Archive for the ‘Thunderbird’ Category

The crew here at Cool McCool’s Garage has had a VERY busy October, but we haven’t gotten anything done on either the Riviera or the T’bird. Instead, we’ve been camping, soaking up art in Grand Rapids at “Art Prize”, and took a trip to Las Vegas to visit our son Craig and his family. He and Kathleen recently got engaged, and we are excited to have our family grow!

While we were with Craig and his family, we drove to Burbank California, and visited our niece Meghan and her husband Ron, and got to meet their daughter Maren. She’s beautiful, and we got to hold a baby! As luck would have it, their home is only a mile from two great hot rod shops, “Hollywood Hot Rods”, and “Old Crow Speed”, so Craig and I took a few minutes and got great tours at both shops. Sadly, for me anyway, the ’59 T’bird under construction at Hollywood Hot Rods, inspired by the same artwork by Eric Black that got me to chop the top and cut up the quarter panels on mine, was out for paint, so I didn’t get to see that.

We’re back home, and today got some long overdue fall household maintenance chores taken care of, and I fired up the motor home chassis, pulled it around to the garage and stripped it of some wiring and am going to (finally) pull the 454 and Turbo 400 tomorrow at the shop at my dad’s place. It’ll be good to have that thing gone, I’m planning scrapping the chassis to help generate some cash to replenish the Hot Rod Fund, which was depleted with the purchase of the 5.3 LS motor and 4L60E trans we just picked up for the ’63 Riviera.

There are plenty of warm sunny days ahead (I hope) this fall before snow flies and the woodshed is full, so we’re ready now to get back at the T’bird, get started on the Riviera, and keep busy during the winter months. It’s gonna be a busy winter!

Stay tuned!

On the road to Milford and the Tin Can Tourists Fall Gathering, late in September.

On the road to Milford and the Tin Can Tourists Fall Gathering, late in September.

 

Joe Dirt meets Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Joe Dirt meets Dog the Bounty Hunter.

 

I picked up this hot chick!

I picked up this hot chick!

 

My favorite from "Art Prize"

My favorite from “Art Prize”

 

Bellagio in LV, where we got a private VIP tour to the cupola!

Bellagio in LV, where we got a private VIP tour to the cupola!

 

Hot Rod heaven.

Hot Rod heaven.

Of course, we found a brewpub, this one in Boulder City,  a favorite of ours when we're out there.

Of course, we found a brewpub, this one in Boulder City, a favorite of ours when we’re out there.

 

Old Crow belly tanker.  These guys have the coolest stuff...

Old Crow belly tanker. These guys have the coolest stuff…

Our beautiful great niece, Maren.

Our beautiful great-niece, Maren.

 

Craig and Kathleen, at Getty's Center in Hollywood.

Craig and Kathleen, at Getty’s Center in Hollywood.

 

The Rivieras new power plant!  5.3 LS and 4L60.

The Rivera’s new power plant! 5.3 LS and 4L60.

 

The Riviera, patiently waiting for it's new heart.

The Riviera, patiently waiting for its new heart.

Wow, its  been awhile since we’ve updated the blog, and LOTS has happened here!  We’ll take a moment to recap the excitement that’s gone on in the month since our last post:

Old Faithful.

Old Faithful.

 

Get the wagons lined up!

Get the wagons lined

We went on our first camping outing of the year, with the Tin Can Tourists in Milford MI, at the TCT Spring Rally the weekend before Labor Day.  Although the weather was NOT good for the first half of the weekend, we had a great time with all our friends.  The ’51 Pontiac got to flex its muscles a bit and tow the Spartan over, Kim and I both commented on how comfortable it is, compared to the one ton Diamond T truck.  We had an impromptu “Station Wagon Parade” around the grounds of Camp Dearborn, with all our wagon owing pals, and had a ball.

On the project front, the ’59 T’bird has seen no progress at all.  I don’t feel very good about that, but, it’s not like other things haven’t happened.  My friend Ron’s Edsel wagon got an initial spruce up, to take care of the rusty roof, and is now back for repair of all 4 doors, and a little quickie fix of the left rear quarter.  The doors present a challenge, but with a little tack welding, and the use of 3M “Panel-Bond”, we think we have a very acceptable repair for a driver.  The quarter would be better repaired with a patch panel, but Ron is suffering from sticker shock at how much effort (and therefore how much money) the roof and doors are taking, so a correct repair can wait.  It’ll look good, and we’ll take care of the rest when he’s ready.

Lacey door corners.

Lacey door corners.

 

Tack welding patch panels in.

Tack welding patch panels in.

 

Welding completed, 3M Panel-Bond over the weak to seal and waterproof.

Welding completed, 3M Panel-Bond over the weak to seal and waterproof.

 

A good afternoons work.

A good afternoons work.

 

 

In a moment of weakness, last week, I brought home a late 80’s Starcraft motor home.  This brute has only 14,00 miles on the clock, and sports a 454/400 Turbo combo that amazingly fired up instantly on the 12-year-old gas in the tank.  After a lesson in the reliability of 25-year-old tires, I was able to pull it out of it’s resting place and drive it home.  I enlisted the senior “Cool McCool”, my dad Rex, to come along, drive the chase truck, a real treat for him on his 90th birthday!

After getting my eyebrows singed  off seating two tires back on the rims using starting fluid and a match, and changing the right front tire which blew after rolling about 50 feet, we got home with no issues.  The coach has an Onan 6.8KW generator, two slimline roof air conditioners, a big two-way fridge, convection oven, holding tanks, water pump, fittings, lines, fixtures, etc. that we can hopefully use in the soon to be started ’47 Spartan Manor project.  Meanwhile, it’s hidden from view (at least from OUR view) in the back of the lot, and I’m trying to figure out what to do with the fiberglass body once I start cutting it up.  The entire roof is rotten, and much of the left sidewall, from a leak in the rubber roof, so it’s not salvageable,  Kind of a shame, but hopefully it’ll be worth all the effort dismantling it for the parts.  Now we have to decide what to do with the chassis, it’s air suspension, hydraulic leveling system, cruise control, air conditioning, and miscellaneous.

COE ramp truck maybe?

The original "Cool McCool"

The original “Cool McCool”

 

It's home, now what will we do with it?

It’s home, now what will we do with it?

 

Garage wall art...

Garage wall art…

 

You can almost smell it from here...

You can almost smell it from here…

 

So, that’s it for now.  Stay tuned for updates on the motor home project (or come over with your Sawzall and maul and help tear it apart), get ready for updates on the T’bird and the rewiring of the dash and steering column, our latest camping expedition, and all the other activity here at Cool McCool’s Garage!

I’d bought a cheap-o Sun tach, 3 1/2″ diameter, to put in the T’bird dash where the original clock was.  Good idea, the face was white, like the originals, but it was BRIGHT white,  the originals have a yellow patina, the letters are bronze, where the tach numerals are black, and a different font.

With both gauges out on the bench, it was apparent that the dials were exactly the same diameter, and the sweep, or distance between the numerals, is VERY close to the same.  Why not use the new tach works behind the original clock face?

Hmmm, this gives me an idea...

Hmmm, this gives me an idea…

So, after an hour, I had a new tach, with the clock face, mounted in the dash.  Kim immediately noted that the way I’d oriented the gauge,with the pointer where it was in the original tach position, put the rest of the dial “upside down”.  So, I took it back apart, and also pulled the pointer and moved it so as to have it rest at 12 o’clock, the new “0”.

What's wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with this picture?

 

IMG_1422

 

 

There, that's better.

There, that’s better.

Yup, that's it.

Yup, that’s it.

Now, I’ll take the rest of the gauges apart, clean the cobwebs and dirt from the dials, and paint the pointers red to match the new tach, and it’ll be done.

Perfect!

Well, this is better.

Well, this is better.

 

Today I made an executive decision.  The engine turned gauge panel and glove box door went “Buh-bye”, and the originals took their place.  With the help of an instrument panel schematic, pin-out diagram for the gauge plugs, and a little time, the original gauge panel is going back in.

 

The steering column install was, incredibly, a direct bolt in.  I measured correctly, it seems,  a 2″ muffler clamp fit the column, and existing holes in the brake/column mount bracket perfectly.  The dirt, bond-o dust and paint dust on the wiring makes it look worse of a mess than it is.  I do need to do a little research for the wiring in the GM style column, in order to connect it to the Ford harness for the turn signals and flashers.

 

It's not as bad as it looks.

It’s not as bad as it looks.

 

The wiring is all hidden by the gauge panel.

The wiring is all hidden by the gauge panel.

 

A trip to Auto-Zone netted a new Auto-Meter 3″ tach, and a gauge trio of voltmeter, water temperature, and oil pressure gauges, all white faced like the originals.  The tach will go in the gauge cluster where the clock is, with a little adapting.  The three little gauges I’m not sure, but they may end up in the console.  The original gas gauge should work with the newer Ford sending unit, and the speedo is mechanical, so that’ll just plug in and be fine.  I also picked up the needed new ignition switch, and floor mount dimmer, since the Mustang column had all the switch gear.    I’ve got the wiring all sorted out, and fired the car up just to make sure all was well.  Happily, it runs perfectly.

 

It’s exciting to see the original gauges in the dash, I thought I liked the more modern gauges until today.    Stay tuned for the next update, it’s gonna be GREAT!

 

The tach will get some of the face of the old clock, and little "patina" on the face so as to match the original gauges.

The tach will get some of the face of the old clock, and little “patina” on the face so as to match the original gauges.

No point in swimming against the tide.  I’ve decided, after some research on the Mustang harness, looking at wiring diagrams and pin-out diagrams until my vision blurred and brain hurt, to go with a new column.  They’re cheap, they’ll look MUCH better, and I can get one in  brushed stainless to match the wheel spokes.  Wiring in a new ignition switch should be easy, and I could add a neat-o (but maybe too trendy) push button for the starter.

Here’s the style column I liked.  $170 to $200, depending on paintable vs. stainless.  No switch, no shifter, no problem.

This column.

This column.

 

Righteous.

Righteous.

 

Ugly steering wheel.

Ugly steering wheel.

Yesterday I spent all afternoon working on the dash of the T’bird.  When the w/s was sunken into the cowl, the dash mounts went with it, and of course, nothing fit right.  The dash pod and glove box pod got moved up and forward, the steering wheel mount had to be modified, the gauge panel and glove box door then got moved back into their original location, tunneled deep into the pods.

The problem is, the big, ugly, mid-80’s Mustang steering wheel and thick steering column jacket.  In the early 90’s, when I originally built the car, that stuff looked modern, but now it’s dated, worn looking, and doesn’t fit the style of the car.  Now that the car will have some style…

So, I’m trying to figure out how best to “fix” this.  I could just toss the wheel, losing cruise control, which we never used anyway.  I’d like a flat, four spoke Sprint car style wheel, which would work with the column, although it’d still have to have the awkward, bulky jacket to hide the wiring, switch gear and tilt wheel works.

Option two is to swap out the column and wheel altogether, and use a slim, original style column, again using a flat spoke Sprint car style wheel.  I’d keep the engine-turned dash panel and glove box door, but have to add an ignition switch in the dash, and rewire the blinkers.

Option three is the most work, which would be the above column and wheel, and use the T’bird’s original dash and gauges, add a tach in place of the clock, and glove box door.  This would be fine, but then the rest of the interiors machine finish panels won’t match the dash, and I’d have to come up with something different for them.  Maybe matching, machined aluminum panels?  I have friends with Bridgeport mills who’d probably teach me enough to let me do that on my own.

So, the project just keeps getting bigger and bigger…

Machine finished trim panels that match the dash.

Machine finished trim panels that match the dash.

I can't stand this wheel.

I can’t stand this wheel.

Original dash cluster and glove box door.

Original dash cluster and glove box door.

 

Addendum:  Steering wheel choice made.  Leaning towards avoiding re-wiring the whole car, and making a suitably good looking jacket for the steering column.  I can do it.

 

Righteous.

Righteous.

 

Bumper bolts, that is.  I decided today that a custom should not have the heads of bumper bolts showing, so I spent most of the afternoon shaving the front bumper.  Straightened out a little tweak in the right side bottom rail, which deformed the grill opening enough to look a little off, and kept the grill form-fitting easily.  A couple of hours with the Port-O-Power got that much closer, and I was so inspired I straightened out a couple of slightly tweaked grill bars.  It looks OK, so I think it’s good to go, albeit with a little more work.

The front bumper looks so good, I’ll have to give the rear a closer shave as well, it’s got WAY too many holes in it.That’s a project for another day.  I thought I’d get some filler on the bumper today, but didn’t get too it.  Lot’s of winter left for fabrication…

Now you see it...

Now you see it…

 

Now you don't...

Now you don’t…

 

A little more dental work in order for the grill...

A little more dental work in order for the grill…

 

Now I have to fill all the holes in this!

Now I have to fill all the holes in this!