Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's All About the Concours of Course.

My club, The Mustang Wranglers, was invited to the 42nd Annual Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance to represent "50 Years of Mustangs".  I was asked to represent the classic convertible body style so I jumped at the opportunity (free admittance!).

We started out by waking up at about 4:00 AM so we could meet the club at the staging point at around 5:00 AM.  For my wife and I, it was a 30 minute drive.  After everybody had arrived at the staging point, we drove as a group (more of a parade, really) to the show site another 20 minutes away.   As we pulled into the Pacific University campus, they directed us up a narrow sidewalk between two buildings where we played a large game of "Car Tetris" to fit the 12 vehicles into the venue that was assigned to us.  Later on a pile of Porches arrived and were situated between us and the entrance.  This show was also representing the 50 year anniversary of the GTO for which THEY got to be placed in the main show grounds just up the hill (harumph!)

Between 6:00 AM, when we arrived, and 8:00 AM when the show starts and then 4:30 PM when we were officially allowed to leave, it made for a long day.  However, once our club placed our lawn chairs in a large Pow-Wow circle and BS'd and started answering attendees questions, the day actually went fairly quickly.  Also, there was food and a LOT of cars to look at.

Separate from us and up in the main show area, there were the Judged Mustangs which were either very original and thus concours by nature or beautifully restored concours cars.  The winner of that category, which included 64.5 - 72 Mustang.  That's right, ALL body styles and builds in one 8 year span.  The winner was a gorgeous 1967 Shelby GT-350 (which wouldn't start when came time for him to drive to the winner's circle.  LOL!)

The show had pretty much wound-down by 3:30 with many of the show cars having packed up and left so we dropped the ropes and snuck out as well.  All in all it was a fun time and we're proud to have been a part.

It was a bit chilly in the morning so top was up.  I dropped it around 8:00 AM.

Other representatives included 2 1969 Mach 1's, a gorgeous 1968 fastback, and a very original 1964.5 coupe driven by it's original owner.

And then 8 more later model Mustangs including Boss 302, Cobras, Saleens, and others.

This is the collection of judged Mustangs.  The winner was that red convertible Shelby in the background.

This was my personal favorite judged car.  A perfect 67 GT convertible.

One of the stars of the show was this 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900, designed by Touring

Just breathtaking.

Try not to notice the bored millionaire in the background.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

New Shoes/Problem/Near Death Experience/Success

One of the most contentious chapters of the restoration story of Ol' Rusty was the retention of the original wheels and hub-caps (white walls out!).  Honestly, I liked them.  I thought they gave the car a nostalgic olde' fashioned feel.   I had received some positive comments on them from strangers but maybe those were more like the polite comments of passers-by about an ugly baby, "Oh, he has the most impressive ears and the crossed eyes give him an aire of mystery!"

Regardless, I've always had new wheels in the plans for the old girl but after visiting the local Les Schwab for a quote and coming out with a $1600 heart-stopping response.  They didn't sell 14" wheels that I could use with my existing tires so of course that meant a whole new set of tires AND wheels 15" or larger.  Now, I like slightly larger wheels as much as the next guy but am not a fan of anything larger than about 17".  Regardless of my personal tastes (or lack thereof) the guideline I've followed with this build has generally centered around originality and, above all, budget.

For the past couple of years, I had strongly believed that I was limited to larger wheels due to the largish 11" front OEM style rotors; that 14" wheels wouldn't fit them.  After discovering VMF user Dodgestang's wheel guide, and after reading several threads regarding wheel fitment, my conviction regarding wheel size receded into the realm of myth.  It was stated by several well-known experts in the area of Mustang wheels and brakes, that pretty much any wheel manufactured in the past 30 years will fit OEM discs.

One fine day CJ Pony Parts had another of their famous 20% off sales and what should be included in the sale but a set of 14" Wheel Vintiques Magnum 500 wheels in a kit with center caps and lug nuts for $599 with free shipping.  How could I pass that up?  The kit was actually a pair of 14x6 wheels for the front and 14x7 wheels for the rear.

About a week later, the wheels arrived on my doorstep.  I called my local Les Schwab tire center and set up an appointment for that evening to drop the new and old wheels off to be switched over.  Before doing so, however, I felt the extreme need to open one of the 14x6 boxes and test-fit the new wheel on my disc brakes.  Sure enough, they fit perfectly and didn't rub any part of the steering or disc assembly but the whole story wouldn't be told until the tires were mounted.

Boxes and boxes of shiny goodness

Does it fit?

Yep, seems to fit!

A bit more confident in my purchase, I threw the 4 old wheels/tires and 4 new wheels in the back of the SUV and dropped them off at the tire shop.

While the wheels were away and the car was up on jack stands, I took the opportunity to fix an issue that had cropped up during the past couple of weeks.  I had noticed a tiny puddle of oil under the rear right tire when I backed out the garage.  I wiped it up, took the car out for a drive, and parked it again.  The puddle had returned, with the unmistakable odor of gear oil.

Now, replacing an axle seal isn't really that big of a job.  The problem is the mess it leaves behind, the brake shoes were completely soaked as well as the entire brake assembly.  It all had to come out and be cleaned up or replaced.  I ordered two sets of Raybestos 151PG Professional Grade Drum Brake Shoes and a new 9569S Seal.  Why two sets of pads?  Because I was taught by the old man that brake pads/shoes should be replaced equally on both sides.  Why the 9569S seal?  Because that's the correct seal for the 8" open rear diff with 28 spline axles specifically 1.365" x 2.264" x .4375".   If you accidentally buy the seal for the 7.25" rear diff, it will look very similar but actually .0485" larger OD and will eventually fail.  Ask me how I know.  No, I didn't accidentally buy the wrong seal, I was SENT the wrong seal and failed to confirm the OD before installing it.  I felt something was wrong (look for the quote, "Those seals were very difficult to drive in and have a kind of concave look to them. Honestly, I think the repro seals from NPD are a few thousandths too large OD") but decided to put my faith (and ignorance) into it it instead of correcting it.  Fast forward a few thousand miles and there I was, staring back into the void of an axle housing tube.

I really didn't encounter any problems with the seal swap as I had removed the 4 nuts that hold the axle bearing retainer allowing the whole axle to slide out of the housing.  Once removed the brake shoes were a cinch to remove, clean up, and replace.  The old seal was popped out with a slide hammer and the new one driven back in with a seal driver and finally, the whole she-bang re-assembled.  The other side just required the shoes to be replaced so I repeated the process with the wheel hub in the way that time.

Uh-oh, that's not good.  A black spot of trouble.

Yep, it's fatal.

Four nuts hold the axle shaft in.
Axle removed

See.. that don't look right...

I shouldn't have left it like this when I refurbished the rear diff.

The new seal.  It's narrower than the original.  We'll see if it lasts.

Looks like it fits better.

New brake shoes.

Axle installed with cleaned-up drum

Ready for the wheel.

Finally, I could install in the new wheels.  I put the 14 x 7's on the back and the 14 x 6's on the front and gave them a snugging with the air hammer and ensured that they rotated fine with the tires on the wheels (they did!).  I dropped the car off of the jack stands and checked the clearance again while I popped the new center caps over the hub.  I wondered to myself, "How do they looked out in the daylight?"  I jumped in the car and back out onto the driveway to take a look.  Nice!  I called my wife out and said, "Want to take a test drive?"   She got her coat and off we went... see anything wrong yet?   If so, I wish you would have called me!  If not, it's okay, I didn't either...

We got about a half mile down the road with the radio on and the wind in our hair and my wife reaches over and turns the radio down.   This bums me out a bit, is she just getting too old for a good tune on an evening drive?  I begin to protest and she says, "Sush!  Do you hear that 'thunking' sound?".  I listened... and I did.  Ooohhhhhh..... crap.  My blood ran cold and the hairs stood up on my neck and I started muttering expletives while s..l..o..w..l..y.. turning into the nearest parking lot.  Yup, you guessed it, the friggen wheel was LOOSE!  Clunkity... clunkity... clunkity... with every rotation.  I grimaced with every 'clunk' as I got her pulled into a parking lot and let out a huge breath while I set the brake.  The right front wheel was very slightly askew.  I pulled the jack and lug wrench from the trunk and lifted the car up at each wheel to push the wheel back to the hub and friggen tighten that son-of-a-gun down.

I was so thankful for having my loving wife at my side at that time, you'll never know.  Thanks again Kelly, sorry  I tried to kill us Hon!  I came > < this close to going onto the freeway so she very probably saved our lives.  After I was sure that each wheel was secure, we continued our test drive without any more drama.  The new wheels look great and ride is very smooth.  We're very fortunate that no damage was done during my brain fart.  I know this is common-sense stuff but I hope others will remember this and laugh at my stupidity while they torque their wheels down.

Ohhh... sssssexy.  Whitewalls IN this time.

This story has a fairly happy ending, however, because that weekend we took Ol' Rusty to participate in the Mustang Wrangler's 37th Annual All Ford Show and Swap Meet.  This is an event that my club puts on once a year and although we're not allowed to judge, we can enter and be judged by the public and members of other regional Ford clubs.  We were honored to received 1st Place in 67-68 Convertible Mustang class.  The trophy is in the shape of an old visible gas pump and serves as a liquor dispenser.

Winner winner chicken dinner!

What to fill it with?
I don't know if it was the new wheels or just luck but I think I now see why some folks buy the wheels before they even begin to fix up the car.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

6... Long... YEARS

Yep, I started this blog 6 years ago today with the first entry, What's This All About.  Since then, I've been joyful, tearful, abused, abusive, destructive, creative, hated, hateful, loved, loving, and about a half dozen other emotional adjectives.

I wrote the sub-title to read Walk with me in my journey to restore a 1968 Ford Mustang Convertible and you did and for that I am thankful.  Thank you all for sharing this journey with me my loyal readers for without your motivation and support, I would have thrown in the towel (and angle-grinder) many years ago.

        - Alex O.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Kicking Up The Volume

Back in February I installed a RetroSound brand radio.  It worked fine but I was only able to squeeze so much sound out of the single dual voice coil speaker in the dash when the top was down on the highway at 65 MPH with the traffic, wind, and exhaust note.

Fortunately, CJ Pony Parts (CJPP) had one of their 20% off sales in March so I set out to examine their offerings in kick panel speakers, the simplest speaker expansion option available for a convertible.  The others being door speakers requiring special, deluxe, interior door cards as well as cutting into the door panel's sheet metal.  The other option is to install speakers in the rear interior quarter trim panels which would also require much modification to install and make look stock.   CJPP offered two kits for the 68 convertible.  One kit featuring Pioneer speakers and the other with generic speakers with every thing else remaining equal.  After some deliberation, I was able to rationalize the purchase of the cheaper of the two kits with the following arguments: 1) How bad could the cheap speakers be?  and 2) If they truly are that bad, I could always upgrade the speakers from a 3rd party such as Amazon for potentially less money than CJPP was charging for the pioneers.  So, I pulled the trigger and awaited their arrival.

A few days later a largish box arrived at my door which I ferreted down to the garage and tore it open.  Inside was a pair of black (you could only order them in black) plastic kick panels and a set of el-cheapo speakers (Pyle).  I immediately noticed the complete lack of instructions and the lack of any discernible way to mount the speaker in the kick panel.  I searched the web and stumbled across a video on YouTube posted by CJPP on how to install the speakers.  This proved to be VERY helpful but not to go too lightly on them, a note in the box would have been nice.  Long story short, the grill of the speaker pops off and you just drive 6 screws through the edge of the speaker into the plastic.  The speaker kit comes with 3 screws per speaker and some clips but I opted to use 6 of my own #6 sheet metal screws to secure that sucker down so there's no rattling or such.

After affixing the speakers to each of the panels, I removed the speakers and then scuffed the crap out of the plastic with a scuff pad.  Why would I mistreat my brand new, shiny, kick panels like this?  To remove any shine from the panel as well as any errant release agents so that the 68 Light Parchment paint from NPD would stick to them!  Next, I sprayed them with "Prep Clean" and gave them 4 - 5 coats of paint and let them sit.  Additionally, I painted the speaker grill covers.

Shiny new black kick panels and el-cheapo speakers

Back side of the panels.  Speaker grill removed.

Scuffed up in preparation for paint

After paint

Speaker mounted with 6 screws.

Grill affixed and side cowl mounting holes drilled.

The speakers were then screwed back onto the panels with their 6 screws and the grill covers replaced thus completing the assembly of the speakers.  Before they could be installed, however, one more task needed to be completed first.  Wiring!  I pulled the console radio panel out of the car and removed the speaker harness from the back of the radio.  I had previously installed two connectors for the dual voice coil dash speaker but now need to solder on the remaining two connectors for the kick panel speakers.  I had ordered a couple more pairs of the wiring extensions from Jegs because they contain the retro-style dual pole connectors.  I cut a pair of them in half and soldered one to the speaker lead and one to the radio harness and repeated the process for each harness/speaker pair.  The speaker leads were then plugged into the speaker contacts.

Radio speaker harness "before"

The two-pole extension chosen for it's connectors

Extension cut in half and soldered to the speaker harness

Other end of the extension soldered to the speaker lead.

Business end of the speaker wire jacked into the voice coil leads

Ready to install

To remove the original, speaker-less, kick panels, the sill plate first has to be removed from under the door followed by removing the two screws holding the panel to the side cowl.  The new panels were then slid in taking care to keep the wires projecting from the top of the panel to allow them to be routed across the firewall to the back of the radio.

I ran into a snag with the passenger side as the kick panel was too tall to fit between the dash and the top of the inner rocker so I had to remove about 1/4" from the bottom.  After that, the height was okay but the speaker contacted the cowl side and didn't allow the panel to lay flatly in position.  Instead, it bows out slightly but the plastic is flexible enough to allow the installation to continue.  I'm unsure what happened other than needing an even narrower speaker.  I did not encounter the same problem on the driver side which confused me even more.  So, this mystery still remains to be solved but until then, the install is usable.  Regardless, the screws were driven into the side cowls and the speakers were affixed in their new positions and the sill plates replaced.

Remove the sill plate

Remove two screws

Exposed side cowl

Speaker doesn't sit flush

The passenger side panel is too tall.

Cutting off about 1/4".  Should have done this BEFORE paint!

That's better.  Speaker installed.

There's a slight gap between the sill plate and the panel that wasn't evident with the original panel.

Driver side ready to route the wire

I then crawled up under the dash and carefully routed the wires along the top of the firewall to the back of the radio.  The radio's speaker harness was then reinstalled and the speaker leads plugged into their counterparts appropriate for LEFT and RIGHT.

The nest of radio wires.  See if you can find the new wires for the kick panel speakers

Passenger side done.

Driver side done.

Finally, the radio panel was reinstalled into the console.   I nervously (yeah, things go POOF when wiring is done incorrectly) turned the ignition key to "accessory" and was rewarded with the radio coming on and tuning into 105.1 (the BUZZ) to the tune of "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons.   I fiddled with the radio fade and balance controls and confirmed that both speakers were functional and in their correct "left" and "right" settings.

I must admit that the sound quality is not exactly blowing my mind or anything but it is definitely possible to crank the radio much louder than I could previously.  I hear some rattling during times of heavy bass but generally, this will do fine for Summer cruising.

Regarding the physical projection of the speakers out into foot well, I don't find them obtrusive at all.  I think this is partly due to the fact that the car is an automatic so there's no whacking the speaker grill with my foot when I attempt to press the clutch.  There is some obstruction of the windshield washer pedal but I don't use it all that often.

I think they look "stock enough" for my tastes.  If the sound of the speakers begin to annoy me, I'll just pick up a pair of Pioneer or similar if I need to.  The nice thing is that to remove and replace the speakers, all I need to do is remove the grills, remove the 6 screws, unhook the speaker leads from the speakers and replace them with the pioneers.  No need to pull the kick panels again.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Getting My Signals Crossed

This blog entry started way back in March with VMF user "Robsan" posting a request for anybody whom has been able to rewire the 68 Mustang's front marker lights to work as one might expect them to.  Before this question makes any sense to those of us that either don't own a 68 or simply haven't noticed the eccentricity of the front marker/signal lights let me give a refresher course on the factory function of these lights.

When the headlights are off, the front side markers are off and the front markers under the bumper act as turn signals.  When the headlights are switched to the parking position but with headlights off, the side markers come on steady but do not act as turn signals whereas the front markers under the bumper turn on stead AND act as turn signals.  Finally, when you turn on the headlights, the unexpected occurs; the front markers under the bumpers turn OFF but still act as signals but the side markers remain lit and still serve no signal function.

Long story, short, Robsan developed a wiring harness that is installed between the factory engine compartment light harness and the front marker lights that would supposedly solve the issue.  He had gone on to post a link to a couple of videos where he demonstrated the functionality and sure enough, the harness allowed both front marker lights to act as signals AND markers that were constantly on while the headlights were on... exactly as one might expect them to function.

This appeared to be well thought-out and completely reversible modification so I requested more information at which point he made me a customized harness which included a tap for my halos to allow them to remain on solid while allowing the front markers to act as signals.  He posted a video for me to demonstrate the new harness and it's functionality and I was sold.  I purchased a harness set with which he also included a pair (3 actually) dual filament, amber bulbs modified to fit the Mustang side marker socket.

The installation would normally, literally, be "plug and play" but due to my halo headlights, I also needed to modify my halo power leads to utilize the new connector that he provided to tap into the adapter harness.  This was a matter of cutting the connector off of the halo power lead and de-soldering and repairing the side marker lead where I had previously tapped power for the halos.  To provide power to my halos I simply soldered the connector that was provided with the harness and plugged it into the provided lead of the adapter.

The installation of the adapter itself, sans the halos, would have been to

1) Unplug the front and side marker leads from their factory supply connectors.
2) Plug the harness input connectors to the factory supply connectors as marked on the harness
3) Plug the side marker lead into the appropriately marked output lead of the adapter
4) Plug the front marker lead into the appropriately marked output lead of the adapter
5) Screw the the ground lead of the adapter to a ground point on the chassis (my side marker housing)
6) Replace the side marker single-filament bulb with the provided dual filament bulb.

Then button everything up and use the headlights to confirm that everything does indeed work as advertised, and it does.


Side and front marker leads removed from their supply connectors and replaced with the harness input leads.

Adapter ground lead attached.

Side and front marker leads plugged into the harness outputs

The new dual filament bulb (in hand) and the soon-to-be-replaced single filament bulb.

Dual filament bulb in socket

Wires buttoned-up.

Success.  Not really possible to show the signals in operation but both the side and front function while headlight is on or off and both lights also come on when headlight is on.
So that's all there is to it.  I recommend that you shoot Robsan a PM if you want this mod on your own 68.  He does some top-quality work.