Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

From dusty barn find to daily driver, it seems our cars are never really done. This is the place to share your progress on your project car. We will celebrate your victories and commiserate over your tragedies. But most of all this is a great place to learn!
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mfc133
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Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 12:15
Location: Perkasie, PA

Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#61

Post by mfc133 » 10 Jan 2019, 20:59

So now onto basic setup and first drive:

Once the motor warmed up, first order of business was to sync the timing. The sniper touchscreen allows you to lock the timing to a static value, say 15 degrees. Now you can use a timing light to rotate the distributor until it also reads 15 degrees. Tighten the bolt down, clear the static timing and the ECU is now synced with the distributor. Amazingly I was only 7 degrees off, so that plastic cap dealie actually works pretty well.

Next up was idle. The sniper controls the idle using an IAC motor, but you need to make sure it's operating in a certain range. Once the motor is up to temp and idling in neutral, they want the IAC values between 2 and 10%. There's an idle set screw just like a carb would have on the linkage. This allows you to slightly open/close the butterflies to get the IAC operating where it needs to be. Out of the box the throttle was open too much. Engine was idling really high and the IAC was showing 0%. I had to back off the screw a good bit to get the IAC to start opening.

Overall the system worked really well on the first drive. Idle was very smooth, and for the most part cruising and acceleration felt really good. A couple things I noticed though:
-The throttle was very sticky coming off idle. This made it very hard to be precise and the car would jump when you tried to accelerate smoothly.
-There was a stumble when getting on the gas hard. Like an accelerator pump issue on a carb.
-Deceleration was a bit pronounced, like an engine braking effect rather than coasting when you take your foot off the pedal.

After a few more miles of driving the acceleration stumble and decel issues tuned themselves out completely. To fix the throttle sticking, I had to modify the linkage. Out of the box, the sniper does not have the large 1/2" hole on the top of the linkage that most Holley and Edelbrock carbs do. So I moved the connection point for the rod to the smaller 1/4" hole further down. This hole is closer to the axis of the throttle shaft, so less leverage which translates to more pedal effort. I ended up having to use this adapter to add that 1/2" hole on the top of the linkage arm.


Here's the old location:




And the new location with the adapter:



Moving the attachment point up made a huge difference in pedal feel. Went out for another drive and the issue was gone, made it very easy to roll into the throttle now. It actually felt almost too light, so I went back to a double return spring and that seems to be the ticket.

One thing to note with the bellcrank/rod style throttle on the 68s, it's going to be impossible to achieve absolute wide open throttle on the sniper when the pedal is floored. The problem is the shape of the bellcrank, it contacts the intake manifold which prevents you from getting the range of travel needed to be both fully closed off the pedal and fully WOT on the pedal. It does get very close though, the TPS values are only 7% down from true WOT. On a stock 302 I'm fine with that, doubt it makes any noticable difference. To correct this, I think you'd need to either bend the upper arm on the bellcrank or possibly switch to a cable setup. I plan on leaving it alone.

Once the throttle linkage was fixed and the unit had a good 25 miles to self-tune, I was really impressed with the drivability. Every condition- cruise, accel, decel, idle, hard acceleration all felt very smooth and refined compared to the old carb. Will need to see how it runs in warmer weather in a few months, but so far I'm really happy with the performance.
-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

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mfc133
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Location: Perkasie, PA

Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#62

Post by mfc133 » 13 May 2019, 21:50

Some updates since the EFI install a few months ago. I've got about 300 miles on the system and it's working really well so far with no major issues. Here's some other stuff I've been up to...

The exhaust on the car was really poorly installed by the PO, and the hangers were rotting away so I decided to replace the whole system. I didn't have much left in the budget so I ended up taking a chance on a cheap 2" eBay system supposedly made to fit 67-68 Cougars. The shipped price for the entire system including H-pipe was too good to ignore. You can definitely tell it's basically a slightly longer Mustang exhaust, the over-axle bends could be a little better for a Cougar floor pan. But at the end of the day we were able to get it installed ourselves without cutting or modifying anything.

I had the tabs WCCC sells welded onto the turbo mufflers so they bolted up to the factory style hangers (which I replaced with a new repro set):





I wasn't crazy about the old location of the O2 sensor, or using one of those clamp-on bungs again so I also had the exhaust shop weld in a bung to the H-pipe up close to the driver's side manifold:





The exhaust took a lot of playing around to get it where the over-axle pipes were clearing the trunk floor and the leaf springs, but eventually got it there. It's a more mellow tone than the old glass packs, but still has some rumble. Perfect for me.



A couple other minor things, I ended up switching back to the mechanical fan. The electric ones were simply not powerful enough, if I decide to go back to electric I think a decent set of SPAL fans will be the way to go. But for now the mechanical fan is doing the job just fine. I also replaced the turn signal, side marker and reverse bulbs with WCCC plasma LEDs. Huge difference and took a bit of load off the alternator. Switched out the amber front turn signals for the correct clear lenses as well.



And finally...car wash time!
-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

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Al Bundy
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Location: Syracuse, NY

Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#63

Post by Al Bundy » 14 May 2019, 04:10

Cute little helper. How much did the system set you back?
1974 Dodge Dart - daily driver
1963 Thunderbird Z code - raven black/red
1968 XR7 F code - diamond blue/blue
1968 XR7 J code - black/red
1968 J code - madras blue/aqua
1968 XR7 X code - lime frost/dark ivy gold
1968 GT-E XR7 W code prototype no. 500033 - cardinal red/black

DieselD
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Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#64

Post by DieselD » 14 May 2019, 09:19

I was looking for those muffler tabs the other day and couldn't find them. Nice to know they exist, I have to pick up a set. Im building my exhaust using the repro 2.25" h-pipe and the summit cougar exhaust kit. I believe it will be a cut and fit affair but Ive got a welder so should be easy. Im going to add a bung now and plug it so its ready to go for efi later.


Thanks for the EFI update. Ive been researching lately and liking the sniper system like you have installed. I found they now offer an intank pump that supposedly does not need a return , the pump does it in the tank so its a one line hookup. If it works well that would save me from having to replace my newish fuel tank
1968 Standard, 302 2v, 3 speed.

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mfc133
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Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#65

Post by mfc133 » 14 May 2019, 09:50

Al Bundy wrote:
14 May 2019, 04:10
Cute little helper. How much did the system set you back?
$240 shipped including H-pipe. Comes with junk universal hangers so factor in another $120 or so for decent repro hangers and muffler tabs if you go that route.
-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

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mfc133
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Location: Perkasie, PA

Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#66

Post by mfc133 » 14 May 2019, 09:57

DieselD wrote:
14 May 2019, 09:19
I was looking for those muffler tabs the other day and couldn't find them. Nice to know they exist, I have to pick up a set. Im building my exhaust using the repro 2.25" h-pipe and the summit cougar exhaust kit. I believe it will be a cut and fit affair but Ive got a welder so should be easy. Im going to add a bung now and plug it so its ready to go for efi later.


Thanks for the EFI update. Ive been researching lately and liking the sniper system like you have installed. I found they now offer an intank pump that supposedly does not need a return , the pump does it in the tank so its a one line hookup. If it works well that would save me from having to replace my newish fuel tank
Here's the muffler tabs:
https://secure.cougarpartscatalog.com/s ... attribs=76

Yeah holley released that in-tank module for mustang/cougar right after I finished my fuel system up. If that was available at the time I definitely would have gone that route. No fussing with return lines or external regulators.
-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

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mfc133
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Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 12:15
Location: Perkasie, PA

Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#67

Post by mfc133 » 28 May 2019, 14:04

Was able to take the Cougar out to the first car show of the season! Looking foward to Carlisle in a few days...



-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

CMCE
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Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#68

Post by CMCE » 18 Jun 2019, 15:38

While you guys are on the topic of exhaust/mufflers, Pypes is the first to step up with a 2.5" X-Pipe high-performance exhaust for the '67-'70 Cougar. It's all stainless and you get a choice of Pypes mufflers, or you can purchase the system without mufflers and use what muffler you'd like.
https://classicmusclecarexhaust.com/c/q ... ugar/pypes

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mfc133
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Location: Perkasie, PA

Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#69

Post by mfc133 » 07 Jul 2019, 18:36

I was lucky enough to find a decent steering wheel pad at Carlisle, so I decided to finally tackle the steering wheel.

I started with cleaning up the pad I found and the vinyl insert from my wheel and painting them with SEM Landau Black:


I picked up a used emblem from WCCC, sprayed it with argent silver and then hand painted the black with detail brushes:


The wheel itself was in bad shape and cracked, so I ended up going with a new black repro wheel. My horn ring only had light pitting so I sanded that off and painted it argent as well:


The chrome on my bezel was heavily peeling, so I peeled the remainder off by hand. Several thousand paper cuts later got it down to bare plastic. :wall: The steering wheel pad I found was much better than my old one, but still shrunken a bit so the bezel would not sit flush inside. I sanded down the ends until I could get it fitting relatively well:





I later realized the emblem should be more of a pewter color, but it still looks way better than the old cracked wheel.


-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

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