Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mmmm. Smells Like New Sheet Metal

Last week Chris at Mustang Restorations sent me these progress photos basically showing almost everything ripped down to the bare bones. I showed these pics to my wife and she couldn't even figure out what was what:

I was so anxious to get out there with my camera and snap a whole bunch more, but by the time Saturday morning had rolled around, the rear wheel wells, fenders, and rear light valence had been firmly secured in place.

Below is a new fender and wheel well, new leaf spring, plus the old axle, housing and wheels de-rustified and painted, looking as good as new. The axle is covered with a blanket to prevent any new nicks and scratches. What a concept!

I guess once you have things broken down to the basics, putting the new sheet metal in place is probably pretty easy. I'll bet from here on out, it's just like putting together an old plastic model:

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Car on 'Skid Row'

Someone just informed me that Chris at Mustang Restorations has posted a video on YouTube about what's going on at his shop and it just so happens that my car is the first one he talks about. He taped it a few weeks ago, so it was before the flooring work was done, but it's definitely a hoot! Check it out:

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Even when you know it's coming and even if you're paying a lot of money for it (so you should expect it), there's a sense of reward and excitement when you see things like this unfold in front of your eyes for the first time.

I'm not much of a runner, but I'll bet when you're running a marathon, there are a series of feelings that you get as you reach each mile marker. There's so much more to do, and so much more money to be spent, but these milestones are important.

This morning I visited my project, and was delighted to see a completed floor assembly.

Take a look at what it looked like just a couple of months ago...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Visiting Hours

Just like you would visit your wife in the hospital if she was having reconstructive surgery, it was time to take a Saturday morning and pay a visit to the shop.

As you can see from the photos below, the critically-important structural work is well underway, including tearout and reconstruction of the front and rear torque boxes and inner rocker / frame rails.

I've been told many times about the virtues of patience in a project like this, so I'm not expecting a whole lot of progress at this early stage. But there was an excellent sense of renewed structural integrity when I was able to open and close the doors without any special effort.

It's been over 25 years since I've been able to do that. It was cool.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

When a Broken Down Engine is Actually Fun

Cold temperatures seem to be settling into Chicago early this winter, so I'd like to get the engine broken down and to the shop before it becomes ridiculously cold to work in the garage. I have a small $20 space heater which keeps the work area tolerable, but not when it's 20 degrees out.

I have a great book called 'How to Rebuild Small Block Ford Engines' which is helping guide me through the engine breakdown and rebuilding process. I have been pleasantly surprised by how easy the disassembly has been. Pretty much everything has come off without too much effort, which I hope is a good sign.

First you take off the intake manifold..

then remove the heads (10 bolts each)...

Now get your hands on a puller and remove the harmonic balancer from the front of the crankshaft, then take off the timing chain cover...

Now, flip the engine upside down (which is pretty easy on the stand now that the block weighs a lot less) and remove the pistons. There's lots of details I'm glancing over here that are covered in the book I mentioned above...


Now I can lift the crankshaft (which is pretty darn heavy) and remove the camshaft, and it'll be down to the bare metal with no more moving parts, ready to haul to an engine shop.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Adios Old Mustang, We Hardly Knew Ye

Except for the engine and transmission, I've done all that I can (or want to) do. It's time to put her in the capable hands of a trusted, trained, and experienced professional for the heavy-duty work.

After checking out the local vintage Mustang scene here around Chicago, soliciting advice from some of its members, and a couple of shop visits, I've decided to outsource the rust exorcism to Mustang Restorations in Dundee, IL (about 30-40 miles northwest of my home in Chicago).

So yesterday morning the tow truck showed up promptly at 9AM and I wheeled the car into the alley (it was amazing how light and easy it was to maneuver by myself without any engine, transmission, or innards), and off she went.

"Where are you taking me now?"

Below is how my newly emptied garage now looks (time for a little cleanup):

At any given time, it looks like Mustang Restorations has about 20-30 cars at various stages of restoration or fixup, not exclusively Mustangs but clearly the vast majority. Chris, the proprietor (shown below in the white lab coat wheeling my car into his shop), clearly knows what he's doing and knows every screw and bolt on any 60s-70s Mustang. He even had a Mustang II in his shop (Yikes!).

Chris will take his time over the next few months (everyone I've talked to has stressed patience in this process) and remove/replace any rusted components, including the rocker frame rails, quarter panels, floor, torque boxes, battery fender apron, wheel wells, blah blah blah.

With any luck (and a few dollars less in my bank account), next Spring I should have a newly reconstructed car with zero rust, a painted engine compartment (we'll save the car painting for last) ready to plug in my newly rebuilt engine, transmission, and interior.

I know, I'm making it sound a lot simpler than it's going to be, but a guy can dream, can't he?

Thursday, November 20, 2008