I want to thank those who have Emailed and asked questions, comments about the site and restoration. Based on the questions that I get asked I thought I would put together this FAQ.
Q: When will you be done with the car?
Some times it feels like I will never be done. Most likely I will always be doing something but I have split the project up into pieces. This first phase is to get the frame/structure sound again and get the engine/tranny solid so that I can have the pleasure of driving the car again.
I may be an optimist but I think I will have the structure ready to put the engine in some time in February of 2006, and the engine done some time in March 2006. That means in April I will be installing the engine and buttoning everything up. So my target is spring 2006 to drive the car again.
Once that is done I am going to paint the car (myself). I know that I will not be capable of doing a first class paint job on this first go around so I am considering this a practice paint job. I am not going to strip it down to metal, I am going to do enough body work to make it look good. It will be a 10 footer. That way I will have a car that is mechanically solid, and looks good that I can drive and enjoy in 2006. In the winter I intend to properly prep each panel, replacing what bondo there is with metal and then give the car a first class paint Job. I think I will have had enough practice and lessons learned from the first paint job to do a good job on the second go around. Of course I will document this on the web just as I have the rest of the project.
Q: Will you ever sell the car?
Obviously I have literally a lot of sweat and blood in this car. The reason I am doing everything myself is so that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it was done the way I want and not shortcutted. Lets face it, this is an antique that I will be going down the highway at 65 mph…ok maybe faster. It would take a lot to get me to part with it. To replace it and know I had a car that was done the same would be hard to do. That being said I am not stupid or emotional. Of course if Donald Trump had to have the car, for the right price he could.
Q: Are you going to rebuild the engine yourself?
Yes, To me that is one of the more fun parts of the project. I have done cam installations, limited rebuilds, many engine repairs in the past on mine, friends, and familys cars. This is something I am confident I can do even though I have not done a complete engine end to end. I did buy a book on Ford small block engine rebuilding that looks very good and there are many resources on the web for this. I am going to break the engine down and send the heads/valves to be done by a shop and the block to also be magnafluxed and honed by a shop. Other than that I am going to do everything. This is the original engine so I don’t want to put a crate engine in. It ran strong before the rebuild started so I really don’t expect the magnaflux to find anything bad. If by some horrible trick of fate the block is shot then I may get a crate engine for it.
Q: How did you learn to do this?
Well….the truth is I didn’t. I am learning as I go. I am reasonably mechanically inclined and as a matter of fact am a rocket scientist, I work at NASA on the EOS program (Earth Observation Missions). I am going slow and as Ross Perot would say measure twice and cut once. I have always done as much maintenance by myself on all the cars I have ever owned, and many others that were not mine. I like a challenge and this for sure is a challenge. I am taking it one step at a time and if I don’t know for sure how to do it I go web forums and ask there are many good ones out there with a lot of very helpful people.
Q: Is it harder than you thought?
In some ways yes and in some ways no. Did I know the state of the car when I bought it, yes. Did I plan on doing this much replacement….yes, if it needed it. I did know basically what the car needed but there is no real way to assess everything until you start taking it apart. I knew what it needed and added an unknown issues factor in the budget but of course I hoped for the best. And of course I was to optimistic. The work itself is not impossible but it does get a little frustrating and tedious. When you spend a few hours drilling out welds you tend to go a little stir crazy. When that happens I find myself thinking of taking short cuts. Invariable these short cuts wind up taking me more time in the end as I have to go back and do it right. SO when I feel myself getting frustrated I just walk away and stop until I cool down or I move to some other part of the car that is less frustrating. I also use the trick of breaking up these parts of job into small pieces so I don’t go nuts. For example if a task is going to take 4 hours I might break it up into 1/2 hour chunks.
So from the perspective of the technical part of the work, no it is not harder than I thought. I looked at this as a learning experience. I also build and fly model airplanes….NO THEY ARE NOT TOYS!!! :^). Some of them are 1/3 scale and have fully functional landing gear, flaps, etc etc. I have built gilders, jets, acrobatic planes, some from kits, some from scratch. This car is a lot like building the planes in that it takes a lot of time and thought to figure it out and make it work. This is just a “full scale” model that I can get in.. I have also always toyed with the idea of building my own plane, I though this would be a good test of my stick-to-it-ivness to see if I really could do it.
From the point of time and effort, yea I know how much time and effort it would take but thinking about it and actually doing it are two different things. I guess it is more frustrating at times than I thought and I can see why old mustangs sit in garages and never get done, once you stop the old physics rule of “An object on motion tends to stay in motion, an object at rest tends to stay at rest” rings true. Once I stop it is hard to get motivated and started again, but once I get started I tend to keep working, perhaps to much. (Is that possible?)
Q: Are you looking forward to driving it again?
Fucken A bubba!
Q: What was the hardest part so far?
Well, emotionally the hardest part was when I cracked the drivers frame rail in driving the car and I knew that I could not drive the car anymore. The drilling out all the god forsaken spot welds has been the most frustrating, Figuring out how to remove and install all the new parts while assuring the car is kept straight and the parts are installed correctly has been the biggest technical challenge.
Q: How do you keep the car straight?
Well the first thing I did is reduce the load on the structure by removing the weight if the engine. Once this was done you can remove an amazing amount of metal from the car and it will not bend out of shape. Once the engine was removed I took many measurements to baseline the car so I knew what I had to get it back to if anything moved. Then as I remove parts of the structure I make sure that I keep enough in place to hold the structure together. Before I remove any major part I measure before, during and after to make sure that nothing shifted.
The weakest that the car has gotten was when I removed the inner rocker panel. I have 6 jack stands under the car, 4 hold the car up and 2 are for insurance. When I removed the inner rocker panel all that was connecting the back of the drivers side to the front was the outer rocker panel where it joined the firewall area. about 3-4 spot welds. When the car was like this I could move, with some effort, the entire drives side dash, firewall area. Once I put the inner rocker and front frame extension back in it was solid as a rock again. Q) How and where did you support the car? After I removed the engine, tranny I placed a jack under the rocker panel in front of the door and the other under the rear torque box, but anywhere solid will do in back. I placed the passenger side jacks under the seat pan frame towards the front and the same as drivers side for the rear. I then placed a level in the front cowl area (right behind the hood hinges) and shimmed the jacks until the car was perfectly level. (I placed a box wrench under one of he jacks and that did it). I then placed two more jacks under the middle of the rocker panels just touching but not supporting as an insurance policy on my life. Once I had the new frame rail in I moved the jacks from the rocker to the rail as I had to replace the rocker.
Q: What is the process of parts removal and assembly ie frame, torque box, frame extension?
Once the car is on stands and level I took measurements from the floor to various parts of the car in the engine bay, front and back of frame rails, top of aprons etc, I also took measurements on a diagonal from reference points in the back (bolts) of the engine bay to the front so that I could use them to make sure I got everything back square. After this DON’T MOVE THE CAR, its time to start cutting. You do not have to remove all the suspension and steering. All you need to to is remove the two bolts on the upper A arm and The lower A arm pivot point, place something under the brake drum to hold it all up. In any case there are brackets on the frame you should NOT cut off. If you do it right and leave these in place as you cannot put new things back in the wrong place.
Take a REAL look at your frame rails, are you SURE you just need extensions and not full frame rails??? The full rails measure 52 inches. You need that plus maybe seat pan rail and torque box. Take a serious look at your inner rockers too since you are going this far you may want to replace them too. If the drivers side is bad I know you don’t want to hear this but the passenger side is most likely bad too but you have to make that call. Mine did not look bad until I really started taking it apart, then I was really glad I did. Anyway the order of removal is front shock tower to radiator support apron (get a new one they are cheap), front of rail, shock tower, back of rail and then rear seat pan rail. Even if the seat pan rail is not bad you will ruin it as is it welded into front rail and torque box. Also you will need to cut seat pan to access it easily.
This picture shows how I cut it out and left the part of the rail that attaches to the transmission tunnel for last. Carefully grind, drill, cut the remainder of the old rail off this bracket as you will be re-attaching the new seat pan rail to it. Also when you remove the back of the seat pan rail mark where it was on the seat support as that will be where you weld it back. With these two things you know the new seat pan rail will be exactly in the correct place and therefore the back of the front frame rail will also be correct as it sits in the seat pan rail.
On the front frame rail when you start cutting it out start by cutting out the section of rail between the bracket you need to leave and the radiator mount. See below:
VERY IMPORTANT TO LEAVE THIS BRACKET. It will assure that you get the frame rail EXACTLY correct from side to side just butt the rail against it and the radiator support, you CAN’T go wrong. Also if you line up the front of the new frame rail with the radiator support that will give you the exact front to back position, then you only have to worry about the third up down dimension and this is where your measurements come it and also take a level and assure that the old frame rail you left in place and this new rail are level…WAA-LAA if you did this it will be dead nuts on. Next you need to assure that the new shock tower goes in place this is also very easy, You know the the frame rail is now perfect so you don’t have to worry about up down, left right only the forward backwards position of the tower…well this is stupid easy too. Just line up the old holes from the apron where the shock tower cap bolted in, Also the Export brace should line up. Throw some bolts in, use your pre-tear down measurements as a sanity check and weld away!!! Do same for other side using the new side as your baseline. Bottom line you can do it, just try not to cut off more than you need and make sure you can put the new parts exactly back where the old ones, it is not as hard as it might seem.
I will put FAQ info here later.