Monday, May 24, 2010

Steering installation, part 1

Today we begin what turns out to be a saga of a steering rebuild. This car has a manual steering system, with an SMB-H code steering gear box; a rare gear box that was an 'experiment' for Ford and was only in 67's for a short run. That doesn't make it valuable, it just makes it a hindrance. So let's begin...

1. The story begins on a cold December day when I was initially trying to adjust the steering gearbox to fix play in the system. I then submitted to my wiser instincts that I should use this opportunity with an open engine bay to take the gearbox out and send it out to be rebuilt and do this the right way. After all, as I had not driven the car I had no idea of the condition the steering was in.

2. I sent the box down to Precision Products ( in Texas. Randy is a very helpful, nice guy and is probably one of the best in the biz, specializing in rebuilding and repair of old Ford steering components but let me forewarn you that he takes a long time and can be difficult to get a hold of. I finally got my box back in April (I sent it down in December). It looked great when it came back but it was also frustrating. If you have lots of time on your hands, I would recommend sending it to him. If not, I'd suggest looking elsewhere. On these old steering gearboxes, as you can see in the pic, the box and shaft is one piece; the shaft does not come out so it has to be sent and serviced as one piece. It's a non-collapsible shaft. Consequently, if you're in a major front end collision, this thing is putting a steering wheel through your chest.

3. Before putting everything back in I wanted to do some sprucing up of the firewall for protection against metal deterioration. This area in the pic, where the shaft and column pass through is prone to rusting so it's important to get it well protected. I start by cleaning up the area well with a wirebrush and some degreaser paint prep...

4. I then apply some Miracle Paint...

5. ...and install a new column-through-firewall rubber seal, along with the freshly repainted plate...

6. and install the gearbox in the engine bay, passing the shaft through the firewall and sliding the column down over it. The column and dash have been repainted as seen here with black lacquer paint. Lacquer paint is the correct interior paint to use in these old Mustangs as it won't fill in the stampings Ford put in the metal to resemble vinyl.

That brings us to the end of this section. I'll post more on hooking up the steering in the engine bay as soon as I have pics.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I'm still so far behind in getting this current, but at least when I make a posting it can include all the work that has been accomplished over some amount of time, making the post more comprehensive. Today's post is about fenders. If you look back at some previous pictures, you'll see the seemingly normal looking purple fenders, and for the most part they are/were normal. They are in great shape with no rust any where, however they are going to require a little body work. One of the fenders was obviously involved in an accident and had quite a bit of filler over a shoddy attempt at pulling some dents. Also, both fenders had areas on various mounting points (where the bolt goes through) that were either cracked or completely broke away. So to start this, we begin with some welding. I'll describe this with captions.

1. I took this to the Hendrick's residence to make use of their welder. Jason is a skilled welder and was itching to do some welding so he went ahead and made all the welds.

2. This piece here is a mounting point near the front of the fender where the fender bolts to the top of the inner fender skirt (or top of the engine bay). A large piece was missing and it had a large crack, so I cut it out altogether, snipped out a piece of metal from the old trunk lid (now retired as a metal donor) and we welded this in. It doesn't look like much right now, but just wait to see what the art of metalworking will reveal.

3. This is on the bottom of the fender where it bolts to the underside of the car. Here the metal was cracked so we cut it out and welded in a new piece.

4. The next step is to apply protective undercoating to the fenders so I'll never have to worry about them rusting. Begin with these dirty fenders...

5. Then clean them up with some powerwashing and wire wheel...

6. And finally apply two coats of Bill Hirsch Miracle Paint (an analog to POR 15). These fenders are going to be good to go for a long time on the insides now.

7. Remember that horrible looking patch we welded in earlier? After some grinding and cutting it comes out looking just like the other side. As it sits now you can barely tell anything was done to it. With a minor skim coat of body filler, this will look good as new.

8. Next the outsides of the fenders are completely stripped. I tried several methods of this--chemical paint stripper, electric and pneumatic DA with 40 grit paper, but at the end of the day a wire wheel on an angle grinder won out. It cuts through paint and filler like nobody's business and strips far faster than anything else. Both fenders in their entirety were stripped with the angle grinder and wirewheel.

9. You may have noticed the headlight buckets weren't painted earlier. I didn't paint them because I had to do some sandblasting around the edges on the inside. It's important to coat the headlight buckets as well because they are a part rusted out on many Rustangs. I sandblasted them and my lovely helper (wife as of one month from now) Rosemary painted them (she likes to do brush painting so I try to save most of it for her).

10. Good job Rose!

11. Now that the fenders are completely stripped and coated on the inside, for the final step they were treated with PPC's Phix corrosion treatment, which is a zinc phosphate product. It removes corrosion from the fenders that can't be removed by sanding. To do this process I first go over the entire fender with 80 grit on a DA to rough up the metal. Every metal surface is then degreased twice. The fenders are treated with two coats of Phix, leaving a nice dull protective zinc coating on the metal. This not only etches the metal and removes all the corrosion, but it also protects the metal from rusting before it can be primed.

Stay tuned for updates on door body work, additional engine work, installation of the steering system.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Been slacking on posting...and building a car.

So much progress has been made since my last posting in February. I completed my Master's in Veterinary Microbiology in April, and having cleansed myself of that burden I began some pretty serious work. To get this blog up to speed would require some epically long post, so I shall describe my adventures in segments.

In one of the first nice days of this spring, which occurred in early April, I pulled the engine out into the driveway to get some sun and start assembly, and the pics reflect the results of my efforts.

Because of the retardation of this site, and my increasing lack of patience with it, I have significantly scaled back the extent of pictures that I am posting because blogspot makes it impossible to format pics within the text, and then they give you this little tiny window to try to do it all in. At any rate, this zippy little 302 was topped off with an aluminum Weiand Stealth intake, new water pump and timing cover, and polished aluminum Ford Racing valve covers. It's important to remember if you're using roller rockers your valve covers need to be 'tall' in order to have clearance. Since these pics were taken, I also added on the thermostat housing and oil dipstick and tube--both all chrome of course, and stuck the fuel pump back in. The oil pan, fuel pump, harmonic balancer, and engine mounts were the only parts from the 289 that made it on to this build. Everything else is new.