Cables, Timing Woes, and Exhaust Fumes

   Posted by: kdavis

Another good build weekend, but not without it’s complications.

Throttle Cable

The kit came with an efi-based throttle cable, which wasn’t really designed for my application. In doing my research on how to solve this, lots of very expensive and detailed solutions exist, including turning the carb around, adding a high end Holley bracket (like the one shown below), and mechanical linkages. One of the issues is that the cable has to make a bit of an S in order to exit the footbox at a point in front of the carb, and then make it’s way up and back to meet up with the carb linkage. All things considered, this wasn’t a huge deal for me, so I went with it, and left the curve in there. I still had to make myself a way to secure the cable though on both ends, which meant fabricating some brackets as well as cable attachment points.

I’m using the Russ Thompson throttle pedal that I got from Breeze and it included the ball joint linkage on the carb end. The linkage there is adjustable, so all you have to do it snip the end off of the FFR supplied cable, insert the cable and tightening it down. Makes for a nice install on that side.

On the pedal side, though, I had to get a little more creative. The connections to the pedal had a hole that was way to big for the linkage insert so I had to remove it and fabricate one. I’ve found that L brackets can be used in so many different ways, and this was no exception. I took one that I had, which had the perfect size holes in it already, cut both ends off to length to match the pedal one, and cut a slot in it so I could run the cable through. Easy peasy, and it works great.

To secure the cable on the manifold, I used a peice of an old bracket I had, cut it to size, bent it, drilled the right hole and painted it, and it works perfectly. I secured it to the manufacturer supplied bracket support and attached my return spring. It works really well.

A note about throttle position. I had seen several threads showing how the pedals lined up, and it was different than the OEM setup on most cars. I discovered thanks to the forum guys that you want to set your throttle pedal position at the bottom of the brake stroke so you can heel-toe them if you need to either for racing or for on-hill starts. This meant mine sits forward by about 2″ or so in front, and when I’m at WOT, it just hits the backstop, which is perfect.



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Clutch Cable

I ordered my clutch cable with an aluminum quadrant and an adjustable quadrant from Mike Forte. It’s great stuff, but because it was originally designed to fit in a Mustang, the angle that it sits on the front of the footbox is wrong, which causes it to sit in a downward position slightly and thus, the cable rubs on the upper edge. This will eventually cause the cable to fray and brake, leaving me stranded. Not good. So, the best solution I found was to simple bend the footbox front upwards so it eliminated it. The bend required is pretty slight, only about 1/4″ probably. I accomplished this by taking a large socket in my breaker bar and bending UP from the footbox side and DOWN from the engine bay side (the pic is faked, I just included it so it shows what it looked like). A couple of tries and test fits and problem solved. I currently have the clutch cable adjusted so that I get about an inch of free play before it engages, which should be good.

The cable routing is something you need to consider as the cable needs to be routed in a fairly straight path and away from the heat of the headers. For my setup, this path came out of the footbox, down between the mechanical fuel pump and the oil filter, through the motor mount, and straight back to the clutch fork. This took care of the routing, but then I had to figure out how to secure it in order to keep it from rubbing on anything, and making sure I could get the oil filter out. The cable comes with it’s own bracket, but I modified it by cutting part of it off, drilling a hole in it and bending it to fit. I used a bolt to attach it to the inside head accessory bolt location (probably used for AC in the mustang). That got me pretty close, but I still didn’t like how it was rubbing on my brake fluid reservoirs, so I took another bracket I had and bent and drilled it so I could use the other accessory hole right next to it. This didn’t really move it much, but just enough to get it where I want. The bracket was pretty sharp, so to keep it from cutting over time, I took a large-diameter shrink tube I had and put it over the bracket, then heated to to shrink. That should keep it from messing up the outer skin of the cable.


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Timing with the E-Curve 8503 Distributor by MSD

If I had never done any timing work at all with a distributor, perhaps it would have been easier to wrap my brain around the way this e-curve works. The reason for this is that the setup of this dizzy is pretty much the exact opposite that you would normally use. Typically, you decide what you want your advance to look like, set up the dizzy with the appropriate weights, figure out the vacuum, and set the initial timing. With this distributor, though, it’s pretty much the opposite. You decide what you want the total advance to be, then you set your timing (with a timing light) to that first, lock the thing down, and use the electronics to retard the timing to get your curve.

The e-curve was recommended by Mike Forte, and I think it’ll be good because we’re at 4500′ altitude, and we’ll likely run the car at different places around the US. So, instead of resetting the timing every time to make sure it runs right, I can pop the distributor off and switch the curve instead as conditions change. Thanks to the guys over on the forum, I was able to figure this out. Here’s the link to the thread over there if you’re interested.

For the Ford 302/5.0L, most guys recommend an initial timing of about 12-14 degrees, with a total advance of about 34-36 degrees at 3000 RPM. I am still tweaking my setup, but after much frustration and trial and error, finally got it setup. I’m not happy with my curve yet, or the idle speed, so I need to work on it a bit more. It was suggested that I pull and plug the vacuum hose for now to pull out the vac advance, so I’ll give that a shot next.

Here are the steps for setting the E-Curve 8503. The manual is a little crappy, so this might help (you’ll need the manual still.)

1) Figure out how much vacuum advance you have, which will give you what part of the table to use.
2) Decide which curve you want overall, such as 25 degrees, and when you want it to come in (based on RPM’s).
3) Find top dead center TDC on your engine. I’m running GT40p’s on mine, and found that you can actually shine a light into the #1 plug (passenger front) hole and see the stroke. For me, this matched perfectly to the original harmonic balancer marks. If you can’t do the light trick, you can also put your finger over the hole (cool engine) and feel the pressure increase as you move the engine with a pry bar (I found it easier to do this from the alternator bolt than on the crank). TDC will come when the pressure builds and pops your finger out/off of the hole.
4) At TDC, figure out which post on the dizzy that the rotor is pointing to. This is your #1 spark plug wire post. Use the appropriate firing order to put the plug wires on.
5) Set the dials inside the e-curve to 1-0 and 1-0 (both at 0).
6) Set your timing with a timing light and the degree tape to your desired TOTAL advance. In my case, I set it to 35.
7) Kill the engine and set the dials to the right settings for the curves you decided on with 1 and 2 above. In my case, I started with 1-4 and 1-5. I think that this is too much advance, or possibly too much initial retard. I’m currently seeing an initial timing of about 13 degrees and full advance at 3000 rpm of about 42 degrees. The reason I think it’s too much initial is that it runs very rough at the recommended 800-900 rpm, and seems to ease up a bit at about 1025. I’d like to run it a little slower, so I think I’ll change the curve and see what happens.

I’m running the 302, with E303 cam, GT40P heads, and a Holley Street Avenger 570cfm carb. I’m running the msd blaster 2 coil. A separate ignition like the 6AL isn’t required. If you look at pricing on some of the aftermarket setups, because the e-curve is self contained, it’s not that much more than a full setup.

NOTE!! – If you are running headers and you like the way they look, make sure that you set your carb so that it’s not lean when setting timing, AND make sure you let your headers cool off periodically. A lean and badly timed engine will run way hot, and will fry your headers. At $500+ a pair, this would suck. I noticed even running for a few minutes, I got some smoke off of mine, so I didn’t mess around and made sure my primaries were set right and the float levels were too.

Curve Chart from the MSD Manual:



More Talk about Color

I manged to waste a good bit of my buddy Mike’s Friday talking about paint colors. As I get closer to finishing the initial build steps, my thoughts are turning towards actually pulling the body off the ceiling and getting the many many hours of body work started, which will then include shooting some test paint. My paint color saga has been an ever dynamic one, and I have found it quite difficult to settle on a color. I originally wanted orange, but since Mike’s car is orange, I don’t want really to copy him since it’ll spend a lot of time with his car. Then I was looking at silver, which I think is just really cool. But then I was looking at more super-car type colors like yellow and green. I couldn’t find any green ones I liked so I did a mockup. I actually really like the green and I was pretty sure I wanted to go that direction, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized that it’s such an obnoxious color, I’m not sure my ego can deal with the mocking and snears from spectators.

So, I think at this point, I’m leaning back towards silver. This will really look good with my 2 tone black and gray/silver interior. I’m still not settled on the shade yet or the strip color. I’m leaning either towards a darker charcoal type gray with black strips or the titanium silver with white stripes. The contrast of the black stripes seems to be a little nicer. I’d love to hear comments on it if you have any.


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I managed to get my transmission refilled (I drained it to keep it from leaking all over the floor when I installed the engine) this weekend as well. My upper drain plug is totally locked in, so I discovered that the mustang guys simply use the shifter hole to refill theirs. All you have to do is take the 4 bolts off and pour the fluid down there. I used mercon/dexron III, and it holds 3 quarts.

I also got started on cleaning up the wiring, and did the over-the-footbox area with zip ties, paying close attention to keeping things out of the way of the pedal movement and just cleaning things up. I’m glad I have plenty of zip ties. I also cleaned up the engine bay a bit so that things will look cleaner and stay in place and away from the headers.

So, my next steps here are to clean up the rest of the wiring behind the dash, get the dash installed fully with the holy crap bar in place and ducting for the heater, plus get my choke cable routed (I did manual choke as the electrics seem to be problematic), and I might even start the seams on the body, we’ll see.