Lesson Learned

There is so much on the Mustang forums here in the UK about prices of parts for our beloved Mustangs. It’s a well known fact that the cost of living has gone insane amounts, partly due to the Covid pandemic over the last couple of years. There have been shortages of materials, that then means shortage of parts which ultimately leads to supply and demand shortages.

Fact: costs of freight have quadrupled from the USA to the UK. I can state that as I have seen the import duty charged for the last couple of months compared to what they were two years ago to Mustang Maniac. Will the costs go down again? I very much doubt it, so the whole economy suffers in one way or another. Indeed Adam (from Mustang Maniac) had even predicted this a while ago on their blog too.

So where am I going with this? Companies are now careful about what they buy and what they keep in stock, sometimes ordering the parts once they have been paid. I have even heard it said that ‘Stock that sits on the shelf isn’t paying the bills’. I usually ask Mustang Maniac to get me the odd bits and pieces from the USA which he does for me without a problem. To save him the bother this time as I know how busy he gets, I thought I would have a go myself. Here is the story of how it went for me.

I saw a picture of a rather nice PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) valve on an engine that was built ready to be put back into their project car and yes it was a Mustang. This part was required as part of legislation by California state I believe to clean the pollution up. The part is to basically allow a controlled air leak back to the carb to reburn any dirty emissions from the ‘blow by’ of the pistons back into the combustion cycle.

It took me a little while to find where they were being sold, eventually I found it at Summit Racing. I liked the look of the polished aluminum tower with a right angle outlet, something a little different here in the UK, that’s all it was – pure cosmetics.

As it was on another Mustang small block engine, it was treat time for Mart. So I added the part to the basket. The part was $27.50 which worked out to £21.93 this side of the pond.

First thing to hit me was the “Shipping Costs” at $30.63 or £24.42 in the UK.

This is is more than the cost of the part in the first place. Heart was ruling head at this point as I ordered it at a total of $58.13 or £46.35 in UK. That is a lot of money around ten times the price for a standard PCV valve at $4 or so. This was going to be a luxury part.

The part was ordered on Friday 5th May 2022 when I was given a link to a tracking page.

It took nine days to get to the export facility. The part eventually arrived at the UK distribution on Tuesday 24th May 2022, within ten hours of it landing in the UK it was delivered. The six days between 18th to the 24th I assume it was in a row boat heading across the pond to our little ol’ island.

For $30 I expected the part to be flown over by a beautiful Golden Eagle with my part clutched in it’s talons. No need to comment on the postage times as they a plain to see. The 24hr service from Parcel Force in the UK was impressive – but it comes at a cost of course.

The part was in my hand early afternoon and I couldn’t wait to get to the car after work with a little tinkering to be done. The first thing I did was to compare the parts, with the old valve on top, the new one underneath. Diameter of the fitting was correct at 3/4″ fitting to valve cover grommet.

On a side note, the quality of the part wasn’t great, it was marked and tarnished on the surface, you can clearly see it in the picture. I have no doubt I could buff it and polish it up, but why should I have too?

Then I checked the underside for the ventilation hole which was significantly smaller. The new one on the right, the old on the left.

Before I dismantled the old setup, I had already built the new one with a piece of spare vacuum hose ready to be a direct replacement to the original which I know is was working fine. The spring in the new valve was also much stronger than the current one. A little press of the inner plate with a small screw driver confirmed that.

I fired the car up and allowed it to warm up properly. To swap them over it was a simple case to pull out the old valve from the top of the rocker cover and the other end pulls of the vacuum input on the base of the carb. Then I quickly swap them over, literally five seconds or so. I checked the valve was fine by placing my thumb over the bottom and it sucked my thumb to form a seal just as I expect it to before pushing it into the grommet on top of the valve cover.

With the new setup pipe fully in place the car started to cough and splutter with a significant drop to the idle revs. When I selected a drive gear the engine tried it’s best to hang on, but it stalled out. I started the car up again and I had to throttle the gas to keep the engine alive. To keep the engine alive on its own I had to turn the idle adjustment screw up by well over a turn and a half, which is a lot to keep the engine from stalling out. The car didn’t seem to happy with that, I wasn’t happy to make that much adjustment either.

I was disappointed with the product and the results from it, so I swapped the old one back in and reversed the changes I had just made – all was good again.

What valuable lesson have I learned?

The PCV valves are different and will effect on the running of the engine as expected. But, how the valve and current settings are now are fine. To make this part work, I would have to mess with mixtures and idle to which is not good, I was hoping for a straight swap which it should be.

The point to make is that I now have a part in the UK which won’t really work on my car. I could send it back. Lets just say it cost me another $30 to get back to the USA. Then I would have to wait for Summit to reimbursed the cost of the part and not the shipping I paid to send it back. That would mean that I would have spent $60 on shipping with a new total of around $90, just to get my £22 back. That means I would have lost £50 or so on shipping. It’s just not worth it.

However, if I had of purchased the part from the UK, I could have returned it and got a refund with just a fraction of the shipping costs as the part is incompatible or so it seems. My head told me no at the time, and my head was right.

People in the UK are quick to moan (a lot in fact), at the costs of UK shipping and the costs of the parts. The UK supplier would have to put their shipping costs and taxes on the part, along with their business mark-up which is constantly under a squeeze now days. So lets say that part now cost £60 + £5 shipping; I could have returned it and I could have of gotten my money back if it was the wrong part sent to me. But, as it wasn’t the wrong part, it was the part I had ordered, so technically they are under no obligation to take it back unless it’s faulty or mis-sold.

The moral of the story is yes, you can get it cheaper from the USA, pay the shipping, pay the import costs, taxes and whatever anybody else tries to rip you of for. Then you have to wait unless you pay a premium for the postage to get to you in a reasonable amount of time. What if it’s faulty or the wrong part? The decision is yours at the end of the day send it back, or keep it depending on the original amount of money for the part I guess. I’m not on any retainer for this post from anybody – it’s my own findings. I may have another crack at this part later on once I have spoken to the experts at Mustang Maniac for guidance. I like to think that I’m supporting local business who do all the hard work and store these parts until I want them. when you know what’s involved and what could go wrong, the costs aren’t that bad.

I’m not even sure if this will be helpful to anybody to be honest – I just wanted to get it of my chest.

Please let me know what you think or have any points to add.

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Prototype To Production

My last post showed my ‘homework’ for a prototype part kit I was going to install on my car. I mentioned a while ago to Adam at Mustang Maniac that on longer journeys it would be nice to have a little more legroom. He said that had been asked about it some time ago as well, but there wasn’t really anything on the market. Until now that is, those discussions with Adam have been ongoing and he has had a prototype developed by his engineers. We then discussed how this was going to be done, the original plan was to do some filming of the fitting for their YouTube channel, we decided on a slightly different approach to the original plan for now. Two reasons, the first being the UK’s protest morons that have made getting fuel difficult in some parts of the UK. The second was ‘how difficult would the kit be to fit at home without professional workshop equipment?’ The challenge was accepted, fit the rails at home and share my results with Mustang Maniac while saving myself a fist full of dollars in fuel costs and time.

The seat extension runners came from Mustang Maniac. They are designed to allow an additional 2″ or 4″ movement backwards of the seat for additional legroom while still allowing the seat to adjust on the original runners. These runners are made from a heavy gauge steel with threads and cut-outs which allow for a straightforward installation. These extensions bars will fit all Mustang models from 1964 to 1968 by the way.

From my last post here the rails are dried and already painted with satin black ready for fitting.

There are four studs provided with the extension bar kit to allow the repositioned seat to be bolted back into the car without having to cut the floor pans or seat base.

Depending on your preference of course, you could respray these bars to match your interior as they will be a little more visible from outside as the seat will sit further back on the seat base, but not noticeably so. Satin black is always a good starting point and goes with pretty much everything.

Removing the seat.

Under the car there are four rubber grommets (or should be four) in place where the seat rail studs come through the seat base.

Remove the rubber grommets and inspet the inside. If all is good the studs won’t be correded up and will be easy to remove. If the rubber grommets are missing, or there is corrosion on the studs, then you may need to spray a some WD40 (or similar) to help loosen them up and remove. Make sure to use a good quality socket, if you round the fasterners off then you are in for a whole heap of hurt.

Tip:

Fold the back of the chair forward to the seat base as if you were getting out of the back seats. This helps to balance the weight of the seat and allows the fasteners to be removed without the chair tipping back making removal difficult or even bending a seat stud.

Use a deep reach socket to undo the fasteners.

With all four fasteners removed the seat should lift directly upwards out of the car. Notice in the left-hand pic that the seat falls naturally to the rear. Keep the fasteners safe as they will be used again to refit the seat back into place.

With the seat out, now would be a good time to inspect the seat runners and clean the runners up if needed. Apply a little grease to keep the free movement.

Fitting The Extenders

The bars have to be fitted to their correct left or right hand sides and the right way up. Looking at the seat from below the right hand side has the seat movement handle and a extending bracket. This side will need the cut out sectioned runner to be fitted, as the pics below. You can either attach the studs at this point or later the choice is yours. I prefer to do it later so nothing got in the way.

You will notice that there are holes, recessed holes and threaded holes. The standard holes are to allow flush fitting of the bars to the seat rails where the rivets are. The recessed holes allow for the original seat studs to be held flush to the bar. The threaded holes are for the studs position where you want the actual length of the extension to be.

Below shows the third hole down which is recessed and where the original seat stud(s) will go through.

The top hole is the 4″ extention the second one down is the 2″ extension shown in Red.

Yellow shows the location for the seat rail rivets.

Teal colour shows the seat stud holes.

From the position above turn the bar over to fit onto the seat rail flush. Fit the rail over the original seat studs and use some nuts of the correct thread on the seat studs and tighten the bars firmly into place.

You will now need to cut the original seat rail studs flush with the top of the nut. This has to be done in order to fit the seat back into the car and be bolted back into place. Before you do any cutting, make sure that the seat can still freely move with the seat adjustment handle with the extension bars bolted in place.

You can either mark the studs for cutting and remove the fasteners and bars away from the seat, or do it with the bars still bolted in place which is easier to be honest. I used a Dremel and a thin cut off wheel. Take your time and use goggles in case the cut-off wheel breaks or sparks fly. Going old school with a hacksaw will work just as well. You can see my Dremel in the right-hand picture bottom corner. I also got pretty OCD about it and ground the studs perfectly flush with the fastener.

Fitting The Studs

These new studs have a collar a quarter of the way down. The shorter thread screws are fitted into the extension bars, the longer thread will be going back through the seat base using the original holes.

I painted the top of my studs to match the bars so they were less visible from the outside, just because I could.

You will need a locking pair of grips to screw these replacement studs into place tightly, or a strong hand grip an pliers. I also used a little thread locker to keep them in place. The left-hand picture shows the correct stud fitting.

As I said earlier, if you want the full 4″ extension use the top threaded holes, for the smaller 2″ extension use the second hole down. Fit the second stud at the bottom of the rail extension use the threaded hole just above the larger hole (for the rivet) for the 4″ extension, and the 2″ threaded hole is below the larger hole. See the marked up image earlier on the page. If you are in any doubt measure the original seat stud gap and apply the same gap to the 4″ or the 2″ stud holes.

Refitting The Seat

Take the seat back to the car and drop the studs through the original holes in the seat base and carpet holes. From there screw on the fasteners from underneath the car to hold the seat in place. Refit the carpet spacers and then tighten up the seat properly.

Replace the rubber grommets and the job is done. I sat back in the car and was amazed at the difference that the extra few inches of leg room gives you. For a 6’4″ bloke like me I was always a little crunched up on leg room, that little bit extra makes it so much nicer to drive. Also as the seat base actually slopes down towards the back of the car, in effect I have also gained a little more headroom too. Win/win all round then. 🙂

The fitting was straight forward and I reported my work back to Adam with the photo’s. He has now decided to go into production with the current design. Their measurements were spot on so no need to make any modifications. I suspect they will be on the Mustang Maniac WebShop Soon, along with some of the photos and description of the fitting.


The second part of the my little upgrades I promised was the hood springs. There was nothing wrong with them at all, except that Adam showed me a set he has just fitted to the project car they have in a workshop. I see them, I wanted them it was a simeple as that. Not the cheapest replacement part just for looks, but why not? These springs are super strong and will have the Devil’s bite on you or the car if you get it wrong when replacing them. I packed an old duvet cover around the hood springs and levered of the springs carefully and under control with a large screwdriver come crowbar. They were replaced in a matter of seconds. I was so worried about the springs pinging off and damaging the paint or parts under the car, or flying up and removing part of my jaw that I forgot to take pictures. I do have the before and after pics for you. Most people wont even notice the change and think they are stock parts, but I think they just add a little bit of something extra to look at.

Right hand side:

Left hand side:

The last part of the day’s work was the annual oil and filter change. I tend to do around two thousand miles a year at most. But, I would rather pay £35 for fresh oil just to be on the safe side each year. The K&N gold oil filters I use are a bit bigger than the standard Ford oil filters, which means that I have to put in more oil in than the standard recommend five US quarts to get the levels right.

Now I’m all set for the car show season, apart from a quick wax and once over that is! Lets hope the weather stays fine for the shows. I will let you know as the season goes on.

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Prototype Parts!

Over the last few weeks I have been having a few trips down to Mustang Maniac where they have been developing a part which is aimed at people like me. It’s obviously going to be a mustang part, but more for my own pleasure of driving the car.

These heavy gauge steel bars have been black zinc plated for longevity and a good base for some proper coloured paint. A touch of déjà vu transporting me back ten odd years to when my car was being restored; Adam said ‘Take these back with you and satin spray them for your homework’, so that’s exactly what I did the next afternoon.

Preparation

First of all was the prep to make sure a good paint bond where I cleaned the bars with a little isopropanol alcohol to remove any greasy or oil spots from being handled. I set up a line to suspend the bars and started the little and often undercoats to allow faster drying. The same for the satin black top coats to give a nice even coverage. The weather was sunny on and off, warm with a light breeze. Spraying from a rattle can in the breeze is all about timing and technique, the later from me being a little ‘rusty’ from not having done it for a a good few years.

The wife wasn’t to impressed with the new style grey and black patched grass I managed to create for her. The completed articles are mow ready to be taken back to Mustang Maniac for fitting and couple of other little bits at the same time where it would make things a lot easier with a car lift.

There are specific threaded bolts with a mid shoulder that are made specifically for the bars and will replace the originals when fitted.

Some may have an idea of what they are, if you know or think you know drop me comment. I hope to drive the car to Mustang Maniac next week sometime and I will obviously document what they are for then and bring you part two and a review. 👍

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