Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Console-ation

Several years ago, well into the structural reconstruction of the Ol' Rusty, I answered an ad on Craigslist for a 1968 original floor console in a neighboring town for $250.  I jumped in the car, flew over there, bought it, brought it home, and... tossed it in storage for the next few years.  Fast forward to September, 2012.

The floor console in 1968 is unique from the prior years' consoles due to the padded top, the seat belt cups in the center, the smaller ash tray at the rear, and the larger, rounded "garage door" handle.  There was one other difference for convertibles that mine didn't have and that was cut-outs for the convertible seat platform.  Coupes and fastbacks don't need to have this done and my console was evidently from one of those.  It turns out that a template for these cut-outs is sold at NPD and various other Mustang parts houses but it turns out that they are for 1966.  Now, I'm not sure whether or not the 66 template would work for 68. They look like very similar seat platforms after all.  So, I posted a question on the VMF and was offered the loan of a template from a fellow VMFer (thanks Gary!).  I received the template in the mail a couple days later and used it to cut my console after masking the area with tape first so that I wouldn't scrape or otherwise maul the plastic around the cut line.  I then used my Harbor Freight body air saw to make the cut.

My console also had a feature not found on other consoles... mildew, so the whole thing got completely disassembled and washed with soap and water and then rubbed down with lacquer thinner.  The padded vinyl portions were first repaired with vinyl cement and a stitch of thread and then dyed with 68 parchment dye from CJ Pony (which looks way too white to me).

The hard plastic parts were cleaned thoroughly and painted with the same 68 Parchment interior lacquer used for the dash and metal parts.

Here's what I started with in all of its mildewy glory
Template laid out over masking tape
Cut line is marked out and ready to cut.
New cut-outs.
Disassembled.
Freshly painted top pad.


During one of the past big spring swap meets, I picked up some console shifter parts.  A shifter cup and a pretty weathered shifter lever.   The shifter cup was media blasted and painted and rebuilt using the parts from my other, standard, shifter cup.  My standard shifter lever still had fairly nice chrome and the only real difference between the standard and console shifter levers is a small tab welded to the front side with a hold drilled in it.  The purpose of this tab is to align the gear indicator light with the correct gear "jewel" in the console shift plate.  So, I cut the tab off of the console lever and welded it to my standard lever and reassembled it.

Welded the shift indicator tab onto my original shift lever.
Assembled "console" shifter.


There was yet another problem with my console.  Somebody had cut the end off of the radio knob cup on the right side of the bezel, presumably for an after-market radio so how the heck was I going to fix that?!  Well, I ran through several options in my head, and the cheapest option was to figure out how much end was missing from the cup and cut the necessary length of end off of my original standard bezel which was pretty badly pitted anyway.  They aren't an exact fit but similar enough to work.  I "Frankensteined" my old bezel end to the console bezel using a strip of sheet metal wrapped around both and glued them with JB Weld.  The ugliness couldn't be seen from the outside and it worked to support the radio in the end so I'm not losing any sleep over the solution.

Somebody cut off one of the bezel cup ends.
The end off of the old bezel and roughed-up console bezel.
"Fixed".. ugly, but it'll do.

Finally, I could set to installing the freshly-painted and restored console into the car after running the appropriate wiring harness back through the console and to the readily available connectors on the standard under-dash harness.  You might notice the shifter plate that contains the gear indicators and the brushed aluminum face.  This was yet another part that didn't come with the console that was badly needed.  Fortunately, I found a used on on eBay for $35 but I had to purchase the brushed aluminum trim and the indicator linkage (as well as new light bulbs and rear light cover) new from one of the on-line vendors.

Assembled top pad with freshly painted top plate.
Base and shifter plate installed.



One of the most difficult parts of the install was punching holes through the floor for the four sheet metal screws that attach the base to the floor.  Another mystery that took a bit to solve was how the console/radio support bracket tied the dash to the console base.  Attaching the radio to the bezel was simply a case of screwing the radio control nuts onto the radio control shafts.  The bezel screws into the console base with two screws and the upper two mounting holes in the dash radio opening using captive nuts.  The radio bezel pad then just snaps onto the bezel with clips like the other padded trim on the car.

Done.

There's a light inside the "garage door" compartment and two small lights on the back edge of the console that come on when you open the door or turn on the convenience lights with the headlight knob.  It didn't turn out too shabby if I may say so myself.

14 comments:

  1. Excellent details Alex. The more I look at that parchment interior, the more I like it. What's next?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you sir! Seats, seats are next!

      Delete
  2. Nice Alex! I'm really giving parchment a thought for my interior, but the stick shift console I have is black and I'm not sure the dye would work without multiple coats on the plastic. Looking forward to the next installment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dennis. Good point on covering the black but I have some ideas that might work that you could try on a test piece.

      Delete
  3. Nice save on the radio bezel Alex. Necessity is the mother of invention. I imagine that as Dennis is reading the section on cutting the fastback/coupe console for the vert - his inner voice is screaming NOOOOO!!!!!!! :) :)

    Look forward to seeing those seats upgraded!

    rj

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! Believe me, I was screaming the entire time I was cutting it! :-)

      Delete
    2. LOL RJ! I was thinking, "How's he gonna get that to fit? But then the thought crossed my mind: "What if my console is out of a 'vert instead of a coupe or fastback. (it's buried deep in a storage unit) Hey! Alex, why don't you send me the pieces you cut out and I'll just plastic weld them into mine if I need to? :-D

      Delete
    3. Hahaha! Will do! Hmmm... maybe we should have compared notes first? Could have swapped!

      Delete
  4. So, I had Googled "1968 Mustang Console gear indicator light replacement" and your blog was one of the hits. After reading the installment on the console I went back to the beginning and read every post. A lot of the entries involved things I will never, ever get into (body work, transmission overhaul, etc - just don't have the knowledge, skills or tools) but I still enjoyed reading about all of your challenges and triumphs. Looking forward to future installments and sharing in your ultimate victory when you declare "Done!"
    Cheers!
    Ken Thompson Bellville Tx
    1968 Mustang 'Vert. 200-6. Lime Gold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ken! I'm glad you enjoyed the read and I'm sorry I didn't post more detail on the assembly of the sliding indicator light. It doesn't look like Ford made it easy though. I imagine you can reach under there and unhook the rod from the light carrier and slide it out the back after removing console's top pad. Thanks for following, I'll be posting updates into the foreseeable future.

      Delete
  5. Since when are these ever "DONE"... Ha ha.

    Great work n the console Alex. My console is on its way to you for resto next week :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! Ain't that the truth? Thanks Mike but I think you'll be able to do a better job than me.

      Delete