1984 Ford 2.3L powered Bronco II

MechRick

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Here is the build thread for my current project, a 2.3L Bronco II. This came about from a desire to have a small 4x4 for commuting/off roading. My current 4x4, a 1994 F150 extended cab is just too big for this. Plus, it's setup for towing. The Samurai's I've had were too small, and underpowered.

I wanted a Cherokee. Unfortunately, anything with a Jeep logo was way overpriced for my purposes.

Why 2.3? Well, I've built 7 of them, two turbo cars and a Mazda B2300 among the 7. Here are some examples:

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2.3 Turbo Pinto, blow-through carb, at a local car show.

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Megasquirted 2.5 Lima turbo Mustang Notch.

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Mazda B2300 with a BW T5 transmission.

The general consensus on the -net is a 2300 BII will be underpowered. But a BII is only going to be 300 lbs heavier than a Ranger 2wd. And that Mazda I built ran great.

I briefly thought about building a 2.8L Cologne V6. I have Sven Pruett's book on the Cologne. Two things dissuaded me. Reports of 2.8L mpg numbers and those crack-prone cylinder heads.

Something else to consider. The carbed 2.8 was only rated at 115 HP. It won't take much to exceed that number with a Lima.

So without further comment, here it is....

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And here is the powerplant mocked up with header and EFI (although I've decided on a Holley 2300 instead).

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This build thread will be loaded with 2300 tech. Much more to come...
 

johns3524

Well-known member
Nice work..It's obvious you should know how to make the 2300 operate. A few projects back, I ended up with an 84' BII 2.8 powered. I had collected parts for a turbo'ed 2300 version and was very close to dropping it all in when Became interested in the full size version which I now work on.

http://therangerstation.com/forums/album.php?s=41c24e89f606cf03e701453195cbf8e7&albumid=1555

I procured many late 70's/early 80's heads and intakes that are so popular with the local racers here in my area. I built two motors, and had 3 spares I think in my shop. I became disillusioned though in the poor quality castings in stock Ford ranger manual trans bells for the TK's. I did NOT want to use any other trans myself. I also had some m5r1's for use but found that unless i could get a stronger bell, maybe T5, I wouldn't proceed..

My thoughts were more about reliability and frankly I was concerned about any juice clutch failing in the WAY outback. I recall a Bronco I looked at that someone had sabotaged outside a bar one night. (it was an 86 with that goofy clevis pin for the slave line attachment). Someone had pulled the pin and she had fluid drain out so ..no clutch.

Anyway..soldier on, we'll give you an occasional pat on the back as we read.

http://therangerstation.com/forums/...3e701453195cbf8e7&albumid=1555&pictureid=9775

BTW when I sold this project, I could get 20mpg on the highway with it...with an Auto-lite C2-1.01 jetted .044. I also had converted it to manual steering, and manual brakes, and it was very drivable..so much so that my partner of 40+ years used it as a grocery getter....

I still have a few Esslinger tools around...
 

MechRick

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Funny you should mention bellhousings....

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On the right is the Cologne TK bellhousing. Up to '84 they were external slave cylinder. '85-up were integral slave which necessitated trans removal for replacement. That will never do for the apocalypse BII. Any repair has to beat the zombie hoards. :rolflmao: On the left is a 2.3L Lima bellhousing attached to an A4LD. Notice they are completely different. The 2.3L bell pattern is a modification of the 2.0 EAO pattern. The top two holes are further up and closer together. The dowel pin diameter is also different. Older 2.3L engines had both patterns. One could swap a 2.3L engine into a 2.0L vehicle as long as stepped dowels were used. Interestingly, the 2.0 pattern is the same as CVH escorts, which is the same as the Zetec and the Ford crossflow engines (pushrod 1.6 as used in the old Fiesta). The Duratec 2.3L is a Mazda pattern and completely different.

The TK4 and TK5 transmission was installed in early Rangers, so I'm looking for the 2.3 Ranger bellhousing. I've located one out of state for $100, but have been hoping to find one local.

I've heard that the Mitsu FM146 bellhousing will work with the TK. Can anyone verify this?
 

MechRick

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Found a pic of a 2.0 EAO RUG 4-speed (left) beside a 2.3L T5.

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The difference in the top two bolt holes is evident.
 

MechRick

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I'd mentioned previous builds. Here are a few...

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Build 1..low compression ported head, ended up turbo.

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Build 2, same.

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Build 4 (build 3 was for a mini stock racer. No pics).

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Build 5. Low compression forged 2.5 for turbo use.

Build 6 was the Mazda, build 7 block is at the machine shop now going .030" over...

Build 4 was 9.5:1 with 1.89" intake valves and 1.59" exhausts and ran very well, propelling a Fox body nicely. I drove it that way for a year before turbocharging the 2.5 and dropping it in.

My goal for this 2.3 is as much compression I can run on 87 octane. I'm thinking 9:1. The limitation is the open chambered oval port head I'm going to run. I will run the 1.89" intakes but stock 1.54" exhausts.
 

johns3524

Well-known member
One of the things I liked about the 2300, you could use a roller cam very easily. I scrounged around for the cams and followers

What head/intake combo are you using for the carbed build? (I see you said oval port)

About your fm146/tk question..I always wanted to try that (I had an FM146 in an 88BII) I just never had all the parts on the floor at the same time and the 88 was a DD for a while. I passed on FM145's.
 

johns3524

Well-known member
I see your T5 bell, you might should put together a 4wd version T5?

After thinking about it..If I were going to do this again, I think I may use the c3/5 4wd route. I have a friend who runs a turbo'ed t-bucket here locally using an auto. The 2300 auto-bells are a little hard to find around here though as well. You may not quite get the economy, but it may be more drivable especialy 4 wheeling some.

"charge on"
 

MechRick

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johns3524":197a3fq3 said:
What head/intake combo are you using for the carbed build?

1974 2.3 Pinto. I would love to find one of the elusive 'Z' manifolds that allow a Holley or Motorcraft 2bbl to bolt up. If not, I have a port plate adapter to match a 'D' port manifold to an oval port head.

http://www.therangerstation.com/forums/ ... ?p=1218113

johns3524":197a3fq3 said:
One of the things I liked about the 2300, you could use a roller cam very easily. I scrounged around for the cams and followers

I will do this also. Trying to find someone to regrind a stock roller for a bit more lift/duration. Crane rollers retail for more than $400.

johns3524":197a3fq3 said:
I see your T5 bell, you might should put together a 4wd version T5?

Only viable one is the non world class Jeep T5.

johns3524":197a3fq3 said:
After thinking about it..If I were going to do this again, I think I may use the c3/5 4wd route

Number one priority is MPG. My goal is 23 mpg. The Mazda was getting 26, so I'm hopeful. I don't think I could get there with an auto.
 

johns3524

Well-known member
MechRick":39o06eu1 said:
1974 2.3 Pinto. I would love to find one of the elusive 'Z' manifolds that allow a Holley or Motorcraft 2bbl to bolt up. If not, I have a port plate adapter to match a 'D' port manifold to an oval port head.

At one time I had two of those along with 3 late 70's oval port heads. I had one cut for the Oversize stainless from Esslinger and had it all prepped for one of the manfolds. Instead of finishing the motor I sold the blocks(2) and heads separately..

If I run into another manifold I'll now where to send it. All of these are pretty useful here locally but I'm not going to build anything but maybe another 300-6 short block (for a spare)..and THAT most likely won't happen unless I just run into another deal. Before I'd build another 300,, I want to find a Roller cam/follower setup to use. I don't like risking a flat cam...I bought one engine with that problem already once...

Have fun....
 

turbo2256b

Well-known member
My 2.3 sore spot. Built 3 of them 2 for friends running mini stock. Biggest difference was 3 different ways to lube the cam other than the cams themselves. My version was for a DD Pinto at a cost of around 2500.00. drove it about 3000 or 4000 miles. A trip to fla from indy neted 28 to 32 MPG running 70 to 80 MPH. At that poit was dreaming of a 5 speed instead of a 4 speed. Raced a couple stock turbo 2.3 and would out run stockers. Once a vett pased me doing around 90 to 100 and passed him at 120 could smell the new clutch burning a bit and slowed down the vet never came after me.
Got interested in a 81 200 six mustang and pulled the 2.3 and stored it for around 25 years. PUT IT IN a 88 Ranger that had a 2000 2.3 version with a 5 speed. Gave it to my son and someone hit him and totaled the vehicle. The only thing I missed was the engine and 5 speed but his being 400+ miles away and his economic situation lost the vehicle. Realy bummed and doubt he will ever get another freebe like that from me again.
 

MechRick

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That little green Pinto had build 1 in it, with 8:1 forged pistons. I intended to turbo it eventually. But I remember once, when it had the header and a weber 32/36, chasing a built ElCamino up the seven percent grade on the way home. I couldn't pass him, but he couldn't pull away, and I pushed him all the way up the hill at 110+ mph. :eek:

One regret I have is never dynoing any of my builds. The 2.5 turbo went to the strip, running mid 14's on very slippery street rubber. I think that one was making way more power than my guess of 230 RWHP.
 

MechRick

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turbo2256b":ub6kn248 said:
At that poit was dreaming of a 5 speed instead of a 4 speed

They will fit the Pinto nicely. A Fox body driveshaft is a bit long, but works without bottoming the transmission output splines.

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Notice the big dimple in the engine crossmember to clear the clutch cable.
 
johns3524":3nun60hy said:
One of the things I liked about the 2300, you could use a roller cam very easily. I scrounged around for the cams and followers

What head/intake combo are you using for the carbed build? (I see you said oval port)

About your fm146/tk question..I always wanted to try that (I had an FM146 in an 88BII) I just never had all the parts on the floor at the same time and the 88 was a DD for a while. I passed on FM145's.


on the roller cams when i was at Crane in the early 90 they came out with thier own roller cams for the 2.3s.
They used the OEM roller arm and lifter from the 88? or so 2.3s and
of course had a smaller base circle than stocker And there was the one that made it work and that was to use SBC length valves.

I'm a big fan of the Pinto 2.3 engines. I had a couple of 79 Stangs that had the 2.3 Turbo engine.
 

MechRick

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I've actually prepped a set of 1.94" Chevy intakes. Cut them down to 1.90", trimmed the stems a bit. They will not work on the stock base circle due to the extra .100" in length. If I can find a grinder that can regrind the stock roller, I can use the Chevy valves and save about $80 on valves, and about $200 on the cam.

One thing to worry about is using the shorter stock 1.54" exhausts, which I want to do, because of the odd tulip shape of the Chevy exhausts. On the exhaust side, the valve will be shorter, and the lifter sit taller. This will change the geometry somewhat. I think it will narrow the lobe centers a bit.

Camcraft advertises a regrind service, I'll give them a call...
 

MechRick

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Block is back from the machine shop. This one got extremely hot and had to be decked.

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Notice the goldish tint of the bare block. I've been told this is because of the high nickel content of the iron used in 2.3 blocks.

On my last build, I used KB hypereutectic pistons, for the main reason of reducing reciprocating weight. The KB's are light, but expensive ($200). One of them came in a few grams heavier than the rest, and I had to whittle some weight off of it. This time I'm using speed pro pistons. They are very reasonable, but heavy. Dropping one on the gram scale with the pin shows 666 grams. Well, at least it's keeping in step with the apocalyptic theme.... :hmmm: All of them weigh the same, fortunately.

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I dug the crank out of the shed, where it's been for a few years, and the machine shop gave it a good polish. Clearances are right where you want to be with a street performance 2.3 at .0015".



Checking the machine shop...

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All four were right on the money. My typical street 2.3's use stock rods. Reportedly they are good for 400 HP. I like the oil squirt hole that limits piston scuffing. I will remove the balance pad from the small end to reduce reciprocating weight, always a good thing on a four cylinder. I will install ARP rod bolts and polish the beams a bit, and weight match.

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I think on this build I will fabricate a crank scraper and windage tray. This alone is supposed to be worth 10 HP on the 2.3L. In the past, I've used the Esslinger tray with good success.
 

johns3524

Well-known member
Looks so nice Turbo block too...Curious question..

Have you ever tried "floating pins"? My t-bucket friend always runs floating wrist pins in his 2300's. with a drilled oiling hole in the small end of the rod. I prepped a set of rods for my last block..but never used them
 

Cool23

Famous Member
How will that little 4 banger go pushing the Bronco along ? Given the Broncos had either a 6 or V8. Great project I have to say.
 

MechRick

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The baby Broncos always had a V6. Either a 2.8 or 2.9. There are rumors of 2.3L and 4.0L Bronco II's, but I've never seen one. The 2.3L four is a torquey engine. They pull Rangers around just fine. It won't be a powerhouse, but it will do ok.
 

MechRick

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johns3524":xxde8fp3 said:
Have you ever tried "floating pins"?

Not much meat on the small end. I thought about running steel on steel once, but don't want to send them out. I would run Esslingers or Crowers if I wanted floating pins.

Also, the Speed Pros don't have circlip grooves.
 

Cool23

Famous Member
MechRick":34i1dhiq said:
The baby Broncos always had a V6. Either a 2.8 or 2.9. There are rumors of 2.3L and 4.0L Bronco II's, but I've never seen one. The 2.3L four is a torquey engine. They pull Rangers around just fine. It won't be a powerhouse, but it will do ok.

OK. Sounds like a great project. (y)
 
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