Four Years later

I can’t believe that it has been four years since I bought (well the wife did actually), took possession of my ’66 Mustang Coupe, 17th September 2011 to be exact. Two of those last four years have been down at Mustang Maniac getting the best attention to detail that any Mustang could ask for. I was looking forward to the day ahead to get things done, I wasn’t too sure what it was going to be, but I was about to find out. I arrived to see sitting on the side where I put my tools was a nice new super shiny gas gap. Adam smiled and said “There’s your first job”. The old gas cap was from a 1970 model, I didn’t mind it but it was starting to wind Adam up as we hadn’t changed it yet. There is a larger hole at the bottom of the filler where the retaining wire is held. This is a multi purpose idea, one you don’t lose it and two, it stops trophy hunters trying to steal it. Undo the bottom screw and slightly drill out the hole in the body panel. Screw in the cable and attach the locking bolt inside the panel. The difference was instant, and looks so much better now.

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Old gas cap from 1970
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correct ’66 year gas cap

The next job was now at the front, mounting the front bumper. The irons had already been bolted into place and through the stone guard. The bumper was a two-man job to avoid scratching my nice paint job. Yogi and me laid the bumper in place and the collapsible washers were placed on top of the irons. The bolts were lightly placed through the bumper and not tightened up just yet. The side mountings to the fender needed to be jiggled around a bit to make it fit on the driver’s side by pushing the bumper into place to meet the fender hole. Once they were all in place the tightening could be done. Yogi tells me I’m a lucky guy again as these can be a real pain to fit if the car is slightly out of alignment after an accident or similar. A job that makes a total transformation of the car. I even managed to get a reflection of the Corral in the bumper too.

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I moved to the interior now and a piece of equipment I have been moving around to avoid damage is the aircon unit. The car is a genuine factory option aircon car, but i didn’t want all that under the hood. But, I do love the blower unit. I decided to use the blower unit in the car and make it work as a fan, if that makes sense. Yes there are going to be people who moan that’s not a aircon car as there is no “this, that or the other” under the hood. Well, all I can say is that if I want it, I still have the brackets to put it all on if I wanted too, but I don’t. These aircon units are held under the dash by two brackets, and held on the tunnel in the middle by an adjustable bolt. This looked pretty basic and I wanted something with a little more finesse should we say. I had kept the old hood stops and I was going to take the rubber of the top of that of and weld it to the bottom of the bolt. As it turned out the trunk bump stop is exactly the same thread as the support bolt for the aircon. I screwed in the bump stop and it looked like it was menat to be there. Next up the unit was carefully offered up the to the dash for a dry fit.

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The power feed cable had been cut, this meant that there was no wire long enough to power the unit. So I had to extend the wire. There is never any crimping to extend a wire at Mustang Maniac, ever! I would have been thrown in the scrap bin if I had of done. The wires were stripped back about twenty millimeters and twisted together, heat shrink placed over the cable, flux applied to the cables. The (gas-powered) soldering iron was fired up and after thirty seconds it was ready to use. A lot of old cloth was placed under the solder area to avoid dropping any hot solder on the carpet. Once the soldering was completed and allowed to cool, the end of the soldering iron attachment was swapped to the hot air nozzle that shrank the heat shrink to the soldered area.

The aircon unit was now able to be connected to the power. The brackets were padded out with a little foam pad to stop any vibration or rattles. The bolts were threaded through the dash and bolted from the inside.

I could then adjust the bottom stop to take the pressure of the bottom of the dash and equalise the weight distribution out. The end result was brilliant and I am glad that I made the choice to keep it in the car. The centre console will complement the aircon unit down the length of the tunnel.

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Four years later and the car is not completed just yet. There is the trim for the seats, steering wheel, centre console, dash trim, gauges, rear quarter window rain felts etc all to be done. I can’t see it being ready just yet. but it’s oh so close now, I can almost taste the petrol! 🙂 Hurry up next week I have work to do.

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A Round Of Golf?

Another weekend almost over but I managed to get work done on the car. I also managed to get a service done on the wife’s car, her cherished VW Golf. We purchased all the parts on Saturday morning, the air filter, oil filter, oil etc and I was left to my own devices on Saturday afternoon to do it all while she went out again. It did feel strange having to get my metric tools out from the different Snap On drawer and not the imperial sets though. The air filter was encased in a massive slap of plastic on top of the engine. There were more pipes and wires coming out of the engine than a robot research facility. To get to the spark plugs it was a performance as there was a channel of wires with their own coils attached at the top. They were hidden under another plastic trunking system, that in turn had wires attached to it all over the place. The whole thing was nightmare.

What I am getting at here is the basic principle of the engine has not changed at all. The cylinders are there, the pistons, the spark mechanism etc. OK, the engines may have gotten bigger and smaller, they may have changed shape a little in configuration, the ideal number of cylinders is still in debate. Fuel injection is squirted into the cylinders, four valves instead of two. But why hasn’t technology moved on to the principle itself? Yes we will have electric cars eventually but not for a while yet, that will be a major leap. The Mustang’s air filter sits on top of carburettor held on by a single wing nut, that sits on top of an inlet manifold with four bolts, it draws in fuel and mixes it, burns it then chucks the waste out the back. Fuel injection mixes it with the air and burns it and chucks it out the back. Same thing, OK, so it’s more efficient now, but I feel at home under the hood on the older engine. The new engines have computer this, and wire that, control box this. Are they more reliable? I don’t think so. If my Mustang timing goes out a bit, dust of my timing gun, turn the distributer and re-tighten. Done. New car, download the software, plug-in an expensive decoder, type in what you want. Reset the warning light on the dash. unplug unit and write out a huge bill. Luckily I have a great mechanic Will at Park Garage who looks after my modern cars for me when they play up, but I know he loves the classics too. I’m sure he would rather get a socket set on a v8 header than plug-in a laptop! What has happened to computers in the last forty years? Size of a building to start with, now there is more technology in a cell phone than put man on the moon.

Once tuned up a forty-seven year old Muscle Car will give a vast majority of modern cars a run for their money, even if they don’t it will give you a bigger smile while driving it than a plain old euro box! I didn’t enjoy the round of Golf as I did working on my car. There was no sense of achievement, or is it just me?

Sunday I worked on my car, well the parts in the Man Cave at least. The rain made sure I wasn’t gonna push her out the garage for today anyway. I was just tinkering around and decided to polish the chrome on my factory option aircon unit. That little polish gave me a great idea I will share with you. The front of the unit has the classic “camera case” black dimpled look. It had worn almost down to the bare metal around the dials and the nozzles. Now the chrome sparkles and the black suddenly looks wrong. I had this idea a while ago to polish it with black boot polish, it didn’t work and just rubbed straight off. Can you see where I am going with this now? Today I thought why not spray it? There is chrome lettering on the front as well as the badge. These would need to be masked off to stop the over spray. What black would I use, gloss, undercoat, primer? The original black is a matt black or a dull satin from what I can see. With the decision made I got out some plastic sheets, (ok it was a thin packaging bag), not the paper masking kind like you should use in a spray shop. I used the electrical insulating tape as that can be moved a little in place and was such a smallish area and fiddly to do. I masked it all up and done a tiny test spray with Eastwoods Under Hood Satin black on the back of the unit near the top out-of-the-way. Once it dried it looked brilliant. I completed the masking up at the front, I removed the old air direction nozzles and sprayed the front with a couple of very light spray passes. It still left the dimpled finished as the original had, but just blackened up the front. I still wanted the authentic look and I believe I now have that. All that is left to do is get some artists paints mix up the colour and paint in the colours of the badge. Try doing that on a modern car!

The best part of the whole thing is I found a date stamp on the back of the unit – 28th June 1966

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 Finished Article:

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Here are some pictures of the process, the full guide of what and how I did it can be found under the Photos – Inside the Car – Factory Aircon Tidy Up. The pics here don’t really show how thin the paint was as you can see the bare metal underneath.

Quick Link:

Factory Fitted Aircon Tidy Up click here.

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