Sunday, December 28, 2014

Rear Suspension and Axle Removal

1967 Ford Mustang Fastback rear suspension axle removal
Let me introduce the sickness known as the 'While-we're-at-it-itis'...this is where a job, no matter how simple, quickly escalates into a full-blown multi-day project. From what I gather, this illness affects all Mustang owners at some point. For me, it happens pretty much anytime I stumble into the garage.

For example - we have metal work to do on the floor. And we have to replace the exhaust system. So, after that's out, we might as well replace the rear springs while we're at it ('cause they're shot anyway), and since the rear end has to come out, we might as well spiff up the axle as well...

To be fair, all this stuff is on my list anyway. But it's amazing to me how quickly a simple task becomes a bigger job with a much broader scope. So, consider yourself warned!

The rear suspension on this car is worn-out and needs to be replaced. The bushings are all shot, the springs are showing age at all the connection points, and the shocks are bad news in general. None of the old parts will be reused. There are lots of choices on what to install in its place, but we're going to keep the basic layout the same. I'll get new shocks, springs and hardware to hold them up to the car and connected to the rear axle and detail what I purchase and why a little later on.

Drivers side suspension, complete with homemade traction bars (very non-stock). Notice that hard brake like all bent up? I'm betting it's because that's a '67 brake line on a '58 rear end. But that's another story/post.

Passenger side suspension. And it looks even worse in person.

In order to fully remove the rear suspension, the rear axle needs to come out as well. And once the axle is out, the car is essentially immobilized. So be sure you're ready to commit to this step before you get all 'go-fever' and rip it all apart. Also, Liquid Wrench every bolt and nut before starting. For the truly stubborn nuts, you may need to resort to a propane torch (a.k.a "The blue wrench")

My rear axle, like lots of parts of this car, is also 'special'. It's the storied Ford 9-inch rear end, but it didn't come on this Mustang originally, and this will present some challenges later.

Before lifting the car up, I removed the bottom nut on the shock absorbers and loosened the rear tire lug nuts. Below, you see the rear axle held in place to the car with the leaf springs and the old air shocks. For the record, those air shocks will be the source of a lot of the rework that I'll end up having to do on the rear floorpan area. Air Shocks + Unibody Mustang = Bad idea.

Get the car on jackstands - one set under the axle (unloaded) and another set up under the car near rear torque boxes. Use these to support the car. Disconnect the rear axle hydraulic brake line at the floor pan. Then remove the top nut on the shocks and pull the them out.

Disconnect drive shaft from the yoke on the rear axle. Don't forget to mark the U-joint/yoke orientation before removal.

The drive shaft comes out easily enough. Just pull the U-bolts off each universal joint. A jack will work if your Apprentice has gone missing. Protect the ends and store for a rainy day project.

Disconnect the parking brake cables from the handle/lever assembly points. Here are the cables connected at the joining bracket...[ you'll notice here the engine and drivetrain are missing - be assured that's just your imagination, as that hasn't been posted yet;) ]

...and then  I removed the lever arm (which I'm holding) which allows the cables to go slack....

 for removal at the frame rail connections - there's one for each cable....just pull the clip pin out....

...and pull the cable out towards the center of the car. Coil the cable and set it aside so it won't trip you up when moving the axle around.

Remove the nuts holding the shock plates to the axle U-bolts. This is where I had to make use of the handheld propane torch for the first time. Make sure there's not a lot of upward tension on the axle.

Lift the axle off the leaf springs and support the axles weight on jackstands. You can just see the stand holding the torque box here behind the stand holding the axle. There's also one holding the yoke of the rear end.

Remove the rear shackles holding the leaf springs in place. Respect The Spring: go slow and make sure you know where the tension is. Gently lower the springs to the ground. Then 'just' extricate the rear axle. There's several ways to do this - just be carefull! I used three people and a big furniture dolly. There are many ways to skin this particular cat. My advice here - really think about how this will go before you get under the car. The rear axle assembly (8- or 9-inch) weighs close to 200 pounds without wheels. Be careful!

Remove the front bolt holding each leaf spring in place. This bolt is notorious for being rust-seized in place and needing special persuasion to get out (read: Sawzall and carbide blades). Mine came right out with liquid wrench only. But, what can I say, I lead a charmed life.

(Extra Credit) Design and fabricate a dedicated wheeled stand for the rear end to free up your jack stands. Well done, my young Apprentice! The Force is strong with this one.

And remember, save all your old parts!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dual Exhaust System Removal

1967 Ford Mustang Fastback dual exhaust removal If you've been looking at the earlier pictures of the Mustang, you've no doubt noticed that it's generally in good shape, but everything on the bottom of the car is covered in decades of gunk. A lot of that gunk is from the slow leak of transmission fluid that was mixed with dirt and dust from from all those dirt roads in Colorado that the Previous Owner (PO) was driving on. As a result, the bottom of the floorpan and trunk, as well as the rear axle are in serious need of a degreasing and cleaning.

This also resulted in an exhaust system that, short of the exhaust manifolds attached to the engine themselves, is not worth saving. It's rusted through in several places, and the bends are more like kinks instead of mandrel-bent tubing that I want. Mandrel bends preserve the diameter of the tube through the entire bend, unlike a bent pipe which will pinch the pipe and introduce restrictions to the exhaust flow. Remember, an internal combustion engine is essentially a big air pump - unnecessary restrictions on the intake or exhaust side will reduce it's potential. 

The NPD paper parts catalogs have a great section that illustrates all the components of different exhaust systems of various years  The exhaust system appeared to be the correct dual exhaust system for use with a 1967 289 V-8, but the transverse muffler is date-coded from the early 1970's and the exhaust hangers at the back of the floor pan are just big lag screws forced through the floor pan (not the correct hangers I expected to find). These should be attached to a dual-bolt bracket that connects to a reinforcement plate inside the passenger cabin. I think this means that this was not actually a dual exhaust car from the factory - from what I have read, the reinforcement plates were installed at the factory for all dual exhaust cars. I find that confusing since all the other GT options are on the car (fog-lights, front disc brakes, etc.)  I will eventually install the correct reinforcement plates and use the correct hangers for a new dual exhaust system. Good Lady Wife has informed me that the car should have an exhaust note that is so loud and awesome that it'll wake the neighbors anytime it's fired up! As you wish, my love...

So, out comes the exhaust system. I removed the clutch Z-bar assembly in the engine bay to get at the left manifold bolts, but no luck. So I broke out my trusty Sawzall and cut the pipes. Even this is tricky as the saw was very awkward to get into position. And yes, I know it would have been easier to pull the rear axle first. This is, after all, my first rodeo.

Here's a shot of the rear end before the hammer (and Sawzall) came down:

There are hangers at the end of the floor pan that have to come out. I don't have a good shot of the hangers in place - it's a tight area to get into - so I'll just show you what it looked like after it's all out.

Drivers side - the two small holes are where the lag screws were holding the hanger. The big hole is where I removed the rear seat belt and found it was held in place by a few fender washers between the bracket and the floor. Yikes! It's a mess, no doubt, and there is some real metal work to be done here to get it back into shape.

And the passenger side - not a lot better. The holes on the right were where the hanger was connected - the large hole is for one of the seat belt brackets.  Notice the cracks in the floor (called the shock mounting reinforcement panel) and a bunch of screws that should not be there. Greasy, oily, spider-webbed, cracked and generally gross. Just another mess to fix.

There are also hangers at the end of the rear frame rails that come out. I just cut the rubber section on each one so I could control when it dropped out.

And that's about it. The system is really only held in at three locations - the exhaust manifolds, the rear floor pans and the rear frame rails. If the rear axle had been out I could have slide the entire thing out in one piece. Instead, I had to cut each set of pipes at the muffler and weasel each section out in pieces. This is fine is you're not keeping any of the old system.

The mistake I made here was getting in a hurry to recycle all this without cutting the exhaust tips off - they could have been reused, and that's an $80 mistake right there, and why I added the 'keep all old parts' commandment back in my earlier post.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Front End teardown

1967 Ford Mustang Fastback remove fenders Removing the front end sheetmetal and associated hardware is well documented on the web and there are lots of videos and such that show how to get down to a bare front frame. It's a good thing, too, because looking back now I see that I took very few pictures along the way. This was clearly a case of 'go-fever', where it was easier to take the next part off rather than take the time to photograph and note what was happening.

I did, however, have a plan. After researching online the best way to do this, and reading through the shop manual, I made a list of the order of disassembly:

0. remove hood. I list it as zero because it's not required, but I was going to have to do it anyway.
1. remove front valance panel
2. remove front bumper
3. remove grill trim
4. remove grill (left the fog lights and lite-up horse corral in place)
5. remove stone guard
6. remove bumper-to-frame braces
7. lots of brackets and clips around the grill
8. remove rear splash shield hardware
9. and finally, all those bolts that you can see in the engine bay holding fender in place
9a. ...and the bolts you can't see that are still holding the fender down - two on the bottom at the rocker panel, one from inside the car down behind the kick panel, and finally the one at the top rear of the fender that you can reach only once the door is open.

I'm slow and this took me about an hour and a half. But NEXT TIME I'll go slower and take more pics. I'm positive I'll pay for rushing this step later.

 Pulling the hood - we used 3 people, two to hold, one to unbolt. I carefully drilled pilot holes through the hinge and the hood (carefully!) for registration marks for reassembly. We placed towels at the gap between the cowl and hood to keep any movement to a minimum.

Any monkey can take it apart....

The valance panel came off first, but that might be a bad idea, as I scratched it on the bumper guards on the way out.

 Front bumper and hardware. There are brackets at the ends that were pretty tricky to get off. In the end, lots of Liquid Wrench saved the day.

 Grill trim and hardware. Go easy - all of this is easily bent and scratched.

 Grill and fog lights. Don't ya just love that light-up grill?

 Bumper guards. Also very hard to get out. But surprisingly enough, no broken bolts in the whole process.

 Stone deflector. I have to remember to take all these pieces to the body shop when we get it painted, so I've started putting PAINT THIS on the boxes when I pack this stuff up.

 And now it look like this.

 I was going to leave these bumper brackets on for alignment purposes, but I ended up taking them off after repeatedly whacking my shins on them. I made some measurements of the brackets on the frame before pulling them off in case there's a lot of slop in the mounting bolts.

 The offending bumper supports and brackets, no longer able to eat any human flesh that wanders by at shin-height.

 Fenders are off and strapped up to the wall. The headlight buckets and front fender guards are still on there. Notice the 'Hi-Po 289' fender badges on there. They're not standard issue in 1967.

There's a good deal of rust hiding under the driver-side bumper bracket, which means I probably have more metal to patch later. 

Next up, the exhaust system has to come off so we can get the rear end out.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tools of the trade - Welders, Compressors, Grinders and more

1967 Ford Mustang Fastback rebuild tools needed This one is long. But it's about tools!

Before we get too far down the road of this restoration, I want to show some of the tools that I use for this project. Some I already had, but most of the big-ticket items are just for this project. It's important to use the right tool for the job. I've found some great threads on some message boards where others have shown their steps and tools in painstaking detail as they do their work, which is enormously helpful for newbies like me. This blog is partially my attempt to contribute what I've learned to help the next guy/girl who's working the same issues get equipped for doing as much as they can in their own standard garage setting.

Now, some caveats -

First, this is written from my perspective as an amateur everything. Outside of electrical work (which seems light-years away from here) I have no professional background, no trade school, no previous anything to fall back on. I did the research, shopped around, and I got what I needed to get a job done for this car, teaching myself along the way. I'm not restoring cars for a living, nor do I have room for all the tools I'd like to have.

My opinions are my own, so be sure and do some of your own research...but for every opinion you find online or in person, you'll find another equally passionately argued valid point for the other side. In many cases, You can spend countless hours researching a topic ("Which air compressor should I get?") like I have but you'll still be back to the basic questions of what you can afford and find. I've found that if there are two or three closely matched choices for a purchase, you're not going to really go too far wrong with any of them. There are guys who swear by brand names like Miller or Lincoln, Ingersoll-Rand or Speedaire, DeVilbiss or Iwata. My advice is do your research, and commit to making a decision by a specific date, or you're waffle forever. I spent a lot of time deciding on how to strip paint on my car. But once I did and decided on the electric sander I wanted, I waited almost a year for a killer sale online for it.

Third, I'm not covering standard hand tools in this post - that'll come later. I'm assuming you'll have the standard complement of screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets, and Hammers of Persuasion, plus a toolbox to keep them in. As we go, I'll cover other nifty tools that help along the way.

So, knowing full-well for every tool choice I've made, there's someone out there who will call me a Communist-loving, mouth-breathing window-licking hack, I'd like to show you part of the toolbox I've assembled to get this job started. For reference, I'm working in a finished two car attached garage in a typical suburban neighborhood, with just a couple outlets for power and not quite enough light.

1. Workbench space -  this is where I do all my small work, leave my shop manuals, mix primers and generally goof off. I also have a pair of sawhorses an an old closet door for temporary workbench space, but this one is always here. I've got the 8 foot Gladiator bench a long time ago because I'm fortunate enough to have space for it and also because I love beautiful things. This bench is beautiful. Clutter kills productivity. Keep it clean and keep it clear.

2. Bench vice - the other pair of hands when your Apprentice is off studying for an Economics test or working endless Calculus problems (which is almost ALWAYS more important than hobbies)! Plus, it's a poor-man's sheet metal brake in a pinch.

3. The Angle Grinder - one of my first-line weapons of choice. I have two, the Dewalt pictured here, and a cheap Harbor Freight version. The Dewalt,at $80, is roughly 5 times the cost of the HF special, but as much time as you'll spend behind an angle grinder (and believe me, you will), you'll be glad you spent the extra money. The HF grinder is much harsher and generates a lot more vibration leading to tingling hands. Spend a little more here, it's worth it. There are lots of different attachments you'll need to use with this tool as well...

3a. The flap disk - just like it sounds, lots of little sections of sandpaper (80 grit typical) glued to a wheel. Remove material (steel) quickly and makes light work of grinding welds and cleaning edges of cut sheet metal.

3b. The cutting wheel - fits an angle grinder for those of you without access to a pneumatic version and the compressor to drive it. Not as good as a stationary chop saw for making straight cuts but for cutting out bad metal and cutting patches, it's faster and cheaper than a bunch of Dremel discs (It took me a while to learn this).

3c. The twisted wire wheel brush - removes the surface covering of metal (paint, rust, adhesives) and, given the chance, will happily eat human flesh faster than a zombie on pot. Works great for getting down to 'bare metal' when looking for metal rot. Beware, all those little wire bundles are easily caught in an edge or hole in the metal and will kick back on the grinder - so hang on tight! Which reminds me...

4.Safety glasses -  I can't emphasize this enough. Real ANSI-rated glasses. Buy them, use them. I have the Dewalt version because they're yellow and I misplace stuff often. Maybe don't use the HF versions. Maybe spend $10 for a good pair.

5. Floor jack - because scissor jacks are for flat tires only. HF makes some good, if heavy, versions. Learn how to use it and where to properly jack your car.

6. Shopvac - because digging out a mouse nest with your hands is nasty, and using the upright Hoover that SWMBO uses in the living room is a surefire way to end up sleeping on the couch. I got the 16 gallon version shown here, and it's perfectly sized for the job of cleaning out the nooks and crannies on the car and in the garage.

7. Makita 9227C Electric Sander - Search for 'how to strip a car' online and you'll drop into one of amateur restorations deepest rabbit holes on the internet. You'll find endless discussions/arguments of chemicals versus media blasting versus hand sanding. Living in a medium-sized city in the desert southwest, I don't have any media blasters that will return my calls or that don't use soda (bad!). I'm not into stripping, chemical or otherwise, mainly because it's messy and nasty and if it leaks into metal seams, it's bound to leak out and destroy a paint job later. So I've resorted to a combination of razor blade stripping and electric sanding for my car. Two coats of paint would take forever with a dual-action (DA) air-sander (I've tried it), so based on several reviews online, I waited for sale an bought this one. It's perfect for my needs. Yes, media blasting would be nice but it's not an option for me, so this is my Plan B. The nice folks at sum it up nicely:

Do-it-yourselfers will usually default to sanding. Logistically, it's the easiest method, as the disassembly process is simpler than for blasting or dipping the metal, and you don't have to transport the car anywhere to get it done. It's also far less expensive. The thousand or more dollars you'd pay for blasting or dipping can buy a lot of sandpaper, not to mention a new air-powered sander, sanding boards, maybe even a new compressor if you shop smart.

8. Millermatic 140 MIG Welder - another of the endless debates online is what type of welder to get, and which brand. Simply put, if you're asking, you are a newbie. The vast majority of logical opinions and research suggest a a MIG welder is the right answer for a first-timer (with solid wire and shielding gas, NOT the flux core wire!). Easier learning curve, good quality choices, and most importantly, suited for the job.  The next choice will be what size, and that's primarily determined by your power source. The Miller 140, and it's Lincoln and Hobart counterparts will work off of 115VAC/20A house power. The next size up will need 220VAC and most of us won't have that, and it seems to be overkill for a classic Mustang project anyway. Most house breakers are 15A, so I had a 20A breaker and outlet added for this while replacing the electrical panel in my house. 

I settled on the Miller for a couple reasons. First, it's the right size and a reputable brand I can get parts or service for in town. Second, the Autoset feature seemed like it would be helpful as I taught myself to weld.  In the end, the Autoset has not been as big a factor as I thought it would be, but I love the infinite-adjust settings for wire speed and voltage. I would say any of the big three brands I was looking at (Miller, Lincoln and Hobart) are fine as long as you have one that will use shielding gas and doesn't come from Harbor Freight. I bought a nice welder so when my welds suck, I know it's my fault and not the welder. It makes me want to weld as good as the machine is capable of. The whole thing, welder, gas bottle (on the back of the cart) with regulator, cart, mask, and other accessories were had for about $800. If you're not sure, get some quotes from a shop or two for the work you need done, and decide which way you want to go. I wanted to learn how to weld, plus considering how much someone else would charge for all the work I need done, this became an easy answer. 

My Apprentice, also with no previous welding experience, was able to weld up this rear end jig stand in an afternoon with some quick lessons. It's made of 1" square tubing, thicker than most anything you'll find on a Mustang. (Its built to allow the jack to come in from behind and lift the axle in and out of the jig). Again, you can agonize over this for weeks, when all you're really debating is a hundred dollar difference or so, or you could just get the one you think is good enough and start learning to weld. 

9. The Air Compressor - again, hotly debated in the garage and automotive forums. If you plan on running DA sanders, sandblasting cabinets, and paint/primer guns, you are going to have to get a big compressor. The minimum entry point for this hobby seems to be the 60 gallon 3.7 HP upright shown above. It runs on 220VAC/30A (like a dryer outlet) and puts out about 11 SCFM @ 90 PSI. This thing gets you volume and pressure needed to run these tools. Below this is 30 gallon and smaller and while some will say you 'can' do it, the jump in price from 30 gal to 60 gal is smaller than you think. Much agonizing went into this decision. How big, how much HP/SCFM, oil- or oil-less motor, piston- or screw-type pump, single- or two-stage compression, which brand, how to plumb it in, how to wire it/power it, how to get water out of the compressed air (this is not a trivial thing), where to buy, and on and on. It's frustrating to find a whole new world of things to think of, and all you want to do is run a sander in the garage.

Here's how I decided on all this:

Where to buy: In my town, Craigslist is a bad joke - most sellers want retail prices for used stuff. If CL is a good deal where you are, use it - otherwise you're limited to big-box stores and rural tool/tack stores like Tractor Supply and Lowes.

How Big/How Much HP- refers to volume and power, and is bounded by how much space and power you have to feed the machine as well as your needs. I could get 220V easy enough, and wanted to stay around $500. Like I said, 60 gallons is considered a minimum. By the time you get to 80 gallons, the next step up, you're pushing up to $1000. So, 60 gallons it is. This also means the compressor will have a 3.7 or 5 HP motor. That's Fine for my needs. Added a220VAC/30A breaker and outlet for it as well while getting the house electrical service panel replaced.

How much CFM:  Cubic feet per minute - a main metric of compressor performance. Bigger is better here. If you're torn between two similar compressors, lean towards the one with more CFM.

Oil- or oil-less motor refers to the type of motor on the compressor. Oilless are cheaper, noisier, and short-lived. You'll kill it in no time flat if you run it like you need to. Oiled motors last longer and cost more. It's worth it to pay a little more up front here.

Piston- or screw-type pump, If you're shopping the lower end of the range, you won't have this option. Screw type pumps are superior - they generate more pressure with less noise. And they cost waaayyyy more money. IF you can score a good used one, take it. Otherwise, this is a choice you won't have to sweat. Same as single- or two-stage compression. If you're shopping under a grand, you're likely gonna get a single-stage compressor. Fine. There's always some Tool who says 'I got my 200 gallon dual-stage screw-type on Craigslist for $200.' My advice - don't stay up late looking for that deal,

Distribution lines: Lots of discussion here, but it boils down to using copper or iron pipe to move the air around. Do not use PVC pipe, as it could possibly weaken over time and explode into lots of little plastic shrapnel bits. So -  PVC bad, Metal good.

I settled on the 60 gallon 3.7HP 11.7 SCFM from Lowes shown above. It was on sale for $450 and I had to rent a uHaul trailer to get it home. Unloading is a two/three man job. Please don't die, it's very, very top-heavy. It's fine for my purposes so far - my biggest issue is that, at a mile above sea level, the pump cycles on and off more often ('higher duty cycle') because it takes more strokes of thin mile-high air to get the pressure back up in the tank. The upside of living in the high desert is very low humidity. Moisture in the air, heated by the act of compression,will condense out once it cools as it travels down the air lines, getting into tools and paint guns. The air needs to be cooled to condense out this moisture and be captured and removed before getting into the lines. I built a manifold out of copper pipe and a cold-water bucket chiller out of a coil of copper pipe in a 5 gallon bucket to pull the moisture out of the compressed air so it doesn't get into the lines and screw up the paint/primers I plan on using.

The air manifold - a single inverted 'U' shape with drain valves in both legs. Had to teach myself how to sweat copper lines here.

The chiller bucket - way cheaper than a proper refrigerated air unit and works great. Intake on top, exhaust on bottom. Water in the bucket - add ice on hot/humid days when priming. Not shown, but there's a drain valve on the bottom. 

The Heavies. Now we can get some work done!

There's more, obviously, but these are some the the must-haves if you're going to do a lot of this work on your own. It's a lot of time and research to figure out what you need and why, so I hope someone finds this list helpful.