Archive

Car Fixes

The mustang has been in her stall all summer as I slowly worked through removing all her layers of grime. First a hot wash with dish soap to strip her of wax; then a traditional clay-bar polish (I guarantee this was the first time ever for this step- wow. so. much. yutz. and blue paint); then a hot foam as lubrication for the new Mother’s “clay” micro-cutting pad- again, wow. even. more. yutz; then it was time for the pneumatic polisher. I decided I would not attempt to use cutting fluid or a cutting pad, as the 45 year old repaint from some archaic shop in Great Falls, Montana is a question mark regarding thickness and stability. Pros have a thousand dollar meter to read how thick the paint/clear coat is, so they know whether to cut or just polish. I decided I could live with some scratches and swirls vs creating a real disaster, and went with a microfiber polishing pad and polishing fluid. For a minute I thought of using cutting fluid with the polish pad, but decided to just try out the polish/polish first. Dead clear-coat and blue paint loaded the pad really quickly. No matter how many pros tell you that seeing the paint load up the pad is normal on an old car, it is a bit nerve wracking. I had to stop every cubit of surface and blow out the pad- it would create a cloud of debris (I wore a particle mask!).

Today I began the final step: ceramic coat (Avalon King). I completed the hood and the trunk, or all the upward facing surfaces. I hope to complete the rest tomorrow morning. The old girl really pulls down a lot of product, and requires a long fussy hand buffing. The results were worth it. I rolled her back into the garage for a “dust-free” environment for the first two hours of cure, then rolled her back out into full sun for an hour or so of UV fix for the ceramic. The day climbed from 80-85, then I pushed her back in the stable as the real heat came on.

Rear 3/4 view.
Trunk from driver’s side rear.
Closer view, trunk from driver’s side rear.
Trunk skinscape.
Trunk and surround, from passenger side looking back.
Trunk midline at hinge seam.
Trunk, passenger side sparkles.
Hood, front view.
Hood, from passenger side looking forward.
Closer view, passenger side Hood.
Driver’s side, front quarter panel and hood. sparkles.
Driver’s side hood. Universe.
Almost full view from high perspective, shot while balancing on narrow truck bumper.
E spotted this online for free, and thought tandem bagging mowers at the ranch.
Husquivarna 7021P, with a Honda GCV 160 Easy Start motor ( spark plug BPR5ES; blade 5802581 size 20 7/8″ center star, commercial mulching- I have yet to find one)

Does this look like a free lawn mower? It looked and ran in the “free” category when I picked it up last weekend. No “before” picts (I thought it might just be a hopeful fail), and though it had belonged to an urban lady with a tiny yard, it looked like it had been used to cut fire breaks along stream beds, set low to the ground and run over rocks, winding the wettest tall grass, and binding it all on the deck with a spray of oil, then left in the Utah sun to bake it all in, with a bag full of whatever it ran over, turning the bag sickly pink and rust. And it ran rough and burned oil- but it ran.

I took the carburetor apart, cleaned and refitted it, snapping off a lead to the fuel petcock in the process and had to order one in. It arrived after a few days and I parted it out, changed the oil & spark plug and air filter, and put in non-ethanol gas. And I sharpened the blade and refitted it while the machine was empty of oil and gas. It fired right up, blew a last little cloud of smoke as it warmed up, then settled out and ran clean.

Now it just has to make the 530 mile jump to Montana.


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The patient presented with kidneys this damaged after only 400 miles since the latest (in-line fuel filter) kidney transplant. This is the patient’s 4th kidney since 2009. The kidney original to the car was a tiny mesh that was the size of the inside diameter of the tubes at each end of the filter, and was problematic probably for the life of the car. It caused me all kinds of grief when I didn’t know it existed while driving it my senior year of high school in 1986. My dad retrieved the car and cleared the mesh, without showing me, then took me out for a spin to show me how much I didn’t deserve the car.

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32 years from that drive with my dad, and the patient needed a new gas tank. Ghost dad has been discouraging this tinker, but I’m going to do it anyway. The old tank came out easily enough. Things were pretty clean. No real issues with rust. Just cleaned out and replaced the old rubberized stripping. The patient is lucky, as the original stripping hadn’t been laid all the way around and tended to roll up onto the tank rather then seat under it.

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Old and new gas tanks. The old has a sludge mix of rusted grit that continually grows from the rusted inner walls. The drain plug was fused in place from the inside. More than a year ago I siphoned the tank, but that didn’t really effect the heavy silt- it sounds like a gallon of wet sand and pebbles when tipped back and forth.  The fuel sender had quit working long before she came into my care, so the gas gauge didn’t operate. The connective rubber section of gas line to the engine was rotten out as well.

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I laid strips of rubberized caulk under the tank to seat it firmly, put in new screws, reconnected the goose neck to the gas cap with new rubber hose & clamps & gasket, and put in a new section of gas line down below.  And a new fuel filter up front in the engine bay.

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Tomorrow I’ll head over to the local garage that carries non-ethanol gas and fill up my cans, treating the gas with Archoil to stabilize it. If there are no leaks, and the fuel gauge works again; then she will stretch her legs. Getting rid of the silty tank should cure her of many of her performance issues e.g. low fuel pressure at speed making choking rpms, and choking on whatever bad bits were sliding past the filter (nothing too bad as the jets are still clear).

update: The new gas tank and connections were all fine, so I took her up Emmigration Canyon on Halloween for speed trials on the back bit of “flat” road off the summit and she ran like a whole different car- quieter, no hesitation, no bogging down when pushed; just a clean and smooth response all the way through her full range in each gear, and falloff was just as clean.

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She took me for a spin up Emigration Canyon to thank me for changing her oil (RedLine 10/40 full synthetic race oil) & filter (Mobile M301a), and I gave her 6oz Archoil friction modifier and Archoil fuel additive (after E and I ran her out of gas a week ago to make sure all the old gas was gone). Good “blat’s” coming down, and growls all the way up. It takes some finesse on the clutch not to chirp the tires pulling away at stoplights.

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All the fiddling with E’s Subaru and my truck is practice for detailing this blue bombshell. I’m still working up the nerve…

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289 D engine (same as the 302) 442 setup (4 barrel carburetor, 4 speed (five with reverse, jokers), 2 barrel exhaust.  

 

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My dad special ordered her back in 1964, getting as close to a race package as Ford could put together- with a convertible top. She is built on the frame of the Falcon. She is essentially all original & un-restored, original owner (I count in my dad’s stead). Today’s odometer: 99,672

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Vertical scratches: dog of prior owner. Horizontal Scratches: “cowboy pinstriping” of prior owner (fire-fighter) driving to remote fire sites. Plus, whatever dings I’ve added. And daisies.

With E’s suby tricked out, and the bumpers redone on the Frontier (and I built a heat shielding platform behind the seats with aluminum faced foam-core as the twin tailpipes converge into one large pipe back there and bake the pets on road trips, half carpeted for Nora, and the other half covered with a wood platform with tie-downs for the cat carriers: that is, after getting under the truck and sleeving the tailpipes under the cab with 10 feet of heat shields); it was time for Paint Correction. The first time for the truck to have a real Paint Correction in her 15 years, and it took an hour for her every year old to complete, and maybe a bit more. Just cleaning the whole truck with a clay bar took many hours, as it kept giving up more and more yutz. Then I go section by section- roof, hood, cab side driver, cab side passenger, etc with each section taking 1.5 to 4 hours, timing the work for early morning or late afternoon to beat the near triple digit heat and keep the surface out of the sun. I use my pneumatic random orbital polisher with a cutting microfiber disk and cutting fluid to remove the heavy scratches and oxidation; next I switch to a polishing microfiber disk on the orbital with polishing fluid to shine her back out; and finally a polishing microfiber orbital disk with finish wax, and buff that off with a microfiber towel. I use Meguar’s fluids, as they invented the microfiber disk and proprietary fluids/compounds. I used Mother’s on the suby, and found the Meguar’s more responsive and less likely to overwork the paint as it is made to break down as it cuts which helps to indicate when the pad is dirty/the paint is clear.

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Same door, now with Nora checking her reflection. The color shifted because the dirty and oxidized clearcoat was cut clean, then cut clear of scratches, then polished back up, then waxed. Just the nose, door, and back leg of the cab took 4.5 hours to bring along.

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The blurry haze on the paint is all the scratches, plus some big gouges as well. 

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It’s not your imagination, it really is a different color now.

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The cab took all morning, and a bit into the afternoon. At five pm, when the shadow of the house moves over the truck, I head out again for another 4 hours and do the roof of the shell and this passenger side of the bed.

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At 5% humidity the pads dry out fast, and I have to stop and blow them clean with the air nozzle, clear the haze of residue off the truck, then re-wet the pads with fluid and head back on.  

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So many layers of scuffs and scratches…

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Now a mirror finish.

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From an opposite angle, still clear.

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The nose and front flare, with a little pile of dirt on the bumper that vibrated loose from an infinite store of Montana that rides in every nook and cranny.

Next I’ll see if my little jar of touch-up paint is still good, and clear up all the dings.

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The trailer can fit two shipping containers. It is a beast.

A buddy of mine has started a business as a trucker; his rig is a stout MAC tractor and this flatbed trailer. He lives up a steep winding road in Park City, and a neighbor lets him park the flatbed down at the bottom at a vacant lot. The underside railing of the trailer needed to be cut out and replaced. The outfit is too big turn on a city street, so we couldn’t use my shop. He picked up a nice little welder that would run on 110, but provide 140amps, and we lifted his big generator into the back of his truck and worked in-situ, or en-plein-air if we really want to be artsy about it.

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There are six tubes that span the underside, aligning with “flying buttresses” of pipe that support the width of the bed. Here I have replaced 3. It took all day.

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The prior owner of the trailer had covered five of the six rail pipe in carpet to stow things below. The pipes were severely corroded, and many of the welds had sheared. This would get his operation shut down at any inspection point. We cut out all the old pipe, all but the last pipe way down by the wheels as it hadn’t been carpeted and was fine. The inside diameter of the new pipe is bigger than the outside diameter of the old pipe- nice upgrade.

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Small shielded welding wire on a little welder hooked up to a generator that would pop its circuit if I made any mistake, coupled with gusty wind, made for tough welding conditions. The original pipes were all cut short to ensure their fit, then steel disks were welded on each sidewall of the big beams to gap in the pipe, and the pipes were welded to the disks. I ground out the pipe-weld, and re-welded to the big circular platforms. This took a lot of grinding… my birthday present Cestus gloves with long cuffs were essential. My xmas present of a Home Depot card had Santa’d my burly 10amp Bosch grinder with vibration dampening, which proved up nicely. 

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I returned the next morning and had it all finished by 11am. Each run of pipe is just under four feet long. This should be noticeably smoother under load.

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Fitting the tubing was the technical part. We cut the tubes a bit long, then I ground out the old welds on the giant I-Beams, then cut and ground down an end until the pipe was just just too long to fit. Then I whanged it into place with the sledgehammer (visible btwn the 2nd and 3rd rail). This assures that I’m putting structure back to the buttressing pipe and supporting the platform above, rather than the weld pulling against the sidewall, which would also increase the likelihood of the weld shearing under load stress.

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8 years ago I did a rust triage on the rear bumper; now the surgery is a bit more involved.

When you finish a two day rust triage on the big deer bumper up front, it is tempting to forget the sad rusty bumper on the back. It is so small though. And so so rusty. I bet you could just pop it off and make a light day of it in the shop. Sure. Let’s do it. and that’s how I got my tennis elbow back.

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The bolts were seized with rust, but wd40 and a wire brush was joined with steel tubing leverage on the end of a wrench- backing off for cleaning then pushing forward, then back, and no bolts sheared ( and no tools died) but my knuckels did get a bit bloody.

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I pull the rubber cap and find that the entire thing has rusted out under the cap, and the back side is no better. The only spots with good paint are under the two stickers…

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I used a spring hammer while wishing for a needle gun, then a wire wheel on my big grinder, then a right angle pneumatic with a 30 grit disk to reach all the inside corners- then a heavy duty grind just to smooth things out a bit. I stopped short of sandblasting the whole thing. A bit of ball-pein hammer to press out a dent from the back side as well.

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The next step is degreasing and etching. The metal turns to a zinc oxide, which seals the metal.

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The zippy marks along the midway portion are the only places the paint was still good; I cut the surface of the paint to help the new paint adhere.

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Detail of etching transformation.

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POR15 layer went over the etched metal, then after 3 hours of drying when it was just past tacky, I finished it with a por15 brush-on layer of textured rubbercoat for lining truck beds.

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I did a small triage on the tow rig and the bumper arms as well.

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Reinstalled, and with another rubber-coat layer.

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I also did the front bumper, but it was in comparatively great shape and didn’t need to be removed.  The back side was a tough prep job, but goggles and a dust mask and a full tyvek head cover helped. The bottom facets, and anything facing the front wheels was compromised with thick rust flake.

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The only facet not facing the wheels is the logo, everything else is ground out and redone in por15- even the top of the bumper was beat up from under the front fender out to the tubing rail. I put on a final coat of por15 rubberized spray-coat to help defray Montana road rash. I sprayed under the front wheel wells too.