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  1. #1

    Default Long Road Trip In Newly Purchased Car

    Okay, so after a few years of on and off searching I managed to stumble upon a very nice lower mileage (to me anyway) '85 LTD wagon. The bad part? It is about as geographically far away from me as possible while still being in the continental US. I'm no stranger to long distance car transactions, but this is about the farthest I've ever had to go. But, how often do you get a chance to drive across the country in a 30+ year old Ford that you are completely unfamiliar with? Seems like a good road trip to me.

    Anyways, I am pretty handy with the spanners, but I am somewhat unfamiliar with this generation of Ford. I am just trying to get some ideas on spare parts that might not be a bad idea to have on hand just in case. I was going to go with the obligatory belts and radiator hoses. Any other parts that I should know about that might randomly fail on a 2200 mile road trip and render the car inoperable> TFI module maybe? I'm not looking to bring an entire car's worth of spare parts, but some common issues would be helpful so I'm not sitting in the middle of nowhere Idaho with a car that won't run because XXXXX just failed.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2

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    I just got back from doing the 24 Hours of Lemons Rally, a 3,200 mile trip, in the 86 LTD wagon I bought last month ( the one you looked at in Cleveland ), and didn't have any major issues. A front caliper was smoking when I stopped once ( it went away and didn't happen again ), and I only used a half quart of oil.

    I did what you're suggesting -- I brought with me radiator hoses, belts, and a water pump, plus tools ( including jumper cables ). I didn't have to use any of them. One thing I would recommend getting is a few door striker bolts. All of mine, including the liftgate, were bad -- the plastic bushing was cracked/missing, etc. I replaced all but the two passenger side doors, and both of those cracked and separated while driving, and the racket from the doors vibrating sucked. Order bolts for an early Fairmont/Zephyr -- the bolts you get when ordering for a LTD are, at least at autozone, the wrong type. I believe the Doorman part # is 38421. Also, check that the spare tire has air, and that the jack is present.

    Good luck on your trip -- sounds like fun.

  3. #3
    FEP Senior Member Greywolf's Avatar
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    I did it in 2004 with an '87 F150 I'd just bought, towing a trailer I'd just bought, and a Datsun 280 I'd just bought on the back of it. I still have the F150 and trailer. Waco (F150), Nacagdoches (trailer), Texoma (Datsun)...back to Buffalo, NY, just days before Katrina hit (because I was back in the Gulf of Mexico for that...if I'd delayed my trip until the next time I got off work, I wouldn't have been able to afford the gas!).

    Spare fluids, a TFI module and the tool to swap it, some ratchet straps (to hold doors/hood/whatever shut if need be), duct tape, a good tool kit.
    Before you leave, check the fluids, hoses, belts, tune-up. Do a tune-up and oil change, so when you get home you will know how much oil you used and what the plugs look like. If you're not sure, just swap the belts and hoses and coolant--no sense in waiting for them to go bad, and unless you KNOW they were done recently, it's not really saving you anything. Bring a 5/8" hose connector to bypass the heater core if need be.

    Triple check the tire pressures every time you stop. Also jack up the front end and be sure it's not going to come apart on you--both before you leave, and after you've driven enough to loosen up the dried out grease holding the wheel bearings and ball joints together.

    Check your route for good places to stop (I really like the Trucker's road almanacs because they show if there are repair facilities at exits, etc, and don't require an internet connection to check). Plan your route and see if there are local members, friends, family who can bring you to a parts place or drop off a part. Besides, you might just be passing by a fun museum or the world's biggest ball of string, and if you plan time for those, a flat tire might mean "I missed having lunch with a forum member" instead of "I missed a day of work".

    Lastly, make sure you have a charger for your cell phone and one of those backup batteries you can plug it into (when it turns out the LTD's lighter socket is finicky or the adapter for the charger is loose or the car's battery goes completely dead with your phone at 8%...).
    Bring spare fluids and a snack for yourself. No matter what happens to the car, it's not going to end well if it ends you.

  4. #4

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    Hi Majo,

    Thanks for the reply. Glad to hear that you are enjoying your new wagon. Sounds like you are having a good time with it.

    I'll have to take a look for the striker bolts. Is it possible the original bolts that you bought were actually for a Crown Victoria? I am seeing a lot on instances where full-sized car parts are listed under the mid-sized LTD listing.

    I plan to do a quick overall inspection of the car before I get on the road (tires, fluids, engine, etc.)

    I am planning to bring a light set of tools. Are these cars all metric or are they a mish-mash of standard and metric?

  5. #5

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    Hi Greywolf,

    All good tips. The lady that owns the car drives it regularly around town and her husband was very meticulous in maintaining it so I it is in very good condition. That said it is over 30 years old so I'm sure there are some original parts on the car that could fail at any time. Are there any special tools required to change out the TFI Module? All of my Fords have DIS or DS-II so I've never owned a car with one.

    I am still working on mapping out my trip. I'll have to check for a trucker's road almanac. Any tips on where to get a good one? I'll never pass up a chance to buy a book of detailed maps.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinVarnes View Post


    I'll have to take a look for the striker bolts. Is it possible the original bolts that you bought were actually for a Crown Victoria? I am seeing a lot on instances where full-sized car parts are listed under the mid-sized LTD listing.

    I plan to do a quick overall inspection of the car before I get on the road (tires, fluids, engine, etc.)

    I am planning to bring a light set of tools. Are these cars all metric or are they a mish-mash of standard and metric?
    I assume the same thing regarding the Crown Vic listings. Even Rockauto shows the incorrect bolts. One of those things I guess.

    Almost all of the fasteners I've encountered are standard, but I know that Ford used both during this time.

  7. #7
    FEP Senior Member waggin's Avatar
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    Did you buy the white one with woodgrain in Gig Harbor, WA?
    '78 Fairmont Box Top w/Straight 6/3-spd Manual Everything
    '81 Zephyr Wagon 4/4-spd
    '84 Mustang SVO 5.0 Swapped semi-junker (I didn't do it!)
    MAF, GT-40, BBK Shorties

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by waggin View Post
    Did you buy the white one with woodgrain in Gig Harbor, WA?
    Affirmative. The owners are/were ASWOA members. The husband passed away and the wife was looking to sell it. They are the original owners of the car. It has the squire option so it is pretty well loaded. Well, more loaded than my DD '95 Saturn SW2, but that isn't saying much. They were more concerned that it goes to a good home. I'm going to take care of it. It will primarily be a family vacation and road trip car and no winter driving.

  9. #9
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    Default Aswoa

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinVarnes View Post
    Affirmative. The owners are/were ASWOA members. The husband passed away and the wife was looking to sell it. They are the original owners of the car. It has the squire option so it is pretty well loaded. Well, more loaded than my DD '95 Saturn SW2, but that isn't saying much. They were more concerned that it goes to a good home. I'm going to take care of it. It will primarily be a family vacation and road trip car and no winter driving.

    Hey Kevin - are there any classifieds on the ASWOA site. I could not seem to figure it out. Would like to see if I could find a nice wagon for summer time as well. Please advise. thanks.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marathon06 View Post
    Hey Kevin - are there any classifieds on the ASWOA site. I could not seem to figure it out. Would like to see if I could find a nice wagon for summer time as well. Please advise. thanks.
    Hi Marathon. They have a facebook page that seems to be more active than their regular website. I'm not on facebook so I never thought to look on there. I think if you just do a search for "ASWOA facebook" their page should come up. I am on stationwagonforums.com where there is a craigslist and ebay section where members post wagons for sale that they see. I got lucky and happened upon this one while doing a nationwide craigslist search.

  11. #11
    FEP Senior Member waggin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinVarnes View Post
    Affirmative. The owners are/were ASWOA members. The husband passed away and the wife was looking to sell it. They are the original owners of the car. It has the squire option so it is pretty well loaded. Well, more loaded than my DD '95 Saturn SW2, but that isn't saying much. They were more concerned that it goes to a good home. I'm going to take care of it. It will primarily be a family vacation and road trip car and no winter driving.
    Very cool, congratulations! That thing was on CL way longer that it deserved to be. I would have grabbed it if I didn't have so many vehicles already. When are you heading out here to pick it up? I'm occasionally at my girlfriend's place, which is about 10 minutes away from I-405 and I-90. I'm assuming you'll pass that way, and that's where the Zephyr wagon in my avatar picture is located. If timing works out, we might be able to help out if any gremlins pop up in the LTD in the first hour of driving.
    '78 Fairmont Box Top w/Straight 6/3-spd Manual Everything
    '81 Zephyr Wagon 4/4-spd
    '84 Mustang SVO 5.0 Swapped semi-junker (I didn't do it!)
    MAF, GT-40, BBK Shorties

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by waggin View Post
    Very cool, congratulations! That thing was on CL way longer that it deserved to be. I would have grabbed it if I didn't have so many vehicles already. When are you heading out here to pick it up? I'm occasionally at my girlfriend's place, which is about 10 minutes away from I-405 and I-90. I'm assuming you'll pass that way, and that's where the Zephyr wagon in my avatar picture is located. If timing works out, we might be able to help out if any gremlins pop up in the LTD in the first hour of driving.
    I am surprised it lasted as long as it did. I think I caught it the second time it was listed. I have too many vehicles too, so I am going to have to sell my '91 Crown Vic P72 to make room for this thing. While I like the Crown Vic, the wagon will be much more practical for use as a fair weather car.

    The owner is going to keep it stored until spring so hopefully any mountain passes I have to drive through are clear. I'll probably be out there in April some time I would presume. I haven't mapped out the route yet, but I was looking at taking 5 down to 84 and then 80 all the way across to Michigan. That looks like it is the least mountainous and hopefully I'll still get to see some cool stuff.

    I'd love to meet up if possible. Always nice to have some support 2400 miles from home.

  13. #13
    FEP Member brianj's Avatar
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    Consider a AAA membership. The roadside assistance part will be well worth it if something happens.
    1983 Mustang G.T. No-option stripper- I like strippers.
    5.0, GT40P heads, Comp Cams XE270HR-12 on 1.6 rockers, TFI spring kit, Weiand 174 blower, Holley 750 mechanical secondarys, Mishimoto radiator, Edelbrock street performer mechanical pump, BBK shortys, T-5 conversion, 8.8 rear, 3.73 gears, carbon fiber clutches, SS Machine lowers, Maximum Motorsport XL subframes, "B" springs.

  14. #14
    FEP Senior Member Greywolf's Avatar
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    The TFI module is a weird 7/32" socket with a thin sidewall. The tool is about $5 and used to be very common; 1/4" socket sets sometimes work and sometimes the sockets are too fat to get in the spot where the screw is.
    They don't go bad often, but they're one of those things that when they go bad, the car stops. Sort of like the crank position sensor on the Jeep Cherokees, but much easier to get to!

    It sounds like you've found a cared-for daily driver. That's good news, and good luck to you!

  15. #15
    FEP Super Member gr79's Avatar
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    I take them to a Ford dealer and tell them will pay for trip inspection.
    Going on a cross country trip.
    Change oil and lube minimum. Check tires, lights, fluids, radio, and brakes.
    Pics of the trip would be extra cool.

    Heck 3k miles or so? No big deal. Easy to pile that up daily driving.
    Enjoy the trip. Car will reveal if it is good or bad.
    Yes, won't want to find out bad and hear the "how much you got?" movie line.

  16. #16

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    Hair band cassettes. Lots of '80s hairband cassettes.
    Restoration of my 84 1/2 GT Turbo T Top:
    http://vb.foureyedpride.com/showthread.php?t=124724

  17. #17
    FEP Senior Member waggin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinVarnes View Post
    I am surprised it lasted as long as it did. I think I caught it the second time it was listed. I have too many vehicles too, so I am going to have to sell my '91 Crown Vic P72 to make room for this thing. While I like the Crown Vic, the wagon will be much more practical for use as a fair weather car.

    The owner is going to keep it stored until spring so hopefully any mountain passes I have to drive through are clear. I'll probably be out there in April some time I would presume. I haven't mapped out the route yet, but I was looking at taking 5 down to 84 and then 80 all the way across to Michigan. That looks like it is the least mountainous and hopefully I'll still get to see some cool stuff.

    I'd love to meet up if possible. Always nice to have some support 2400 miles from home.
    As you get closer to your trip, keep me posted on your schedule and planned route. If timing works, it would be great to catch up. Waiting until spring is a smart plan, and it's nice they're willing to store the car for you. Not only does it keep you out of the potential nasty snow conditions, but then you won't be accumulating a bunch of corrosive salt and chemicals on the underside of the car. Are you flying in to WA?

    The Columbia River Gorge (I-84) is amazing. Definitely recommend stopping to see some of the waterfalls. If you are leaving later in the day from WA, a really cool place to stay is McMenamin's Edgefield Inn just east of Portland. ( https://www.mcmenamins.com/Edgefield )

    Here's a link to Snoqualmie Pass on Washington's DOT website: http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/passes/...e/default.aspx
    That's an FYI, since you'll likely be heading south on I-5 instead. You can also navigate to other mountain passes as well as other regions of the state.
    For weather planning, I really like the National Weather Service's website: http://www.weather.gov/
    You can use cities, zip codes, or cursor to choose locations. Since passes aren't necessarily cities or zip codes, this is pretty useful.

    Don't forget to keep traffic in mind for both your arrival and departure. We have some horrible traffic issues out here.
    '78 Fairmont Box Top w/Straight 6/3-spd Manual Everything
    '81 Zephyr Wagon 4/4-spd
    '84 Mustang SVO 5.0 Swapped semi-junker (I didn't do it!)
    MAF, GT-40, BBK Shorties

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by homer302 View Post
    Hair band cassettes. Lots of '80s hairband cassettes.
    Right up my and my 10 y/o son's (who might be joining me) alley, but I think all of my tapes were recycled the last time we cleaned out the basement. Too bad, I used to have some sweet tapes.

    Quote Originally Posted by waggin View Post
    As you get closer to your trip, keep me posted on your schedule and planned route. If timing works, it would be great to catch up. Waiting until spring is a smart plan, and it's nice they're willing to store the car for you. Not only does it keep you out of the potential nasty snow conditions, but then you won't be accumulating a bunch of corrosive salt and chemicals on the underside of the car. Are you flying in to WA?

    The Columbia River Gorge (I-84) is amazing. Definitely recommend stopping to see some of the waterfalls. If you are leaving later in the day from WA, a really cool place to stay is McMenamin's Edgefield Inn just east of Portland. ( https://www.mcmenamins.com/Edgefield )

    Here's a link to Snoqualmie Pass on Washington's DOT website: http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/passes/...e/default.aspx
    That's an FYI, since you'll likely be heading south on I-5 instead. You can also navigate to other mountain passes as well as other regions of the state.
    For weather planning, I really like the National Weather Service's website: http://www.weather.gov/
    You can use cities, zip codes, or cursor to choose locations. Since passes aren't necessarily cities or zip codes, this is pretty useful.

    Don't forget to keep traffic in mind for both your arrival and departure. We have some horrible traffic issues out here.
    I am flying into Sea-Tac and the owner's son in law is going to pick me up. I was out in Seattle summer 2015, but it was for work. Aside from the our sales rep in that area giving me the grand tour of Seattle I didn't get to see a whole lot. I'll have to check out those links. If there is anything else out there or on the way that I can't live without seeing feel free to post it.

    It was actually the seller's suggestion (and frankly my hope) to hold off until spring to pick it up. The family selling the car has been 100% awesome to deal with. I've gotten pretty lucky in my Craigslist car transactions through the years and dealing with good people. This is no exception.

    I'll have to pick up one of these gems https://www.autozone.com/wrenches-pl...ench/2362_0_0/ from the parts store when I get a chance. I have a socket I had to turn down for Saturn steering column trim covers, but I think it was 4mm - 5/32. Never pass up a chance to get a new tool I'll probably never use to impress that one guy that will randomly show up at my house with a broken down 80's Ford that needs a new ignition module installed.

  19. #19

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    I used to live in Seattle and have taken the route you're tentatively planning ( drove out and back from Cleveland ). I've also done the I-90 route the whole way, and I like that route a smidge better. The only real mountain pass is Snoqualmie, and you should have ( 99% ) no problem with that in April. The Columbia river gorge is cool, but so are the Black Hills in SD, and the roads around Mt Rushmore are pretty fun to drive.

    My experiences were 20 years ago, so I hope I'm remembering them correctly! Either way you go it'll be a fun trip.

    My wagon handled a few mountain passes in WV and NC easily.

  20. #20
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    A trip like this will stay in your memory for many years. In 1992, me and a couple of buddys drove my 79 Fairmont from BC Canada, to Pomona California, to watch the Winternational drags. While there, I found a 1969 Fairlane Cobra fastback for a good price, and made a deal on it. We drove the Fairmont home, and 2 weeks later,Friday after work, I was on a 1 way flight from Vancouver BC to Los Angeles, where the Cobras owner picked me up. After a couple of hours for handling paperwork and dinner, I jumped in my "new" 24 year old car that I had previously only driven around the block, and headed North on I-5. (I was supposed to be back at work Monday morning.) The trip did have a few suprises, the speedo stopped working (speedo cable fell out of the transmission, the 428s rear main seal started spewing oil around Sacramento, the heater core leaked, so got bypassed, just in time for a blinding snowstorm near Mount Shasta CA, and in Oregon, the windshield wipers would not turn off. I got to Portland Oregon by about 6.00 am Sunday, and figured that I should be near Seattle International Raceway in time to make a few passes just for fun. A couple of hours at the track, continued North, handled the paperwork at the Canadian border, and got home just in time to get a few hours sleep before going to work on Monday. I had been awake from 6.00 am Friday morning, until about 1.00am Monday, and made the whole trip by myself, and despite having some situations on the way, I still look back on that adventure with a smile.
    1978 Fairmont 2 door sedan, 428CJ 4speed. 9.972ET@132.54mph. 1.29 60 foot
    1985 Mustang LX hatchback NHRA Stock Eliminator 302 4 speed best in legal trim 12.31@107 mph, but has gone 11.42@115 with aftermarket intake, carb, and iron Windsor Jr. heads.New for 2012! 331 cube SB Ford, AFR 185 heads, solid flat tappet cam, pump gas; 10.296ET@128.71 mph, 1.37 60 foot.
    1979 Zephyr Z7, all original 302 auto, 2nd owner.

  21. #21

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    I've been trying to put a list of spare parts to take with me. I need a little help on some of these. I am not fully confident that all of the parts listings are specifically for the fox LTD and not the full size car.

    Lower Rad Hose - Gates 21262: https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo...131590&jsn=467 I'm pretty confident that this is correct since the listing shows it fitting the '83-'86 Mustang (in addition to a bunch of Chevy trucks?).

    Upper Rad Hose - Continental 61276: https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo...131590&jsn=469 Also pretty sure on this one.

    Rad Cap - Gates 31528: https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo...131590&jsn=470 Apparently fits everything from a '53 Packard to '13 Ford.

    Ignition Module - Airtex/Wells 5A7: https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo...131590&jsn=566 Is this cheap? Yup. Do I care? Nope. Keep in mind this is just a don't get stuck in the middle of nowhere 2000 miles from home without a working ignition module.

    I am getting a little tripped up on the serpentine belt. Can anyone inform me about the difference between the dealer and factory installed A/C? I see two different belt routings for the 3.8. One has the A/C compressor mounted on the top left of the engine with P/S pump on the lower left and everything driven from one belt. The other has the A/C compressor mounted down on the lower left of the engine with the P/S pump on the upper left and the A/C is driven off of the P/S pump with its own separate belt. Are these the difference between factory and dealer installed A/C? The car is a Squire and it is pretty loaded so I would be surprised if it didn't come with factory A/C, but I don't know how these things were built. The engine in this has the A/C compressor driven by a separate belt from the P/S pump.

  22. #22
    FEP Supporter 4-barrel Mike's Avatar
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    Got a special (several variants) doo-dah tool to remove/install the tfi? Such as (web search is your friend):

    https://lmr.com/item/LRS-TX646/Tfi-Module-Tool

    Good luck with your trip. Many years ago I bought an old hot rod in Maryland and drove it home to Oregon. In late August, every afternoon temp above 100* (and overheated every late afternoon). A 5-day adventure that I still relish and would not trade for anything.

    Mike
    Last edited by 4-barrel Mike; 03-20-2017 at 11:31 PM.
    1985 ascMcLaren 5.0 SC Roadster
    My '78 Fairmont build - http://vb.foureyedpride.com/showthre...539-78-Big-Red

  23. #23

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    Yep. I have it in my shopping cart. Better be worth the whopping $2.91 I am paying for it.



    I am hoping this trip will be fun and memorable for all the right reasons and not because I had to teach my son how to hitch hike to get to the parts store.
    Last edited by KevinVarnes; 03-20-2017 at 11:37 PM.

  24. #24
    FEP Supporter 4-barrel Mike's Avatar
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    Edited my response during your response.

    Edit after your edit : A good cell phone with roaming AND AAA is the 21st century solution.

    Mike
    Last edited by 4-barrel Mike; 03-21-2017 at 12:16 AM.
    1985 ascMcLaren 5.0 SC Roadster
    My '78 Fairmont build - http://vb.foureyedpride.com/showthre...539-78-Big-Red

  25. #25

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    My own honest opinion, beat the tar out of it before leaving. Make sure the tires are good, check the oil, washer fluid and bring a bottle or two of atf, for either power steering or transmission. I'd probably do a good bit of around town driving before hand. If it doesn't overheat or run the battery dead on repeated stops and starts, it will probably be fine on a highway cruise with much more air and lower engine loads.
    2 1986 cougars (both 4 eyed and 5.0)
    1 1987 cougar

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