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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Should I start at the beginning? Nah, that was too many years ago. Well, maybe...

When I was young the family was poor. It was the 80's, and my dad was a self employed mechanic. It put food on the table, and I learned a few things. Mostly my dad would want me to just sit and watch him, but like most energetic 3 year olds, I didn't comply. I had a knack for all things mechanical it seemed, as when I was 2 my dad gave me my first "toy" to play with...a broken record player. Why I never had the unction to put the stuff in my mouth and choke is beyond me. So, when I was 3 I'd graduated to helping my dad with cars.

We had a black '81 2 door sitting around that was a project car. My dad had a fresh '88.5 GT powertrain to install. He was taking the body apart to ready it for painting, and he finally asked for my help. He told me to remove the hood bushings and the door trim panels. He walked inside for a little while, leaving me unattended. So I went a little further with my help and took the entire door off.....oops. That was the beginning of my love of the cars.

The car sat around for a number of years before it was repainted. The job that was done was pretty poor, it was more orange peel than black. Eventually we moved from MI to WV, and the car came with. Ultimately it sat outside for 7 or 8 years, and the powertrain was sold off. Title issues kept it from the road. Eventually my dad junked it when I was around 16, although I'd begged to have it be my project (Escorts were plentiful around here then). I later saw the car in a demo derby. It was heartbreaking to watch it be destroyed, but at least the car held its own and demolished everything else in its class. My first car came to be an '83 Caprice wagon...it was a love/hate relationship, and I was looking for an Escort.

My Escort didn't quite come when I wanted it, so it was substituted with a '91 4 door Tempo I bought in 2002. Technically my first car. Shortly after I discovered it had a dead transaxle, and found a beat up '86 2 door Tempo for parts. That taught me even more of what my dad had failed to show me when I was young. I'd dealt with repairing many things, but he always left me to just watch with the heavy stuff (engine and tranny rebuilding). I put that car together, and was surprised at how it drove. Way better than the Caprice, and cruised well, too. 2002-2004 were the road trip years for me, where I put on 12k miles in just a few weeks to that poor car. I finally flipped her at '70 into a deep ditch, and she drove no more on the road. I took the engine apart, and aside from a worn timing chain, all was in order, even after 255k. Yeah, I was hooked.

Shortly after acquiring my Tempo, my parents found a '90 4 door Escort LX in the area, asking price: $200. The owner had put on a new head, but had no manual, or real working knowledge of the cars. They bought it, and my dad had plans to fix it up. Those never came about, and after killing the Tempo, I was looking for something along the same lines. So, I bought it off the parents, and tore into the thing. That proved to be my most daunting task ever. Now the real story begins.....

My Escort has been my first for many things...and I can't even count how many other cars have been cobbled into it to make it functional. I'm still pretty financially poor, but it hasn't stopped me (only slowed me down). WV isn't the economic hot spot, if you will. It's more like fast food central, with low minimum wage and no benefits. On to the facts and memories!

In summer of 2004 I began my work on the car, tearing it down and noting exactly what it needed. When I finished with that I was pretty frustrated. The car required a lot of work, and even more unseen things. The head gasket was blown, and I didn't know why, so I was worried about warpage. As it turns out, the previous owner hadn't torqued it completely, so it never really sealed. At least there was that. The rings were shot, gaskets old and rotted, bushings mushy, and an exhaust manifold cracked. Being of the "poor" mindset, I was pretty frustrated, and almost gave up....almost.

My dad mostly took over the project, and tried to tell me what to do. Unfortunately this had all the accuracy of a corn cob. He even went so far as to help me remove the very light ridge...and gouged #1 cylinder .020" deep. I didn't know it at the time, and slapped everything back together. It burnt oil so badly that I was putting a quart in every 200 miles. There were no leaks...just burning. The car was rough, ran dog slow, and had an odd wander problem. I eventually traced that to a worn out steering knuckle. After 1000 miles of oil burning hell I tore the car apart again, in November of 2004. My dad helped a little bit, and broke the rear of my timing cover. After that I told him not to help.

I finally found a job at a Pizza hut in Jan. of '05, and walked to work each day from a friend's house. Crappy hours, low pay, and ultimately messing my 4th lumbar disc up were the result from that place. Just before the injury happened, I finished work on the car. The crank was turned to get rid of gouges in it, all surfaces were milled (my head had been milled enough before...now it was worse), and the cylinders bored .040" over to compensate for that gouge. It was coming together until I tried to check oil clearance for the crank mains. Everything checked out alright on the sides, but not the top and bottom...wtf? The machine shop denied any issues, and then I realized they'd never cleaned off my main caps properly, and there was a black film on them. I very carefully cleaned that layer off, and tolerance snug all around. I had an issue with an oil ring not wanting to go in with the compressor I used, so I eventually just put them all in with my fingers. It all came back together, a bit hurriedly as I was getting impatient, and looked good. The day I fired it up I was greeted with a lumpy idle and no power. My valve timing was off, and I learned the important thing about milled heads. The exhaust system from the '88.5 GT my dad had for the '81 was still around. All but the header had rotted away. So I put that on my car to replace the cracked cast manifold. Things were looking good. The car hit the road June 1st 2005. I was never happier.

The car was all Escort for a few months until the fuel pump went out. I bought a new one, but the hanger had issues. I eventually swapped it out for a Tempo unit. I also got into trying to lighten the car however I could, and with a wealth of spare Tempo parts left over from two cars, I compared and played around. Not long after that, however, the cars were junked by my dad for "being in his way." A lot of my parts are now gone, although I have a few. The cobbling together of this car to keep it on the road keeps going to this day, and I'll keep playing with parts until I find what I like best....it's going to be a curious mix of parts. I have my projects, but they're not quite started, other than being on paper. Since this is an ongoing thing, I'll look into uploading pictures and try to document my work from here on out, since most of it was locked in my head, and I can't quite scan what I remember.

For this summer I'll be updating this thread more often, with pictures, to show my progress. Any words of encouragement, questions, or constructive comments are welcome. This is probably going to become very lengthy, as it's just the basic history taken care of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well, today was a slow one. The ground is still squishing beneath my feet when I walk. I apparently misplaced a clutch cover bolt, and found a spare after rummaging about for nearly 3 hours. Extremely annoying since I know there is a wealth of the things somewhere here. I did manage to find several sets of flywheel bolts, from various years.

For me, I enjoy the statistical side of things (yeah, this autobiography is not just about the car, but about my life a bit, too). I notice that Ford seems to have used 3 different types of flywheel bolts. I'll stick with the large head types I've got...they're much easier to take off. I managed to find a spare rear seal retainer, from my old Tempo. That brought back some memories. I also found a heavily rusted, but still good, Tempo flywheel, a couple shifters (bot cracked and no good without mods), old engine mounts, roll restrictor, and a whole lot more. I'm thinking of going through the whole storage building and clearing a bunch of crap out so I can tell what's what. Besides, it leaks, and the can of bolts I found had water in the bottom so they were rusted a bit.

I ultimately put the clutch and pressure plate on, torqued it down, and managed to turn my engine backward....so I'll retime it to be safe, and hey, I get to try out the new flywheel timing marks. Tomorrow I'll probably be posting many more pics if I get the new transaxle in. More info can be found in the thread below:

http://www.feoa.net/modules.php?name=Fo ... ic&t=60875

I guess it's a bit redundant, but whatever...I'll be able to find and update this thread more often. For now the pictures are linked in the other thread. Still, I'm excited to get the car back on the road, it's been nearly a month without, and I hate having no wheels. I would've liked to put the high-geared tranny I have around, but it's stupid throwout bearing collar is torn up and causes the bearing to shift in the middle of clutch operation...can't have that. Once the car is back together I'll split it open and swap in the good case side from my worn out tranny. I might cook up something with it, or not. I'm mostly just curious as to what I can do. Nothing like swapping gear clusters to get funky ratios. I'm also hoping the new rear main seals properly. I've never used a PTFE seal before, let alone one without a pressure spring. I'm also worried since I didn't align the old one properly. I'm always doubting myself on crap like that. Go figure. Enough ranting for now, I'll update more tomorrow if things get under way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, here's a post with some pictures. I managed to find the ones where I'd flipped my old Tempo. I came out of it with some whiplash and a cut on my right ring finger. I guess I was pretty lucky. It was caused by speeding, rain, bald tires, and newly paved, rippled road which had some oil and sand left on it. It was a spectacular crash, and I landed upside facing the way I'd come from, in 5 ft. of water. The CD player was still going, too, although it did skip.

On the way in I'd hit a tree stump with my front right tire, and it snapped off the tie rod. Amazingly, I'm using that rack on my Escort now, although I did replace the rod :p. Good times. And now the pictures.



















The crash site. Doesn't look like much, but it was pretty gnarly. I ended up sliding into the ditch. The front end completely lost control, then gained it. It was also my inexperience at the time with trying to control a slide....something I've very seriously worked on in the Escort. The last picture is of the concrete drain pipe remnant that punched in the B pillar area. That was pretty freaky since it ripped the passenger seat rear mounts out of the floor. My girlfriend at the time was in the seat, and the only thing that held her in was the seatbelt...she had some pretty serious bruising from it, though. The windshield caved in but didn't fall apart somehow. I remember having a little bruising on my knuckles from it hitting my hands on the steering wheel. My elbow destroyed the center console. But my peanuts were still intact mostly.

One funny thing about then, I'd had a mouse trying to make nests in my car. I'd set out poison, traps, whatever I could to catch the thing. It finally died in my trunk from the crash. That'll teach 'em! Amazingly, the engine ran just fine after all this, but I took it out of the car, and had nowhere to put it, so I took it apart. Eventually it was thrown out. I'd still love to work on one again to see what I could get out of it.

As far as my recent work has gone, I'm just tired of the alignment issues with my car, and am looking at either straightening the front end, or finding another chassis, be it 1st gen Escort or Tempo, and putting my current engine in there. I'd much rather fix the frame, though, as I'm partial to this little car now. It's been a lot of fun. and has grown as my ideas have. No new pictures of it yet, although I need to get some. I'd rather upload stuff once it's looking at least presentable, and not on jackstands. Oh well, hope everyone who's looked at this enjoyed the pictures.
 
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