Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How to make a rear end look good

Haven't had an update in awhile...this stuff takes time and the inevitable hiccups occur. Things that have happened since the last posting...

1. I sent the steering gearbox to Stangers Site ( to get rebuilt. It's a necessity if this car is going to handle with any manners. He'll probably have it a few months since he's pretty backlogged, but he's the authority in Mustang steering.

2. I made the back end pretty. It was a lot of work, but I completely cleaned and degreased the axle housing and differential (sans the front of the differential), and removed the leaf springs and cleaned them. I painted everything up with Miracle Paint so at least when you drive behind the car it will look good.

3. While I had the back end apart, I took the opportunity to rebuild the rear brakes. The shoes still had plenty of surface and the springs looked fairly fresh, so I cleaned everything up well, painted what needed to be painted, turned the drums, and installed new wheel cylinders. I neglected to do this on the front brakes, and after discovering how cheap wheel cylinders are I begrudgingly then disassembled the front brakes and installed new wheel cylinders too. I think there are two essential parts of a good brake rebuild--replace the wheel cylinders and all rubber brake hose. I replaced the rubber brake hose on the rear as well. It was foolish of me to initially not change out the wheel cylinders; so much safety resides in a quality braking system and I was cutting corners. You just can't have it. As it turns out, the rear wheel cylinders were in bad shape, but somebody had already beat me to the punch on the fronts. I replaced them anyways. They had been sitting for a long time and it was cheap insurance.

4. The passenger's side axle looked like it may have been leaking. I replaced the seal, which created an enormous deal as I could not get the axle to function properly once reinstalled. I concluded the axle seal was the wrong size, because it's depth was quite a bit more than the original seal, even though the part numbers crossed. However, when I put the original seal in, the axle was restored to proper function. I had the guys at O'reilly's scratching their heads on this one, but we measured the dimensions of my original axle seal and they found one in their system with the exact same dimensions--to an 88 Jeep. I don't care what it's too, because when I put that seal in, everything works perfectly again.

5. I started reassembling the engine bay. I reran the wiring loom, connected with new ties and connectors I got from Mustangs Plus and started hooking up what electrical connections I could. This all happens easily with the guidance of the factory lineworker manual for Mustang wiring assembly.

6. Finished the entire brake system. Reinstalled the master cylinder (refinished with cast iron paint), and got all the lines hooked up and air out of the system. I could tell the master cylinder was recently replaced, so replacement here was not necessary. This checks off another major system completed.

For the next phase, some major body work to replace rippled panels will take place. After this things will come together quickly.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Tonight, while sprawled on the floor in the interior working on removing the steering shaft, I saw a shadow scatter across the firewall and dash somewhere behind the heater. The mice are at it again and have taken refuge in the warm garage. It's time for war.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Interior floors completed

Igot the car back from Bodyman Kirk, who had been hard at work replacing the nearly-rotted driver's floor pan. I spent the day Friday and today getting the new metal and rest of the interior covered up and rust-proofed. Such activities 'tis the purpose of this entry.

The new floor pan was butt-welded in (impressively well I might add) and a small patch in the toe board was also made. On Friday upon getting it home I spent the day cleaning, degreasing, and preparing for paint, and finally priming with Sikkens etching wash primer. Today all surfaces on the floor prone to rusting or moisture (toe boards, front and rear floor pans, rear seat perch) were treated with two coats of Bill Hirsch Miracle Paint (it's expensive...$34 a quart) but the stuff is an absolute necessity if you want to stop existing rust or protect against new rust. It's also identical to POR 15. Oh, and one other important eats THROUGH those red plastic cups, which is what I had poured the paint into for my brush. I also hit up the outside of the toe boards on the engine bay side with several coats as well as the side of the frame rails and undersides of the floor pan on the bottom of the car. We'll let this dry and cure for a week and then patch up the seams with sealer

For tomorrow...rebuilt and adjusted steering.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In this issue: Lots of paint, and lots of caulk

My adventures since body man Kirk has been productive and successful. After doing a little more prep to the engine bay I got it where I wanted it. I put some cheap rattle can primer on the anti-missile tank paint along the firewall as it wasn't coming off and I figured the primer would be better for the topcoat to stick to than missile-proof tank paint. For the bare metal I pulled out all the stops and went with the absolute best: Sikkens Washprimer, a transparent etching green primer at the low cost of about $19/can. After letting it set for 15 minutes I gave the whole thing two coats of Bill Hirsch Black Chassis paint...2.5 cans to be exact, at the cost of $16/can. It looks pretty darn good as I have been envisioning what the painted engine bay would look like ever since I obtained the car. I'm now giving the paint two weeks to cure before I do any work in that area to avoid chipping the paint. At just about a week after spraying it's starting to harden. All I can say here is respirators are a good thing.

Moving away from the engine bay, the weekend's activity was to get all seams sealed. Again, my respirator has proven to be my best $30 investment. I covered all the seams in the interior and trunk with 3M automotive caulk or brushable seam sealer, for the low price of $66 between the tube of caulk and 1 qt can of seam sealer. 'Brushable' is quite the overstatement because it is by no means 'brushable.' The best way to apply this is to work the sealer in the can with a paint stir stick and then put a glob on a scotch brite pad and rub it onto your seam with that. You can control the thickness of the covereage with your hand by the amount of pressure you're putting on the pad, and you still get the brushed-on appearance.

Also at this time: Other things getting painted! Like, hood hinges, engine mounts, um, oh I sandblasted and painted the brake fluid reservoir with a cast metal looks very pretty again, and, just other things. There are billions of parts to paint when you pull a car apart and I will digress and not name them all.

Coming up this Friday I'll take the car to the DMACC shop and bodyman Kirk will put in the new floorpan on the driver's side.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Never stand naked before a body man

It almost sounds a bit paradoxical. Not *that* kind of a body man, I'm talking the kind of body man that will find every single flaw in you. But they can't just sit there and stare at it; they have to touch it, and rub it, and hit it, and poke it, and grind it. If you are now truly offended by these perversions, then I suggest you never take your car to the body shop. No, they are not euphemisms, these are REAL LIFE THINGS that REAL BODY MEN DO. And finally--after enough mechanical manipulation--they will want to fill it in and hide it forever. The only thing separating a body man from a plastic surgeon are calouses. So never stand naked before a body man.

This philosphical departure comes after some reflection on the way home from my latest excursion on the purple people eater (yes, regardless of the lack of updates, I've been ferverently working away and new big neat things are happening). I took a body class at DMACC this fall because I can. It is in Ames at the new Hunziker Center so the sole convenience of proximity was my ultimate persuasion. We've learned rust repair, and a billion different ways how to hit, bend, distort, undistort, and unintentionally screw up metal. We've learned dent repair, rust removal, body panel fabrication, and welding. It's taught by a very animated, super nice guy skilled in his trade, and is more anal than a proctologist but equally effective at getting his point across. We'll call this guy Kirk, because that's his name.

Most of the welding is done on the car, namely the front end work. The next, and current major product is finishing up the rest of the car between the front [missing] bumper and windshield. So...painting the engine bay. I sanded and sanded on that forever. In fact, all I've done on this stupid car is sand. I've partially stripped most of the paint off with a stripping wheel on about half of the engine bay. The other half I'm convinced was painted with a missile proof army tank tar paint that seems impenetrable by nearly every thing at this point, but I haven't tried using a jackhammer yet. It was to a point where I was about ready to spray. I was in the throws of doing my final degreasing and getting down to the nitpicky of paint prep. But then body man Kirk came out and looked at it.

If you don't want to know every flaw in your car, don't show it to a body man. Fortunately I do though, and hopefully I have a good memory too because I have about a million pieces of new information on 'things to fix.' And then he basically explained to me that my engine bay prep wasn't ready for spraying yet. This is good to know because I would have sprayed the entire thing only to strip it off because I didn't do a good enough job at feathering the old paint remains.

I took some 320 grit sandpaper, by hand, and went over and over the panel smoothing and feathering the old surface out. Once I was convinced it was where I wanted it, I degreased it twice with paint prep, wiped off with a tack cloth, and primed and painted a test strip. It came out looking super sexy, I declared victory, and have a new motivation to finish the rest of the engine bay as carefully as I did this section.

Prior to this, the car spent some time at Mike Louis Auto Body getting some welding. The radiator support, passenger side front inner fender skirt, and passenger side strut support were all replaced. On the back driver's rear quarter panel where it meets the floor of the trunk, a patch of metal was welded in as the quarter panel had completely rotted/separated away from the place where it meets the trunk.

Also during this time, my rear seats came back from the repair man sporting brand new padding and burlap since the mice did a number on the seat guts. The seats look great, have better form now, and after getting them shined up I can't wait to ge them back in the car.

This entry is dedicated to Kirk, who undoubtedly saved me from inevitable insanity. Also, the formatting of this entry sucks and I'm completely fine with it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rebuild phase 1 complete

Oh man, I'm not even sure where to start. After tearing down, gutting, and stripping off surface rust and old finish, the first step in actually putting this thing back together and making it resemble a car again was beginning with the front suspension and exteriors of the inner fender skirts.

The exterior fender skirt was a chore of degreasing, sanding, and recaulking as pictures from previous blogs show. Getting to the finished product required two coats of a rust converter primer, two coats of rubberized undercoating, and 2 coats of Rustoleum (because it's cheap) to give a black shine and reinforce the rubberized undercoating.

I may have mentioned it in a previous entry, but all suspension components on the front came off and were sandlbasted and refinished or completely replaced. A list of the going-ons reveals many new parts:

Upper control arms: same arms used, but new Grab-A-Trak shaft and shaft bushings. Spring perch bushings replaced with Grab-A-Trak polyurethane bushings. New Moog ball joints.

Coil springs: old springs replaced with new Grab-A-Trak performance springs. The Grab-A-Trak springs are significantly more stout with a thicker diameter than stock springs and will also lower the front of the car 1 inch. Spring seat insulator in the tower replaced with Grab-A-Trak polyurethane insulators.

Lower control arms: The ball joints and arms stay because the only way to replace these is to replace the entire arm ( and they're about $80 each). New Energy Suspension graphite-impregnated polyurethane bushings.

Strut rods: New Energy Suspension graphite-impregnated polyurethane bushings.

Outer tie rod ends: new Moogs

Sway bar: I kept the original sway bar but refinished it (I've never driven this car before, so verdict's out on if I ever replace this), new Energy Suspension graphite-impregnated polyurethane bushings and spring links.

Front drum brakes: sandblasted and refinished drum and backing plate with ceramic caliper paint. New brake hose, shoes, springs, and turned drum.

Wheel bearings looked good but I replaced the seals of course. All suspension was painted with Bill Hirsch Chassis Black.

Now that it's back on its rollers, it's time to start phase 2 this week and take it to some welders to get some estimates.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Things are slowly starting to come together

Since I first bought this, it has been one continual project of destruction, and seemingly de-beautifying the car. In the midst of working on it most days during the week, the mess seems to get worse and the car becomes less and less in one piece. With some relief I think I have finally reached the threshold where things can start going back on and this project can start to take the shape as I envisioned. I'll formally kick it off today. With the priming completed yesterday, I painted the inner fender skirts with rubberized undercarriage should give it good protection against rust, the elements, and debris kicked up while driving, such as rocks and dust.

Most of the suspension parts also got their coats of paint, featuring Bill Hirsch Semi Gloss Chassis Black. I could not separate the spindles from the lower ball joints, so I brought them to Arnold Motor Supply machine shop to see if they had any luck. It was a bit of a trick for them too, but they finally got them separated. A dunk in the hot tank and those parts are now ready for the sandblaster. As soon as the suspension gets back on, it's immediately off to a trip to the welder.

In other developments, the fenders have already found their way into the body shop (it's looking like Mike Louis is going to be my guy) to get sandblasted on the insides. While they're there he's also going to do a chemical paint strip to see what lies beneath...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

This will be a suspens(ion)ful entry!

In the time since my last posting I have been occupied with a never ending stream of sanding and grinding and surface prep. I now have all the exterior seams on the inner fenders and cowl sealed up with a combination of 3M caulk and/or brushable seam sealer (which isn't so 'brushable' in my opinion.) After sealing surfaces were primed with a rust converter primer that chemically reacts with rust and oxidation. Even though I could not visibly see any rust, it turns black when it reacts, and you can see every it reacted with the oxidized metal. This should give me some protection for the next coats.

In the exhibit below, you'll see my fancy paintbooth and some of the exterior parts I have began priming.

Between yesterday and today I completely removed the entire front suspension (pictured below). The pile of parts (also pictured below) will be hot tanked and sandblasted so they can be recoated with shiny new paint and fitted with new bushings. Removal involved numerous skinned hand parts, but when your hands are caked in ridiculous amounts of grease, the grease plugs up all the cuts so they don't bleed! As a microbiologist, these are the times when I turn a blind eye to these things.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I finally remembered to bring my camera with me so I could document more work. I work on it most every night, but at this point, there's not a lot to say. Basically every surface must be prepped for painting starting from the inside and working out. The interior is sanded down and any rust has been removed (fortunately there was not a lot of it). The driver's side front floorpan is a little too rotted apparently and there are a few small rust pinholes. The toeboard immediately ahead of that (area right under the pedals) also has a few small holes. I bought a replacement floorpan that will have to be welded into place. This is prone to rusting on mustangs as the cowl tends to leak there. I'll have to make sure I get the cowl sealed up very well (it drains inside the fender where it can run down to the floor).

The only rust I've found on the body that's broken through is on one of the tail lights, where I found several small holes that can hopefully be patched up easy enough. They're covered by the tail light bezels when installed. I've pulled off the front clip and both fenders to begin preparation on the underbody so I can paint/coat it all. Also on the way are new graphite-impregnated polyurethane bushings for a front end suspension rebuild. As I dig farther into the car it exposes the poor and shoddy first restoration attempt.

Most body panels seem to be held on with only half the amount of bolts they're actually supposed to be. The passenger side fender was only held on with three bolts at the top. It took me less than three minutes to remove the fender. For now I'll close with some pics until I have more worthwhile updates (the juicy stuff is right around the corner)

All caulking and seam sealer, whether interior or exterior, is removed to be replaced with new. Here I'm scraping off the cowl, where protection from water infiltration is critical.

The area just below the cowl drain is all sanded and cleaned up. I need to move ahead and continue with the fender skirt.

Small holes rusted through the driver's floorboard. The biggest ones are near the upper right.

Also found a small hole near the driver's side tail light.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quick update

I've been quiet as of late, but have been feverishly working on it most every night. Since I'm at the laborious process of prepping the trunk and interior for recaulking, undercoating or painting, there's not a lot of exciting new to update. I've been in the process of removing all the old seam sealer and caulk and will recaulk or reseal seams. Most of the time is spent going over every inch of the metal (whether it be interior or trunk) that I can access with a wire cup or sanding disc on a drill. The trunk is nearly ready for priming.

I removed the gas tank today which proved to be a near catastrophic feat. The nice thing is the gas tank merely sits right inside the trunk so it's an easy removal/install. The bad thing is the fuel line is rotting. Here's how the scenario was supposed to go (keeping in mind the tank is mostly full of gas): pull the fuel line of the sender unit and drain into bucket. Put the line back on the nipple when I needed to stop the flow to empty my bucket into a gas container. Repeat.

Here's how it actually went: pull fuel line off sender unit, line is rotted and literally disintegrates in my pliers. Fuel starts going into my bucket except now I have no way to stop the fuel flow, and I can only hope I have enough containers to store all the fuel. I alternate with a bucket and my oil drain pan underneath while emptying the other. I could not remove the fuel line fast enough between bucket fills to try to replace it with some new line I had laying around. Eventually I wisened up and pinched the end of some new fuel line shut with a vice grips, and would slip this over the sending unit nipple if I ran out of gas storage. I ended up draining about 9 gallons out before the fuel got to below the level of the sending unit outlet. I was then able to tilt it and finish the removal and keep it stored in that position. There's still another gallon or two inside.

In other sad news, while I originally thought the floor pans were good, after some sanding and brushing today, I can see little holes of daylight through the driver's floorpan, which means I'm adding another part to the list and another task to the welding queue.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Interior gutting

I've managed to [nearly] completely gut the entire interior. It is stripped down to bare metal and the dash is in process of coming out. On the way is a new steering wheel and other shiny parts that go on it, new handles for doors and windows, new shifter handle parts, and a dash pad, which could prove interesting to install, if it's anything like the removal. Now that the entire interior and trunk is bare metal, I've began the laborious task of degreasing, cleaning, and sanding to prep for paint/undercoating. Bill Hirsch's Miracle Paint (permanent rust inhibitor) will go on the floor boards and inside quarter panels on the trunk and any other parts more prone to rusting that could use some reinforcement and protection. The trunk itself will get a layer of primer, and then everything will get a layer of Bill Hirsch Chassis Black chassis paint.

Friday, May 8, 2009

This project just got a little more expensive

Updates from the last two days...this thing proves to get more interesting everyday and it's a blast. Yesterday I gutted the interior. The task I had before me was to dig the now deteriorated stuffing out from the rear bench seat, as mice had eaten away at it for 7 years. You can see what I was working with here in the pic, which includes my murder weapon for the inevitable mouse. The smell of urine and poo was overwhelming. All the seats came out and after a closer look, I will have to take them in to an upholstery shop as they will all need restuffed. It's the only way to get the mouse smell out. Turns out there was a whole family of mice living inside the back seat, five of which perished under the wrath of my screw driver, and two of which kamikazed out. I followed in pursuit but to no avail. The interior will be an easy and relatively fast project. It's in great shape already. After I rip the carpet out [which is new], I'll begin sanding down the floor and laying a nice black protective undercoating on it. This too should help cover up the mouse smell.

Jump to today. I took to the engine. The goal here was to remove the heads so I could take them into the machine shop to get hot tanked and magna fluxed to check for cracks. I will port and polish them, but a) the heads should be clean, and b) no sense in doing that until knowing first that the heads aren't cracked. Now remember this is a seized motor, so I knew things would get interesting, but little did I know what all I had in store.

First step. Drain the oil. Except instead of oil, I got bright green antifreeze, and lots of it. It nearly filled up my oil drain pan. Only after this ran out, did the oil itself start burping out. Next, I had noticed a valve on cylinder 7 that was stuck halfway up, as in it was not making contact with the rocker arm. Early on when I first noticed this, I figured this to be the source of the seize, but not only would I discover how right I was, but how bad the problem actually was.

The valve stem was snapped just inside the head at the end of the valve guide, and the valve itself was impaled/welded into the top of the badly deformed piston. The piston is sitting cock-eyed in the cylinder. Not only will this make it a beast to remove, but I'm not looking at bigger issues. There is no doubt my cylinder walls are screwed. The best option is to probably bore them out .040 over and reap the advantages of the performance upgrade. But now this means I'm also looking at a new set of pistons and valves (I was planning on replacing the valves anyways). Thus, this engine truly is a rebuild, as the only original parts left when finished will be the actual [bored out] block itself and heads. Cam, lifters, pushrods, rocker arms, valves, and springs will all be new and or performance upgrades. There's no telling what the crankshaft looks like at this point either. It could have some spun bearings for all we know and will probably need ground down on the journals. It looks like I'll probably have a $3,000 motor here, but it'll be worth its weight in gold when finished.