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1qaz 08-01-2015 07:24 PM

1987 Ford Ranger XLT - Factory Optioned Restoration
Bought this survivor out of Tucson, AZ in Jul 14. No rust, no rot but sun baked and mechanically neglected. The goal is simple: Return her to 1987 showroom quality using genuine Ford and Motorcraft parts as much as possible...some new old stock, most salvaged from junkyards across the midwest and south, all deliberately chosen with a single outcome in mind. With only a few exceptions, all parts would have been an option from Ford in 1987. I am not a mechanic but can fumble my way around under the hood and follow repair manual instructions. This is my first restoration. The projects start small. I will document in detail here (TRS) as long as there's not a similar post or my work appears more complete. Where appropriate, I will include where I got the parts and associated costs in hopes this quest benefits someone else.

Born on Date: 4 Feb 87 in Louisville, KY w/Pre-Inspection Delivery on 26 Feb 87 in Tucson, AZ

My Purchase Date: 10 Jul 14

adsm08 08-01-2015 07:39 PM

Heh, she is just a few days younger than my girl. I think mine's B-day is 20 Feb 87.

1qaz 08-01-2015 08:06 PM

First up was addressing the immediate mechanical needs. She started rough. She idled rough. She leaked at both the valve cover and oil pan. Shocks were shot. Exhaust system had more tape than metal. Fluids worn and nasty. Brakes shot. Power steering growled like a dog protecting a bone. Tires bald. Suspension ok but had more creaks than Alaska. I changed all the fluids minus the transmission and differential. Replaced the timing belt, water pump, valve cover gasket, shocks on all four corners, plugs, wires, rotor, cap, filters, wiper blades, removed and cleaned the throttle body, replaced the heater core, exhaust from the catalytic converter back, pads, rotors, and bearings up front, wheel cylinders and shoes in the back. I paid to have the timing belt and water pump replaced and the exhaust and front brakes installed due to time constraints and to get her back on the road reliably.

Total initial mechanical repair costs ~$1,200 parts and labor.

Brakes and rotors:


1qaz 08-01-2015 09:09 PM


Originally Posted by adsm08 (Post 1530832)
Heh, she is just a few days younger than my girl. I think mine's B-day is 20 Feb 87.

I was surprised to see that under the hood when I got her. My first Ranger was a bone stock basic 1986 Ranger S that I drove off the lot brand new. I don't remember seeing the date it rolled off the line on it. It was raven black, though so maybe it was there just not as visible.

Next up was the tires and wheels. I first wanted to get Firestone white raised letter Firehawks like they had back in the day. Unfortunately, Firestone no longer makes 14" Firehawks with or without white raised letters. So I went to what was closest to original equipment...Goodyears. After much consternation I settled on the Viva 2s for the time being and they most certainly look and feel period correct.

Cost for 4 tires, install, and balance ~ $350

Also look at the center caps...sun roached! After several weeks of patience, I found four NOS caps on eBay for $80 delivered.

I put the new caps on the original steel wheels and it just looked like crap. So that became the new priority. I was fortunate to find four period correct 10-hole bullet hole style rims at a junkyard in Montgomery, AL. I paid $19.95 each but they needed a ton of attention. The true Ford enthusiast will say those wheels didn't come out until 1988. True. But that means the dealerships had them available in 1987 so their cleared to go on this truck.

Aluminum Wheel (Before):

I cleaned up as much crud and baked on brake dust that I could, stripped the clearcoat, sanded, etched, polished, and buffed. Each one took about 10 hours of work. There is still work left on them but I just couldn't take the steel wheels any longer.

Aluminum Wheel (After):

I'll do up a 'How To' and post the link here at a later date.

Here's the result:

Before w/original XLT style steel wheels and trim:

W/NOS Center Caps:

W/Aluminum Wheels and NOS Caps:

Total cost for aluminum wheels and caps = $159.80 plus cleaning supplies of about $20.

Now we're making some progress.

1qaz 08-02-2015 06:17 PM

With the wheels and tires sorted for the time being I turned my attention to the paint and body. I saw three options: (1) Strip down to the metal and repaint (2) Clear coat and save the 'patina' (3) rescue the OEM paint from 28 years of Arizona sunbathing. Option 1 was not my first choice but financially planned into the rebuild. Option 2 was what I wanted to do until multiple body shops looked at me as if I had a third eye in the middle of my forehead and asked 'whatcha wanna do that fer?'. Further study revealed some of their hesitation was because today's clear coats don't always adhere properly to older paints and finishes. Regardless, they seemed confused as to why I wanted to spend that kind of time, effort, and scratch on an old Ranger. So Option (3) is now option #1.

I've never done serious auto detailing but there is a shitload of videos out there so I started educating myself. Everyone has their products of choice so I attempted to remain as brand agnostic as possible. During my crash course I boiled the process down to: wash, clay bar, cutting compound, polish, and wax with good, deliberate prep work (mask, tape, clean..) anchoring the entire effort. Without providing any product endorsement, this is what I ended up using.

For the clay bar:

Cost: $19 at Wal-Mart

The best part of this was the Showtime detailing spray...I used it liberally and had at least 2/3 of a bottle left. The clay bar was easy to use and did what it was intended...smooth as silk with a couple of passes over the entire truck. This is where deliberate preparation paid off. Time spent on this step pays off huge dividends and it's not hard. Just follow the directions on the box.

Next came the cut and polish. I didn't have any of the prerequisite equipment but received a Harbor Freight flyer in the mail with a ton of coupons so that's where I headed. I ended up getting these:

I chose the polisher because it had variable speed. The orange pad (8") for cutting. The blue pad (8") for polishing.

Total equipment cost using noted HF coupons = $30+$6+$6 = $42

After hours of reading and watching videos, I decided on Meguiar's 105 Cutting Compound and 205 Finishing Polish. They appeared to be capable of the intended results with the best chance of saving me from screwing up and having to resort to Option (1) above. I purchased the 32 oz bottles and still have 3/4 of them left.

Total cost cutting compound and polish = ~$52 after using those HF 20% off coupons.

Remember, this was the first time I have used a polisher. After priming the pad and choosing the lowest setting I slung that shit everywhere!! This is where the prep work truly paid off as most of the non-intended surfaces were masked and taped. I regrouped, took my time and spent the next 16 hours cutting, polishing, and waxing. I used some Meguiar's Cleaner Wax I already had on hand to finish everything off.

Total Overall Paint and Body Work Cost: $113 plus 16 hours of my time.

Here's the results:

If you look close you can see where those 8" pads reached out and buffed some of the tires and bumpers...those I did not tape and mask off. Next time I will use smaller pads, especially on the sides of the truck.

Note: I did not do either the bed of the truck or the tailgate as I have some work to do on them before they're ready for any type of finish work.

Paint is now sorted for under $120!

alwaysFlOoReD 08-02-2015 06:41 PM

Really impressive! I wish I could easily find rust free like that up here. What was the purchase price?

adsm08 08-02-2015 07:05 PM

You know, your pics aren't showing up.

1qaz 08-02-2015 07:15 PM


Originally Posted by adsm08 (Post 1530937)
You know, your pics aren't showing up.

How about now? I've posted all source pics on this site so I don't inadvertently move or delete them and render this thread useless.

1qaz 08-03-2015 07:10 AM


Originally Posted by alwaysFlOoReD (Post 1530934)
Really impressive! I wish I could easily find rust free like that up here. What was the purchase price?

Thanks! Purchase price was $3,800.

XLTsplash 08-03-2015 11:19 AM

Nice work, adding factory options is a good way to go on such a clean original Ranger.

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