Sunday, December 18, 2011

Interesting leveling scheme

I came across this interesting technique for leveling a car in an unlevel garage.

Using red wine over water due to viscosity differences was a key detail. One of those things you could quickly jury-rigged in your own garage. As everyone is in some stage of panel installation, thought it might be of some use.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Pondering Brake Scoops

Well it has been awhile since I've had anything to post. Between a tight project deadline and moving my business to a new location - there's been little time for SusieQ. I did get her moved to the new location and she seems happy in the new hangar. More space, more light - extra shelf space to spread all the cardboard boxes out.

Big news is that tomorrow, our new waterjet arrives. They sent photos of it today being loaded in Chicago. Should be here tomorrow morning. I'm expecting a day of heavy lifting and toting. Machinery moving is always a tense time. Lots of places for things to go wrong...

But lack of actual work has been replaced with some mental effort. I'm currently in a sort of Catch 22. I can't button up the rear quarter upholstery until I get the window regs back in. And I can't put the window regs in until I decide on what's going on the exterior quarter panel. My car comes with the standard quarter trim with the thin chrome insert. Like many of the chrome items on these cars, they are beginning to look dated. What I saw in the 50's cars as a kid, I'm beginning to see in the 60's cars as an adult. The overall design remains fresh, but the small details begin to age design-wise. I had considered just welding up the trim holes and going with a cleaner look but that's an awful lot of sheet metal expanse w/o any detail - which is why the quarter trim was put there in the first place. BTW, this is the sort of thing Chip Foose is so good at. He has a great eye for detail. He occasionally chops cars up more than I prefer, but his eye for small detail is excellent.

Which leads me to the title of this post - brake scoops. I've always liked the Shelby brake scoops and put a pair on my 67 fstbk. For SusieQ, I'm leaning towards the faux 68 California Special scoops. After trying to win an original pair off Ebay for less than a gazillion dollars I ordered a pair of knock-offs. Which was basically a waste of $60. The ones I ended up with are good for nothing more than skeet practice - 'PULL' - 'BOOM'. No mounting studs on the back and not even close to matching the 1/4 profile. Lesson learned.

I'm thinking then either Tony Branda or Maier Racing if I decide to go with the stock scoops. They both have two studs for good securing. Alternatively there are the Eleanor scoops but for my tastes they are just a tad large - esp for a convertible. Ring Bros have some cool scoops - but again - too over the top for a convertible. What I really want just isn't available. Which means I either make a pair of one-offs from scratch - or I just go with the original style but from a decent vendor. If I make a pair, I'm going to make them out of sheet steel but still leave them as bolt-on. I like the seam detail of a bolt-on rather than filling them in. My only hesitation is the sheet metal forming. Going to need a little profile to the outer surface and I've no experience with hammer/leather shot work. But what can wrong? If I hate them - toss'em and go with stock.

All suggestions / opinions welcomed. Maybe you guys have seen some other alternatives for this area that you like. I'm all ears!!!! Thanks!


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Interior / Trunk - 2

Back into the trunk and interior today. Getting ready to move the car to a new location and wanted to button some things up beforehand. Would like to get the gas tank installed so hence the focus on the trunk. Got the trunk speckle-painted last weekend and wanted to touch up the inner wheel wells. It looked like someone threw sand on them before they sealed them with primer during the first restoration. Got the palm sander out and hit what I could - and what I couldn't - got hand sanded. Few hours later, a little primer and she's not looking too bad. Probably re-sand to fill the small stuff and hit it again. Found a can of Plasti-Kote on-line called Ford Candy Apple Red. If the cap color is any indication, it looks close to what I have. For the trunk area it will be good enough.

 While the primer was drying, I headed back into the interior. I've been piddling around with the left quarter window for too long. A pile of rust, bent regulators, warped tracks and worn-out bushings. Finally getting to the end of it though. Found a good used regulator on-line and was able to hammer the tracks back into their proper shapes. Sand blasted and powder coated the inner regulator mounting plate this past week. Just needed to POR-15 the inner quarter panel patches and then start into reassembly.

Once I got the POR-15 brushed on, I moved a bit forward and got the front carpet reinstalled over the fresh Dynamat. Threw on the shifter bezel and handle and called it a day. Good progress!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Parts Identification Help

As I've mentioned, my car came to me in cardboard boxes and coffee cans. With no documentation of the disassembly, I've combed NPD catalogs, shop manuals and slid under cars at car shows trying to identify parts that I couldn't find a home for. I'm finally down to a handful of parts that are still looking for a place to live. I'm posting them here in the hope someone might know what they are and where they go. As a warning, it is quite possible some of these aren't Mustang parts as we gathered up what we could find in the original restorer's garage. If it was on the floor, it went in a can. I've id'ed some of these parts since this photo. I've listed those below along with some additional descriptions. All help appreciated!

1 - front bumper-to-fender brackets
2 - original washer/thin sheet metal nuts that retain the brake drums
3 - front fender shims
4 - no idea - it's made of pot metal - about 1/8" thick
5 - no idea - thin sheet metal nut
6 - deck lid trim molding clips
7 - no idea - sheet metal hat with swagged stud - sheet metal nut
8 - no idea - hard plastic - look like some sort of blade seal
9 - these should be easy as there are 9 of them but I've yet to figure out where they go. Slight gold plating - 1/4-20 - these feel like seat bolts, heater box bolts or something in the taillight area. But I don't seem to be missing any fasteners in those areas. Five of them are 1 1/2" long, three are 2" long.

un-numbered photo - rear shock bushings (thanks to JoyRider for the id!!!) these came in a plastic bag attached to the rear seat springs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Interior / Trunk

After missing a few weekends due to bike racing, I got back to the car Saturday for a couple hours. Finished up the Dynamat installation. There are still lots of places it could be installed but decided enough was enough. I don't plan one of those head-banging bass systems so there's no need to completely sound-proof the car - esp with it being a convertible.

With the Dynamat wrapped up, I headed back to the trunk area. I've been wanting to get the gas tank back in but was waiting until I speckle-painted the trunk area. Bought some white/gray speckle paint from Eastwood that I've used before on my 67. I like the looks of it and it goes a long way in hiding the myriad of small  bumps/dents that are inevitably found in a 40 year old car trunk. After 2 coats of paint, I let it dry overnight and hit it with 3 coats of Diamond Clear Satin on Sunday.

All that's left before dropping in the tank is touching up the body paint on the inner wheel wells and rear bulkhead. Found some Ford Candy Apple Red by Plasti-Kote on the internet tonight and ordered a can. A couple squirts and I should be nearly finished in the trunk. Just a few stainless steel fasteners here and there and running the new taillight harness.

Susie dropped off the rear seats at the upholstery shop last Thurs. I had previously sand blasted and painted the seat frames so they have been ready for upholstery for awhile now. Just needed to get them to the shop. Front seats are already done. Now that the Dynamat is completed, I can get the carpet installed, followed in short order by the front and rear seats. Someplace to sit again in the car other than the floor!!!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Things That Date the Car

I'm a design engineer by trade and find it tough not to change things on the car. Yet one of the most interesting aspect of our old Mustangs is how well the shape has aged.  You still find these cars showing up in movies and commercials. Good design never goes out of style.

However, there are a few styling cues on the cars that bother me and I've been gradually working on alternatives to update the look of our car a bit. The items that bother me the most:

1. dash - those big old clunky gauge pods will have to go.
2. shock tower supports - can't verbalize it other than I despise them.
3. 1/4 reflectors - they scream 1968.
4. door handles - also have 1968 written all over them.

The dash I haven't given much thought to other than just replacing it with a flat aluminum panel with some race-style Autometer gauges. Easiest solution to door handles seems to be just shave them. 1/4 reflectors I have a design for that I hope to get milled soon out of billet. Lastly, the shock braces, which I hated the most, I've fixed - at least in my mind I've fixed :)

I looked at alternatives for these. There are a few heim-jointed tube affairs which really stiffen things up but look totally out of place under the hood of a street car. After a few iterations I settled on keeping the original braces and adding a 1/4" thick aluminum insert. I waterjetted them, sanded them to get a brushed effect then sealed with satin powder coat. I really like them now and they add a nice, subtle look to the engine compartment. Ended up designing a matching battery hold-down to finish it off. Here's a shot of one of the braces.

So it's on to the 1/4 reflectors now. No wonder it has taken 20 years to get this car up and running again. I can't leave well enough alone!!!   :)

UPDATE - I've found some custom door handles at Rings Brothers:

Still not exactly what I want but interesting. They also have stainless steel door strikers that I must have

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dynamat Going In - Damn you Foose!!!

This is what I get for watching too much OverHaul'in. Chip Foose finally brainwashed me into thinking I need Dynamat. But after thinking it over, I figured a 60's convertible that we plan on taking across Route 66 someday, could probably use additional sound deadening and heat protection. So this weekend, I removed the perfectly good carpet that I had already taken off my lengthy to-do list, to install 9 sheets of Dynamat I recently purchased over the Net. It was initially a bit awkward to install but after a sheet or two, I got the hang of it and ripped through the rest of it in two afternoon sessions. Came up a little short and decided to order a couple sheets to finish the floor and then a couple more after that to do the doors and quarters. The best advice I can give is to break it up into smaller sections. Large sections are difficult to work and end up causing more trouble than they are worth.   Some thin sheets of cardboard are good for making templates of odd-shaped areas - like the curved sections of the foot wells in the rear seat area.
While waiting for the next sheets to arrive, I think I'm heading to the trunk area to see if I can finally get that new gas tank installed and out from under my feet. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

351W Crate Motor

I had initially planned on just freshening up the tired 302 that came original with the car. But after doing some research, it seemed a crate motor would prove more cost effective and time efficient. I narrowed my choices down to an aluminum-headed 302 or a cast iron 351W. Being a convertible, I decided a high-rev'ing small block wasn't needed and opted for the standard 351W instead. Came complete with everything except a carburetor. Aluminum 4-barrel intake, electronic distributor, plugs, wires - even a oil filter - all for just $2690! Just can't beat that price for a factory-built motor that will do 100K miles with no problems. 
I ended up swapping out the truck-specific oil pan for an early Mustang version. Added a Holley 4-barrel, JBA headers, March flat belt drive system and aluminum water pump. And the result is shown below. Can't wait for the day when she's running.

Emerging after a 15 Year Hibernation!

The Beginning...

Before I dive into the description of my wife's 68 Mustang Convertible restoration - perhaps a fleshing out of the background story is warranted first. In 1984, while visiting my parents in Pennsylvania over the Christmas holiday, I spied this tarped-over hulk of a car, just a few miles from their house. From the general shape, I guessed that it might be an early Mustang, but didn't give it much thought other than that. A year passed and while once again home for the holidays, I drove by the house and saw the tarped heap still there. At that point, my curiosity got the best of me and I pulled into the driveway to see if I could raise the owner. Luckily the owner was there and confirmed it was indeed a Mustang - a 1968 convertible to be exact. It was his daughter's - bought used in South Carolina and brought North. He said it had quit running a few years back and rather than fix it, they just threw a tarp over it. It was intact but rough. Needed front fenders, lower quarters, trunk lid and floors. Not a total basket case but on its way to quickly becoming one.

I asked if it was for sale and he said that it was if the price was right. We found a price that we agreed on and I took ownership. This all unbeknownst to my wife - who I was hoping to surprise her with it restored. We delivered the car to a local friend in the auto repair business who agreed to take it on. Since we were living in Texas at the time, I had access to a large numbers of rust-free parts in the local junkyards and quickly began sending parts north to help with the body repair effort. 

But approximately a year into the project, my friend ended up in the middle of a nasty divorce and the Mustang project came to a grinding halt. The car sat in his garage for approximately 2 years - totally blown apart with little prospect of ever being finished. Thankfully at this point. my Dad stepped in and tried to salvage the situation. He found a 2nd body shop to continue the work and went to the original garage with cardboard boxes and coffee cans to collect what was left of the car. He got the car to the 2nd shop and work resumed. This next segment of the project took another 2 years but in 1990, the 2nd shop finished all the body repair work and gave the car a fresh coat of Candy Apple Red.

Unfortunately in 1991, we moved to Sweden and the car went into storage. After numerous moves around the world, it was not until 2006, nearly 15 years after completion of the body work, that I finally got the opportunity to begin the mechanical portion of the restoration. Having moved back to Pennsylvania, I now had daily access to the car and decided to take on the mechanical part myself. I had originally planned to just freshen up the mechanicals and give the car to my wife for our 25th anniversary.  But as is not uncommon in cases like this, once I got started, it was difficult to find a place to stop and before I knew it, the car was totally blown apart again. At that point, I just decided to forego trying to make the 25th deadline and take whatever time required to do a complete restoration. 

This has taken nearly 5 years and I'm now shooting for a completion date of October 24th, 2011 for our 30th anniversary. This time though, I actually have some hope that I might make it. After a long slog, I'm gradually whittling down the giant to-do list that I started 5 years ago. The major items done are:

1. Completely cleaning and painting of the under carriage and engine compartment
2. Rebuild of transmission and rearend
3. Replacement of original 302 with 351W crate motor from Ford
4. Front and rear suspensions completely rebuilt / refurbished
5. New stainless steel brake lines, parking brake cables and trans lines
6. Aluminum radiator
7. Refurbished dash and instrument panel
8. Reupholster front seats

Major stuff left to do.
1. Reinstall new carpet
2. Redo front window/door mechanisms
3. Redo 1/4 panel window mechanisms
4. Install new gas tank
5. Redo convertible top and mechanisms
6. Refurbish all trim and chrome 

So that should bring you up to date on the long saga of this car. Now we can get into the juicy details that makes restoration work both a joy and a nightmare.