Sunday, August 30, 2009

How To Ditch the Dash

In keeping with my bass-ackward methodology of patching the rust before stripping the car, it came time to disassemble the dash so it can be stripped and repainted. This involves removing the dash pad, the dash gauges, the trim, wiring, etc.

This is what the dash looked like but this picture was taken a few months ago right after I installed the floor.

The back edge of the dash pad is held in place by a metal strip screwed into the base sheet metal through the edge of the pad.

After the strip is removed, there are still a few screws underneath that needed to be removed. A couple of these were obviously screwed in before the windshield was installed so I had to remove them with pliers from below. It would just be easier to remove the windshield before removing the dash pad I think.

Before the pad could come off, the trim has to be removed since the pad is tucked under the trim in places. Before the trim can come off, the gauge cluster has to come off. Before that, I removed the air vent control panel. Two screws on top and two on the bottom and unit slides out where you can disconnect a switch wire. I already had the cables disconnected from their respective vents so I just had to fish them out and the panel could be removed.

Next, there are 3 screws at the top of the gauge cluster and a screw under each of the large round gauge bezels. The speedometer cable would normally have to come off but that was removed months ago so all that's left are 3 wiring connectors which easily unsnap and the cluster is out.

The removed gauge cluster.

The dash trim is removed next. The small segment to the right of the cluster just pops out but the larger trim is affixed to the dash with many large plastic posts each with a speed nut screwed onto it.

When the speed nuts are removed, the trim comes off. Here's what it looks like from the back with the many plastic posts.

The removed gauge cluster and dash trim.

Next is the radio. It's removed by disconnecting the power cable and speaker connector, then 4 philips screws in the top and bottom of the bezel and the radio pops out.

Next is the cigarette lighter/ash tray which is removed with 2 screws in the top and 2 screws in the sides after disconnecting the lighter connector.

There are two speed nuts holding the speaker up into the dash via studs. The studs are snapped into place in the dash top and held in place with spring tabs.

The courtesy lights are easy to remove with one screw and one wire each side.

Now, this light switch. It was something else. I scratched my head for awhile on this one. I checked through my factory service manual and it didn't mention how to remove the damned thing. After quite some time fiddling with it rotating the collar that said "Lights" about a hundred times trying to unscrew it, I happened upon a secret button. A secret that I will share with you here today.... for 1 meeeeellion dollars!

Nooooo, just kidding... unless you have an extra $1M laying around... that you don't need... that you'd like to send me...? Oh fine, the secret button is on the back of the unit. You see it in this picture? The little metal nubbin just to the left of the 3 indentions and just to the right of the tall ridge. Push that button and pull the light switch knob straight out of the unit!

And then you can use a philips screwdriver inserted into the end of the switch, into that cross, to unscrew it from the switch body and it will slide backwards out of the light switch hole in the chassis.

The ignition switch was much simpler. Unscrew that flange with the 3 notches in it and the switch will come out of the hole.

The removal of the wiring harness is actually straight forward. The harness has some plastic clip fasteners taped to it that insert into a few holes up under the dash. There are also a couple of strap type fasteners, a ground lead on the side of the instrument bezel, and the whole harness just snakes out through the gauge bezel opening. I took pictures of all of the fastener points before removing it though in addition to marking the less obvious connectors like the top, lighter, courtesy lights, etc. All ofthe wires had previously been removed from the firewall and the engine compartment harness had been removed first, of course.

An interesting side story: Just prior to posting this blog entry, I went out to snap the above picture and noticed that there was a piece of paper wrapped around the wiring harness and taped with electrical tape. At first I thought it was some kind of wiring inspection/testing document but as I inspected it closer I realized....

...That it was the BUILD SHEET! I thought this thing was long gone with the prior restoration of the car. They're usually found under the carpet or behind a door panel or such. This is a really awesome find as it adds to the cars documentation. I am SO lucky that I didn't burn this up grinding or welding on the floor. This is another reason to disassemble a car completely before starting a restoration.

Aaaanyway, back to the destruction of the dash. After the wiring was pulled, I could get up under the dash to remove the vent ducts. Each is held on by two studs with speed nuts like the radio speaker. Finally, I could get to the screws of the wiper motor assembly. Removing the motor itself isn't really that tough, just 4 screws on it's mounting bracket.

The interesting part is how to get the wiper drive arms off of the motor spindle. Well, there's this funky clip at the top. Pop the clip forward and it comes up off the spindle shaft.

The arms can then then be lifted off the shaft and the motor bracket can be removed.

When all is said and done, this is what the naked dash looks like.

And this is what the pile-o-parts looks like.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Take Your Top Off!!!

Okay so let me explain my bizarre methodology here. You'll note that to this point, I haven't had the car media blasted whereas your average veteran restorer would have fully disassembled the car and media blasted the shell first. But noooooo, I had to be different. My original plan a year ago was to fix the rust, reassemble the car, and paint/restore the aesthetic stuff over the years. After I replaced the floor late last Winter, my mindset changed to partial restoration where I'd swap out everything on the undercarriage where the car took the most salt damage, refurbish the engine, install the interior and drive train and drive it during this Summer. Then I was going to remove the exterior trim and strip and paint the car during the Winter. This was the primary reason I had taken the time to paint the engine comparment, so I wouldn't have to remove the drive train to paint the car later. As you've probably guessed, this plan wasn't well thought-out and ultimately failed. So, it's like putting the cart before the horse, but I'm NOW going to have the car media blasted. The good news is that I don't have to pay for time to blast the undercarriage, floor, or engine compartment. The bad news is that there's a risk of damaging the work I've already done but let's be honest, it's not impossible to respray the engine comparment if I had to or touch up the red primer or undercoating on the wheel wells/bottom/floor. It would just be inconvenient.

The first steps I've taken toward this new goal is to manually strip the rockers, cowl side panels, and the hinge panels. I did this to get a feel for how long it takes to manually strip a panel. It took me about an hour per side followed up by a coat of self-etching primer on the passenger side:

I did the same for the driver side but rather than primer, I spread on some Ospho. The Ospho really showed the small areas of primer that I'd missed, another point for media blasting. BTW, I used an angle grinder with a 24 grit flap disk. I had a router speed controller that I used to reduce the speed of the angle grinder to avoid gouging or heating the metal and it seemed to also reduce the dust somewhat. Another reason I did the rockers and cowl side panels was so that the media blaster would have one less access point to damage the freshly painted front aprons or overspray the bottom with primer or media.

The first step in preparing the exterior rear for blasting was to remove the trunk lid. I also removed the seal and hing captive nuts. I'm going to let the media blaster take a stab at it.

The trunk lock had to be removed. You pretty much just pull out that flat spring thingy and the mechanism pops out.

And then the wiring should go so the media blaster can do the inside of the trunk.

And finally, the rear quarter extensions. They're just held on by 4 easily accessible studs and a philips screw.

The removed rear quarter extension.

Queue the pole dancing music. Time to take the top off! Believe it or not, it's not as sexy or exciting as I've made it sound. It's more dirty, kind of smelly, and rather unkempt.

I had originally attempted to take off the rear top boot trim with the top still on and found that a couple of the nuts holding the trim in place were inaccessible. So, to get to the nuts, I had to first remove the top well liner, just a bunch of little philips screws, and then remove the rear tack strip. Once that was removed, well, the top is pretty much off. Here's what the tack strip looks like on the passenger side.

And the driver side. Just remove the screws and...

...Off comes the rear curtain (after unzipping it).

Here are all of the holes that hold the boot trim onto the back of the top well. It's not an easy job to remove this trim with the tack strip in place.

Here's the boot trim upside down for examination of the studs. Look at them all!

The next step to pulling the top off the car is to remove 3 bolts on each side. The remnants of the top well liner is laying to the side.

The top then just lifts off. Here's the old top with the side tack strips still attached laying on the floor.

Children under 17 leave the room. Explicit content follows: An old topless lady...
. Bwa-chicka-bow-bow!

BTW, these smashed wheel houses lead to some confusion among new restorers. A lot of guys ask, "Is this supposed to be this way!?" The answer, yes. The tops of the wheel houses are smashed on convertibles to allow for clearance for the top to go down into the well. The problem is that nobody sells the flat-top wheel houses so you have to smash them yourself or cut them and weld in a flat plate.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

In the right proportion

Okay, so I've refurbished the front disc brakes from a 71 Ranchero, installed disc brake hoses for a 68 Mustang, drum hard lines for a 68 Mustang, cut and then rerouted the apron hard lines to fit the hoses. Can I use the brakes now? Nope! For one thing, I haven't purchased or installed the 74 Maverick master cylinder (M/C) I intend to use. I'm using that particular M/C on recommendation of the guys on the VMF and for good reason. Firstly, it's compatible with the 68 M/C hard lines and, secondly it supports front discs and rear drums since it has a larger fluid chamber for the front because disc calipers use more fluid, third, it's compatible with the existing 68 manual brake pedal and push rod, and 4th, the Maverick M/C is a 15/16" bore that's voted most likely to succeed in this setup.

So, if I were to install the new M/C could I THEN fill up the brake system and use the brakes? Nope! This brake conversion is missing one more key element. If I were to fill the system and slam on the brakes, the chances are very good that the rear drum brakes would lock up hard and poor Ol' Rusty would swap ends. So how do we prevent this immanent catastrophe? The answer is a Proportioning Valve. The "prop" valve allows less fluid pressure to the rear drum brake cylinder so that the rear drums can engage at the same rate but in different proportions than the front disc brakes.

In the original 68 disc/drum cars, the prop valve and distribution block are installed as one assembly that looks like this:

The cylinder toward the bottom of the above picture is the prop valve. A concourse correct disc brake car must have a proportioning valve/distribution block assembly like that one. The problem for me is that my budget is alarmingly low and an assembly like that costs over $100, usually $125+, in unknown condition. It's not guaranteed to even work for that price so you're possibly in for another $50 for a rebuild kit available on eBay.

I'd really like to have had the correct dist block/prop valve on my car but that's not going to happen. Fortunately, there's an alternative made available by several different manufacturers in different makes of stand-alone prop valve. I bought this Wilwood type from Mustangs Plus for $41 + shipping and it's adjustable so it can be tweaked to exactly the right amount of fluid pressure.

It comes with two nipples that convert it's 1/8 NPT threads to 3/16" double flare brake threads so those get threaded into the housing first and then it's time to figure out how to install the thing in the rear brake line between the distribution block and the rear brake tube.

I opted to hang it from the original drum/drum dist block with a bracket made from 24 gauge sheet metal. First I had to make a short line to go from the dist block to the prop valve. Fortunately, I had purchased a double flare kit, cutter and bender to modify the hard lines on the outsides of the front aprons and had done several practice flares on scrap 3/16" brake line until I could make a decent double flare. The shortest line you can make and still get the threaded fittings on and get the line into the flaring tool is 2" so I made a 2" segment of brake line and bent it slightly to hold the prop valve out away from the dist block to clear the front brake lines and still be adjustable from under the M/C and dist block. I test fitted the new hard line on the apron-mounted dist block with all the hard lines hooked up and examined reference pictures to ensure that the prop valve wouldn't be in the way of the steering column, the e-brake cable exiting the firewall, nor the wiring harness on the driver side of the car. I then cut a heavy card stock template to represent the bracket:

...And then cut, drilled, and bent the sheet metal as specified by the template. Here you can see the finished bracket and prop valve with 2" brake line fitting on the "IN" port.

Here's my assembled dist block/prop valve assembly.

From the back. I felt it was important to tighten the 2" fitting completely before tightening the bracket nuts to ensure that the bracket doesn't prevent the line from sealing.

The assembly was then installed on the original apron mounting point and the hard lines were attached. The rear brake line had to be modified to exit from the "OUT" port of the prop valve. This involved cutting the line at the port, moving the threaded fitting onto the newly cut tube, and double flaring the new end. Here's the plumbing awaiting a new master cylinder.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Let her Roll!

I finally have all of the parts I need to complete the front disk brakes that I started to restore last month. I have the new rotors:

The bearings and seals for the rotors, plus some good old fashioned bearing grease:

And the spindles, caliper bracket, and dust shield installed on the car:

The next step had me intimidated for a little while. Packing the wheel bearings and installing them in the rotors seems like a big task but after researching it, it's really not that difficult to do. There are several sites on the net that have detailed instructions on how to pack wheel bearings and install disc rotors. Mustangs Plus has a write up and there's a good video on how to pack wheel bearings on YouTube. The basic concept is simple though. Jam as much grease as you can between the bearing roller cage and the inner race. These rotors came with the outer races already pressed in so I didn't need to use the races that came with the bearings (the rings in the picture above). I also spread grease in around the inside walls of the rotor between the front and rear bearing races and then set the packed bearing against the outer race in the rotor.

I then pressed the spindle seal into place and cleaned up the excess grease.

The rotor was placed over the spindle and the outer bearing was packed and slid into place over the end of the spindle shaft.

The large keyed washer is then placed over the bearing and the 1 1/8" spindle shaft nut is tightened against it. There's a procedure for tightening the nut that is described in the Ford Factory Service Manual as follows: Rotate rotor while torquing to 17-25 ft-lbs. Back off the adjusting nut 1/2 turn and retighten to 10-15 inch pounds while rotating wheel.

You then place the nut retainer in a position to allow the insertion of a cotter pin. You shouldn't have to move the nut to do this. I was able to find a suitable position by rotating the retainer step by step until the cotter pin could be inserted. The cotter pin has to be bent around the shaft rather than back against the end of the shaft. Otherwise, it will rub against the inside of the grease cap.

Here's the fully installed rotor. It's this point where I applied brake cleaner to both sides of the disk. You can access the back side of the disk at the caliper opening in the dust shield before the caliper is installed.

Speaking of the caliper, it involves a little assembly to mount the outside brake pad. Two pins are inserted through the holes in the pad and through the caliper housing. The pins have notches at the end of them that clips are inserted over. The pad was then cleaned with brake cleaner.

The inside brake pad is clamped in place before installing the caliper. It installs between caliper bracket and the disk rotor. Two ears on the pad are held down by clips against the caliper bracket. I cleaned the brake pad with brake cleaner before installing it though.
Next, I installed the caliper on the caliper bracket. It's kind of an unnatural feeling task because the calipers don't actually bolt to the bracket. Rather, heavy threaded pins are inserted into rubber sleeves in the bracket and tightened against the caliper. The whole caliper assembly floats on two pins! Before you tighten the pins down though, make sure the bleeder valve is pointing back. If the valves aren't pointing back, the calipers will not bleed correctly. Each caliper only fits on one side of the car.

Here's the fully installed disc brake assembly.

The end of the brake hose could then be attached to the caliper via a "banjo bolt" with crush washers on each side. I didn't torque them down yet though since the suspension is hanging so low due to the installation of the springs/shocks. Actually, the tube isn't stretched as badly as this picture makes it look but I'm going to wait until I set the car down to tighten up the banjo bolts.

OMG! I think I have a rolling chassis here!!

Update: I put on the original standard front wheels to ensure that they had enough clearance for the new disc calipers and they went on with no problem.

Here's a shot of the back space. It's close, but it doesn't rub.