Riptides 1989 Taurus GL Project - Taurus Car Club of America : Ford Taurus Forum
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post #1 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-03-2010, 02:40 AM Thread Starter
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Riptides 1989 Taurus GL Project

Didn't know where to put this, felt the garage thing was too fiddly. I'll be adding pics, and asking questions in the proper forum and linking to this thread and to those threads in this one. This is going to be my base of operations.

Okay, 2nd owner of a 1989 Taurus GL, born on date 11/2008, unfortunately it's nothing special like a LX or even a SHO, but been in my family all of it's 22 years, and I've had it for a good 10 of those. Been dependable for the most part, only turned 100k miles this Spring, upper 1/3 of the clearcoat has come off like they all have by now, otherwise nothing bad wrong with her. Well.. there's some things wrong that's why I'm doing a project thread.

Had a lot of work done on her in the past, some of the highlights are below.
1994 - Blower unit grenades on trip to Florida in middle of summer, parents use no less than 3 different shops in two different states to repair. Repair has been lacking, blower has always blown half assed since.

1996 - Entire AC system replaced/upgraded by dealership, 134a system was installed, but the R12 was put back in for better cooling purposes. Esther oil was used, pressure switch was kept R12. Blower issue addressed but not fixed to pre-grenade level of air movement satisfaction. The fan unit roars but the air just seeps out.

1998-ish - Second ever transmission service done by me, not a flush, just a pan drop and filter change. Never done since.

2000 - New water pump as the old one seizes up and dumps coolant.

2002 - Car stops wanting to charge the battery. Change numerous parts to do with this, never figure it out, until later, end up adding a battery cable from alternator to positive battery terminal.

2004 - Entire front end rebuild, done by me, minus shocks, old bearings pressed out, new ones pressed in, the works. Car stops crawling around in it's lane when holding steering steady.

2005 - Wife drives car for entire year after killing hers. Mass problems occur. Power steering pump goes south, replaced myself. Power steering hose goes out, replaced myself. Breaks start squealing, pads replaced. A/C finally quits, wife finally decides to buy her own new car. She leaves her steering wheel cover in the car with the tiggers and poohs on it.

2008 - Spend an entire evening researching, and finally tracing wiring inside the engine compartment and discover a fusible link wire burned out. It blew out the underside so it looks perfect and has all of a 1/4 inch missing. Replace and charging system works again, as Ford intended.

2009 - Find car dead, not wanting to start. Jump it off and it starts only to not start again. Battery tests fine, starter tests bad, replaced starter. Month later issue repeats, starter tests fine, battery bad, replace battery. Sometimes you can't win.

2010 - Car is 22 years old, qualifies for "Classic" tag status in the state of GA. Sucks to drive cos it smells musty, burns expelled oil, we start calling her leaky, and the air doesn't work. I've begun to notice I never see any more Gen1 Taurus on the road anymore and I realize I have a duty.
So.. Here we are, time for the project.

First I should mention I not only have a Haynes manual I also have the ultra-revered Ford SHOP manuals for this car, and it's the entire set. 3 books come in this set, general upkeep and maintenance for the car owner, this was mainly a bonus book one could buy when buying the car new, but also came with the set if you bought the shop floor manuals. Of the other two, one is the "Bible" it's about the size of a greater metro area phone book, or the Sears Wishbook for those who remember, and covers all the **** that Mr. Haynes and Chiltons thought best handled by a "professional" mechanic. The other book is the vacuum/emissions book, nice to have. Both have been an immense help in the past.

So this project started with the idea to "Get the A/C working". This portion of the project has been 2 years in the making now, mainly in researching it. Since I live in GA, not having an A/C meant the car has only been enjoyable while driving between November and March of the year, the other 7 months are unenjoyable to drive in, 3 of those being very unbearable.

Not only is the A/C a problem, last winter the thermostat went out and there was no frigging heat, I flush once a year, so I think it's related to the engine/radiator starting to get crummy. Replaced the thermo and now this summer have noticed some odd cooling problems, the car's temp needle tends to "swing" wildly. It likes to run slowly over near the H, then the fan kicks on and it races down, almost to the C, and starts working it way back to the H again, rinse, repeat. But noticed the engine fan doesn't like to kick on like she used to. Hmmmm...

Also have had a coolant "disappearing" issue the past few years, after numerous inspections, concluded it's most likely the head gasket leaking into one of the cylinders, can faintly smell anti-freeze in exhaust and sometime in engine bay. Will be replacing hoses and gaskets to do with cooling along the way before taking off the heads, which I am going to eventually do. This won't be the first car engine I've rebuilt.

Have had a mystery steam spot show up on the inside windshield just this year. Figure it's going to be the heater core, 22 years is a long time on the old one. The book says if you go to replace heater core the A/C system needs to be "evacuated", time to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone.

Have a mystery pulley squeak, most likely the tension pulley, sounds awful when spun by itself.

Transmission has been leaky and a little hesitant if giving gas on the shift, will be looking into this. Already asked about what line to use to flush, in the stickied thread.

And how could I forget, this thing needs a oil pan gasket. It's been burning oil off the cat for about, oh, a decade now. Whenever I would get underneath to look, the gasket was just nearly hanging out all around. I loosened the pan up once and poked it all back in, it helped a little, but didn't fix. Too bad the entire catalytic converter setup has to be pulled, those header flange bolts look entirely too rusty to fool with, I'll do it later..

No.. this time I'm doing it now.
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post #2 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-03-2010, 04:15 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: N. Georgia
Chapter: Southeast
Year: 1989
Model: Ford Taurus
Engine: 3.0L 12v Vulcan V6
Posts: 122
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Work done thus far (synopsis):
Garaged - Nice basement garage not on my property with A/C to work on car at my leisure. It's been in the 90's with 90% humidity for the past few weeks. Climate controlled working conditions are a must. Only 20min away from house.

Moved - My tools and sundries. Got my 15Gal upright portable compressor over there this Friday, need it mainly to flush out the condenser and evaporator. Coulda used it earlier on header flange bolts, but I suffered through it.

Disassembled - Entire left side of engine teardown as well as underneath taken out. Passenger side front tire, removed. Passenger side wheel well, removed. Radiator, drained, lower hose, removed. Reservoir, removed. Alternator, removed. Tension pulley, removed. Engine strut, removed. Power steering pump, drained using hand pump, removed, not a drop spilled. AC Compressor, removed. All AC lines, removed. Cat setup, took awhile using rust buster and elbow grease, the almost destruction of my 3/8" socket wrench, and a cheater bar, but, removed. Oil pan, removed.

Worked on - Flushed out condenser and evaporator. Cleaned up oil pan. Cleaning up oil pan mating surface, still more to go on that. Cleaned exterior of AC Compressor.

Discoveries pt. 1 - A wish that I could go back in time to pressure wash the underneath of car. Grime doesn't begin to describe what's in the cavern and falling on my head while I'm working down below. Curse my eagerness to be in the cool cold garage on a 90 degree day with a watery haze in the air.

Discoveries pt. 2 - Both motor mounts are goners. Tension pulley sounds rough when hand spun. AXOD pan has seen better days but will hold for now. Inside bottom half of engine looks like it was dipped into a vat of varnish, chestnut colored to be precise. Serpentine belt is still good after all this time (was replaced about 8 years ago). Alternator belt looks like hard packed soil during a drought it's so full of cracks. Flushing out condenser and evaporator are time consuming but much needed. FS10 Compressor is probably best replaced.
For those who love details:

Okay I moved the car into the garage on Tuesday afternoon and started some preliminary work. Draining oil, draining coolant, removing the reservoir, and belts, nothing heavy. Got home that night and remembered that I forgot to hit the header flange bolts with rust eater lubricant, realize later that will haunt me, and it does.

Wednesday, had day off so I arrive at 7am to get started. Spend entire day working on removing everything in my way of the AC system. Go back and forth on the header flange bolts while doing other stuff. I end up working on them all day in this fashion while using a combo of rust eater and about 4 foot of socket extensions on my 3/8 socket, can't find my 1/2 to 3/8 reducer, and utilize a cheater bar on the wrench, every time I think I'm about to strip the gear in it, the bolts finally break.

All header flange bolts can be removed from underneath car with right length of extensions, meaning Ford actually engineered them to not have anything really in the way of reaching them in such a manner. Once I get them 1/4 of the way off, which takes most the day, they come off smooth as butter the rest of the way. Seriously I used my fingers on the last half inch.

After a decade of hemming and hawing I finally pull the be****ted oil pan off, the gasket come apart upon my doing so. Oil has worked its way out of all sides of the pan, the bottom of the block is stained showing the worst areas. Valley pan is varnished badly, knew it would be bad didn't expect it to look "distressed". Have thoughts of going ahead and pulling entire engine, realize I'm on a budget, I'm using someone elses garage space, and would rather do this in the fall in my own garage when the weather is nicer and I have more time to spend on it.

I find tiny pellets of rounded metal bits in the pan, nothing worrisome, not more than 1/3 thimbleful. I realize many started out as shavings but have been "polishing" in the bottom of the oil pan for probably close to 22 years. Really should have invested in a magnetic oil plug all those years ago. I use a brush to dislodge a few larger metal bits from the oil pump screen.

Thursday, head over to garage after work, picking up my first order that arrived in the mail along the way. Got an oil pan gasket, 2 of my AC hoses, the accumulator/dryer and orifice tube line, also lower radiator hose. Did this order from Autozone, won't do so again, realize they "exercised" their right to replace a stated part with a ****tier one. Instead of a FELPRO gasket I got an offbrand one. Will do my next order with Rock auto, sorry but free shipping isn't going to do it for me next time Autozone. The only good thing about Autozone is they DO send a receipt which you can take and return your ordered parts at any store. Wanting to see how they react when I show up to return a non-felpro gasket when my ticket says they sold me a felpro gasket.

Mainly spend evening using scotch brite pad on the bottom of block mating surface. Take oil pan outside and use entire can of gunk engine cleaner on it. Over an hour and half, in 20min rinse intervals, clean it inside and out. Looking at my work thus far in engine compartment I and reach down and pluck big chunk of rubber out from where the front motor mount is. Go home disgusted and plan next online order.

Friday, I spend evening after work getting my portable compressor ready, had to put on new quick connect. Take it over and get my flushing tools setup. Connect drain hose to inlet of the condenser and put other end into drainpan. Reverse blow my condenser using air. Oil and dye come out, smells awful, but looks clean. Use brake cleaner to reverse flush with, comes out smelling worse, but looks dirty. Just remembered to ventilate area with shop fan blowing out Garage Door with pan sitting at back of fan, start to come down from brake cleaner high. Continue to flush condenser, reverse, and normal for 30min with brake cleaner until clean fluid comes out each way. Start to dry flush condenser, notice a white powder coming out, realize brake cleaner is leaving a residue. Run to Autozone to buy can of flushing liquid, reverse flush twice with flushing liquid, normal flush once, first time I use cleaner it comes out jet black, but runs clear on 2nd and 3rd flush. Air flush and everything comes out clean and smelling of lemons. Keep flushing until smell is gone. Time spent flushing condenser, 2 hours.

Spend an hour and half on flushing evaporator coil using same methods as condenser. Not as dirty by a long shot. Little oil and dye come out but no black junk.

Clean all this up just as it's getting dark and finally sit down with compressor. Already know from seeing black stuff in condenser that the prognosis is bad, the shim on it's good, the compressor would jumper and come on just fine, but last time I did that, before putting it into the garage on Tues, it squealed really badly. I clean up the caked on oil on the outside then start my examination. The compressor isn't seized, and I can turn the end plate with a normal amount of resistance and feel pistons inside moving freely. About 2oz of oil comes out, it's clean looking and dyed green. But I can see black stuff has stained the outlet in the past.

Knowing I can't really flush out the compressor using any type of solvent, unless I want to just waste some pricey AC oils, which won't really clean it, come to conclusion if I'm doing all this work I'm either going to buy a new FS10 or rebuild this one. Time being an issue I'll probably buy one, I've got the garage for 2-3 weeks to use, but don't want to spend my time re-building an AC compressor.

Want to note that I found the source of my R12 leak, one of the manifold to compressor O-rings looks like it pushed out of it's groove into the space between the manifold and compressor. More fuel for the new compressor fire I say.

Before I leave for the night I look down and inspect the rear motor mount, it's collapsed, make a note to get both.

Came home and did an order with RockAuto tonight. My first ever. Getting another "Felpro" oil pan gasket, 2 motor mounts, and my heater core on this order. Will wait unilt next week when I make my mind up about the compressor to get it, the manifold hose, and R134a pressure switch. Forgot to add my tension pulley to this order, but that's not needed until I'm close to being done.

I came REAL close to getting an upper gasket set and new head bolts, but only have the scratch to either get a new compressor or start rebuilding the engine. Can't do both right now, and I set out on this project to do the A/C. Plus Flatlander Racing - High Performance Engine and Racing Parts has the engine kit I want for this car, complete, for $500.

Sorry no new pics, I've just been way too busy and greasy to be handling my phone. I'll snap some and add them Saturday evening I hope.
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post #3 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-03-2010, 10:19 AM
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Subscribed to the thread. Do keep posting updates on it...interested in how things turn out. I don't see Gen 1s and 2s as much anymore in SC G3s and 4s are the new beaters. Heck I can't say I've seen a rolling G1 in person for quite awhile...

--Nick
-'66 Ford Country Squire wagon 390/C6
-'87 & '89 Mercury Colony Park wagons 302 EFI/AOD
-'90 Lincoln Town Car 302 EFI/AOD
-'03 Lincoln Town Car 4.6L/4R70W

former '87 Taurus 3.0 GL sedan, '87 Taurus 3.0 GL Wagon, '97 Taurus SHO 3.4 V8 sedan, '00 Taurus SEL 3.0 24V
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post #4 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-03-2010, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: N. Georgia
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Year: 1989
Model: Ford Taurus
Engine: 3.0L 12v Vulcan V6
Posts: 122
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There's still a few, and I mean few, Gen2's being driven around in this area. I recognize them when I see them. Saw one the other day where someone primered the hood a flat black, and it looked pretty good, better than I would expect. Thinking of doing the same on mine. Looks more beater with the clearcoat haze than with primer I think.

Gen1's are non-existent now. Last 5 years the emissions guy sees mine and is like "Damn still running and passing!", and comments on how I keep bringing it back. I've seen more original VW Beetles on the road than Gen1's in the past year.
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post #5 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-03-2010, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Pic time, resized and compressed, so should be no issue with the page loading.


A veritable cornucopia of dirty parts.


Drivers side view. All clearcoat gone from roof. Also side mirrors need removal and repainting.


Deck lid is the worst looking area on the car by far. Also plastic on window trim is near gone.


Things are missing. Cleaned up a bit. But not cleaned up enough. Can you spot my cheater bar?


Catalytic Converter with baked on oil. Wonder if soaking it in a sink full of Dawn would help it?


Badly varnished Valley Pan. Still some debris in oil pump screen.


Oil pan still needs inside cleaned some more, along with mating surface.


The pic makes the lower radiator hoses look 2 different sizes. The bottom one is a direct match with proper bends. The top one has swelled some from the heat and leaking fluids over the years.


FS10 Compressor. 1996 New Built, not Reman. Left outlet has "black death" marks that go inside. Right side inlet O-ring is swollen out of channel, hard to see here, but you can tell if you look closely. It also has a thin rubber skin that squeezed out from it between manifold and housing around the swollen area.

Wait just a sec.. isn't the inlet side supposed to have a "screen" in the recessed area? Yeah it's not even there.

Last edited by Riptides; 07-03-2010 at 05:19 PM. Reason: Commentary added.
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post #6 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-03-2010, 05:20 PM
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Oh wow, so you are close enough to Atlanta to need the e-check? Dang. What part of the N. Georgia (aka Atlanta area haha) do you live in? Former Marietta resident.

That heater hose seriously changed in size, Wow! It's surprising that you even have paint left on your Gen 1 considering how poor the paint was in the late 80s early 90s on many cars from that era. Have you checked out Pull-A-Part and visited their yards in Atlanta? You might score a "Police"/slotted grille.

--Nick
-'66 Ford Country Squire wagon 390/C6
-'87 & '89 Mercury Colony Park wagons 302 EFI/AOD
-'90 Lincoln Town Car 302 EFI/AOD
-'03 Lincoln Town Car 4.6L/4R70W

former '87 Taurus 3.0 GL sedan, '87 Taurus 3.0 GL Wagon, '97 Taurus SHO 3.4 V8 sedan, '00 Taurus SEL 3.0 24V
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post #7 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-03-2010, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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I'm actually sitting about 3 miles from Lost Mtn. in West Cobb, due west of Marietta square off 120 right now. I live further out in Dallas.

I've been to Smallwoods on Bankhead, inner perimeter, in the past. And there's some local yards I need to go look through when the weather gets a bit better. Too damn hot to be pulling anything now. I really only need some seat belt receivers in the front, and a drivers side tail light. A police grill would be awesome if I could find one.

I had planned on pulling apart interior today but thinking I can wait a bit.
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post #8 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-04-2010, 07:01 AM
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Cool I have an awesome project going for my 1988 Taurus Wagon.

1995 Mercury Sable LS Wagon
2005 Mercury Sable LS Wagon
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post #9 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-05-2010, 05:41 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: N. Georgia
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Posts: 122
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Seen your posts and pic with the stable of bulls you own there Chris, very impressive. One of the last Gen1's I saw on the road recently was a beater of a Taurus wagon last fall. I personally think they're of a style only an owner could love, but I also think one of the best looking station wagons Ford ever made were the mid-70's LTD wagons with the big blocks in them.

A few years back I was looking around for another Gen1 to be a "donor" car of sorts if I needed one, more as a second bull though, but seems most of the ones I found were being sold by those 3rd rate pay by the week used lots in about the same condition as mine. I couldn't imagine spending $3k+ for a non-SHO Taurus, and eventually gave up, so I guess I'll just always own this one Taurus, I've long since given up on finding a LX or even a SHO still in decent condition as well.

Anyways I took a break over the weekend holiday, need to get back to the car this coming up week. Will be pulling the dash in short order, and hopefully start getting in more parts later in the week. Then I get to tackle the motor mounts.

A little trivia, some friends and I took a road trip in the mid-90s out west in an 1988 LX, fully loaded with all the options, and the transmission grenaded in the middle of the Texas desert in early summer. We spent our entire "budget" on a tow to El Paso and putting the car up in a tow lot, and finally bus tickets home when we realized we couldn't afford a new transmission with what we had left. We never saw the car again, and tons of stuff we owned in the trunk, such a shame.

Last edited by Riptides; 07-09-2010 at 12:31 PM.
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post #10 of 48 (permalink) Old 07-09-2010, 12:37 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: May 2009
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Quick update.

Was busy all this week with school starting the summer semester.

Got here this morning, got new motor mounts in. The front wasn't that bad upon removal, the back was squished pretty good though.

Discovered the Trans pan is leaking on the back, haven't seen a drip on it for the entire time I've been under the car and then looks like it was starting to rain trans fluid out the back this morn.

Got all my parts in to do AC and the heater core and haven't even started on cracking open the dash. Ugh I'm behind.

Got oil pan gasket mating surfaces clean and grease free, finally. Will get oil pan gasket on soon.

Read about the crazy roll on enamel car paint jobs earlier this week and thinking the back deck lid would be a great "project" to try this on.

More pics to follow later tonight.

1989 (11/88 Build Date) Taurus GL Sedan 3.0L Vulcan 117,000 miles.
2000 F-150 XLT 4x4 5.4L 168,000
2012 Fusion 2.5L 42,000
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