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1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #241
On the topic of fixing things that are worn out or causing issues...much like my brake booster going bad, I was getting ready for Powertour 2015 and decided the GTS needed a nut-n-bolting to check on things.

In this case, I was checking plugs and managed to rip a boot end and the terminal off the distributor by accident on the set of Moroso plug wires Pete {Ramair351} gave me back in like 2009 when times were rough for me just to get by.

I've got a street car. I use old school Autolight #25's for plugs, and I'm running a duraspark setup off a '76 Elite that was a 351W car, with a reman distributor off a '77 400. I like the look of the small early distributor cars and not wild about the large cap units.
Anyways, assembled plug wire sets are getting a bit harder to find for a Cleveland unless you feel like dropping $100-$150 for a set.
I picked up MSD's universal set, part number 5551. This works with multiple ignition systems.

Now, I had picked up a set of the Ford Motorsports wire set for a 351W but not thinking the fitment wasn't going to be correct, I tried these, and remembered why. Too short and wrong plug boot.

Back to the MSD 5551 set. I picked this set up as it came with a tool for crimping.
Very easy to use with my bench vice. Simple instructions, easy to follow and using the tool the crimps were good and tight.
The side of the box was all I needed to show me how to assemble. Instruction sheet that came with also was straight forward.

So, first step, unpack the components from the wire set, lay them out on a table and match up the wire lengths one by one, as I pulled the worn out wires one at a time to keep the firing order correct.
Once the plug wire length was close to the original, the process was basic.

Here is the tool:

I wanted to pop for the MSD plug wire crimper, but I don't build wire sets so I'm good with the vice tool included with the kit.

To give you an idea of the terminal being crimped by the tool, here it is in the vice:

Of note, one other thing you will want to get is a tube of dielectric grease for the boots and assembly. That way your plugs won't end up with the boots stuck on them next time you replace spark plugs.

I used a scrap piece of wire to act as a template to make sure I had the insulator trimmed properly. The included clamp fixture has a hole for the wire and help to cut the insulation off without cutting all the way through the core conductor, and the process is really simple to do. After trimming back, you take the conductor and bend around the jacket to make contact with the brass terminal.

I found that I took and bent the crimping tabs over to lock it to the jacket of the wire...I just want to make sure the brass terminal doesn't pull out.

Crimped. It's hard to see here, but the wire was run through, with the conductor bent over to make contact with the brass terminal.

Here's the brass terminal crimped to plug wire and bent for the socket on the early Duraspark distributor:

Next, with a little bit of the dielectric grease in the plug end, I slid the wire through the boot.

I found it easiest to use needle nose pliers on the terminal and gently slide the boot.

After that, I grabbed another pair of pliers and bent the brass terminal over 90 degrees.

Once that was done, I slide the boot over the brass terminal and done.
Now 7 more to go...

Last thing to do was button up the plug wires on the engine, and install the wire loom separators I got from Summit Racing.

Toss the air cleaner back on and toss on my distributor boot.

Car ran so much better and powertour went great.

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #242
Back to the interior changes and fixes. The rear lower seat cushion.
Last January I decided fix a minor annoyance I had. The rear seat I had, I picked up a rear seat of out a crown vic and redid the cover for my interior job.
Felt great, looked great except one glaring issue...the gap at the back of the seat.
I had a few people point this out and it bothered me.

So, I scored a rear lower rear seat cushion from an LT2 4 door, along with a in intermittent wiper delay setup from the local U-Pull-It.
Doesn't look much different, except the crown vic frame doesn't have the frame anchors in the correct spot.

Started by cutting the hod rings, and found this cushion had a nice foam insert. I ended up adding this to my seat to give a little more foam to the seat.

I started off thinking I'd use a bulk of the frame. Trial and error here. Ended up tossing mose of this except the bottom of the frame.

I laid the CV seat lower for comparison to the original frame.

This in turn let to more trimming.

...and MORE trimming...

Attaching the CV seat cushion to the Torino frame.

Following up with installing the cover with hog rings:

Cover back on and a bit more round and cushy:

Back in the car and a much better fitment.

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #243
Small details at times.
So I was working on getting a few items taken care of, one of them being my new upper control arms from the Little Shop MFG that was bought on a group by by a bunch of us on

Very nice pieces and the welds are a thing of beauty.

I also got a few pieces and parts powder coated , back from my coater at the end of May 2015.
Nothing like nice clean vs old and crusty!

Same color on these parts


1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #244
Yikes! It's been a bit. Been mainly driving the wee out of the GTS, but will have a few things to add soon, along with a laundry list of to-do things.
More to follow, and thanks for watching.

56 Posts
Always liked reading your thread as you get so detailed with step by step progress and photos.
I really liked seeing all the custom interior work you did on the seats.I wish I could sew and do my own seat covers.
Hope things are going well for you and the GTS

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #246
Thanks. Recently I had been planning on a conversion to a T-56 6 speed but my kitchen had a meltdown, slight wire fire in my breaker panel and about 5 minutes away from my house possibly burning down due to bad wiring and a runaway oven at around 650-700 degrees.

Ended up replacing all my appliances so that blew my $6k budget.

On the plus side the kitchen has earned the "t-56 conversion" monkier from me. I just need to find small billet Tremec T-56 badges for my appliances.

Just delayed a bit but so goes life. Will be updating things with my new serpentine belt drive along with a few other things here.

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #248
OK, so it's bee a bit but I am jumping around again. This topic at hand will be...

My install of the CVF Racing Beast 8 rib serpentine belt drive conversion away from the factory type V belts.
Now, with that said...I know there will be some hand raising, with questions, so please try to wait until I get everything posted in a week or so.

So, to start this off, I had been on a search for a serpentine belt conversion I could afford and do with parts that were of reasonable cost for the average Joe and would aide in me getting ride of my long standing dreaded belt slippage issues.
If you need to ask...well, it's like this:

To give you a better idea, watch this video: {click to play}

So, in the fall of 2015, I started my searching and I found basically two options:
1) The $2500 March front runner system.
2) CVF Racing's Beast system.

To be honest, I am around $1600 for the system, with new Saginaw power steering pump and new Sanden SD7 134A compressor, plus new AC gages, hose modifications/fittings and some nuts and bolts hardware.

Now, in the true fashion of hot rodding, kids, it's called hot rodding, and some assembly, minor modifications and alterations are required.
I will say CVF Racing was outstanding to work with. Email response time is decent and the times I spoke with the guys, they were good to work with.
When I was trying to get stuff ready for powertour 2016, they worked with me and helped me resolve a couple teething issues.
I also showed them a few things to help them with the kit. More on that later.

With a tax return in hand in February 2016, I put my refunded tax overpayment back into the economy and early March 2015 the first of a few boxes showed up.

Now, in case you are curious, why this and not the typical 508 Sanden?
The SD7 model number U4711 is a 7 piston unit, verses the 5 piston 508 series. It pumps more refrigerant, and has a higher sustained operation RPM limit over the 5 piston units.

I chose the SD7 for those two reasons. I've run the V belt version on my 351C in the GTS since 2014, and by far I would recommend this compressor to anyone. If you are still using V belts, I HIGHLY recommend getting the Vintage Air retrofit brackets if you are retaining the factory V belt setup.

Summit Racing / Vintage Air lists this under part number 046700-KUR, model 4711.

Now, when I say the parts I received were nice, I will simply say DAMN.
Machine work on the parts, plus the anodizing was damn perfect. Packaged really nice.
(I neglected to snap pictures in my excitement of unboxing.)

More to follow.

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #249
So, We'll start off at my local powder coating company, Trail Performance Coatings.
These guys have done my work since I started getting stuff coated.

I dropped off the kit, and about two weeks before World Of Wheels 2016, they got my stuff done for me.
Here's what I got back:

While not needed...I opted to also get some of the smaller stuff matched as well.

Side note: Make sure you clean any surfaces bare for proper grounding to the engine block for the alternator!

Time to start with the removal of the V-belt system.
*side note, discovered at least one of my brackets had fatigue cracks. Didn't discover this until I had a bunch of factory stuff powder coated. So if you are dealing with issues of belt slippage/squealing...advisable to get stuff sand blasted or cleaned up and inspected.

After the original drive system was off, I started with the alternator pulley:

For the install, I used blue loctite on the threads for the cover.

Next up, the Saginaw power steering pump replacement.
Personal feedback, overall I loved the Beast system. My only honest issue was lack of easy adjustment for the power steering pump. Accessing the bolts that keep the tension on is frankly a pain in the ass with a 9/16" wrench. I would have rather seen a threaded adjuster used with lock nuts.

There is a small "v" on the end of the bracket, which frankly I would have machined off more more clearance. I may still go back and use a grinder and remove the cover...I get why it's like that, it's to hide the bolt but in my case I prefer functionality of appearance in this once example.

The power steering setup also required swapping the stud on the back of the reservoir of the saginaw pump, as per the instructions laid out by CVF. Wasn't fond of this but went together after a bit of screwing around and simple adjustment.

Here, I have assembled the 351C cylinder head bracket to the Sanden bracket. More on this later and how it caused a bit of reworking and around 53 emails back and forth with CVF {trust me, it was solid, constructive back and forth discussions and phone calls with CVF, these guys GET it when I explained the issues}.

Now...I will say out of the box...this kit is fine for something with a lot of hood clearance. I discovered after I got everything together, the bracket needed to be lowered. Which in turn required a shorter drive belt.
Anyways, more on that later.

Now, in hindsight, I should have stuck the AC/head bracket on first. But I didn't.
Using the provided socket head bolts I installed the bracket.

Or tried to.
In the end, I ended up pulling the PS bracket back off.

I turned my attention back to the alternator bracket after getting things buttoned up on the PS/AC side of the 351C.

Alternator bracket from my V-belt kit is the same, I pulled this as the powder coating was the wrong color and I swapped out the bracket.

351C Alternator bracket, with coating ground off for good ground path for the alternator.

Shot of the system going together, minus belts and crank or water pump pulleys:

And then a freshly yellow powder coated timing pointer:

Crank and water pump pulleys next:

More to follow.

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #250
So here I am getting things fitted up. But I've run into a fitment issue with the 3G alternator.
Before I was using a V belt and was able to fudge things a bit.
With the CVF Beast system, they designed the system using the older Ford 1G or 2G alternators and not the 3G.
While they offer a nice alternator I had already had a custom 3G alternator built locally.

My issue came about with the 3G not swinging freely and allowing full movement to tension up the belt.

So, right here, the issue is the 3G alternator case can't allow the 3G to fully rotate.

After looking at things, and checking the 3G case, I decided to carefully clearance part of the housing with a grinder.
First step: tape up the unit:

From there, it was a matter of slowly clearance grinding the section of the case that limited rotation:

And with that done, the case and bracket are free to rotate:

The other key to this puzzle was making a longer tab that gets bolted to the 3G and the threaded adjuster that comes with the alternator bracket kit.

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #251
Here I am at the stage of getting things buttoned up but as a test drive the night before at 2-3am showed me, something was a bit off.
Ran into an issue of the hood not quite wanting to close without trying to really pop it shut. Normally, a gentle drop closes the '72 hood pretty easily.

Keep in mind this segment sort of spans March to June 2016.

Here's the system assembled:

A casual observation:
The Saginaw pump filler cap is close to the Sanden compressor.

There's room to pop the cap on and off, but it's tight. Also, if you need to pull the belt off, you are wise to pull the filler cap off to gain movement of the compressor.

Regarding the issues with the hood not shutting, I stuck my Iphone in the engine bay with a spare light and filmed me closing the hood, viewing from the passenger side.
{click image to play}

A shot from the driver's side.
This made a few things really abundantly clear to me.
{click image to play video}

And looking forward from behind the compressor.
{click image to play video}

So, in thinking about what I saw, first step was to trim an unused mount tab off the compressor.

After trimming up, grinding and filing the tab to clear the hood structure:

Now comes the other fun part of my discussion with CVF. We re-visited this after the World of Wheels 2016 Omaha show.
Looking at the AC bracket, there are three cap screws the retain the AC mount to the cylinder head bracket for the 351C.
Started taking and rolling the saginaw PS pump out of the way:

Here is a little more close up shot of how CVF supports the back of the PS pump from moving around.

I ended up discussing things with the CVF guys and there is enough rigidity in the setup to use only 2 of the three original holes but I decided to drill the bracket out and still use all three bolt holes.

While it doesn't seem huge, this made a big difference.
It did also lead to the requirement for a shorter belt than the kit originally came with, but the guys at CVF worked with me on that as well.

Now, I did have some issues with belt alignment. I first used the 3/8" hardware that came with the kit.
For some reason I found I was getting a small amount of deflection.

Here is the hardware, and at first I was having issues of the belt walking.

I first tried going to the 3/8"flanged bolts I used with my vintage air bracket. Still had issues.

After a trip to the hardware store for M10 10mm metric flanged bolts, it took out the minor slop and squared everything up.

Also, one thing we thought would help was changing the idler pulley to one with a rear lip to guide the belt.

Other minor things I did was I used an un-used spacer with the top tension adjuster rod to cover up the bolt.

Last thing to do was modify my AC lines. Which, I was at first thinking my Vintage Air hotrod tight fit AC line going to the eval housing was not able to be re-used, however I was lucky with the bracket drop I had plenty of space.
I went to my local AC supplier, picked up a new inline fitting, and had it crimped on my hose.

The other thing I did was replace all the O-rings, the expansion valve {four Seasons # 38864} again as I took the entire system apart and flushed it out.

Funny story here. I had been out in the garage all weekend doing this AC work trying to get things ready for powertour 2016.I'm pulling vacuum and the system is holding pressure. After 30 minutes it goes zero psi. I'm like crap. Bad line? Bad fitting.
3 hours pass by, I'm tired but check the fittings one by one. Discovered I left the line from the condenser to the evap housing loose so it would hold PSI them open up.
I was feeling a bit fried at that point!

Then my 2-3 year old harbor freight AC gauge set with the plastic knobs decided F it, both knows will fall apart...RIGHT NOW.

*cussing at plastic parts* Tried to find old radio knobs as a temp deal but no-go.

Enter that week's ad:

Boom, bought it, done and over.

After a few more hours and many cans of coke into the wee hours of the night, I fired up the GTS and filled her full of 134a Dupont.

For reference and personal safety, I can only suggest this:
AC repairs can be hazardous. You do not want the oils on your skin or worse some how in your eyes.
Playing with pressures that can explode the small charge cans, you need to have basic common knowledge of what you are doing.

I still have to go back and research things like the R12 to R134a conversion factor should be and PSI to temp charts.
I only post this based off what I have done, so for all purposes if you are not comfortable, go to a good local shop!

Reference info I used off

R134a temp - pressure chart

You are looking to charge based off pressures in the system.
There are other things to factor like RPM idle speed
I installed the Edelbrock high idle speed solenoid but due to the pressure of the OEM Ford spring loaded gas pedal cable assembly it doesn't work the best.
You want to use a large fan to flow air past the radiator.

Now...overall with my GTS, I've been working to upgrade the factory AC system. I wanted to see how well it would function before go to Vintage Air or similar type aftermarket in dash unit.

My last upgrade waiting to be done is the Mark 8 electric fan conversion.
One of the key things with 134a is it needs to have a lot of airflow over the condenser to reduce the temps of the refrigerant.
I may install a set of pusher fans first but I need to do more research.

I'd love to find an OEM HHVAC system I could use to replace the original HVAC system but one thing at a time.

Ending: Road testing

After my prep for Powertour, I took the GTS out in what had to be one of the most miserable powertour weather experiences from the stand point of the temps while I was headed to Wichita, KS from Omaha, NE.

I'm talking it was so hot the damn gerbils had melted.

As I made my way into Kansas on some rural two lane, moving at speeds that benefited a non-overdrive 4 speed top loader, 28" tires and 2.75 gearing at around 3000 RPM {give or take ;) } I pulled off for gas and it was 108 degrees F

Without the heat index it was 99 degrees at Reading Ks on Friday. By the time we hit Kansas City, temps with the heat index were something insane like 118 degrees.

Saturday for the Roadkill Dodge circus it was a paltry 106 with the heat index...

We followed that trip with a run out to Car Craft Nationals, in Milwaukee WI and had a fun time out there.
I've put around 4500-5000 miles on the GTS in the last year and the CVF beast system has run damn good. That's my honest opinion and I'd recommend it to anyone.

I still want my cabin temps to drop so electric fans are the next step but bottom dollar she works decent.

That's all for now. More to follow.

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #252
Jumping back to before World of Wheels show, March 2016, I decided I wanted to do a better display this year. Plus I had a video display kicking around in my mind by reworking an old Raybestos brake system display I bought for $25 from an old parts store.

I started doing the WOW car shows as for $50 for the three day weekend plus a $20 parking pass it's one fun way to slowly take in the car show and not be rushed.
2013 I didn't have any sort of display at all. Didn't care for people touching and leaning on the car.

I was happy as hell I got a plaque!

2014, I traded my spot inside the main hall, and aside from a minor headache one evening with some kids spitting on a bunch of the cars {mine included} it was a great show.
2014 allowed me to get some awesome pictures of the GTS in a place normally you wouldn't see her.

She has a big ass but the GTS fit thru the doors on the left by about 6"!

I ended up with a display of my literature which a lot of people really liked seeing.

Ended up taking a plaque home.

Took a few pics before I was outta there.

Shot with my buddy Rick's prostreet Blue Angel themed F series. Miss that truck!

Gratuitous Smokey and the bandit shot...

Rick being learn't good by Justice...because of this buddy, had a hell of a lot of fun over the years at these shows.

2015, I decided I needed to come up with something. Problem was it was kind of a last minute WTF toss-it-together deal. Got some pointers from the show regulars that were great ideas.

Namely, duct tape is your friend and make sure your display can handle a demo-derby. Thing I didn't like at all was the tall posts. Taking pictures, it cuts the view and isn't attractive. I went with short posts, something tall enough yet don't tend to be a problem if knocked over they dent/damage your car.

I was shocked I got second place in my class. but I got a lot of guys saying they dig the GTS.

Also, make sure to take care of your girl. Include in her things. Like picking up the display and bringing it home LOL

Starting with the display I just wanted something a bit nicer. Not insane, not big money but just something respectable.
So...starting with the idea for a video display...

And a freebie flatscreen computer monitor:

First step, remove the monitor from it's housing, and the cover off the brakes display.

Start trimming:

Measure a bit:

Making some markings for more cuts:

Adding some wood for more support:

Next up, filling the side hole with plastic strips and melted back in with a plastic soldering tool:

Start sanding things out:

And time for a little body filler:


1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #253
At the same time, I needed audio worked into this unit.
Taking the detached speakers that came with the monitor I pulled them apart and was a bit of a *lightbulb* moment. Time to get crafty.

Started with the circuit board section being trimmed off:

I realized I could fit it right behind the plate in the cavity:

While I'm messing with everything else, I started more work on the base:

In the above shot, I have trimmed the monitor's housing down a huge chunk to fit.
Getting back to the audio...the "taillights" just so happen to be a damn near perfect size for the speakers to fit...

However, they do need the holes for sound.

The front of the display needed a small filler panel, so off to Menards for some furnace ductwork sheetmetal.

My metal brake is MIA so a square was used to bend with help from a rubber mallet.


Next up, painting the back flat black inside and grey and silver chrome on the outside, topped with clear.

Installing the speakers, controls and wiring:

Next up, staining the wood grey to blend with the GTS.

After spraying the blue housing with primer, sanding, then spraying with the charcoal gray, and dusting in the bumper with chrome spray, followed with a few coats of clear and being allowed to dry for a few days:

Hooked up and power on:

Incase anyone was curious, they are real reflectors

Bonus points for anyone that knows what movie this is...

OK, here's a clue

After a few days, I got something to help detail the cover. Ebay carbon fibre overlay on 3M backing. Actually nice stuff!

I sometimes like to make up small details some may gloss over. Like a cover for the old plate.

New plate cover:

The next bit was I have had a Cobra flag handing for a while and wanted to use it.
Using some grey schedule 40 PVC pipe, I came up with a decent way to display:
{This was tested with pieces of white I had laying around}

Here's the grey:

The stuff is cheap, easy to make anything with and looks decent.

I also realized the posts from last year were not going to cut it. So I got Valspar plastic paint and sprayed the posts and tops.

I also realized, the literature should be a bit more well laid out. Enter Lowes and a couple pieces of wire closet shelf material.

Overspray from spraying the shelves. Man there was a ton of powder left over. Good paint for rattle can!

Next up was basic carpet for the display. Menards had a sale, and I snagged enough to do what was needed. I was stuck with a 6 foot wide cut, not the 12 foot like I asked for.

Cobra flag display put together:

Here is one of the posts. What I did was take and some sides, depending upon location were drilled and had pipe glued inside before painting, to allow the schedule 40 pipe to slide inside.

The posts are screwed to a wood post, which is screwed to a pressboard under the carpet. The carpet is trimmed for the posts to come up after screwed to the boards.
I also got a runner of diamond plate flooring as an accent.

And here was the result:

One additional piece I got off ebay was this screen print.

I got a plaque for 2016's effort. I was pretty happy.

A friend took this picture:

In case you are wondering what was on the slideshow / video display...I had it looping with a basic build of the GTS, and this video.
Best part was watching people watch, laugh and smile from my little show...
{click on image to play}

My main goal all along is to just have some fun with my GTS. Any time I can give a couple people a few laughs and smiles, I'm good with that.

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #254 (Edited)
Well, I can see I've been slacking entirely too much. Spent time going through more images and continuing on my path of updating things, I am jumping back to the belt drive install of the CVF racing Beast system. My dates may be off a bit as the images are dated May 2016...but just updating and adding for reference info.

I was here at the parts store dealing with the Belt alignment issues on the CVF racing Beast system and my Sanden SD7 series compressor.

My solution here was to go with M10 Metric flanged bolts instead of the 3/8" SAE flanged bolts I originally had used with the Vintage Air Bracket. It was my personal preference to go this route with the flanged bolts as I just prefer a more massive feel to some hardware.

Also, for reference, the Gates belts for this system were 8 rib, Gates part# K080635 and K080450.

Now, one thing concerning the gates belts:

One of the Beast kit's original belts I had was in fact too long to be used, because of my requirements to have to drop the compressor bracket one hole in order to fit under the GTS hood.
One of the original belts that came with the system, K080660 was too long, as it was meant for use with the system with the AC bracket installed in the original high position, prior to me dropping the bracket one hole, after drilling a new hole in the block to compressor bracket, which I previously detailed.

The 660 belt is fine if you are installing this system in say, like an F series etc where you have hood clearance galore.

Just wanted to share this info.

And to say kind of incredibly humbled that my build thread has over 134,000 views. Kind of crazy!

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #255
Here are a few more reference pictures with the aftermarket CVF racing belt drive.
A couple notes:
I cut one un-used mounting tabs off the compressor, and the block bracket dropped one hole did wonders.
If you are running stock brackets, you can get the Vintage Air 351C bracket kit and it is decent, except I was not a fan of their paint and told them as such at one of the Hot Rod Powertour events I was at in 2017.
Scratched the paint off too easy in my mind...had I to do things over, I'd take and get the bracket powder coated first before anything being installed.

Anyways, Here are a few pictures I took with the hood insert out.

Here, you can see where the compressor originally was rubbing the hood bracing before I realized I needed to drop things.
You can see by dropping the bracket, it cured my install issues:


1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #256
Moving on to probably my ONLY grievance with the CVF Beast system, honestly was their really stylish power steering bracket...problem is you will struggle to tighten up the tension bolt.

My solution was simple. Cut into my nice powder coated bracket :bicker: , and come back and touch up with my Duplicolor touchup paint pen. Matched the powder coating very nicely.

And can actually get to the bolt and have more than 1/8th of a turn.

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #257 that I just went through internet hell and my router died...and has been swapped out!

A few more reference pictures of the AC.
This one is of the factory AC dryer unit, moved to the passenger side.

Because of the change to a newer style AC condenser, I had to move the dryer to passenger side. Same layout, plumbing in and out of the bottom of the unit for the filter.

A couple random this belt drive.

Last picture, here is the the POA eliminator kit I got from Old Air Products.
I've said this before, but the adjustable pressure switch is quite handy to have.

This is wired in series with the feed wire for the compressor, which is fed off the control panel. Wiring is a bit interesting, considering the circuit runs through an ambient temp switch on the hood latch support panel, then to the compressor.

1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #258
OK, so here I am...getting my toploader torn down and rebuilt for Powertour.
The history was from the 2nd owner, the toploader was rebuilt in 1985, about 6 months prior to her getting parked with 102K miles on the clock.
Fast forward to this point in time in 2017, and I was fed up, double clutching 3rd and 4th gears. Battling poor shifting, poor leakage issues of the output leaking despite me jamming two shaft seals in the output...such a damn headache!
I had been recommended two guys locally that used to run a small shop rebuilding 3 and 4 speeds. OK guys, and figured if they are good enough for my buddy Eric and his professional restorations, I'll give them the OK pass and let them do their thing.
I ended up having $850 into my rebuild due to third gear and the main cluster gear being damaged.

In hind site, yes, bang-shifting on the street 5500-6400 RPM at times, rowdy burnouts, and maybe the occasional snapping forged heavy duty u-joints in half from shock loading maaaaay have played a part.

Anyways, the 2017 Hot Rod Powertour was coming full steam ahead and the guys busted ass and got me fixed.
The starting point was removal of my toploader four speed was pulling the console out of the way.
Then getting to the boot, or in my case, boots!

Seems I had my original Ford boot, and then a Hurst replacement boot. Both had seen better days.
Sitting here, being concerned about keeping the engine balance from the transmission not on the back, I grabbed a lever chain hoist and hooked the frame pockets. My mounts were in excellent shape but I didn't like the idea of them possibly letting the engine rock backwards.

After working out something with the guys recommended to me, they came and picked up my toploader, and started the teardown.

Of note, one of the things noted was my tailshaft housing was retaining an original Ford bushing which, coupled with my original output yoke was just severely worn out. Hence all my gear oil leakage issues.

Starting with the case empty and a rebuild kit, plus the new 3rd gear and cluster gear, assembly began.

Assembly of the shaft with the gears:

Dropping it into the main case:

And getting the main case buttoned up.

Something not shown here was the reverse/first gear cluster shaft.

more assembly:

Interesting note here, and a pain in the backside:
The seals for the shift rods on the top loader are replaced from the inside and not the outside.
So if you have gear oil leaking from the shifter rods you have to do a full teardown just to replace.

And, after a few days, delivered back to my place:

Another deal was I regretted it, but I went cheap and re-used a really worn front bearing retainer. Mine had bad gouges and just a lot of wear but I installed and rolled with it. If your transmission is out, and you see groves, uneven wear, or gouging, replace this part.

Another thing I learned to just live with, being coated in grease.
Every time I was under the GTS, because of it leaking...the whole underside was coated.


1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #259 (Edited)
So, I want to start off things on getting the toploader stabbed back in the GTS.
I didn't get pictures of it, but I had some issues with my roller pilot bearing making some noise...joys of certain product not lasting under some "slight" abuse LOL

I went and bought one of these.

All it did was:
Rip the bearing race off the pilot bearing.
At this point...

This lead to me getting pissed and using an air chisel to break the pilot bearing housing free from the crankshaft. I ended up installing a brass replacement that was soaked overnight in type F.

At this point, the GTS had been perched for a bit on my 6 ton jack stands.
Thinking it was getting pissed as I was I wasn't done.

So, here we have the cluster gear from the bottom of the trans...and Mr. "you are going to double clutch me" third gear.

Part of the joy of Nebraska. Fixing a car outdoors, and combating mosquitoes and enough citronella candles burning for a sconce to summon the ghost of John Delorian...

A couple things here. Never cut corners and just 80 grit and WD40 a flywheel if it has heat checks. Not one of my better moments but in my defense I was rushing to get on the road for Powertour and my machine shop was backed up.

So here we are, pieces and parts spread everywhere...and I decide to inspect my hurst shifter assembly and pull it apart.

One good thing I scored locally was the Hurst shifter rod bushing kit with the keeper pins. I am freaking out. 5 different part stores in Omaha and NO ONE has GL-4 specific 75W-90 gear oil, meant for the Ford Toploader.
Now, I called Valvoline's technical support line and got a great lady. Knew her stuff. I mean really knew it. In discussing things, she recommended for Ford four speeds...Valvoline MTF syncromesh fluid.

I kept finding stuff on NOT to use GL-4/GL-5 rated oils because it might be too slick for the brass blocker rings. I found some 85W90, but that stuff was too thick.In case you are curious, the GL-4 rating is specific to this era of transmission, mainly for how the gear oil needs some "stickiness" to it, so the blocker rings slow down during shifting. A number of guys say no issues with GL-4, but you have to watch the gear oils as the wrong grade/type of gear oil, and the additive packages in the oil can attack yellow metals in the transmission and potentially lead to failure.

Now, let me repeat myself my best Frau Farbissina, FULL RUDDER RIGHT / SEND IN THE CLONES voices...


Now, I'll say this much. A ford Toploader required roughly 3 quarts to fill. This stuff just seemed thin. I mean like ATF thin. had the right GL-4 rating on the bottle. Valvoline said it's the right thing to use.
I know I should have just stopped, and ordered in the right gear oil but I thought I was ok.
Coming from David Key Toploader's recommendation:

Summit Racing {along with a number of other sites, sell the correct GL-4 rated gear oil:

Getting back to things...I will say the transmission never had shifted so easy, and so little effort.
But all four gears now made noise. Minor at first but over the next 5,000 miles it got loud.
To the point in August I had my toploader lock up and after that lock up things sounded...crunchy.

So anyways...back to the install, here is my original flywheel to the GTS:

More on this PITA part in a few.
Here are a few handy reference charts


1,066 Posts
Discussion Starter #260 (Edited)
Continuing on with the install, I had to freshen up the clutch linkage again. Not perfect as frankly the 72+ intermediate Z bar setup is different from the mustang stuff.

I was like "Hmm, can I replace the adjuster with something from the Ford parts bin?"
I started looking for Z bar parts I could modify to work:

I really liked the idea of using this repair kit and the adjuster rod, but I fixed my rod with some old fashioned chop-cut-weld action.

Another thought I had was using that stud kit, and a piece of all-thread, and a rod end.

Also, small things...was rummaging about at a local pawn shop in the search for USA made vice grips as I like to do, and scored this blue point seal driver tool!

I love scoring stuff like this!

So here she sits, on the stands...

Getting ready to start piecing back together.

Small knowing my rear main seal is dry and not leaking :)

So...I decided to bolt in the flywheel, with original flywheel and flexplate bolts.
Yes, I know, you're probably like "Andrew...seriously??!" and yeeeesssss I know bad move. And I paid the price.

I was installing my pressure plate, and the last bolt, of which were all original Ford bolts, decided to snap the head off.
Drilled the center of the bolt after hosing with PB blaster, and I managed to back the broken bolt out.
After that I chased all the threads with a tap and cleaned everything out.

Back to the GTS:

Oh, and my new lovely desk paperweights!

Kids, this is the look of the lovely fun of bangshifting a toploader. Comparing this to new, the baby had some wear!

Here we are...Morning of another day and still on the stands.

Hmm. Taking a break for some chicken fried rice for lunch...

*grumbling* better not be anything bad, damnit!

No surprise here, but my repaired factory Z bar.

Another nightfall...but getting closer.

Shifter needs some attention at this point. I've pulled this one apart and put back together a few times, cleaned and new clips and bushings for the shifter rods.

If you have never pulled one apart, it's not that hard and on Youtube there is a great video on it by GearBoxVideo.
If you are into manual transmissions, this guy has a lot of great usable information.

So, basically taking things apart slowly and setting everything in the order of removal.

Basically open it up, pull the access cover, and start sliding the shim pack out.
Some blue shop towels and brake cleaner.
I put a little grease on the shim pack and put it back together.

While I was getting ready to toss my H pipe back in the car, I noticed it was cracked.
Not my best welds, way too much wire speed.

Ah yes.
The fun of making sure which shifting rod goes on the right arm of the shifter...

Having a couple paint pens here can help a lot in marking things, except in my case the shifter rod shafts going inside the case were cleaned so my marks were gone.

After what seemed an eternity...
she's back on the ground.

Here's the clutch kit, standard 3 finger design for mild applications like my setup.

Now...I'll freely admit I screwed something up on this clutch install and don't think I had either the pressure plate or the adjustment was out of wack.
I was getting a small amount of drag on the clutch when disengaged and this lead to some headache. After 5K miles the throwout bearing was trashed. More on this later.

Key thing here is making sure on your linkage you set of free play adjustment correctly. I screwed up and had something off and while I thought I had it correct I was off.
Anyways, here is factory reference info:

Shifter rod reference:
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