Mustang 2018 Update 2

I got my ’86 Mustang SVO all put together, but it’s already time to take it apart again. Here’s what’s going on lately.


I don’t even want to know how many hours it took to trim and fit the silicone hoses required to fit my new air box, but it’s done! If you know about SVOs, you can immediately tell it’s not a stock airbox, but to the casual observer, it looks like it could be stock, and that was the idea. I’m happy to have less noise from the engine compartment, a fully functional charcoal canister, and it still flows plenty of air. My intake temps will likely go down a bit, as well.

Never mind the power steering pump bracket, with no power steering pump.

The quieter intake really underscores just how loud the blowoff valve is. I recently ditched my Forge blowoff valve in favor of an APR bypass valve set up in a blowoff configuration. That quieted things down a bit, but I wanted more. I decided to use a valve cover breather on the “exhaust” side of the valve to act as a muffler. It doesn’t make it quiet, but it helps.

If it looks stupid, but it works, it’s not stupid.

Short throw shifter

The MGW shifter feels great. The longest shift handle they sell (“comfort”) is borderline too short for this car. I guess people are looking for the shortest throw possible, ergonomics be damned. The new shifter is transmitting more noise from the transmission than I’m used to. I might add a layer of Dynamat under the boot to help with this. Overall, a good purchase.

Steering rack

With the Flaming River 15:1 quick ratio manual steering rack coupled with the aluminum steering rack bushings, I have the best steering feel and feedback I’ve ever experienced in a fox body Mustang. Turning the wheel at a dead stop is a real chore, though, and it’s difficult to make quick transitions at low speeds. I am going to move forward with an electric assist power steering project. More on that below.

What’s Next

  • I am building an Arudino-based performance computer to fit in the lower console, replacing the factory clock. It will measure things like g-forces, 0-60 time, etc. It might use the same microcontroller and codebase as my Meguinauge project.
  • The electronic assist power steering kit is on its way.
  • I acquired parts to add a speed sensor output from the transmission. I will use the speed data for the performance computer mentioned above, and also a “middleware” controller to add speed sensitive assist to the power steering ECU. It will essentially take the VSS input from the transmission and spit out an output through a digital potentiometer. I’m still working out the details.
  • My budget is tapped out at the moment, but at some point I want to start acquiring 8.8″ rear end parts to swap the rear before doing some suspension upgrades.

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.

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 (really).
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.