Thursday, December 12, 2013

Steering Column Part 2

So, to continue where I left off...

I got frustrated at the end of yesterday's message. I was finally able to get the outer portion of the column off, but then my flashlight died for whatever reason and I was left in the dark. Really. So I got a new light and got back to it tonight.

I was able to remove the bulk of the slide away column mechanism and get down to the brake pedal. I rebolted the booster to the firewall because the brake lines are frozen to the brass block on the master cylinder and I'm not real sure what to do about that yet. Another day perhaps.

At any rate, after getting it rebolted, I popped off the e-clip that holds the brake pedal on and removed that. Then, I decided it was time to get that parking brake and driver's side fresh air vent out. Through careful manipulation of my socket wrench, I was able to work the three bolts that hold the parking brake assembly in. And it wasn't easy with that vent in the way. The vacuum release at the top made it a real pain to get out, but after tearing out the section of the firewall pad behind it, i was able to slide it back and down and out. Then the vent.

I was able to finally get to all three of the bolts that hold that vent into the underside of the cowl, so I pulled them out, and started working loose the rubber seal material that was used to make it airtight. After pushing and pulling for a couple minutes, it finally broke loose. I pulled it down and very nearly crapped my pants when I found a mud wasp nest the size of my computer mouse inside of it. Lucky for me, and all my neighbors that would have been awakened by a grown man screaming like a little girl, it appears to be abandoned, but I decided I would end it there for the night, since pushing my luck is not often a wise choice for me.

Next up, pulling the rest of the interior. That will include the driver's seat, the rear lower bench seat, and all the wiring running to the trunk. I'll probably go ahead and pull the taillights too at that time. Man, we are pretty close to getting ready to pull out that big beast 390.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Steering Column Removal

So, on to the steering column, and let me just say, what a pain. The previous owner of the car had installed an aftermarket steering wheel on the car, so my first task was to remove the center hub so I could get to the turn signal selector and the bearing and spring on the shaft. Well, after prying at it for a while, it finally busted loose and I was able to see what exactly I was working with. It wasn't pretty. 50 year old grease and dirt had congealed into a thick layer of sludge all over the inside of the selector hub and housing. I opted to first tackle the bolts in the engine bay that attach the column to the bracket. It's recommended to remove the hood and driver's side hinge first. DO IT. I have fairly slender arms so I was able to work my arms between the brake booster and the hinge, but if i still retained any of the muscle I gained from my Army years, I'd be totally out of luck. It took a good 2 hours to finally get the bolts out, but they are indeed out. So now, back to the interior.

Using my service manual as a guide, I removed the selector switch and the bearing retainer as a single unit, then set my sights on the bearing itself. I popped off the first of the clip washers and removed the spring. Then I peeled out the old bearing insulator and popped out the bearing and I'll tell you right now, that thing is getting some serious TLC before it goes back in. After getting those out I got the two nuts that hold the hub on, and popped it off along with the quadrant and shift detent. I've seen many a picture of old shift detents that are just worn down and relatively useless, and mine certainly fits the bill. It explains a lot as to why I've had so much trouble with my slide away and the ignition issues. The spring that engages when you shift to park that allows the column to move had enough resistance to push the lever out of park. Talk about a safety hazard.

I then removed the shift housing. I was able to spin and work the centering washer out, followed by the second clip washer. I started removing the bolts that connect the column to the slide away unit, and fortunately for me in this case, the slide away door was already out of the car, giving me direct access to the unit. I unbolted the bracket from the underside of the unit and the column fell away, but wouldn't come out. Hm. I rechecked the manual, and it turns out, the stop cam further down the shaft has to come off before you can remove the column. Bummer.

That's where I took this break. Keep reading though, I'll have pictures of the grease disaster and the fully removed column, as well as the rest of the story soon.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A/C and Heater Core Removal

This is by far the most intensive part of the restoration so far, and even though I've only just begun, holy cow was this a pain to get out. On the one hand, it's just plain heavy. On top of that, you've got hoses that connect to the A/C compressor and drier assembly, and getting 50 year old hoses undone takes some serious torque. There's also the issue of half the bolts being under the dash, and the other half being under the hood. Needless to say, a lot of going back and forth.

At any rate, I finally got everything dismantled and out of the car. It is extremely dirty from sitting in the Texas desert for such a long time, but nothing appears to be in horrible shape. Just a fair amount of cleaning and maintenance and it should be ship shape. I've got some pictures posted below. The first shows the heater core and the passenger side floor vent since those two parts are in the same box. The second shows the A/C core and blower fan for the whole assembly, removed as a whole unit because it just made the most sense. And third, the large empty section of firewall where the two used to reside. Should have more updates coming soon. Next thing to tackle is the steering column and the remainder of the interior.

Heater Assembly

Well, I finally have some pictures of the new heater assembly installed. The first picture you can see how I just completely trashed the poor thing. However, in the second, you can see the new switch installed and ready to go. Not a perfect match to the one I broke, but it fits and it should work just fine once it's installed.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Cooling System

Alright, so after much deliberation and research to find out just how much green fluid I would be draining (19 quarts?! Really?) I started loosening hose clamps. I opted for the lower hose where it connects to the block for 2 reasons: 1. The drain cock on the radiator was siezed, and 2. Gravity. So I loosened it up and tried, in vain I might add, to work around the drive belts to loosen the hose. After about 30 minutes trying to work the hose free, i decided to pry it off. Working a screwdriver down in there was tough, but finally I got a steady stream. 10 quarts or so later, the flow ebbed and I realized that gravity only does so much.

Well, at least the radiator was clear for the most part as well as part of the block but I knew there was more in there. All my attempts to remove the hose were useless, and since I'm going to replace them anyway, utility knived that piece until about 5 more quarts spilled out.

As you know, the point of this was to pull the heater core. So at this point i figured most of the coolant would be away from the core by now, so i loosened the hose clamps and pulled them off. Not too much coolant there, just what was still in the core itself, and...success. The core and the bulk of the plenum popped right out.

Stay tuned for pictures. It was an interesting process for sure.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

First New Part

So, during the course of disassembling my dash, I of course needed to remove the heater/AC control assembly. No big deal, just a few vacuum lines and a couple electrical connectors. So, I removed the vac lines no problem, as well as the smaller of the two connectors. It was the larger of the two that gave me some trouble. As anyone with one of these cars that has removed this assembly can attest to, the connectors on the back of the assembly don't really follow any sort of pattern that would make sense to a normal human being. The connectors are turned in all different directions. Well, I started pulling at it, and it wouldn't budge. I wiggled it around because I figured hey, this is a 50 year old car, oftentimes things that old have a habit of being a little stubborn, but still no luck. I could tell by this point that the board that all the connectors were attached to was starting to get a little strained from the pulling, but I needed this part to come off so I persisted. I decided to give it one last try and then...a crunch. the board broke and the connector came off with the harness. Turns out, that connector was rusted into the harness.

Needless to say, I was upset. I mean, these cars are old, and what is the likelihood of finding just that part. I knew there was no way. I looked up the cost of a new assembly, and was crestfallen when I saw the $175 pricetag, and that was for a refurbished one. So I decided to pick the brains of my fellow T-bird owners over at Seems many people find the little odds and ends they need on eBay, so I figured it couldn't hurt to at least look.

I assumed my search would turn up nothing, but I'll be damned if my search didn't turn up just the selector switch and housing with the connectors, and for only $40! He only had 2 left, so I snatched one straight away. I decided it was time to go ahead and get the rest of the manuals I would need to make this restore a success, so I got a copy of the shop manual, as well as the electrical assembly manual, the wiring diagram manual, and the FE390 assembly manual. The switch arrived earlier today, and the manuals should arrive tomorrow, so I'm excited to get some more work done over the holiday.

Since my last post, I've gotten all the emblems off the car, pulled the backseat, the fender mount turn indicators, and some more of the interior and exterior trim pieces. I'm hoping to drain the cooling system so I can get the heater core and the rest of the heater/AC plenum out so I can get down to the fuse box and the rest of the vac lines and wiring. I'll snap some pictures when I finally get that done. After all the wiring and vac lines are out, it's on to the brake system. I'm going to get the front disc brake kit from Larry's T-bird and pick up a dual master cylinder and dual booster for a '65-'66 to give the car a little more stopping power.

It's finally starting to move forward, and I'm more than excited to give this bird back her wings.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Some photos

As you can see, it needs some work. Thats alright though. I wanted work. Check her out, she wont look this way forever.