Saturday, November 5, 2016

All caught up, and still more to do. (And a clip show!)

The last post on the cowl clean-up job was the last "historical" post I had. Historical, in this sense, as in "the past", not "joining the canon of Great American Literature, soon to be required reading for incoming freshmen".

Up till now, I've been doing new projects and blogging the old projects. The old projects are almost in the same order I actually did them, but if they're out of order, I note that in the post.  So if you're asking "what's the order to restore an old Mustang?", you're seeing an answer here. Maybe not the right answer, but it's how I'm doing it. 

Now I'm out of old work to post up here. Any new posts will be essentially live, as-it-happens. Which means I'll start posting not just the work in the garage, but research results, parts selection, and other background material.

The car was purchased in September 2011, and work started in January 2012. So, we're coming up on 5 years on this project. Projecting out at my current rate of progress, I expect to be done in 2019, give or take 2 years. So, back to work.

Sept 2011

June 2013


Sept 2013

July 2014 
Oct 2014


Jan 2012

Mar 2013

Sept 2014

Nov 2014

Jan 2015

June 2015

Aug 2015

April 2016

Mar 2016

Mar 2016

May 2016

Jun 2016

Aug 2016

Oct 2016

Nov 2016

And the beat goes on...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cowl Inspection and Cleaning

How about a little history on the long-term effects of cost-cutting at the factory?

The cowl assembly on these old Mustangs is a known trouble spot. Ford didn't do much in the way of corrosion protection, nor did they design the cowl to allow easy access for cleaning after the car left the factory.

Cowl at far left - the thing with vents in it.


Over time, the cowl would fill up with leaves, pine needles, and other debris while the car sat parked outside under trees.  In many cases, mice would build nests in the cowl of cars waiting to be restored "some day". Rain water would get in there, quietly and invisibly soaking the stuff in the cowl, and eventually cause the cowl metal to rot away. The rotted cowl now allows the same water to get into the car and start rotting away the floors.

Instead of a well primed, sealed and painted cowl from day one, you get to replace floors and other metal decades later. Or not, depending on how lucky you are with your particular car.

My car needed a small patch on the passenger side toe-board. I was worried this meant my cowl was rotted out and would need to be replaced. The cowl is a two-piece affair, top and bottom, held together by a gazillion (~200) spot welds and locates the base of the windshield, the export brace, and centers the rear of the fenders. It's visible and it's structural, so it's pretty important to make sure it's in good shape.

First thing I did was determine how bad my particular nightmare was. Once the fenders were off the car I used compressed air to blow out the cowl and fished around with a hanger to pull big bits of junk out though the drain holes on the ends of the cowl.

Pile of crap blown out of the passengers side cowl drain.


Drivers' side cowl junk blown out.


Once the dry stuff is out, the next step is to run water through the cowl vents on top and look for water coming inside the car. Passing means no water comes in the car at all. Failing means any water is visible in the car. That means the lower cowl is rotted and new metal is needed. There's several quick-'n-dirty fixes I've seen online, but the best and most effective way to treat this is new metal.


Looking for water under the dash at the Driver's side air vent (that hole at top is the fresh air intake from the cowl.)


The passenger side cowl vent feeds the heater or the A/C box. Typically the vents are what rot away first due to wet debris in the cowl box.


I had no water intrusion when I hosed out the cowl. Finally, a win. 

But I couldn't just leave it alone. I had no idea if the cowl is pristine or rotting away and and will leak the next time it rains. I had to at least open the ends and inspect the condition of the 'hats' inside the cowl. Once inside, I assessed the condition of the metal (still strong) and then cleaned, sealed, and painted the cowl ends to ensure I get another 50 years of service out if the cowl.


This is where I started - the passenger side cowl end.


The cowl/apron brace had already been removed, so I just had to strip the paint and seam sealer away. I used a cutting wheel to cut the cowl end open, but I left the back connected to make a 'sardine can' lid I could easily re-weld later. This turned out to be harder than I thought.


Open the lid and behold! Good metal!


Wire-wheeled and painted with rust reformer. Edges are taped so paint won't contaminate the welds later.


Seam sealer applied after the paint dries. Don't make a dam out of the seam sealer - leave a good clear path for water to get through once this is all done. 


Painted over the seam sealer and rust converter with a quality rattle can paint. I decided against epoxy because this was easier to get in and around. Not shown is the seam sealer and paint applied on the other side of the cowl hat from inside the car on my back. There are no pics of that work since I can't actually see what I'm doing. I'm sure it came out great, though...


I welded this up as best I could, but there are a few things working against me here. First, the cutting wheel made cuts that were too wide, leaving a large gap to fill with weld. I used a backing strip to close the gap. This added a lot of time and trouble to the job. The other issue is that the cowl  top is galvanized steel, which needs to be stripped off as much as possible before welding as the galvanic coating will turn into toxic fumes when it burns. So welding is done with a respirator, which is harder (for me anyway). Seriously, non-optional - don't die, just wear a respirator.


My new cowl/apron brace that came with my new frame rail assembly is all prepped and ready for installation. I just left the e-coat on it for now.


Cowl/Apron brace welded on per factory W&S manual. This side is pretty much done; I'm not going to worry about cleaning up that last weld line - its not worth the risk of making new holes, so epoxy an seam sealer will  protect it later.


Drivers side, much like the first, with lessons-learned. Drill off the cowl/apron brace...


Notice the rust under here. Nothing from the factory was used to protect this metal.


Stripped and marked my cuts. This time, I was going to cut the whole piece off, not do the sardine-can cut. And I had a new tool for just such a job:


The Communist Freight Air Saw. For the cost of an Andrew Jackson, I had a way to make smaller, cleaner cuts than the cutting wheel I used on the other side.


Nice comparison shot of the two types of cutting. The gap on the right is the cutting wheel making a slot for the air saw, which is the rest of the cut. See how much cleaner and smaller that air saw cut is?


Blamo - cowl end cut off. The lower cowl metal passes the rot-test (stab it with a punch and see if it goes through), so it gets cleaned, sealed, and painted like the other side.


"Cleaned" is sort of a relative term here. But it's better.


Rust converter paint all around. Again, the inside is perfect, but I can't see it to prove it. ;)


Seam sealer applied. Same brand (NAPA), just white this time. Remember, clear water egress is vital!


Painted with a rattle-bomb. Should last till 2067.


This side was much easier to weld up since I could place the cap back on the cowl and close up the gap as tight as I wanted to, butt-weld the top, and redo the spot welds on the edges. For future reference, this is the way to do it.


Old cowl/apron brace was blasted, painted, and hammered back into shape for installation. Weld-though primer was used on the top of the rear apron for rust protection.


Welded on, cleaned up and ready for service. I'll get some epoxy primer on and around all this next time I mix some up.


I got lucky - my cowl was in remarkably good shape. For a lot of folks, the cowl is a bucket of spiders - no fun to open up and tough to deal with once it's open. There's still seam sealing and priming, but now I'm ready to move onto the next little job.

The next little job - the rusty quarter panel.








Sunday, October 23, 2016

Brake Bits, pt. 3 - Brake lines, Pedal Assembly, and Booster/Master Cylinder installation

The brake lines are in. Finally. I'm so tired of messing with these things.

My superstitious nature means I can't post something until I'm pretty sure I'm done with it for fear of jinxing my progress. The installation of new brake lines has been hard, time-consuming, and frustrating, so it's taken the better part of three months off and on to get to a place where I can call it 'done'. But I think we're finally there. I also have a deep-seated contempt for plumbing work, and hydraulic brakes fall in that category.

You know what brake lines are. I won't belabor the point. Folks who live in the salt belt apparently have to routinely replace brakes lines that rust out from winter salt exposure, but here in the sunny southwest, that's not a problem, so I'd never done anything with brake lines before. Let me highlight some specifics I had to learn how to do for this task:
  • Identify which pre-bent hardline set I needed for my car (not as straightforward as expected)
  • Modify said  'pre-bent' hardlines to fit my car.
  • Figure out how to use a flaring tool to make my own double flares on my pre-bent lines
  • Create custom-bent brake lines from straight stock when 'pre-bent' lines are so far off as to be useless
  • Accept that 'pre-bent' lines are not going to just drop in
  • Bench-bleed a master cylinder
  • Fill and bleed a full brake system from scratch
  • Troubleshoot leaks in brakes lines and wheel cylinders
  • Disassemble and reassemble drum brakes on the car (unlike on the bench as I'd done earlier)

Tools I had to buy or rent for this task:

  • Flaring tool set from Autozone (3x to get one that worked properly)
  • Several line wrenches (3/8" and 7/16" AND 10 mm (new wheel cylinders!) )
After the hardlines were in, I installed the brake pedal assembly and the new master cylinder and booster assembly.


I bought the AMK brake line kit from NPD since all my hardware was a mess. The cleaning time versus cost of the new kit made this an easy choice.

Here's a shot of a double-flared brake line end on one of my 'pre-bent' brake lines. The double flare is the little bubbled end of the brake line that forms the seal between a line and the seating assembly. The two sizes of flare nuts on my lines are shown here - 7/16" and 3/8". I had to cut off and shorten or change nuts on several of my lines (seriously, the new lines had the wrong nuts to fit on the original distribution block) , so I had to learn how to do this. It has to be done right or it will leak - slowly, for sure, but enough that you'll have to take it apart to redo and reinstall. 

I'm not going to spend a bunch of time talking about making your own double flared brake line ends. The Interwebs are full of tutorials, videos, and details, all of which I used to figure out how to do my own flares. In the end, I had to cut off and re-flare 5 of my line ends. Free advice on forming your own double flares:
  • Get a good tool - Autozone has them for loan, and they work, but I had to go through three of them to find one that didn't have a bent die for the 3/16" line that I have. If I were doing a lot of lines, I'd invest in the Eastwood version, but for my purposes, this was 
  • Use brake fluid to lubricate the line and die when forming both steps of the flare.
  • Practice, practice, practice!


"Pre-bent" line for a '67 w/disc brakes - connects distribution block with front right wheel.

New line on firewall.


The line is one continuous piece to the flexible line.

Here's a shot of the line that came off the car - that compression fitting is NOT supposed to be there! That's less than ideal, but I get it - replacing the whole line as a maintenance task has to be a pain. But I do wonder why it's even there in the first place. (And, wow, look at that mess this used to be!)

Here's the line coming through the shock tower and into the flex line fitting. This line was an inch or so short as shipped, so I had to pull it out and rebend this end to get it to fit.

The line in the 'pre-bent' kit for the front left wheel was not even close in bends or length. So I used a length of coat hanger wire to form a proper template, and picked up a piece of straight stock line from NAPA. Of course, that line was too long and one of the nuts was the wrong size, so I had to cut off one end, pull off the wrong nut, install the right nut, cut the line to the correct length, flare the end, and bend to the shape of the template. This took an embarrassing amount of time.



Here's the rear line and both front lines installed in the distribution block. I won't actually use the rear line in the block like this, as my new brake kit includes an adjustable proportioning valve for the rear line and it has some special plumbing.

Bench bleeding the master cylinder. The loop lines came in the CSRP kit. Basically, just hook up the lines to the outlet ports and set them into their respective reservoir bowls, fill with new brake fluid, and manually cycle the cylinder rod with a large screwdriver or other pokey-like device until no bubbles are coming out with each stroke. This is 'must-do', not an optional step.

Once it's bench-bled, the new master is bolted to the power booster.

Now it's time to install the recently restored brake/clutch pedal assembly!


Two bolts on the firewall and two bolts to the dash panel are used to hold the pedal assembly in place so the booster can be installed.

That's nice. It looks better in person, my camera doesn't do it justice.

Before I install the booster and master cylinder, I hooked up the proportioning valve on its bracket, and got the hardlines all plumbed into their respective places.

And then the booster and master cylinder go in. This is a two-person operation, one to hold and guide in the engine bay, and the other under the dash to line up the booster push rod with the brake pedal.

Here's the final installation. Half of these lines were leaking once pressure was applied, but most of those leaks were fixed by tightening the fittings just a little more than I thought they should be.

Looking up at the brake pedal and brake light switch connection to the booster rod.

Here's another view of the plumbing for the proportioning valve. I had to get a supplemental picture from Dennis at CSRP to figure out what the final setup should look like - hopefully this'll help someone else as well.

After all the lines were in, I spent a couple weeks chasing leaking fittings (push brakes, find leak, tighten fitting, push brakes again, wait overnight, repeat), plus a bad (new) rear wheel cylinder, tearing apart the right rear brakes to replace said wheel cylinder, and reassembling the rear brakes. 

At this point, I was utterly sick of the brakes, but I still needed at least a preliminary test to tell me I had it working at some level. So we pushed the car out of the garage and down into the driveway - I hit the brakes, and glory hallelujah, they worked! And then the parking brake held the car on it's own when I got out! To quote the great Hannibal (Smith), "I love it when a plan comes together."


Now we're getting somewhere!