A little Mustang update

Last night Lisa and I attended our first MCCO meeting. It seems like a pretty decent crowd. We had a devil of a time finding the place, and didn’t know that all the Mustangs were parked out back. As a result, we didn’t actually see a single Mustang all night! We went ahead and joined. Also got the ENWICC book; I had no idea there were THAT many car club events going on in this area. Or that ENWICC existed, for that matter. Anyway, I think the club will be a very valuable resource for finding places to do media blasting, welding, body work, upholstery, etc.

Now, where was I? I’ve got both fenders off, hood off, etc. I drained and removed the radiator, got the fan and alternator off, and am working toward getting the engine out. There’s almost enough room in the garage for an engine stand. Also got some spring compressors, so I’ll be able to tear out the front suspension for IRAN (Inspect and Replace As Necessary).

The trunk floors… well… not entirely sure what approach I’ll take there. I really would like to avoid pulling and replacing both trunk floors. I may just mark out and cut out square patches on both sides where the rust is, then weld in patch panels. I guess it depends on how far this goes. Given the mount of rust remediation and patching that needs to be done on the rear quarters, I’m thinking I may farm all of it out to a restoration shop — now that I have a couple of them identified.

All of this restoration work has got me thinking about the pickup as well. I think I’ll start getting the underside of that cleaned up, the minor surface rust addressed, paint touched up, and make sure it won’t rust again.

It runs…

I’ve had the battery on a slow charger/maintainer for a couple of weeks. I had assumed the thing was toast, since it was stone dead when I got it… battery voltage was under 0.5 V. I had to use a battery drill pack to throw enough of a charge into it to get the charger to even try to start charging. Every day or two I’d go out, disconnect the charger, run the heater blower for a few minutes, and re-connect the charger. It wasn’t costing my anything, so I figured – why not?

Saturday afternoon, I decided to drop the battery in and give it another try. It cranked over OK, but of course the carb was bone dry. I gave it a shot of ether, and lo and behold — it fired up and ran. I ran it for a total of about 15 minutes or so, until the garage filled with gray smoke and I had to air it out. I’m not quite sure if it was just old-engine exhaust smoke with steam, or if it’s burning oil. Nothing has changed my plan to pull and rebuild the engine, but at least we know it runs.

First start in — how many years? Nobody knows.

Pete and I also got the left front fender off. The last idiot welded this one up even worse than the right side. A large patch was actually welded on, not just over rusted metal — but over the top of rusted metal covered with Bondo. Awesome job, dumbass. The fender is scrap, even the front corner is rusted out.

I’m debating what to do with the floor pans. If I can get someone who knows what they’re doing to finish welding them in place, great. I’m afraid I may end up needed to remove all the stuff that’s been done and re-do it. I hope not, but it is one option. The good news (aside from the engine running) is, I got the instrument cluster finished up and put back together, and it looks great. Brakes also seem to be in good shape, so that opens up options for getting it on and off of a trailer and in and out of the driveway when it comes time to use a power washer to clean up the undercarriage, engine bay and fender wells. Just blasting off all the accumulated grime and filth will make it easier to work on.

More body archaeology

The fender shield succumbed to my new Dewalt angle grinder in no more than five minutes. Then I spent some time using a scraper blade on my oscillating saw to scrape undercoat and gunk from the fender apron area. Looking much better now.

I started scraping seam sealer from the trunk to see how much work it would be to replace the trunk floor. What I found was about a pound of Bondo covering up several rusted out places in the trunk, fender well, and probably into the quarter panel as well. Obviously someone went to great lengths to conceal some body rot. I was disappointed but not terribly surprised. I did violate one rule of car inspections… I looked at this thing when it was bitter, bitter cold and I didn’t really feel like crawling around on the floor and stuff for an extended time. But, most of this was pretty well hidden. Obviously there will be more cutting and welding than I planned, but it’s not a show stopper. Maybe it’s just karmic payback for the cowl not being rusted out.

I’ve been recharging the battery to see if it’s going to be junk or not. I may just take it somewhere and get it load tested. I’d love to know if this engine runs or not. There’s gas in the tank, and it doesn’t seem to be ruined, so maybe I can get it started. The tank will get drained, though, and possibly replaced… the jury is out on that. It doesn’t LOOK bad, but then neither did the trunk floor.

2/27 Cowl area and fender shields

Tried to remove the rear fender splash shield — sucker’s welded on. But the mount tab for the front edge of the fender is NOT welded. Go figure. The cowl area looks solid and original, but in need of cleaning up and rust removal.

A few more “Before” pics

Front end disassembled, but “mostly” there. The grille and headlight buckets are fine.
Power steering, no A/C, no power brakes.
Trunk floor LOOKS good. There’s a hidden rust hole in front of the bumper brace that some asswipe covered in Bondo and painted.
Someone installed an export brace… it will get put back in when the car is reassembled.
Gas tank and trunk floor look OK, other than needing a couple of small patches.
Does it run? Nobody seems to know. If I get a functional battery we’ll try to fire it up.
Fairly clean, actually. The valve covers will either get cleaned and polished, or blasted and painted blue like they should be.
The hood is toast.

Amazing work.

Found two rust holes in the trunk. Someone covered one with Bondo, then painted over it with undercoating. The other had a metal patch panel screwed over it. No rust removal, no attempt to actually FIX anything, just a cover-up. Sweet.

Right front fender had a patch panel spot-welded over the top of existing badly rusted metal. Again, no attempt to cut out the rust or anything… just weld a patch on top and take a grinder to it. Who the hell does this kind of crap?? Was this attacked by a 13 year old with a garage full of Harbor Freight tools? Then, since it was too rusted out to bolt to the body, the fender was brazed to the rocker panel (very badly), and welded to the frame. You just can’t make this shit up.

The Mustang’s Data Plate

The ’66 Mustang’s data plate tells us:

Model year: 1966
Assembly plant: Dearborn, MI (Code F)
Body style: Coupe standard interior (Code 65A)
Engine: 289cid 2V 200hp V-8 (C code)
Exterior color: Arcadian Blue (code F)
Interior color: Blue with Blue trim (code 22)
Production date: 30 April, 1966 (Code 30D)
District sales office: Omaha, NE (code 54)
Rear axle ratio: 2.8:1 (Code 6)
Transmission: C4 Automatic (Code 6)

Exploring what’s been done

I took a wire brush to the floor pan seams seams today.  I could tell they had been replaced, but given what else I found I was a little afraid I’d find them stuck in place with caulk or construction adhesive or something. The floor pans were welded in, thank God.  It’s pretty crappy welding, and I’ll probably want to grind some down and add some more, but they did get welded. 

The heater box is broken.  I was going to lay up some new glass and fix it (I can do fiberglass work), but it’s so brittle and old that I’m probably not going to bother.  It’s a little bit of a bummer since it’s not cheap to replace, but it’s an area where I’ll trade money for time and only have to do it once.  I’m pretty certain the heater core is toast too, since the hoses were disconnected and bypassed.  I’ll pressure test it, but again — new heater cores are cheap.

I also went after the primer on a few spots I suspected might be hiding nasty surprises, like the bottom of the A pillars and around the rear window.  All solid factory metal, so that’s good.  I was having visions of 1980s Wal-Mart body patch kit fiberglass and Bondo under there. Note to self: Next time, take along a magnet so I will know for sure what’s metal and what’s not.

The cowl area looks like there has been some work done. I’m seeing signs that someone may have already been in there and replaced the parts that tend to rust out — some drilled out spot welds and even evidence of some brazing — but it’s too early to tell what has actually been done. I’m going to hate cutting off the original 1966 date stamped fenders, but I may have to just to get them off the car.

Disassembly and discovery

Tonight I checked on the state of the heater, since the hoses are disconnected and bypassed. As it turns out, the heater box is broken. It’s a $180+ fiberglass box. I’m debating whether to just buy new, or repair this one. A good little chunk is missing, but I have the fiberglass and epoxy here from some wheel pant repair I did. I’ll sleep on that for a day or two before deciding. It would take me a couple of evenings to lay up new glass, clean it up and shoot some paint on it. It’s not like it’s going to show, it just needs to be functional and not too ugly.

I also found one of the most ghetto examples of defect hiding I’ve ever seen. I mean, I saw the telltale globs of pink putty and knew there was some crap work done up front, but this… holy crap. A nice big rust hole under the hood was filled with a great big glob of clear RTV silicone, smoothed out and painted over. I’m not making this up. I have no idea what else I’m going to find up there, but it’s getting a little ominous. Oh well… I did budget for nasty surprises and outside labor for welding. It will just take a fender apron and some labor to cut out the old and weld in the new. If I’m lucky, maybe even just an extension piece. That was the passenger side, I haven’t checked out the driver side yet. Gotta make a run to the hangar before the snow gets too deep… it seems ALL of my 3/8 ratchets have migrated there. I’m not taking the rest of those fender bolts out with nothing but a flex handle.

On the bright side, the more I dig into the interior, the better things look. It’s looking like two people attacked this car at different times. One did the absolute worst job imaginable, and all his stuff needs to be ripped out and re-done — plus fixing the additional damage his work caused. The other tried to do it right, even if kind of cheap, and it just needs to be cleaned up and fixed a little. The dash just needs a new bezel for the instrument cluster. The original AM radio works (the speaker is toast, of course). All the controls seem to be operational and looking OK — I can run them through the brass tumbler and polish them up with some walnut shell media.

I started chipping and scraping away all the primer and filler and caulk and gunk and other crap around the windshield and rear window. I was afraid I’d find rust in the A pillars or around the rear window; aside from surface rust there’s very little. So far, all of the “seriously wrong” seems to be concentrated in one little corner of the car. I’m beginning to suspect a botched collision repair in the distant past, but it’s really too early to tell until I get those fenders off. For that, I’ll need more room in the garage so I can swing the doors fully open. Another day.

1966 Mustang rebuild project

Over the weekend I picked up a ’66 Mustang 289 coupe that two previous owners had started to restore, then stopped. Some of the work is OK, some will need to be re-done. After getting all the parts sorted out and inventoried, I’ll likely pull the engine and trans for a cleanup, rebuild and fresh paint while cleaning out the engine bay. Some sheet metal will just be replaced, like the hood and quite likely the front fenders as well. The trunk is in surprisingly good shape, as is the dash — original AM radio and all.

Most of the glass is present. I was told it was ALL there, but my mistake — didn’t inventory it completely. The expensive quarter windows are gone, as are most of the taillight assemblies, etc. Most of it probably would have been replaced anyway, but the missing quarter windows will be a budget hit I wasn’t expecting. Well, not specifically at least. I did build in a “fudge factor” for things like this, as well as a generic estimated number for assorted interior and exterior parts.

The doors and front fenders may be salvageable, or may not. I budgeted for replacing all of it. Previous owners welded in some patches… some poorly.

No apparent rust on the back end, but I am assuming someone covered rust holes with body filler at some point. We’ll see what stripping reveals.

The dash is in surprisingly good condition, including the original AM pushbutton radio. The whole interior will get a repaint, and the newer floor pans may need some welding. Again, we’ll see what the cleanup and stripping reveals.

At 93K miles and with non-original valve covers and air cleaner, we’ll assume some work has been done and the engine will need an overhaul. It’s coming out for sure.

I think the biggest challenge right now will be not ordering a bunch of parts prematurely. For example, I know the car will need all new emblems, window weatherstripping, and so on. I don’t need that stuff NOW, though, and won’t for quite a while. The first task will be to remove the fenders, then get it up on jack stands so we can pull the wheels and tires off and remove the engine and transmission for rebuild. Interior and trim work is months off, so ordering parts for that would be a waste. Also, if I decide to sell partway through, I don’t want to have to let a bunch of new parts go at a loss.

Right now I have some basement drywall to finish pulling out thanks to a botched waterproofing job by the previous homeowner… then it’s wrench time.