North American Turbocoupe Organization



87 TC rebuild opinions
JSE1880 Offline
Junior Member
#1
Hello TC world
Brought home my new TC a few months ago, Car is being stored at my brothers garage, patiently waiting. I Spent maybe 6 hours going through the car, trying to start a relationship with her. Took her for a few rides around the block to see how she felt. Basically seeing whats what. Clutch needs replacing, Cheap eBay header is missing a bolt so it’s leaking pretty bad thus little to no boost. Turbo oil return line is cracked at block, needs replacement. Unsure of miles on the car but she still feels powerful minus the turbo and exhaust issues. The fan stopped working properly so the last owner CUT off the factory plug ends and wired in a dummy switch. Those are the known issues so far. Not so bad right? 

I’m not sure of my overall goals with the car! I’d love to have a nice show car with a nice engine bay and maybe take her out to the track every once in a while to have some fun, she looks the part as she sits. I’d say exterior is in excellent shape, interior is fairly pristine (imo). I want to open that hood and see a good looking engine and clean bay. I’ve been slowly gathering parts and pieces to throw at the TBird; ported lower, gutted and 90* rotated upper, bob log center mount, T04E 60 turbonetics , 60lb injectors., 3G from PA. Plan is to purchace and install a stinger FMIC, walbro 255, new ECU, 3” DP, electric Volvo power steering, McLeod stage 2+ clutch. 

I have gone back and forth with the idea of pulling and then rebuilding the entire engine. I do NOT think the engine “needs” to be rebuilt. I have rough #s on how much it would cost and It’s a good chunk of change as you most well know. I have spoken with Bo at Boport. He put together a package consisting of his stage 3 head with a 2.5 cam loaded, CP piston and rod kit, ARP bolts and such. It’s just a quote and I have NOT purchased at this point. I want a nice looking engine, that’s reliable and a bit more fun to play with on occasion. I’m not sure if it’s worth rebuilding the WHOLE engine at such a cost if I can achieve good HP gains with a lot less in-depth engine work. I’ve been researching LOTS, read through tons of posts, assessing my financial situation for the car, preparing myself for a long overhaul. 

Just curious about alternatives to pulling the whole engine and spending tons to have a performance engine that I WONT use often enough. I’d consider a new head and cam with all the other planned upgrades. I’m just looking for some ideas to get a good plan started for the engine. I’ll have the time during feb vacation to take the motor out and I’d be willing to send to performance machine shop here in MA to assess the engines worthiness. 

Thanks in advance fellow NATO members. Let it be known Ive been waiting to make a post like this since 1996 when I bought my first TBird.  I’ve owned 6 of them through the years. My love for these cars has never been stronger, I’ve always wanted a really nice TC and now that I’m an adult I’m hoping to make that dream come true! 


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Mikey97D likes this post
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gtbird Offline
Member
#2
Nice looking ride. More pictures please.
As far as building up the engine, more power is always fun, even if you don’t need all of it.
I’m always in favor of a good looking engine bay. It doesn’t cost a lot to clean and paint/detail parts and you can be proud to pop the hood and show off what you have.
Rick
1988 T/C Silver with red interior, fully loaded except for leather. 5 lug conversion with 97 Cobra wheels, Cobra 13" brakes up front, Mustang brakes out back, Koni adjustable shocks and struts, NOS Koni lowering springs . Maximum Motorsports control arms and caster/camber plates, subframe connectors.
SOLD September 2020. Will miss this car after 19 years of building/driving/showing....time for a new chapter in my life.
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Mikey97D Offline
Member
#3
Here's a link to the old forum for the list of Modifications for starting:
https://turbotbird.com/old/techinfo/Mods/Mods01.htm

There's also a list on Stinger website for horsepower goals and turbos, etc for the Lima engine.
1988 TC, 5 spd, Stinger 3" Exhaust, Schneider Roller Cam, -4° Cam Pulley, Cone Filter, Gilles Boost Control Valve set at 17 psi, Walbro 255 lph, CHE Rear Lower and Upper Control Arms, Braided Brake Lines, Hawk HPS 5.0 Front and HPS (F) Rear, CRES Inserts in front calipers, and '93 Cobra Wheels with General 235/50R17 Tires.   
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88turbomajor Offline
Member
#4
S and J engines has a long block for about $2700. Just swap it out. LOL. Best of luck! It's a beautiful car!
1984 Mercury Cougar 5.0L LS Silver/Gray (New 5.0L with E7 heads and HO cam)
Previous: 1988 Turbo Coupe
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JSE1880 Offline
Junior Member
#5
Thanks for the speedy replies. I’ve read through that link numerous times over the years ? we’re going to do a compression test to get a starting baseline and make the big decisions after. I’m leaning towards a new top end and leaving what is hopefully a good block.
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spittinfire Offline
Member
#6
If you're going to go to the lengths of a new head why not just pull the motor and at least check the crank/rod bearings and throw a fresh set of rings in it? All new gaskets wouldn't hurt anything and it won't cost you much money.
Jeff K likes this post
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JSE1880 Offline
Junior Member
#7
So we did a compression test today. Warmed the engine up but then realized we didn’t have the adapter for the tester. Took about 25 min to get one and then did the test. Engine was still “warm” but not hot. Every cylinder came back right around 120psi. This seems a bit low, am I to believe it was because we did not reheat the engine back up? 4 weeks till the engine comes out, I think I’ve decided to save some money on building a hot rod engine and going mild rebuild. I plan on tearing the engine down and handing it off to a machinist. My fear with building a beast is the amount of other performance work I’ll have to introduce(brakes,transmission,rear end, so on). I’ve searched as best I can to find ideas for mild builds to create more power without overdoing it. I’m not that versed in building engines and what is a definite replacement or not.
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spittinfire Offline
Member
#8
120 isn't horrible. What kind of power are you trying to make?

What you outlined in your first post was doing everything except pulling the block. Now you're concerned about the compression tests so why not just pull the engine? I do all my own work but it’s only a couple hundred dollars in parts to put new bearings in the engine and re-ring it AND you can put all new seals/gaskets in it.
Once the head is off you can see what the bores look like and I would be willing to bet they’re in good shape so you kiss them with a hone, put new rings on the pistons and put it back together.
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JSE1880 Offline
Junior Member
#9
Engine comes out during feb vacation. Made a couple trips and started to disassemble her, all that’s left to remove is AC lines, power steering lines and the damn turbo elbow. My problem is I don’t know what I want ?. I know I want a bit more umph, but don’t want to have to start getting into too much more work. She needs a clutch so we’re Deff just taking it out. Hoping to send to machine shop locally and have him go through it(whatever that means) first timer here sooo it’s all a bit much for me to comprehend. Don’t know what kind of cam, lifters, bore, stroke all that stuff makes sense to lots of you guys but I’m still learning.
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anasazi4st Offline
Senior Member
#10
(01-17-2023, 09:30 PM)JSE1880 Wrote: Engine comes out during feb vacation. Made a couple trips and started to disassemble her, all that’s left to remove is AC lines, power steering lines and the damn turbo elbow. My problem is I don’t know what I want ?. I know I want a bit more umph, but don’t want to have to start getting into too much more work. She needs a clutch so we’re Deff just taking it out. Hoping to send to machine shop locally and have him go through it(whatever that means) first timer here sooo it’s all a bit much for me to comprehend. Don’t know what kind of cam, lifters, bore, stroke all that stuff makes sense to lots of you guys but I’m still learning.

Yeah, it can make your head spin.

Don’t be influenced by those that might tell you to add this, replace this, just so you have a powerful engine. As you have  pointed out, it’s a rabbit hole in that now there are safety concerns with better brakes, etc.

I would agree with spittinfire—pull the head off and take it to a machine shop. What they tell you will go a long way with your decision, as well as what the cylinders look like. The head could: have been damaged by running too hot, so possibly cracked valve seats; need a valve job—so new valves, seats, etc. At the least you should have it milled so its mating surfaces better match the block.

Also, consider that the sound system in these cars is 35+ years old. That means, weak or damaged paper speaker cones—two on the rear deck, two in the doors, two on the dash, and a head unit (radio) that is now sadly outdated. I spent $600 to replace all the speakers and the head unit. I don’t know about you, but I fully enjoy great music as I drive around town, and especially on long trips. This cost can cause you to re-evaluate how much you want to spend on engine repair.

I too will be attempting an engine rebuild. I have also been collecting what will I need. But in the meantime, these are my thoughts.
Another proud dues-paying member.

1987 Turbo Coupe w/T5OD, 8.8 axle, grey smoke; most options. Got it in 1991 with 41K miles: 3 turbos, 2 heater cores, 1 T5OD full rebuild, 5 clutches, 1 head gasket, 2 Teves II ABS units, etc. later....
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