Mustang 2018 Update 1

I’m finally getting to the point where I can get a lot of work done on my 1986 Ford Mustang SVO. I have a few long term projects in the planning stages, but I’m finishing up some smaller projects to be done this summer.

First, I am replacing the failing power steering pump and rack with a quick ratio manual steering rack, along with upgraded aluminum rack bushings. Mustangs had the option for manual steering as recently as 1984, and my 1986 SVO is just about the same weight as the factory manual steering cars. I think that steering effort will be just fine with the manual rack, but I have another upgrade planned for 2019 – electric assist power steering! There are kits available to add electric assist to fox body Mustangs, and some people also use parts from Saturns to fabricate their own electric assist units. I will probably be getting the kit, but with a twist: I’m going to use an Arduino (or similar board) to make the power steering speed-sensitive. It’s going to take some work just to get a speed sensor in my car and get it talking to the main ECU. I’ll have more updates on this when the project is in full swing.

Another project that I’m finishing up is the intake and airbox. When SVO owners remove the VAM (vane air meter), they typically put a conical air filter on the end of the intake tube. That’s what I had done, but there’s a problem with that: the charcoal canister vent line goes to the airbox, and without the airbox, that vent line has nowhere to terminate. March Performance makes a “Ram Air” kit for fox body Mustangs, and you can buy the airbox as a standalone item. I bought one of these and added a fitting that would accept the charcoal canister vent line. I also fabricated a bracket out of sheet aluminum to physically mount the charcoal canister in a new location. From there, I am finishing up a custom silicone intake tube that goes from the airbox to the turbo inlet. This is more complicated than you’d think because the airbox outlet is several inches higher than the turbo inlet, and space to maneuver is tight.

Custom bracketry for the charcoal canister

These projects are turning out to be more complicated than anticipated, so I did something else I’ve been meaning to do that is much more straightforward. I removed the factory Hurst shifter and replaced it with a MGW shifter. This is said to be the best shifter on the market for the T-5 transmission, and the build quality is excellent. I used their “comfort” handle, which is the longest one they offer. No regrets on that decision, because it is still shorter than a factory shifter and remains in easy reach while driving.

Factory Hurst shifter
MGW shifter with MGW gripper ball

Other than that, I’ve been working on minor maintenance and restoration tasks. I’m not done with this year’s projects yet, but I’m already planning my next steps. I’m going to upgrade my MegaSquirt ECU and finalize my Meguinauge project, and move on to another Arduino project for this car. It involves CAN-BUS communication and a 3-axis accelerometer. Stay tuned.

Motorcycle 2018 Update

Here are some pictures of my motorcycle project I completed in Spring 2018. This is a 2007 Kawasaki EX250F7F (a.k.a. Ninja 250R). It was a great bike before, but I was never fond of how it looked, and it needed some maintenance work and upgrades. I am happy with how it turned out.

The cafe racer look comes from the kit I bought from Blue Collar Bobbers. I upgraded the suspension with Sonic Springs and new fork oil in the front, and a stiffer 2008-2012 Ninja 250R spring/shock in the rear. The brakes were overhauled with improved pads, new fluid, and stainless steel lines. Adjustable hand levers from the Kawasaki EX500 complete the package.

What I started with. Tribal flames aren’t really my jam.
The second picture is the finished product, as is tradition.
Sawed off the back of the frame. No going back now!
Cleaning the carbs. I used carb cleaner spray, a single copper strand from a lamp wire, and a Pine Sol soak.
Adjusting the valve clearances. I’m glad I won’t have to do this again for a while.
Frame reassembly and wiring are coming together.
Rebuilding the front suspension. Bless this mess.