Project Car SOTU: HoonTruck & Wombat

My journey of wrenching exploration continues with HoonTruck. Queue the cartoon cat because I feel like I take a step forward, and then I wind up two steps back. Regardless, it’s been an enjoyable process learning how to “fix” things on the truck, and I’ve not been demoralized to a point where I’d ever feel like giving it up.
Recently though, there were a few things I needed to do that required a bit of help. So I reached out to friend of Hooniverse Rick Radcliffe. This time it would be me learning alongside his students in the garage classroom.
Watching young folks excited to wrench on an old car… that’s a pretty awesome sight.

So where do we stand on the truck? Well, I’ve installed a number of parts sent my way by the oh-so-excellent folks at The new steering wheel is in, and sitting off-center because I’m an idiot. That’s an easy fix that I’ll get to eventually. We have the Cragar wheels sitting at all four corners, but the same rubber wrapped around them. There’s a new set of tires to be ordered soon enough.
Under the hood, the glass fuel filter is gone and it’s been replaced by a regular metal unit. So now my engine fire risk has dropped from DEFINITELY GOING TO HAPPEN to YOU SHOULD STILL HAVE A FIRE EXTINGUISHER IN THE CAB JUST BECAUSE. We initially removed the fuel pressure regulator, but then I found my fuel pressure jump to 9psi. That was bad, so I just reinstalled it yesterday afternoon… yes all on my own. I can fit hose and tighten clamps, I’m basically Edd China now.
The cooling issue still persists even after I put a new thermostat in place. No, I haven’t installed a shroud and yes I realize that is part of the problem. Regardless, I want to move to electric fans so that I can sit in LA traffic and not even worry about that temp gauge.
The radio that was in there already has been removed. I’d hoped to have the Retrosound unit installed the same day I removed the old radio, but the previous owner ran a hodgepodge of BS wiring and it’s going to take more time to rip it all out and start over. At the moment, a Bluetooth speaker and my iPhone provide the tunes when I take the truck for a spin.
The latest issue lies with the ignition switch. Now when I turn the key to OFF, the battery is still keeping things hot. I can see all the gauges on and the radio, when it was in, stayed on. I swapped in a new ignition switch over the weekend… but the issue hasn’t gone away. More digging required on this one, so for now I just have to pop the negative terminal off the battery.
The truck is getting there, and I’m loving every second of owing it. I can’t wait to get it further along, and I plan on wearing out my LMCtruck catalog. I still have the aforemetioned radio, a roll pan, a fender, and a horn to install. Additionally, I will get to the Peterson-supplied LED headlights, which fit just like the original seven-inch roundies in there now.

Wombat Update

We still have no solution yet for the steering issue. I was originally going to bring in a champion Formula Drift driver to have a look and weigh in on the subject, but the season already started and they’re crazy busy.
Regardless, Scared Shiftless is pressing on and has focused on the task of getting that motor ready to crank over. I’ll be heading over to the shop either early this week or next week. I wish I had more to share on this one, but it’s a slow process turning a W123 wagon into something much more exciting.
It will happen… and it will be awesome.

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  1. Alan Cesar Avatar
    Alan Cesar

    Hard to say for sure, but it looks like the splines are boogered up on that driveshaft rear section where it enters the carrier bearing. Once you pull it out to replace the bearing, you might need to take a file and clean those up a bit so they’re straight.
    Good choice on those wheels.

  2. Tanshanomi Avatar

    I like the wheels, but chrome center caps and lug nuts would really set them off.

  3. Scoutdude Avatar

    The cooling system problem seems to be more than just the fan. When the problem is purely not enough air flow through the radiator when stopped once you get up to 25~30 mph you should see the temp drop down almost instantly, if the radiator has enough capacity. Yes it looks to be a big aluminum radiator but that does not mean that it doesn’t have plugged up tubes.
    The problem with an electric fan is that it requires electricity, and one that moves enough air for a big V8 requires a lot of electricity. That means you will need to upgrade the alternator and at least some of the electrical system. I suggest a Ford 3G alternator, yes it is a little more work to install than a 1 wire GM alternator but hooking up 2 more wires and splicing the wires at the old regulator only adds a minute or two to the install.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      Maybe I should have the radiator assessed first more completely before going electric then?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I agree. I’m usually in the camp of “there’s nothing wrong with the way it used to be done” anyway, but particularly in this case there really should be nothing wrong with using the original belt-driven fan and unshrouded radiator. Overheating like this is pointing elsewhere, such as a clogged radiator, and going to the trouble of switching to a shrouded electric fan without figuring out the underlying problem will still leave you with a marginal cooling system, even if you can mask the other problems with more airflow.

        1. Scoutdude Avatar

          From the perspective of the pictures that fan is not close enough to the radiator to work properly w/o a shroud.

      2. Scoutdude Avatar

        Yes, as mdharrell noted below you could end up spending a lot of money to go electric (fan, alt and wiring) to only mask the underlying problem. Good old school radiator shops have machines that will see how much flow capacity a radiator has. Unfortunately with a welded aluminum radiator you can’t just unsolder or unclamp the tanks and “rod it out”.
        How thick is the core in inches and number of rows. Do you have access to a infrared thermometer? If so you can see if there is consistent temps across the width of the radiator.

  4. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

    I seem to have a similar cooling issue in the Miata except mine does go down once I get rolling. I’ve been considering wiring the AC fan in parallel with the temp-triggered one. I’ve already had the top end rebuilt once, no need to do that again. But at the same time, I have all of the AC parts to hopefully fix the AC now, so I’ll probably try that first since I’m think that once that’s all working again, the fan on that side will work as well, fixing the cooling issue.

  5. Bozi Avatar

    It sounds like the ignition cylinder and switch are not aligned. Did you replace both of the pieces or just the internal cylinder assembly?
    On the Wombat, I would check out some of the offroad suppliers for various joints and adapters. That is how we worked out steering on some of the LS swap we have done

  6. 0A5599 Avatar

    When you had the plugs out, did you remember to measure the stroke? As I recall, you had to take the seller’s word that there was a 390 under the hood in place of a “correct” 352, but the engines are externally identical.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      I tried to measure it myself awhile back, but didn’t get a clean measurement – regardless, I’m going to stick with 352 instead of 390 until I learn otherwise.

  7. engineerd Avatar

    “…I’m basically Edd China now.”
    So, I’m not the only one that says something like this when I successfully fix something on a car.

  8. P161911 Avatar

    I had ignition switch issues on the 1987 F-150 that I had. Its problem was when you turned it to start, it wouldn’t stop the starter when you turned it to run. Real fun in the parking lot. I finally converted the factory switch to an on-off switch and added a starter button stuck in a small cubbie hole on the dash. If the faded red paint and the 5 speed weren’t a good enough theft deterrent, That made it virtually theft proof.

  9. mad_science Avatar

    1) Pajama pants? WTF. Get that kid some Dickies/Ben Davis/Carhartts
    2) Cool to see a few girls in the class as well.
    3) Regarding cooling:
    I chased cooling issues on my FE-equipped wagon as well. Even with an upgraded fan and a shroud, it just ran hot in stop/stop-and-go driving. Cooled off on the freeway, though.
    Prior to dropping like $750 on a legit Be-Cool setup, do the following:
    Cooling system clean-out. Get the stuff you put in and run for a few days, then drain out. Then fill with water, run it, and drain it again. Then put in about 20% coolant and 80% water.
    For airflow, get a $20 universal shroud kit from JegsummitWhitney. Make sure it reaches out around your fan. I went with a pair of junkyard MB fans and a $30 fan controller kit from JegsummitWhitney.
    Also also, make sure you’re running rich enough and your timing’s correct. Running lean and retarded ignition = hotness. This comment’s already too long, but either Rick or I could help you with those things.

    1. salguod Avatar

      I have similar cooling issues with my FE equipped (352) T’bird. Runs fine in temps under 80, but once you hit the mid 80s it runs hot after 20-30 minutes of driving. Speed (more air) helps some, but extended 65+ MPH and the temp climbs.
      I understand the FE blocks tend to gather gunk in the bottom and the back, inhibiting coolant flow and making them run hot. I guess the head gaskets block some passages and sometimes an engine rebuilder might cut them out which changes the coolant flow in negative ways.
      Got a brand name on that coolant clean out? I’d like to give it a shot in my T’bird. The solution I was given was to pull all the freeze plugs and flush it.