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  #1  
Old 04-26-2015
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The Diesel Ranger

A little back story, I bought my '99 back in 2002 and joined a Ranger forum shortly there after. That forum shut down and I joined this one on the first day it started. I then proceeded to work as a moderator for a few years before taking a break (mostly work related). Anyway... anyone who's been a member of one of these forums long enough has likely developed a longing for one of the 'holy-grail' Rangers. For me this was a factory turbo-diesel truck. And in 2013 I finally made this reality happen.

I ended up taking a road trip from Denver to Los Angeles with my boss after a work event, which allowed for 17 hours of Craigslist searching. That's when I found it. A good running '85 4x4 with the factory 2.3L turbo engine. Located in Eastern Kansas. I called the owner and asked him to hold it for me, which he graciously did. While I worked out travel plans he also got the injection pump rebuilt and installed new timing belts.

I conned my dad into the trip, bought us plane tickets, shipped out tools, and headed to Kansas. I picked the truck up, sigh unseen, and drove it back 1,700 miles to California.

I wrote a couple stories about the adventure in Diesel Power Magazine, which are worth the read if you want to know more about the trip.

1985 Ford Ranger Rescue Road Trip - Part 1 - Diesel Power Magazine

1985 Ford Ranger Rescue Road Trip - Part 2 - Diesel Power Magazine

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The Diesel Ranger-dslp-131200-rang-001.jpg  
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  #2  
Old 04-26-2015
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I learned through a bit of research that the truck was first sold in Texas before it moved to Kansas to work in the oil fields. It began its life as a White two-wheel-drive with a five-speed transmission. Somewhere along the line it was converted to a four-wheel-drive with a four-speed transmission. Odd, I know. And the best part, as far as I can tell it has a true 86,000 miles on it.



This is the best photo I had from the owner before I bought it.







I made it exactly 25 miles before the truck ended up on a wrecker. A front brake caliper seized and the truck didn't have the power to overcome it. Had it towed to a family friends house where I got everything swapped the next morning.
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Old 04-26-2015
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We got out of town the next day, dodged some tornadoes, and made it to Albuquerque before the next issue. A belt tensioner seized and shredded a belt. No problem though! We had tools and didn't really need the belt anyway, it only drove the AC (didn't work) and power steering pump. This is also when it began overheating.







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Old 04-26-2015
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Very cool, I just read both articles. Always thought those were cool, a friend of mine had a white one in high school. I wonder what ever happened to that truck.
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Old 04-26-2015
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Awesome story, and very rare find too!
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  #6  
Old 04-26-2015
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The trip ended very anticlimactically, which was perfectly acceptable to everyone involved, including the two of us driving and all the family, friends, and colleagues who were supporting the rescue adventure. We arrived home at 2:30 p.m., sunburned and tired, but filled with a sense of accomplishment that made it all worth it. Overall, we covered 1,733 miles and six states, burned 70.79 gallons of diesel, and averaged 24.48 mpg.

Year/Make/Model: 1985 Ford Ranger
Odometer: 81,986 miles
Engine: 2.3L Mitsubishi I-4
Valvetrain: SOHC
Air: Mitsubishi TD-04 wastegated turbocharger
Fuel: Bosch VE injection pump
Horsepower: 86 hp at 4,200 rpm (stock)
Torque: 134 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm (stock)
Transmission: Toyo Kogyo four-speed manual
Transfer Case: BorgWarner 1350

Read more: 1985 Ford Ranger Rescue Road Trip - Part 2 - Diesel Power Magazine












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The Diesel Ranger-dslp-140100-rang-014.jpg  
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  #7  
Old 04-26-2015
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Once I got the thing back home it promptly puked the radiator so I set to work fixing some stuff up. I swapped in a pair of Optima batteries, a Summit aluminum radiator, electric fan, gauges, Mickey Thompson wheels, 31x10.5 BFG AT tires, and a new tool box.

I haven't driven the truck in about a year, but I have a whole wad of parts from LMC to install still, so more to come soon!

1985 Ford Ranger - Project Rescued Ranger Part 1





























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  #8  
Old 04-26-2015
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Very cool and good choice on the wheels to.
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  #9  
Old 04-27-2015
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Very cool! Love the backstory on that truck.
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  #10  
Old 04-28-2015
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jeez those glow plugs!!

awesome story and adventure!
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Old 04-28-2015
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Was this also in four wheeler? I remember reading an article on it. I don't read diesel mags tho unless I specifically read it for this truck.
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  #12  
Old 04-28-2015
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Just read all of that. What a cool story. Now I want a project truck. Keep us updated on the progress.
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  #13  
Old 04-28-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zabeard View Post
jeez those glow plugs!!

awesome story and adventure!
Those glow plugs nearly left me stranded in Albuquerque lol. The night after the belt/pulley broke the engine wouldn't fire. I walked down the street to a truck stop, picked up a can of starting fluid, and that's how it got home. Thankfully it has two batteries, there was a lot of cranking going on! lol

Since changing them the truck fires right up all the time. It's amazing really. And amazing that the glow plug controller still works, they are notorious for going bad, so I hear.
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  #14  
Old 04-28-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morris View Post
Was this also in four wheeler? I remember reading an article on it. I don't read diesel mags tho unless I specifically read it for this truck.
There's a chance it was picked up on their website, but it was never printed in Four Wheeler, that I'm aware of at least.
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Old 04-28-2015
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Awesome story and awesome truck. Looks great.

Didn't these get 45-50 mpg stock?
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  #16  
Old 04-29-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redranger04g View Post

Didn't these get 45-50 mpg stock?
Most claims I've seen for the turbo 2.3L have been 35-40 highway. The 2.2L N/A engines got higher. (found in '83 and '84 models)

The 4-speed (no overdrive) and 31-inch tires are what kill my mileage. I have plans to swap a 5-speed back in and regear the axles, but that's a project for later.
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