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SN95 Chris' 351w Swapped 1995 Build Thread Profile - SN95 Mustangs

I got the Mustang started last night!


I took my time and made sure everything looked decently nice and, most importantly, would work properly. I didn't want to spend a bunch of time chasing gremlins because I didn't do things right in the first place. I guess I did well enough with it, because I finally got to take it for a test drive last night to the gas station and then over to the exhaust shop this morning!

I definitely wasn't gonna choke down a 635hp engine with the old 2.5" X Pipe kit I had before. And that 2.3" flange on the header wasn't gonna cut it either. It got treated to a pair of V Band clamps on the collectors, 3" pipe with X, DynoMax Race Bullets, and turn downs. I have a pretty great exhaust guy...he's a little gruff, definitely not the go-to guy for a show car, but if you want a good, cheap exhaust, he's the man!

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I haven't heard it yet, the exhaust guy just sent me these photos, so I may hate the way it sounds lol...but at least it ought to be a little quieter and still make good power.

The first AutoCross with this new setup is in two weeks, then its first track event is June 17 and 18! Not a ton of time to drive it and make sure all the bugs are worked out, but hopefully it's enough.
 
We had the engine idled up on the dyno to about 1200, which is how I drove it to the exhaust shop. After the Sniper did some learning, it cleaned up the idle a bit and I turned it down to 800 RPM. It sounds pretty great now. I don't think the videos really do it justice, but it is what it is.

 
We tuned up all the wide-open throttle stuff on the dyno, but I have been playing with and tweaking all the other idle and drivability stuff off and on for the past couple weeks. Since my first event is only a week out, I decided to throw in the towel on my own tuning effort. I was scared to change much myself because I am definitely not a pro tuner and REALLY don’t want to mess up this nice new engine. I had previously used the guy that I bought my Sniper through, who I reached out to again, but he wasn’t available to get it done on short notice, so I reached out to another gentleman I had heard good things about. He was able to jump on the next day (last night) and play with it a little. After I sent him my tune file, he wanted to “see” it run using TeamViewer and my connected laptop before he committed to tuning it, since it’s a pretty racy combination. He made some tweaks and adjustments and got it running and driving way better than it was before.

I did finally order some seats, Corbeau LG1s. My cousin has been bugging me about them for over a year, because mine really weren’t very good. But I think I posted here about my seat bolt (the front left one that holds the seat to the seat track) coming out while on the AutoX course back in December. I put it back in in December, but then started the engine tear down. Well, I reached to the back seat to grab something the other day and it popped out again. I guess the seat bolt hole in the seat itself is stripped out. Rather than fiddle with it and hope I can make it work, it seems like a good time to make the upgrade to the Corbeaus. I won’t have a roll bar to install harnesses, but I’m sure it’ll still be better than before.

I got the nice Maximum Motorsports Extreme Duty rear lower control arms installed last week while I had the car on the lift to swap wheels and tires. The old urethane bushing lower arms were probably as worn as the uppers were when I removed them. The MM ones are significantly heavier than the old ones, since they are stouter and have spherical bushings on both ends, but they should still be a worthwhile upgrade.

I have to say, I am REALLY impressed with the straight line traction of this rear suspension. With the old suspension setup, and the setup on pretty much every Mustang I have owned in the past, I had some wheel hop and the car would try to turn to the right as you were taking off. I have been driving this thing hard on the backroads, and it’s so much better than before.

I also have some new gauges that should be here today that I am hoping to have completely installed this weekend. Holley EFI Analog gauges for the GPS Speedo and the Tach, Autometer water temp and programmable fuel level. I already have an Equus voltage gauge and oil pressure gauge. It’ll be a little mismatched in branding and font, but at least they are all white face and..hey, it’s a racecar.
 
Got all the gauges installed and functioning...they don't match, but they will do for now. The Holley gauges look AWESOME, so I may slowly get more of those until I have a matching set. Once you run one wire from the Sniper, they can output anything the Sniper outputs like water temp, RPMs, etc.

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New seats are installed and they fit me peeeeerfectly

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Race Louvers installed, too...I enlisted the help of a friend with a grayer beard, steadier hand, and better eye for detail.

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I have a new Griffin radiator that was delivered to the shop today. I also picked up some Ford Contour dual fans. They're supposed to be an improvement over the single factory GT fan, especially since they cover a larger area (important, since I am putting in a larger 31x19 radiator). I'm doing everything I can between now and AutoX this weekend to improve the cooling. I had some issues with the old engine, so I can't imagine not having issues with twice as much power.

My cousin also had a PowerMaster 9403 starter, brand new in the box, laying at the shop under a thick layer of dust. I had been planning to get a new one, because the one I have on there has been getting weaker and really struggles with this tight new engine, especially when hot. The one he has is 4.40:1 gear ratio, rated for up to 18:1 compression. Normally $250 new, and he's gonna let me have it.

I did pick up some spare plug wires last night, along with a couple fuel cans and 5 gallons of MS109. I plan to mix some into the car while we're at Hallett to try prevent detonation.
 
A couple weeks ago, I pulled out one of the spark plugs that the engine shop had put in before we put it on the dyno. They were NGK non-resistor plugs. Anytime you're running fuel injection, resistor-type plugs are recommended to avoid RFI issues (something the Sniper is known to be susceptible to). I called NGK to get them to cross the part number that was in the engine over to a resistor style of the same reach/heat range/threads, etc.

When I told her the part number on the plug, the woman from NGK asked if I was running boost or nitrous. I said no, and she asked if this was a 14-15:1 compression NA engine...I said no. She then said that the plug I had is way too cold for even a higher dynamic (200 PSI cranking) compression naturally aspirated engine. She said they recommend a 6 heat range for most NA engines in the 10.X:1 range, and a 7 heat range for 11.x:1 to be on the safer side since I am at about 10.8:1.

While I had her on the phone, I got to thinking about a drive a took the car on a previous day. I started it up and let it idle for a few minutes to warm up a bit. Then got in and took off. The car was running terribly. Chugging and breaking up just driving normal even though it showed the coolant was fully up to temp. I waited until I got on the interstate, then laid into it on the on-ramp. It came to life and ran beautifully! And continued to run beautifully the rest of the drive. I have tried it a couple of times since then, and it does this same thing pretty much every time. I had always assumed it was the cold start enrichment needing some tweaking, but then I got to thinking...

I asked the woman from NGK if these two things could be related; could too cold of a heat range be causing it to try to foul plugs at lower RPM and idle, and then when I really jump on the throttle and hammer it, that gets them up to temp and lets them burn off the crap? She said absolutely and said again that I didn't need to run anything colder than a 7 NGK heat range and a resistor-style for the Sniper's sake. She recommended the BKR7E or 4644 part number.

I contacted my tuning guy just to get his thoughts, and he fully agreed with NGK.

I put those in and BAM! engine starts cold every single time and runs nicely. Still has a bit of a hiccup when cold, but I'm not gonna be the hot rodder that complains about a "bit of a hiccup" on a 635hp engine doing what it's not built to do.
 
So after solving some of the driveability issues with hotter plugs, I turned back to hard parts. I got the Griffin radiator and Ford Contour dual fan setup installed, new starter put on, etc.

My buddy and I installed the FRPP proportioning valve in the rear line and then gutted the factory prop valve. We went for a drive in a somewhat secluded area. The goal was simple, add rear bias until the rears locked up first, then back off the rear bias until the fronts locked up just before the rears. He stood outside of the car while I gunned it, then slammed on the brakes. We did this a couple of times (locking up the fronts) before I realized it might take a LOT of rear bias to get the rears to lock up and told him to just set the prop valve all the way open (50/50 bias since the factory valve is gutted) and we would work our way back from there. He cranked it open, we tried again aaaaand...it turns out that with 13" 2000 Cobra R Brembo setup in front and the 10.5" GT rears in the back, locking up the rears before the fronts is simply not possible. The stiff suspension probably plays a role in that as well, less weight transfer to the front tires, maybe? I dunno, but I am sure it isn't possible.

Either way, it didn't matter, the car stopped waaaay better than before. Brake modulation was much better, too, since the car wasn't trying to immediately lock the fronts up.
 
So we hit the AutoX course the weekend before last. This was my final opportunity to really test the car out and make any last-minute changes before we took the car to Hallett for the Mid-America Ford and Shelby Nationals meet on June 17-18. I had gone ahead and taken the whole week off just in case anything major broke on us. To my surprise, mostly nothing did...

I did lose a wheel. I still can't fathom how that happened. Both a friend and I had checked them to make sure they were all tight. I put them on finger tight, then ran them down snug with the impact. He put a breaker bar on all of them, then insisted I check them with the breaker bar, which I did.

On Saturday, the car did perfectly, no hint of a wheel about to fall off. We left the car at the airport overnight and then showed up Sunday to run. On my very first run, right through the timing light, I noticed something felt very wrong. It felt like there was something loose in the front right of the car. I slowed down and pulled off to return to the pit. About halfway back, the left rear wheel passed me and the car thudded to the ground. The car landed down on my sway bar and ground it down pretty good in the short time it took me to stop.

All of the lugnuts stayed inside the wheel and it rolled across course. We managed to find all 5, so I threw a couple on and got it out of the way. I went back to the pits, cleaned up the aluminum from my slightly damaged wheel off the threads, then torqued them all back down. I went ahead and checked all the others, which were all at 105 ftlbs or more. The safety stewards cleared me to run in the afternoon, so I got back in it.

The biggest "wins" from the AutoX weekend were power, handling, and cooling. The car felt pretty neutral, braked very nicely, and the temp never went over 205 (not too surprising, since I just had the fans coming on at 200). On Sunday, I turned the fans on at 195, off at 185, and the car never touched 200.

My biggest takeaway from the AutoX was that I need to learn to drive this car now. The brake bias adjustment made it stop like it used to, insanely good, but I wasn't used to it braking that well without locking up a front wheel. I did too much coasting instead of just stabbing the brake and then getting back in the throttle.

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Last edited:

JDee

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halfway between Mosport and Shannonville
So we hit the AutoX course the weekend before last. This was my final opportunity to really test the car out and make any last-minute changes before we took the car to Hallett for the Mid-America Ford and Shelby Nationals meet on June 17-18. I had gone ahead and taken the whole week off just in case anything major broke on us. To my surprise, mostly nothing did...

I did lose a wheel. I still can't fathom how that happened. Both a friend and I had checked them to make sure they were all tight. I put them on finger tight, then ran them down snug with the impact. He put a breaker bar on all of them, then insisted I check them with the breaker bar, which I did.

On Saturday, the car did perfectly, no hint of a wheel about to fall off. We left the car at the airport overnight and then showed up Sunday to run. On my very first run, right through the timing light, I noticed something felt very wrong. It felt like there was something loose in the front right of the car. I slowed down and pulled off to return to the pit. About halfway back, the left rear wheel passed me and the car thudded to the ground. The car landed down on my sway bar and ground it down pretty good in the short time it took me to stop.

All of the lugnuts stayed inside the wheel and it rolled across course. We managed to find all 5, so I threw a couple on and got it out of the way. I went back to the pits, cleaned up the aluminum from my slightly damaged wheel off the threads, then torqued them all back down. I went ahead and checked all the others, which were all at 105 ftlbs or more. The safety stewards cleared me to run in the afternoon, so I got back in it.

The biggest "wins" from the AutoX weekend were power, handling, and cooling. The car felt pretty neutral, braked very nicely, and the temp never went over 205 (not too surprising, since I just had the fans coming on at 200). On Sunday, I turned the fans on at 195, off at 185, and the car never touched 200.

My biggest takeaway from the AutoX was that I need to learn to drive this car now. The brake bias adjustment made it stop like it used to, insanely good, but I wasn't used to it braking that well without locking up a front wheel. I did too much coasting instead of just stabbing the brake and then getting back in the throttle.

It is not unheard of for A-holes to loosen lugs on cars that stand out. They apparently find that funny, even after they kill someone. There is no end to the stupidity of homo sapiens and it is getting worse, not better. I spent 22 years as a cop and while this wasn't super common, I saw it more than once.
 
Before we went to Hallett, the day we were set to leave actually, my cousin decided he would feel a lot better about going fast if he had a set of harnesses. After taking a careful look at what we had to work with, we decided the best way to do it was to utilize the factory seatbelt mounting points on the B pillar. So we rounded up some tubing he had leftover from his dirt track days and designed a simple harness bar tube. It worked well and felt very secure, so I will probably leave it in the car until I get the urge to put in an actual roll bar. It's much better than stock belts, especially when coupled with the new seats, and I'm not clinging on to the wheel going around corners anymore. That's always nice!

We did have some issues. First issue was during tech...I had installed the new radiator/fan setup and stupidly forgot to put a new overflow bottle on the car...the old one no longer fit. We taped a powerade bottle in the engine bay and borrowed some hose from the track mechanics.

The first session out on Thursday, everything was fine, the car was great. Then my cousin got in the car to drive and I noticed it was smoking as he was coming down the front stretch. That was my first scare of the weekend, since I have a lot of time and money invested in this new engine. He pitted early, thankfully. We checked it out, and it was just some oil pushing out the breathers. The engine shop had installed both valve covers with breathers toward the rear of the car. At full throttle/high RPM, it was building up a little pressure, and since all the oil in was sloshed to the rear under acceleration, it was pushing. Friday morning, we swapped the valve covers around to where the breathers were at the front, and that pretty much solved the issue.

We also had an idler bolt come loose and push the belt toward the rear of the car. It shredded longways, turning our 6 rib belt into a 3 rib belt. Just took a trip to AutoZone Thursday night for the right torx bit to tighten it, two new belts (one for spare), and some good ole loctite and we were back to running Friday morning.

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The car ran like a champ most of the day Friday. The highest temp I saw was about 212*, not too concerning with how hard we were running it. An oil cooler might help bring that down, as it stayed around 200* until we ran a couple of sessions a little closer together.

At the end of Friday, my cousin was in the car with my brother while I drove my dad's car. I was just cruising around and I pitted before him. About 5 minutes later, I realized I hadn't seen him come around in a while. About 5 minutes after that, I realized he should've been back to the pits by then. About 5 minutes after that I saw a tow truck pull up with my cousin and brother in tow....uh-oh. I could barely walk over there to see what had happened...

Turns out, nothing major. The power steering pump locked up, which killed the engine (and almost put them in the grass). Thankfully, that's an easy fix, and a lot cheaper than a blown engine like I was picturing on the "long" walk from our pit area up to the tow truck.

All in all, Hallett was pretty dang awesome. I ran a 1:30.9 and my much more experienced cousin ran a 1:31.0. I don't think I have ever been that excited over a tenth of a second. He's come up with a few excuses already, but I'm not having it....

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It is not unheard of for A-holes to loosen lugs on cars that stand out. They apparently find that funny, even after they kill someone. There is no end to the stupidity of homo sapiens and it is getting worse, not better. I spent 22 years as a cop and while this wasn't super common, I saw it more than once.

It has been a consideration that someone could have done it intentionally. What I can't figure is A.) why me? I'm not particularly fast... B.) who would do it to me? I know the guys that were staying at the airport on either side of the car that night (both of them in my CAM-T class, one of them being the friend that helped me install the hood vent and tighten the lugnuts, the other being a pretty seemingly straightlaced guy with a super-fast Camaro) C.) who would have the 14mm hex that it would take to loosen them?

While I haven't eliminated the idea of sabotage entirely, I figure the overlap between who would do it and who would have the tool to do it is pretty small. The chances of it being someone random is even slimmer, as this airport is off the beaten path pretty far and my friend sleeping in the tent next to my car would have likely heard someone pull up from a mile away.

Either way, I have a new track/AutoX morning ritual....
 
Another cool thing I got to do at Hallett: drive one of my dream cars!

Or rather, what was one of my dream cars. Turns out, these cars are way too small. I've climbed into it before and did fine, when my cousin was working on it, but with a helmet on...fuhgeddaboudit...

I had to slouch down pretty far in the seat. I made it work, but the most I could manage was some Sunday cruising speed. I did get into it on the straights, but up and downshifting was very difficult, so I just took it easy and enjoyed the experience.

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It turns out that my car is faster than a 2006 Ford GT on the straights, which is pretty dang cool. I wish I'd gotten pulling my dad down the front stretch on video...but I didn't, so you folks will just have to take my word that 635hp in an old POS Mustang is faster than 550hp in an old supercar.

My brother claimed it didn't bother him, but was caught talking about pulley swapping the GT in the pits shortly afterward...
 

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