Was It Worth It?

My last post was all about how my replica Autolite battery had dies a very sudden death without warning. I managed to recreate the battery with a top cover from Mustang Maniac and battery from Toyota of all people. That page can be found here. I promised that I would take the old one apart to see just what was inside. The project took me a lot longer than I thought it would and you will see why as I go along.

The old battery case I wanted to keep, and possibly place a similar battery inside it at a later date maybe? So the work was going to be slow and careful so I didn’t destroy the case. As I knew there was another battery in there I wasn’t sure what to expect either. So the battery was taken into the shed for a plan of action.

When you undo the cell caps on this replica it’s quite obvious that there is a smaller battery in there and a large cavity at one end. By deduction that would mean that the terminals for the inner battery would be connected to the to top posts via cables.

I could see that the top was fitted originally there was a gap at the back corner where it hadn’t seated correctly, from the left corner of the pic below. So that was going to be my starting point.

side (top left of the picture shows the slightly raised corner)

The Dremel was out and a cutting disk will be used to go around the seam.

The dust from the battery was incredible. The closest I can put this to is a laser printer black toner cartridge powder. Rub it and it stains what it touches. Just the back cut had created a black cloud and difficult to breathe.

So the face mask when on and ventilation made better. The battery was turned over in turn for each side that needed the cuts. Some parts needed to be cut a little deeper as the mould on the inside hadn’t been cut through completely.

Once I had freed the lid I could see one wire that was holding it in place. That wire would have to be cut, then I could get to the other side which was tucked into the corner.

This corner cable was difficult as the battery was holding the cable tight against the case. I think during assembly the gel battery was attached to the lid and then lowered into a resin that held the battery in place and set hard to hold it in place. There would be no other explanation from what I could see.

The resin at the bottom had set like hard plastic and couldn’t be pulled or peeled out-of-the-way. This was a problem as I couldn’t see any other option only to cut the bottom out as well. I managed to bend the cable to the lid out the way to make the cut to remove the top completely. Now I could turn the battery upside down and cut the bottom out. Now I had to be extra careful so that I didn’t cut through the inner battery causing untold problems I wasn’t prepared for. I had lots of old towels to hand and thick gloves at this point to mop up any spillage.

With the bottom of the case cut through the battery was still not coming out. Closer inspection down the side I could see the resin had gone up the side of the battery too, yet another issue. I had various steel pallet knives that I use for filling in holes on walls with plaster etc. The plan now would mean gentle taps to try to crack the resin away without cracking the case itself. I did manage to keep breaking the thin blade to a jagged edge. This actually helped to cut through the resin, like a saw tooth. Those gentle taps turned into more force as I realised I was not getting through the resin.

After what seemed like hours the battery started to loosen and cracks could be heard when the resin was starting to separate from the case and the bottom panel with the battery still attached. Eventually it all came free and I could see why I had such a problem.

Now I had an “L” shape to separate from the battery itself if I wanted to keep the bottom, which I did. The same process would need to be applied again, tap into the narrow space between the battery and the bottom of the case. This stage took a lot longer than taking the bottom out due to the significantly more resin in place. After a lot of hammering and two palate knives later it was all apart and looking a mess.

The final stage was to put it all back together again. The inside was cleaned up to remove any dust and debris to make a clean surface for the jointing glue. I used a sheet of plastic under the battery and placed the bonding glue in the gaps around the base and the inside of the case. The plastic would peel of no problem and leave a gap that was filled with a black mastic again.

The top was cleaned up and the cables cut flush. If I wanted to fit a cable back in there I would have to use a tap and die set to create the anchor points.

The top was held in place with a tiny bead of silicon so that I could remove it if I needed to, but wouldn’t fall of if handled. Now that the uneven top had been cut flush, the battery top was now sitting flat on the bottom case, just how it should have been.

So what was inside? I have no idea what the battery was after all that. apart from the fact it was a gel battery with the following sticker details. Google hasn’t given me any more.

Can anybody else help me out with it? I think it was a golf cart type battery, but I could be wrong!

Related pages are the original battery review click here or cut and paste this link:

Autolite Replica Battery (group 24)

Making a new Autolite Group 24 battery click here, or cut and past this link:

Making An Autolite Group 24 Battery

So the question is now, was it worth it? The answer for me is yes. My inquisitive mind wanted to know what was in there.

I now have a very lightweight antique car battery that is nicely cleaned up and sitting on a wooden shelf in the garage. It just looks so wrong that it shouldn’t be there! The amount of effort to get it all part is not really worth it, perhaps a battery in the middle and not stuck to the side of the case would be much easier. But, thinking of the safety aspect with the battery sliding about, that wouldn’t have been good at all.

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Taking Charge

When I first got my “project” Mustang that needed a little attention should we say, one of the first jobs I done was to wire her up. the reason being was I needed to know if the engine would fire up. To do that I needed a battery. At the time my wife decided that I should get what I wanted and do it properly. With that we decided to go mad and splash out on the replica Autolite Group 24 Battery.

Before I new Mustang Maniac it was a little difficult trying to track down parts I wanted, so I used a rather rubbish company in Essex. I won’t name them, but it took them almost four months to get the battery for me. Needless to say I used them once and never used them again.

I had done my research about the battery and found out it was based around a gel battery or AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat). These batteries are naturally more expensive and don’t hold anywhere near the amount of acid as a normal wet lead cell battery. In fact if it splits there should be no acid escaping. The battery needed a specific trickle charger as they don’t like to run low on volts. I reviewed the CTEK MXS 5 charger here.

After five years of owning the battery and using it for just two years it died. There was no warning it was about to go to the great scrap yard in the sky. The only warning was that the trickle charger showed an error instead of the normal charged status. I tried to start the car and there was just enough power to put the interior lights on. Turning the key gave me nothing, just a faint click of the solenoid. It was dead, I tried the charger on deep cycle to try and recover it thinking it need a little TLC. Checking a day later it was still the same, no charge what so ever.

Why did the battery die so quickly?

I researched this again, and it turns out that the AGM or Gel batteries have a limited life cycle for recharging. So if it’s down by 10% that means you have a remaining 90% for a single cycle. Bearing that in mind these batteries are estimated to have approx two hundred cycles life span. That is not a lot of use. Over five years it has been on constant trickle charge and only “used” when the car is taken out. So I’m not convinced this is the correct answer, I think it was a lot less than that in fact!

Anyway, I was gutted. I didn’t have my nice old school battery which looked the part. Now I would have to have an out-of-place new style battery. There are plenty to choose from of course with various power options. I was not going to pay that sort of big money again for another replica car battery when it didn’t last that long, maybe when I am little more flush with money? I had a word with Adam at Mustang Maniac and he said I could go for a replica cover for the top of the new battery to make it look more retro. The problem is that the top cover is the correct size and needed a battery to fit it. To small and the top would overhang the battery looking stupid, to big a battery it wouldn’t fit anyway. The other issue is that the positive and negative poles needed to be the right way around.

The part you need is the Autolite replica top, with caps and warning tag. Click here for the link or copy this to your browser:  https://mustangmaniac.co.uk/part/36/1791/autolite_battery_cover_64-73

Now I needed to search the net for a battery to fit the dimensions. I found out that sizes were limited for the power I would need, and then the terminals would be the wrong way round. After what seemed liked days of looking I eventually found a battery with the correct sizes, a flat style top, the terminals correct and enough amps for the Mustang to start.

That battery is made by Toyota with a part number of “28800 – YZZJG”.

The battery was rated at a powerful 75Ah which would be plenty to spin the V8 over. So I ordered it and a few days later I went to pick it. But first I needed to check that the top fitted, once it did I bought it. I parted with my £100 and brought it home.

So what did the top look like fitted close up? Well it fitted perfectly on the flat top, but the  battery case side were a little inset from the top of the actual battery top.

There was another problem that was more annoying than an issue. On the original ’64 – ’66 battery tray the battery was held down by a bracket on a lip on the sides of the battery to stop it moving in the tray. This battery doesn’t have that, but I did have a plan. There is a work around for most things, you could make it work by replacing the battery tray to allow having an over the top clamp. That would fix the issue, but it wouldn’t be correct for the year. There needed to be another way to hold the battery safely in place. Below pic shows the hold down lip on the replica battery at the sides.

The new battery has its hold downs on the front and back which were not going to be used. I thought about using 3D printing to make a bracket, but the space to fit the clamp I thought of using would have been to flimsy and I suspect that it would have broken when being tightened down. The underside of the battery had recessed areas, that gave me an idea.

Underside of battery

I could create a lip up the side if I used a “P” shape idea, the down stem of the letter becoming the anchor point underneath of the battery. I would need to attach it somehow, so screws were out of the question. Glues wouldn’t have much surface area to hold the platform on the underside. While having a look through my tool boxes for inspiration and ideas I put my hand on it; epoxy putty!

The plan was to fill the cavities with the putty and create the anchor point base for the bracket. I would then fill the newly created “L” shape to mould a ledge that would bond to the battery side and the plastic anchor plates.

I roughed up the surfaces that needed fixing to allow a good surface to for the bonding. I would do this in two stages, mix up enough for the cavity areas to bond the plates in place, then roll a cylindrical shape to squash into the newly created corner creating the ledge I would need, then allow it all to set hard. The putty is mixed 50/50 black and white compounds until it becomes a grey colour and warm to the touch, then it’s ready to apply. I used the replica battery for how a guide on how much I needed to create the ledge for the clamp.

The POR15 epoxy putty sets rock hard which can be drilled, sanded and painted. Once the putty was set for a full twenty-four hours, I could see that it had bonded very well to the hard plastics of the ledge as well as to the side of the battery case. On the underside I also used a hot glue gun with super strength glue sticks to go over the edges and any spaces to add another form of adhesion. The battery clamp itself is held down by a single bolt through the battery tray and it just applies downward pressure to hold the battery down. The clamp has a couple of ridges on the underside that help locate the clamp in place and stop the battery movement. These profiles would need to measured to the middle of the battery and marked up accordingly.

Using my Dremel with a sanding wheel I leveled of the top of the ledge flat. Then I started rubbing the clamp onto the dried out white putty which left a clear mark where I needed to match the underside of the clamp profile.

Once I was happy with the clamp fit, the underside angled profile for the tray was copied from the original battery or could be seen from the battery tray itself. This would also ensure that the battery would fit back into the tray correctly and not sit proud on the clamp side.

Masking up ready for spraying was simple enough, although this step is not essential for what I had in mind. A couple of coats later from the satin black spray can made the ledge look almost stock which could have be placed into the tray as it is.

I wanted to do more to make the battery look more authentic. As I may want to reuse the top cover again I needed a solid, but not permanent solution, that came in the form of a black silicone mastic sealer.

I applied a generous bead around the gap from the visible side and front, with slight hold blobs on the back and other side of the battery. The reason the silicone wasn’t all the way round was to allow the battery to “breath” or allow any gasses to vent out. Sealing all around would have prevented this function if needed it.

I used a thin piece of straight plastic to create the initial seal between the top and the side of the battery to scrape the excess away in a flat surface to give the appearance of flat plastic. This would make it look like a complete battery not just a top. I allowed the mastic to go off a little more before I smoothed it again properly.

The next part was the case of the battery itself. The original design had a woven weave look which I wanted to try and replicate.

I had some vinyl left over from my toolbox draw project and I decided to use that. I cut lengths that I needed to go around the battery and cleaned and dust or grease from the now clean sides.

OK, so it’s diagonal and a carbon look, but in the engine bay tucked in a corner it would be difficult to see anyway. The wrap started at the top down to the corners taking care to make sure they looked neat. The new ledge was covered over with the wrap to give a nice continuity. So the battery now had a carbon fibre look which was just starting to be used properly in the early to mid sixties.

Next was the battery filler caps that I wanted to modify a little in order to be closer to the original. The caps didn’t have the tiny breather holes, but had the mark in place. These caps are the same size just the one on the right was has a screw thread which means it was closer to the camera to make it look bigger showing the hole.

A small 1.5mm drill was a perfect size to drill the hole out on the cap on the left.

Fitting the caps back to the top finished the look of the battery.

The original battery also had the word “Sta-ful” painted the same colour as the “Autolite” wording which was missing from the top plate. This was painted on once the battery was in the tray and secured.

Fitting the battery back into the tray was dead simple and the clamp fitted perfectly on the matched profiled for the clamp and the tray itself. The look of the carbon fiber wasn’t to far away from the look I wanted.

The final part was that cables were to be connected and the tag applied to the battery, (which should be on the positive terminal post by the way, not the neg side as I have it here). I also have some post felts which stops the cable fittings scratching the battery top, they also cover the tiny gap around the posts.

The finished battery!

It took about three hours work to clamp and silicon in place and I am happy with the results. My original and now updated review of the Autolite Group 24 Battery is here.

My next post will show the Original battery being taken apart to see just what is inside!

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She’s Alive

What an epic day down at Mustang Maniac yesterday, I was so chuffed I can’t put it into words. OK, that’s not strictly true as I’m gonna tell you all about it. So I knew this weekend was going to be a day where it could be possible to start my car in theory. I was going try to start the wiring up again in order to turn her over on the key. Adam just looked at Yogi and laughed with “don’t worry about that, it will start!” Slightly confused, I sort of guessed what was going to happen when Yogi got out his little box of tricks and made up a lead while I fitted my Replica Autolite Group 24 Battery to the tray. They said that I would need some fuel for the car and I was packed off with an old school Jerry can and my wallet. I guess I had better get used to this filling the Muzzy up lark! I was given directions on how to get to the petrol station which was only a couple of miles away, it didn’t go in so I asked again, to which Yogi just laughed. So of I went, found it after over shooting the turning. Now I am not saying this place is old school, but there was a hut between two pumps and the sign said “Service fill only.” The bloke came out and got the diesel nozzle out, “No mate – fill this up unleaded” as I gave him the loaned Jerry can. With the can filled up and returned back to the yard, all without a SatNav. Yes, I admit it – I’m useless with directions, so much so that the very first thing my wife bought for me years ago when we got together was a TomTom. To which she said to me “Now I know you’re going get home,” Yep, she can have that one,  as I have genuinely got lost going home before now. Anyway, we got a funnel in the filler pipe of my car and poured some fuel in. We sloshed it around a bit by rocking the car and then lifted the car back up in the air and drained it out into a clear container to check the fuel. It was fine, clear with no debris in there. The fuel poured back into the tank. At the front of the car Yogi had now created his “Hot Wire” scenario and was ready to turn the car over. Now I could tell you how to start a car bypassing all the electrics on the car, but I won’t for obvious reasons, but it’s clever. Adam and I joined Yogi and he done his thing, the car turned over for a while until Adam and Yogi where happy there was no bad news noises on turn over. This was a very wise check to make sure the crank was not going to shatter or valves dropped on pistons etc. Adam now under the car turned the engine over by hand with a large ratchet to line up the TDC on the timing mark. Yogi then set the distributor shaft itself to where it should be, based on experience at this point of course. He then set up the wires to produce a spark and Adam pumped a little fuel in the carb and Adam now got to the front and was ready to adjust the timing on the distributor, Yogi spun the car over. The car turned over for a few seconds, she coughed and spluttered and fired up after a few seconds. The timing was adjusted by Adam and they wedged opened the butterfly on the choke to slow the engine down. She lives! The engine was shut down after a minute or so and a blur of hands worked over the engine to adjust things and tighten things up. Like watching synchronised swimming, but this was two guys saying only a few words and flurry of well rehearsed activity. The movement stopped, and the car turned over and she started up pretty instantly. This time the engine was getting quitter and was smooth, but that was the exact opposite of what was going on at the exhaust end. The burble and noise from those Flowmasters was fantastic as I now stood at the back listening to duet of exhaust notes and thunderous air vibration. The unique tone of my car was now heard for the first time, trying to take in the sounds played around my ears was incredible. The throttle was now starting to be pulsed by the guys, the exhaust note changing rapidly into a throaty bark. The timing light was now out and some very fine tuning was coming into play. Yogi was tweaking the carb and Adam was checking the fluid levels and making sure there were no leaks. The engine now slowed to an unmistakable throb of the 289 v8. Three blokes looked well chuffed as John and Chris popped over to see the action. The engine now stopped and quiet except for the ticking of the cooling engine filled the air, all I couldn’t say anything. I was ecstatic that the car fired up one step closer to driving her, and relief that my  and the guys hard work so far hadn’t gone to waste. The road test will need to be done obviously, but for now – I was a little gob smacked and overwhelmed with excitement a milestone had been reached. So far so good.

The fitting of the last part of the fuel line to the carb was the “banjo”, this turns the direction of the pipe ninety degrees  and an adjustable to the main fuel line. Yogi had set up the rubber hose ready for the fitting of the part. The filter from the carb was fitted into the end of the banjo.

The complete fitting was carefully lined up and tightened up to the carb, the angle of the pipe matched to the fuel hose. The hose was pushed on and tightened up.

Previously in the week the export brace had been fitted to the bulk head and the shock towers. Adam tells me that they used their custom-made conical fit bolts for the export brace, without having to file the holes square to make them fit. The bolts used are dome headed and stainless, not the nut and bolt of the original fitting and how they were then. These conical bolts fit into the standard holes and the tightening of the nut pulls the bolt into the brace tighter wedging them in so they don’t move. The result is pretty instant to look at and makes a big difference to the feel of the car. There is a common fault with fitting the export brace to a unstrengthened bulk head. The original export cars had a reinforced plate welded in place, this can be seen clearly on my car here too. The good news it that the brace fitted without need for cutting and adjusting to make it fit as some cars need. The reason is that those cars could have been in a little knock or “fender bender” and distorted the chassis. The work the guys had done on the jig was just perfect as always.


The guys left me to get on with the rest of the jobs under the hood, that was now to fit the wires to the oil sender, water temperature, electric choke and the ignition feeds to the coil, all can now be routed where I wanted them. But that was to be after a cup of tea, a few cakes and a bottle of chilled Dr Pepper. All these little jobs took longer than I thought they would, but who cares? My little lady is alive again and I still had that silly grin on my face. I have just got to say a big “Thanks” to Adam and Yogi for starting her up with me and showing me how to hot wire my car, just in case of emergencies of course. 😉

What an AMAZING day, thanks Mustang Maniac.  

My car may well be at the Enfield Pageant of Motoring this coming weekend with Mustang Maniac’s other cars. It’s a great show so wander over and have a chat with guys. The details can be found at this link:


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The fitted sheet

Friday evenin’ and it started.

I of course refer to the snow, no I am not going to bang on about it again because I am to put it politely, getting a bit sick of it. Everytime I want to do something it snows. The snow has been falling all weekend, it settles then it melts, still snowing then it settles again. Global warming? I think it needs warming up round here, so I better go and start my v8 up with no exhaust and let it tick over for a while! Only joking, so I won’t dwell on the fact its cold, but my man cave looked like a log cabin at one point today with the snow all over it, and it did get worse than this. To prove it I have a little picture of it. I’m sure there are a lot of people worse of than me out there, I hope you are all safe and have had not issues with the “S”. Don’t forget to check on the vulnerable elders, even a pint of milk for a hot cup of tea can help.

Man cave in the snow
Man cave in the snow

Saturday I sprayed the VHT brake caliper spray on the left side front drum which went well, I keept the can in the house overnight in the warm along with the drum itself. I only took it out to the man cave when it was ready for the spray. I pointed my new light at it to keep it warm during the drying phase. It worked a treat. After it was dried to touch, I took it to the garage and put it onto the spindle and packed it with grease. I will allow it to cure for a week before the wheel gets bolted back on. I have already done a review of the VHT Caliper paint under the Reviews – Consumables or click here for a quick link. I also went to fit the brake booster, it was going in OK, but as I was so cold the fingers were having issues holding things properly. I got a bit annoyed at this point and decided to take the hood off so I could get right into the corner. Oh boy, I forgot how heavy that hood was, trying to hold it in place with one hand and undo the nuts with the other was not an easy task. Thankfully nothing was damaged and it came of with a big sigh of relief and a lot of effort. I did remember to put some heavy towels onto the cowl under the hood corners so it would suddenly drop metal onto metal. The hood now sits against the wall ready to be treated, to top it all, hood is of course standing on a nice piece of foam. While the hood is off I took photo’s of the brake lines, (before I re-fitted the booster again), that I fabricated a while ago along with photo’s of the Brake Booster being fitted. After gaining access to the full engine bay the Booster actually went in fine, all was well with the world again. As there is no protection for the engine now from the hood, the dust from the garage could be an issue so I decided it needed covering. Did you know that the fitted sheet from a UK double bed is the same size as a 66 Mustang engine bay and fenders. Next time you play Trivial Pursuit you can maybe win on that bit of knowledge, OK, maybe not. I will be covering the treatment of the hood at a later date with pictures too when the weather gets better as it will need to be layed flat. To show you what I mean about the fitted sheet, here are the before and after pictures. Liking that? OK, Sorry then, but I thought it was a good idea!  🙂

The bits that are sticking up are the hood springs, they are gonna stay like that, due to the fact I want to keep my fingers and they are super strong springs and may have difficulty getting them up again. The scissor action on the metal is sharp and I never put my hands near them, ever! I managed to also remove and re-assemble the Hood catch, the pictures will be added to the photo section as soon as I get them done, they also came up very well. In the engine bay picture you will see the Brake booster in place and the reservoir all connected up. You can find the fitting in Brake Booster Part 3 in the Photo Menu – Engine Bay – Brake Booster Project or click here for a quick link. I have also added a review of the Autolite Group 24 Replica Battery now after a request for it and a few searches, you can find the review under the Reviews – Car Parts section, or click here for a quick link.

All in all I was quite pleased with the weekends work considering it was….. Ha, you thought I was going to say the “S” word, you know “snowing”. Dohhh!

Drive safely.

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