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.