The Snowball Saga - '68 Standard Revitalization Project
Compliments of Blitz @ classiccougarcommunity.com
Many of you probably remember the roof replacement project I undertook on my car, and how it started to snowball into more bodywork, and now is turning into a full-body restoration & repaint. This thread will be where I chronicle the ongoing saga as things progress. For the sake of having everything in one place from the beginning, I'll go ahead and copy over my posts and pics from MC.net, then update from there. The original thread is here if you want to see the responses / questions & answers, etc: http://www.mercurycougar.net/forums/showthread.php?57353-Rusty-Roof-Replacement-no-turning-back-now
The back story, in case you're wondering why I'm doing this to a lowly Standard, is that my grandparents (now deceased) bought the car brand new in '68. My grandpa, who probably picked out the car, died about 11 years before I was born, so unfortunately I didn't get to meet him and bond over cars. My grandma, however, continued to drive the car lovingly up until she passed in 2001. I have fond memories as a kid being picked up from school in the Cougar (it was always a great surprise to see her pull up to the schoolyard), going to get ice cream, driving to the beach, etc. There were always people offering to buy the car from her, and she would respectfully turn them down. The car sat for a few years until I could drive (having proved myself first with an '84 Camry) and in 2006, my senior year in high school, I got the Cougar running & driving and felt like the coolest kid in the world, despite all the obvious maintenance concerns and rust issues. Long story short, the sentimental value is what's driving me to do this car right.
----First Post - Sept. 12, 2011----
The worst part of my 68 Cougar, ever since I inherited it, has been the rust underneath the vinyl roof. I would often run my hand over the bumps and bubbles and hit the center of the roof with my palm and cringe as I heard it go "crunch crunch crunch." So finally, I'm doing something about it.
I've done an amateur restoration before, with my uncle, so I'm not a complete newbie to working on old cars. But I'm no expert either. I'm trying to find out if someone like me can actually pull this off. Granted, I have some good people around me to help out and give me advice, but I'm trying to do as much as it myself as possible.
While I'm doing this, I'm making a video to document the process. It may not turn out as well as some of our other ones, since I'm mostly just putting the camera on a tripod and filming myself, but hopefully it will be good encouragement for others with rusty roofs.
I got started last Wednesday by stripping out my interior (more of it than I needed to, but I wanted to see what my floors looked like) and in the following days I removed the trim pieces and front / rear glass. I actually was able to rip off the vinyl roof before taking the glass out, because the last time it got replaced, they apparently left the glass in and trimmed the vinyl around it. It was the same story with the headliner. Glass left in, trimmed to fit. The roof was covered in flaky bondo, a clear indication of how the previous "repair" was done. There were many pieces with stalagmites of bondo which had dripped into rust holes. Upon cleaning up most of the flakes of bondo and loose rust, I could get a better look at the rust. The roof is mostly in one piece, but there are holes everywhere. It's gotta go. The rear window channel is shot too, but that's another job.
The way I'm trying to do this, by the way, is just the outer sheet metal skin of the roof. I don't want to cut out the structure. The way this is done is to find and drill out all the spot welds all the way around. There is a lead seam on the C-pillars which needs to be melted off to reveal the spot welds. Anyways, enough said, here's some pics of the progress so far.
Here's a "before" shot... you can't really see the bubbling under the roof but there was plenty. The vinyl itself was pretty rough on top too.
Here's some shots just after I peeled off the vinyl. Notice the copious amounts of flaky bondo.
... And below are some shots of where I'm at right now. Flakes mostly cleaned up, glass removed, headliner removed, all trim removed, and locating the lead seam / spot welds with a wire wheel.
Stay tuned! More updates soon. I expect to get most of the work done within the next few days. I guess we'll fin
All I've really needed so far is the following:
Some screwdrivers and wrenches / sockets
Block of wood
Spot weld drill bit
So far it really hasn't been that difficult, even for me... just time consuming. But of course, the teardown is the easy part. The real test is putting it back together, which I will probably need some help on.
Here are some pics of the donor car & progress on drilling the spot welds. I did go through on a couple of them but am getting the hang of it.
---Sept. 14, 2011---
One thing I have found so far is that it works better to drill into the center of the spot weld a little, rather than use a center punch. I was having issues with the bit jumping out / wandering before (and subsequently broke the center guide pin), but found that a small drill divot works much better for keeping the spot weld drill bit in place.
Other things learned: on trying to locate the seam on the C-pillars, use a sanding disc on a grinder. I've been told by a reliable source that melting the lead is a bad idea... the heat could warp the steel. If you're brave you can start with a grinding disc, but I was scared. You can see the edges of the roof skin in the drip rail and rear window channel, so that gives you a starting point. You can also use a screwdriver to scratch the metal and see where the lead is. So once you grind / sand some away, you will also find that the lead doesn't spark, but when you hit steel, sparks will fly. Also, when you get to steel, you'll see that it's a slightly different color - a little darker than the lead. Eventually, it will look like this (picture below) and you can easily see the spot welds and the lower edge of the skin. I was surprised at how much lead you actually have to get out of there.
---Sept. 15, 2011---
[after some discussion on lead removal/using heat or not. Consensus was that heat is a bad idea as it will warp the sheet metal. Good tips on the heat... maybe a compromise between the methods would work well. Grind / sand away 90% of the lead, like I've done so far, and then use heat to get final separation. While applying heat, one could probably poke a small chisel / screwdriver in there to work the top roof panel away from the body and scrape out the lead. If you're trying to save your paint, like me, probably put something on the body to avoid drippage. My thinking is that I should drill out the spot welds now before trying to remove the remaining lead; that way it will separate more readily.
Driver's side done the same way:
Drilling out all those spot welds... now that I'm used to it, it's really not that bad. I only drilled all the way through on one so far on my car (donor car wasn't quite as lucky). Which brings me to a tip - it might be best to start drilling on the donor car if you haven't done this much, because it doesn't matter as much if you drill all the way through. On your own car, you want to preserve the under-roof structure as much as possible. But in other ways, you can be less careful with your own car, like with the drip rail section. I'll talk about it in a sec.
This is me grinding away the outer lip of the skin that is spot welded to the drip rail. This is a way to save some time. Since I don't need to preserve this roof, it's much quicker to grind that lip away rather than drill all the spot welds out like on the donor car (see next post). You just need to go far enough to barely separate the panel.
Same thing done on the other side and peeling the roof away for giggles... anyone got a can opener?
Got kicked out of the shop this morning.. it was interesting to sit on the floor and drive it By tonight, I'm hoping to have the roof off. We'll see.
---Sept. 15, 2011---
Oh aaaand by the way.... the donor roof is off! I have to confess that I've had some help from the guys in the wrecking yard, mainly to speed up the process a little. I have done everything on my car so far though, so it's basically just the same thing.
Here I am, putting in some time:
Here it is, ready to come off. Notice how we had to drill out the drip rails from underneath, so as to preserve the outer edges / lips of the roof panel. This is where you spend some extra time on the donor roof, trying to keep it as close to perfect as possible.
And it's off!
---Sept. 19, 2011---
Update - my roof is off!
A pillar separation:
C pillar separation:
Don and I lifting it off:
The naked shell:
Getting closer! Next thing is to grind down the remnants of the spot welds. Sweet!
---Sept. 22, 2011---
After my roof was off, I stripped all the surface rust off the support structure until it was bare metal. Was able to do this with wire wheels and a small sanding disc. Then, prepped it with some wax / grease remover, then painted the area with a couple coats of rust preventive paint (similar to POR-15 but a different product that we're going to start selling). You can brush or spray it on, I opted to spray.
A gratuitous amount of masking never hurts..
Then the underside of the new roof got the same treatment. Stripped, cleaned and painted with the same rust-preventive paint. (No pic, sorry)
New roof sitting in place... it actually fits really well! Which I kind of expected, being a uniform factory-made piece (one of the reasons to do it this way).
Then, to secure the roof in the right place, I drilled some holes all the way around and fastened it down with some self-tapping screws. You could probably achieve the same thing with a crapload of clamps, except maybe for the C pillar area.
And now the welding commences! This is where I step back and let a friend do it. He's using the existing holes from the old spot welds to weld the new roof in place. I decided not to go with the body panel glue. I'm sure it would work well, and would be a good option for people who have no way to get it welded, but I felt more comfortable going old school and handing it over to someone who knows how to weld.
Getting closer every day! I'm a little over 2 weeks into the project now.
---Sept. 27, 2011---
With the guidance of my body guy, I went with a fiberglass filler. It was pretty easy to work with, and once it was all hardened and sanded down, it feels very smooth and rock solid. He didn't seem to think that primer underneath the filler was necessary. Fingers crossed on that one. You'll also notice that the roof is stripped all the way to bare metal... a time consuming process! I mostly used 36 grit sanding discs. At times, it was actually faster to scrape some of the paint away with a chisel. Also, what I'd like to make clear is that I don't really know what I'm doing, just going with what other people tell me to do . The cool part is, I've had the ability to do almost everything so far except the welding. I think it's cool to prove that this is a doable job, as long as you know how to use tools, and are surrounded by good advice (and that you listen to it).
I have to say I'm really impressed with how the roof looks and fits. It's like a glove! Looks like it's always been there. So, what's next is caulking in the drip rails (I think), patching the other rust, primer, paint where needed, aand vinyl! I'm going to be going with the high quality vinyl from SMS. It's way more expensive than the alternative, but hey.. I don't plan on doing this again if I can help it. I will be taking some comparison pics between the cheaper material and the good stuff.
---Oct. 13, 2011---
This is where I step back and give it to a pro to finish up; to a nameless, mysterious body man who has been doing this for 40+ years.
Here is the old trunk filler panel / rear window channel removed:
For the new rear window channel, I have the luxury of using cuts from two different cars in our yard to patch my rusted-out one. Notice the way he has drilled out the spot welds for the trunk filler panel to preserve that section, and cut just up to the seam line to preserve that as well.
And here's the right side panel before being stripped and cut to fit like the left piece:
By the next time I went back to check on his progress, he had the left piece mounted in place with self tapping screws, using the same technique he taught me for the roof. I'm a little confused about the purpose of all the screws around the outside of the patch, but I didn't ask questions.
The right side mostly trimmed and almost ready to go in, plus the mysterious screws around the outside:
It seems like the way to go is to cut your patch panel to the desired size first, then use it as a template to cut away the same area from your car. This way you get a nice, exact fit like you see in the pics. I was wondering how he was going to preserve the seam between the quarter panel and the trunk filler panel, and have been very impressed watching how he is going about this. Also if you're wondering why there is a car cover on the roof, it's because we've had to move the operation outside, and it's a line of defense against moisture. Yikes!
I returned later in the day to discover an amazing transformation.
Having welded the left side patch in, and using the same fiberglass filler that I had used on the C-pillar, the left side is now as smooth as a baby's butt. Notice below how he's using the same technique on the lower part (trunk panel edge) that the factory used. Brazing? Is that the correct term?
Look at this welding. Beautiful work.
And finally, the two separate panels joined together as if nothing ever happened. This guy is good.
We should be seeing primer and paint very soon. [ha ha ha... little did I know at the time how long it would be...]
---Oct. 19, 2011---
Well, I didn't initially plan on going much further than replacing the roof, but "while I'm at it....." you all know how it goes. I'm getting too good of a deal on bodywork, so it began with "well, let's fix the worst of the other rust too" and then "well we might as well fix some of these dents and scrapes" aaand then since every panel on the car needed work (except maybe for the hood), it's turning into a complete full-body repair and paint job. Should I be paying off my student loans instead? Probably. Do I care? Naah. Having a nice car is way more important! Us car guys are idiots, but that's okay.
Some pics to get you all up to speed:
Roof primered.. looks like nothing ever happened!
Other random repairs:
The paint was cracked up here by the extension (above)
There used to be a dent here on the fender (below)
Rear valence... goodbye dents
There was a little rust in the bottom front corners of the doors, along with a small dent or two.
Gratuitous glamour shots of the car sitting in the yard:
You'll notice that the pinstripes are covered with tape... this was when the plan was just to paint the repaired areas and blend it together. Since then, I've decided just to do the whole thing, since almost every panel is getting worked on. If there's any advice I can give now, it's to be careful when replacing your roof... it could lead to a complete body overhaul!
---End of Old Posts---
From here on, it will be all new stuff you haven't seen before. Looking at the dates on those old posts makes me realize how much updating I need to do on stuff that has happened since then, and how much longer this process has taken than I thought. Will start posting progress pics tomorrow probably... for now I'm all forum'ed out from copying over all those posts and pics!
Edit: Almost forgot to put the video in here! Most of you have probably seen it already, but here is the video I did about replacing the roof. You can view the tiny one below or watch directly on youtube here.
So, to pick up where I left off, I don't think I ever posted pics of the quarter panel repairs. This was the same day as the last pictures (10/17/11). At this stage, I'm merely an observer, watching the pro body guy do his thing.
DS didn't need much work
PS was another story... here is an inside view after stripping down the outside
Here is an old picture from the WCCC open house last August, not long before I started tearing into the roof. This is just to show what the rusty quarter looked like. You can also see the scraped wheel arch, the rust in the lower door area, the ding on the door, etc.
For some reason I don't have a pic of the completed patch, but we ended up using one of the repro patch panels. He didn't like it, said it too a lot of work to get it to fit properly. From then on, we tried to use good original panels wherever a patch was needed, instead of repro stuff. The end result looks good though, and you'll see it here in a little bit.
After this point, the car was relocated to a different shop off-site. Rainy season was coming, and we didn't have a good covered area for him to work on it. Because of this, I was only able to go look at the car / take pictures on occasional evenings after work.
The next job was to patch the floors. They were mostly good, except for the RH front, and the RH rear wasn't great either. He ended up removing the seat riser, patching in replacement (good original) floor pans and then replacing the seat riser. Sorry these pics are so crappy, taken at night. (11/16/11)
By the next time I went to look, it had transformed into this: (11/23/11)
Also, he had begun the process of patching the trunk side panels. Unfortunately, both sides were pretty rusty. RH side cut out:
More to come soon!
Trunk patch progress! RH side done:
LH side cut out:
Fast forward to 1/12/12 when I got back from vacation.
Both trunk patches finished and coated with the same black undercoating stuff.
LH rear wheelhouse actually needed a little love too.
Here's the RH quarter patch from the inside:
And the lower drop-off area needed help too:
Some work on the fenders:
Front end stripped down:
He's even paying attention to the door jambs, sanding them down and making them smooth.
The car as a whole - you can see the repaired quarter, front and back.
This is how it stayed for a few months. Logistical and monetary issues were getting in the way of progress. But now I'm happy to report that work has started up again all this week and will probably continue through next week as well. My next post should bring this up to date, but I'll keep you in suspense until Monday.
And now, a look at last week's progress.
The lip needed a little work but wasn't too bad.
Doors prepped (inside):
RH fender removed:
Then the next day, the insides of the doors, trunk, and rear valence were primed.
Some prep work up front, and a little brazing by the windshield:
...and a look at the prep work on the front side of one of the doors:
Later in the day I returned to find that the front sides had also been primed. I stood on top of a table to get this shot, haha..
Anyways that pretty much brings it up to speed! I'll go over there later today and see what else is new, but it is coming along nicely. He is doing a lot more detail work than I expected, and the good news is that I'm all paid up (gave him a flat amount to finish the car ahead of time, which was actually a pretty dumb thing to do) but he is not half-assing anything. He's also going to paint the engine bay / aprons black and plans to just leave the engine and components in place and paint around them. Not sure how much I like the idea, which may lead me to pull the engine / trans. But that's a whole 'nother snowball that I may want to postpone getting into.
Yeah, I was kinda thinking that would be the way to go, but at the same time... it's already a big enough project as is. I think I'm going to leave the drivetrain alone so that I might just be able to drive the car this summer. Then maybe next winter I can start doing mechanical stuff / engine detailing. The car runs well as-is, why hurry to make it a non-running shell? The only major problem with that method is the risk of messing up a nice new paint job by doing the dirty mechanical work AFTER the paint is done. Either way isn't easy!
Thanks for that! It definitely helps having all the Cougar parts in the world at your disposal, and Don has been good to me with advice and some free body panels. The good news for WCCC is that we've sold a few roofs as a result of people seeing the video and deciding that they could tackle it. That's pretty cool, IMO.
Anyway, some progress pics! Hood primered:
Here's what the naked front end looks like. Note the dorky tall air cleaner. This is what happens when you want to run a K&N filter for improved performance.. they apparently don't make a shorter filter in this size. I might just go back to the stock blue air cleaner.
Numbers matching, yay!
Rust spot on the apron, boo!
Never mind, patched.
Also note the seam sealing action here:
Guy likes doing things by hand... prepping the inside of the RH fender:
Fenders got primer by the next time I went back:
There was a little aftermarket temp gauge screwed to the lower dash. Probably put there long ago by my Gramps, maybe wanting an actual degree reading instead of the vague "C - H" on the stock gauge. I debated about leaving it for sentimental value, but decided it looked kinda crappy, so the holes are now welded up.
Yesterday after work I went ahead and pulled out my heater box. Luckily it wasn't too difficult, thanks to the car being pretty stripped out already. I probably should have documented the process, but just wanted to get it done and over with. Took this shot before removal just for reference to see where the vacuum lines and stuff go.
Speaking of the heater core job, we'll eventually come out with a how-to video on that. We're halfway into the process on Don's '69, but that got sidelined. It's not exactly the same as on a 67/68, but there are enough similarities that it should be useful for first gen owners too. Watching Don take out his '69 one helped me figure mine out, anyway.
Final shot - If cars have feelings, it's probably horrified to be sitting where it is right now.
Yeah, I guess my worry was that he would just hurry to get it done, but it actually turned out to be a good decision because of his refusal to cut corners. At this point I am definitely saving money because of it.
So, the big news is - primer! We're in the final stretch now... just some more wet sanding, then away to a local paint booth to spray the polar white and clear. Pretty exciting.
And here we see the guardian cat, fierce protector of the yard. Making sure no rodents find their way into my car.
Won't be long before it's shiny again! Stay tuned.... Once reassembly starts I'm sure I'll be posting more detailed stuff about fixing up random pieces here and there. It will be nice to get my own hands on it again.
Very true, it is an inevitable thing... but I am going to put if off anyway! At least maybe what I can do is clean up the outsides of the aprons / suspension / etc before the fenders go on, then I'll be able to do the engine bay without too much fuss later on. I dunno.
Last bit of prep on the shell was done before this weekend... dash and steering column in primer and sanded smooth:
Over the weekend he got busy, aaaand...drumroll... we have paint! The shell is done, but the doors, fenders, hood, trunk, and other misc. stuff still needs to get done. Scott and I just picked up the car today at lunch and here's how she looks!
Well, that's the big news of the day. Needless to say I am stoked. It looks good. There are a few very minor bubbles here and there, but they should buff out fine.
P.S. - The roof isn't cleared on the very top, since I'm putting vinyl back on it. Is the primer and paint enough to protect it from rusting again down the road?
Mine isn't bad enough to think about relocating the pedal. My foot does rub against the speaker grille a little though. Maybe your grilles stick out further than mine.
So, random progress... I dismantled my heater box and the metal components were rusty, as you would expect. Blasted them and coated with a rattle can of generic black paint that was lying around. Not worried about making them pretty, just giving them something to prevent rust in the future. I will scuff the flapper surfaces before gluing on new seals. On the rods, I ended up removing the paint from the middle sections so they can slide back in more easily. Will probably put a little grease on them to help them slide back in and also protect them slightly from corrosion.
Also, a word of warning. The small flapper next to the heater core will not come out easily. What happened to me was this: I had removed the other flappers without much trouble (taking off the little round fasteners, spraying with WD-40, and pulling the rods straight out). When I got to the little one, I thought it would be the same story. Well, I ended up pulling the whole thing straight through the fiberglass, making a flapper-sized slice in the heater box. Doh! So, for this one, I would suggest leaving it in place and cleaning it up as best you can. Even when it was out of the box, it was almost impossible to get the rod out. Here are the mangled remains of my original one:
What I learned was - there is a flat sandwiched spot on the rod that indexes it and keeps it from going anywhere inside the crimped part of the flapper. In order to pull it out, I had to bend up part of the top tab on the flapper (in the above pic you can see I bent the whole thing up, but on the next one I only needed to bend a little section of it, close to where the flat spot is.) Long story short - leave this one in the box.
Next thing was to take apart my steering wheel pad, which took about 2 seconds.
This was to be my first test of the SEM Phantom White paint, which is supposed to be a perfect match for Parchment. So I scrubbed the center pad with random cleaners and water, dried it off, and sprayed a couple thin coats of paint on it. I elevated it on a piece of wood in hopes of getting better coverage around the edges.
I was worried that the texture was worn out, but after painting it actually looks pretty good.
Then after it was dry, I had to put it up against the Polar White paint to see if the colors matched well or clashed. I'm happy to report that they look great together. No worries about the lower dash paint anymore.
So, I have a question about the main steering wheel pad. The ends (by the column) tend to flare out from age. Has anyone figured out a way to sandwich it back together so the ends don't stick out awkwardly? I was brainstorming a ridiculous plan of removing the old foam, getting the vinyl re-seated properly & glued to the metal frame, then using some kinda spray foam to fill it back up. Sounds kinda crazy and risky though.
Well, time for an update. As for the steering wheel pad, I ended up ruining mine by cutting out some of the foam to try to compensate for the shrunken vinyl. In the end, I just grabbed another good used pad (thanks Don) and painted it. It looks good! Will show that eventually when I get to the steering wheel resto.
Other news - I put some insulation on my roof (this stuff) and am hoping to get the headliner in soon.
In fact, I did try putting it in myself, to an extent....
...but then I realized how tough it would be to get all the wrinkles out and get the awkward corners to fit right, so I gave up and took it back out. We have an upholstery guy coming to the shop sometime in the next couple weeks to do a convertible top (which we'll be making a video about) so I'll hopefully get him to do my headliner and vinyl top while he's here (those could also could make good videos!).
The big news is, the engine is out of the car. I had been contemplating trying to detail / paint it and the compartment without removing the engine but... I want to do this the right way. And it's so much easier to work on brakes, steering, suspension etc without it in there.
Some "before" shots:
The beginnings of the hoisting action:
(note: should have flipped the leveler around the other way so the crank wouldn't run into the hoist arm)
And it's out!
Big thanks to Scott B (CougarCJ) for helping me pull the engine last night. Couldn't have done it by myself! Well, maybe, but I probably would have messed something up and/or killed myself.
Stay tuned for more updates, whenever something happens! I might not be too motivated the rest of this week since it's going to be 100+ degrees.
Well, I've been somewhat tearing into the engine... got it separated from the trans and onto a stand. Have been taking off some of the components, getting ready to clean things up, replace what needs replacing and throw some paint on it. I just got a big box o' paint (all VHT products except for a couple cans of SEM Trim Black for when I do the grille and whatever else). From the research I did, I ended up getting "New Ford Blue" engine enamel, supposedly that's the right one. I almost got the "Dark" blue but it looks like that is actually too dark. Will post test pics soon. Also some Cast Iron grey high temp exhaust paint, some satin black "rollbar & chassis" paint which is supposed to be a nice durable finish (will be useful for a lot of things), and also some engine primer.
Getting close to getting the engine bay painted... think I'm going to go with the PPG DP90LF epoxy primer with a topcoat of DDL 9423, based on recommendations from you guys. Have to figure out how much to get and what other stuff I need to go with it (catalyst? reducer? hardener? I don't know much about paint....). I think I just need to enlarge the hole in the firewall for the addition of a brake booster (going to snag a complete PDB setup from a 70 Cougar, stay tuned) and maybe get some of the steering stuff out of the way.
Other coolness - found the engine tag, it was mounted on the oil dipstick tube nut.
And, not that I'm surprised, but it's very cool to know that your car has its original numbers-matching drivetrain:
Progress feels slow, but stay tuned for more updates! Thanks for the continued interest & advice.
Had to share some shiny objects... one of my favorite things about a restoration is taking something old and ugly, cleaning it up and giving it a good paint job to make it look brand new. Such was the case with my air cleaner and exhaust manifolds last week.
It turns out that I got the wrong blue, but I actually ended up liking it enough to keep it and use it. It's a darker, richer blue than the correct original one. I'll take a comparison shot at some point. But if you're looking for the correct original engine paint color, don't get "New Ford Blue" (VHT # SP138).
Here's my air cleaner, complete with new decals. Not sure if I used the correct Autolite parts sticker, but I chose that one because I thought it looked the best.
Did the inside and underside of the lid in black:
And here are the exhaust manifolds. Very happy with how these came out. They really do look like clean bare metal. I'm going to attempt to use the same paint on the rusty downpipes so they match.
That's pretty much it for now! Took out the steering box this weekend and it's pretty much shot. Luckily I know where to get a rebuilt one I have so much work to do on just about every part of this car, it's kinda hard sometimes to figure out what to do first. Oh well, it'll get there eventually!
Yep, I used VHT Flameproof paint in "Cast Iron" (their part # is SP998). Very happy with how it looks, hopefully it will stand the test of time. You do need to heat cure it, which you can do by running the engine for certain intervals of time. They outline the curing process on their website.
Ok, no pics of the headliner yet... it came partially unglued so I'll wait to show it off until the guy comes back to do the vinyl top & fix it.
In other news...
Took the whole front end out of the car, including the springs and shocks of course.
Rolled it outside to do some more cleaning up with the steam cleaner. Like my front wheels?
Also got the trans pretty clean while I was at it. I'm not planning on painting it or anything, it's just bare aluminum.
Next, a very important but simple way to strengthen the weak shock towers on these cars. The "Boss 302" reinforcing plates.
Preparing the area:
Welded in place:
Welding done by Felix - here he is at work on the other side:
Look at the mess on the driver's side shock tower. It's been welded before, and it still needed a couple cracks welded up. In fact, there are a couple more since doing this that we didn't notice the first time around. Argh!
In the end, I'm most likely going to have all the things in this kit to stiffen up the front end. The one piece export brace is a must.
Anyways, I spent the better part of Monday getting all the disc brake parts off of a 1970 Cougar parts car in the wrecking yard. It was kind of a pain in the butt, but I got everything I needed:
The booster will be a core that I'll exchange for a rebuilt one. Same with the calipers. Master cylinder, I'll just get a new one. The rotors will be turned on our resurfacing machine (lucky we have one). The distribution block, I'll just clean up and rebuild with one of our rebuild kits. The pedal I'll just repaint and put a new pad and trim on. For the pedal bracket, I'll just modify my original drum brake one (pretty easy). More on that later.
Firewall modified to accept the booster. The car already had indentations from the factory showing me where to cut, so this was no problem. Just needed to drill out the bottom / center stud hole (outlined on engine side), and extend the large central hole upward (outlined on inside of firewall).
Anyways that's the latest on the Snowball. I'm making videos about both the suspension upgrades and the disc brake conversion. No real ETA on when those will be finished, I'm waiting until I get the front end is reassembled so I can do some conclusion shots of the nice shiny stuff in place. Of course, this is the time to paint the whole front "doghouse," so that's coming soon as well. Hooray for progress!
Time for an update.
Naturally, now that the front end was completely empty, it was the perfect time to throw on some fresh black undercoating. The original stuff was still stuck on there pretty good, so all I really did was clean / degrease the whole surface, mask off, and spray the new undercoating over the old.
Also, I got to work on cleaning up the new brake parts. The rotors are new re-surfaced and I even painted the centers and outside edges so they don't get rusty again. Also painted the spindles and dust shields.
I used leftover exhaust paint on these and love the results. You can hardly tell that the central shaft and flat area are still bare metal, and the rest is painted.
Same on the rotors. Even painted the back side because I'm crazy like that.
Here's the dist. block cleaned up externally, though I still need to pull it apart and replace the seals. Don't know for a fact that I need to, but "While I'm At It..."
And here's a "new" MC that I got a good deal on because it's been sitting on the shelf forever:
So, before I started putting the brakes on, I needed something to attach them to. That meant it was time for new upper and lower control arms, spring perches, springs, rubber isolators, and shocks. The springs are the 1" lower Scott Drake "performance" ones, and are a little thicker steel than the originals. Hopefully they aren't too harsh. The shocks are pretty ordinary KYB's, basically a stock replacement (looks like I need to update the pic for the website, it shows a gray one, but they are black now). Oh, and don't forget to do the 90 degree grease fitting adapters on the upper control arms if you ever want to grease your suspension.
This weekend I got the driver's side brake put together. I exchanged my core calipers for rebuilt ones and got the semi-metallic pads. Did this side first to figure out how to do it, then I'll do the other side in the video Somehow, I think what took the longest was installing the little rubber insulators. The bolts kept wanting to push them out the other side. Kind of annoying, but I got 'em eventually.
(I know, I still need to install the cotter pins)
Stuff is looking gooooood! One thing I realized is that I'm finally at the point where I'm putting stuff ON the car instead of just taking things off! It's a big turning point... Also in the works, I've been cleaning up / painting the steering linkage stuff, struts rods, etc so they look presentable as well. Had to get a new idler arm too because mine was a little wobbly. Anyway, hopefully this week I'll finish up the other side, and on a slightly unrelated note the vinyl top might get done this week too. Then I'll try to throw the front and rear glass in, with some help of course. Then there's no reason not to hang the doors, and paint the engine compartment, and start on the interior, and....... you get the idea.
Big news of the day... new vinyl top is on!
Very happy with how this came out. The only little thing that isn't perfect is the RH stitch line, which is a teeny bit crooked. But otherwise it looks awesome. Good tight fit and everything. Oh, and ignore the saddle-colored trim pieces. I grabbed those from the shelf because I couldn't find my original ones. Needed to paint mine anyway, so if they don't turn up I'll just blast & paint these ones.
Installed by the same guy who did my headliner, and the convertible top in our most recent video.
This is the top of the line, OEM material from SMS Auto Fabrics (link). As of right now, WCCC doesn't even offer this particular top, for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it takes a long time to get these from SMS. Mine literally took about 3 months to receive from the time it was ordered. The other reason is that it's expensive. The retail price would be somewhere around $400 or more. But in my opinion, if you intend on keeping your car for a long time and you care what it looks like, or if you're doing a concours resto, it's definitely worth it. The quality of this material is just so much better than the typical one we sell, not to mention it's exactly the same as the originals. I'll talk a little more about the differences down below.
Finally, Don and I installed the front windshield using the rope technique. This pic is from before we started putting goop in between the rubber & glass, which was kinda tricky. I haven't even started on the inside yet because I'm a little bit scared of messing up the white headliner. Anyone have tips for doing this with the glass in place?
Anyway, a little more about the vinyl top. I took a couple of comparison shots with the "average" reproduction that we sell (top in pics) and the "concours" version (bottom in pics) that I put on my car.
A couple different views of the texture:
A couple things I noticed about the "average" one - the texture is a little bit rougher, and it has a shiny finish, which I don't really like. Also, when you pull on it, you can actually stretch it a little, whereas the "concours" one is very taut and won't stretch with your bare hands. The texture on mine looks more natural and precise and it has a more matte finish, which looks better IMO. Another thing about the "average" one that you can't see here is that there is a fairly noticeable repeating pattern that you can see when it's installed on the car. The "concours" one probably repeats the pattern too, but if so I haven't been able to tell. Here's the back:
If you've ever pulled an original vinyl top off a Cougar, then you will have seen a canvas-like backing material that looks like the bottom one in this pic (concours one of course). The "average" one has soft white fluffy stuff on the back that doesn't seem like it would do much to stop moisture. I guess the good thing about it is that it would provide a little more padding to hide imperfections on your roof's sheet metal. But the overall feel is just cheaper.
So, just to be clear, I'm not trying to put down anyone who has put the average top on their car. In fact, it's been the only new vinyl top option that most people knew about for a long time (my car had that kind of top on it before). It does the job and looks good (see pics on the listing on our site of the Tiffany Blue '68). However, seeing it next to the OEM material, and seeing the proper one installed on my car... it makes a huge difference in the quality of the car's appearance, in my book. I'm hoping that we at WCCC can at least try to stock one or two of these premium tops and get them on the website, even though they are hard to get a hold of / replenish.
When the installation was all finished, I had to step back and absorb it for a while. It really looks great in person. That, and it's starting to become recognizable as the car I want it to be.
Also, while I'm here, the front end progress is very good - I cleaned up and painted the drag link and tie rods (had to replace one of the inner tie rods) and put them in the car, with a new idler arm, rebuilt power steering ram cylinder (mine had a bent shaft and a dented cylinder), and hooked it up to a rebuilt steering box (mine was shot). Strut rods also cleaned up / painted and installed with new bushings. Brakes are essentially done on both sides except for the lines. A few things still need buttoning up / torquing / cotter pins / etc. Here's a couple quick pics, sorry they are on the ground and you can't really see a whole lot.
The Snowball rolls on!
Haha yeah, it's just sitting on the floor. I have a kit to restore the steering wheel but am waiting until things are further along, since it will need to be man handled around for a while.
Got the rear window in last night, need to finish sealing though. The fit was not as tight as the windshield was, so I'll need to use lots of goop around the outside to make sure it won't leak. Which leads me to a question - do I need to apply sealant from inside the car also, or is it enough to do the outside perimeters of the rubber? This stuff is a beyotch to use / clean up. Also, install trim clips before or after? Seems like before would be easier...
Finally, here's one of the videos I've been talking about doing... headliner installation! Other videos in the works are the vinyl top installation, the front end / suspension upgrades, and disc brake conversion. Will post those whenever they are finished and online.
He just called it a contact glue. I don't know specifically what kind it is, all I know is it's yellow! Used the same stuff on the convertible top he did on the yellow 69, and on my vinyl top. It's probably something like 3M Fastbond.
Oh yeah, and I should mention this tip: if possible, install your glass ASAP after doing the headliner, or at least put some clips around the edges to hold it. Mine actually came unglued at the edges (partially due to cold weather, or the stretchiness of the headliner, or the lack of anything holding it in place). He had to partially re-glue it when he came back to do the vinyl top. Right now I have clips on the sides, just in case, since I haven't yet put on the windlace.
Here's a cool "car history" update. When I was back in CA for the holidays, my mom and I sifted through some boxes of old photos and found some with the Cougar in them. I was hoping to find something from when my grandparents first got the car, proudly standing next to it in the driveway or something, but no such luck. These are still pretty cool though.
These first two are probably in the early 70's, when they took a trip to Yosemite. That's my grandpa standing next to the car, which you can barely see. He passed in 1977, so I never met him.
This one below is around 1984 (the photo jacket was advertising the 1984 Olympics). So, 4 years before I was born. My mom is on the far left (and yes, I made fun of her extensively for the dorky hair style and glasses), and my grandma (who continued driving the Cougar until she passed in 2001) is in the red jacket. Dunno who the other old ladies are. But there's the Snowball in the background, in all its glory.
That's all we found, for the time being. There are probably some others somewhere. But I was glad to see these. It's cool to have some visual history.
Anyway, I do have some significant progress to report, but haven't taken pics yet. The engine compartment got painted, and the doors are on. I haven't been doing much with the car lately, but I think as the days start to lengthen and it's not quite so cold, I'll be getting back on it soon.
Well, I guess I'd better post some kind of update. It's been a while. I didn't do much to the car during the winter months. It was too cold and dark and depressing. But now that the sun is shining and the days are longer, I am much more motivated to get back on it. Here are some of the random things I've done since the last update.
One of the more interesting things is that the engine compartment got painted. I had my body / paint guy do it. Really, I'm sure I could have done a good job myself with rattle cans, but I figured it would be worthwhile to have a pro do the prep work and use a high quality paint and spray gun. Currently I just have crappy cell phone pics, but I will get better ones soon.
Also went ahead and slapped on the service decal, woohoo! Plus if you notice the bolt heads there, I installed the the spring covers, which I cleaned up, refurbished the original rubber, sprayed with undercoating, and put back together. You'll probably spot them in a future pic, not that it's that exciting.
Also, the doors got put on. I need to take a better pic, but this works for now. The bad news is, the body guy didn't bother to use any masking tape or anything, so he ended up messing up his own paint job in a couple places. There is a chip on the front edge of the RH door, and the door sills took a little damage too. Not happy about that, they will have to be touched up.
Something else I did was to clean up and paint my vinyl top trim pieces. I actually had to scavenge some other pieces, as mine had mysteriously vanished. I bet Don sold them. That's the danger of keeping your Cougar parts in a Cougar parts warehouse. Anyway I used SEM Trim Black for the first time and was surprised by how nicely it smoothed out. The can says to spray medium coats, so I did, and didn't get any runs at all. I recommend this paint! (Again, cell phone pics...)
So then I started thinking, hmm I should probably focus on the things I need to clean up / put on the car in the front fender area so that I can get the fenders put on. So one of those things was the headlight vacuum reservoir. Mine was in pretty good shape, as far as not being rusty, but unfortunately it was cracked about halfway around the check valve, and out towards the side. So I sandblasted it and handed it to Felix, the resident mechanic here, and he was kind enough to weld it up for me.
Then, to make sure the repair worked, I hooked up a vacuum tester to see if it would hold 15 lbs for a while. It did.
So then I cleaned it, sprayed it with undercoating, and called it good. It may not be pretty but it will work. And it's not something you can see anyway.
So then of course I had to strip and paint the bracket for the tank, and for some reason grabbed the battery tray at the same time. (Turns out that was probably a waste of time since it was the smaller type of battery originally and it looks like I'll be upgrading to a bigger one, so I'll need a different tray. Oh well.)
Also, one of those other items that hides under the fender... this A/C vacuum tank thingy. Luckily mine was in pretty good shape, just dirty and tired looking. I tested it to see if it held vacuum (same method as with the headlight vac tank) and it did, so I just cleaned it and sprayed some paint on it just to make it less ugly.
Also stripped and painted my front crossmember (which is now installed, thank goodness I didn't lose the special tapered bolts) and the 390 GT sway bar Don was kind enough to donate. Still need to locate the hardware / bushing kit I got for it... where did I put that?
So, other big items that hide under the fenders: the splash shields. Fortunately for me, my original rubber was pretty good. The only bad part is that the bottoms of the metal brackets had some rot. But I decided that it was not bad enough to affect the functionality of the splash shields, so I went ahead and refurbished them. I separated the rubber from the metal (those are some tough staples...) and sandblasted the metal brackets before giving them a fresh coat of black paint. I also carefully sandblasted the rubber strips to clean them up, then continued cleaning them by hand. Once that was done, I used some galvanized steel wire to replace the staples, re-using the existing holes in the rubber and metal. It wasn't too hard to match up the right pieces to the right place because the staples were done by hand, so they are irregular & unique. Anyway this is the end result. Should have taken "before" pics. Oh well.
Now I just have to find the hardware so I can put them on the car... I didn't do a great job of bagging + tagging everything, so putting this car back together might be kinda tricky at times. Luckily I'm at the Cougar Mecca.
More to come in next post...
So, another thing I worked on for a while was my stainless steel trim. My original pieces were in pretty good shape, with a few minor dings and scratches here and there. So, I decided instead of spending hundreds of dollars on restored trim, I would just try to polish up my own stuff.
So, with the advice of Brian Aust, who attempted this himself when restoring Gunner, I started wet sanding all the pieces with 400 grit, then 600 grit. After getting them all sanded, I went over to Brian's house 3 or 4 times to utilize his buffing wheel, and to work on some of the dings and other issues. I ended up re-working some of the pieces a couple times. Luckily, I was able to almost completely remove all the dings. Some are still barely noticeable, but much better than they were. FYI - to remove dings, what I did was carefully tap them out from the other side, with a wooden tabletop supporting the front. Then when they were slightly sticking up on the front side, I sanded them down with a wooden stick for support, starting with as rough as 180 grit dry, then 220 dry, then 220 wet, then 400 wet, then 600 wet. Anyways, it took a lot of work and trial and error. Then of course I buffed all of them on the wheel using whatever compound Brian had leftover from his polishing days. I ended up with some nice shiny trim that doesn't quite look as mirror-shiny as the professionally restored trim we sell, but I'm pretty happy with it. If you look closely you can see some sanding lines parallel with the trim, so they have a slightly "brushed" look to them, while still being bright and shiny. If I would have continued on to 800 wet, or 1200 etc before buffing, I probably would have ended up with a more mirror-like shine. Oh well, I was tired of messing with them. It took a long time. And I'm happy enough with them for now.
Here's what they looked like after sanding:
Here's a ding that I ended up working on and pretty much eliminating (before):
Here is the beast... spent some solid time in front of this wheel.
And finally here are some finished shots. You'll notice the "brushed" look I'm talking about on the closeups.
I want to say thanks again to Brian for the help and hospitality. It was fun to drive out to Silverton and hang out at his shop and eat his wife's food. Good times, and good progress. That's what it's all about.
Finally, the last thing I'll talk about in this update - the engine. Just a couple weeks ago I bit the bullet and took it down to a reputable machine shop in Albany, OR. The guy has done work for Don before, including a CJ or two. Anyway he's going to do a complete short block rebuild on my 289. I'm keeping it 2V, just because I consider this car a driver / cruiser and am not too worried about making big power, though I would obviously love for it to have more guts. A stock 289-2V is rated at 210 h.p., and I asked the guy "what kind of horsepower do you think we'll get out of it when you're done? Around 240?" He just smiled and said "that's conservative." He is going to balance it, put in an upgraded cam (nothing crazy) do a 3 or 4 angle cut on the valve edges for smoother airflow, and so on and so on. Sounds like he knows what he's doing and I'm that much more excited to get it back in the car and find out how it runs before too long.
Anyway here are some "before" shots. This is the short block before disassembly.
Check out how loose my timing chain was. I'm surprised it didn't skip a gear. Finger courtesy of Scott Behncke (CougarCJ).
Heads off. Plenty of carbon on the pistons. Don't worry too much about the rust in that one cylinder, it's most likely from when I steam cleaned the block after yanking it from the car. In hindsight, that was unnecessary.
...And the old cam.
I forget if I mentioned this before, but my engine was actually a 302 block with 289 heads. Supposedly that was a pretty common thing at the time.
Anyway, that's all for now. Things are happening. Like a slow-moving freight train, I will keep chugging away a little at a time until I get there. It just might take a while. Thanks for the interest, and I'll be posting a couple videos soon!
Thanks dudes! Speaking of the engine, I just went down to the machine shop yesterday to give them my timing cover, cam retainer, oil eccentric, etc for them to put on so they could degree the cam, and make sure the harmonic balancer will line up with the metal pointer. Anyway I snapped a few cell phone pics of the progress. It looks nice and shiny! Apparently it's been bored .030 over. He says the heads are not done yet, so it will be a few more days until it's all done. Exciting stuff!
Also, I wanted to get some better pics of the painted engine compartment, so here ya go. It's getting dusty already..
And finally, just a pic to show what the car looks like in its current state.
Most recently, I've been finishing up the front end, torquing nuts to spec and installing cotter pins.
Speaking of the front end, I finally have a video to share. This was shot several months ago when I was doing the front suspension / steering / brakes. Also posted this in the how-to video thread, but it needs to be here too. Watch on YouTube
Well, how did you spend your 3-day memorial day weekend? For me, it was spent in uncomfortable, awkward, rusty places with messy, smelly paint. Not the most fun I've had working on the car, but something I wanted to address.
Areas like the firewall / underside of cowl / backside of dash still had some surface rust that I wanted to neutralize while I have things this far apart. None of it was really that bad, but I figure that I don't really want to have the car this far apart again, and ideally I'd like it to last for the rest of my life if possible. Here are some before pics.
After some prep with a wire wheel
Also, there were some other areas around the car that I noticed were untreated and showing surface rust. For instance, the bottom of the package tray, and perhaps more importantly, the underside of the rear window channel sheet metal that got patched.
Also, the upper part of the quarter window areas on both sides looked like this:
And the bottoms:
And in the trunk, the body guy didn't go all the way up the quarters with the black undercoating stuff, so these areas were untreated on both sides:
Finally, here's looking inside the cowl from the drain holes on either side. Not bad, but an area that is very prone to rust and should be addressed too.
Fast forward to the end of the weekend, after many hours spent in uncomfortable positions on the floor, in the trunk, etc, scuffing away with wire brushes, cleaning areas, masking off holes and edges, and smelling toxic fumes while brushing on some gnarly anti-rust paint. (I used the Chassis Saver paint that we carry, it's basically a POR-15 knockoff.) Can you tell I didn't enjoy it very much? But in the end I was glad I got it done. Should help the longevity of the car a little. Anyway, pics.
As I see these pictures I notice I missed a few little spots. Oh well.
Also decided to coat the bottoms of both doors. They weren't rusty, but I figured it was an area worth protecting.
And of course I did the quarter window areas - the higher portions that had surface rust, and the bottoms.
Here's where it gets a little crazy. In order to get to the inside of the cowl area, I had to get creative. I poured some paint into the outer wiper arm hole, which leads directly to the inside of the cowl. I masked off the inside wiper hole under the dash to be safe. Then used the lift to tilt the car to the passenger side to help the paint flow around the area.
For the other side, I ended up using the lift to tilt the whole car towards the driver's side so I could pour the paint into the drain hole. Then I re-positioned the lift arms a couple times to tilt the car forward and backward, so the paint would flow around a bit more. THEN, I crawled inside the car, smeared my gloved hand in the remaining paint in the can, and attempted to reach up into both cowl "hats" and coat the outside of them with my hand. I couldn't reach all the way around but did the best I could, and think I got some decent coverage in the critical areas. Finally, I used a small brush and stuck it in the drain holes and tried to cover the "hats" as much as I possibly could. It's hard to even show the results, but this gives you an idea.
So there you have it, that was my weekend in a nutshell. Not fun, and not very pretty, but I think it's a good preventive measure. I might end up spraying the trunk area later with polar white, it doesn't look very clean right now. To be determined. More interesting things coming soon...
So, on to something a little more fun. I got a call from the machine shop on Friday that my engine was ready to pick up, so I drove out and picked it up. Here is how it looked when I got it:
Box of goodies... and some of my old used stuff. He decided to get me a new damper instead of having the original one rebuilt.
I will get some shots of the heads soon, probably when I put them on. For now they are wrapped in plastic, waiting for their moment.
After work last night I started into it, with some help from my coworker Darrell. Thanks Darrell! It's good to have a more experienced dude around to stop me from doing something stupid. This is as far as we got. I cleaned up the oil pickup tube / screen as best I could, which had a bunch of small plastic chunks from the old timing gear bushing (?) embedded under the flat metal portion over the screen. Attached it to the new oil pump, and installed that on the block. Then we did the timing cover, installing the round seal in it, then applying sealer to both sides of the gasket and installing it. It took a little trial and error to find the right bolts and clean them up. Should have kept better track when they were removed. Then we started to put on the new water pump (just a standard cast iron one) but needed to figure out hardware again, and it was getting late, so this is where we stopped.
That's all for now, but I'll be making a little more progress every night this week hopefully. More to come soon!
Well it's time for another update. I'm not great at documenting every little thing I do and keeping up with posting here, but it seems like every once in a while I just do a massive post (or two) to bring the thread up to speed. So, time for one of those.
Let's start with miscellaneous stuff. After I got done with the painting under the dash, I started the process of putting stuff back where it goes. Before I could address wiring, wiper motor bracket, and other stuff, I had to get some insulation in there first. It turned out that my original upper insulation was in decent shape, despite being torn in one place (my fault). So all I really did was give it a good pat-down to get the dust out of it, and glue it back to the car with some trim adhesive.
Meanwhile, I've been trying to focus on some of the things that are easier to access now before the engine goes in. One of those things is the throttle pedal assembly. Here's a before shot of the worn-out bushing:
And here's an after shot, rebuilt with this kit.
And here's the whole thing. I painted it with the same exhaust manifold paint I used before. It has a great natural bare metal look to it. Then of course I painted the lower section black.
Also finally put in door latches and strikers, so the doors aren't flopping around dangerously anymore. My passenger side latch is original, but the driver's side is a replacement. Not a big surprise I guess. I got new strikers, just because the old ones looked kinda ugly.
Now moving on, this shot kinda shows a few things that are happening in the engine bay:
You might notice that I've got my rebuilt '70 brake booster in there, and new master cylinder (which I painted the exterior with cast iron grey engine enamel because it was already showing signs of surface rust). Also the front brake lines are in, just need to finish with all the clips and stuff. Also got the throttle rod installed, washer bottle and hoses and new nozzles. I salvaged my old firewall grommet and ran the new hoses through it. I'm using a decent original bottle for now, since it's a pretty obvious thing and stands out when you have a bright white replacement. I do have a new one in reserve if this one craps out. Also got the headlight wiring harness routed properly with all the clips in place, and though you can't see it in this pic, I put in a new battery tray with new fasteners, which I had to do since I'm upgrading to a bigger battery than what the car came with.
Here is my '70 distribution block, which I rebuilt with one of these kits. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it fits in the stock location, and the '70 front brake line kit fits perfectly. The only question remaining is what will happen when I try to run a '68 rear brake line to this. Can't use a '70 line because the fitting is a different size for the rear.
One other thing worth mentioning is that my stock brake warning switch plug did not reach the switch on the '70 distribution block, since it's rotated 90 degrees compared to the older ones. So, I had to snag a pigtail from another harness, cut my old one and splice this on.
Now, moving back inside for a minute, I continued with the under-dash insulation project, knowing it had to go in before everything else. I got one of these firewall pads and started to install it. First problem is that the rubber plugs that hold it in place are a B!##%^ to get through the holes without breaking them. I think I broke about 3 or 4 before successfully installing any. Second problem is that not all the holes are in the right place, so I had to modify the pad in multiple places to get the plugs into the proper holes in the firewall. I can't wait to install the heater box now, that will be fun...
I did manage to install the washer foot pump after some struggling to find the holes, and you might notice that I cleaned and painted the visible front lever portion first. Also in this pic you can see that the brake pedal & hanger are installed (kind of obligatory with the booster).
I also routed the wiring and vacuum lines against the kick panel in what I assume is the right configuration, since those 2 black clips were there from the factory. I had to cut a slot in the firewall pad for the vacuum lines to pass through. I'm guessing this pad is meant for Mustangs. But I will say that it seems pretty thick / substantial and should do its job nicely.
Now I was ready to put the fresh air vent back in. I cleaned it up as best I could, and it seems like the rubber around the flapper is still good, as is the cable. So I just put some strip-caulk around the inner perimeter to replace the original sealer and installed it back in place.
(Haven't taken an installed pic yet)
Well, that brings the miscellaneous things pretty much up to speed. Next is to install the steering column, which will make it a lot easier to move this thing around. Probably going to tackle that tonight. Coming up in my next post: engine progress. Stay tuned.
Ok, now picking up where I left off with the engine. The next thing was to install the heads. Here's a crappy picture of the bottom side of one head:
Apparently the intake valves were still in good shape so he just replaced the exhaust valves. Also he performed a "valve job" on all of them, whatever that means. I think it has to do with precisely grinding the edges to make them smooth. Also, hardened seats, etc.
Anyway, here they are installed on the block.
Next order of business was lifters, pushrods and rockers.
At this point I was about ready to put the intake on. But first, I had to clean it up. Ta-da.
I also took off this pan on the underside. I'm glad I did because there was a lot of crud in there. Unfortunately in the process of removal, I broke one of the fasteners that held it in place. So I had to drill & tap the holes and put some bolts in there. Cleaned up inside and reinstalled.
Also, this is the type of thing I usually don't bother showing, but I often spend some extra time trying to clean up and rethread original fasteners. In this case I blasted the intake bolts before rethreading.
Now here's the intake set in place, and I also had painted the valve covers, so I threw 'em on there just to get a preview of what it will look like. More info on the paint soon.
Finally, I was ready to mask off all the holes and paint the whole thing. I used duct tape because it sticks to the bare metal a lot better than masking tape does. Used some closed-cell foam to fill in holes like the spark plug holes and others. I also bolted on my old oil pan, which I'm not reusing due to a stripped out / shoddily repaired drain plug. I opted to do the new pan separately, just so I could see shiny bolt heads not painted over. Same idea with the valve covers. Silly? Maybe.
Now at last the painting could commence. I switched gears and decided to use Plasti-Kote #224, as suggested by ECI Bob and also multiple people on Mustang forums. I ditched my incorrect VHT "new ford blue," which means I'll have to re-do the air cleaner. Oh well, no biggie.
Then I did the new oil pan separately:
After a couple days to let the paint dry, it was time to start putting stuff on. Getting ready to do the exhaust manifolds here. You might notice that I masked based on where the manifolds actually end, not where the flat bosses on the heads end.
Some research told me that you aren't supposed to use exhaust manifold gaskets for this application, even though the Fel-Pro kit came with them. However, I wasn't totally comfortable putting them on dry, especially with some of the divots and pitting on the manifold flanges. (At some point in the past, gaskets were used on these)
So after a little more research I ended up going this route: red high-temp RTV silicone sealant. After putting the manifolds on with this stuff, I tried to clean up around the edges so it wouldn't be visible, or at least not obvious.
Next I put on the oil pan. Used Permatex High-Tack for this.
See the shiny new bolts?
Of course then I thought it looked stupid with the gasket showing, so I carefully painted over the edge with more blue paint. Then I painted the edges of the carb spacer, installed the oil filter and fuel pump, stuck the distributor in there, aaaand this is pretty much how it sits right now.
That's all for now! I am liking the way this engine looks so far. Hopefully it will run even better than it looks. I was debating about using chrome valve covers / open air cleaner and such, but I think I'm just going to keep all the stock blue stuff. Since it's an A/C car, there is plenty going on under the hood to keep it interesting. Well, until next time!
Haha, door striker envy. That's a good one...
Alright, so it's update time. One of the major tasks I wanted to accomplish that's been bugging me for a while is to clean up the underside of the car and throw some undercoating on it. Especially because the floor patches that were done were mostly just bare metal and have been starting to get surface rusty. But also just for aesthetics, so everything under there looks nice and uniform. So here are some "before" shots:
Note that the passenger side is what needed the most work... leaky heater core in front, not sure what the issue was in back.
Trunk area patch.. this was done on both sides.
Next, the most time consuming part: cleaning and masking. I rolled the car outside and jacked up the rear end as high as I could, then hit the floors with a steam cleaner / pressure washer. Then I put it back on the rack and wire wheeled as much of the rust away as I could, while also trying to get rid of loose chunks of old undercoating. I wasn't worried about removing the stuff that was firmly bonded to the metal, figured it was still doing its job and it wouldn't hurt to paint over it.
Then, the joy of masking off the whole car for a few hours. I suppose I could have gotten away with less, but...
Finally I was ready to go to town, having gotten as many things out of the way as possible. I left the rear end in place obviously... I'm thinking of tackling that whole project later, after the car is on the road again. But we'll see how long I can stand to look at the ugliness. Anyway for the undercoating, I started off by using some leftover spray cans of "Dyna Pro" which were at least 3 years old and were kinda weak in the spray department. It took 4 cans just to get from the back of the car to the wheel wells and beginning of the rear seat pan. Then I went and bought 4 cans of Evercoat rubberized undercoating from the paint shop, and that was the perfect amount to finish the whole rest of the car, and much faster since they sprayed a lot better.
Then, to hit the spots that were blocked by the lift pads, I put the car on the ground, crawled underneath and sprayed those areas.
Finally, I had planned in advance to do a little "while I'm at it" project. I peeled of the strategically-placed layer of masking tape to reveal the pinch welds, so I could black them out. Just one of those little details that helps to make the lines of the car look crisp.
And a couple crappy "after" shots where you can't even see anything... but I guess that's the point, isn't it? I used the semi-gloss VHT rollbar & chassis black paint that I've been using on a lot of stuff. I really like it.
And now, one stupid little detail / digression. I had taken off the rubber snubber bumper thing that goes directly over the rear end so I could undercoat there and also clean up the snubber & bracket. These are the original bolts after just a little degreasing. It's always kinda cool when you can reuse original fasteners that are in good shape.
AND NOW... something that happened a long time ago. Finally I can show you the vinyl top installation video. It took forever for [other members of the staff who will remain nameless] to get the premium / concours vinyl tops listed on the website. I figured it would be pointless to release a video raving about a product that isn't orderable. But now it is! See on our website here. (Available in black & white, with & without sunroof, 67-68 and 69-70) Yes, it's crazy expensive. But it is the bee's knees, especially compared to the cheapo one. Once I saw the two side-by-side, I knew I had no choice, even though I'm a poor youngster. But I covered all that before. Here's the video! (You might notice the lack of a beard on my face. It was a strange time in my life.)
Watch full-size on YouTube
Update time! It's a good one this time, but I'll leave the best for last and start with the random stuff first.
After I finished the undercoating, my next little project was to cover up the black anti-rust paint and undercoating that was in the trunk area (backside of quarter panels / underside of package tray). I got some rattle cans of Dupli-color "Perfect Match" in Wimbledon White and went to town. It looks much better now. You can still see a little bit of the black peeking through but I don't think anyone's really gonna stick their head in my trunk with a flashlight to see if the color is perfect. So I'm content.
Also started feeding through the taillight wiring harnesses, which had been shoved up over the wheel wells by the painter to get them out of the way. More on the wiring soon.
So, once I started messing with the wiring, I noticed that the original cotton braided sleeving was almost entirely gone.
(Below is a section showing how it should look... interesting. Larger beige threads woven with smaller green ones.)
So, I did a little research and formulated a practical plan to revitalize the wiring. Removed both sides from the car and here's how they looked. Not much of the sleeving left intact.
Fast forward and.....
For the rear section originally wrapped in cloth tape, I simply wrapped some new cloth tape over the old, trying to leave the colored tags visible.
For the rest, I used an expandable plastic wiring sleeve from this place 25 ft. was enough to do both sides. I got the 3/8" [nominal] diameter one and it worked perfectly, expanding over the plugs and tightening down over the wires when finished.
Obviously it doesn't look anything like the original stuff, but it's a good modern solution to achieve the same thing. Anyway, I secured the ends with more cloth tape.
Also made the accessory wire exits where appropriate and secured the plugs kinda like factory.
The RH side harness was a little tricky because I could only go so far in one direction until I ran into rubber plug for the yellow fuel sending unit wire, which was too big. I ended up going from the other side and meeting in the middle and it worked out well.
Anyway, the last thing will be to re-attach these little clips and secure them in their appropriate places. Still on the to-do list.
In other news... I installed a new fuel line. Some thrilling pics of the routing and fasteners... I'll leave a couple out.
Original protective cover cleaned up and reinstalled over the new line:
NEXT: I was ready to install the fuel tank, finally. I started by putting goop (3M Strip-Caulk) around the perimeter of the mounting area.
Then, before installing the tank I figured it would be easier to install the fuel sending unit first. Here it is ready to go:
Strangely, I ended up having to use the smaller 5/16" filter sock (which is supposed to be for 67 only) because when I tried to fit a 3/8" one, it was clearly not snug enough to stay put for long. Other parts shown above are the gasket and retaining ring, and the brass float. Anyway, here it is installed:
And in goes the tank! The timing was perfect because we had just gotten the proper screws for mounting the gas tank.
Finally, hooked it up to the fuel line:
Then I cleaned up an original filler neck (my original one vanished) with the bench wire wheel and soaked it in WD-40 to hopefully preserve the bare metal. Then I splurged on the new rubber hose, the proper clamps, the gaskets for the neck (got 2 as recommended on the site) and a new cap. Also while I was at it, I installed the trunk latch striker.
Now for some other miscellaneous stuff!
Cleaned up and installed the cigarette lighter assy. New rubber bumper for the lid installed.
Ignition switch retainer blasted & painted. There is a repro one, but why bother when you have a decent original.
Ignition switch installed, using original trim bezel thing for now. It looks fine but I might be tempted to get one of the shiny new ones. Also cleaned up the face of the key slot since it was scratched up. Now it's just scratched in a uniform direction.
Also, I had to scrounge in the junkyard to find a couple decent wire harness retainers that go on the driver's side. No idea where mine went...
Managed to get the fuse block attached to the firewall through the insulation pad... Awls poked from the opposite side made it reasonably easy.
More scrounging in the yard resulted in the acquisition of proper fasteners for the wiper arm pivots, so I installed them along with new gaskets.
This next one is major, I managed to install these little bumpers for the glove box door. Pretty amazing accomplishment and I'm glad I documented it.
Now, on to something that actually IS a major accomplishment. Last week I got some help from coworker Darrell and we prepared the engine and transmission to put in the car. When Thursday rolled around, we were ready to drop it in. Here's me posing by the engine before we married it to the trans.
Here's the trans. cleaned up and basically ready to install. Darrell went to town cleaning it up with wire wheels + brushes, and blasted the bell housing. Then I degreased it and painted over the outside with a VHT "flame proof" satin clear coat. I like how it turned out, you really can't tell there's any clear coat on it at all. Hopefully this will help keep it somewhat clean.
Unfortunately I didn't get any pics of the marriage of the engine and transmission, which is a bummer because it looked awesome. Kinda had my hands full though. By the time I was able to pick up a camera again, we had the job basically done.
Ta-Da! My first reaction was "wow, it actually looks kinda small in there!" There is more space to work around it than I remembered.
Yes, that's the moon in the background...
Threw the valve covers and distributor on to make it look more finished..
So that's the big news! It felt great to get that step done, and I'm grateful for Darrell's help. After we were done I kinda stood there and looked at it in awe, with a stupid smile on my face. It's so cool to see a shiny blue engine in there finally. Looking back at my photo files, it's been 1 year and 1 month since Scott and I removed the engine + trans from the car in the first place.
Well, that's all for now! Still a ton of stuff left to do, but it's coming together!
The short list looks like this:
1. Everything Else
But to elaborate, I guess I'll start bolting things to the engine, like pulleys and brackets and vacuum trees and water necks and stuff. Install new starter solenoid and voltage regulator. Attach wires. Procure and install trans cooling lines. Install refurbished trans fluid dipstick tube. Attach fuel line to pump, pump to carb. Determine if I'm going to use my generic replacement carb for now or find a proper '68 Autolite 2100 to rebuild. Attach choke tubes if necessary. Also some things in the cabin like cutting the front speaker holes and finishing things up under the dash. Also need to assemble a heater box and find out if I can re-use my A/C evaporator core, and install the blower fan assembly and vents and ducting... Which reminds me, at some point I'll have to refurbish / replace the A/C components under the hood. Aaaand I'm thinking about doing the rear seat divider panel, and probably some sound deadener in the interior, maybe start wiring stereo stuff... And of course I need to get the rest of my skins from the painter and start putting them on, do all the weatherstripping for the whole car, install windows & mechanisms, door handles / lock mechanisms, carpeting, upholstery, restore and install dash & gauges, refurbish entire rear suspension, brakes & axle housing, restore front grille and rear taillight grilles, blah blah blah blah blah blah.............
For now I'm using the 1.08 venturi carb I have, which is theoretically the right size for a 289.. There's been some debate around the office, however, about whether I should put on a bigger one (1.14 / 1.23) since the engine is now professionally built / slightly more displacement and might benefit from breathing a little more, with the right jets. Any opinions?
Anyway, time to do an update. First of all, I wanted to post some pics from underneath because it looks cool:
While looking at the underside I couldn't help but think that this is like a giant toy, especially with the big blue engine and silver transmission, and misc. black stuff. It's like a Lego set, only it doesn't just snap together. Also note the starter, which I just gave a cosmetic resto. It's a fairly recent remanufactured unit and still works like a champ. After this shot was taken I did install the inspection cover for the trans, so don't worry 'bout it.
So basically I've been busy cleaning up bits and pieces, installing new parts, and generally trying to button up the engine compartment & drivetrain. Here's a shot after blasting and painting the front brackets & installing them on the block.
I opted to get a reman alternator from Auto Zone... 65 amp. It came with a black fan, so I replaced it with a more correct looking gold cad fan.
Another view that shows a few of the other additions. Note the new trans. cooling lines - they are a little tricky to install, especially with the sway bar in place. After I installed them the first time I realized that they're supposed to go OVER the sway bar, not under. The clearance is deceiving with the car in the air... it will be lower when the car is on the ground, giving the lines more space to go over it.
Gave my original coil a cosmetic refurb. with some paint and a decal. Left the collar bare, thinking it looked kinda cool, but it's supposed to be black like the rest. Still seems to function just fine. I may cave in and replace it with a new one at some point. Other new parts in this shot include the water elbow, engine feed wiring harness (used the XR7 version because of the red plug and slide-on oil sending unit plug, which is how mine was equipped. This is the one: here), new water temp sensor, and new fuel pump to carb steel line... etc.
Got a new solid state voltage regulator and painted the cap blue and stuck a decal on it. I could have bought the whole repro cover with the correct stamp, but the new regulator was totally sealed with a hardened gel-like substance, so I opted for the easy and cheap method.
New ground wire. Just for reference in case anyone forgets where this goes..
Next was to put the fan / clutch / pulley on, which of course are all cleaned up and repainted:
Also installed a couple of the belts. The PS pump I didn't do much other than remove the reservoir to repaint it, clean the inside, and paint the bracket natural cast aluminum color. It had a "remanufactured" tag on it, so hopefully it's still good. I later took the belt back off it since it wasn't yet hooked up to anything.
The next logical step was to install the radiator. Luckily for me, my original 24" radiator was in good shape. Just a handful of acorns inside, but clean other than that. I boldly decided to clean it by bead blasting it, which was a little iffy but I was careful to keep some distance and not too much pressure. I managed to do this without hurting anything, although some of the fins may have gotten slightly bent on the edges. Here's what it looked like after blasting:
Then I painted it with some VHT Engine Enamel in semi-gloss black. Should be able to withstand high temp, hopefully.
Next, I needed to fix a crack in my original fan shroud. It was in good shape overall, but there was a crack along most of the seam on the top passenger side. I ended up using some JB Weld "Clear Weld" 2 part epoxy that seemed to work really well. Here are some "after" shots. Looking at it in the car, you wouldn't notice anything had been repaired. I just used enough so that it didn't seep out on the visible side.
Ta-da... ready to install
Part number just because:
Fast forward, and things are really coming together. These are cell phone pics but they work.
It really looks a lot more complete with the radiator / shroud in there. Also I may as well mention that I used new hardware for the radiator and for the shroud. Also put new rubber pads in the lower and upper mounts for the rad. And of course the hoses, clamps, and cap are new too. The battery is an old-ish repro of the original Autolite, but I'll have to fill it with acid and stuff. Don traded it to me when he stole my like-new Duralast battery for his beater Honda. I'm not sure if I want to use it yet, or get a new modern battery and just use the fake Autolite cap. But anyway..
At this point it was finally time to pour some life blood into the engine. 5 quarts of Joe Gibbs break-in oil, straight down the distributor hole. Then a long extension on a cordless drill enabled us to spin the oil pump (counter-clockwise of course) until drops of oil started to seep from the lifters and over the rockers. I then turned the engine over with the starter for the first time, hoping to circulate the oil a little more. Next, antifreeze and water into the radiator. Then I installed the driveshaft, which I haven't cleaned up yet but just needed it to seal the back of the trans so I could put fluid in it as well. And on it goes... hooking up wiring, installing Pertronix unit into dist., seating dist. in the right place, installing spark plugs and wires, running a short hose from the water pump to the neck on the intake (no heater box yet) etc etc. Finally, it was time to pour some gas in the tank and see if she would fire up. Here's a brief video compilation of what took place:
To give a brief synopsis of what happened: The first night we tried to start it, it actually fired up the first time and seemed to run great for a few moments. Probably thanks to the initial dose of starting fluid. But then we couldn't seem to keep it running, and it didn't seem like it was getting enough fuel. The fuel pump was fairly new, so I was hesitant that that would be the problem. But by the end of the night, that seemed to be the most likely culprit. So I came in over the weekend and installed a new fuel pump, buttoned up a few other things, and tested some of the electrical components to make sure they weren't the problem. Then after work on Monday, with Darrell's help again, we made another attempt. It was definitely getting fuel, but wouldn't fire - no spark. That turned out to be simple, the spark plugs were drenched with gasoline from the previous attempts. We just had to remove them, dry them off and reinstall. After that, it fired up, but wouldn't stay running smoothly. We tried a different coil and bypassed the wiring from the ignition switch to the coil. It would run, but for some reason it kept surging in an almost rhythmic way... would rev up, almost die all the way down, then rev up again. So finally we took off the top half of the carburetor and discovered that it was kinda gunked up, just from sitting for a year or two. So we cleaned it as best we could and dug into a rebuild kit to replace some of the parts. That helped immensely, and we were then able to fire up the engine and run it smoothly, allowing the 20 min / 2000 rpm cam break in period to happen. Finally, it runs!
So that's the big news of the week. It was pretty exciting to hear it run. I've been itching to start it up again for no good reason, just to hear it. But for the next couple weeks it will hide under a car cover while I'm on vacation for the holidays. When I get back, I need to pester my body guy, as he still hasn't painted the fenders, hood, trunk lid, extensions, valences, and other misc items. Also need to assemble a heater box and get that in the car, put together the entire A/C system, do all the ducting under the dash, cut the kick panels for speakers, install new dash speaker, refurbish dash components, restore steering wheel, do sound deadening, carpeting, upholstery, lights, wiring, trunk mat, weatherstripping for the whole car, find some good glass (some of mine was lost in the shuffle), start restoring the grille and taillight bars, etc etc etc.... one thing at a time...
One more parting video clip.. basically the same thing but just a short clip I did on my phone for facebook bragging purposes. Video
Onward and upward! Hope you all have a great Xmas & New Years & stuff.
Shoot, you guys always have such good advice after the fact. Maybe I should start asking more questions BEFORE I start doing something critical! Oh well, hopefully nothing was damaged by the many attempts to start it. And I may still pull the valve covers again to do more fine tuning on the valves, especially if I can wrap my mind around the technique Dr Art mentioned. But at least we put the distributor in properly, and we did fill up the carb bowl with gas. The bad fuel pump kinda put a damper on having a simple first start.
Thanks guys! It helps to just focus on one or two specific projects at a time, and over time you accomplish a lot. I'm still intimidated by how much is left to do, but then I look at what's been completed and it's a good reminder that this is all possible.
Speaking of bite-sized projects, my latest undertaking was to refurbish the shifter. It was pretty easy but satisfying. Some "before" shots:
And here it is all taken apart:
Then basically I just cleaned everything as best I could with wire or nylon brushes, degreaser, steel wool, rags etc., media blasted the "bucket" and the selector arm, painted them with "cast aluminum" VHT exhaust paint (masked around the non-removable plastic sleeve, as well as the rotating shaft that connects to the shift lever), replaced the plastic bushings, lubricated moving parts with white lithium grease, put it all back together, and...
(That's the original rubber plug, just had to clean it up. If yours is shot you can get a new one here.)
Then finally I installed it in the car with a new gasket under the bucket, and hooked it up to the shift rod. This took a little trial-and-error to find the right place in the slot. I ended up putting the trans and shifter in 2nd gear to line things up because it seemed like a good "middle area" without much play in the shift rod.
And that's pretty much all I have for an update right now! Next on this list is topping off the trans fluid, and more importantly, finish hooking up the brakes and put some fluid in there, bleed them, etc,. so that I can actually move the car from one place to another under its own power. Also need to get power steering lines and do the big block routing, then throw some fluid in there and put the belt on. Can't forget to grease the front suspension / steering components too. Also, the valves need some additional adjusting & fine tuning. Slightly further down the road, I need to assemble the entire A/C system, from under the hood to under the dash and everywhere in between. That will be a chore. Anyway, I'm starting to ramble... focus on one thing at a time, one thing at a time, one thing at a time......
Cheers! I should also mention this about the nut that secures the chrome shift lever to the smaller arm - you have to get the tension just right, so that it's firm and doesn't wobble, but not so tight that you can't move the shifter easily. I found that I could make final adjustments in the car with an open end wrench. For some reason it's not a jam nut on mine, but I think some of them were, which would make more sense.
So Steven, you could always try to tighten that nut a little and see if it improves your shifter feel for now, before you take it out and rebuild it. Surprisingly, mine was still nice and tight before I rebuilt it, so I probably didn't even need to replace the bushings, but "while I'm in there..."
Last night, I reached another very cool milestone: driving the car under its own power. The last time I was able to do this was in late 2011 if I remember right. Having finished hooking up the brakes and bleeding the system, and topping off the transmission fluid, and adjusting the valves again, I fired her up and reversed out of the shop, then drove back and forth in the driveway a couple times. I'm happy to report that the power disc brakes work very well! Something is dragging though, since the car didn't roll freely in reverse. It does run smoother now after adjusting the valves. The only thing that needs work is the choke, but I need to hook up the heat tube. I have to thank Darrell again for sticking around after work to help me get it going. I could hardly believe it when I was sitting there on the metal floor, driving my car under its own power. So cool!
And luckily, Darrell grabbed a camera and filmed some clips for posterity. The thing you hear dragging under the car is the handbrake cable, which I haven't fully hooked up yet.
I'm very stoked about that.
But now I need to go harass the painter guy. The following parts have still not been painted:
-All 4 fender & quarter extensions
-Glove box door & ash tray door
-Trunk hinges & rods
And here you thought I got the car painted quickly without hassle. Not all of it.... the saga continues!
Time for an update! Nothing monumental, but a few interesting things to report on.
First of all, I finally installed the export brace. Luckily I didn't have to struggle too much to line it up. I first installed both ends through the carriage bolts on the shock towers, which went fairly smoothly since the bolts can slide around a little, then I had to use a round pry bar through the holes at the cowl side to scootch the whole thing over a bit (maybe 1/4") and start the new bolts & nuts there. Then I installed my shock tower caps, which are the original ones, repainted, with new nuts and bolts for the shocks. Some pics:
Hmm now does something else look different on top of the engine? Yep, I changed the carburetor. What I had before was a generic remanufactured 2100 (later Motorcraft style) with 1.08 venturis. It had a leak from the accelerator pump due to a stripped bolt hole, and it always had hesitation problems. Anyway, some of you saw the other thread I started asking about my options. I ended up refurbishing an original 1968 Autolite 2100 C8OF-K carb, which has 1.23 venturis and is designed for a 390-2V. The difference in rated CFM is 356 vs. 287. I hadn't ever rebuilt a carb before this point, so I did some research and learned a lot in the process. Carbs are finicky creatures with lots of variables. Luckily these 2 barrels are pretty simple, but it still took me a few hours to clean it all up, use new parts from the rebuild kit, and exchange a couple parts from my other carb and get it all dialed in. Some trial and error to get everything right with the linkages and choke and stuff. I still need to do some final adjusting but I'm happy to report that it's on the car, and it seems to run better than it did before. Seems like an improvement for sure.
Mid - rebuild... wish I would have taken a few more with everything apart, but I tend to not stop to take pics when I'm in the thick of it.
I think I may need to replace the dashpot, it seems a little sticky. Might just need adjusting. Anyway, some more pics on the car.
I do need to replace the little rubber cap for the fuel bowl vent. The "HYGRADE" rebuild kit did come with one, but it broke when I tried to pull it through the hole on the metal arm. Luckily I found a source for a replacement here. Also ordered a brass float while I was at it.
Next order of business, I now have functional power steering! It feels nice, I gotta say, after muscling the car around all this time. However, nothing goes simply, and I had to take the pump out ~ 3 times before I got it right. But here's the breakdown.
I decided to use the big block hose routing, to avoid the stupid-looking loop by the shock tower, as seen here:
So, I got the appropriate bracket and mounted it to the car. The holes needed to be drilled, which was tricky with the oil pan and everything in the way, but I figured out a way. Also got this hose kit. Check it out. (Note: the 2 short lines are old-stock Canadian made Omega brand hoses that I found.)
However, once I went to hook up the return line to the PS pump, I realized I had overlooked one important detail. The "neck" that comes out of the PS reservoir comes out straight on a 67-68 small bock. That meant that with my modified routing, the return hose would have to connect like this:
I didn't like that very much. So, I had to remove the pump from the car, take off the reservoir can, and replace it with one of these (69 small block) which has the 90-degree downward elbow I needed. Here's a comparison after I cleaned up & painted the replacement reservoir.
That did the trick. One other thing I'd like to suggest is to get this seal kit if you're going to mess with your pump / reservoir. After reinstalling it the first time and adding fluid, it leaked quite badly from around the reservoir. I had to drain and remove the whole thing again just to replace the large o-ring and other seals I could access easily (there are several that I didn't replace just because I didn't want to delve too deeply into the inner workings of the pump. It's a remanufactured unit, though I'm not sure how old it is). That solved the leak. But it was a little frustrating to have to to remove / dismantle / reinstall / multiple times.
Anyway, once everything was back in the car, all I had to do was shorten the return hose a tad, and then everything fit nicely.
Overall I'm happy with this routing. It's straightforward and less cluttered / awkward than the original way. The only thing that seems weird is how the hoses all have tight bends near the metal fittings. Seems like they should have been designed to arc more smoothly.
Anyway, that's all for now!
Wow, it's been almost 7 months since my last update. I've been meaning to post some stuff for a while, but overall this summer I barely touched the car. I think I hit the "slow slump" stage or something. I could blame life distractions or any number of things, but I think the simple answer is that I got burned out and let my motivation slip. It's hard to stick with it after a few years go by, and I'm that much more impressed watching some of you guys relentlessly hammer away on your projects. That being said, here's something cool I did back in June this year.
First off, I had to throw down some insulation in the trunk. I got this kit that has all the pieces for the whole car (note to self, take new pictures for that product). Pretty nice thick stuff, though most of the thickness is the is fluffy "jute" portion and not the tar backing.
I did have to do some trimming to get everything to fit just right.
I used a smidge of spray trim adhesive here and there to keep things in place. Also I should note that I installed the repro trunk filler boards before this.
Also hiding under there is my old mechanical sequential box. Not original to the car since it says "Motorcraft" on it and has a couple spliced wires. It seems to work fine though so I just put it back in. Maybe someday I will upgrade to the solid state box.
Then I got to throw in a new trunk mat, and of course I opted for the premium version. It's really nice. I put the spare tire J-bolt in place and threw the jack in there. Still contemplating whether I should strip and repaint the jack or just leave the patina the way it is.
Now it's on to the cool stuff. I had been looking forward to restoring the taillights for a while, since they're such an iconic part of the car. I started by sandblasting the front sides of the housings, leaving the rear sides alone since they were in good shape and still had the galvanized plating or whatever it is that preserves them. Then I masked around the outsides and painted the inner areas gloss white. They were originally a shiny silver, but I decided to try gloss white to give the lights a nice even glow. The thinking here is that white will actually reflect more light than silver. Then of course I had to reverse mask and do the outsides in SEM Trim Black (great stuff).
Then I went ahead and replaced the seals on both of them with this kit. It's great that all this stuff is reproduced (sometimes I'm still impressed how much is available for Cougars, especially after restoring an Opel). I used weatherstrip adhesive to stick them on.
Also, when taking the old seals off, I noticed that there were some little rings around the threaded studs. I substituted some new generic o-rings to replace them. Whether or not this is actually necessary, I have no idea.
Test fit just for fun:
Now the real fun begins: the chrome bars. My originals were pretty pitted, and rechroming wasn't in the budget. Luckily I happen to work at a place that has hundreds of good used bezels, so I dug through the pile and found some pretty nice ones. Stripping off the old paint was an adventure / chore that took some trial and error. Easy Off oven cleaner turned out to be the best stripper. If you do this, make sure to do it outdoors and wear gloves. This stuff is gnarly, avoid breathing the vapors. Anyway I let it sit for a while (~20 min) and then used various nylon brushes to get the old paint off. Then a good bath in water, some steel wool, etc. I had to do this process about 3 times to get all the nooks and crannies stripped. Eventually, both bezels looked like this:
Once I got the bezels as clean as possible, I painted over them with no masking, again with SEM Trim Black.
Now it's time for the tedious part... I used an old t-shirt and a can of reducer, applying a little reducer to the rag and then rubbing the paint off each bar with my fingertip. This is the way to get clean results and nice smooth edges. I experimented with 1/8" masking tape on my old bezels before doing these and didn't like the harsh edges I got with that method. Anyway, here's a midway progress shot.
Here you can kind of see that I did the outward-facing sections first. I went back after this to do the top and bottom edges.
Fast forward many hours later, add some brand new taillight lenses (which are fantastic) and gaskets, put it all together, and the results are stunning.
I did end up using some masking tape on these license plate end sections, just to make sure I didn't wipe outside the lines.
It looks like I don't have a picture of the whole rear of the car with both lights installed, but use your imagination. They both look that good.
What I do have, however, is this random video I did to compare normal incandescent 1157 bulbs with the plug-and-play LED bulbs we currently carry. I decided to stay with the regular bulbs, given the overall "original" theme of the car, and of course because I'm a cheapskate.
Finally, I'll close with some shots of the car as it sat during our Open House this August. I spruced her up as best I could and just kinda loosely put the fenders on to make it look more car-like.
And that about does it. It's been in hibernation for some time, and I really need to get back to work on it. But now it's cold and dark. So who knows how much progress I'm going to make over the winter. But anyway... stay tuned!
Not much new to report, but I am gearing up to get back to work on this thing. Got my original AC evaporator core pressure tested, and it passed the 120 psi test with no leaks, so I'll re-use it. Also started assembling a heater box. Then once I get a condenser, I can start putting the front end / grille together. Also need to finish cutting out the kick panels and installing speaker cups, which is just about the last thing I need to do before mounting the fenders. I also plan on blacking out the flat inner "ears" on the fenders that go behind the grille / attach them to the core support. I think this will be a nice subtle touch to help the grille stand out. Also on the horizon is interior stuff, trim stuff, rear end (brakes & suspension) stuff, and so on.
Anyway, the main reason for this post is that I finally finished my disc brake conversion video. 'Bout time! Watch on YouTube or below.
Okay, it's time for an update. I've been sporadically doing random things to the car and now have enough stuff for a decent "progress post."
First of all, I bought a high performance AC condenser, which comes in raw shiny aluminum, with black brackets and drier.
I wanted it all to be satin black, to blend in rather than stick out like a sore thumb behind the grille. So removed the brackets and masked off the drier. Just as I was getting ready to paint, someone decided to set up shop right in the way. Typical.
Painted and reassembled:
And here it is mounted on the car. Really glad I painted it. Also, once the condenser was on, I could install the hood latch / center grille support piece, which I had cleaned up and painted previously. Of course I had to get new bolts since that's such a visible area when you open the hood.
Also got new hood bumpers. Can you guess what's coming next?
The hood! I'm not super happy with the paint work on it. Once the rest of the major panels are on, it's gonna need some professional help.
Cleaned up and painted the hood latch and dowel thing so I could actually close it... knowing full well that the paint would get chipped immediately. I suppose plating would be the way to go on these? Zinc perhaps?
Now, here's another foray into the tiny detail parts. This little clip rides against the hood release handle, to keep it from rattling / scraping on the support piece. Mine was missing, and I scoured the junkyard for a good one. Also it took me a minute to figure out how it works. You have to drive the round pin down with a slightly smaller punch, then the four clips release it. Re-installation is the opposite of course.
Ok, here's another nerdy little thing. This must be why it's taking me so long to finish the car, haha...
I wanted to slap a Battery OK decal on the apron, but first I had to figure out the date my car was actually built, so it would have that cool tidbit of history on it. So first, I got a Marti Report, which I've been meaning to do for a while anyway.
Pretty basic car! It's cool to see that it was a "retail" order, confirming the story I heard that my grandparents ordered it the way they wanted, rather than just picking one up off the lot. Also interesting that it's only 1 of 87 with this paint and trim combo. Anyway, this gave me the nugget of info I needed for this little project: my car was built on 6/17/68.
So I wrote that on the sticker, along with a "charge reading" that's supposedly the proper format, and improvised something for the inspection stamp. I know the stamp probably isn't quite like what they used at the factory, but to me it looks more official than something handwritten. I used an ink pad from a stamp, a socket, and a couple number punches. I chose 18 because I was 18 when I started driving the car.
And here we go, in its rightful place.
Ok, now another random project. I had my center grille piece sitting on my desk for the longest time, looking dingy. So I finally spruced it up. First was to remove the Mercury man and the background decal. Then I tried to strip the old black paint off with oven cleaner, but it didn't really work. Also I think the oven cleaner may have accelerated the pitting of the chrome a little, so be careful out there. I ended up carefully masking off the chrome with electrical tape, and lightly sandblasting the paint off. Then did some hand sanding to knock down some of the rough spots.
Removed electrical tape...
Then applied painter's tape. Not sure why I did the back side like this, other than to avoid painting the back of the center section. In hindsight I wouldn't do it this way again, since the paint pools up and has nowhere to escape. But anyway, it worked.
SEM Trim Black, of course. Excellent stuff.
Had to do some fine-tuning by hand to scrape away excess paint on some edges after removing the tape. New background decal applied and Mercury man epoxied back in place. This could have been a little cleaner, but it works.
Note on the decal: make sure you test-fit it before peeling off the backing. I'm glad Don mentioned this to me while I was doing this. The decal is a little too big, so I had to sand down the edges a bit before it fit properly.
Here's a fancy "finished" shot.
In other news, I've been trying to finish up the things that are keeping me from putting the fenders on. One of those things was to cut the kick panels out for speakers. Both sides are now done. Some fine-tuning is needed, and I'll want to install the "pods" before the fenders go on, but it's progress.
On a similar note, I chopped an opening in my dash structure for the center speaker. Is that blasphemy? Usually I don't like cutting or modifying my car for aftermarket stuff, but somehow this one didn't really bug me. I went with one of these dual voice coil speakers, which wouldn't have fit without modification.
Finally, here are a couple cool before-and-after shots of the front fender splash shields. Same concept as the rear ones - removed staples and rubber, blasted and painted brackets, reinstalled rubber through same holes with wire.
The problem is, the old rubber is so brittle, it could crack and break pretty easily. Since doing the one on the right, I removed the rubber from the other one and it broke in half. So, I'm going to make new seals out of 1/16" Buna-N rubber and replace both sides for good measure. Pics coming soon, whenever I actually do that.
Note: the rubber seals are reproduced, but they're for Mustang, meaning the shape is different and they wont fit correctly in Cougar fenders.
Coming up next, heater box stuff!
Alright. This next undertaking is something relatively major that I'm glad to have (mostly) behind me now. We'll call it the HVAC system.
I basically rebuilt all the under-dash stuff, starting with the heater box. Unfortunately, my original heater box was cracked and broken in several places, so I had to piece together two decent used halves from different cars. I cleaned up and painted both halves so they would match and look decent, then proceeded to replace seals, install a new heater core with new end caps, install my original evaporator core (which I had pressure tested at a radiator shop), and put in a the little brackets and flappers which I had also cleaned up and painted.
Then I could start putting on the vacuum actuators and other external pieces.
I still had to make a few repairs to the fiberglass. Since I'm clueless about fiberglass work, I opted for JB Weld. This corner was cracked:
Smoothed out and painted. Not super purty, but better than being cracked and weak.
Several of the clip recesses were also broken from improper clip removal technique. Here's one sample repair with JB, and a straight section of paper clip for reinforcement (which you can't see since it's covered in epoxy...). My goal was basically just to rebuild the "lip" that would allow the clip to grab on to it.
...and here's a terrible "after" shot, after smoothing down the excess epoxy and squirting some paint on it.
It was right around this time that I realized that there's no such thing as a good used evaporator seal (the rubber grommet that fits into the heater box and encloses the two evaporator lines). As a result, I also realized that WCCC didn't carry this reproduced product. One squeaky wheel later, we now have the 67 - early 69 version as well as the late 69 - 73 version.
And yes, that's my heater box I used for the product photos. Here's another glamour shot of the box, just for fun. It's basically done here.
Lastly, since the two halves from different cars didn't fit together so great, I used some rope seal stuff to make up for the gaps. Again, not the prettiest thing in the world, but it should be functional.
Finally, the heater box was done.
Next I had to tackle the blower assembly and center vent duct thing. Again, I had one half of my fiberglass shell, but the other half vanished after I handed it to the body guy for fiberglass repair. So, I scrounged another half and mated the two together. But first, I took apart the original blower motor, blasted and repainted the "squirrel cage" aka fan, and cleaned & lubricated the motor internals. I put it back together, tested it, and it works like an absolute champ. It used to be a little noisy, but now it seems quiet and powerful. I was so proud of myself, I had to take a video clip.
Naturally I had to clean up the flappers too.
Of course the donor fiberglass shell half I found wasn't perfect, so I embarked on another epoxy repair. I ran out of normal JB Weld, so I used some leftover "clear weld" stuff that basically serves the same purpose. A little masking tape provided support:
Expoxy after hardening, tape removed. Eeew.
Smoothed out and hole re-drilled:
...and painted over to blend in. Again, not perfect, but this gets covered by the lower vent piece anyway.
All assembled! I re-used my original resistor and vacuum actuator, still good as far as I can tell. When reinstalling these actuators and flappers, it does take some fiddling around to make sure they're going to move back and forth freely.
These two halves didn't fit together so well either. It was a struggle to get the "lip" lined up all the way around and clip it together. I ended up not using rope caulk this time. I tested the blower and felt for any air leakage around the seam, and felt none. So it should be good 'nuff.
Okay! On to the center vent duct piece. This guy also has a flapper, which is what decides whether you're going to use defrost or the dash face vent. There's a foam seal on this flapper, like most of the others, but mine was toast, and the heater box seal kit didn't include one (even though it did include the seal for the defrost duct). So I made my own, using sticky-backed foam from the craft store (suitable for ages 3+). This stuff is surprisingly similar to the material you get in the heater box seal kit.
And now here's the assembly put together.
Put that onto the blower assembly, and behold:
Looks pretty cool, I think. Now, FINALLY, it was time to put all this crap up under the dash. This is what prompted me to install that dash speaker, by the way. Definitely wanted to do that first. Anyway, here's an overall shot where you can't see much, but it's all in there:
I put the blower assembly in first. Don't know if it's just me, but the upper bracket for this is a real pain to get to.
Then I realized (through much trial and error and cussing while contorting myself in painful positions under the dash) that I'd have to loosen the blower assembly in order to shove the heater box in place. Eventually, I got it all in without breaking anything, and even hooked up all the little vacuum lines and wires. My under-dash harness was never removed, nor were the AC controls and vacuum lines. With a little help from a manual, it was easier than I thought to figure out where all the lines go. The colored stripes were still slightly visible on the hoses, and some of them were obvious due to length and shape.
Engine bay view. I still need to put on the rubber seal and cover plate, but that should be a snap. I also need to put the drain hose on the heater box.
Phew! Now you can see why I'm glad to have that saga (mostly) behind me. It was more of a marathon than I expected. But now I can hook up heater hoses and start figuring out the rest of the AC system. Also I can now do the rest of the under-dash ducting, and install new AC vents. After that I should be able to start refurbishing the dash stuff that you can actually see. That'll be fun.
That's all for now folks! The Cougar shall ride again...
Thanks Nate! It's been a long, daunting process and sometimes I feel in over my head, but it's getting there! It's been almost 4 years now since I was last driving it around, and the memory of being behind the wheel is part of the motivation to finish. That said, I'm slow and methodical, and don't always dedicate enough time to work on it. So it takes forever.
Answers: The wheel covers are just really nice originals I got at WCCC. I've also tried in vain to find someone who can reproduce the red center medallions. If I got my hands on some, I'd find a set of non-scratched wheel covers with good chrome, redo all the black paint and stick new emblems on. I think that would look great, to me the hubcaps and whitewalls look classy. Plus most people go with styled steel wheels or Magnums or whatever, it's actually pretty uncommon to see a car with nice hubcaps anymore, which makes it kinda cool IMO. Depends on the personality of the car of course.
Yes I will definitely pinstripe the car when it's ready for that. I may either use one of those tape-on templates and paint them on myself, or have a pro do them by hand.
I'll be at the show, but the Snowball will not. Still got a ways to go.
Well I think I'm past due for a random update... most of these things happened months ago, I was just too lazy to post! Let's get up to speed now.
Picking up where I left off, I was getting ready to put the fenders on, which meant I had to finish with the kick panel speakers first. I finished off the holes in the sheet metal, threw a little paint on the bare edges, and installed the aftermarket buckets and speakers.
Generous amount of sealant for good measure...
I have the wires run to the trunk area because the current plan is to use an amplifier. I'm going to see if I can make some kind of mounting plate to attach the amp the the underside of the package tray without creating any new holes in the car. Will cross that bridge later.
I also had to fix up my LH front splash shield. The rubber was much more brittle than the other side for some reason, and broke into a few pieces when I took it off the metal bracket. So I ordered some sheet rubber online and made a replacement.
The new rubber was the right thickness, but not as rigid as the original stuff. I did some research and picked the one that sounded the best for this application... there are a lot of different types of rubber! I don't remember now what type it is, but feel free to chime in if you know what the proper type of rubber would be for this. I didn't use the reproduction kitbecause not only is it for Mustang, thus shaped incorrectly for the Cougar, but the rubber is even thinner and floppier. It sounds like a Cougar version may be in the works, which would be great, but for the time being I think my solution will work fine.
Anyway, test fitting onto the [sandblasted] bracket so I could poke through the staple holes to reuse them:
And fastened in place with wire after painting the bracket:
Next, it was time to get the fenders themselves ready. I wanted to undercoat the inside of the fenders for good measure / original-ness, so I embarked on a journey of masking the entire outer portions so I could do just that. This took a while. The giant piece of foam was a lifesaver, I highly recommend having one around.
Then carefully set it down outside to do the undercoating:
Next I revealed this front flange and refined the masking on the leading edge, so I could paint this area semi-gloss black. I know it would have been body color originally, but my thinking is that it will look cleaner behind the grille if everything is blacked out.
Unmasked and pretty:
... and then did the same thing to the other fender, of course. Guess I don't need to show you those pics. You get it.
Now it was time to put them on the car! Kind of exciting to put such big pieces on.
But first, don't forget these clips (I used this kit)
...and also a line of goo, kinda like factory, to seal the fenders to the aprons. Same 3M "strip caulk" I've been using all over the place.
Fast forward after some fiddling around, trying to get it lined up to the door and hood, going from one end to the other snugging bolts down, and:
Gaps looking decent, for a noob:
Repeat process on the other side:
Another look at gaps:
Yay! It looks more like a car now. Pretty cool to see it with most of the major panels on, finally. Speaking of major panels, next up was the trunk lid. Given the issues I'd had with my painter, whose current whereabouts is unknown, I decided to just paint the hinges and rods myself. The Duplicolor "perfect match" Wimbledon White is a pretty good match for Polar White (same color code) so I picked up some rattle cans and primed, painted, and cleared these parts. They came out pretty good.
Definitely scratched my paint up trying to install the rods... will have to touch these areas up. The rattle can paint is probably not as durable as real automotive paint.
Meanwhile, here's the bottom side of the tunk lid, before and after installing the latch and weatherstrip.
By the way, notice how I got a little overzealous with the weathersrtip adhesive? Anyone have any tips on how I can clean that up without messing up the paint? A solvent perhaps?
Finally, here it is on the car. I ended up laying in the trunk with a socket and flashlight to adjust the hinges while a helper made adjustments to make sure it was on straight / even gaps.
So... remember how I had the rear window channel patched with 2 different used pieces? (This was before the new patch panel was available) Well, I just found out that the contour wasn't quite done right, so the forward edge of the trunk lid actually sticks up a little. Bummer.
Anyway, how about a little educational segway about trunk lid installation? This is a short video I made on how to install the torsion bars, using this tool. Also I show which side is which (the bars are side-specific) and mention the anti-rattle strip.
So... that was back in June, and that's basically the last major thing I've done. Wow... I've been slacking!
I hope to have more updates soon, but we'll see if that actually happens. One of the current things I'm working on is polishing the stainless window frames for the side windows. Still need to do some sanding, buffing, and reassembly... then figure out how all the mechanisms and stuff go in the car. Luckily there are plenty of other Cougars nearby to look at. Until next time!
Ah, I was going to mention that. Good to make note of this for anyone reading: normally, the extensions should be put on the fenders first, then put the fenders on the car. They will be hard to install with the fenders on the car, although supposedly it's possible (haven't installed the front splash shields or vacuum tank yet).
Why didn't I put them on first? They haven't been painted yet.
I'll probably do a separate post on my paint / body woes that I've alluded to. It's part of what's been keeping me from moving forward. Hoping to remedy this situation in the near future.
Alright, let's see if I can outline what really happened with the bodywork & paint. The guy that did the work was known only as Jose, and he didn't speak English. He was an experienced body man looking for work, trying to make ends meet, and seemed like a nice enough, hard working guy. I'd had a chance to see what he could do, and he seemed to be quite skilled. There were a couple guys here that spoke Spanish, so at the time, I had interpreters and all was good. He was willing to work for way less than what a retail body shop would charge, and to me this is what made it possible to move forward. I couldn't afford anything more.
Sept. 2011 (wow) is when I dove in and started the roof replacement, which led to fixing the other rust and body damage on the car, which led to a decision of doing a full repaint. Jose did the work in the WCCC yard where I could check in on progress regularly, and he was doing a good job, as you can see in my early posts.
Late in the year (Nov) the car got moved off-site, because Jose had been allowed to use shop space by someone he knew. Here the floors were patched in the cabin and trunk. I went to check up on the car regularly, and progress looked good. Then the car came back to WCCC.
Finally, in May 2012, the car and most of the major panels had been prepped and were in primer. Jose was able to use another friend's shop to spray the body shell and the doors. I got the car back by the end of that month, and was stoked to see it in fresh paint.
Eventually I decided to go all-out, and pulled the engine. Around April 2013 I had Jose prep and paint the engine bay, and something went wrong with his mixture... the paint is still a little soft to this day and I can scratch it with a fingernail. But it looks good overall. In hindsight I probably could have gotten better results from rattle cans myself.
Keep in mind at this point, the fenders, hood, trunk lid, extensions, valences, etc had still not been painted. Something I would continually bug him about.
I don't know what happened in his personal life, but it seemed to be in turmoil. He started working at yet another shop in another part of town, and still had my parts with him. I kept showing up to bug him periodically, and he wanted me to buy more paint materials (I'm pretty sure he used supplies I had previously bought for other projects). Finally, in May 2014, when I was in France, Don sent me this picture:
At last! The hood, trunk, and fenders were painted. Only 2 years after the body shell and doors had been painted, with a different batch of materials, in a different environment, with different equipment... see where this is going? So far, the pictures you've seen have been from far enough away to say, "hey cool, that looks good! Yay for progress!" Well, let me zoom in a little.
Fender drips and cracks:
Dust bubbles & orange peel on trunk:
Other fender "texture"
Hard to get a picture of, but this one kinda shows the waviness that's everywhere. Not the end of the world, just one more negative.
Fender vs. door difference in finish:
This one I think shows the difference in color the best. It's hard to capture, but if you look closely, it's there. Hood vs. cowl:
Anyway, after this, I was hoping to get the rest of the little pieces finished in a timely manner - valences, stone guard, fender & quarter extensions, glove box door & ash tray door, trunk hinges and rods, So I could at least get the car together and try to color sand / buff out his paint job and make it look decent. After weeks / months of constantly checking in, hearing his false promises over and over, giving him the benefit of the doubt way too many times, I finally gave up. Give me back my stuff, I'll figure out something else.
Current plan? There's a good restoration shop up the road who seems open to the idea of finishing up the body & paint on my car, and I can partially pay for the work by doing some photo / video stuff for their business. They want to get the panels aligned better, prep the unpainted parts, block sand the entire car to smooth out the waviness / imperfections, and spray fresh color and clear. This is the only way it'll be "right," but painting the entire car twice is mind-blowingly frustrating. Of course it will just be the outer surfaces, but still...
So there ya go. I think this whole fiasco is what's really slowed me down from putting the car together. Don't get me wrong, I've been lazy at times, and distracted by other things, but I didn't feel like I could "finish" the car when the paint work wasn't satisfactory.
Well I might as well update the situation. As I mentioned earlier, the car is now getting the bodywork re-done (argh!) by a real shop. Finn's Auto Restoration in Woodburn, OR. Check 'em out (and if you need any classic car restored / worked on, I can vouch that they do nice work. Tell them I sent you).
So far what's been done is basically just trying to get everything to fit properly. This turned into more labor than I expected, but just about everything needed work, especially the extensions. The fenders and doors and hood and valences and all that needed fiddling too. When I went to check on the car, it was immediately obvious that the body lines were crisper and better aligned. This attention to detail costs some dough, which is not something I have a lot of, but in the end it makes a big difference.
The rear window channel area was a concern, because when it was patched before, back in 2011 with two separate pieces, it wasn't quite done right. Because of this, the panel didn't have the upward "crown" contour to match the trunk lid, and there was a big 'ol gap no matter how I adjusted it. The pic below doesn't really do it justice, but here's a "before" shot.
So, I bit the bullet and bought the new Dynacorn patch panel for this area, and the shop removed the old repair and began fitting the new piece.
The glass had to be removed, and the vinyl top had to be peeled up a bit. Fingers crossed that the vinyl will glue back down without a hitch.
Another area of concern is the RH quarter panel. In front of the rear wheel, the lower body line dives in, rather that staying relatively straight like it should. Some kind of previous bodywork here I suppose. The pic below illustrates what's going on, red line added for reference.
I haven't decided yet whether to address this or not. They'd probably have to separate part of the quarter skin, tweak it out and re-weld it. Might also require some work to the wheel house. I guess it depends on how much time it will take. They are pretty skilled metal workers.
So that's where things are at right now. There was a pause in activity while I caught up to what $ I owed them, but we're square as of now, and I've started doing some work for them for their new website, so that will help get the ball rolling again. I'm lucky that the timing worked out, and I have some skills to trade for their work. Still, the big expense of paint is looming ahead. I'd love to have the car together and on the road for the WCCC open house in August, but that's looking less likely all the time. We'll see!
Hey guys! I do have updates... was kinda waiting on having more pics to share but I can definitely do a partial update.
To pick up the story where I left off, in the process of fitting panels / quarter extensions, the shop discovered that the existing paint on the body would pretty much flake right off with a razor blade if they scraped it. This basically called into question everything that was done before, and there went any confidence that the existing paint job would be a serviceable base to paint over. So the reality was, we'd have to take it down to bare metal and start over. Ugggh. I gave them the go ahead to begin stripping the back of the car to see what we were dealing with.
Once the quarters and trunk lid were exposed, they didn't look too bad in terms of the metal, but it became apparent just how thick the car was with previous paint jobs and filler.
I'm no expert but to me this looks like at least: factory red primer / factory paint, second prime & paint, third prime & paint, and finally fourth prime & paint I had done in 2012 / 2014 - with various amounts of bondo in between. There will be more pics forthcoming of what else was discovered after this, but I don't have them yet.
So. Given how much work was left to do to get the car all the way stripped, straightened out, and repainted, and given the $ rate of the shop, and given how meticulous and time-consuming their working style is, it was going to cost well over $10k the way things were going. So I made the decision to stop there, pull the car out of the shop, and made arrangements with a friend of a coworker to finish the car. The shop was very cool and understanding about it, so luckily there was no drama in getting the car back.
Car retrieved 1/24/17 . Crates in the truck are WCCC shipments that had to go to PDX, might as well kill two birds with one stone. Thanks to Richard ("Mistress" on here) for piloting the tuck and helping out.
Scott B. (CougarCJ) scoping it out:
Closeup of patched area on RH quarter. You can tell the fit / contour wasn't great. The reproduction patch panel was used here, and I remember the guy who patched it (2011) wasn't really a fan of that repro piece.
Rear window patch panel. I'm not sure why the shop welded the seam on the top side, it's not supposed to be done this way. Will be corrected. At least the fit with the trunk lid is way better than before.
So, after this, we took the car up to the new guy. A little about him: he's not an official shop or business, just a passionate hobbyist with a real paint booth at his house, who has been painting cars for himself and friends for years. He seems to have a good grasp of the right materials to use and the right way to prep a car for paint and all that good stuff, and I've seen some of his work. I'm pretty confident that he can deliver good bodywork and a nice paint job in a reasonable amount of time, without completely destroying my finances. All along, I've never been going for show car perfection, I just want it to be nice and consistent and shiny.
Here's the same night, when we dropped it off:
And then here's 11 days later, almost completely stripped:
There were issues with some of the wheel arches being crunched, and they had been re-sculpted with bondo. The truth comes out when you go down to the metal.
You can also see above that there had been a crease down the RH side of the car, which had then been pulled back out. No idea when that was, but again, it was my grandparents' daily driver long before I was alive.
In this shot, you can see a pretty sizable dent on the nose of the hood. I had no idea that was there, it was just filled over.
So this is the most recent time I saw the car, but plan on going back in the next couple weeks. He took pictures through the stripping process and I'll share those highlights when I get them from him. There was an amazing amount of bondo everywhere, and he said the way the paint sanded off was really weird, unlike anything he'd seen before. Clearly something was very wrong with the 2012 / 2014 paint work, and most of the car was never stripped all the way down until now.
As of the last few weeks, he tells me he's got the metal work about done and is almost ready to prime / seal the car. Looking forward to seeing it, will take some pics.
And in case you're wondering, I am planning on saving the vinyl top, so that's staying in place and I'm hoping it can be re glued back down at the bottom after the new paint is done. It seems a shame to rip it off since it's a new, expensive premium top. I do have some doubts about the quality of the roof surface prep and paint adhesion after seeing what happened to the rest of the body, but I suppose the roof could always be redone separately down the road if it comes to that. I'm thinking it'll be okay for a while.
That's the update for now! ETA for getting the car back is June, but at the rate he's going it may be even earlier. Then I hope to work my butt off on it, get it togther and enjoy it this summer, maybe even bring it to the Cascade show in August if all goes well. Needless to say it feels ridiculous to start over on the body & paint at this point, and it's super frustrating, but at the same time I'm pretty excited that things are going in the right direction now and that I might actually be done with it this year. I can't even fathom the idea of it being finished and beautiful, and being able to drive around in it.
Wow, I haven't updated in a while. Almost a year! Not a whole heck of a lot to report, but progress has been made. The body guy working on it is just a hobbyist, and can only do a couple hours of work at a time, here and there. So definitely not a quick turnaround. But his attention to detail is good, and I'm optimistic that the results will be nice. Have been up there to visit it several times throughout the process. Neither of us anticipated how many issues there would be underneath the layers of old paint jobs and bondo. I don't envy all the work he's had to do. But I'm glad to report that we're nearly there. These pictures are from a couple weeks ago, the last time I went to check progress. This is the second to last coat of 2K primer, and he just needs to work a couple of the body lines that aren't quite right yet. Next time I go up there, we're going to go to the paint shop to buy the paint.
Speaking of paint, he uses PPG stuff. He normally uses the cheaper Omni line on his stuff and seems to think it's perfectly good. Or I can step up to the Deltron line, which costs more than 2X as much but it supposed to hold up better over time and maybe flow better. Anyone have experience with these? Leaning towards using the Deltron, but I don't want to waste money for no reason.
Anyway, the big goal is to finally finish this project in 2018. Would love to finish in time for the car's 50th birthday in June, but we'll see how things go!
Those of you who have been following this build for a while know (at least to an extent) what a struggle I've had with the body and paint, ever since the first ill-fated paint job in 2012 through 2014 (was it really that long ago?). It's been one of the most frustrating, draining, expensive, discouraging things I've ever dealt with, but I knew giving up was not an option. Yesterday I finally got to see my Cougar all shiny, fresh and white again. It looks awesome. It's not absolute perfection, and a couple little areas will need attention, but I didn't expect perfection, and I'm very happy with how it came out. It's waaaaaaaaaaaay better than the previous paint job.
I ended up going for the Deltron, as painful as the extra cost was, and he laid down 4 coats of color and 3 coats of clear. The lower dash was done with the same paint, but with a flattener so it has a more correct satin finish. He then went over the exterior, doing a pretty extensive cut and buff, getting things pretty darn flat and glassy.
It should be coming back to the shop next week, and I can't wait to start bolting shiny stuff to it. I'm relieved to be done with this chapter, and excited for what comes next!
The painter took a lot of pictures throughout the process, which he's going to put on a memory stick for me, so I'll post the more interesting ones when I get them. I think you'll all be surprised at how much work it ended up being, I know we were!
Thanks all! It's great to have it back finally and I've been randomly putting things together, trying to do something every night after work, and on Saturdays. I don't really have a planned approach, I just walk up to the car, stare at it for a bit, and think of what to do next. Having the car and myself at WCCC is a huge luxury because A) it's a place to work on it with all the tools I could need, and maybe even more importantly B) all the parts I could possibly need are just a few footsteps away. I feel very lucky to have this luxury.
So before I update on things I've done, here's a cautionary tale. Don't be like me. Don't restore your car in the wrong order. Which is to say, don't detail your engine bay, under dash area, underbody, trunk, etc. and then have the car painted. No matter how conscientious you think your painter is with masking, there will be dust and overspray in all kinds of places you don't want it. All you want to give a painter is an empty shell.
Obviously it wasn't my intention to do things in this order, but I had already done a lot of work before it became clear to me that the first paint job wasn't gonna cut it. So, now I'm dealing with the frustration of trying to clean paint off of wiring harnesses and other parts, and there will be some items I'll have to remove and re-spray again. Kinda frustrating.
My engine bay is a mess (and this is after some preliminary blowing out with an air hose and wiping a couple things):
I might have to try to wash out the engine bay, I don't think I can get everything by hand.
Overspray on my nice new premium hood hinges:
Since I had him redo the lower dash paint, a lot of stuff here got hit. I was hoping he'd do a better masking job, and tried to make it very clear that I didn't want overspray where it shouldn't be. But, it happened. Not terrible but still pretty frustrating and will be a pain to deal with. The lower column black plastic wasn't covered up at all, not were my pedals that I had redone:
Really thorough masking job here. He could have just taken the 2 screws out for the parking brake bracket, but nah.
I know most of this stuff will be out of sight, and maybe most people wouldn't care, but it does bother me. I'll never get all of it off the wiring under the dash that got hit, but I'm going to try to go to town with some solvent and a rag and try to get the worst of it. Just sucks to have to do this extra work when I already have so many more important tasks to complete on this car.
ANYWAY, on to the fun stuff. When I get frustrated about issues like the above, I just start bolting on shiny things, and I start to feel better. The first thing I did when I got the car back was to put the taillights back in, and to put together my trunk lock assembly. I saved my original lock cylinder, but replaced the backing plate with a good used one (mine had the little tab broken where the cover plate rests), then got the repro chrome cover plate and decal. Cleaned up the hardware and my original gasket and installed. (There is a repro gasket but we were out of stock at the time, and my old one still seemed serviceable). I was dumb at first and forgot that the conical sleeves slide on from inside the trunk, after you put the lock into the trunk lid. Then after I got it installed, I realized I couldn't get the latch in. So, more trial and error than expected, but got it in. Luckily the taillights were ready to go, since I had already restored them (see earlier in this thread).
I also stuck my license plate holder back on. This is one item that I chose not to try to restore or repaint. It's in pretty good original shape, why mess with it? I did previously put on new rubber bumpers though.
Then one of the next things I did was to stick down the insulation in the interior. Mostly because the box containing it was bulky and constantly getting in my way on the shelf.
My ignition switch is one of the things that got some overspray on it, so I took it out and cleaned it up. This was pretty easy since I just ran the face of it across a wire wheel, giving it that shiny brushed look. I went ahead and got this kit for the lower dash chrome bezels and knobs, and installed the ring for the ignition switch. Here's a comparison between my original one and the new one.
Installed. The special tool is a must for doing this.
Then, I couldn't resist putting more shiny stuff on. Maybe it's still too soon for emblems, but it's just so satisfying. Here's the Mercury emblem on the trunk lid. What I learned putting this on is to gently file out the holes with a tiny round file (to remove excess paint materials) and to snap the tiny barrel clips into the holes first, before sliding the emblem in. Don't put the clips directly onto the emblem studs before installing, it won't work that way.
Also put my rear plate on, to give the car its identity back and further motivate me. Being that this is a family heirloom car, the plate is kinda special and meaningful to me. I was looking into getting them restored, but I decided to just leave the original patina for now. Partly because I didn't want to wait months for them, partly because I have more important things to spend money on, and partly because I think keeping them original gives it that irreplaceable authenticity. Maybe later on down the road I'll want them to look fresh and new, but for now they're just going to go back on as is, with a little wax to freshen them up.
Then, more shiny. I did the quarter panel Cougar emblems and the reflectors. I actually found that the "economy" reflectors are nicer quality, in terms of the chrome and overall fit and finish, than the "premium" ones with the FoMoCo logo. That's another bonus of being here at WCCC, I can take parts off the shelf and compare them, and use whichever I prefer. So in most cases I would prefer to use more correct stuff with the proper markings, but this time I felt that the other option was better. Bonus that the gaskets and hardware are included.
I'm not crazy about how these things attach to the body; they use those dinky little nuts that cut their own threads into the emblem studs. It makes it kind of a one-time-use item, because if you take the nuts off and put them back on too many times, the studs will get worn down and the nuts won't grab anymore. If I had thought it through a little more, I probably would have used a die to cut real threads onto the studs and used real nuts. Anyway, they're on. The Cougar script emblems originally came with covered, rounded "acorn" style nuts, to protect hands or items in the trunk, but the new ones are just plain, so there are still pointy studs poking through. I'm going to try to find rubber vacuum caps that will fit over, or maybe try to find some good original nuts. For the reflectors, I did get the repro rubber caps.
Finally, the most recent thing I did was to assemble my quarter glass. I had previously gotten my brackets rechromed, and I just bought the restored stainless frames to compliment them. Luckily my rubber surrounds were in good shape on both of these, so I just cleaned and left those alone. Will have to improvise on other pieces, stay tuned for that. But here are a couple shiny shots before assembly:
I'm very glad I bagged & tagged the tiny screws for these. Here are some things I learned doing this little project:
- Tape up all the shiny restored surfaces before you start manhandling things into place (luckily I had the forethought to do this)
- Rethread all the little holes, as well as the screws, before you even try to assemble. They are 8-32 NC.
- Lubricate the channels / rubber before pressing things together. I just used some glass cleaner, worked fine.
Here they are all assembled, with new seals installed. Also lube these with glass cleaner or similar to slide them in place. Keep in mind that the smooth part of the seal faces inward, and the "grooved" side faces out, for the door glass to fit into. I almost put them in the wrong way. Sorry these aren't very exciting, I'm going to leave the tape on until I get these installed in the car.
Also don't forget the little screw at the bottom of the seals.
Well, that pretty much brings this up to speed! Not sure how much I'm gonna get done before the WCCC Open House (3 weeks away) but I'll just keep plugging away the best I can!
AND NOW: More than you ever wanted to know about quarter window rollers. But maybe this will be useful info.
BUT FIRST: A shot of the assembled windows, while I was changing out the tape per Neal's suggestion.
Okay, so the journey with the rollers began because this one in particular was totally frozen in place and clearly in terrible shape:
The others would spin but felt kinda rough and chunky, so I figured if I'm doing one I might as well do them all. That's the danger of "while I'm at it" syndrome.
So these rollers are riveted / peened over from the back side. Forgot to take a picture of this, but those center metal roller pins were mushroomed over on the back, nice smooth and round with no cracks. So those were easy to drill and punch out. When I went to put the new ones in, however, this is what happened:
These new pieces are clearly too hard and brittle to be mushroomed over like they're supposed to be. So I had to go to Plan B. I split them all open on purpose to get rid of the extra material, starting by chiseling an X in to help them split:
Sometimes only half the pieces would come off, so I'd use that as a guideline and grind the rest off:
Here's what they should end up like. It's handy that they have a divot in the middle, that made it easy to drill into them.
Next, after determining what size screw would fit, I used the drill press and drilled into them deep enough to tap threads into without going through. For threading, I chose 8-32 NC.
Installed. Ignore the wrong size lock washer, I'm gonna take that out. I think it'll hold just fine with just a flat washer.
So here's another "before" shot. I mostly took this to remind myself that the one upper roller is just single, without the second inner roller or spring washer. Not sure why.
After. It's nice to have these in, looking fresh and spinning freely. I'm looking forward to seeing how well these roll up and down. It better be smooth as butter after all this!
To be honest I'm still not quite done because I broke the tap off in the 4th one I was doing. Gonna seek assistance from a coworker with welding skills and maybe weld a nut onto it and back it out, hoping to save the roller pin. Ugh.
Anyway, on the same note of getting these ready to put in, I cleaned all the gunk out of the quarter window tracks, sandblasted and painted them a natural silver. I know they're supposed to be zinc plated or galvanized or whatever, but this works to beautify and protect them. Before & after:
Getting bogged down on little detail projects like the rollers is why I'm not going to be done for the show, but that's okay. I'm of the "do it once, do it right" mindset, because I plan on having this car for a very long time and want to avoid taking it apart again!
Even though they don't attach like they're supposed to, at this point I still think I can recommend the new rollers, just because it's a wear and tear item that can be pretty frustrating when your windows are hard to roll up and down. We'll see how it goes together though. I'm also putting in new window regulators because my originals are bent and ugly. Hoping to have this little project wrapped up soon so I can move on to the other windows.
Well, it's time for an update! I've been staying busy, trying to do a little something to the car every night after work, and on Saturdays too. We just had our Open House at WCCC this past weekend too, so that added to the chaos. And I just found out I have to move out of my house in a month, but that's another story...
So, I got the quarter windows in along with the new regulators and little slide pieces. Don't forget the two stops on each window and the stop that attaches to the regulator.
Also don't forget the lower L-shaped bracket on each side. I blasted and painted these because they were a bit crusty, but still in good shape.
I ended up using the Sil-Glyde grease and it seems to work well. I still need to adjust these windows but at least everything is in place now.
Next I tackled a little project that I was apprehensive about but turned out to be easy. So when the rear window patch panel was installed, nobody ever sealed up the seams, and somehow neither I nor my painter noticed before paint. These are the gaps and holes that were present
So, out comes the masking tape. I'm starting to think there's not much you can't accomplish with masking tape.
I got a tube of SEM white seam sealer from my local automotive paint supply store. Just had to lay it in there and smooth it over with a gloved fingertip. The consistency was nice and thick, easy to work with.
Looks messy, but here it is after pulling the tape:
Not bad! I think the color is close enough that I'm not gonna worry about painting over it, but it would be pretty easy to get in there with a tiny brush and touch it up if I ever feel it's needed.
Next, I continued working on the back end by installing the rear valance. Using the correct hardware kit, this is how the studs on either end go:
Installation went pretty smoothly. Like most things like this, it's best to keep things somewhat loose at first, tweak the panel around until it's in the right spot, then tighten things down.
As you can see, I also installed new reverse lights. I did this after putting the valance on. Quality looks nice and installation went pretty well aside from the gasket fitment. I still need to mess with these to get them to fit better.
So after getting that stuff on, there was an obvious empty spot, and I was excited to put on a shiny rechromed bumper. First step was to clean up my rubber fillers. I'm lucky that my originals were in good shape, though be advised that new reproductions are just around the corner! Here they are before any cleaning:
All they needed was a light sandblasting and a good cleaning with a rubber conditioner.
Install these on the car first:
Then slide the upper corner fillers into the bumper before installing. I had retained my original rear bumper brackets and blasted / painted them, and used a new bumper hardware kit. I was able to get it installed by myself without incident, but I'd recommend having a helper if you can! I also chose to remove the quarter extensions for this task, so there wouldn't be any interference with the rubber pieces.
Woo! It looks awesome. I'm not gonna lie, after doing this and taking a couple steps back, I couldn't help but grin and stare at it a while. It's so shiny, and makes the car look so much more finished (at least from the back).
So, next I had a Saturday to mess around, so I wanted to clean up the dirty engine bay. So I pulled outside and covered the windshield opening...
... and pressure washed the engine bay (after covering up the carb and every other opening I could find). Below is a before and after:
Better! Still not as fresh as it once was, but maybe some additional detailing will bring it back close to looking new again.
Okay. Next project was to continue on the windows. I had separated all my windows from their frames because I wanted nice shiny restored frames. On the vent window frames, WCCC doesn't currently offer a restoration service, so I did those myself (more on that later). First step was to reinstall the glass into the frames. In hindsight, I really didn't need to remove the vent glass from the frames in the first place, but here we are. I did a little research and found that 1/16" glass setting tape was supposed to be the right stuff to replace the old rubber surrounds. I got mine from Bob Drake, but notified Cleve here at WCCC that it's something we should look at carrying, so look for that sometime soon hopefully.
Note that you'll have to make relief cuts for the corners:
So it'll fit without overlap like this:
I used a little glass cleaner for lubrication, which may or may not have been needed, and pressed the glass and rubber into the frames.
Then trimmed off the excess:
In this shot you can see that it fills the gap nicely, but isn't wide enough to come all the way up to where the handle is. Oh well, nobody will ever know...
Next I went to town with my favorite tool, masking tape, in preparation for buffing the frames. If these look dull, it's because I had already sanded them down a bit in preparation for polishing. May not have even needed to do that, but anyway...
Fast forward to another day when I went over to Brian's to use his buffing wheel. That thing is awesome. Thanks Brian!
While I was at it, I brought along my door locks. This shows a before and after. I didn't do any sanding on these, just went for it. Not absolute perfection, but nice and shiny! I'm happy.
Another day, I went ahead and installed the locks along with new repro exterior door handles.
Back to window stuff... I started the process of installing new hockey stick trim pieces by digging out my original brackets and cleaning them up. Here's a before / after (steel wool is all it took):
I'll make a note here: make sure to test the fit of the new trim against the original brackets, as well as the car itself. I found that the curvature of the new pieces was a little off, and had to gently bend it by hand before securing the brackets in place.
Next I used the double-sided 3M tape that comes with the new trim pieces to attach the brackets. I pressed it firmly in place but also went to town with clamps, which may or may not have been necessary...
Next it was time to get a beltline weatherstrip kit and install the pieces that go on these sticks before putting them in the car.
Here's how great they fit when you get the first few rivets in...
But I was able to bend it up into place and it fits okay. Also the kit did not come with rivets, so be prepared to get your own. Speaking of rivets, I had trouble getting any of mine to squish over entirely...
...so I gently smashed them down with a small hammer.
Ready to install:
Phew. And now, onward to the door glass. I used the same glass setting tape to install restored window frames. Here's an after shot (before trimming excess rubber). It's always a good precaution when working with highly polished parts to throw some tape on it when you're manhandling it, tapping it with a rubber mallet, etc.
As of now I just have the door windows loosely sitting in the doors, getting ready to figure out how all that goes together with the vent windows and everything.
Back to shiny stuff, I finished off the back end with some restored anodized aluminum trim for the trunk lid and quarter extensions. Woo! Looks great, and it feels good to see the back of the car looking done.
I was also able to install a restored drip rail moulding on the driver's side, but for the life of me couldn't get the passenger side on.
So! It was right about at this point that the Open House happened.
Kurt Lawrance from KTL Restorations flew out from Virginia to install my other drip rail moulding, and Greg Taylor and son Alex came along to consult:
Actually, they were all there for the event and Kurt was kind enough to lend a hand to me and several other people there. It seems like a simple thing but I'm super grateful for the help, and I think it's a cool bragging point to say that Kurt worked on my car!
This took a surprising amount of finesse to get on without messing anything up. We had a bit of an audience, including John and Cameron Benoit.
It looks great, thanks Kurt! I may have never gotten that thing on!
It was a fun and busy weekend. A little disappointed that I didn't have my car done in time like I had hoped, but I had my hands full running around with cameras anyway.
That brings things about up to speed. I'm still playing with the vent windows and trying to get everything to fit in the reproduction chrome frames. More on that later.
Time for another update! I've been picking away at things as best I can, and things are going pretty well. I'd like it to be going faster at times, but it takes however long it takes. I'm going to split this update into a couple parts, starting with the miscellaneous.
Continuing on the window theme, I started to assemble the vent windows. My originals were quite pitted, so reusing them wasn't really an option. I've heard that rechroming original frames doesn't usually turn out too well because of how the polishing process takes away a lot of the detail and edges. So I decided to give the reproductions a shot. This was a mixed bag and I'm still not totally sure how I feel about them now after assembling everything. They do look good and have a nice shiny chrome finish, but there are some issues and challenges with fitment. Anyway, here's the passenger side before assembly. I opted for the premium seals.
And here it is mocked together along with a restored vertical division bar (yes I scratched it a little :( )
So that all seems fine and dandy, right? Well, not quite. Once I tried to put on the vertical division bar, I found that the repro frame piece didn't really line up with it at the bottom (hence the scratches). So in order to get a better fit, I had to carefully twist the lower back ends of the window frame. This was the safest method:
Next - originally the division bar would have been riveted to the window frame. But there's no way to get the head of a standard rivet gun into the channel to put new ones in. So the only option is to tap threads into these holes and find the flattest screws possible to attach the bar to the frame.
The flattest screws I could find ended up being allen head screws. In hindsight, this was a bad idea, especially driving them in with an electric driver. Stripped the heads pretty badly on the way in. Guess I won't be taking this apart again... should have looked for torx or something.
Anyway, the reason those need to be low-profile is that the front channel for the door window clips into the division bar and sits right on top of those fasteners. Before that, though I had to get the seal and glass back in. For some reason, all my messing around, taking things apart and putting them back together resulted in a fit that was not as good as the first mockup. I ended up having to glue the seal in with weatherstrip adhesive to try to keep it in the right position. It still doesn't look great as I write this, but not sure if I want to deal with improving it further at this point. Pain in the butt.
Then I could put the glass back in and install the glass rail and a new felt strip / window run insert.
Don't forget these little vent window to door seals. I also opted to attach the long narrow door shell seals on top of the foam ones that came on the repro frames. This is because I found that there was still a bit of a gap between the window frame and the door shell when doing some test fitting.
Those front corner seals suck. Or at least maybe something is up with the design of the new window frames. I'm not sure. But when installing the vent window assembly in the car, I had to stretch this seal waaaay forward of where it's supposed to be, in order to clip the two "nubs" into the door. Weird. I still need to do some adjusting, but here's a shot of it in the car. I still haven't done the other side because I moved on to other things.
Also cleaned, lubed and installed the back slider for the door glass, and installed the door glass itself. No pic of that yet. Further adjustments are still needed. That whole door window system is ridiculous and difficult in every way, I really don't like it. But it looks nice when it's all together.
Alright, that's enough of the vent window saga for now. Next, I finally got something done that was bugging me for a while - sticking the back of the vinyl top back down! I was a little worried as to whether it was doable and that the top would still be okay. I called in some help for this one, our local upholstery guy. But first, here's a rarely seen outdoor shot of the car:
The first step was to clean off the old glue from the body and try to smooth the transition of the old and new paint jobs.
Then Matt the upholstery dude stopped by and went to town with his heat gun and spray-on contact adhesive, did some stretching and finessing, and boom. I jumped in with my trim pieces and we cooperated to get those installed. Very glad to have this step done. Thanks Matt!
Next random thing is one of my FAVORITE things - undoing and redoing work that you paid someone else to do properly, and they didn't. :wall: So when my car was at the restoration shop after rescuing it from its first ill-fated paint job, one of the main things this shop worked on and billed me for was panel alignment. So... imagine my surprise when I'm installing and test fitting windows when I find out that the doors seem to be sagging further and further down every time I open and close them. Well... came to find out that the door hinge bolts were all just a step above finger tight :shock: The only thing to do was to remove the fenders, re-do and perfect the door and latch fitment, tighten things down, and then reinstall and line up the fenders again. Had to do this on both sides. It sucked that I had to go back and do this, but ultimately I'm glad to have it right now. The doors fit and shut so much better now.
It's largely because of Darrell's encouragement to take things back apart that I even did this. He was there to help out a bunch and he has a good eye for panel alignment and knows how to move things around to get them to fit right. Thanks Darrell!
Also, while the fender was off, this was the ideal time to install the restored trim (I got the whole six piece restored trim set) and Mercury emblem on the fender extension, and get that lined up and installed with new seals, before putting the fender back on. I also replaced the hardware with new stuff.
This is about as good as it's gonna get. I like it.
Other side in progress:
How about that overspray? :wall: Once again, this is why you don't do things in the wrong order, kids. If you look a few pages back you can see how nice this area looked with fresh black undercoating and all new front suspension components. Now it's just a mess and looks like crap. And I'm too worn down to do anything about it at this point. Just wanting to get this project done. Oh well... maybe later I''ll re-detail this area.
Anyway, it was at this point I realized I had forgotten a little detail step. The inside corner of each fender extension, behind the trim, is supposed to be painted satin black. I still had the passenger side off, so that was fairly easy to do, but I had to do the driver's side in place. Well, nothing some liberal masking can't fix.
I'll go ahead and save some time and pictures here by saying: the first attempt didn't work out so well. The black paint (SEM Trim Black) reacted with the existing white paint / clear (and yes I scuffed it and used wax & grease remover before spraying). It turned out all crinkly and bubbly. So, out came the acetone, and I was able to pretty easily strip these sections back to bare metal to start over. It worked out perfectly after this. Here's a shot of the other side stripped:
And a finished shot of the DS:
That does it for part 1 of the update. I think part 2 will have to wait until tomorrow. There's a whole 'nother saga coming, but it's a fun one (mostly). For now, I'm going to actually go work on the car!
Alright, part 2 of the update. Grille restoration! This is something I've been looking forward to for a while. The grille is basically the crown jewel of the whole car, as I think most of you would agree, so I wanted to make sure it was nice.
First, some "before" pics of what they looked like to begin with.
So, months ago, I attached my grilles to a parts car and installed the straightening kit to get things back into shape. Sadly WCCC doesn't carry this anymore but I got lucky and found an older set on the shelf. I let it sit on the parts car for months and checked it a couple times, making small adjustments to the spacers. Also labeled it to make sure nobody messed with it, it is a junkyard after all!
Passenger side was worse. These things helped a lot though, and eventually when I took the spacers out months later, things stayed straight!
On the PS, you can see that the eyelid still isn't quite lined up with the inboard section. I dunno if that side is more bent up than the other, or if I didn't do enough adjusting on that side. But more on that later.
Meanwhile, of course I sandblasted and repainted the buckets and all other loose pieces. Didn't take pics of all of that process but here's a couple.
I also had some foresight here, for once. A few years ago I was more of the mindset that I wanted things to be all original and stock. But the idea of electric headlight motors won me over. I want my grille to stay straight once I do all this work, and to reliably open and close without robbing engine performance. To do this conversion, there's only one hole you need to drill in the passenger side grille bucket. Simply line up the two existing holes and mark the third. I'm not sure why it's designed this way, as the driver's side just utilizes the existing two holes.
Anyway, once everything was relatively straight, it was finally time to completely disassemble.
This video shows how to take off the chrome bars, and this one deals with the walking cat emblem and other grille freshening tips.
My original chrome bars were pretty tired.
Original walking cat emblem for comparison:
Sandblasting the grille pieces took a long time. The original black paint on these was really baked on.
Gave them all a good wipe down with wax & grease remover, then hit them with the SEM Trim Black. Have I mentioned I love this paint?
So next, I had to take the plunge and buy rechromed grille bars. It's expensive but for me this was mandatory. Everything I'm doing is an attempt to make the car brand new and shiny. Skimping on the brightwork is not an option.
Shiny! The only slight downside is that the edges all get rounded off. Originally these bars had more of a square edge. Oh well, the shiny-ness far exceeds any original grilles at this point.
Being freshly chromed, they come completely bare and need detail painting. I debated a lot about which way to go. Should I go with the original argent silver sides and black horizontal sections? Or just black out everything but the faces of the bars? A third option I hadn't considered hit me when I placed them on the freshly painted grille sections...
Option 3: leave the sides of the bars chrome, and just black out the horizontal support pieces and tops. It's a lot of extra work for a subtle difference, because the sides actually appear black when they're against the black background pieces. But they will catch light and reflections at certain angles, and I think it looks great.
So, the masking marathon began. This took a lot of painstaking hours.
Now, this is where I wish I would have had the guts to put these in the blaster and lightly blast the exposed chrome to rough it up before painting. I was really dumb not to do this. However, I had painted my taillight bezels with the SEM paint over bare chrome, and it stuck well. I had heard that this paint has self-etching properties, so I was banking on that. But these rechromed items are so highly polished, I should have taken that extra step. Anyway... paint turned out nice!
You can see in the pic below that I didn't get super crisp lines on the sides here. The tape pulled up a little paint with it. Not a great sign for adhesion. But I'm hoping it'll hold up fine as long as I'm gentle with it.
Here's a better shot of these all dry and ready for assembly:
Time to gather up the fasteners. This time I was smart enough to bag and tag everything. If you're doing this, it might be worth just getting new screws for the grille bars. I found that some of my old ones were too short and didn't reach all the way through, but was able to scrounge a couple replacements where needed.
Also important to note - after rechroming, it's pretty much mandatory to re-tap the threaded holes. These are 8-32 NC.
Ta-da! Oh yes. Very satisfying moment here.
Also mandatory: new Cougar emblem / corral / decal for the RH eyelid.
Time to put all the little bits and pieces back in. I was able to reuse most of my old stuff. If you find you're missing any of the hardware, WCCC has everything. Here are some links:
Headlight adjusters: used / new
Headlight springs: used
Screw for headlight cups
Headlight retaining ring, used
I also reused my original nylon inserts and screws for the moment, for the rectangular cover pieces. Those are fairly easy to replace later if needed. As for the headlights, they'll work for now, but I'm considering doing the H4 halogen and relay upgrade kit. For the moment though I'm just trying to get things together and functional.
Next it was finally time to re-introduce the headlight doors to the larger grille sections. I ran into some issues here and have some important tips to share.
Firstly, clear out any paint from the brass inserts that the eyelids pivot in. I didn't do this at first, and the first time I installed them, the doors were binding up pretty bad. You want them to swing open and closed with almost no resistance. So this is how I cleared them out:
Next tip, DON'T OVER-TIGHTEN THE PIVOT BOLTS
Yeah. This was a moment accompanied by many bad words. I took a deep breath and went into surgeon mode. I got pretty lucky, and was able to drill it out without compromising the threads in the grille. If that hole got ruined, I would have had to find a whole 'nother grille half and start over. Not good, but crisis averted. I re-threaded the hole on the grille afterwards and all is well.
So, what's the right way to do it? You might notice on the pivot bolts there's usually some remnant of red threadlocker visible. This is for a reason. These are just meant to be snugged down, and the threadlocker will keep them from backing out. Don't forget to put some grease on the moving parts as well, for good measure.
Also almost forgot to mention something I found out later. Put the eyelid adjusters / bumpers in before you reattach the eyelids to the frames. The back one is very tricky to get in otherwise. When I did this, we were out of stock on the premium bumpers and elongated adjuster bolts, so I reused my original adjuster bolts and went with the economy bumpers. Hopefully they will hold up ok, and it seems like I have just enough travel on the original bolts to get the eyelids where I want them.
Anyway, finally I got things married back together:
Here are the buckets with the electric headlight motors installed. Now is the time to put them in, much easier with the grilles off.
And here they are reassembled. I cleaned up and reused my old hardware in this case, but there is a handy hardware kit available for this purpose.
Woo! Also worth mentioning - with the electric conversion, you only need two of the eyelid springs instead of the original four. It will still keep the eyelids in place and prevent bouncing, but put less tension and pressure on things, which could be a potential factor for things re-bending. Install each spring in the inboard position.
Anyway, here's my car, ready to receive its refreshed grille. Also note that I installed the restored hood lip trim pieces.
Installed! This was a little fiddly but I got it on there, along with the center piece. Still need to do some adjusting so everything is even, but it's looking pretty good. You can also see that I'm now trying to correct the alignment of the PS headlight door a little more.
I might as well link to the fasteners I used here. Here is the grille to body hardware kit and here is the center grille hardware kit. Take a look at yours and see if those weird studs are still in place on the core support. 3 out of 4 of mine were gone. The new ones are a little tricky, not a super tight fit, so you may have to fiddle with them a bit while tightening the nuts down. Anyway, more pics.
Lastly, and most recently, I put on the stone guard. It didn't just drop into place, the middle tabs needed some bending to get them to line up to the grille. Maybe that's why it has a little bit of an arc in the middle. I may need to do some further adjusting on this piece. It's crazy how everything on these cars has some wiggle room in every direction. Not at all like today's precisely engineered cars.
So that's where I'm at currently! Next step will be to put on the front bumper, which is pretty exciting. I'm still leaving the grille stuff loose for the moment. Once the bumper is on, that will give me a reference point to make sure the grille pieces are straight, as well as the stone deflector.
It's quite a crazy process, but this step was pretty satisfying to get done. More updates to come eventually!
Time for another update! I've been keeping busy, trying to make as much progress as possible before it gets too cold to have any motivation... would like to be done by the end of the year, but we'll see about that. I spend almost every evening after work and every Saturday working on it these days.
Firstly, after finishing up the front end with a rechromed bumper, rubber fillers upper and lower, and my valance with new parking lights, correct clear lenses & amber bulbs, modified with Cougar-specific wiring, I pulled the car outside for the first time in a while. Wow! I'm digging it.
Alright, back inside and back to work.
The one major area of the car that I hadn't touched at all yet was the rear axle, suspension and brakes. This was bugging me, and I really wanted to refurbish it so it would be on the same level as the rest of the car. Some "before" shots:
Out with it! It looks simple but it actually took me a couple / few hours to get the whole assembly out. First time doing this. Also, all this stuff together is heavy!!
The leaf springs had never been replaced, I observed the Ford part numbers on them (no pic, sorry)
Documenting the original paint markings on the top of the axle housing:
Empty hole. This gave me a chance to address some of the white overspray. I just fogged over it with some satin black VHT chassis paint (not done yet in this pic).
To hold up the driveshaft I just stuck a piece of wood over the exhaust for it to rest on. Maybe not ideal, but the welded-on sticks that the exhaust shop did back in the day seemed strong enough. (Exhaust was done roughly 10 years ago when I backed into a steep driveway and ruined the original single exhaust. Those are long glasspacks, they have a nice mellow yet burly sound). The driveshaft is now the only remaining significant piece that hasn't been refinished in some way. I'll probably do that at some point.
Brake stuff disassembly begins. Also trying to keep track of all the other bits and pieces. I took a good reference pic of each backing plate with everything installed so I would remember how it all goes together. This is also a first for me, rebuilding drum brakes.
Axles out. I was able to pull one out by hand, but for the other I had to use the backwards drum trick that I was previously unaware of (thanks for that one Scott B.). Put one of the drums on the axle backwards and just start the lug nuts enough to be on the threads. Then you can use the drum like a slide hammer to pop the axle out.
Pumpkin out. Made a mess. It was surprisingly hard to separate it from the housing. I finally realized that I had to pry off all the copper washers before it would budge. New ones are a must for reinstallation.
So at this point, I took the axles and pumpkin to a reputable shop to have them rebuilt / bearings replaced / etc. In the meantime, it was time to clean things up and make them pretty. The axle housing itself was a little challenging, being covered in years of crap. I tried to wipe out most of the old oil from the inside, using rags and Brakleen. For the outside, to start with, I attacked it with wire wheels. That worked to an extent and knocked most of the crap off. But then I started to eyeball the blast cabinet. I wondered if it would fit in there? Or maybe I could leave the side door open and have it sticking out a little?
To prep for this adventure, I made a cardboard cover for the diff opening, and masked off the end holes. I knew I wouldn't completely avoid getting sand inside, but wanted to at least minimize it.
It took a while, but I got it done. So nice and clean! I then took it outside and washed it out with water to get all the sand out of the inside. I know, water + bare metal = bad, but I dried it off as quickly as possible with compressed air and a heat gun. Then wiped down with wax & grease remover to prep for paint.
And then, paint. Once again I went with the VHT chassis paint. I like that stuff.
Backing plates blasted:
...and painted (still wet)
Then, I got my stuff back from the shop! I had asked them to clean up and paint the pumpkin red oxide, since it would be easier to do while it was apart. It came out great.
New axle bearings. My only disappointment here is that, while they did clean the gunk off the axles, they didn't really "clean" them. At least not how I would have liked. Still rusty and ugly. I should have asked them up front to also do something about it while the bearings were off, but anyway...
...so I initiated another bold (or stupid?) plan to fix that. Got some thick plastic sleeving from the WCCC shipping department, and zip-tied it below the bearing, and further up the axle. Also followed up with some tape.
Then blasted and clear coated these areas.
The only issue was, my masking method wasn't 100% effective, and sand did find its way inside and got on the bearings. I was worried it would get inside, which would cause them to grind and wear out prematurely. After carefully wiping it away and blowing the area with compressed air, though, they felt fine and smooth spinning by hand. So I think I dodged a bullet there.
Installed new axle seals:
Here we go! Getting ready to put everything back together.
New gasket with Permatex ultra black goop (both sides):
Looks good! Some closeups:
Moving on, there were a bunch of bits and pieces that I blasted and clear coated, to keep the "natural" look:
Then, I started to put together the brakes. Here I've put in new wheel cylinders and parking brake cables (I used these: LH / RH)
Then fast forward to everything put back together with new springs, hardware, and adjusters. These are a pain in the butt to put together. I actually reused my old shoes because they were good quality and still had plenty of material left on them.
Back together with axles reinstalled! A rubber mallet came in handy to drive the axles all the way home once they were started. Also can't forget the inner and outer gaskets.
Then, I figured it would be easier to fill up the fluid now, rather than messing around with a pump and hose setup underneath the car. I made sure to set it level and fill until it started to come out of the fill hole. I then closed it off and spun the axles, and tipped it one way, then the other, to make sure the fluid would travel to all the places it needed to be, then topped it off. It took less than 2 quarts.
Here are my new leaf springs. There are a bunch of different variations depending on options, engine, etc. I got the relevant ones for my car, but with the slightly upgraded Competition Handling specs. I think that means an extra leaf?
And then, with help from Darrell and Scott here, everything went back together fairly easily.
As you can see, I also put on a new rubber brake hose as well as new steel brake lines. Fitment required a little tweaking, but I got 'em on there.
I went for the longer U-bolts since I chose the Competition Handling leaf springs, and of course used new rubber pads. The shocks are KYB Excel-G's, same as what I used on the front. Also needed new shackles.
In all, the process took about a week. Very glad to have this done. It looks so much better, and I can already tell that the rear suspension is a lot stiffer than before.
So that's one big project done! I have more to update but I'll close with this for now. My car had a twin for a bit, this is the car that Don recently had for sale. Mine is on top. You can also see that I put on some of our Legendary GT5 wheels to test out / model them for pictures. I'll have to get some pics on the ground outside soon.
I'll let that be all for this post. Progress is happening!
So, I skipped over some stuff. I was scrolling back on my phone photos and realized I never posted this stuff. So let me go back in time for a sec.
Front bumper installation! Kinda awkward and it helps to have a second person. In the end, I left the brackets slightly loose on the bumper to allow for some movement / adjustment once on the car. To this day I still need to cinch them all down, but they are hard to get to once on the car! Also, a big piece of foam like this is super handy for things like fenders and bumpers.
The bumper hardware kit gives you everything for the front and rear, I definitely suggest it if you're replacing the bumpers.
It's great that the rubber filler pieces are now available. My originals were rock hard, deformed and starting to crack. Word on the street is that new ones are in the works for the rear bumper too. But for now, here is the fender to bumper piece:
And here is the upper filler piece (put these in before installing the bumper!):
Now for a little detail - it seems that there was a slight design flaw on these cars, which causes the hood trim pieces to not quite line up with the fender extension pieces. We had recently taken the trim off of another car for a video, and noticed that the ends had been shimmed. So I did the same. It just took a few little washers. I used two on the outermost screw holes, and one on the next inboard holes.
Front view that shows things lining up nicely:
Next, here's another fun little detail idea I had. I've noticed on a lot of cars how the mounting tabs for the front valance kinda stick out like a sore thumb. With my car being white, I knew it would be even more obvious. So I thought it would look good to black out these tabs, so the valance would have a more seamless look. Here's a before shot:
Next, before installing the valance, it's easier to do the turn signals now. I repainted my original spacer cup things, and kept the old clips (even though they're no longer usable - the modified wiring for the repro turn signals makes this area too stiff to bend around into the clips).
Front view after installing the valance.
Here's a closeup of one of the blacked out tabs, and of course I had to paint the bolts to match.
Next, I installed new side marker lights. The only original parts I reused were the wiring and the screws for the lenses (they are unique, don't lose yours!). The bulb socket is pressed in to the light housing, so you just have to get creative to liberate it from the old one and press it in to the new one without damaging anything. While I was assembling my stuff, I went ahead and made this graphic for WCCC. So if you punch any of these item numbers into the website, they'll come up.
I also reused my old backing plates and attaching nuts. Of course I cleaned them up and painted them black, but no picture of that. They went on the car fairly easily. Also worth mentioning that I had already installed my front fender splash shields first, after finishing up the grille project.
Another tiny, almost insignificant detail - I knew that I was going to install the windshield soon, so I wanted to clean up these little guys. They are unique to the 1968 Standard, and they retain / finish off the A-pillar edge of the headliner, since there are no full-length pillar pads like you'd see on the Decor or XR-7 trim. Blasted, painted and reinstalled. I know, I need to clean the glue off the A-pillar.
Finally, I never really showed the finished side glass, so here ya go:
The one issue I still have with the door windows is, I can't seem to get them to roll all the way up at the front, and fit snugly into the corner of the vent window track. They just stop a little shy. And it's not the actual window stops, as I had them loose and they weren't bottoming out yet. Has anyone run into that issue? I think they are close enough to be okay, but would like them to actually roll all the way up...
Anyway, that covers the stuff I missed before! More to come soon, I'm still making some progress almost every day. Here's a finishing shot, but ignore the amber lenses on the turn signals. I put those in as placeholders because they came in the kit and we were out of the clear lenses for a little bit.
Time to bring things up to speed! My goal is to get it done, or at least done enough to drive, by the end of the year. It's getting harder to work on it this time of year, when it gets dark at about 4:30 and it's getting too cold to paint things. The cold also makes rubber and vinyl items harder to work with. And it's generally less fun. But things are happening!
The next big thing on the list was to get the windshield in. Getting past that hurdle would allow me to start on the dash, and get all that stuff together. I bought a new Pilkington windshield from Summit for about $115 with free shipping. Amazing deal, and it might have been a fluke because I don't see it on their website anymore. I had called Pilkington directly and their price for the glass was similar, but with over $100 in shipping cost. So I think I got lucky.
Before I could get the glass in, I had to replace some of the posts that hold the trim clips. Luckily there are these little repair studs that you can just screw in. I needed some for the back window as well.
Fast forward, and it's installed! Don actually did the install, and I held a video camera. So look for a "how to install a windshield" video soon (I'll post it here too).
Of course I got restored trim, which looks nice and shiny. The only issue is with the lower left corner, it doesn't seem to quite fit right there.
With the windshield in, I could finally get to work on the dash. My original dash pad was decent, but the speaker grille was completely split open. Kind of a bummer. So I bit the bullet and got a new dash pad. I knew it might need a little modifying to fit, but there are some things I wasn't expecting I'd have to do.
First of all, the original pads had notches for the screws that hold on the metal trim strips by the windshield. The new ones don't.
Secondly, and this is a 1968 only thing, the original pad had a cutout for the VIN plate. So that's something else I'd have to recreate.
So for the notches, I figured the most accurate way to place them would be to temporarily install the new pad in the car and mark where the holes in the metal were. Here's a crappy picture of that process.
Then it came back out so I could cut them. A little crude but these will be hidden.
And back in the car. Ta-da.
Then the next challenge was to actually get the metal trim on. I got new screws and repainted the trim with SEM Trim Black. I didn't blast them first, just cleaned them and sprayed over the old wrinkle finish so they would still look right. Getting them installed was a little tricky. I used an awl to locate the holes and then got whichever screws started that I could. The outer corners were the hardest part. I had to push down on the trim to get the screws started. It's also worth mentioning that the goal here isn't to get those screws tight, because that will start to bend the trim. Just get them in enough that the trim sits even all the way across.
Next I felt like putting something shiny on. One of WCCC's signature items is the reproduction A/C vents. I got the complete kit for '68 with the knobs and everything. When I held up the vents to their mounting places, however, I noticed another problem with the repro dash pad. This isn't gonna work...
So out came the knife again.
Same thing on the left side. This is after trimming. I just cut right along the edge.
Next I could hook up the controls and stuff. Luckily I still had my old vents, so I could transfer over the needed hardware. I also bought a new heater control cable because my old one was shot. I had to adjust it a bit where it connects to the heater box, it seemed a little too long and didn't work quite right when seated against the built in stop on the cable sheathing. Got it working well though.
Installed! I had to hunt around a little for the correct screws for these things. And yes I know I have paint runs on my dash, shut up.
Getting the plastic elbows and new hoses installed was especially tricky on the driver's side, but not so bad on the PS. Also I was lucky that I still had my old vents, because I realized I needed this special spacer piece and the corresponding nut for the back side of the passenger vent. Like most of these pieces, it just needs to be snug. Over-tightening will create a dimple.
Anyway here's an overall shot with the dash pad in. It definitely has an upward bow. One of these days I might try to put some weight on a board on top of it to try to flatten it out.
You can see that I also put my headlight switch in. My original was kinda crusty, so I ended up getting a new '67 switch. I got this one because I no longer need the vacuum ports since I changed over to electric headlight actuators. The only thing I had to do was salvage the original spacer and epoxy it to the new switch.
In hindsight I'd recommend doing this differently, to avoid getting epoxy in the threads. Rather than a clamp, screw in the actual bezel nut to hold the spacer in place while the epoxy dries. Anyway...
Next it was time to get to work on the gauges. I was kind of excited about this. Here's a before shot:
The only thing seen here that isn't original is the clock. I just had the blank panel there originally, but opted to use that space for a rebuilt quartz clock. The wiring is already in place and it's a nice sublte stock upgrade. I was previously planning on using the Rocketman mini tachometer, but decided to go with the clock instead. This is a 289-2V with a 3-speed automatic, I really don't need a tachometer.
Here's a "before" shot of the speedometer. You can see that the needle is pretty faded.
So one of the first things I did was to upgrade the lighting. I started by replacing all the blue light diffusers / filters. These two can only be accessed by removing the right-hand gauge.
Then it was time for the gauge LED light kit!
Next it was time to freshen up the orange needle paint. I did this on both main gauge needles, as well as the radio dial needle. A good tip I learned from Darrell was to use the back end of a small paintbrush, rather than the bristles themselves. This paint is nice and thick and you seem to get better control and precision with a wooden stick. It globs on nicely and flattens out as it dries.
Next I got even more adventurous. It happens that while I was doing this project, I saw some pictures of the 2k-original-mile '68 Cougar for sale online. There's a closeup shot of the speedometer that clearly shows that the extra hash marks above 70 mph are orange. This is interesting because I didn't recall seeing that on other cars, and confirmed this by looking through the box of 67-68 standard speedos at WCCC that almost all of them were completely faded to white. Some had very faint remnants of orange though. I wanted to recreate this cool detail, so here goes.
I decided to go for a half-safe approach by masking off the bottom edges of the hash marks. I felt like I could have better control on the top edges. I sharpened the wrong end of a paintbrush for a more precise tip. It helps that the hash marks are raised up, otherwise I probably wouldn't have attemted this.
As I went along, I peeled off each piece of tape to do the next one.
Phew! It turned out great, and I'm glad I did this. Painstaking but worth it.
Here's the freshened cluster back together:
Next I polished the lenses using this Novus stuff. It's awesome. I just did it by hand with a microfiber cloth. Probably could have gotten even better results with some form of power tool, but I'm happy with how they came out.
Found some good used cones for the lenses. For the clock lens I got lucky and found a center cap that had previously been rechromed.
So the next big piece of the puzzle was the chrome plastic dash bezels. As you guys probably know, WCCC has been struggling for years to find a reliable, quality source who can restore these bezels using the "spray on chrome" method. Sadly I had sent my original pieces away during one of those attempts, and they never came back, and / or got lost in the shuffle of other core pieces that got returned. At this point my only options were to either get alternate cores and send them to someone like Instrument Specialties to get vacuum plated (to the tune of about $700 and 6+ months) or dig through the few "failed attempt" restored bezels at WCCC and find something that would work. I got lucky and found a set that looked decent, with acceptable blemishes. Still had to pay up for them, but about half of what vacuum plating would have cost. At the end of they day, they look fresh and shiny, so it works for me. Anyway, here's the left piece with the gauges and lenses installed.
Then I glued back on the little foam pads that I had been saving all this time. Luckily I had been smart enough to remove them from my original bezel before sending it away. I used weatherstrip adhesive, but that might have been overkill. A little contact glue would have been fine.
Next, before installing the bezels, make sure these little clips are in place on the dash pad. If you don't have your originals, there is a hardware kit available. They are a little tricky to get to stay in place on the new dash pad, since the material wants to push them back out. You can poke at the material to give the clips more breathing room, and squeeze them together a little before installing so that they grip the metal more tightly.
I had my original screws, but wanted to make sure they were fresh black to blend in to the bezels. So I blasted the tops and hit them with Trim Black.
Finally I could install the bezels. The passenger side goes on first, followed by the driver. Obviously, these are somewhat delicate and you want to be careful not to over-tighten anything, especially the studs on the backside. The A/C center vent uses special screws that sit flush.
The driver's side was a bit of a struggle. Plugging in the wiring wasn't too bad, but attaching the new speedometer cable was difficult. The nut didn't want to start. My one luxury was that I hadn't attached the other end to the transmission yet, so I could have as much slack as I wanted. Finally got it on. The other challenge I think was partly due to the new dash pad. It was a tight fit, and I was a bit nervous as I was trying to shove the whole thing all the way back into place. But it worked out in the end.
Then I went ahead and installed my freshened-up ashtray assembly:
Then cleaned up, clear coated, and installed this dash support bracket. Note that it uses special large Phillips-head bolts, and a nut on the bottom one. I had to hunt around for these. Found some in a parts car in the yard.
I cleaned up my glovebox liner and installed a new tire pressure decal. The original was still there, but some of it was missing and it was about to fall off.
Then put the glove box together. Luckily all the little bits and pieces are available. I had my original latch and lock, but needed all the screws. Here are some links to those: Glovebox liner screws , Glovebox latch screws , Glovebox catch screws , Glovebox hinge screws. I also put on a new lock bezel, as well as a new light and switch. Don't forget the rubber bumpers. It all may seem minor, but it's nice that all that stuff is available. I swear, the hunt for correct fasteners takes longer than anything else.
Alright, now the finishing touch is the face pad. My original was in pretty good shape, except for a couple little cracks. I opted to salvage it and throw some fresh paint on it. I used SEM "Super White" which will be a pretty good match for my upholstery. Also freshened up the steering wheel pad while I was at it. I had painted it a few years ago but used "Phantom White" at the time, which is a bit darker.
New standard dash emblem courtesy of WCCC. Nice piece, would reccommend.
Next it was on to the black trim pieces that surround the face pad. They needed some straightening out and cleaning. There were also some divots in them from when the first body guy tried to remove the plastic bezels with a screw gun. :wall: The very edges of them stay shiny, so I masked them off.
Also note that the LH corner piece is broken. It's supposed to be one continuous piece rather than two separate ones. But it will still be held firmly in place and not be noticeable.
Closeup of one of the many divots:
Then after a good wipedown, out came the SEM Trim Black again. It gave these a nice finish and hides those divots well.
Finally, after attaching the trim pieces to the face pad and reinstalling all the little indicator lights and bezels, I put these unobtanium clips in place. I'm lucky that I still had most of my original clips, only missing 2 of them. Not even WCCC has any of these usually, so I had to make do and put the clips I had into what seemed like the most important spots.
These clips suck. Difficult to line up in the correct place, and installation is generally quite sketchy with this fragile, valuable piece, especially when it already has some little cracks in it. Anyway, after some struggling, I got it in.
Sharp-eyed viewers will note that I forgot to put in the rectanular plastic bezel for the center A/C vent. It goes under the face pad. Oh well, I'll do that later. Might send the bezel somewhere to be "chromed" anyway as I didn't have good results with a chrome paint pen.
Anyway that brings things pretty much up to speed! Rear window is one of the next hurdles, then I can probably do the carpet and other major interior pieces. It's a bit hectic but I'm encouraged by the way things are progressing.
Oh, before I go, here's one last detail. I gave the front of the car its identity back by reinstalling the front license plate. Freshened up the bracket and used new hardware. Not shown are the two little rubber bumpers that go in the bottom holes, which I installed after the pic.