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post #1 of 1610 Old September 5th, 2012, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Intro)

'84-L Hatchback: 351w, C4, Bracket Car Build

I'm now up to my neck in my build, and I feel the need to document the experience. Until now, my wife has been my primary sounding board. I talk about the car, and she tries to be patient and pretend to be interested. But the reality is, she couldn't care less what I do with that car - providing I take my work clothes off before coming back through the house. So that limits my feedback to "That's nice dear!" and "Are you almost finished?" I hereby submit my work and story to this forum, and I most respectfully welcome your ideas, comments, questions, and corrections. I've also learned a lot through the experience, I may be able to help a few guys along the way. Bear with me, a lot has happened, so it will take a few pages to catch up. Here goes ...



Back in 2010, this vulgar little restomod caught my eye on Craigslist. Orange flames ... cool! I didn't give it any serious thought - that is until I accidentally spotted it a few days later sitting in a parking lot in Lexington, KY. We live 2+ hours from Lexington, KY, and it's rare we ever go there, but on that particular day my wife wanted to go to the Lexington mall. I was being the good husband and obeying without complaint, but as we made the left onto New Circle Road, I caught a little glimpse of a car with orange flames. "That's it! That's it!" I yelled.

My wife chirped, "What's it?"
"That's the car I saw on Craigslist!"
"No way! Where?"
"Right there. Don't you see it? Right there!"

I whipped our SUV into the turning lane and did a 180. I had to go check this out. I weaved through the parking lot and pulled along side. I hopped out of the truck for a look. This was it - the same car I saw on Craigslist - a serendipitous meeting to say the least. And since my life is generally too boring to ignore destiny's call, I had to act. The orange flames were even hotter than I imagined. I did a quick walk around and peered into the interior. Sweet! I glanced back at my wife who was still seated in the truck. I was smiling and pointing - she just rolled her eyes and went back to whatever she was doing on her iPhone. I summoned the car's owner from the number on the FOR SALE sign wedged in the dash and waited impatiently for him to arrive. A few minutes later my wife cracked her window and asked, "We are still going to the mall, aren't we?"

BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~

Last edited by Mike in Kentucky; September 8th, 2012 at 08:30 PM.
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post #2 of 1610 Old September 5th, 2012, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not sure if we ever made it to the mall that day or not, because I now had Mustang on the brain. The owner arrived and gave me some basic details ... '84 L Hatchback (not a GT - looks like a GT but it's not - per the VIN anyway). It was originally a Texas car, so the car was very clean underneath. No rust of any kind. The paint was good, the body solid. Did I mention the orange flame job? Everything about it tickled my redneck gene. The fancy Cobra style rims even made my eyes twinkle with giddiness.



It had a basic 302 and a T5, with an 8.8 stock rear end. The only mechanical upgrades on the (130,000 mile) engine was a chrome high-amp alternator, an Edelbrock Torquer intake, an Edelbrock 600 VS carb, a non-specific "Comp Cam," and a little set of shorty headers. I hadn't tinkered with a muscle car since my teens, so the list of upgrades sounded pretty awesome. I was thinking ... 350+ hp at least! Maybe 400. And whatever doubts and reservations I had instantly evaporated as soon as it fired up. PuhWoooom! That's mine. Sold! I agreed to take it off his hands for $4,500 and a friend helped me bring it home the next day. I probably paid too much, but it mattered not. Once I had the keys in hand, I ripped out of the parking lot sideways and grinning ear to ear. I was an 18 year old punk with a mullet and a flashy Mustang again - a great start to my unexpected mid-life crisis.

BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~
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post #3 of 1610 Old September 5th, 2012, 03:59 PM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 1)

Puffing through a new 3" Magnaflow exhaust system, it sounded glorious too. There's nothing quite like the burbling growl of a SBF. The first chance I got, I found a vacant parking lot and broiled up a huge cloud of white tire smoke - my first doughnut show since I was 18. I'd forgotten how fun it was to jam through the gears of a V8 coupe. Yee-haa! I drove it around our hometown every chance I got. The car gets a lot of attention, and after putting in a set of 4.10 gears, I was almost convinced the car was the fastest in town. The car was awesome. For that matter ... I was awesome.


The illusion of pure awesomeness was short lived though. A few months later, I took it to our area dragstrip (Mountain Park Dragway, Clay City, KY) one night for test and tune. I was sure I would easily get into the 13's ... maybe even the 12's. It turns out I was quite mistaken. In spite of my best efforts, I couldn't get out of the mid 14's. I tried a few tweaks to the timing and carb with little effect. I tried different launch rpm's, different shift points, even changed the spark plug gap. Nothing. The motor would run pretty strong up to about 4,500 then it ran out of breath. Maybe my valve springs were worn out. Maybe my cam lobes were worn. Maybe the continuing transfunctioner needed recalibrating. Maybe I just sucked. Either way, I had to face the reality that I had a 14 second car with orange flames.

BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~
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post #4 of 1610 Old September 5th, 2012, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 2)

I drove the car like that for a few more months - contemplating what to do. Not yet ready to go all-in with a proper build, I decided to get a new carburetor. I tried to "call around" to get some advice. Couldn't even get a live person at Holley or Edelbrock. But I did get through to a nice guy at Quickfuel who was willing to give me the time of day. After I explained my situation, he recommended a SS-650-AN. I bought it with great enthusiasm ... even got a cool spacer plate. After it arrived, I installed it immediately and was well pleased. My seat-o-the-pants meter estimated at least a 25 hp gain. So I was revitalized and ready to race again - and a special event was just a couple weeks away. There is a small (and basically unused) airport in our community, and some local organizers were able to put together a drag race event there - the first of its kind in our sleepy town. It was dubbed "The Hillbilly Arm-Drop Race" and everyone was anxious to attend.

I got to work. I changed my rear coil springs to get a lower ride height, and installed some new spark plugs. Surely I would be competitive against a bunch of other street cars - especially considering my new carb and open exhaust cutouts (obviously exhaust backpressure was my problem). So I rumbled down to the event ... glaring smugly at the underclass of local Camaros, Corvettes, and Fox Bodies. Watch me NOW! When my turn came up, I strapped on my helmet, shoved my cool T-handled B&M shifter into gear, and showed them what I was made of.


To put in bluntly, I got my butt kicked. I didn't outrun a single car all day. I looked almost credible in the practice rounds, almost beating an orange Camaro who was late off the arm drop, but I was badly outclassed. When the actual race started, I got blew out in the first round - by about 20 car lengths. I hadn't been spanked like that since 3rd grade. I was out. Me! Awesome me? What about my orange flames? How was this possible? I made the exit of shame through the crowd of 5,000 spectators, and drove home. I sucked again.

So it was time to rethink my project. Either I was going to just be happy and drive the car, or start thinking about a real build. I'm 43 years old, I own my own business, I have a big garage with plenty of tools ... what to do, what to do? Punt or go for it? Oh boy!

BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~

Last edited by Mike in Kentucky; September 6th, 2012 at 01:48 AM.
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post #5 of 1610 Old September 5th, 2012, 04:37 PM
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Nice ride man. you definitely made this a great read. I look forward to seeing your cars progress!


403rwhp/403rwtq.
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post #6 of 1610 Old September 5th, 2012, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 3)

When I said in the intro that I'm up to my neck in this build, I really mean it. I never really intended to build a serious drag/bracket car, but quite literally one thing has led to another. I sometimes wish I would have just stuck with the bolt-ons and enjoyed the car like it was - even if it would always be more show than go. But if you buy/build a 500 hp motor, you can't just plop it in and go. A stock T5 is going to have a gear-popping hemorrhage at 500 hp, as likely will a stock 8.8 rear and the stock driveshaft. So you'll have to upgrade the entire driveline. And if you're going to go a lot faster, you have to plan on how to stop. Stock brakes are pretty weenie on the Fox Bodies. So you'll need to upgrade the brakes. And chances are that 500 hp motor is going to require an upgraded fuel system, cooling system, electrical system, etc. And you'll never hook 500 hp with a stock tires/suspension, and you'll need to stiffen the body, make safety considerations, etc. It's rather like Mr. Miyagi's Grape Analogy ... you have to make a choice and commit. Otherwise, you're going to be squish like grape (tear up your car and lose).


BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~

Last edited by Mike in Kentucky; September 6th, 2012 at 01:50 AM.
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post #7 of 1610 Old September 5th, 2012, 05:10 PM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 4)

After much research and consideration, I decided not to rework the 302. To get my stock block 302 to make 400+ hp and then survive that power level reliably would easily cost more than a burly 351w crate motor. So I yanked the original 302 and the T5 tranny. Fortunately, I found a local guy who was happy to take that combo off my hands for $500. So parting company with the old 302 and tranny wasn't a total loss.




You know ... a T5 tranny is pretty small, but that sucker is still kind'a heavy.

BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~
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post #8 of 1610 Old September 5th, 2012, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 5)

My first order of business was to find an engine. I was hoping to make this a turnkey affair, and I started searching for a 351w that was already built. Mild 351w crate motors with iron heads (say 300-375 hp) are pretty easy to come by for under $4,000. But I wanted more power than that ... and I wanted room to grow. So I wanted forged internals, aluminum heads, and perhaps a few more cubes (393, 408, 427, etc.). Unfortunately, engines in that class were nearly twice as expensive. My good common sense told me that spending twice the money to get an extra 100 hp was foolish - so I didn't. I kept looking.

A few weeks later, I found an unlikely ad on eBay from a bracket racer in Kansas (kshunterharry). He explained he was abandoning his Fox Body project (for financial reasons presumably) and he was selling his new/refreshened turnkey motor. Seemed like EXACTLY what I was looking for. The engine specs read like this ...

· Block - 351W 9.5 deck height #C90E - 6015 - B - Early more desirable 1969-74 high nickel block. Bored .30 over
· Pistons - D.S.S Forged
· 10.5 to 1 Compression
· P.A.W. Rods & Crank
· Cam - Comp Cams Magnum 292H Part #35-330-3 - 518 lift 292 Duration Very rough idle Street/Strip
· Comp Cams Hyd. lifters, pushrods
· Edelbrock Victor jr. Aluminum heads 2.02 valves - Stage 2 porting by Keith Craft Racing
· Comp Cams double valve springs
· Roller rockers
· Edelbrock RPM Air gap intake
· New Mighty Demon 750 Carburetor with new fuel lines, fittings & pressure gauge
· Wix oil filter
· Fuel pump block off plate (aluminum)
· SFI Balancer
· MSD distributor
· Aluminum polished valve covers with moroso breathers
· Autolite plugs
· Delphi NASCAR high heat plug wires w/ separators
· MAC coated fox body Mustang long tube headers
· Canton fox body Mustang 7qt. oil pan
· Fox body Mustang solid motor mounts
· Aluminum water pump and water neck
· ARP fasteners


That seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. A quick plug-in of those specs on my Virtual Dyno software suggested a solid 450-475 hp. So I bid. I got the whole shebang for $3,000. Perfect! A friend and I drove from Kentucky to Kansas, and picked the motor up. Upon a cursory visual inspection, the motor looked fine and as-advertised. So I got it back to my garage and parked it on a stand. Better motor? Check!

BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~
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post #9 of 1610 Old September 5th, 2012, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 6)

Next up was the transmission. Please let me apologize - I know China will be calling about their wall.



I didn't have my heart set on any particular transmission, but I was thinking about a good C4 with a reverse manual valve body (no brake). Of course, I'm not exactly a transmission expert. Maybe a C6 or a Glide would be better - maybe something else I hadn't considered. So I started shopping. Unfortunately, we live in a very rural area. There are no speed shops or local racing transmission builders to my knowledge. So I had to begin a new quest to learn what I needed to learn - so I could buy what I needed to buy. It turns out ... that wasn't so easy.

I began my search by calling a few shops within driving distance (Lexington, Huntington, Columbus, etc.). No luck. So I tried to sort through it myself with my Summit catalog - then Jegs - to no avail. I even called the Summit "specialists" for help assembling a tranny package. When I told the kid on the phone that I was putting a 351w/C4 combo in my 84' Mustang, he said "I don't show a part number for that combination. Is that a 5.0?" Wow!

Then I tried the forums and boards - to see if there was one universal race-tranny guru out there. One dude in Michigan seems to be highly regarded ... but everyone says he's a jerk. Outside of that, I was unable to sort through all the conflicting advice, miscellaneous complaints of this and that, this brand sucks, that brand rules, you should buy this, I would never buy that, etc ... along with the intermixed posts from enthusiastic 12 year-olds. Abandon ship.

All I wanted was to find someone who knew what the heck they were talking about AND would sell me a transmission with all the components I would need for my project. So I sat there, with Visa card in hand, becoming increasingly frustrated. But since I'm not that easily dissuaded ... I came up with a new plan - the shotgun approach. Using my highly refined Google skills, I found two-dozen shops (transmission shops, speed shops, racing shops, rebuilders/manufacturing facilities, etc.) that at least seemed to know what a reverse manual C4 was ... AND I SENT LETTERS TO THEM ALL.

After contacting 25+ places, I got only 9 responses. Among those who did respond, most didn't take the time to actually read my letter, so their quotes were either incomplete, haphazard, or they told me to call someone else. One company sent me a list of parts recommended by the secretary, and one guy said he couldn't sell me a transmission until I measured my headers.

Anyway ... after all that, I ended up getting 3 serious responses: one from J.W. Performance, one from JR at Dynamic Racing, and one from Bob at D&D Automotive Specialties. J.W. Performance was clearly the most professional organization, but I was a little sticker-shocked by their quote. Bob at D&D seemed pretty enthusiastic, and after filling out his 50 page technical questionnaire, he came up with (what seemed to be) a really good quote ... but he didn't quite get the "all inclusive" nature of my request. I still had to seek other parts from other places - he didn't sell this - he didn't sell that. Urgh!

JR at Dynamic Racing took a different approach. After bouncing emails back and forth with me a few times, he just took the initiative and called me at my office. We spoke at some length - nice guy - and he seems to know his way around race cars and transmissions. He was even patient with my OCD questioning techniques. So there I had it ... someone who knew what the heck they were talking about, AND someone who could sell me the right pile of parts I needed. His quote was about $1,000 under the J.W. Performance quote, so I had to pull my Visa card back out and order his package. I know ... you get what you pay for - but I wasn't really sure exactly what I was paying for anyway, so that point seemed moot.







A month later, it all arrived. It looks great. I'm confident JR hooked me up right. And imagine my surprise when I noticed that my bellhousing and flexplate were the "Ultra-Bell" and "The Wheel" varieties from J.W. Performance. Huh!!! So I guess I did - in a roundabout way - buy some of my parts from J.W. Performance ... I still don't understand that industry. Anyway ... here's what I got ...

1) C4 Competition Transmission, Small Case, Reverse Manual Valve Body, No Trans Brake, 700 HP Max
2) SFI Bellhousing (for 1969 351w)
3) SFI Flexplate (for 1969 351w) Ext Bal 28oz
4) Transmission Cooler w/electric fan
5) 8" Racing Torque Converter (4000-4200 stall) as Discussed
6) Winter's Sidewinder Shifter for C4 w/Rev Pattern with Hardware
7) Synthetic Tranny Fluid

New tranny setup? Check!

BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~

Last edited by Mike in Kentucky; September 5th, 2012 at 09:12 PM.
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post #10 of 1610 Old September 5th, 2012, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 7)

Now it was decision time. I had a new motor and tranny sitting right in my garage. All I really had to do was drop it in there, bolt it all up and run it ... at least that’s what I was telling myself. I really wanted to hear that motor roar to life. My buddy Terry kept teasing, “When we gonna drop that motor? Let’s go man!” I had to decide ... did I want this to be a stripped down race car or a street legal hot-rod? I thought about it. I considered the compromises I would make to go one way and the limitations going the other. I weighed it back and forth. Hmmm ... I really couldn’t decide, so I started stalling.



I started pecking through the wiring harness in the engine compartment. I figured I could wire up the fog lights while I was waiting. As I pecked along, uncovering bundles of wires and removing the blue plastic Autozone shielding, I began to unravel the long history of owner faux pas in the car. Over the last 25 years, this car had seen its share of hacked-in stereo systems, alarm kits, flashing accent lights, and aftermarket doo-dads. The shadetree splicesmiths had clearly worked this Fox over. The deeper I went, the worse the wiring loom looked. I chased wires that went to nowhere, wires with melted or missing insulation, wires covered in masking tape, and in-line fuses bridged with sheet metal screws. As I sat on a metal stool in the center of the engine compartment, surrounded by the splayed-open bird’s nest of tangled wires, something clicked (not the solenoid). It was at that moment that I made up my mind. I WAS STRIPPING THIS CAR DOWN AND STARTING OVER. So began the journey that’s taken me nearly a year.

BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~
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post #11 of 1610 Old September 5th, 2012, 11:50 PM
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wow... this looks like a flamin' build. i dig...
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post #12 of 1610 Old September 6th, 2012, 12:00 AM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 8)

Once I had made my decision to strip down and totally rebuild, it was clear that I was going to end up with a bracket car rather than a street car. I’m hoping to keep it minimally streetable, so I can at least attend some cruise-ins and shows ... but I really want to race. That’s the focus of my build. Of course, I have absolutely no real racing experience, so I’m going to build a reasonable car and get some track experience. If I can get into the 11's or so, I’ll be happy as a clam. There will always be time later to get crazy with power adders, ladder bars, and wrinkle walls. For now, I just want to get out there and have some fun without killing myself. Sounds easy enough, right? So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work ...

My first major surgery was to rip out ALL the existing wiring. When I say all, I mean all. The only wires I left in place were the little pigtails from the headlights and blinkers. All other wires, big and small, inside and outside - fuse box and all - were ripped out and went into the trash. While I was at it, I ripped out every fuel line, brake line, vacuum line, and oil line. Any remaining hardware that wasn’t essential (a/c equip, emissions thing under fender, cruise control canister, brake booster, etc.) got trashed. I then wire-wheeled, cleaned, and repainted the engine compartment. Then I literally started over ... one wire - one line - and one part at a time. The only parts I reused were the ignition box/coil, the solenoid, and the line lock.





As you can see, I welded up the major holes in the firewall and began installing the new parts. At this point, my engine bay is basically plug-n-play ready. Once the engine hits the mounts, I’ll be ready to bolt it down and plumb everything in. The electrical, fuel, and sensor connects are there and ready to hook up.



I’ve tried had to hide as many wires as possible and to make neat connections. I also tried to mount everything to give maximum clearance for ease of installation and maintenance on the engine.



And I installed a manual master cylinder with fittings on the inside (from a manual brakes mid 80‘s Ford Ranger). I made all new brake lines with my double-flare kit, and I tried to bend and route them as neatly as I could. I’m not sure I like the red coverings though. You may notice that my line lock is installed backwards and on the rear brakes. This is not an accident. I’m setting this up so I can disable the rear brakes for burn-outs, rather than locking the front brakes. This will allow me more control in the burn-out box (brake stand style) and permit a better roll-out. Not to worry ... I’ve installed a big obnoxious red light on the dash to alert me that the rear brakes are turned off. So hopefully I’ll remember to re-enable the rears before hitting the stripe.


BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~

Last edited by Mike in Kentucky; September 6th, 2012 at 09:30 PM.
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post #13 of 1610 Old September 6th, 2012, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PipeGluer View Post
wow... this looks like a flamin' build. i dig...
No hatin' on my flames man! That's pure redneck artwork.

BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~

Last edited by Mike in Kentucky; September 6th, 2012 at 02:04 AM.
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post #14 of 1610 Old September 6th, 2012, 02:55 AM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 9)



The stock K-member had to go. I pulled the whole works out, front suspension and all. The only parts I kept were the spindles. Everything else got junked. I then ordered a chrome moly K-member kit, complete with A-arms, coilovers (150 lb springs), 90/10 drag struts, bump steer kit, caster/camber plates, a Flaming River manual steering rack, and all the hardware. I even got the optional tow hooks (which was a mistake - as it slightly interferes with the FR steering rack). Anyway, the guy at UPR even cut me a little deal since I was getting the whole works. Good experience. Would buy from UPR again. In fact, I think I did … I’ll get to that later.



Got the kit installed with a little help from a buddy. Looks great. I mocked up the steering shaft and did my best carpenter-square alignment job (for now). Once the car is mobile, I’ll have a local tire shop do a proper front-end alignment. Only issue … I’m a little worried about the fitment of that steering shaft, as it’s supposed to sneak in between the header tubes. Since I had to shim the rack a little to clear the K-member tow hooks, I’m worried about the shaft clearing the headers.






Maybe the steering shaft will be OK, but my intuition tells me that’s a potential headache. Of course, there’s nothing I can do about it now. I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get there. Moving on …

BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~

Last edited by Mike in Kentucky; September 6th, 2012 at 01:42 PM.
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post #15 of 1610 Old September 6th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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Awesome just awesome!!!


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post #16 of 1610 Old September 6th, 2012, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike in Kentucky View Post
No hatin' on my flames man! That's pure redneck artwork.
Oh no they are pretty good flames man lol I like em
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post #17 of 1610 Old September 6th, 2012, 02:47 PM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 10)

With the engine compartment now in good shape, I moved to the interior. Again, my strategy was to completely tear down and start over. EVERYTHING came out ... seats, carpet, dash, steering column, headliner, interior panels, seat belts, console, heater core, etc. When I got through, the only thing left on the interior of the car was the emergency brake handle and the rearview mirror.



Then I sat down with a MAP torch and a putty knife and scraped off all the rubber insulating mat (which was surprisingly moist and funky). Then I wire-wheeled every square inch to remove old paint, adhesives, barbeque sauce residue, and any other funk-o-licious goo that had accumulated over the years. Once the interior was cleaned, I coated the whole thing (floors, sides, and roof) with two coats of Herculiner and then satin black paint. I was trying to make the whole thing appear to be covered with a rubber floor mat ... turned out pretty decent (sorry about the dust in my garage).



Next I removed the original instrument cluster, and cut a piece of aluminum to fit the slot (eliminating the vents and heater controls). I installed a new set of gauges and wired everything in to connect to my new wiring loom (which I made from scratch - big fun - love to solder). I took the extra time to actually solder and shrink-tube every single wire on the car. No connection anywhere is just crimped on. Not one. If I'm going to have an electrical failure, it won't be because of another crappy wiring job. After removing all the unneeded OEM under-dash components and reinforcing some weak spots in the plastic, I reinstalled the dash and steering column.




In the old slot for the radio, I cut another piece of aluminum and made a switch panel for my line-lock, cooling fans, fog lights, and headlights. I also wired in a number of fuses (old glass style of course) to protect the system.



I made a little aluminum cover for my e-brake handle and fashioned a plate for mounting my shifter. I played around with several different positions and configurations before deciding to do it this way. The funky shape of the bracket wasn't for style ... it was just the only way I could do it such that I could still reach the shifter comfortably and operate the e-brake, all without blocking access to my switch panel. I thought it turned out pretty cool really.


BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~

Last edited by Mike in Kentucky; September 12th, 2012 at 05:33 PM.
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post #18 of 1610 Old September 6th, 2012, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 11)



I had to get creative with the seats. The car's original seats were long gone when I got it. The previous owner had installed some cheap racing seats - which I promptly removed and gave away. I wanted to go with a flat comfortable stock-style seat. I know ... I know ... racing seats are safer and all that, but I'm a big dude! I just can't comfortably squeeze my big butt into those narrow little racing seats with the cupped edges. So it was time to search for seats.



This mission brought me to a wonderful place ... the junkyard. I love junkyards. It had been YEARS since I'd hunted parts in an auto salvage. So this task I undertook with great enthusiasm. I got lucky right off the bat. About 30 rows back I spotted a Mustang. I scrambled over there, and sure enough, the seats were just about perfect. It was a ‘96 Mustang, so I assumed the brackets wouldn't work, but I didn't care. This would give me an excuse to weld and grind - activities which oddly make me happy inside. So I bought 'em. $75 for the pair, including the hardware.



A quick and tragic side-story here ... although some other salvage yard customers had picked parts off this '96 donor car, I noticed that the car was otherwise in good shape. It hadn’t been wrecked, flooded, or burned. Aside from a little peeling clear coat, the car was pretty nice. So I inquired about why such a decent car had been scrapped.

The salvage guy explained that it belonged to a “pill head” he actually knew. Apparently the Mustang owner had ran out of pain pills and was desperate for a fix. So to score some quick oxy-cash, the guy sold his car to a junkyard for scrap money (probably for a few hundred bucks). The moral of the story is, you shouldn’t snort a Mustang up your nose - or I’ll get your bucket seats.



Oddly, the seat brackets from the '96 lined up exactly on my '84. The passenger seat I just bolted right down. But I wanted the driver seating position to be a bit lower and set back a little from the stock locations. So I got out the old mig welder and went to town. I fabricated my own bracket and mount. I even made a retaining bracket for the shoulder straps. I'm still a big dude in a tiny car, but at least I'll be comfortable behind the wheel. The donor seats were grey cloth with leather backs. After giving them a pounding with my pressure washer and some Spray Power Wal-Mart cleaner, I dried them out, and covered them with a cheap set of eBay stretchy covers I bought for $30. All in all, I have $105 in the seats. Not bad for a junkyard endeavor.



I should probably mention the seat belts too. As you can see they're RCI's with cam locks (pull up - not down) with wrap around roll bar mounts. I special ordered these direct from RCI. In spite of my best research efforts, I couldn't find out what the stock belt lengths were on these harnesses. I would have ordered from Summit, but I was afraid they would be too short (for a full figured guy in a tiny car). So I called RCI and explained the problem. They built me a custom set with extra strap lengths on all five corners, and thanks to a little ordering snafu, they even gave me a handsome discount (I think $140 a set). I installed them, trimmed the excess length, re-singed the frayed ends, and my belts are ready to go.

BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~
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post #19 of 1610 Old September 6th, 2012, 05:50 PM Thread Starter
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Flame Fox Project (Update 12)



Which brings me to the roll bar. Boy oh boy did I stress out over this one. I'm trying to follow the IHRA rulebook with this build. And as I understand it, a 6-point roll bar is fine in a hardtop car up to 9.99 (assuming the floor and firewall aren't altered). Fine. I think I can live with that restriction. My car isn't likely to even smell 9.99 with the powertrain I have planned. So there was no need to consider a full cage.

However, I was still faced with the big guy in a little car issue. As I understand the rulebook, low door bars aren't allowed. High door bars are a must, but that presents a little waistline clearance issue by my calculation. I envisioned myself flopping around like a wounded fish trying to squeeze in and out of the car. Since my car has awesome orange flames, it's expected that I maintain a certain level of coolness and grace at all times. The indignity of crawling over a high bar just wasn't acceptable.



So I spotted a solution at Maximum Motorsports. They sell a very nice bolt-in 6 point kit with swing-out door bars. It's stupid expensive ($469 + $197.62 shipping), but it solved all my woes about the roll bar. I hesitated to buy it. I have a tubing bender. I have a welder. I could make my own for probably $100. I had almost convinced myself that I could do it ... until I read about the NO GRINDING rule. If you don't already know this, the IHRA rules prohibit grinding of ANY welds on a race roll bar/roll cage. If you grind a weld, you might as well just junk the whole piece. And all welds must be clean and slag-free. So you either get it right the first time, or you're screwed.

Yikes! I don't want to be looking over my shoulder, worried that a persnickety tech inspector might bust me for crappy welding. How would that look? Welding prowess is an unspoken badge of honor among car guys. Real men weld. I get it. But at the same time, I can admit that I just wasn't confident I could construct the entire roll bar without a few boo-boos. So, yes ... I punked out and bought the Maximum Motorsports bar.



For what it's worth (about $666.62), it's a very high-quality kit. It comes unpainted, but otherwise ready to install. You do have to weld in the rear bars after you dry-fit the hoop (bolted-in rear bars are not IHRA legal), but that's easy. All you have to do is make a pretty weld. Yep! Just weld 'er up! Mmmmm ... OK, I can't lie. I chickened out on that too. I had a local welding shop weld in my rear bars just to be safe. Dang it! My welding-fu is weak. Anyway, I couldn't bring myself to rattle-can this beautiful piece. So I actually bought real automotive acrylic enamel and sprayed it with my detail gun. It turned out beautiful.



Installing the MM kit is a pretty straight-forward bolt-in affair, but getting those swing-out bars aligned properly - so they don't bind at the pin - is a real bear. The problem is that the floorboards have a little flex where the door bars mount down, so by the time you get the bolts tightened up, the position of the bar at the pin changes a little. Urgh! I wrestled with that for several nights. But now the pins work in and out pretty freely.



One other side note ... if you install a roll bar/cage in your car, get the car perfectly level on all four corners first. A roll bar/cage dramatically stiffens the car's chassis. After I installed my roll bar, I literally cannot jack up just a single tire anywhere on the car. If I jack up one tire, at least two tires come off the ground. Seriously. So if you install the roll bar/cage while your car is sitting askew, that's the way it will want to run. Just a tip ...


BUILD THREAD


'84 Hatch, Bracket Car, [email protected], but I'm working on it
'71 Mach One FB 351c, Slow
'73 Torino, 302, Slower


~
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post #20 of 1610 Old September 6th, 2012, 06:38 PM
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Looks good Mike!

Have you dealt with DSS before?

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