This Bronco is a great truck and it was fun to work on. During the weeks we’ve worked on it we’ve grown pretty attached to it. It definitely does not have all the conveniences of the fully connected multi-media experience and luxury appointments many of today’s most economical vehicles have as standard equipment. But, there’s a beauty in it’s simplicity and this mid-eighties body style is something we liked looking at everyday. The truck is big, comfortable, powerful, utilitarian and fun to drive, who could ask for more?!

What Did We Learn?

Probably the single most frustrating thing on the Bronco was refurbishing the A/C. We started out not knowing what worked or didn’t so we replaced o-rings on all the hoses, bought a few cans of R-134 shoved them in and crossed our fingers.  Everything seemed to work for a few days, then it was low on Freon. The hoses weren’t leaking and we determined the compressor was bad, bummer. So we bought a new one and a receiver/drier.

1986 Bronco - FrontWhile replacing those components we found some of the hoses had a kink or bulge we didn’t think was good so we went to replace them. No one carries replacement hoses at a reasonable price but we found a local shop, AAPAK A/C Specialists, that can build whatever you need at a fair price so that was a nice surprise.

After reassembling everything and the A/C system holding vacuum for a couple hours we knew it was going to work great. We recharged the A/C and it did work great until we removed the high pressure gauge attachment. The Schrader valve was leaking. That was about as annoying as it gets, $60 worth of R-134 gone because we didn’t think to change a $1 part.

After changing the valve and recharging the system for a third time, the A/C does work great. Nice cold air for our lovely desert summer. Lesson learned, always change those Schrader values, don’t let $1 ruin your Sunday.

One other thing we did that worked out great was a hidden modification we made to the rear bed floor.  When we got the Bronco the gas gauge didn’t work. Turned out the float was disintegrated and the sending unit was bad. We bought a new unit from When installing it we decided to cut a hole in the bed floor rather than drop the tank. We then fabricated an access hatch for easy servicing in case a future owner needed to change it again one day, the job would be easy for that poor dude.

A couple weeks later, while troubleshooting the A/C we noticed the gas gauge read empty, but we’d just filled it a few days earlier, huh, that’s weird. Turns out we’re the poor dudes that needed to use the newly installed access hatch. The float from Bronco Graveyard has a pin hole so it filled with gas. Bronco Graveyard was great though, they replaced the float right away, no problems. With the access hatch the job look ten minutes instead of having to drop the tank. Guess nice guys don’t always finish last.

What All Did We Do?

Using FreedCamp to keep us organized and focused was a big success.  We started off by doing the obvious jobs like changing fluids and a tune-up. As we moved through the truck we found more work and our project planner made sure we worked all the critical things first and didn’t lose track of the smaller things that cropped up.  Here’s a list of all the work we did:

Chassis & Exterior

  • New tires
  • Replace radiator overflow tank
  • Replace all lamp lenses
  • Refurbish spare tire mount
  • Created new front bumper with light bar
  • Pressure wash engine bay and underbody
  • Buff/wax paint
  • Polish chrome


  • Repair tachometer
  • Repair fuel gauge (sending unit)
  • Replace A/C fan switch
  • Replace HVAC control switch
  • Refurbish A/C components
    • replace compressor
    • replace receiver/dryer
    • replace hoses
    • replace all seals
  • Replace miscellaneous missing knobs on dash/seats
  • Repair tailgate latching mechanism
  • Paint tailgate
  • Remove broken aftermarket alarm system
  • Refurbish doors
    • replace window regulators and motors
    • replace window weather stripping and felt
    • replace driver side glass
    • repair door strikers
    • refurbish door panels
    • replace door speakers
  • Repair sagging sun visors
  • Refurbish center console
    • add cup holders
  • Install seat covers
  • Replace steering wheel
  • Refurbish faded trim panels
  • Repair all courtesy lights
  • Detail interior/steam clean upholstery
Checklist Image


  • Rebuilt Carburetor
  • Repair Choke
  • Replace distributor cap
  • Replace fuel pump
  • Replaced all vacuum hoses
  • Install Edelbrock intake manifold
  • Install shorty exhaust headers
  • Install Flowmaster muffler
  • Install Magnaflow catalytic converter
  • Build 2 1/2″ exhaust plumbing
  • Replace valve cover gaskets/paint valve covers
  • Repair bad ground to engine block
  • Replace starter
  • Replaced all fluids (oil, coolant, transmission, differentials, transfer case)
  • Refurbished air filter housing