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  #1  
Old 11-15-2013, 07:43 PM
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'71 Bronco Build / Retrospective

This isn't exactly a build thread, because I built this Bronco between 2003 and about 2009. So it's more of a look back. Since I've had ample opportunity now to evaluate my choices I'll treat this as a retrospective, and try to point out what I did that worked well and what worked... not so well.

Since this project is "complete" I'll start with an "after" picture as a teaser, or should I say "spoiler"
Click the image to open in full size.

I started in on this project because my two boys were 7 & 9 and were threatening to outgrow the back seat of my Jeep CJ5. I decided to get a bigger vehicle so they'd be happier when we went on family fourwheeling vacations. Which brings up my first mistake.

My first mistake was long before starting on the Bronco, and that was getting a CJ5 to begin with. There's only room for 2 adults and 1 kid in them. I should have started with something bigger. Even a CJ7 would have at least had room for 2 adults, a kid and lunch.

I thought about upsizing to an FJ40 Land Cruiser, a K5 Blazer (especially the '67 - '72 style) and an early Bronco. The FJ40 got the boot because it seemed like it'd be a more expensive vehicle, and my wife nixed the Blazer because it was too ugly. The Bronco came out the solid winner.

So I started a whirlwind internet search for a Bronco. Over a period of about 2 weeks I looked at ads for over 200 Broncos. I thinned that out by dropping the rust buckets, then anything that had uncut fenders (I figured I'd leave them to the restorers), then anything that was geographically undesirable (over 1000 miles away). That got me down to a manageable 20 or so.

One of those was only about 30 miles away, so I drove out to look at it first. It looked great, and even on close inspection was very solid (although definitely not rust free). Although I wasn't thrilled with the ~6" lift, it drove and handled nice.

Next I called on about 6 of the others, always comparing them back to the local one. The more I talked to the more I decided that I wasn't going to do significantly better, so I pulled the trigger and ended up owning a Bronco! Now the project begins!

Here it is when I brought it home.
Click the image to open in full size.
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

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Old 11-15-2013, 08:33 PM
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Front bumper and tow bar

The first order of business was getting a tow bar on it so I could move it around to different shops as I needed to farm out work. Plus the eventual use was going to be family vacations where we'd tow the Bronco behind our pickup with a slide in camper (see my avatar). When we get to our destination we'd set up the camper and the truck could stay put while we drive the Bronco around for fourwheeling, sightseeing or just running to pick up more milk. We had used the Jeep like that for the previous 10 years and wanted the same thing only bigger.

(I didn't take pictures during this part of the project, so here are some pictures of the finished bumper and tow bar)
Click the image to open in full size.

A tow bar needs solid mounting points, so I decided to build a bumper for it as well. I wanted the bumper to look fairly close to stock, but to be strong enough to use a Hi-Lift jack on it. So I started with a piece of structural steel C channel. I trimmed the lower corners off each end at an angle, but otherwise left it "unstyled." I really like how it came out, simple and rugged looking, but still a little classy (in an old-school sort of way). Definitely not a head-turner, but hey, look at my screen name. I'm not looking for anything special!

In order to have solid mounting points for the tow bar I took some solid steel bar and milled it down to slide into the frame rails and bolt in with four 1/2" bolts each (I have access to some pretty nice machine tools at work). Then I milled the other ends of the bars into tabs that would stick through the bumper. I made them so they'd nicely hold clevises that I can use as recovery points. Then I milled holes in my C channel to fit over the tabs and welded the bumper to the mounts. A lot of 4WD clubs won't allow recovery points mounted to the bumper, they need to be mounted to the frame. I have recovery points bolted to the frame with my bumper mounted on them!

Another thing I wanted was a front receiver mount that wasn't too obvious. Front hitches are really nice for pushing trailers around the yard, and if I ever get a winch it'll give me a mounting point. I bought a 4' long receiver hitch tube from a trailer supply shop and cut the end off it to use in my front bumper (spoiler alert, I saved the main part of it for my rear receiver). I milled a hole in the center of the bumper and angled the tube down to clear the radiator. I used some more pieces of my C channel to make a frame behind the bumper to stiffen it and to hold the back end of the receiver tube. I also welded some tabs to the front crossmember to tie it in a little more solidly. Then I milled holes in the receiver framework to mount a plug for trailer wiring when towing the Bronco, and to hook safety chains from the tow bar.

Then it was finally time for the tow bar. I built a simple A frame out of rectangular steel tubing, I think it's about 2"x3". I welded a 2" coupler to it and bolted on safety chains to connect to the truck and back to the Bronco. I put some eye bolts near the back of the bar to hook my safety chains to when I was driving the Bronco. The bar pivots up far enough to stay balanced vertical when I let go of it. And I put a couple of eye bolts behind the grill to hook a strap to hold the bar up when driving. I used pins to hold hardened steel pivot pins in place, so I can install or remove the bar in under a minute without any tools. The tabs in the bumper are sleeved with hardened steel as well, so as long as I put a little grease on the pins I can use this bar for a long time before I'll see any wear.

Retrospective time. I really like how this all worked out. I love the simple, clean lines. The bumper is very functional. The tow bar is solid and simple to use, easy to get on and off, easy to fold up and stow for driving or down to hook up for towing. Regrets? The tow bar is pretty heavy. I probably could have used smaller tubing and still been plenty strong without being such a load when carrying it to and from the Bronco. Also I've had people tell me that I'm taking a bad risk using a nylon tie-down strap to hold it in the stowed position. Granted it would be pretty exiting if the bar fell down while I was driving on the freeway! I still haven't come up with anything I like any better though, so I usually just use a piece of rope as a redundant safety device. I don't drive with it in place much anyway. And I also need to get a drawbar with more rise. The tow bar really needs to be horizontal when towing, and the Bronco sits so high that it angles down to my truck. That's a simple fix that I just haven't bothered to do yet.
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

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Old 11-15-2013, 09:25 PM
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Seats - 2003

Next on the agenda was seats. My kids not fitting into the back of a CJ5 was the big impetus for this project. Part of that was safety. We wanted them in high backed seats with seat belts and shoulder harnesses. The Jeep didn't have the room (width or length) for high backed buckets. And there was no room behind the seat to put anything to attach shoulder harnesses to.

But the Bronco, as received, was a step down from my Jeep It came with a low backed bench in the rear with no seat belts, and low backed buckets (with torn vinyl) and only lap belts in the front. I had my Bronco and the kids wanted to drive to Dairy Queen but they couldn't ride in it until it was safer.

(pictures taken well after this was all completed)
Click the image to open in full size.

I picked up some aftermarket highbacked buckets (intended for front seats) to use in the rear. I think they were Bestop Trailmax seats, but it was a long time ago and I could be remembering wrong. I got them in grey cloth (the stripes in the picture are from the digital image). They were a little too wide to fit side by side between the fenders as received, so I sawed the recline adjusting **** off one side of each seat. Then they squeezed in quite nicely. I welded up a frame out of 1" square tube to bolt into the original mounting holes in the bed.

The front seats were next. I used MasterCraft seats, also in grey cloth. I forget the model, but they have adjustable lumbar support but do not recline. I made a frame for the passenger seat out of 1" square tube, and I attached the drivers seat to the original sliding mount. That was probably the hardest part of this project as I needed to cut some steel off the MasterCraft base to clear something on the slider base (sorry for the lack of detail if you're trying to copy me, it was 10 years ago).

Seat belts would have to wait for the roll cage.

How did it turn out? Really well. My Jeep had vinyl seats with the idea that they'd be easier to clean and less of a problem if they got rained on. But I hardly ever let them get rained on anyway, and they were really hot and sweaty in the summer. The cloth seats in the Bronco are a lot more comfortable. I have to be a little more careful about not getting caught in the rain with the top down, but after 10 years they still look really good (although there's a little staining on the back seats from where my kids spilled their Dairy Queens). The MasterCraft seats are almost as comfortable as I'd hoped. My only complaint is that they could use a little more lumbar support for my taste, I always have mine adjusted to the max. The back seats aren't as comfortable as the MasterCrafts, but they're still pretty good. If I were doing it over I wouldn't do anything differently.

By the way, doing the tow bar before the seats enabled me to tow it to and from my work, where I had access to better tools, including a MIG welder. Since the drivers seat was out, driving wasn't an option. That's why the tow bar had to come before letting my kids ride in it, it's not just that I'm a mean dad!
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

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Old 11-15-2013, 09:39 PM
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Rear view mirrors - 2003

As purchased the Bronco had a car mirror on the drivers side (that flopped around helplessly) and none on the passenger side. I'm too used to driving trucks with real mirrors, so that had to be remedied. A stop at a local auto parts store one Saturday morning turned up a pair of truck-style mirrors. By that afternoon they were installed. The driver's mirror bracket even covered all of the holes from the original mirror mount.

No regrets on this part of the project. The mirrors fold in tight when clearance is needed fourwheeling (or being parked in the garage for the winter). They stay in place, and even have a detent so they go back to the right place after being folded in. And they offer way better visibility. I would prefer that the passenger side be a slightly convex mirror (it's flat glass). Maybe some day I'll pick up a different head for it.

(You can see the original and new mirrors in the before and after pictures in the first post in this thread.)
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

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Old 11-15-2013, 10:25 PM
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Soft top, roll cage and seat belts - 203

Next it was time to ditch the hard top. I'd been pretty happy with the Bestop Supertop I'd had on my Jeep, so I went that route with the Bronco too. Getting all the hardware mounted was a slow process that took a few evenings, but wasn't particularly difficult.

Click the image to open in full size.

A full roll cage was next. My Jeep had a cage over the front seats, but the kids heads were sticking out of it, so we wanted a "family cage" in the Bronco. Plus that was needed to give a place to mount the rear shoulder harnesses. I towed it to a local 4WD shop to get a cage built (I don't have a tubing bender). They started with the original roll bar and added hoops over both front doors with a spreader behind the wiper motor, and a hoop across the back with bars running forward to the main bar. Holes were drilled through the cage to slide steel tubing through for the shoulder harness mounts (the tubing was then welded in place).

Edit responding to chrlsful's post a few days later: I did not tie the roll cage into the frame. I had on my Jeep and I certainly see the benefit. But in anything other than a high speed multiple rollover properly tying into the body is plenty.

Seat belts with shoulder harnesses came from one of my Jeep mail order catalogs. I made mounts for the retractors that bolted to the roll cage mounts. You can see the seat belts in the earlier pictures showing the seats.

Regrets? None regarding the top. It's a little louder than the hard top, but a removable soft top is the only way to go for a "toy" truck like this. I kept the hard top for a couple of years, but eventually junked it when I realized I'd never put it back on. The only issue is that the soft top does make the Bronco a few inched taller than the hard top and I can't drive into my garage with the soft top up. No biggie though, I park it outside when the top is up. I just have to drop the main bow when I pull it in for the winter.

I wish I had done quite a few things different on the roll cage. Mostly I wish I'd have had them put on grab handles for all four passengers. Also I'd like to have stereo speakers mounting into cabinets in the corners near the top of the windshield. And the original bar has one leg about an inch longer than the other, so the two new cross bars are parallel with each other and with the floor, but not to the original bar. I wish they'd have started from scratch instead of building it on the original bar. And the main top hoop doesn't clear the rear of the cage, so I can't fold it completely out of the way. I can still add the handles and speakers of course, I just need to get around to it.

The seat belts have worked out perfectly. I do need to buckle the rear belt when driving with the top off or else they bang against the cage, but that's no big deal.


This might be a good opportunity to explain the succession of tires in all the photos. When I got the Bronco it had 33-12.50x15 BFG Mud Terrains on steel wheels. I liked those tires, but my Jeep needed new tires so I put them on it rather than buy new ones, and stuck a worn out set of LT235-85R-16 Mud Terrains off my F-150 (the pic with the soft top). But the load range C tires I put on the F-150 were too soft, so I put new load range E tires on the 16" rims and put those back on the pickup, and put a set of P235-75R-15s I had laying around on the Bronco (the pic showing the cage). Eventually I put the load range C tires I had taken off the pickup on the Bronco (33-9.50x15 BFG A/T on the original '95 F-150 wheels).
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

My toys: http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...-jeep-etc.html

Last edited by Nothing Special; 11-21-2013 at 10:32 PM. Reason: (added more detail responding to question)
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Old 11-16-2013, 01:56 PM
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"Toad Brakes" - 2003

Next on the agenda was "toad brakes." That's a cutesy name from the RV crowd for brakes on a towed vehicle. Flat towing a Bronco means you have a 4000 lb trailer with no trailer brakes. Not so cool. They make complete systems that use an air cylinder to push the towed vehicles brake pedal to actuate it's own brakes, but on my Jeep I had decided to make my own. It had turned out OK on the Jeep, but I had a couple of ideas for improvements.

Click the image to open in full size.

I picked up an air cylinder from John Henry Foster (one of my companies suppliers). It extends under air pressure and retracts with a spring when the air pressure goes away. I made an attachment clamp to connect it to the brake pedal and a bracket under the driver's seat to attach the back end.

To use an air cylinder you need compressed air. I put a 12V air compressor under the hood, on the passenger side fender and a 2.5 gallon air tank under the floor next to the drive shaft. A side benefit is now I have onboard air, so I plumbed air fittings at the front (under the hood) and rear (inside on the back of the drivers side rear fender). The compressor is wired through a pressure switch so it will shut itself off at about 100 psi and go back on at 80.

Next I needed a way to control air pressure to the cylinder. J.H. Foster came through again with a proportional solenoid valve, also called an I to P converter, meaning current (I) to pressure (P). You provide a constant pressure to one side of the valve and a variable voltage to the other side and you get pressure out that is proportional to the voltage. The trucks brake controller provides the variable voltage, so hitting the brakes in the truck actuates the Bronco's brakes as well, just like normal electric trailer brakes.

The plumbing was where I needed to make improvements from my Jeep's system. The toad brakes on the Jeep responded too slowly, both going on and coming off. I needed more air flow to speed it up. So I bought the solenoid valve with the biggest ports I could get and ran a 3/4" hose from the air tank to the valve.

I won't go into too much detail on the wiring, but I have a 12V feed from the truck to the Bronco to keep the battery from going dead running the air compressor and a switch to disconnect the Bronco's brake light switch (otherwise the "trailer" turn signals didn't work right when the brakes were applied). I had previously wired it so the trucks turn, tail and backup lights powered the Bronco lights when towing.

Retrospective: I'm pretty happy with it. The response time isn't instant, but it's not too bad. It's easy to hook up and use, although I do need to make sure that 3 or 4 switches are in the right positions to get everything to work correctly. I had the cheap timer style brake controller on my '02 F-350 which wasn't a good set up. It meant that if I rode the brake pedal lightly I'd have the Bronco's brakes full on trying to stop the truck. I'd have put a different brake controller on the truck if I had intended to keep it.

The air compressor is pretty slow at refilling 33" tires, but going with a much bigger one would have been too much current draw to run through the trailer wiring plug. I'm tempted to add a second compressor or a PowerTank for airing up, but this does work.

In the end it really wasn't any cheaper to build my own system than to buy one from the RV market. But I think it works better than most of the ones I saw, and it gives me the on-board air, so it's a net plus.
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

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Old 11-16-2013, 02:18 PM
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Paint - 2004

This is where the serious project began. Up to this point I'd always kept it drivable, but now the major surgery began.

Click the image to open in full size.

I gutted the interior and removed all of the exterior trim and lights and towed it to Maaco for a coat of Ford Sonic Blue (color code SN). After getting it back came the much longer process of putting it back together. I brushed in medium grey Duraback bedliner before reinstalling the roll cage and seats.

Click the image to open in full size.

The color turned out a little more purple than I had hoped, but it's grown on me. Maaco is significantly less expensive than a lot of body shops, and the paint is definitely not perfect. In the picture above you can see some darker streaks in the door, that's not just in the photo. But I got what I paid for and I didn't want a paint job that I'd be afraid to drag against some brush on a trail.

The Duraback isn't as tough as the Rhino Liner I had in one of my pickups, but it's not bad for a Bronco that isn't used for hauling all sorts of junk. And to be fair, I didn't put it on the floor very thick. It might be a lot better if it was slathered on as thick as the Rhino was.
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

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Old 11-17-2013, 02:05 PM
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Engine - 2004-2007

The original engine had 200,000 miles on it, so a replacement was definitely under consideration. Then I "lucked" into a 70,000 mile 302 with an AOD trans out of a Mustang (more on the trans later). A friend of mine won the engine and trans in a raffle at his F-100 club and offered them to me for $50 (he had too many engines and transmissions already). So it seemed like a good deal.

In retrospect, it wasn't. It's cost me thousands to recover from that $50.

The first issue was the accessory drive. I figured I go with the stock Mustang parts so when my wife told me to get rid of the old engine sitting in the garage I did, along with all of it's brackets. Turns out the engine I had was about a one-year wonder, a TBI 302 offered in the non-HO Mustangs in '84 or so. So finding the one or two missing brackets was going to be a nightmare. So I ended up getting the entire accessory drive system off an '88 F-150.

The serpentine system needs the radiator outlets on opposite sides. But the F-100 power steering conversion the previous owner had installed didn't leave room for the bottom of the driver's side tank. So back to the original radiator, but with 90 degree outlets soldered on and a lot of creative plumbing to get the hoses to criss-cross the engine.

Cooling fan was next. There wasn't room in front of the water pump for even a thin electric fan, so I put two small electric fans diagonal across the radiator.

I had intended to stay with stock ignition and fuel, but the orphaned Mustang engine didn't seem like a good system to stay with, and I had junked the original carb and distributor with the engine. So a Davis Unified Ignition HEI system found it's way on, as well as a Holley ProJection TBI.

LOTS of regrets here. Obviously getting rid of the original engine before I knew what I needed off it was a mistake. The 70,000 mile engine lost oil pressure about 5 miles into its first test drive. The cooling system was very marginal with the two small fans. And the ProJection system had a complete dead spot at one point which would actually skid the tires as the engine stopped when you were accelerating through about 45 mph. I've since addressed all of these issues, but I'll leave that for later. And to avoid improperly slamming Holley, I never talked to them about the problem because I'd had the system for over 3 years before I drove it and figured it was out of warrantee. They might have taken care of it had I asked.

I will say that the DUI HEI ignition was a winner. No trouble installing or in use.

Here's a pic showing the convoluted upper radiator hose (the lower was worse!) as well as the HEI distributor and ProJection (with the air filter removed).
Click the image to open in full size.
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

My toys: http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...-jeep-etc.html
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Old 11-17-2013, 09:56 PM
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Transmission - 2005

My Jeep had a T18 four speed which I liked for fourwheeling especially. But my wife won't drive a stick and I wanted her to be able to drive the Bronco. Plus my kids were 9 & 11 at this point and I thought it might be nicer for them if the Bronco didn't have a clutch.

However I hate transmissions that shift when I don't want them to, or don't shift when I do want them to. So a manual valve body in a slush box seemed like a good alternative.

I got the AOD with the engine for $50, so that was my starting point. I had a tranny shop rebuild it, put in the Art Carr manual valve body, an adapter for the stock model 20 t.case, and an input shaft for a non-lockup converter (I was told that would be stronger, plus it meant I wouldn't have to figure out how to control the converter lock-up). I used a B&M detent/ratchet shifter.

This entire project was another big mistake. It turned out that the manual valve body has NO compression braking in 1st or 2nd. In OD or 3rd you feel the typical (weak) compression braking, but when you shift into 2nd or 1st it's like you shifted into neutral. I asked after the fact and found out that, yes, that's the way it is (at least with the manual valve body I had in my AOD, it might be different with others). I was stupid to go this route without asking more questions!

The other issue was that, along with the weak cooling fans, the extra heat from the auto was too much for my cooling system. Idling in traffic, trying to hold speed up hills, or just about any fourwheeling sent my temp gage climbing.

But hey, on the plus side at least it was still too hard for anyone else to drive! By the time I had the Bronco out fourwheeling both of my kids had been driving the Jeep off-road starting at age 10. They sat in the driver's seat, I was in the passenger seat and I'd start the engine in low-low and they'd idle along with me working the hand throttle if needed. Now with the auto they needed to work the pedals. My 12 year old tried it once but wouldn't again, and my 10 year old wouldn't try it. And my wife wouldn't touch it either. For my own driving enjoyment I'm sorry it didn't work out. The manual valve body was a lot of fun to drive. But in the end the minuses WAY outweighed the pluses. Spoiler alert! I eventually put the original 3 speed manual back in.
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

My toys: http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...-jeep-etc.html
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Old 11-17-2013, 10:12 PM
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Drive shafts - 2007

Once the engine and tranny were ready to go I needed new drive shafts. The previous owner's 6" lift had given me a pretty bad U-joint angle at the rear diff, so I cut the spring pads off, rotated the pinion up and welded on new pads.

In the front I didn't have much clearance to the trans pan, so I pulled the pan off and cut pieces out of it to improve the situation, then welded patches into it so it would work as a pan again.

I had a local driveshaft shop build new shaft for it with all new U-joints (CVs at the transfer case, single cardans at the diffs).

Finally I had another mod that went right! And I was finally driving it again!

However this brings up another "mistake" I made. In 2006 we decided that we couldn't keep the Jeep and the Bronco, so I sold the Jeep. But it still took me quite a while to get the Bronco nailed down. As a result my family didn't get to go on as many fourwheeling vacations as we would have. So I'm not sure what my mistake was. Maybe it was selling the Jeep, but I really didn't have much choice in that. In hind sight I really never should have started on the Bronco, at least for the reasons that I did. Don't get me wrong, I like it better than the Jeep and I'm glad I have it now. But I'd have been ahead in a lot of ways if I hadn't started on it at all. Or better yet, had started with it instead of the Jeep to begin with! Oh well, could-a should-a would-a. I'm only mentioning it here in case some young kid (like I was when I started on the Jeep), or a young dad (like I was when I started on the Bronco) is reading this. Learn from my mistakes! (Or nevermind and go ahead and make your own)
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

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  #11  
Old 11-18-2013, 06:25 AM
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Nice Bronco, great story and mechanical lessons to go with it. I am still working on my Bronco and appreciate the insight you have given.
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Old 11-18-2013, 12:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 77&79F250 View Post
Nice Bronco, great story and mechanical lessons to go with it. I am still working on my Bronco and appreciate the insight you have given.
Thanks! It's kind of fun going back down memory lane and documenting this all after the fact. But I was also hoping someone would find some of it useful.
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

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Old 11-18-2013, 12:39 PM
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Test run, a new engine and the first trip - 2007

I've already mentioned that on the first test drive my $50 engine lost oil pressure. I'd been running it in the driveway some and had maybe an hour on it. But as I was getting close to home on the first test drive i noticed the oil pressure gage sitting at zero. I don't know how long it had been there since I hadn't looked at it in a mile or two, but I wasn't happy. I was about 1/4 mile from home so I drove it home with no oil pressure. I know, bad me, I should have shut it off right there. But I was taking the Bronco out to the Black Hills in a month and as soon as I saw the gage I knew I was putting a new engine in it. There was no way I was going to get comfortable with taking my family to the middle of nowhere depending on that engine.

With the time pressure I bought a rebuilt engine from a shop in town and had my local garage do the swap. What would have taken me a week or two was done in two days, so I had the rest of the time for more test drives. As noted earlier I found the cooling system to be pretty marginal, but we had the campground reservations so we were going!
Click the image to open in full size.

Once we were in the Black Hills we drove around a lot and did a little fourwheeling. I found I had to slow down and downshift climbing hils on the highways, but otherwise the cooling system could keep up on the road.

On the trails was a different story. As long as the trail was level and didn't require 4wd I was OK. But get it grunting over any rocks, or trying to pull any hill sent the needle skyward. We ended up doing a little trail riding, but almost nothing that needed the hubs locked. Here's one of the hills that required a stop to cool off afterward.
Click the image to open in full size.

So obviously the cooling system needed work. The before-mentioned lack of compression braking really made itself apparent on this trip. I had about had it with the non-power drum brakes. And the open diffs were going to need to be addressed as well. But we still had a fun vacation and the Bronco didn't get us in any trouble
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Old 11-18-2013, 07:11 PM
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Axles and brakes - 2007

Dealing with the drum brakes seemed like the priority. Over the years I had the Jeep I often wished for rear disks, especially for their wet performance. So that was the route with the Bronco. And while I had things apart that far it seemed like a good idea to do the rest of the axle work as well. Higher strength shafts front and rear, upgraded U-joints and new Warn hubs in front and a Detroit in the rear were added to the list, as well as a power brake booster/master cylinder.

I wanted to also convert the rear to a full-floater with locking hubs. I had done that to the Dana 44 in my Jeep and it made towing SO much easier when it was just turning two dials instead of taking out the rear driveshaft. The extra freeplay of the hubs had made the Jeeps Detroit that much more noticeable, but the tradeoff was worth it. Unfortunately I couldn't find a kit for the 9". A local 4x4 shop thought they could piece something together, but I decided to skip it.

I also decided to pass on my dream of a selectable locker in the front, just to save cash (after buying one more engine than I had hoped). I stuck with the original 4.10 ratio, but I did put new gears in the rear.

The e.brake was the next challenge. I could have found calipers with an e.brake provision, but my roll cage made it all but impossible to push the pedal down anyway. So I opted for a line lock between the master cylinder and the rear brakes.

Everything went on pretty easily. I was going to install the locker and gears myself, figuring a 9" with the removable 3rd member was the perfect axle to learn gears in. But I chickened out and took it in. The lug studs in the rear axle flanges weren't long enough to go through the disks and my aluminum rims (stock '95 F-150 wheels), so I needed to knock them out and put longer ones in.

Functionally the brake bias is the only problem. The brakes feel a little weak (but still better than the drums), and the front shoes are wearing WAY faster than the rear. The master cylinder I got was supposed to be proportioned for 4 wheel disks, but some time I should probably look into improving that.

The line lock works great for holding on a hill while starting the engine, but I wouldn't trust it as a long term parking brake. And obviously it won't do anything if the rear brakes fail, so it's not really an emergency brake. But it'll do.

Edit responding to chrlsful's post a few days later when he said that not having an e.brake wouldn't pass inspection in his state: I never looked into the legal issues of no e.brake, that's a good thing to consider. Minnesota doesn't have vehicle inspections though so I haven't run into any issues.

I still wish it had locking rear hubs, and some day it might. And a front locker is still on the wish list too.

Click the image to open in full size.
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'97 F-250HD Crew Cab, 460, E4OD
'71 Bronco, 302, NV3550 5 spd, Atlas 4.3:1, Detroit rear, 33" BFG AT http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...ospective.html

My toys: http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/12...-jeep-etc.html

Last edited by Nothing Special; 11-21-2013 at 10:37 PM. Reason: adding detail in response to a question and added pictures
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  #15  
Old 11-21-2013, 11:02 AM
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I've been watchin along for awhile, no time to say Hi. Better get in there today (or never?).
Thanks so much for documenting your wrk. We all benifit from sharing no matter how old the info.

“…the Bronco (33-9.50x15 BFG A/T on the original...)…”
Didn't see in the pic if U have uncut fenders. If the rig is as lght weight as mine these tires fit w/o molesting the fenders. U have heavy bumpers, cage, etc so I assume not? I got 1 inch BL, 2 inch SL.

“…A full roll cage was next…”
just hopin u tied it into the frame - seen alot of Human) wreckage when not done so & w/kids (& a woman)...well U know what I'm thinkin!

“…The e.brake was the next challenge. I could have found calipers with an e.brake provision, but my roll cage made it all but impossible to push the pedal down anyway…
I wouldn't trust it as a long term parking brake…”
Illegal in this state (to drive on the rd). Some of us use the elderado (late 80s) rear caliper. As U state it's 1 w/the separate piston for the e-brake in the caliper. The below dash pedal can B re-located, a hand operated one provided or one for the drive-shaft (NOT the elderado) can B put on the rear of the transmission.
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