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.

How I became Citröen’s least favorite person

So, how the hell was I supposed to know that the rather mundane looking car getting its rolling glamour shot in the street in front of our hotel was a super secret new model?  I was as shocked as anybody, especially when the video producer and the lady from the ad agency tracked us down in the street in Copenhagen and explained that they were about to lose their jobs because of a tweet I posted… and the numerous bloggers who had copied my video to YouTube and were blogging about he “secret spy photos” of the new Citröen.

I have a French lawyer now…

It started out innocently enough.  Lisa and I were on vacation in Copenhagen, and after a fantastic week this was our last night in the hotel (actually a studio apartment) where we were staying.  I had stepped out to get a few things at the little grocery store around the corner.  When I tried to return to the apartment, there were some people in high-visibility yellow vests keeping everyone back from the street.  After a few minutes I figured out that they were there to shoot footage of a car for a commercial.  The car didn’t look like anything exotic — a little Citröen wagon style like we’d seen dozens of times around Copenhagen, although this one lacked the bumpy plastic panels in the doors.  Eventually there was a pause in the preparation and they let a few of us who had been patiently waiting cross the street.  I saw the camera truck, a well used vehicle with an articulating arm from which hung the video camera on a stabilizing mount.  The car wasn’t terribly interesting but the camera rig was pretty cool, actually; my geek side liked it.

A little later on, up in the third floor apartment, I watched from the balcony as they made a couple more passes down the street.  The camera truck and the movie star Citröen would drive down the street in tight formation, then they’d come back and do it again.  Before I came back inside I shot some video with my iPhone of the process.  Seeing the camera swivel on the end of its arm was pretty slick, and now I knew how some of the moving vehicle shots we see all the time in commercials and movies are done.

Knowing that my son would enjoy seeing the process as well, I tweeted the video and tagged him.  Unfortunately, I mentioned Citröen as well.  That was a big mistake, as it turns out.  If I hadn’t done that, this probably wouldn’t be a story.  Probably only two people in the world would have seen that video, and neither live in a country where many people pay much attention to Citröen, who hasn’t sold a new vehicle in the US since Ford was President.

The next morning we checked out and headed to the train station, dragging our wheeled luggage along.  We’d been walking the entire week in Denmark, averaging between 5 and 6 miles a day, and the train station was a little under a kilometer away.  We were about halfway there when a car pulled up to the curb along side.  In it were a woman and a man, both looking a little concerned. They asked if I was Dale, I said yes, and they both got out.  They had been shooting a car commercial the day before, they said, and now they had a big problem.  I was a little puzzled…  if I’d accidentally gotten into a shot, they could just work around it.  No, it was “the video I had posted to YouTube and the blogs”.  What??  I didn’t post anything to YouTube.  Well, Citröen was livid, her boss was about to fire her, and there was a huge problem because, unbeknownst to me, that was the new and as-yet-unannounced refresh of that model.  No one was supposed to see it, and now people had.

They had gone back to the shoot location, figured out the balcony from which the video had been shot, and asked the desk clerk who was staying there.  The hotel staff told them we’d just checked out and were headed to the airport, and they drove around until they found us.  If it had taken them ten minutes longer, we’d have been long gone and out of touch for the next 18 – 20 hours or so.

I showed them the tweet, and the woman (who was French — the man was Danish) asked if I would delete it.  Sure, absolutely, I don’t want to cause them any trouble.  Tweet deleted.  Unfortunately, some jackass had copied the video and posted it to YouTube — with my name included in the video title.  Great.  And a bunch of bloggers were now claiming to have “exclusive spy photos”, which were actually still frames taken from my video.  No one had asked me to use or copy it, of course.  No one other than the first guy had even bothered attributing the video to me at all.  Honestly I was feeling mixed emotions — a little embarrassed for having caused these poor people so much trouble, and a little pissed off that these other jackasses were using my footage, AND claiming credit for it to try to make themselves look like more than the simple scavengers they are.

We had to get to the airport, but I promised to work with the woman to get the copies removed wherever we could.  I knew we were going to be playing Whack-A-Mole…  once that kind of stuff is in the wild, your chances of suppressing it are slim.  I sent an email to the guy who had posted the video to YouTube, and sent YouTube a takedown notice.  It’s all we could do before we had to get on the plane home.

Over the next few days, I spend a couple hours a day following up on various places where the video and stills from it were posted.  Twitter accounts popped up like zits on a high schooler.  Some jackasses were making new YouTube videos with slideshows of still images captured from the video.  There were blogs in France, the Netherlands and India, all using the same three or four stills — meaning they were late to the party and just copying images from other people’s Twitter posts, which were using images swiped from the YT video, which was swiped from my tweet.

The French woman’s daughter is an attorney, and I gave her permission to defend my rights to the video and still images in the EU, pursuing whatever action she needed to in the courts over there.  Not because I’m worried about the video — I’m not making one single penny from it or the pictures I got.  I don’t want to cause Citröen any problems; they’ve never done anything to me.  I had no idea that the commercial shoot involved a model that no one had seen (more about that later), and I don’t want my video to cause the ad agency or production company to incur the wrath of their customer.  I’m just trying to minimize the damage.  And to be honest, it pisses me off that these other jackasses are basically stealing my work, claiming it as their own, and profiting from it through ad revenues.  Not a single one of them has once asked permission to use the footage, given any credit or attribution, offered one cent of compensation, responded to a request to remove it, or cooperated in any way.  In fact they are mostly claiming credit for the “spy photos” of the new model — taken in New York.  Screw them.

Citröen’s outrage, however, has been slightly disingenuous.  While searching for more copies of my stuff, I came across many other photos of the same model — the exact same, in fact.  Different color.  Apparently Citröen had accidentally enabled the new 2018 model configurator on its web site at some point – allowing people to see exactly, in high resolution detail, what the 2018 model looks like.  They pulled it, of course, but again — once that stuff is out there, it’s not going to disappear.


The garage madness continues

The past few days have been a lot of work.  Friday afternoon I rented a diamond grinder from Honeyman Rent-All and spent several hours grinding the floor.  I had to completely empty everything out of the garage into the driveway and yard.  Of course it all had to go back inside when I finished around 1 AM.

The diamond grinder was pretty easy to use.  It’s a little noisy, but not bad enough to get the neighbors complaining.  The hose connects directly to it to keep water flowing to keep the heat and dust down.  I was able to do all of the grinding, rinsing and squeegee-ing in about 4-5 hours.

Saturday I rinsed the floor and used the citric acid from the Rust-Oleum epoxy paint kit.  Probably unnecessary, but I had no other pressing need for two bags of citric acid.  It also cleaned up the inch or so that the grinder couldn’t get right up against the wall.  Then I spent another hour or two rinsing the floor, followed by the squeegee.  After the second round I used the shop vacuum to get it as dry as possible.  It’s looking pretty darned good right now, so Sunday will be painting day.  I have prepped both sides, but the third bay will have to wait.  I simply can’t empty everything out of the whole garage for a week.

Truck radio installation followup

Well, back in March I made a couple of posts detailing the installation of the dual band mobile ham radio in my new pickup.  As some time has passed, I thought I should follow up on those posts with the latest news.

The mounting products I used turned out to be a complete bust.  The Command foam mounting tape gave up about the first day the truck was parked outside with the temperature over 65 or 70.  The kind-of-Velcro-like stuff I used for the speaker will hold on for an hour or two before that drops onto the floor.  I have not yet decided what my next step will be.  I may have to fabricate a U-mount for the speaker and drill a couple of small holes in the driver side kick panel to mount that.  For the control head, I’m debating still.  Someone makes a really slick no-holes F150 dash mount, but I don’t think it’s worth anywhere near the $40 they want for it ($50 after shipping).  Right now things are “just barely” hanging on, but I’ll need to fix them soon before the speaker cable gets twisted to death.


Truxedo Lo Pro QT roll-up truck bed cover

After having a Truxedo Lo-Pro on my Sport Trac pretty much the whole time I owned it, I knew I wanted to put one on the F150.  They’re not cheap by any means, but quality products seldom are.  And the Truxedo covers are definitely high quality!  The fit is perfect, installation is quick and painless, and the materials are all top notch.  The new cover looks great and works exactly as it should.

I ordered mine from Mechanics Warehouse and got it the next day — they shipped it from a warehouse in Kansas City via FedEx ground that day.  I chose them becuase their price was the same as the lowest I found anywhere else, they also had the rubber bed mat I wanted, and they threw in some goodies for free.  Lots of them.  There is a ratcheting cargo bar, a telescoping retriever hook (for stuff that is up in the front of the bed), a tailgate weather seal, and a set of four Bull Ring tie-downs.  I can’t use the Bull Rings, but will either sell them or give them away.

If you’re looking for a soft tonneau cover for your truck, I can recommend the Truxedo line without reservation.  I like the Lo Pro QT because of its automatic tension adjustment and the single release on the rear bar.  You won’t be adjusting the cover when the weather changes, and getting it rolled out of the way to load stuff into the bed (and putting it back in place afterward) is quick and easy even for one person.

Radio installation – finished!

Well, it’s all in, and I’m very happy with the result.  It looks good, it works as it should.  Right down to the delayed shutoff — I can park and shut off the engine, the rig stays powered until I open a door (or some delay times out).  I mounted the control head with Command foam tape mounting tabs for easy removal if needed.  Also, my old roll of 3M foam tape finally got too old and these were all Wally World had.  🙂  You can click a picture for larger views.

The only thing I’m not sure about is the foam tape mounting for the control head.  If that doesn’t hold over the long term, I’ll probably switch to a ProClip.  It’s working for now, but it’s amazing how much you can see in a high-resolution picture that you don’t see when your eyeballs start aging.  The transceiver isn’t hard mounted; I’ll stick the hook side of some industrial strength Velcro to the top surface (it’s upside down) to keep it secure but it’s not shifting around even under hard braking.

Radio installation

I’ve spent the past couple of days working on getting the dual-band VHF/UHF ham radio (a Kenwood TM-G707A) installed in the new F-150. As of today it’s mostly done. All that’s left to do now is to mount the control head on the dash, and finish the antenna mount. I took it apart last night and re-painted it, since the original black paint had mostly flaked off of part of it.

The new truck is more installation-friendly than the Sport Trac, that’s for sure. Dashboard panels pop out with a simple tug, door sill plates pop up without breaking parts, and of course there is a lot more room for working under the dash. There’s a convenient pocket in the dash for the microphone, and plenty of room behind the rear seats for the transceiver. Much to my surprise, I found out the rear seats will flip down with no hassle to gain access to the area behind them.

F150forum.com has been a huge help in getting this done, from the tip about the rear seat latches to wiring ideas to someone mentioning ProClip mounts. When I’m finally finished with this project I’ll have a very nice looking and functional installation. On the off chance I ever decide to upgrade to a different radio, I’ll be able to keep most of the stuff in place and re-use the mounts. Given how little I use the mobile rig, though, I give that a pretty low probability.