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.