Posts Tagged ‘chopped tops’

Another day of progress here at Cool McCool’s Garage. I got the right side quarter done, and the skirt almost done. Only have to put a lip on the bottom edge. I used barrel bolts from the hardware store as mounting clips, very simple, clean, and secure.

Now, a couple of days off and next week I’ll get the other side done. It should go faster, now that I’ve done the right side.

It’s exciting to pull these touches (the Caddy headlights and sculpted rear fenders), It me a fresh outlook on the car. Rather than being an old project that I feel I have to get finished, it’s now something new and interesting.

Barrel bolt for a latch.

Barrel bolt for a latch.

Skirt mounted, inner fender done.

Skirt mounted, inner fender done.

New profile.

New profile.

Garage full of coolness.

Garage full of coolness.

Stop…DSC04117 (1024x768)Listen…What’s that sound?  It’s a ’59 T’Bird with a 5.0 HO through a cat-less Mustang GT stainless exhaust!  I got the fuel tank back from my buddy Bud Glenn (Kings Radiator, Kalamazoo), put the new fuel pump in and got the tank wrestled up into its home under the trunk.   Got it hooked up, put the battery in, cycled the fuel pump a couple of times to purge the lines, and the car fired up like it’d been run yesterday!  Gotta love fuel injection!  I am REALLY relieved that the injectors aren’t plugged from the ancient fuel, it runs perfectly and sounds GREAT.   I did have to replace ALL the sections of rubber fuel line at the filter, and tank connectors, they were all dry, brittle and leaked. 

I’d forgotten how good the car sounds, just like a Mustang GT from the late 80’s, which is what the drivetrain is from including the complete stainless exhaust.   When I started DA’ing the paint off, I took the H pipe out, cut the converters out and gutted them, then welded them back in place empty.  It makes a big difference in the exhaust note, it’s pretty “snarl-y” sounding.

I’ve been sick the past couple days, but later this week I hope to get the late 70’s T’Bird/Cougar disc brakes rebuilt, bled and get it mechanically wrapped up.  I’m excited about getting it running again, and really looking forward to getting the body ready for its new tu-tone silver/charcoal paint scheme.

Happy New Year!

Thunderbird Slam.

Posted: December 19, 2012 in Thunderbird
Tags: , ,

DSC04117 (1024x768)100_7388 (1024x768)Before, on the right.  After, the left.  I pulled the front springs out, and replaced them with a pair of what I believe were an extra pair left over from the ’62 Impala project.  I cut 4 coils off, slipped them in, and this is result.  Almost 4″ lower in front, still plenty of suspension travel, and no more nosebleed stance.  Now, I need some 1″ blocks for the rear, don’t I?

In other news, day before yesterday I bought a new battery for the car, and installed it, fully expecting it to fire right up.  My first clue that things might not go right was when the horns started blaring as soon as the battery was hooked up.  Took me a minute to remember where the horns are, but I “fixed” that by plugging them.  We’ll address stuck relay later.

I got in and turned the key, it rolled over but wouldn’t fire.  Trying again, I left a few seconds for the fuel pump to cycle, but heard nothing.  Checked the fuel rail on the intake, no pressure.  Checked roll-over switch in the trunk, it was energized the proper 2 or 3 seconds when the key is turned “On”, so that could only mean pump was seized.

Long story short, that indeed was the problem.  The inside of the tank had rust stalactites, bottom lined with about an eighth inch of gummy black varnish, and to top it off, the top left rear corner of the tank is swiss cheesed with rust.  So much for plan to fire the car right up and drive it up and down the driveway.

So, there’s a new ’88 Ford Tempo fuel pump, the tank is at my friend Bud’s radiator shop, “Kings Radiator” in Kalamazoo getting patched, cleaned and sealed, and I’m now going turn my attention back to the Diamond T, which is resting under a tarp. 

Here are some photos of the T’Birds new stance, much more befitting a custom car.  It’s so low, it’s like the Thunder(Bird) Down Under.  

DSC04115 (1024x768)DSC04119 (1024x768)

DSC04118 (1024x768)DSC04120 (1024x768)

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I’m enjoying the warm, for the middle of December, weather by working in the shop on the T’Bird without having to have the wood stove going.  This afternoons project was to mount the latches in the top which hold it to the body.  These are a pair of Chrysler K car hood latches, the stud is located sort of behind the Thunderbird shown here, and the latch itself is welded to the top of the quarter panel.  Since I chopped the top by whacking 2 1/4″ off the bottom of the sail panels, the latches had to be re-mounted. 

The die-cast trim piece had to be shortened 5 1/2″ to fit the new sail panel width, and I found the stainless rear window trims and mocked all that up.  Looks pretty good, now I’m debating whether to leave the little Thunderbird emblems on the top.  I kinda like them, so they may stay. 

100_7382 (1024x768) I wanted to trial fit the stainless trim that goes on the front of the top over the windshield, and spent over half an hour searching for those pieces.  I’d trimmed them to fit on Monday, so I knew they had to be somewhere in the shop, but I couldn’t find them. It was frustrating. 

I had put all the dash and interior pieces that before had been just tossed in the back seat area under the tonneau cover in a big Tupperware storage tub, and put it up on a shelf.  As a last resort, knowing I would NEVER have put those exterior stainless pieces  in that container of interior parts, I looked, and sure enough, there they were.    The dangers of putting things away is that  it’s hard to remember where I put them.

So, the car is looking pretty good.  I think I’m not going to try to chop the soft top, this hardtop looks pretty cool  Much less work than making a new soft top anyway.

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So, now a new battery and finishing up the disc brake swap, started 6 years ago, and it’ll be ready for its new two-tone silver paint job.  I can see it now…

T'Bird final art001 (Medium)

…but, I am so easily distracted, it’s hard to stay focused.  So, while there are literally hundreds of things I need to do on the Diamond T, the other day I worked a little on the ’59 Thunderbird.

This car has been setting in the garage for 5 years now waiting for me to finish stripping off the remainder of the old candy paint job, after I had to fix the right rear quarter after a minor parking lot shunt “customized” it.  I got most of the color off down to the primer, and had swapped a set of LTD II front spindles and disk brakes onto the car, bought a set of 17″ “Salt Flat Special” wheels,  and work stopped cold.  First it was the ’36 that kept me from working on it, then it was Craig’s Impala, now it’s the Diamond T.  Enough, I had to do something.

I’d always loved the look of these late 50’s cars with their wrap-around panoramic windshields when they’re chopped by sinking the windshield down into the cowl.  The ‘Bird I thought would look good with a very subtle chop done this way, particularly with the tonneau cover I’d built for it originally.  Since the car has been dormant, I figured getting going on a windshield chop would get me re-enthused about the car, and inspire me to finish it up again.

I started by pulling the glass, and stripping out the dash.  The body where the glass sets, a pinchweld at the top of the cowl, I started cutting out with a cutoff wheel in the die grinder.  The idea is cut out this entire part of the body, and recess it down into the cowl, thus lowering the glass. 

I additionally wanted to keep the forward “cant” or angle of  the windshield frame,  so the profile of the car would appear stock, but different.  This turned out to be pretty easy to do, and with a couple hours of work, I had the windshield frame completely cut out of the body.  I trimmed enough metal off the bottom to let it set down as far as I could, which was 2 inches, and started tacking it back to the body. 

The result is exactly what I’d pictured.  The original hardtop, which I’d made removable when I first built the car, was painted but never used.  I’d done a folding top, using ’64 T’Bird top frame, which worked but was a little too tall, and never really liked.  The plan now, is to have the steel top “chopped” the same amount as the windshield, keep it removable, and thin up the massive rear pillar by cutting a wedge from the back of the pillar and leaning the entire rear window forward several inches.  I may try to make the steel top stowable in the trunk, by cutting the forward part of the top off and making that section hinged, like the Retractable hardtop Fords of the late 50’s.  Whether that will work or not, I’m not sure, but it’s an idea.   Thanks to James D from the HAMB board for the photoshop of the two top versions.

Anyway, I was happy to get the windshield frame dropped and the glass set temporarily in place.  Nice look, just enough to be different, but not enough to look “stepped on”.   I’m thinking of a bright Mercedes silver color, since the car has such obvious “Jet Age styling”, would look better than the dark organic candy blackcherry color it used to be.  That, and I’ve always liked the song “Silver Thunderbird”,  so that would be sort of fitting.

More updates as they happen.