Friday, July 23, 2021

Left Front Fender - Third time is the charm?

This is one of those times when I shake my head and wonder what I was thinking in the first place.  The easy way out would have been to go buy a repro fender and put it on the car.  But I've seen too many pictures, including big-name magazines where the body lines don't match and it's very noticeable.  That's the reason I put all the work into an original fender including replacing the headlight bucket and rear support.  However, the patch I put in to fix the rust in the lower rear of the fender didn't look right to me. 


So I did another patch, larger this time.  It was "OK" but not my best work.  I cut out the first patch and had the rough shape of the new patch.


I made the new patch from cutting out the metal of the old deck lid that was rusted out on the edges.  The metal is original thickness and composition which makes it perfect for the patch.  Again, not my best work.


Unfortunately, when I started to look at the fender to do body and filler work, the sins of the patch were revealed.


The concave area of the patch would have taken more than an 1/8" of filler which is totally unacceptable in my book.  The problem was I could not get this area to push out, especially with the inner structure blocking half the patch.  My best efforts were not working.  The only fix was to replace it and try to be sure that it didn't "suck in" when being welded in place, a problem with small patches.

So... I cut out patch #2 and proceeded to make patch #3. Again, I used the old trunk lid for the metal.
I didn't want to form a new lip on the rear edge of the fender.  I cut it to leave enough metal to work with.



Now it was on to making the new (and hopefully final) patch.  I used cardboard to make a template to fit the opening.  It looked good and I transferred it to the trunk lid.  I cut it out leaving an extra 1/4" for material.  Should work great, right?   Well...  In spite of all the double measuring and leaving what I thought was spare material, it had a bigger than normal gap at the rear seam.  Yes I could have filled it in with weld material, but at the expense of more heat and shrinkage.


I defaulted back to what I did when I had a gap in the floor pan.  I got metal rod and used it to fill the gap.  A little grinding to make it fit snug worked well.  Then the tedious task of tack welding the whole patch began.



I made sure not to overheat the welds and cooled them with compressed air.



After many, many spot welds, the patch was in.  I did have to trim the bottom to match the contour of the original fender and drill out holes to spot weld it to the inner fender brace.



The good news was there was ZERO shrinkage and almost perfect alignment with the surrounding metal.



The proof in the pudding would be how it fit on the body.  After a little bit of shimming to fit with the hood, cowl, and door, it was looking fairly good.



I will have to do a little finishing hammer and dolly work, but nothing like I would have had to do otherwise.

With this project behind me, I do believe this is the end of the serious metalwork that requires welding in patches, etc.  Now it's on to bodywork with finishing hammer and dolly work and the filler application.  I had started some filler work on the fender before I did this project, but I'll catch up on that when I get to that point.

The next step is not what you think it will be.  I'm changing the order of my restoration plan that may be considered "putting the cart before the horse", but it really isn't.   I'll save the suspense for the next post just to keep everyone guessing.

Until the next time...




Thursday, April 1, 2021

10 Years? Really?

It's April 1st.   It's also April fool's day.  I wonder if there's a hidden meaning there?

It was 10 years ago that I started this blog.  I fully expected that I'd be driving my fastback by now putting copious miles on it.  Well, that obviously didn't happen.  The other sad part is that as of April 17, this girl has been in my possession for 16 years!   Oh man.

I've missed personal deadline after deadline.  The Mustang was supposed to be on the rotisserie for a year.  6 years later, yes, 6 years, it finally came off.   I can give countless times other planned completion dates for other work has bitten the dust. 

Yes, I can give the excuse that for 5 years my work outside the US, especially over summers put a dent in the schedule.  I can blame a number of projects around the house for more delays.  I can point the lazy finger at myself for not getting after it more often instead of watching TV shows of other cars being built.  But the endgame (which I watched last night) is not anywhere near in sight.  And I currently have 3 part-time jobs I'm doing that all together add up to more than a full-time job.  So by the time supper is over, it's 7 PM and I'm tired.  In the next couple of weeks, we're starting a cabin remodel in Michigan which will occupy more of my time away from home.  It seems like it never ends.

I guess I'll be one of these guys that will either take another decade to finish it, or get to a point of just selling it (of which the market is White-Hot for it in it's current condition) and buying a running driving later model Mustang.

But it wouldn't be the same.

So... I am soldering on by having components sent out for restoration.  I figure when I do get to the point after body and paint of putting it all together, I will have things already lined up without needing to wait for restoration or new parts.  So here's the current list of activity...

The T5 transmission is at the shop for evaluation, which isn't looking good.  That's what happens when you buy a used transmission that the guy says, "It's in great shape".  The wrong fluid was put in it as one point and got very hot.  I may just end up using it as a core and buying a new one.  I'll see what the shop says.

The gauge cluster is currently at Auto Instruments in Virginia for the gauge refresh.  I got the quote and they are moving ahead with a nice non-concours restoration with the odo set back to "0" miles.



I'm looking at either purchasing a complete AC system or having the original in-dash unit redone.  I'll still need the other under hood components though.  I'm contemplating just buying a complete wiring system even though mine is "OK" but needs a little help.  I may send parts of it off to Midlife Harness Restoration for them to refresh.

I have 90% of the interior components I bought a year ago.  I need to look at the rear axle and decide what needs to be done there beside a bearing and seal refresh in the axles and center section. 

There are other parts, such as the radiator, exhaust system, and carburetor to be rebuilt (Holly 600 CFM), but for the most part, I'm probably done until I can get further on the body work and paint.  Yeah, I could farm it out, but I don't have an extra $15,000 sitting around doing nothing.  So it's all on me.

Once I get past a few of my job commitments which I hope will end sooner than later, the fastback will become my new part-time job.  I've come to far with too big of an investment of time and cash to pull the plug on it.

So stay tuned and we'll see what happens.

Until the next time....



Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Engine - Back at Home

After several weeks, the engine for my Mustang has finally made it home.  As with many restoration projects, this one had its share of surprises and headaches.  

One of them was the oil pan that had rust holes hidden from the crud that was on it.  The new Scott Drake pan came in and I dropped it off at the shop.  Assembly continued with the cam and heads.  And then, things started going off the rails.

When assembly started, Ray from Legacy Motorsports said the machinist thought this engine had been gone through before.   There were a couple of telltale signs.  The first one was the rods.  I had stamped the number of the cylinder that each one came out of in the center of the rod cap before removal from the block.  However, there was another number I didn't notice that was stamped in the side of each rod.  Guess what?  They didn't match!  So there was some head scratching, measuring, and thought put into how to progress.  Ray went with the last numbers I had since the engine obviously was running before it was parked.  Everything rotated well and he's confident there will be no issues.  He told me horror stories of seeing engines with pistons put in backwards, etc. etc.   So that was behind us.

Then things got interesting when the heads went on.  Apparently the kit came with a thin metal head gasket that if it was installed would have likely raised the compression into the 11.5 or 12 to one range.  So another thicker gasket was ordered and Ray felt that the compression would be near stock.  But the fun didn't stop there.

The engine with the heads and valve train installed.

When the new CompCam pushrods and roller tip rocker arms when together, the roller tip was not in the center of the valve stem.  The new stock length pushrods were too long.  Crap!  I couldn't return them as they were sold as a kit with the rocker arms.  

Marks showing the rocker arm contact off center


A closer look at the off center contact point of the rocker arm

So with the stock length of pushrod at 6.881" long, I needed to get a pushrod checker that was shorter.  I ordered a CompCams checker that was good for 6.8" to 7.8" figuring that it would be short enough.   No bueno!  Still too long.  So now I had a set of pushrods and a pushrod checker that cost $47 (thanks to CompCams sending it FedEx express which I didn't ask for) that were no good to me.  I called Jegs up since they were helpful on the cam kit.  They pointed me to a checker that was good for 6.1" to 7.5".   This one worked.  Counting the turns and adding that to the 6.1" yielded a length close to 6.7" long.   So I ordered a set which added $190 to the engine budget.  I held my breath as I watched Ray put one in and adjust it.  Success!  It was right in the center of the valve stem!

With that task done, it was a simple task of putting on the valve covers and intake manifold to finish up the work the shop was going to do.  Everything else, I'll do in my garage.  


It's now mounted on the engine stand and patiently waiting for the water pump to be installed.  I bought a set of spark plugs to seal off the cylinders and will tape off the exhaust ports on the heads to seal them up.  The valve train has been loosened up so that all the valves are closed and the spring tension removed.  Once I get it in the Mustang, Ray will come over and help set up everything.  It only goes to show that when rebuilding an older engine, you can be sure you will uncover previous unknown work that was done.  Lesson learned.

When it was all said and done, I went over my budget by almost $1,000.  But everything inside, except the rods and crank, is new and done with quality parts.  Now I need to get my butt in gear and get the Mustang far enough along that I can put the engine in and really make steps to get it done.   That will be a challenge, especially in the next few months.

The organization I retired from has asked if I would come back on staff to help them through the transition of Executive Directors.  The current one is retiring and they are in the process of interviewing candidates.  So, as my daughters keep telling me, "Dad!  You're failing retirement.  I suppose that's true, but I'll take any progress on the Mustang that I can get.

Until the next time...









Friday, September 11, 2020

The Engine - Starting assembly

It took awhile, but the engine is now at Legacy Motorsports for assembly.  But then again, I'm nowhere near being ready to drop the engine in the fastback.  

The guy who's doing the work is very meticulous and sent me pictures of all the clearances for the rod and main bearings as it was going together.  Ray is an "old school" engine builder and likes to use Plastigauge for measurements.

Ray checked all the crank bearings for proper clearance.

All the bearings, both rod and cap were checked.

I had purchased all ARP bolts for the engine internals.

The assembled short block rotating assembly.

It's looking good.

The bottom end went together really well.

Ray wrote down all the clearances for the record.

Ray said that the assembly could not have gone better.  All the clearances were spot-on.  We did have a couple of minor setbacks.  The head gaskets that came with the kit were .020 and would have raised the compression to 11.5:1 which would be way too high.  So they were returned for .039 thick head gaskets which should keep the compression within the stock 10:5:1 range.

The other setback was the oil pan has rust holes in the bottom that we didn't notice since it had so much crud on it.  


So I ordered a Scott Drake concours pan since I wasn't sure about the aftermarket ones that added an extra quart capacity to them.  I didn't want anything hanging down too low.  But maybe I was just being too picky as well.  I ordered some other goodies on the Labor Day sale, like new water temperature, oil pressure sending units, and upper thermostat housing (since I cracked the original one removing it).

When the pan comes in, I'll take it over to Ray and get some more pictures.  I need to clean up the valve covers as well so they can be installed.  That way, the engine will be mostly sealed up while waiting for installation.  

I have done work on the left front fender and not happy with the patch I put in awhile ago.  So I've started redoing it (twice so far... I'll explain later).  But that work will be put on hold for a couple of weeks as I set off to paint the house which it needs.  I've been waiting for temperatures to moderate which it looks like I'll have a window coming up.  Once I knock that work out, it's back on the body work, hopefully with no major work interruptions.

Until the next time...

Friday, August 14, 2020

Body Work: The Hood

With the gaps set on the front fenders and hood, the body work began.  I'd already done some work on the hood with the stud welding gun but it still needed some more massaging.  The fenders were from a '68 "Flintstone" convertible.  I've covered them in previous posts a long time ago.  I'm going to divide this post up into 2 parts.  The first post will be the hood.  The second will be the fenders.  I was working both simultaneously as I waited for filler to set.  But it will be more clear about the work done by dividing them up.

This hood was from a '67 and was in fairly good shape...until I had a gust of wind came through the open garage and knock it over onto the outside surface shortly after I purchased it ($100).  (Insert colorful metaphor here)   Hence the stud gun to help get the center peak back close to original shape.

The dent in the hood peak is barely visible, but it also distorted the metal on each side.

Each of the corners had some minor rash to fix as well.  They were small areas, but unfortunately with compound curves making it more of a challenge.  The 2" air sander prepped the areas nicely.

Both hood corners looked about the same.


I dressed the stud welding points getting ready for filler

Of course, the holes where the"FORD" letters were in the hood had to be filled.  In '68, Ford deleted the hood letters.  This was fairly quick work for the 'ol Hobart MIG welder.

The holes where the FORD letters were needed to be filled.


The holes filled in nicely with the MIG welder.


This is my sanding block arsenal along with rolls of 80, 120, and 220 grit adhesive paper.

The first layer of filler to go on is used as a guide coat to indicate areas that needed more metal work.
The peak pulled out for the most part, but it did not remove the "puckering" of the metal on each side.  


With the supporting structure underneath, it's hard to get to most of the back side.  I resorted to using a spoon with the underneath supported by a 2x4 since there was too much distortion to apply any usable pressure.


This approach worked well enough that I could round out the puckered areas that were higher than the surrounding metal.


This process took about 3 rounds before the metal and filler started to level the area on each side of the hood peak.


While waiting for filler to cure in the center of the hood, I worked on the two front corners.


After getting the corners worked on, filling in the letter holes, and getting the hood peak filled and sanded to their contours, I sprayed on guide coat to check with my eyes what my hands couldn't detect.

Driver's side hood corner with guide coat


The hood peak with guide coat

The guide coat really shows the imperfections and true contours including all the high and low spots.  That means another couple more rounds of filler, sanding, guide coat, sanding, etc. until the guide coat is mostly gone without leaving either bare metal or filler (High spots) or guide coat remaining (low spots)


The passenger corner with guide coat.

The filler was much higher than necessary as indicated by the guide coat.

It took a total of 3-4 rounds of this back-and-forth between filler and guide coat until everything started to take proper shape.  The goal was to get it as close as possible so that the primer-surfacer would be able to take care of the rest when that step came.




With the hood done about as good as I can get it, I needed to spray on a primer so the surfacer will have something to stick to.  All the manufacturers specify this.  Since I had 3/4 gallon of DP74, I figured I might as well use it.

I had to sand the entire surface of the hood, which it needed after sitting in bare metal for quite awhile.  That revealed a couple more spots that needed to be leveled and filled.  Another couple more rounds of sand and fill, and the hood was ready for primer.  This would be the first "color" that would be on the outside surface of the body, a milestone indeed.

I masked off the fenders and cowl area in preparation for epoxy primer.



I was having issues with the air supply and it took some trial and error to sort out the issue.  I'll need to get a shorter (25') air hose to paint in the future as the 50' hose had too much pressure and volume drop.  Because of that, and the warm temperatures, the primer didn't flow out as nicely as I would have liked, but I'll end up block sanding it before the surfacer can be applied.  In spite of the issues, I was glad to see the hood in one color and looking pretty good.


Once I get the rest of the body work done and in epoxy primer, I'll block out the whole care and then spray it entirely with the surfacer primer.  This is going to be a long, long process.  The work on the hood probably took a total of 8 hours from start to epoxy primer.  But I can't knock forward progress.

Next up will be the front fenders.  

Until the next time...