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

Golypon

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May 7, 2020
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It was quite the experience picking it up. I think it is indeed pretty much stock, supposedly it belonged to a school teacher before the guy I got it off of, who had been holding onto it and got sick I believe or something it was sitting for 6 months or so before a tornado hit his car port and fell on it. Although some of you may believe it was raced and crashed or something (highly doubt with 70hp 4cyl auto ._. lol.)
I drove it 20 miles down the road and was pushing 85+ on the speedo (off of marked digits) on a gradient and it popped and started spewing a giant trail of white smoke behind me and a trail of liquid. Turned out to be trans fluid, the trans fluid line between the radiator broke but I ended up getting hooked up, The tow trick driver down there put me onto his mechanic who serviced his trucks for him who put the line back on for me on a Saturday night for $100. Super cool guy had a stroked out Harley and some other neat cars & odd and ends around the lot. His niche was Heavy Duty Diesels, but he got me together just because the people down there are a different breed and actually lookout for each other (or so it seemed with all the Southern Folk I met while I was down there picking it up.) He also let me get a good inspection of the car on the lift he had where we determined there wasn't much wrong structurally wrong with it except some body damage from the storm. No rust especially!!

I want the car to be unique, and I think if I invest and upgrade wisely it will maintain its value to the right person. Probably not the right mindset but I think it will be more fun with this motor, and if I don't like it I'll pull it and put something else in, that's the nice thing about having an intact and rust free frame. I couldn't even enjoy those perks with my last one. I just want the car to mainly be quick, sharp, and enjoyable for passengers. Hopefully make the 4cyl not sound like :poo: too, I've seen some that seem like they get pretty gnarly. Honestly, the exhaust that is on it isn't too bad, it's nice and quiet & I don't think there are any leaks either (not too badly at least) much better than the other one which I believe was rusted in half lol.

30 years in 2 different states makes a noticeable difference when the cars are sitting next to each other. (for pretty much the same setup, except one is stick)
well actually I should reiterate he didn't replace the line, it wasn't the line that was bad it was actually the gasket / seal around where the line went into the trans that was pretty much disintegrated and just kinda blew off when I put it under pressure & basically stress tested it. Luckily happened before I got out of town because I'm not sure I would've gotten back on the road without those kind people. (separate from the people I bought the car off of) Although those people weren't that bad either, different but. Anyways he had his son pick up one from the closest part store (an hour away) and it ended up being the wrong size but he was able to use the internals and fit them into the old one and screw it back on. It ended up not being too bad. We did however determine while it was on the lift that the back brakes do not work. Once we filled it back up with fluid and he had me make sure it would go through the gears on the lift I tested the brakes and it wouldn't stop. Had to let it coast to a stop from the lift, so only the front work it seems for now.
 
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Golypon

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May 7, 2020
45
5
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All the information about the AOD though is relatively useless though because I will be hopefully getting the pedals, driveshaft, and other different pieces from the manual fox for the rust free fox to get it swapped over to the WC T5. Although the AOD seems to work pretty good I won't be using it after this swap, maybe I can sell it locally to recoup some money. That would be nice.
 

Golypon

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May 7, 2020
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5
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Right now I'm basically going broke from this car (not that I haven't been previously) and it's pretty much sapping my income and I'm just getting started. Thought I'd share that lol. It's kinda holding up my progress. (and has been)
 

91TwighlightGT

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Yours has an A4LD, not an AOD. AOD is for 5.0L cars.

The A4LD is a POS, and no money should be invested in it in any form.

As far as the rest of your build, here is my opinion.

#1 - Subframe connectors will help the car feel more solid and improve the ride quality a bit. A strut tower brace will not help that much, but the Fox Chassis is cardboard flimsy so any stiffening you can get will be an improvement. Just for a data point - the S197 chassis is stiffer than a Fox chassis with a full cage.

#2 - I wouldn't worry about torque boxes unless you have a rust issue. The 2.3L cars are not breaking torque boxes because they simply don't have enough power. Upgrade the torque boxes when you upgrade the rear end because you are making more significant power. Even with a turbocharger though, unless you are launching on drag slicks it is not going to be a big issue because the 2.3L will still not have the low end power that a 5.0L car has.

#3 - Focus on keeping it running and in otherwise good condition. If it doesn't stay useful, it becomes useless.
 

Golypon

Member
May 7, 2020
45
5
18
USA
Yours has an A4LD, not an AOD. AOD is for 5.0L cars.

The A4LD is a POS, and no money should be invested in it in any form.

As far as the rest of your build, here is my opinion.

#1 - Subframe connectors will help the car feel more solid and improve the ride quality a bit. A strut tower brace will not help that much, but the Fox Chassis is cardboard flimsy so any stiffening you can get will be an improvement. Just for a data point - the S197 chassis is stiffer than a Fox chassis with a full cage.

#2 - I wouldn't worry about torque boxes unless you have a rust issue. The 2.3L cars are not breaking torque boxes because they simply don't have enough power. Upgrade the torque boxes when you upgrade the rear end because you are making more significant power. Even with a turbocharger though, unless you are launching on drag slicks it is not going to be a big issue because the 2.3L will still not have the low end power that a 5.0L car has.

#3 - Focus on keeping it running and in otherwise good condition. If it doesn't stay useful, it becomes useless.
Good advice. Subframe connectors will be figured into the build at some point. For now... keeping it running. Drove it around town with the top down and it started making a squealing type noise on the gas. Thought it was the throttle body (which it was) but I didn't realize it was a vacuum leak... pulled the other throttle body I have from my other motor, went into the garage and popped the hood, started unbuttoning it to unbolt it and then on a whim checked the vacuum hose on the bottom and it had split and fallen off. So cut just a tad off the end and fit it back on there and so far so good!
New top on the way and I'll be getting the new fender painted soon. She will be ready to build in no time!
 
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Golypon

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May 7, 2020
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Didn't have the top sealed up all the way a couple weeks ago and we had several days of heavy rain and storms. Fuel pump relay wire got corroded and broke off. I pulled the seat out, stripped the wire, and taped it back in with MASKING tape, because I didn't have a better solution. Running for now but I'm gonna need a more permanent fix for that if anyone has any ideas.
Fender is at the body shop getting painted and trim holes drilled. Top has arrived and I should be able to get the car in within the next couple weeks.
Then it's time to start getting this motor ready, just having some trouble getting the pedal assembly with the clutch out of this other car...
 
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Golypon

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May 7, 2020
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Is it the connector itself that has gone bad?
No sir the wire. It is corroded and fell out of the connector. I stripped it and taped it back in :poo:tily. It's working though for the most part I suppose. Ran out of gas yesterday RIGHT next to my homies crib and was able to get a little emergency can of gas in the tank and get to the station... guess the gauge is partially accurate. lol. Feels like this thing should get better mpg

Still waiting on this fender paint shop still has it... not sure what they're doing... gotta figure out what the hold up is
 

Golypon

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May 7, 2020
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5
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So who's doing the first electric fox lol? I know ya'll saw what Ford dropped yesterday with the electric crate motor for $3,900
 

Golypon

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May 7, 2020
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Update car is in the shop getting a top put on. Another heavy few days of rain plus the weather getting cold I guess caused some shrinkage or something because the passenger side latch broke and doesn't create tension anymore. Driver said is waiting to go. Shop is charging me $130 per side in parts plus $25 per side to install em. Having new top put on though, got a whole seal set from LMR for a few hundred but the car should come back waterproof so that's nice. No more corrosion to the fuel pump relay... (knock on wood) gonna have to go back and get that done properly too. Probably when I pull the seats out to do the carpet.
 
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Golypon

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May 7, 2020
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Here's a picture of the car with the new top and fender on
BFDD4-E42-62-DF-4-D92-B4-A1-E42-B9-F96-FC47.jpg

Car is coming along, I'm going to be getting the engine ready and looking into making sure I have everything for t5 swap and using this LA3 temporarily until I get a stinger PiMP setup. Also reinforcing and possibly getting a convertible rollbar kit or something and installing it / having it welded in
 

Golypon

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May 7, 2020
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5
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USA
Update been about 2 months... currently dealing with what I believe to be COVID. Anyway, finally got the motor apart, had to cut some of the exhaust manifold bolts. Which should be fine because I'd like to do a header instead likely. Probably will run stock intake. Hoping to get 3" exhaust, with duals out the back. I'm wondering what kind of cam I should run? Should I keep ranger roller or upgrade to something? I'm looking for something streetable that's not gonna be puttering along on the highway. I want it nice and smooth at 70-80mph. I also am wondering what kind of turbo I should run assuming the IHI is junk. It probably would be a good idea to replace it anyway. I know there's tons of options I'm looking for something that will fully spool by like 2,700rpm I would think? I don't want it to where boost hits and it blows the back tires off, I want to actually feel it and have traction. Although I do want to be able to do burnouts in the car. Still considering doing subframe connectors and maybe converting to Maximum Motorsports coilover kit (around $2,200)

Also wondering what kind of internals should I use on the engine? I would like the car somewhere between 250-350hp, planning to get PiMPx ECU.
Not looking to sink $20,000 into it either. I know it's a lot to ask but I'm trying to utilize the fact that I'm not the first person doing this. Also with the increased HP and torque numbers will the WC t5 hold up or should I be looking into a new trans? Or reinforce / have that one built? I know transmission shops are quite expensive.

Also can anyone recommend some injectors for this target level of power? One final question is what do I need done to safely increase redline from 5,500 to like maybe 6,700 or something. I know people have redlined the dirt track 2.3's up to like 9k, and 2300gearjammer was shifting at like 7,400 on the strip with his application. I just wanna be able to wind it out a bit more and enjoy the boost without blowing something. Also what would the recommended psi be? I know there's a lot of factors that go into determining this stuff but estimates are ok. Once again I'm just looking to have the car to where it can be dailied and potentially driven long distances for say a road trip without questioning the reliability. I know balancing performance and reliability can be difficult which is why I'm trying to figure out as much as I can ahead of time and base my purchases and upgrades upon that.
 

junkyardwarrior

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Jan 10, 2011
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A stock rebuild turbo 2.3 will do what you want it to. With a stock intake, stock exhaust manifold, 3" exhaust from the turbo back to the bumper, and an open element air filter, at 20psi and slightly elevated fuel pressure you should be able to very easily meet your goal--with the stock 35lb injectors and stock large vane air meter and on the stock TB0344 turbo (T3). Use a .63 turbine housing. The T3 is going to "hit" at 2500-2700 and with the stock ranger cam it's gonna be done by about 5000-ish RPM which is fine because at 20 psi you're gonna be out of turbo and injector anyway. But it makes a fun daily driver that can still knock out 30+mpg if you know how to drive it. When the T3 hits, it's just going to "hit"--the only thing you can do to reduce the surge in power is to put it on an electronic boost controller. You might be able to use an EFR B/W turbo and pick up some power and maybe reduce the surge, but that's at least a $1500 option. EFR's are great turbos but they come at a cost. The EFR 7163 is well-respected among the 2.3 crowd, but is probably too much turbo for a daily driven car expecting 250-300 engine horsepower.

As far as engine internals for what I suggested, therein lies an issue. You will need turbo-specific pistons. The originals from any of the turbo 2.3's will work however they have been discontinued for decades now. The TRW replacements (L2500F) have also been discontinued. Those were the two lesser expensive options way back in the day. Now you are left with CP/Carillo, Wiseco, Diamond, and a few other options for forged turbo pistons, and a set of 4 CP's are gonna run you close to $700. The stock rods will work until you start making more power and RPM than about 300-ish hp, and 5500-6000 rpm. Even then I don't trust the stock rods. Scat has a nice set of H-beam rods for 2.3's. Stinger-performance has a cool setup, you can get the rods and pistons (with rings, locks, pins) for about $1300 complete. That's kinda high for a 4 cylinder but there aren't many options anymore so they kind of have you cornered unless you want to go custom which is going to be $2000+. I wish Mahle had a set of 2618 pistons with their coatings. Real nice stuff but I'm assuming that they'd also be real high, probably be $900 for a set of FOUR pistons (for the record, my 427" Ford windsor V8's Mahle pistons were $663 for EIGHT, including rings, pins, locks). And with that said, because of the dip in popularity of the Ford Lima 2.3 turbo engines and their following, it is now mostly a niche market and with that, the costs to build one almost exceed the cost to build a V8.
 
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Golypon

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May 7, 2020
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A stock rebuild turbo 2.3 will do what you want it to. With a stock intake, stock exhaust manifold, 3" exhaust from the turbo back to the bumper, and an open element air filter, at 20psi and slightly elevated fuel pressure you should be able to very easily meet your goal--with the stock 35lb injectors and stock large vane air meter and on the stock TB0344 turbo (T3). Use a .63 turbine housing. The T3 is going to "hit" at 2500-2700 and with the stock ranger cam it's gonna be done by about 5000-ish RPM which is fine because at 20 psi you're gonna be out of turbo and injector anyway. But it makes a fun daily driver that can still knock out 30+mpg if you know how to drive it. When the T3 hits, it's just going to "hit"--the only thing you can do to reduce the surge in power is to put it on an electronic boost controller. You might be able to use an EFR B/W turbo and pick up some power and maybe reduce the surge, but that's at least a $1500 option. EFR's are great turbos but they come at a cost. The EFR 7163 is well-respected among the 2.3 crowd, but is probably too much turbo for a daily driven car expecting 250-300 engine horsepower.

As far as engine internals for what I suggested, therein lies an issue. You will need turbo-specific pistons. The originals from any of the turbo 2.3's will work however they have been discontinued for decades now. The TRW replacements (L2500F) have also been discontinued. Those were the two lesser expensive options way back in the day. Now you are left with CP/Carillo, Wiseco, Diamond, and a few other options for forged turbo pistons, and a set of 4 CP's are gonna run you close to $700. The stock rods will work until you start making more power and RPM than about 300-ish hp, and 5500-6000 rpm. Even then I don't trust the stock rods. Scat has a nice set of H-beam rods for 2.3's. Stinger-performance has a cool setup, you can get the rods and pistons (with rings, locks, pins) for about $1300 complete. That's kinda high for a 4 cylinder but there aren't many options anymore so they kind of have you cornered unless you want to go custom which is going to be $2000+. I wish Mahle had a set of 2618 pistons with their coatings. Real nice stuff but I'm assuming that they'd also be real high, probably be $900 for a set of FOUR pistons (for the record, my 427" Ford windsor V8's Mahle pistons were $663 for EIGHT, including rings, pins, locks). And with that said, because of the dip in popularity of the Ford Lima 2.3 turbo engines and their following, it is now mostly a niche market and with that, the costs to build one almost exceed the cost to build a V8.
Definitely getting expensive but it should be a fun little motor when it's done. I was hoping to upgrade the ranger cam and get rid of the VAM. Looking to get a turbo coupe rear end. & I was thinking sub-frame connectors. Depending on the condition of the pistons potentially bore it .020 over and then do the Stinger setup house pistons at the time and the esslinger or GRP rods. I was hoping to upgrade fuel pump and injectors and potentially have it run on e85 with PiMP conversion which I plan to do anyway for tuning and VAM bypass. Mine has an IHI not a t3, but I could pick up a t3/t4 for $750 or so. but I was maybe thinking HX35.. I'd like to run about 22lbs of boost to maybe 24. If I did the CP pistons and SCAT rods what do you think would be a safe redline? Extended from stock? What cam could I upgrade to from ranger roller with this setup? I'm looking for a pretty decent daily driver setup that has some get up to it. Something that isn't choppy on the highway if possible but pulls hard.
 

Golypon

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May 7, 2020
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I picked up bo port 1.5 cam, it's being installed with the people working on the motor. Still waiting on ARP studs to come back in stock from national backlog. I'm looking for a good turbo to run with my application. There was a EFR 6258 available for $900 but it went quick. Haven't seen anything else since and it's a $1,500-2000 turbo new. Kind've defeats the purpose of my build although I bet it would be the most fun. Also recommended water cooling for it which I would rather not plumb if possible and just use the original oil cooling setup although I will probably have to change the lines around. I picked up an 8.8 from a 87 tbird as well. Getting new bearings and seals and getting it together to go in the car. Need to pick up rotors and calipers as well. It should just bolt right in as I understand it? I'm also wondering which brakes line I should use. The 87 GT lines should work right? Then proportioning valve. For running E85 I should be able to use stock tank and lines and just upgrade fuel pump correct? Anyone have any good suggestions for fuel pump and injectors for e85 around 20-30psi boost 300-400hp power goal. Trying to increase the reliability of this car, I'm also looking for an electric fan setup to replace my stock non-functional fan (I think it's just the relay)
because I cannot have this thing overheating or blowing a head gasket which I heard they do. Also gonna pick up SPEC stage 3 clutch.

What are my turbo options? I know there's HX35 and HY35 but they spool pretty late right? Could run T3, and I'd rather not run the IHI. 6258 is my best option if I could find one for the right price, you think it would be ok with oil cooling only? I don't want to damage it as it's so expensive, I do plan to run FMIC. I'm assuming I will have to rig up some kind of mounting for that?
 

Golypon

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May 7, 2020
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Got word back that my head was cracked on the turbo motor. I have the turbo motor that had even worse compression I'm going to pull the head and have them see if it's cracked or will work. 1 step forward 2 back every bit of the way with this one.
 
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