Monday, October 7, 2013

Rear Coilover 4-Link Suspension

The rear ride height of my Mustang was a little high for the look that I like. I thought about installing some lowering blocks but wanted something more modern with a little better performance.  After researching a few rear suspension options, I decided to update to a coil-over suspension and install a suspension kit. Combined with the front coilover suspension, the end result will be a classic street machine that handles more like a modern sports car. 

I decided to go with a bolt-on kit from TCI.  Considering that many vintage race cars run factory style leaf springs and lots of people race with that kind of set up and have few failures, I didnt see the need for a full on competition suspension kit.  Bolt-on works well in a factory leaf spring style setup so a beefed up bolt-on 4-link system should work well too - albeit less sexy than a pre-welded Fab-9 or Moser setup.

Weld-on brackets
Once the old setup was out I could begin mounting the new control arm brackets.

The upper control arm brackets are welded to the axle tubes at specific locations, centered between the axle flanges.  A jig is provided for exact placement. A heavy duty welder is needed as the brackets and tubes are pretty thick metal. 

 The lower control arms bolt to brackets that get bolted to the existing spring perches.  If you have Ford 9 inch with 3" tubes then you can cut off the stock perches and weld on brackets like most of the beefed up kits use.  My housing has tubes that taper to 2 13/16 (2.8125) inch diameter so there would be a lot of slop to fill in the 3 inch holes. I went with the bolt-on brackets and did a couple welds for extra insurance.  

Powder Coat
Once everything was welded and ground, I dropped the housing and kit pieces off at the powder coat shop.  At the powder coater, they cleaned and media blasted everything and applied a custom metallic gunmetal on the housing and metallic silver on the control arms, sway bar, and crossmember.  The frame brackets were powder coated in chassis black to match the existing metal.

After drilling holes in the frame rails and floor at the prescribed locations, the chassis brackets are bolted on.  The kit also provides thick reinforcement plates that bolt to the opposite side of the brackets.

With the brackets in place, it was just a matter of positioning the housing and bolting in the control arms.  This was followed by installation of the center section, the axles, and the drive shaft.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Heater Box

I found a few minutes to get some work
done so I thought I'd do a quick write up on the old heater box.  This was a pretty simple rebuild.  
The heater box is fiberglass shell held together with small metal spring clips.  You have to be really careful prying these clips off since the fiberglass is dried out and brittle. 

Once the shell is open, you can remove the heater core and spacer bracket. Mine was already open and the heater core was gone.  Just a few crumbs and black dust were the only the evidence of the seals that were once there. 

First step was to clean out the shells and remove and remaining seals.  There are two screws on the outside of the that hold the heat diverter box. 

Once they are removed, you can remove the diverter and clean it.  It helps to take a few pictures if you need help getting it back together later. 
The metal parts were pretty rusty so I wire brushed and sanded them (a media blaster would be nice right about now).  

After a little primer and paint it was ready to go.

Next is reassembly.  I picked up a can of general purpose spray adhesive from the auto parts store.  It looks like rubber cement and seems to hold pretty well.

I found that the best way to stick the new foam on was to first dry fit the pieces and know where each one goes before spraying.  The triangles that go on top and bottom of the diverter had to be punched out first to make clearance for the crank arm.  
Then I sprayed the foam pieces one at a time, letting the adhesive tack up for a minute before pressing into place. I just hope this glue holds well with all the heat that blows through there.
There are pre-cut foam squares and strips for the all the doors and the diverter box.  The instructions that came with the CJ Pony Parts heater rebuild kit had diagrams that were a little small but usable.

The pieces that go inside the diverter box can be tricky to line up when covered with adhesive so it helps to figure out how it lines up before spraying.
To aid in lining up the strip that the diverter screws go through I ran the screws into the pre-drilled holes in the foam and sprayed the foam. Then used the screws align to the holes in the case. Once the glue was holding, it removed the screws.

Then I laid in the diverter box.  This requires that you spread the case open a little as you press it into place. Its a little scary to do as it sounds like the case is about to split.  Fasten the diverter back in with the two little screws.

Next, I sprayed glue on one of the heater core seals and stuck it to the case - have to line this up carefully so that it seals against the core. Then carefully laid the core over the seal and making sure the tubes are centered in the holes.

The last thing was to close up the case, carefully lining up the edges. On mine, this was a little tough as the new seals made it hard to squeeze the halves together. I tried slowly clamping using vise grips an a couple edges bit one of the lips cracked. Be really careful, the outer lips can snap right off.  I found that I could use a larger clamp on one of the larger surfaces to bring edges close enough and was able to get clips on. There really needs to be a special tool to stretch the clips because there is not good edge to push against.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Headlight Install and Wiring Relays

Next job is to install the parking lights, headlight bowls and headlights.  After that, wire in the headlight relays.

Assembling the headlights

I would recommend mounting the parking lights in the valance before bolting on the valance itself.  The mounting nuts are easier to get to if the valance is off the car.    Once the parking lights are in, feed the wires up through the hole in the bottom of the headlight recess and plug into the harness. 
This is a good time to inspect headlight plugs and wiring before moving on.  Make sure the wires are not melted or frayed and about to break off.  The replacement headlight pigtails are easy to get if needed.  Luckily, I didn't need to replace mine.
Next, I installed the new headlight adjusters, springs and bowls.  Here is an easy way I found to install the bowl and springs. 

  • First snap in the adjusters and remove the two adjuster screws from the plastic mounts. 
  • Then, with the spring hooked in the back of the slot and holding it in place with one hand, I turned the bowl around so the front is facing back and hooked the spring into its hole in the headlight bowl. 
  • Next, carefully turn the bowl around with the spring still hooked and line up the tabs with the adjuster holes. While still holding the bowl in place, start one of the adjuster screws, making sure that the slot in the screw is engaged correctly with the slot in the tab.  
  • Start the other adjuster screw and run in both screws until the bowl is pointing basically straight ahead.  

From here its pretty simple.  Plug in the headlamps and mount with the stainless retainer rings.   After a quick test I found that my headlight ground wires were not attached. Oops.

Headlight relay modification

Once I knew the headlights were working right, I started the upgrade of the wiring.  
Its a pretty simple concept.  Control a high amperage circuit with low amperage circuit. A simple way to do this is with relays and I found a couple 12 volt ones that can easily handle the load.   The circuit diagram is pretty simple.  You just cut the low beam and high beam wires and use them to energize the relays.  Then run 12 volts to the common terminal and the other end of the cut wires to the Normally Open contact.

The idea of adding the relays is to reduce the current flowing through the headlight switch and thin wiring and should eliminate burned out switch and melted wires.
On my Mustang, I placed the relays up front on the apron close to the radiator support.  This way, the wires to the headlamps are short.  
Make sure that the lights already work properly or you will be troubleshooting old problems. Also, remember to disconnect the battery.  The relays I used came from Summit Racing
They are not very weather proof but they should be fine for my application. 

Note:   Modifying wiring incorrectly (especially without a fuse) can be a fire hazard and should be performed by an experienced technician. Author is not responsible for damages caused by incorrect wiring. Use of these directions is at your own risk.

  • I started by unwrapping the headlight harness at the junction where the wires split off to the right side.  Next locate the thin red-black and green-black wires.  These are the wires that come from the dimmer switch to power the high beams and low beams. I chose a spot about 6" back from the split and cut just the red-black and green-black wires.  
  • For my car, I chose to solder the wires for solid connections and use shrink tube to insulate.  
  • Solder the red-black wire coming from the firewall to one of the relays coil wires (labeled '85') and the green-black coming from the firewall to the other relays coil (85). Next, locate each wire that comes out of the relay coils (86) and solder both together to the same black wire and crimp a ring terminal to the other end of the black wire. Ground this wire together with the original headlight ground wire to the body. (This is a good time to check the old headlight ground wire terminals. If the end looks frayed you will have problems. Best to cut it and replace the crimp terminal.)
  • Next, you need a hot lead to power the headlights. Find a 12v lug to connect the hot lead. On my Mustang, I have a 12V lug in the area where the battery used to sit. You could also use the hot side of the starter relay.  I chose to use a 20A circuit breaker instead of a fuse.  Do not wire this up without a fuse or breaker! Connect a 14 gauge wire from the hot lug to the breaker/fuse then from the breaker/fuse, routed to the headlight relay area.  
  • Locate the 'common' terminal wire (labeled '30') on both relays and solder both of them together to the 14 gauge hot wire.  On the relay with the red-black wire soldered to the coil terminal (85), locate the the N.O. terminal on one relay (labeled '87') and solder that wire to the loose red-black that goes to the headlight. Repeat for the green-black wire, solder to the other N.O. wire (87)
  • Connect the battery and test the headlights. Try hi beam and low beam. Re-wrap the harness and make sure the new hot lead is secured. Mount the relays.
Originally the current flowing through the headlight switch and wire for my 55 watt head lamps was 5 amps. Now its only 0.14 amps. Now you can run those high watt headlights and not burn out your 47 year old switch and wires.


If your headlights glow really dim, its likely that one headlight ground is disconnected and the power is back-feeding through the other filaments to the good ground.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Working from front to back

I decided to work on completing the car from front to back and at the end I will be ready to drive to NY state inspection.  First thing was the bumper bracket mount points at the front ends of the frame rails. 
On one side, the internal threads were gone and the bumper bracket was welded on and on the other side, the threads were rusted out.  Here is how I fixed the mounts. 

First measure from existing mount holes to another point on the frame for later reference. Mark a vertical line a little past the mounting holes and cut just the outer metal of the frame rail.  Mine was not terribly rusted out so I cut only about 8 inches back just for replacing the threaded holes.  
Next drill out the spot welds around the front edges of the rail.  I actually ended up cutting a couple of the bottom ones with a disc. Remove the old piece.
Clean up the rust and prime.

Measure, mark, cut the new front out frame rail piece to fit the space. On mine I drilled holes for plug welds. Verify that the hole measurements are what they were before and clamp and weld in place. 
Since I had a lot of metal left after cutting the rail patch to fit, I used the rest to make the patch for the other side.  I took measurements and drilled holes to match the old metal.  I welded in a couple nuts and cut it to match the old piece.  I also needed to add the tabbed piece on the end that the lower valance and bumper guards bolt to. 

Next I started working on the body pieces for the nose.   This was the headlight buckets, lower grille support, stone deflector, and headlight doors.  I had 2 pairs of buckets to choose from but only 1 pair of doors so I picked the ones that fit the doors the best.  Starting with 320 grit, I sanded the old paint, primer and scratches.  Next came the high-fill primer coats. The stone deflector had some deep gouges from someone's attempt at removing old paint so I skimmed on some 2 part icing.  

For the buckets and headlight doors, I just used some of the spot putty for scratches and pits.  I sanded smooth and repeated the high-fill and a couple touches of spot fill followed by some wet sanding with finer paper and another coat of high-fill and more wet sanding. 
After some test fitting, I found that my cheap e-bay shelby style valance will take a lot of persuading to get it to line up (must be why they were trying to offload it for cheap). You have to drill all your own holes on this so it took some time to complete. 

I needed a good top coat for the rough hot rod phase. It'l be a while before real paint goes on and I plan to drive it ;)

I experimented a little and came up with a buffed primer finish that looks a little like the dull black paint that some people like these days.   Its just a black wash-primer lightly buffed after it dried.
All assembled with its new grille, its starting to look road-ready. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Holey Cowl

Its been a while and I completed a few tasks to advance another step closer to First Posi-Mark Day.  As the corny title suggests, the cowl was my next task.  Its been on my list for some time now but I have been trying to avoid doing that work since its pretty major surgery.  


The plan was to remove the top of the cowl, trim the metal and weld in the replacement 'hats'.   But as these things go, a closer inspection showed that someone had done work here in the past.  They had cut the top off and just sealed off the grille from underneath with a metal plate. Leaves and dirt had already gotten stuck inside.
I considered trying to work with what was still left but there was just to much damage to fix. The was even a nasty crease on the passenger side in a very conspicuous place. There were also some rusted out edges along the firewall that would take pounds of seam sealer to waterproof. 
Shopping around, I found that it was cheaper to purchase the entire assembly so it made sense to place the whole thing.


Don't forget to support the car with jack stands under the frame rails just behind the firewall or the empty cowl opening will collapse together a little (or a lot if your floors are rotted). 
To remove entire the cowl assembly, I began by drilling out all of the spot welds around the perimeter, starting with the apron extensions.  Make sure you have a sharp 5/16 or 3/8 drill bit and be careful not to drill all the way through.  For most spot welds on the cowl, you have to cut through the metal of both the top and lower parts to free it from the firewall and cowl sides. There are also a bunch of spot welds along the windshield flange that attach the cowl to the dashboard metal. In my case some of my spot welds were in rotted areas so I didnt have all 150 to drill out. After some chiseling and prying, and cutting a couple factory braises, the cowl was free. Note that the rear of the lower half does not attach to the dashboard flange and is welded only to the upper half of the cowl. Did I mention this would be much easier to do when the engine is not there?
Looking at the old cowl, it turns out the the plate just under the grille was meant to catch water and route it off to the passenger side. When they welded the plate on, it caused the crease in the upper surface of the cowl.

Cleanup and Repair

Next its time to break out the flap disc, clean up the mess and assess the damage. I ended up cutting out the cancer in the flanges along the outer edges of the firewall. I had some left over edp coated metal that was the same thickness and used some thin cardboard to make templates and trace out on the metal.

Once the patches were welded in, I added some seam sealer in the hard to reach spots.  A coat of primer on the entire flange surface was next. I used weld-through primer but I have seen some people use regular primer over dots of tape where the spot welds are going.
This was also a good time to patch up some unneeded holes in the firewall.  


I have seen a few different ways to assemble the two cowl pieces. Some attach the lower part first then the top. Some attach the two parts together completely then attach to the car.  I decided to do a combination of both.
First, I added a little seam sealer around the bottom edges of the hats to reduce the chance of water getting in.
Next, I set the lower part in place and chose and marked all the points that were to be spot welded to the flanges taking care not to line up with the old drilled out spots.  You'll notice that rear part of the lower cowl doesn't reach the dashboard metal. It is supposed to attach to the bottom of upper cowl piece (it helps to look at the old cowl).  I used my hand punch to punch 5/16" holes around all the edges of the lower cowl.  The plan was to spot weld the bottom half to the top just along the back edge. The idea is that you will see little or no evidence of welds on the top making less work later. This area is under the windshield clips so not too much to worry about.
Before attaching the bottom to the top, I lined up the upper and lower parts using the alignment holes and clamped them together so I could mark top through the punched holes.  The idea here is to spot weld the top and bottom and firewall/dashboard together through the same holes.

With the two pieces partly welded, I placed them on the opening and used the large holes to line up with the alignment holes in the firewall and clamped everything together and started spot welding. The corners near the pillar posts may need a little extra hammering and clamping to get things to sit right.  Make sure all of the spot welds penetrate well.  There is a lot stress on this part of the body. 
Its a good idea to tack the cowl assembly in a few spots then place the fenders to make sure the cowl lines up right and the gaps are good.
Finally, I spot welded the original apron extensions in place and lined up using the drilled out spot welds.
Later, a nice bead of seam sealer will go in underneath along the firewall and cowl sides.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pedal Assembly 1

Its been a long time and a lot has been completed.    I decided to get started on the pedals so I could complete the brakes and clutch.  A quick search in my parts pile revealed the original pedal mount with brake pedal in place and it didn't look to be in great shape.   Doing a little research, I found Mustang Steve's bearing kit and a way to install a clutch quadrant.  

The hope was to salvage the original pedal mount and install Mustang Steve's bearings.  Not sure what is supposed to be used for the axle in mount but the axle was just a fat bolt that was tack welded in place and there were no bushings or bearings of any kind.
I cut the all tack welds and cut nut off the end of the bolt.  It looks like the original was badly damaged at some point and washers were welded in to support the brake pedal.  Unfortunately, this mount will not work for what I want to do.  Mustangs Unlimited had a replacement piece so the next day I had my new mount.

The Mustang Steve bearing kit consists of two sealed bearings, bearing mounts, washers, and bushings.   The work started with removal of the stock pot metal bushings that come installed in the new pedal mount.   Next step is to lay the large washers in, centered over the large holes.  The washers get lightly welded to the mount.  Then the clutch pedal, bearings, bearing mounts, bushings, and brake pedal are installed and clamped in.  Being a perfectionist, I took the time to make sure the axle was centered and square in the mount before tack welding the bearing retainers in place.  Next step was to remove the bearings and bushing and pedals and do some minimal weld beads around the bearing retainers.  Light welds are needed as you could warp the retainer rings or the pedal mount.  Once thats done, maybe shoot a little paint and you're done.
Mustang Steve also has the plans and kits for an adapter plate for mounting a later model power brake booster.  This simple plate is simply welded to the front end after the stock mounting ears are cut off.  It gives you a nice way to align and bolt-in the booster without much fuss.   Stay tuned for the clutch pedal quadrant/cable mod.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"New" Driveshaft

I was sorting through my parts pile and found two drive shafts.  Both are the flange yoke type and are a few inches too short for my application.   My setup is a Ford 9 inch and new Tremmec T-5 with 26 spline output.  The rear yoke is a 1330 with 3 5/8" width and 1 1/8" caps.   The cap to cap length is about 47".    I looked around locally and found a place that would make a new steel shaft but I was a little skeptical about their quality so I looked online.  I found a few shops that do custom shafts and settled on Denny's Driveshaft.  They had a sale on for $299 for a custom "street rod" shaft with 1330 rear joint so I went for it.  Three weeks later shaft arrived in a well padded box and I quickly unpacked it for installation.   The shaft looked well made and welds look good.  

I have to say I was a little disappointed in the transmission slip yoke that Denny's Driveshaft used.  It appears to be a used yoke that was refurbished.  It has the look of having a lot of pitting or galling still left after being polished down.   Its smooth and groove free so I guess it doesn't really matter but I was expecting all new parts.  
Looking at the site, it doesn't actually say "all new parts" so I guess I cant complain.  I will always ask from now, that's for sure!  Hopefully, the u joints are new. They do feel new and stiff though. 
One positive is that it came with new u bolts. Everything installed well and seems to fit perfectly so I'm happy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rear Disc Brakes Install

After a long summer of projects around the house and vacation, I finally found time to take another step forward on this Mustang project.  I had ordered a complete rear disc brake conversion kit for Ford 9".  This kit included (and this may frighten the purists) GM calipers with brake levers and GM universal rotors, brackets, hydraulic hoses, parking brake cables, and some necessary hardware. Why do they use GM parts?  Probably due to low cost and high availability and readily adaptable design.   

The first step is to remove the bolts that hold axle retaining plate and pull the axle.  The axles need to be removed so that the old drum brake backing plate can be removed.  The kit provides a new spacer plate that is the same thickness as the drum plate so that the caliper bracket can sit flush to the rear housing and not against the bearing. It just slips over the bearings like the drum backing plate so no pressing is needed.  If they just machined a recess into the mounting plates, a spacer would not be needed. Probably costs less this way.
The next step is to replace the wheel studs.  This is not required by the kit but is needed for my application since I'm not using the stock steel wheels.  This should be required since you need larger diameter wheels to clear the calipers anyway and they tend to be thicker alloy wheels - YMMV.  I used Moser Engineering 8250 Torino/Lincoln wheel studs.  Stock is 1.5", these are about 2" and thats just enough for my application.

Next step is to reinstall the axles and mount the caliper bracket adapter plates to the housing.  The plates are held in place by the axle retainer bolts and I used slightly longer grade 8 bolts since the brackets add thickness.  The stock ones are supposedly long enough but in my case they were replaced long ago with grade 5. Since brakes are involved, I'm not willing to compromise.   Then the caliper bracket plates are bolted to the adapters.   

After that, the rotors are mounted.   The instructions say that some axle flanges may have a larger diameter and need to be machined down for the rotor to fit correctly.  Luckily mine were ok.   Finally, the calipers were installed using the supplied bolts.    
Once I find the stock parking brake parts, I can begin that install along with the brake lines.
Stay tuned....