So here's the story, back around 2004 or 2005 I was at the end of my lucrative manual labor career and was getting ready to make a change. I had purchased this 71 ford Thunderbird Hardtop a few years previous and, after a few years of being unable to work on it, it had degraded till the point it wasn't fit to be used in my new career. so it was parked. Now, after a few years, I am able to pull it back outta the tree line and attempt to resurrect it. This blog will follow along with the progress from rust bucket hoopty to a (once again) nice ride.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Heating and AC

So when I started driving the bird I noticed that not only did it not have cold ac but it didn't really have heat either.. In fact even with the fan on full blast the air would just barely trickle forth from the vents. I decided that it was time to investigate that.

I removed the heater side of the box off the firewall along with the heater core. Then I removed the evaporator from the housing to remove the last piece of the housing. In the picture below the fan resides behind the circular looking housing at the left, the air blows from that housing into a second housing differentiated by the black tar tape on the left (that had long since fallen off) and the evaporator core on the right. The evaporator core is what is on the end of the two black hoses coming into the picture from the right. The last piece I removed was the piece between the fan housing and

New tar tape, some new paint. I even took the opportunity to restore the heater hoses with new heater hose and restored metal piping from the water pump to the heater core
the evap core.. That housing is sorta a three walled thing.. A top, front and bottom with the fourth wall of the air passage being the firewall behind it. This box is insulated by some 1/8 inch or so white plastic material and it had came loose on all three sides of the small passage and curled into the passage one on top of the other.

Between those blocking the passage and the sealant missing between the housings there was little wonder why I didn't have any air moving.

I was having a hard time getting one of the nuts started on the very bottom of the box (right up there between the bottom of the firewall and above the transmission, behind the engine) so I removed the passenger side inner fender well to get at things better.

I did finally get everything put back in there and I now have air. I discovered upon removing the inner fender well that the sheet metal that makes up the front most portion where it changes from wheel well to battery tray was all but completely gone. Last time I was at Anderson's wrecking I took the camera along to take some shots to help remind me what all was there. This past weekend I popped down there and pulled the wheel well from a doner car... not perfect either of course but WAY better than what I have.

Well so I do have air moving (and heat) but no cold air.

NO compressor?? Yup..

I jumped from the battery to the clutch on the compressor to see if it was working and it was.. I checked the power lead going to the clutch on the compressor with everything set for cold and didn't have any power there at all. I chased the wire back from the compressor and in through the firewall and everything was good there. No breaks. It was either checking the connections at the controls or chase the wire through the dash and one is way easier than the other so the controls were next. With the key set to acc and the control set for cold I stuck a finger up in there and managed to jiggle the right wire because I heard the solenoid snap closed on the clutch. So it was a bad connection on the spade connectors from the heater/acc controls to the wire harness.. kinda amazing.. you would think that you might have intermittent operation.. but nope this was just flat nothing.. anyway I pulled the pigtail that goes from the wire harness to the controls to pay some attention to the connectors and plan to get everything back together this weekend and give it a try. The compressor probably hasn't been spun in years and years.. Either it will work or I will burn the belt off. Place your bets now folks.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dash vents

I know it's been a long time, I'm sorry about that. I will try to do better.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

'Bird spends some 'outside time'

Green grass courtesy of spring rain and sun
The front bumper once again reflects the ground in front of the car instead of the floor of my washing porch..

I put a charge on the battery and went for a drive around town a bit.. the bird squaked a little when I was leaving the gas station so I knew it was happy to be out of it's cage.

I guess the next thing, after I put in the other things I picked up at Andersens (couple of defroster vents... fan shround) would be to do some rust repair on the body.. interior mostly... I'm thinking about driving it around town to body shops to find out what they would charge for a little patch work....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bumper clip nut revue

Afternoon off
Sunny day
Road trip to Andersen's Wrecking in Kearney
Bumper clip on nuts found
Expect a photo with the bumper back on soon.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Say "ahhhh"

Open wider.. there we go.

The thunderbird gets it's hood latch rod reinstalled. The only way to get at the hood latch was to remove the grille, the only way to remove the grille was to take the bumper loose.. and two out of four of the captured nuts inside of the frame rails came loose..

I went down to the parts store and purchased an assortment of snap locks to keep the rod affixed in it's hole on the latch.. and spent some time hammering on the rod to straighten it back out.. evidently it was a struggle to get it removed when it came unhinged. It works nice..

I spent allot of time laying under the car on the concrete with the bumper siting on my chest and my arms over my head trying to get those last two bolts out so I could replace the two clip-on nuts.. but i got them.. I did do some looking around town in various parts stores but haven't been able to find any replacements for the broken ones. I will try Fastenal next week.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hood latch,

Ever since I purchased the car way a long time ago the way you open the hood was with a stiff piece of wire that was looped around the latch mechanism and looped around a bar in the grill. Looked o.k.. and worked just fine but it just wasn't right.

I had been watching an ebay auction for some time that had the latch assembly and the latch pull rod all complete.

This weekend I was scrounging around in one of my boxes of Bird stuff for a screw and happened upon a strange looking bent metal rod. I thought it looked familiar so I looked at the auction once more to check and I'll be darned if it didn't look like the same thing.. the auction also showed a small bracket that the rod goes through.. grabbing the light around to the front of the car I peered up into the grill on the same side of the piece of wire.. nothing there.. checking on the other side I saw a bracket there.. a quick check in my manual to see which side it should be and it turns out that I already have all the parts necessary (save for a snap lock to hold the rod in the hole on the latch)..

I've removed the auction from my watch list.. leaving just the auction for the radiator shroud that ends in 20 hours.. wish me luck..

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rube Goldberg machine transmission linkage.

Reuben Garret Lucius Goldberg (July 4, 1883 - December 7, 1970) was an American cartoonist who received a 1948 Pulitzer Prize for his political cartooning. He is best known for his series of popular cartoons depicting Rube Goldberg machines, complex devices that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways. In addition to his accomplishments he was also the supposed inspiration for the transmission linkage of late 60s early 70s Ford Motor Company productions.

Starting from the steering column there is a connecting rod from the column (1) to a steel bar (2) on the linkage assembly.. This turns a steel rod that sits in a pivot point on each end (3) and four (4)... the rod has a steel bar welded to it that has a rod connected to (5) it that finally connects directly to the actual shift lever (6) on the transmission body.. All of those linkage points add to the overall play felt on the shifter lever inside of the car.

One of the items that was on order I mention in a previous post were a group of three transmission linkage bushings to tighten up the linkages.

In working underneath the car I found out that the linkage in the car was actually completely missing a bushing.. so I made a run to Anderson's Wrecking in Kearney and prowled the yard for a linkage with that bushing in tact.. I also picked up a new shift connecting rod, since it was rusted up enough that it broke when I was trying to remove the assembly.

I put the linkage assembly in easy enough and got to the point where I needed to replace those three bushings. The first two (the one on the shift rod, and the one for the pivot on the column) went in easy enough... and so it was down to the last one that connected the rod from the column to the frame mounted linkages.. LET me tell you... I wore groves into that rod with the channel locks trying to get it to snap in there.. after some time.. applying all of that torque to the rod I could feel the bushing on the other end of the rod becoming sloppy, So I decided to just remove that rod and apply the snap-lock bushing directly to it outside of the car... That didn't work either.. by this time I had pretty well destroyed two of the three bushing I spent so much for (like 10 bucks each) from T-Bird Sanctuary and I had been working at it all afternoon.. I gave up.

The next day I dropped by BG&S transmission here in town and told the guy at the counter "Looking for something like this" handing him one of my obliterated bushings.. He went to the back and came up with a couple.. He handed them to me.. When I asked how much I owed him he told me not to worry about it cause I'll be back some day. Got home and noticed that those bushing seemed to be quite a bit softer than my other bushings.. The one that I had so much trouble with snapped right on and into the hole... that only left the very top one.. well one of the bushings I got from BG&S must have been around for a while (probably so.. old Ford stuff ya know) cause it crumbled on me while trying to get it placed.. Since it had become such an ordeal by this time I just wanted to get the car back on the ground.. I used one of the lesser destroyed bushings from before and got everything put back together..


it isn't quite right since the bushing at the top is kinda destroyed.. but it's back on the ground and the shifter is way tighter than it was.. I feel comfortable now leaving it run in park.. before the only way you would want to let it run in park is if you had your foot on the brake.. it had a tendency to pop into reverse and then well... the chase would be on..

Monday, February 11, 2008

Stuff came

I mailed off an order to T-Bird Sanctuary at the very begining of January. I waited until mid January before contacting them about it.

Hello Bob,

I sent an order to you at the beginning of this month, I would have thought that I would have seen some bank activity with the check I mailed by this time.. I have not.. My name is T-Bird_Guy and the order would have been for three shift linkage bushings and a manual set all for the 71 Thunderbird.

Can you tell me if indeed the order has been received yet or not, perhaps I need to stop payment on that check and make other arrangements.

Thank you.
I got back
Sorry. We did not receive the order you described. Bob
I decided I would wait until that following weekend had elapsed before placing a stop payment order with my bank and resending the order with a new check.
Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2008 3:21 PM

Hey Bob,

I have cancelled that check it's number was 1418 if you do eventually receive that check please destroy it.

I am now resending my order.

Thanks Bob
And waited a while longer before....
Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2008 1:28 PM
To: Bob Peters
Subject: Re: My order


I see that check number 1419 got through. You have no idea how happy that makes me. I see that there is a period of time for the check to clear, it will, but I'll be patient. Looking forward to getting my order.

Thanks again.
Saturday, January 26, 2008 3:58 PM

Yes, we did receive your order. If fact we got both of them. On Wednesday, the 23rd, we received your order and assumed that IT was the replacement, so the check went in the bank. Then on the next day, the 24th, we received a duplicate order which you had marked as the replacement. Since I know you put a stop payment on the original check, I know your bank will send it back marked stopped payment, so I deposited the replacement check and will send out your order shortly. The post office really messed us up on this one. Bob
I got the package the middle of last week..(the 6th of Feb or so).. Why it took SOOO long for the first one to make it through I have no idea. What about it USPS?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Chrome off

The surround that goes around the gauges was painted chrome around the outsides and black inside of the individual gauge pods. After 37 years this paint had largely worn away or became so affected by the elements that if you swiped it with your finger you came away with little pieces of alternating shiny/black crumbs.. So it was time to resurface it. I pulled the cluster out and began cleaning it. Sanding off the old finish with a green scuff pad. Toward the end of cleaning it I took it to the tub to make sure all sanding dust was off and as soon as the hot water started hitting the old surface It began coming away from the plastic like it was so much dirt. After that was done I was left with a basically in the raw plastic piece. So began my quest for the perfect "Chrome" paint.

  • 1. Duplicolor Chrome

  • 2. Krylon Metallic

  • 3. Rustoleum Metallic
    "New Brighter Finish"

  • 4. Rustoleum Bright Coat

  • 5. Plastic Coat Metallic
I purchased five different cans of metalic paint. I then found an old piece of plexiglass and taped off five separate areas. Each sections was then numbered and received two coats of each paint. Each coat was spayed heavy enough to 'pool' and loose it's orange peel.

The results:
Image recognition from best to worst.
4,1,5,3,2... The BEST image recognition came out of can 4 the Rustoleum Bright Coat followed pretty closely by the Duplicolor Chrome with finally the Plastic Coat Metallic trailing a little further back.. Numbers 2 and 3 weren't any better than a silver color. When referring to tint I suppose 2 and 3 could be considered a lighter color but for my purposes that doesn't nearly make up for the lack of image recognition. the over winner is number 4 the Rustoleum Bright Coat..

Friday, January 25, 2008

Dash lights

Back awhile I had an event inside of the dash wiring. I was living in Kearney at that time and so I took it down to a local place to have the wiring checked. Well I tell you I can't ever remember having the lights on the windshield wiper pod work or the lights on the heater controls so I wanted to check that out and see if I could figure it out.. Since my shop manual haven't arrived yet I worked on it blind.

So here is what I did... The blue and red wire with the blue splice: they had the right side of the splice (that goes to the fuse block) just clipped clean. and they had the other end that comes from the headlight switch spliced to the red and blue wire that goes to the gauge cluster connector hanging in front, the wire that should have been connected to the gauge cluster block was also just clipped clean.. Then they had a wire leached onto the thick yellow wire and stuck into the headlight switch.. to provide power to the mess... since the correct wire from the fuse block was hanging free, clipped clean.. everything works great now... next thing is vacuum..

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ignition overhaul / upgrade

It ran, but it didn't run very well at all.. It was time to overhaul and upgrade the ignition system. This car was running on the same points system that it was when the car was produced in the early 70s and I decided it was time to upgrade to a breakerless ignition system. Also on the list were new upmarket plug wires and a new distributor cap and rotor.

Plug Wires: The first component I swapped out were the plug wires and let me tell you they weren't nearly as easy as I thought they were going to be. Part of the instructions were to "slide the boot over the wire".... heh.. "slide".. yeah right.. these plug wires aren't encased in the normal plastic or rubber like some other sets but instead silicone.. and with the boots also made of silicone and a tight fit to the wires there wasn't any "sliding" to it.. the included grease didn't do a bit of good to help them slide at all.. also bearing grease, cooking grease, almond oil,motor oil or butter had no effect. No. I didn't really try them all, but I felt like I did.. what I ended up doing is taking some fine utility wire and making a loop around the wire, then fed that wire through the boot and using a small amount of plaster dust to keep everything from sticking to each other, pulled the wire and dragged the wire through the boot.. I then just trimmed the end off of the plug wire to remove any potential of the wire having any breaks in it from the tugging it was put through. I got them cut to length and terminals clamped on and so on with a bit of effort and moved on the the next task.

Breakerless Ignition (and rotor/cap): I was really pretty impressed with the Crane Cams upgrade kit over all and you'll see some pictures of it further down.

The first thing to do to install the kit is to remove the distributor cap and take a look underneath. You'll see something similar to the top image in the photo set. Don't be intimidated with any of that as we will be removing everything you see. After taking a peek and pondering the function of everything in there (I could tell you, but it really isn't that interesting) Remove the points set and the condenser. The condenser is the metal can at the top of the photo. remove all of that by the screw just beside the condenser the two screws holding the points set and the one nut that holds the black wire coming through the distributor body. Once that is out and laid aside remove the vacuum advance assembly by removing the two bolts on the front of the distributor body and the one "E" clip holding the vacuum advance arm onto the distributor plate. HOLD ONTO THE "E" CLIP.. We will need it later. (I actually misplaced mine but I had an old carburetor laying around I pirated one off of).. Push the black rubber grommet out of the body of the distributor and take the black wire out with it.Remove the wire from it's connection with the coil. Remove the two screws and remove the plates from the distributor body.. Put them in a safe place in case you ever would like to revert to a breaker system. You should now see the mechanical advance weights and springs below, take a moment to check to make sure everything is in good condition and moves freely.

Installing Crane Cams point conversion kit: I sat down at the table and assembled the parts just so I could see for sure which bolt went where etc. before I had thread lock drying on me and stuff. Notice the bottom adapter plate with the holes in it in the middle photo. ;-)

The first plate to go into the dist. case is the bottom plate then the plastic bushing and last the top plate. Make sure the holes in the bottom plate line up with the bolt holes in the case.and make sure the openings in the top plate line up with the holes in the bottom plate.. and make sure that both plates have the "up" marking.. umm... up. Makes things easier. Use the supplied bolts spacers and plastic washers to mount top plate and ground strap. These should be tight.. but not TOO tight otherwise the movement of the vacuum advance will be severely impaired. More about that in a bit.

Put some of the thermal grease on the bottom of the module and after feeding the wires through the hole in the case along with the new grommet attach it loosely to the top plate. This is where the instruction might use a bit more direction. They say to get the module as close as possible with out touching the cam. That is a little vague i think. What I ended up doing is cutting a bit of light weight cardboard (from a french fry container actually) and used that as a shim to place between the cam and the module. Worked pretty well. tighten everything down and reattach the vacuum advance. Route the wires from the module up to the coil and attach them per the instructions. Pull the hose off of the carb that operates the vacuum advance and give it a suck while you watch for proper movement. Mine didn't work that well.. What was happening was the top plate was right up against the inside of that grommet that went through the distributor case. I took out my top plate and used a file to remove a bit of material along the side to free that up. then used a bit of very fine sandpaper to polish the aluminum plate. Taadaa no binding. Set the timing and give it a try.

The T-Bird still ran like crap.

With it sitting there running if I pulled the wire off of the distributor and held it just a little bit away it would run better.. If your spark plugs are very fouled they can actually leak voltage away enough that it never gets high enough to jump the gap and make a spark. By holding the wire away and making the spark jump twice you are in effect taking away that short and making the spark build enough to jump both gaps.. So plugs were in order.

Let me tell you the plugs in this thing were the worst I think I can remember seeing plugs be. Not only black, but little chunks of black stuff on them as well.. really bad..

I got the plugs swapped and it is my joy to tell you that the Bird once again has more power at the rear wheels than the brakes can hold on to. Couldn't do that before. I have a little black spot on the driveway to prove it. Just a little... Weeeeeee.