Sunday, September 18, 2016

Toeboard priming and interior seam sealing

Now that the under-dash is done, I can finally finish the floor pan and toeboard priming. And once it's primed, I can seam seal it along with the rest of the interior.

Where we left off.

The toeboard gets a proper sanding, while the epoxy primer gets a good scuffing with red scotchbrite pads, followed by a good cleaning with W&G remover, and two coats of black epoxy. I'm not doing the whole floor, just the front foot wells and the sides of the rocker panels. This means I'll end up with a two-tone primer look, and hopefully I'll be able to just leave it like that and resist the urge to prime it all in black.

Cleaned and masked off.

Primer coat one is on.

I'm using a 3M single stage seam sealer I picked up at NAPA. They stopped carrying their in-house brand, so now you have to pay more for the 3M stuff. $20 per tube, so you need to be ready to use it when you cut the end. It gets tacky in less than 5 minutes.

I used the Weld & Sealant manual to figure out where all the seam sealer should go. The factory did seam sealer on bare metal and then primer and paint over that. Naturally this means you'll find rust under the factory seam sealer. So I'm doing seam sealer over primed metal.

Seam sealer at vertical junctions under the dash. 

The rest of the interior needs seam sealing as well. As usual, I found a way to make this over complicated. I use chalk to mark the factory seams to be sealed. I'll scuff the primer, apply the sealer, and then put another primer coat over that.

Masked around the chalk lines so i only have to scuff the primer I'm going ot shoot with another coat of primer.

Cleaned with W&G remover, and then apply the sealer.

Mask the interior (why? there is no good reason to do this.) Shoot the primer.

All this is happening in the trunk as well.

Masking tape and paper is out, and here are properly sealed seams with a fresh coat of black epoxy. In hindsight I should have just scuffed and shot and let the overspray go where it wanted. Way less work that way and no one will ever see it.

Trunk seam sealer came out nicely as well.

The toeboard and the foot wells get their second coat of primer as well. I also hit the seam sealer under the dash with a topcoat of primer.

Done. This should be the last step for the interior as far as priming and sealing goes. The dash and the doors are all that's left. The floors are now ready for the next 50 years. 

Under the Dashboard and Dreaming

Sorry for the delay. Life keeps happening - you know how it is. The Mustang has been getting some of my time and frustration, and I have some updates, so let's get back to it.

Way back last year sometime I primed the interior of the car after all the metalwork and de-gross-ing the floor pan. Well, almost the entire interior.

I stopped at the toe board and firewall for two reasons: first, because I knew I had all that metal work to do on the frame rail, and secondly, because it's a colossal pain in the posterior to get up under the dashboard and clean and strip the endless nooks and crannies.  Well, now that the frame work is done, I can finish this part of the interior.


Here's where we start. The floor is primed with SPI's Red Epoxy, but where the floor bends up to the firewall, it's still mostly original.You can see the patch I welded in the toeboard and the access ports I cut and welded shut on the passenger side floor well. All this will need to be sanded and primed eventually, but first the dash and firewall need to be addressed.

It looks like when these cars were first built. the interior was hit with primer and paint, but the under-dash area either only got a little overspray or was left bare metal. No surprise then that the entire area up there is covered in surface rust. I can't just leave it like that, so I'm going to strip and paint the under-dash so it'll be protected for years to come, Is this concours-correct? No, but it's my car so I get to do what I want.

Lower cowl panel, passenger side. No rot, no leaks, unlike so many other Mustangs of this vintage, but still...

Lower cowl, drivers side. same thing - no rot or leaks, but looks rough.

The middle of the lower cowl section where it meets the firewall.

And there it is. Another unpleasant task I can't talk myself out of. 

The coatings of choice are two new items to me.  No one will ever see this area, so I figured this is a good place to test new things. I'm not going to total bare metal, and I don't want black, so I'm not using the epoxy primer for this job.

The silver can is high-heat grill paint, for the firewall and lower cowl and side panels. I'm using this to simulate the bare metal that might be expected there, and to provide a nice bright reflective area to work in when it's time to put wiring and dash assemblies in there. It's also going to be able to handle the heat that firewalls heat. 

The second one is Rust Reformer in black. I'm not actually going to strip the backside of the dashboard, just scuff and clean, so the Rust Reformer should do a good job and converting whatever rust is left and slow any future corrosion.

Everything gets scuffed with red Scotchbrite pads, and 80 grit discs on the die grinder to get all the surfaces to a 'good-enough' state for cleaning with wax & grease remover, and then hit with two easy coats of paint. This took a full day and a half tucked under the dash. 

Note to future users - the silver paint also filled the car with a glitter-like dusting that gets all over teh place. It looks fairly metal-like, but messy. 

Taping up the dashboard in prep for painting the backside of the dash.

Lots of surface rust back there. I know I don't have to do this, but also know I kinda have to do this.

Much better. The Rustoleum Rust Reformer is a nice satin black. I have no illusions that this stuff is magical rust remover, but I was curious how it would work, and this seemed like the place to try.

Looking down the other side of the backside of the dash.

Done. The firewall and dash area are properly covered, and now just need seam sealing, which I'm saving to do at the same I seal up the toeboard area. The outside of the dash will get fixed up later.

Nice to finally put this one behind me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Front Coil Springs - selection, cutting, and installation

Coil springs, finally.

This isn't supposed to be hard, but I found a way to overcomplicate it anyway. My original intention was to remove the old front coil springs and put in new ones. There are many different springs available out there for the Mustang aftermarket, so many that it can get confusing pretty quick.

I'll warn you now, this one is a little long.

The old springs. I suspected all of this was original. 

Coil spring as it sits in the spring perch.

I've already posted on this when I pulled the springs out, and there's a lot of info on this on the interwebs already, so I'll just say be careful, as it's easily the scariest thing I've done yet on the car. 

When you go to order new springs for an old car like this, you need to know not just the year and model, but the engine, body style, and what accessories came on the car, such as A/C, power steering, or other heavy items, and which trim line it came with from the factory, such as the GT handling package. It matters because the springs carry the weight of the car and those things add significant weight, so they need to be accounted for in the springs to get the right height and spring rate. And that's only if you're trying to get exact replacements; if you want 'upgraded' springs, you have more work to do.

My car is supposed to have the competition handling package on it; as a rare option, it's harder to find replacements. I'm almost positive that it's the same package that goes on Shelby GT350's, and there's usually a substantial price premium for anything that says "Shelby" in the parts' application notes. Plus, I was worried that it might be stiffer than I wanted, so I decided a while ago the car was going to get GT springs all around, slightly softer than the competition handling package, but firmer than the standard factory springs. I've already put new GT leaf springs on (Eaton springs). I discussed this with John at Opentracker Racing and mentioned what I wanted, he suggested the GT springs from a big-block car to make it just a little firmer.

New GT (big block) springs on top, old springs on the bottom. The new springs are about 2" longer than the originals. 

The tell-tale yellow and pink paint daubs on the springs indicate the competition handling package.

I compressed the spring to put it in and found it was hard to get it compressed enough to fit easily. The spring pocket is about 11" high, and I struggled to get the spring down to 13"...too high still. I needed a spring that is about 2" shorter to fit in the pocket. I eventually had to disconnect the sway bar and the strut rod to get the upper control arm low enough just to fit the spring in. It has to have room to go in easy - no push/shove/rock-n-roll with a compressed spring. Eventually I got it in...

And it looked like this. Please notice the spring is actually bowing outward. This was uniquely scary,  as well as wrong, so I promptly pulled the spring back out again. I wonder if this is what working on a bomb squad feel like. I called up John at Opentracker again and told him my story, and he replied simply that , yes, you should expect to trim the tops a little for height - that's not surprising at all. So, now I know. Again, this is my first rodeo. 

So, how much should I cut off the spring to fit the car and still behave like it's supposed to? Turns out that's a hard question to answer simply.

Most folks I see cutting springs are talking about 1/3 or 1/2 coil, maybe 1 full coil, and they all say to do it in iterations - install, measure, remove, cut, repeat. No thanks - I want to minimize time with the coil spring compressor. I'm going to try to calculate an answer, cut it once, and get close enough for now. Needless to say, much research ensued. Please see the FAQ at Eaton springs. I used the same equation they list, and checked it several ways before committing to cutting.  

The springs have some fixed values like wire diameter and spring diameter, and some variables like number of springs and the height. I also spent a lot of time trying to figure out what factory spring rates were for original springs as a sanity test for my work. Then I wired up the spring equation in MS Excel and varied the number of coils (and thus the height) to see how much I needed to cut off the springs to get close to by desired spring rate (less than  the competition handling springs, close to GT rates). 

As it happens, cutting a spring raises its spring rate. Cut too much and you'll have a spring that's not only too short but too stiff as well. Both values change as a function of spring length, so I put in a range of values to see what would happen. I used the stock values, the rates I found for original competition handling springs, and some in-betweens.


At a glance, it looks like cutting one coil from my new coils will drop the height by 2 inches (which I want) and increase the rate from 284 lbs/in to 325 lbs/in (which I also want). It also shows that I'd have to cut these new coils down to 12.5" to match the old competition handling spring rates. Finally, I plotted the all these points as height versus rate to make sure no weirdness was afoot.

This also illustrates that when someone says they have "620" springs in their car, they're likely referring to the wire diameter, not the spring rate. I'd have to cut my big-block GT springs in half to get to a 620 lbs/in spring rate.

After all that, we're going to cut exactly one coil. Be patient, spring steel is harder than most. Be sure the cut end is as perpendicular as possible to properly seat against the spring seat tab.

And then one last time with the coil spring compressor. Sure enough, the trimmed springs go in a lot easier, and sit in the spring perch nicely. I won't know for sure until the car is pretty much fully assembled if I got it right or not. Let's pretend it's right.

And I never want to mess with them ever again.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Rocker Panel undercoating

While spending all those hours (so...many...hours) under the floor of the car cutting and welding, I noticed that were some very distinct spots on the floor that were basically sandblasted from road debris and had quite a bit of surface rust on them. I decided I would do some preventive work on these areas after the floor had been primed.

Here's the rusty wear patterns under the passenger rocker panel. Dirt and rocks kicked up by the wheels would get spit up here and just ablate away the factory paint. The metal is still good, it's just beat up a bit.

Same view on the drivers side. The previous owner, if I heard correctly, lived on a dirt road, thus all the damage.

I chose the DupliColor Bed Liner in a can for this job. I shot a piece of scrap metal with three coats and then the Apprentice and I went out back and threw rocks at it for 'simulated' road rash. It doesn't build up a thick layer, just a few mils thick. The coating holds up well enough - it takes big rocks to hurt it, and it tends to peel a little instead of chipping off, so I think it'll work well in this application. I'll also use this later on the outer firewall an torque boxes for the same protection.

Masked off the rockers. I used the old rusty wear patterns as a guide for how much to mask.

And the finished product. It's hard to get a good shot of matte black on satin black, but here you can see the texture of the undercoating. I didn't shoot the fuel line that runs down the rocker because I like the look of shiny steel next to the rocker. (And I should've done this before installing the fuel line.)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Brake Bits, pt. 2 - Parking Brake installation

The coil springs are here, but they aren't quite right, and need cutting or returning. I'm spending the weekend with a summer cold, and don't feel like I can do the writeup for the spring install justice. So, in the meantime, I'll finish off the remaining brake bits. Here's an easy one - installing the parking brake assembly.

The parking brake is a fairly simple affair - the parking brake cables are attached, one to each rear drum.  A ratcheting handle on the dash pulls a cable that pulls on the equalizer rod via a floor-mounted pivot point that pulls the brake cables. The equalizer rod is really the only part that provides any adjustability in setting up the system. Naturally, this is where I have all my problems.

New parking brake cables were installed when I rebuilt the rear drums. What I should've done at the same time was measure the length of the cables versus the old ones. I bet the new ones are about a half-inch shorter, based on what happens next.

Old parking brake cable handle assembly and piece-parts. All of these were reused.

Here's everything stripped, cleaned and repainted.

First step is to connect the brake cables to the mounting brackets on the rear frame rails.

Installed the handle assemble in the dash. The cable goes through the firewall inside a little section of rubber hose to keep the cable from abrading on the firewall hole, which would surely cause the cable to fail. So, rubber hose as safety gear. Why not?

My first attempt to get this all wired up was much harder than it should've been. Much pulling and grunting. I fully expected this to all work since all these parts, save the new cables, are original, but it was a struggle. 

 Once I finally got it hooked up, the rear wheels were firmly locked in place even though the dash handle was pushed in all the way. That's not good. The cable is adjusted out to the very end of the equalizer rod, so there was no more slack to be had. That equalizer rod is how you adjust the parking brake for proper operation once it's all installed. My best guess, as stated above, is that the new cables are shorter, and therefore I have no slack to work with. 

I found another equalizer rod in the NPD catalog listed as 'cut to fit', which means it should be longer - and it is by a good inch and a half. Perfect.

Once the new equalizer rod was installed, the cables went together with no problems. and adjusted in easy-peasy.  So now I have a way to keep car from rolling away once it's on the ground again.