CAI that feeds from fenderwell. Jmod, 3.73:1 TL in Mark VIII carrier, Mark VIII aluminum LCAs, 93 Mark VIII driveshaft, PBR brakes (soon to be Cobras), 18x9 wheels with 35mm offset, 255/40/ZR18 Tires, Front and Rear strut/shock bracing, GR-2 shocks, Eibach 1.5" springs, 1989 SC front and rear sway bars.
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post #18 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
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That picture is similar to my car's interior. There are a few differences, probably because that picture isn't a 97 interior. I assume the instrument cluster, at least, needed to be changed because of the V8 swap.

I know about the PBR upgrade and I'll likely do it once the new rotors and pads wear out.
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post #19 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 02:45 PM
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That picture is similar to my car's interior. There are a few differences, probably because that picture isn't a 97 interior. I assume the instrument cluster, at least, needed to be changed because of the V8 swap.

I know about the PBR upgrade and I'll likely do it once the new rotors and pads wear out.
97 got the Taurus gauge cluster because Ford ran out of "give a damn" on the car for it's last year. It's not such a bad thing though, even though you lose the voltage gauge, you get a larger, easier to read speedo and tach, and an odometer gear that isn't as failure prone as the 89-96 one.

You can also swap in the similar generation SHO cluster (mine has one) and it gives you a higher MPH and 8k tach.

No fundamental change between v6 and v8 gauges. Your car's interior is fundamentally stock. Was just an example pic I found that highlighted the "cockpit" concept well.

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2003 Explorer WAP block with Modular Head Shop "street ported" heads and Stage 2 PI NA cams, 75mm Accufab throttle body, C&L upper intake plenum, Kooks 1.75" primary/3" collector headers, 2.5" full exhaust with mid mount Magnaflow dual in/out muffler, 24lb/hr injectors, 80mm MAF, Tuning from Don @ www.lasotaracing.com, CAI that feeds from fenderwell. Jmod, 3.73:1 TL in Mark VIII carrier, Mark VIII aluminum LCAs, 93 Mark VIII driveshaft, PBR brakes (soon to be Cobras), 18x9 wheels with 35mm offset, 255/40/ZR18 Tires, Front and Rear strut/shock bracing, GR-2 shocks, Eibach 1.5" springs, 1989 SC front and rear sway bars.
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post #20 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 07:47 PM
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In what world is the 96 and earlier speedo and tach harder to read? In the 97s the speedo size is about the same, just oblonged, and the tach is much smaller - I'd guesstimate 2/3rds the diameter of the 96. Also, while it's true the odo is more reliable on 97s, it wasn't in 96 Tauruses, so if you get a SHO speedometer from a 96 you may still need to repair it. I've pulled two from 96s with failed worm gears.

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post #21 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 08:51 PM
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In what world is the 96 and earlier speedo and tach harder to read? In the 97s the speedo size is about the same, just oblonged, and the tach is much smaller - I'd guesstimate 2/3rds the diameter of the 96. Also, while it's true the odo is more reliable on 97s, it wasn't in 96 Tauruses, so if you get a SHO speedometer from a 96 you may still need to repair it. I've pulled two from 96s with failed worm gears.
Just my opinion, I am probably wrong on the sizes, but I've never owned anything but 97's, so if I'm wrong, I'm wrong.
I like the layout of the 97 personally.

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2003 Explorer WAP block with Modular Head Shop "street ported" heads and Stage 2 PI NA cams, 75mm Accufab throttle body, C&L upper intake plenum, Kooks 1.75" primary/3" collector headers, 2.5" full exhaust with mid mount Magnaflow dual in/out muffler, 24lb/hr injectors, 80mm MAF, Tuning from Don @ www.lasotaracing.com, CAI that feeds from fenderwell. Jmod, 3.73:1 TL in Mark VIII carrier, Mark VIII aluminum LCAs, 93 Mark VIII driveshaft, PBR brakes (soon to be Cobras), 18x9 wheels with 35mm offset, 255/40/ZR18 Tires, Front and Rear strut/shock bracing, GR-2 shocks, Eibach 1.5" springs, 1989 SC front and rear sway bars.
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I've used both in my car, there are definitely aspects of the 97 design I like, they're tidier looking and less clunky in some respects, but at the end of the day the big center speedometer just proclaims "this is a commuter, and this gauge takes precedence". I would have kept this in my car if the speedo and tach could have flipped around.



Plus as a purist at heart, I want the cluster that these cars were designed for, for better or worse.
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post #23 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Another car I have is a 99 Escort ZX2. The instrument cluster of the TBird has an uncanny resemblance to the ZX2. Many switches, the mirrors, exterior lights all resemble what is in the Escort. In fact, the Escort was a pretty high-quality car by the late 90s. The Escort ZX2, being a newer design, has nice switches and turn signal stalk. The cruise control has more functions. The TBird turn signal sucks and I'm trying not to break it.
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post #24 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-11-2017, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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Yesterday it was near 100 degrees and the TBird had no problem with the cooling system in heavy traffic with the AC on or cruising fast. In very slow traffic in a hot tunnel, the temp needle did reach about two-thirds briefly. Today it was much cooler in the 70s and cloudy. It seems like the TBird is running cooler too.

After driving 30 minutes and the last few miles were 30 MPH I parked and the temp guage gauge read just over C. The temp seems to oscillate between cool and normal. I suspect the thermostat might be responding too slowly. Also, the idle speed seems a bit faster and has a slightly hollow sound.

If the car has a tune for the 3.73 gears, what other tricks might be "tuned" into the car? I'm also wondering about tricks or mods that would keep the SES light off. The SES light does flash at key on.
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post #25 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-12-2017, 09:48 AM
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Yesterday it was near 100 degrees and the TBird had no problem with the cooling system in heavy traffic with the AC on or cruising fast. In very slow traffic in a hot tunnel, the temp needle did reach about two-thirds briefly. Today it was much cooler in the 70s and cloudy. It seems like the TBird is running cooler too.

After driving 30 minutes and the last few miles were 30 MPH I parked and the temp guage gauge read just over C. The temp seems to oscillate between cool and normal. I suspect the thermostat might be responding too slowly. Also, the idle speed seems a bit faster and has a slightly hollow sound.

If the car has a tune for the 3.73 gears, what other tricks might be "tuned" into the car? I'm also wondering about tricks or mods that would keep the SES light off. The SES light does flash at key on.
With where that temp gauge is sitting at, I'd say your cooling system is working beautifully. I use that one, along with an aftermarket gauge I have mounted in a three gauge cluster along with Volts and Oil Pressure. My manual gauge rarely ever goes over 200*, and even then not by much. Not bad considering it's got a 195* thermostat. Once my new engine goes in, and now that I've done the "cooling mod" for the driver side head, I expect it to be a little better as the circulation will be improved. I also run the Torque Pro app on my smart phone and have a bluetooth dongle that I attach to the OBD-2 port which tells me what the ECU thinks my speed is, my engine RPM, my water temp, etc. The bluetooth dongle is only $35 or so, and the app is I think $5 for the paid version. You may be able to tell if the ECU thinks it's going as fast as the speedometer says.

For your check engine light, just go to any auto parts store and use the scan reader to tell you what's setting it off. Fairly common for O2 sensors to be worn out. The port is on the passenger side footwell, under the dash. Easily accessed, and it is OBD-2 so any current reader will work. If you do get the Torque app, it too can read engine codes and tell you what is tripping the light. Instead of just "disabling" the light, find out what is wrong and fix it. If the car is running fine, I'd say it's probably something simple like an O2 sensor.

97 Thunderbird LX (The GT Bird)
2003 Explorer WAP block with Modular Head Shop "street ported" heads and Stage 2 PI NA cams, 75mm Accufab throttle body, C&L upper intake plenum, Kooks 1.75" primary/3" collector headers, 2.5" full exhaust with mid mount Magnaflow dual in/out muffler, 24lb/hr injectors, 80mm MAF, Tuning from Don @ www.lasotaracing.com, CAI that feeds from fenderwell. Jmod, 3.73:1 TL in Mark VIII carrier, Mark VIII aluminum LCAs, 93 Mark VIII driveshaft, PBR brakes (soon to be Cobras), 18x9 wheels with 35mm offset, 255/40/ZR18 Tires, Front and Rear strut/shock bracing, GR-2 shocks, Eibach 1.5" springs, 1989 SC front and rear sway bars.
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post #26 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-12-2017, 12:45 PM
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The car looks great, and a belated welcome to the board!

If you change tires down the road, I would keep in the 26.5" range or larger. My old 95 T-Bird had "short" tires on when I got it, and I didn't care for that look. It didn't fill the wheelwell enough - especially for a large car.

Also, some people (including me) add a zip-loc to their parking brake in that spot. It is to pull it away from the hot exhaust pipe. I use a 1/2" thick one, they hold up well to heat.

Al

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94 Supra TT Auto - street/strip car
04 Crown Vic Police Interceptor - Brenda's car
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96 Cougar XR-7 4.6- Brenda's car, owned 11 years
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post #27 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-12-2017, 03:54 PM
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From where the temperature gauge is sitting, I'd bet there's a 180° thermostat in it.

The rapid cooling is the fan coming on, most likely.

Do you have the tuner that came with the car, or know who tuned it?

Red '96 Cougar XR-7 240k mi. '02 4R70W, PST DS : '03 PI engine, 04 maf, 24lb injectors, 2.5" exhaust, '02 4r70w + Jmod, DirtyD0g TC + cooler + 3/8" lines, 255 walbro fp. Alpine system.
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post #28 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-12-2017, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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The temp gauge spends a lot of time in the lower quadrant. I suspect a 180 or slightly malfunctioning thermostat. I'll get a 195 thermostat and flush the cooling system.

I don't know anything about the tune of the car or what "the tuner that came with the car" would be. I'm wondering if the "tune" would hide problems and make it difficult to diagnose faults in the car. For instance, disabling the SES light for some or all conditions that should set a fault code. I suppose I could pull a spark plug wire and start the car. That usually sets off the SES light on my other cars. The SES light does flash momentarily when turning the key on, like it is supposed to.

Tonight I drove the car several miles in second gear on city streets. It seems like second gear ratio is very close to half of overdrive. At about 30 MPH in second gear the engine RPM is a bit over 2100. At about 60 MPH in overdrive the RPM is the same. This is with 3.73 gears. I notice when driving in second gear at about 2100 RPM a distinct metallic clicking sound the matches the engine RPM. If the engine goes a bit faster or slower the sound diminishes and goes away at high or low RPM. Next time I get a chance, it see if I can duplicate that clicking in fist gear and listen for it in overdrive at about 2100 RPM.
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post #29 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-13-2017, 07:16 AM
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Is this "ticking" sound when you accelerate?

I still remember when we got Brenda's 96 Cougar, it had a ticking sound under acceleration. Later, I noticed the large nut for the EGR had backed off. The ticking was an exhaust leak.

Al

97 T-Bird LX 4.6 - 68k miles
94 Supra TT Auto - street/strip car
04 Crown Vic Police Interceptor - Brenda's car
Previous cars:
95 T-Bird LX 4.6 - fully optioned, owned 15 years
96 Cougar XR-7 4.6- Brenda's car, owned 11 years
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post #30 of 53 (permalink) Old 06-13-2017, 07:32 AM
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A tune can't disable the check engine light that way. You can turn off certain emissions functions and monitors like disabling EGR, or turning off the monitor for the catalytic converters, but things like misfire monitors will still function like normal regardless of any tune.

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