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Need guidance

NickMcAFP

Newbie
Joined
Aug 8, 2021
Messages
70
Loc.
Sturbridge
I know these topics have been beat to death but I'm a little overwhelmed and could use what probably amounts to a reality check.

My father passed away earlier this year leaving me a 1975 Bronco that has been sitting since 1997 after a minor car accident. being 9 years old at the time I begged him not to get rid of it and he never did. It was a "someday project" that never happened. I have kids now and I want to enjoy it with them so I'm pouring my resources into finishing it "for him".

We currently have the vehicle stripped down. The frame has been cleaned up and made solid again. The body is more or less completely gone so I have someone I trust rebuilding that.

Things that are decided on:
- My father had lifted it 2.5 inches and put it on 33s. Those are being cleaned up/updated but are staying as he set them.
- He left me a 4 speed toploader that he had sourced for it. I know it isnt what everyone is using now but he sourced it way back and this is mostly going to be a street vehicle. I'd like to keep it.
- 4.11 gears to correct for the larger tires and less than ideal 1st gear on the toploader.
- Keeping the 302

outside of that everything is up in the air. Vehicle is pretty much stock aside from the lift. This is a frame up restoration so everything is coming out and getting rebuilt.

Engine: I'm dealing with a lot of project creep in the engine department. The guy I have rebuilding it recommended EFI for "ease of use" which wasnt on my radar at all initially. I'm not a carb genius but i'm not afraid to learn. Additionally I've read a bunch on here about timing and cams and intakes and headers.. I just want to drive the darn thing and I want it to be reliable. I may end up towing a small row boat with it or something at some point as my kids are getting into fishing. It doesnt need to be a monster but it is my understanding that the way these were set from the factory is less than ideal. A little more torque wouldnt be a bad thing.

Should I be worried about the cooling system? I'm in New England.

Heater upgrades?

Power steering? This seems to be popular.

Exhaust?

Normally I'm in the "replace it when it fails" camp but basically everything needs to be gone through so I keep running into the "while we have it apart we might as well" thing a ton.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated! I'm in over my head a little bit!

-Nick
 

JeepGuy

Bronco Guru
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Messages
1,173
Oh man, sorry about the loss of your dad. Rebuilding and getting this Bronco back on the road is an awesome way to memorialize your memories of him.

That standard 302 block has been around for many years and a carb set up if tuned right will run for years without issue. If you are not sold on EFI you really can't go wrong with the standard Motorcraft 2100 model or Carter model that came with these Bronco's. You can still do minor upgrades in regards to a cam, upgrade your Distributor, add headers, etc...

The heater upgrade really is a no brainer if you have the heater pulled out already. You can source those parts from vendors on here, or find the upgrade in the tech section and get most of it from your local parts store.

On 33's, street driving, you can probably handle the stock non power steering, but if you plan on wheeling it, just upgrade the steering now. A ton of different options. I went with the 4x4x2 option and new pump for ease of mind.

One of the best things about working on these Bronco's is thanks to the Vendors here, and the forum, you can tackle just about anything you want and most of the parts are still available or easily cross referenced and found.

Good luck on your project. What has worked for me is focusing on one section at a time so you don't get too scattered and lose interest.

Another BIG suggestion is become a contributor here so you can add pictures. It will help along the way.
 
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OP
NickMcAFP

NickMcAFP

Newbie
Joined
Aug 8, 2021
Messages
70
Loc.
Sturbridge
Oh man, sorry about the loss of your dad. Rebuilding and getting this Bronco back on the road is an awesome way to memorialize your memories of him.

That standard 302 block has been around for many years and a carb set up if tuned right will run for years without issue. If you are not sold on EFI you really can't go wrong with the standard Motorcraft 2100 model or Carter model that came with these Bronco's. You can still do minor upgrades in regards to a cam, upgrade your Distributor, add headers, etc...

The heater upgrade really is a no brainer if you have the heater pulled out already. You can source those parts from vendors on here, or find the upgrade in the tech section and get most of it from your local parts store.

On 33's, street driving, you can probably handle the stock non power steering, but if you plan on wheeling it, just upgrade the steering now. A ton of different options. I went with the 4x4x2 option and new pump for ease of mind.

One of the best things about working on these Bronco's is thanks to the Vendors here, and the forum, you can tackle just about anything you want and most of the parts are still available or easily cross referenced and found.

Good luck on your project. What has worked for me is focusing on one section at a time so you don't get too scattered and lose interest.

Another BIG suggestion is become a contributor here so you can add pictures. It will help along the way.

Memorializing him is definitely the idea. It's a real struggle though because he was the expert and I can't ask him anything. He left me a bunch of odds and ends. I've actually got fiberglass fenders and a grille for it that I'm not really sure is going to end up being used. My body guy is really against using fiberglass and has made the case against it.

So I would still see gains out of doing the cam and headers even with the stock carb? what about the intake? My experience with this stuff is limited to British motorcycles.

I don't plan on doing any hard wheeling. I would like to know that it is capable of going off road but if I'm being honest with myself it likely won't see much beyond light trails.

Its great to see the resources that are available. I'm sure its very different than it was back in the 90s when my father first got into this thing.

How do I become a contributor?

Thank you!
Nick
 

JeepGuy

Bronco Guru
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Messages
1,173
Memorializing him is definitely the idea. It's a real struggle though because he was the expert and I can't ask him anything. He left me a bunch of odds and ends. I've actually got fiberglass fenders and a grille for it that I'm not really sure is going to end up being used. My body guy is really against using fiberglass and has made the case against it.

So I would still see gains out of doing the cam and headers even with the stock carb? what about the intake? My experience with this stuff is limited to British motorcycles.

I don't plan on doing any hard wheeling. I would like to know that it is capable of going off road but if I'm being honest with myself it likely won't see much beyond light trails.

Its great to see the resources that are available. I'm sure its very different than it was back in the 90s when my father first got into this thing.

How do I become a contributor?

Thank you!
Nick

Becoming a contributor is easy. There is a "Sticky" thread at the top of this forum called "How to upload photos - Become a Contributor"

Those stock Carbs can handle some upgraded engine combo's. I'm not a engine builder by any means, but I know those 302's have tons of modifications available from mild to wild. I would think a mild cam, headers, and an intake would do just fine with the stock carb for what you are doing. You can re-jet those Carbs up to a point and keep them reliable. On my build, then engine upgrades will either be right before paint, or right after. When I parked it it had no engine issues, so other than replacing some gaskets and fuel lines I'm hoping it's still drivable for a bit. My plan is getting everything running and the little quirks worked out, then upgrade the engine. Mine will be a wheeler so some type of EFI is in the plans.

Were you able to start your Bronco up at all before tearing it all down?
 
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NickMcAFP

NickMcAFP

Newbie
Joined
Aug 8, 2021
Messages
70
Loc.
Sturbridge
Becoming a contributor is easy. There is a "Sticky" thread at the top of this forum called "How to upload photos - Become a Contributor"

Those stock Carbs can handle some upgraded engine combo's. I'm not a engine builder by any means, but I know those 302's have tons of modifications available from mild to wild. I would think a mild cam, headers, and an intake would do just fine with the stock carb for what you are doing. You can re-jet those Carbs up to a point and keep them reliable. On my build, then engine upgrades will either be right before paint, or right after. When I parked it it had no engine issues, so other than replacing some gaskets and fuel lines I'm hoping it's still drivable for a bit. My plan is getting everything running and the little quirks worked out, then upgrade the engine. Mine will be a wheeler so some type of EFI is in the plans.

Were you able to start your Bronco up at all before tearing it all down?

I didn't find the keys to it until after we had started tearing into it. We did turn the engine over by hand though without issue. From what we can tell it is in fantastic shape.

I would rather be sorting things out as issues present themselves but the body was so rotted from sitting that we had to launch right into a frame up build. I'm wrestling between keeping it simple and just going all out while I have it in pieces. I don't want to regret having done or not done something once it is all together and pretty. My guy pitched EFI as a no brainer for just getting in and starting it up but adding a computer where there wasn't a computer feels weird to me. My motorcycle starts fine after a couple of kicks but I'm sure that's an apples to oranges comparison.
 

blubuckaroo

Grease Monkey
Joined
Jun 11, 2007
Messages
11,765
Loc.
Ridgefield WA
I know of several who have used the 303 "top loader" four speed on a Bronco. The problem is that tranny has an even higher first gear than the 303 three speed. It doesn't work well with 3.50 gears. On the positive side, it has four gears instead of three and yours has 4.11 gears.
 

tasker

Contributor
all knowing of nothing
Joined
Jun 2, 2006
Messages
20,240
Loc.
NH
There is a strong contingent of use Bronco owners here in New England...I ran a 302 for years with no problems...3.50s and 33s with a c4. Don't hesitate to message with any questions. Sorry for your loss.....never easy but know he is smiling knowing you will carry on
 
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OP
NickMcAFP

NickMcAFP

Newbie
Joined
Aug 8, 2021
Messages
70
Loc.
Sturbridge
I know of several who have used the 303 "top loader" four speed on a Bronco. The problem is that tranny has an even higher first gear than the 303 three speed. It doesn't work well with 3.50 gears. On the positive side, it has four gears instead of three and yours has 4.11 gears.

Since I'm having it rebuilt anyway (as I don't know the history of the transmission) the plan is to install one of the modified lower first gears into it. Puts the first gear at 2.90 instead of the 2.78. I really don't know how noticeable the difference would be but it brings it closer to stock
 
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NickMcAFP

NickMcAFP

Newbie
Joined
Aug 8, 2021
Messages
70
Loc.
Sturbridge
There is a strong contingent of use Bronco owners here in New England...I ran a 302 for years with no problems...3.50s and 33s with a c4. Don't hesitate to message with any questions. Sorry for your loss.....never easy but know he is smiling knowing you will carry on

Thank you.

My dad had been driving this one around with the stock 3 speed manual, 3.50s and 33s.. but I know he had wanted to go to 4.11s so that's what I'm doing.

Did you do anything to upgrade your 302?
 

SteveL

Huge chevy guy
Joined
Jun 24, 2001
Messages
11,288
Loc.
Hawthorne ca
Looking at your wants no need to go efi. The best carb options are the stock 2100 Or a q-jet if you want a 4barrel. The top loader should be fine. I've been running em for years on and off road. As far as suspension I know you mentioned keeping the lift your dad put on. I would highly recommend gettinga new set of springs and shocks from one of our vendors. Most older springs ride really stiff. The newer ones provide a much better ride on and off road. Same with the shocks. The technology has gotten far better and now you get a better ride out of a good set of single shocks than any of the older stuff. Definitely go with ps while you're at it. There's a few good options for the ps box but go with the Saginaw upgrade on the pump. No need for a fancy radiator. Just have your stock one checked out or redone. If you have the shroud it should be fine.
 

Scoop

Contributor
Have Bronco, Will Travel
Joined
Feb 1, 2006
Messages
10,286
Loc.
Cuchara, CO
Power steering is a must for ease of driving. EFI is the way to go in my opinion. I would recommend the Explorer setup vs. any of the aftermarket kits. The top loader is a cool set up but some of the 5-speed swaps (NV3550, AX 15) will increase the drivability. Search on here for the "Super Single" exhaust - the 2-in, 1-out Magnaflo set up works well and sounds good.

Very cool you are honoring your dad with this build. Keep us all posted with your progress! (With Pics!!)
 
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NickMcAFP

NickMcAFP

Newbie
Joined
Aug 8, 2021
Messages
70
Loc.
Sturbridge
Looking at your wants no need to go efi. The best carb options are the stock 2100 Or a q-jet if you want a 4barrel. The top loader should be fine. I've been running em for years on and off road. As far as suspension I know you mentioned keeping the lift your dad put on. I would highly recommend gettinga new set of springs and shocks from one of our vendors. Most older springs ride really stiff. The newer ones provide a much better ride on and off road. Same with the shocks. The technology has gotten far better and now you get a better ride out of a good set of single shocks than any of the older stuff. Definitely go with ps while you're at it. There's a few good options for the ps box but go with the Saginaw upgrade on the pump. No need for a fancy radiator. Just have your stock one checked out or redone. If you have the shroud it should be fine.

New springs and shocks are definitely on the list.

Is there any real advantage to a 4 barrel for what I am doing? I've read a few posts and with all of these engine mods it seems questionable as to how and when you actually see the gains. I'm going to be around town mostly. infrequently driving highway speeds. Initially I was going to do a mild cam, timing chain, and some headers but if I stick with the factory 2 barrel am I shooting myself in the foot? My experience with motorcycles has taught me that the more you mess with something the less reliably it is going to work but it seems like ford left a lot on the table with they way they were tuning these engines in 75?

Thank you!
Nick
 
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NickMcAFP

NickMcAFP

Newbie
Joined
Aug 8, 2021
Messages
70
Loc.
Sturbridge
Power steering is a must for ease of driving. EFI is the way to go in my opinion. I would recommend the Explorer setup vs. any of the aftermarket kits. The top loader is a cool set up but some of the 5-speed swaps (NV3550, AX 15) will increase the drivability. Search on here for the "Super Single" exhaust - the 2-in, 1-out Magnaflo set up works well and sounds good.

Very cool you are honoring your dad with this build. Keep us all posted with your progress! (With Pics!!)

I was looking at the 5 speeds but I can remember my dad telling me about the toploader. I has been sitting around waiting for a long time. I recognize that its an outdated swap but it just feels right, if that makes sense.

Thank you for the exhaust direction. I was leaning towards a 2 into 1. having some validation on that helps.
 

blubuckaroo

Grease Monkey
Joined
Jun 11, 2007
Messages
11,765
Loc.
Ridgefield WA
New springs and shocks are definitely on the list.

Is there any real advantage to a 4 barrel for what I am doing?

Thank you!
Nick

No, unless you're spending a good amount of time on the highway, you're probably better off with your 2 barrel.
I found the need to switch to a four barrel when I had an auto tranny and switched from 3.50 gears to 4.11s.
What would happen is when I'd try to pass another car on a two lane and the tranny dropped down into passing gear, the engine would flat run out of air at around 3000 RPM. It would leave me hanging there alongside the car I was passing.
A switch to four barrel and dual exhaust fixed that.
 

73azbronco

Bronco Guru
Joined
Nov 11, 2007
Messages
7,154
It sounds like you want basic stock runner. You said mostly street vehicle.

I like that.

I recommend you consider going back to stock suspension height, it will drive so much better, make towing that much easier.

For "ease of use", I recommend a 2100 autolight/motorcraft rebuilt by reputable shop, many out there, stay simple here. Stay away from EFI. Use a good simple EFI style camshaft though typically called an RV cam, stock heads/exhaust, etc. EFI cam to get you capability to upgrade to efi if, only if you want to drop $1000 plus.

When I rebuild a motor, I'm all in for new radiator, hoses, etc. I guess it is three on tree now? Keep it that way. Prove you hate that.

Then drive it.

Then, do little things to make it more driveable, if you need them.
 
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NickMcAFP

NickMcAFP

Newbie
Joined
Aug 8, 2021
Messages
70
Loc.
Sturbridge
No, unless you're spending a good amount of time on the highway, you're probably better off with your 2 barrel.
I found the need to switch to a four barrel when I had an auto tranny and switched from 3.50 gears to 4.11s.
What would happen is when I'd try to pass another car on a two lane and the tranny dropped down into passing gear, the engine would flat run out of air at around 3000 RPM. It would leave me hanging there alongside the car I was passing.
A switch to four barrel and dual exhaust fixed that.

Awesome. Thank you.
 
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NickMcAFP

NickMcAFP

Newbie
Joined
Aug 8, 2021
Messages
70
Loc.
Sturbridge
It sounds like you want basic stock runner. You said mostly street vehicle.

I like that.

I recommend you consider going back to stock suspension height, it will drive so much better, make towing that much easier.

For "ease of use", I recommend a 2100 autolight/motorcraft rebuilt by reputable shop, many out there, stay simple here. Stay away from EFI. Use a good simple EFI style camshaft though typically called an RV cam, stock heads/exhaust, etc. EFI cam to get you capability to upgrade to efi if, only if you want to drop $1000 plus.

When I rebuild a motor, I'm all in for new radiator, hoses, etc. I guess it is three on tree now? Keep it that way. Prove you hate that.

Then drive it.

Then, do little things to make it more driveable, if you need them.

I've definitely considered keeping the three speed manual. There's a novelty to it that is exciting.. but given the amount of effort I'm putting into rebuilding the vehicle I rather avoid wanting to replace it later. The 4 speed with the lowered first gives me almost the same range as the 3 speed with some added drivability. Also I keep seeing people using the word "fun" to describe it so that's another plus. There's a huge draw to putting everything back to stock but there's also a draw to going over the top with it too. I'm hoping the mild lift and 33s is a happy medium. I know it's what my father would have liked and I'm trying to keep this as sort of a weird, beyond the grave, collaborative build.

I really appreciate the input. Thank you!
 

tasker

Contributor
all knowing of nothing
Joined
Jun 2, 2006
Messages
20,240
Loc.
NH
Thank you.

My dad had been driving this one around with the stock 3 speed manual, 3.50s and 33s.. but I know he had wanted to go to 4.11s so that's what I'm doing.

Did you do anything to upgrade your 302?
IT WAS A 302 out of a GT Mustang so that helped....even better now with the 351
 
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NickMcAFP

NickMcAFP

Newbie
Joined
Aug 8, 2021
Messages
70
Loc.
Sturbridge
IT WAS A 302 out of a GT Mustang so that helped....even better now with the 351

I see people dropping 351s in a lot. The factory 302 I have is really in too good shape to justify replacing it though.. also I only have so much of the original truck left that sometimes it starts to feel silly holding on.
 

blubuckaroo

Grease Monkey
Joined
Jun 11, 2007
Messages
11,765
Loc.
Ridgefield WA
I see people dropping 351s in a lot. The factory 302 I have is really in too good shape to justify replacing it though.. also I only have so much of the original truck left that sometimes it starts to feel silly holding on.

Yes, you'll see a lot of owners here switching to the 351W. Lots of driving habits, vehicle applications, and opinions hers for sure.
In my experience, the stock 351W is as poopy as a 302, and both benefit from better heads, cam, and induction. The 351W has better torque, but at the price of being less peppy. If you've got a good 302, use it as is. It fits right and it's fun to drive.
I routinely tow my 15' hunting trailer with my Bronco with a 302. I run the flats in overdrive. and grades are a breeze.
The specifics on my Bronco are on my signature.
 

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