Project Rolling Relic - 1949 Ford Tudor Project Rolling Relic - 1949 Ford Tudor

by Aaron Starnes | Views: 15822

Cars today don't have the same appeal as a true classic. Cars made at the dawn of the post-war era were more daring, both in style and performance, than anything you'd likely buy in the showroom today. This 1949 Ford Tudor is a car that encompasses all of these long-lost qualities, while retaining the essence of a pure cruising experience. This is the journey of one man trying to restore a seriously cool car from a bygone era.

Part 1: Getting Home

A couple weeks ago I picked up this 1949 Ford deluxe 2 door. I chose it for a number of reasons. Not the least of which was the fact that I could drive it home. The ride home was actually not that dramatic, it would go and stop, albiet the stop was better than the go. 

    I figured that if I bought one out of town I'd either have to tow it or rent a trialer. A couple hundred bucks to just get the thing into my driveway didn't sound too good. Also I picked this one because it had a fresh back window. That's about 325 without the rubber trim. along with the back window there were a number of replacement patch panels for all the rust holes, of which there are plenty. It has the original flathead V8 under the hood. When I got it it was painted, poorly, lime green. I have since taken steps to switch up the paint scheme. Some black and gold should do the trick.

    The first thing I thought I'd do is fix up the wiring as it was starting a little hard and the wires looked ROUGH. I ran down to the parts store after taking a look at what I had to work with.
It's safe to say I needed a new coil. Notice the cracked up old coil wire!
    So after I did a little research I settled on some Accel 7mm wires and a 42,000 volt Super stock coil. I knew I wanted to eventually upgrade to the electronic ignition conversion that PerTronix makes so I made sure that the coil I chose wouldn't cause any problems. The PerTronix Ignitor system is a bolt on kit that take the place of your points under the distributor cap and can be had for around 75 dollars and if it saves me from having to maintain a points setup it is well worth it. Not to mention more accurate timing, longer spark plug life, more horse power, greater efficiency, ect. I'll make a post about the install process when I get it in.
Dig the kooky 70's style lettering. The accel coil is nice and tidy and an easy install. If I had to do it again though I'd save 3 bucks and get the Yellow option as the chrome on this one is cheap and thin.



    This is the result after I cut down the new wires to fit and installed them. She starts up now instantly and seems to have more power. There's a pretty nasty tick coming from beneath the intake manifold that I'm going to to invsestigate soon. I have big plans for the car including a new wiring harness, remote battery, new fuel tank, a flex fan, and just general upgrades where I can fit them in.

Part 2: Ignition Conversion and Engine Tidy-Up

I wanted to write an entry dedicated entirely on the installation of my new PerTronix Ignitor electronic ignition conversion. After receiving it though I realized that there wasn't much to write on the topic. I ordered this product based on the reviews describing it's simplicity and reliability. The reviews didn't lie. Pictured is what came in the box. The ring on top is the "magnet sleeve" that fits over your rotor shaft. Bottom left is the receiver and ignition plate and on the right is the little baggy of hardware. What you see here is what you get save a sheet of instructions. The instructions are brief but thorough. They tell you in detail what you need to run their set up. 


By that I mean all the technical stuff about what primary resistance your coil ought to be if you're running a 6 or 8 cylinder, wiring diagram, etc. Also if your coil happens to be 1.5 ohms of primary resistance you can eliminate your condesner. The coil I chose has 1.4, I'm hoping it's close enough but if not it's no trick to wire in the condenser. PerTronix offers it's own line of performance coils with all the right numbers for an idiot proof install.

At right is the distributor with the cap and rotor removed. You can see the breaker points, condenser, rotor shaft, and vacuum advance plate. Most of this is removed and replaced with the new system. 


At left is the PerTronix system installed. It's clean, tidy and eliminates all those moving parts and in doing so eliminates potential problems. The kit replaces the points by screwing down the ignitor plate to the old breaker plate. this allows your advance mechanism to still do it's job.  In my application this reduced clutter under the distributor cap by making a lot of the wires an junk related to the points useless. I removed all the old and put in the new in less than an hour. To finish up the installation I twisted the red and black wires coming from the distributor and sleeved them in heat shrink to protect them and give them a clean appearance. Then I cut the wires to length and crimped on the terminals, heat shrinked those, and wired up the coil. That's it. Easy peasy, and hopefully it will lend a bit of reliability to this old heap! One less thing to go wrong, right? Stay tuned to see if it actually works once I get her all wired up and try to start her up.


Dig the chrome radiator hoses
As the title of this entry promises there will be some engine tidy up. I sorted out or installed everything everything but the new oil system and my fuel line.  But that can wait for another entry. I painted the base of my fuel pump gloss black, along with the wire brackets and the case breather tube.  I ordered a brand spanking new flex fan but could not install it because the center hole was too small. I think I'll have to run a spacer but it will have to be a pretty custom little job as the fan is already nearly an inch from the radiator. So I'm thinking about ordering one and cutting it down to about 1/4" so it clears the radiator and the pulley assembly. I'll sandblast and paint the fan mount at that time.


 I thought I'd try to do a little neater job of routing the plug wires than I did the first time I installed them, so I did my best to keep them all going in on general direction relative to which side of the engine they went to. I also put some heat shrink around the wires going to the opposite side of the block where then went through the wire brackets. This keeps them nice and tidy and should prevent them from galling on the brackets. I organized the wires with the clips provided with the wires although I did have to modify one. This looks pretty good, but there are other options that look really great and protect the wires a good deal.  With all this sorted I can move on to wiring up the car and getting to drive again. Onward and upward to the next challenge!



Part 3: Wiring

I figured it was about time to catch the blog up. A lot of work has taken place since my last entry. Mostly wiring and small projects related to the electrical sysyem on the car.
The best place to start would be to describe my plan or attack. First off the original wires were totally roached as you can see. Some how these wires were carrying current or at least some of them. While pulling out the old harness I found that the fuses in the fuse block were replaced by one length of copper tube and an old fuse wrapped in foil. Wow. Fire hazard anyone?

So what is a guyto do? Well this guy started looking around for an inexpensive way to get a fresh new harness in his car. I scoured the internet and came up with this 12 circuit harness from Speedway motors. I mounted the fuse box up under the dash behind the e-brake handle out of the way. You can see some of the old harness here next to the new one. 

 After securing it I had a big mess of wires to sort out. Some going forward to the engne compartment, some back toward the tail lights and some for the dash controls and gauges.

One of my biggest pet peeves wih any older vehicle is botched wiring. It's not just awful to look at and often times fails, it's downright dangerous.

I wanted to go back with fabric wiring harness, but I couldn't spend the dough for one. So back to the internet and I found a product called techflex which offers that fabric look but can be cut to fit.

The techflex can be tricky as it must be cut using a hot knife, or you could use my method and heat some scissors with a torch. It is time consuming, and I think there are probably easier ways of doing things. But this is the look that I wanted so I didn't mind spending a little extra time for a tidy job. Below is an example of how I sorted the harness. This is my horn powerI ran it in line with my headlights. I solder all terminals on before heat shrinking them. Again this takes longer than merely crimping but it offers peace of mind. 
Here is the engine compartment with the wiring completed. Thanks to Nick D. for the sweet oil cap. To recap, wiring is a long, tedious process, but when done right it can be highly rewarding. Short of cranking up an engine for the first time there are few feelings more satisfying than pulling out the headlight switch and watching those sweet halogen beams sweep out from the garage.  

Ta Da!

Part 4: Parking Lamp Restoration

I recently pulled out my parking lamps to see if I could get them to work. The wires were old and crusty. They were also the single filament type but my wiring harness required the dual filament type to run both the parking lights and the blinkers. The removal seemed straight forward but like many things on these old cars nothing is as easy as it should be. The nuts that held the housing to the body were rusted and rounded off which led to me having to pull one of them through its hole. Not good. But finally I had them off and the body hammered back into shape. Afterwhich I was able to start work on the light housings themselves.
1. I pulled out the lamps and they were in bad bad shape. After sandblasting they looked like swiss cheese. Also 2 of the bolts had to be clipped out with bolt cutters because they were rusted so severely.

2. After sandblasting I got after them with a torch and some hard solder. I filled all the pin holes and rebuilt the parts which had corroded away with solder. I reblasted them and that's what you see here.

3. The pitting was really bad which left the surface very rough, so I decided to use a hammer tone paint which sort of bended the look of the paint with the surface below.

4. Next I laid out some scrap rubber and cut some body seals to go behind thelamp housings. Pretty straight forward, but a variety of punch sizes will help keep the holes tidy. In retrospect I sould have used a thicker more spongy rubber to .

5. These are the bezels, lenses, and lens gaskets I ordered from a website that specializes in 49-51 Ford passenger cars. They a a forum full of great information and they sell just about anything you could want. These bezels are pretty tough to find as no one is reproducing them at the moment. The lenses are the old glass style.

6. Here is a rear shot of the whole assembly. I used a universal dual contact light socket for these I picked up at Napa. It was cheap and easy enought to modify for my purpose and it fit nice and tightly. I fuinished it of with some bullet connectors, techflex, and some heat shrink. Overall I'd say I'm very pleased with these.

7. Once again nothing is easy. I hadn't looked that closely at the grille on this side of my car, but apparently she has been hit hard on this front corner. If you look closely you can see the grille is beat up pretty good by some former owner. I persuaded it back into shape as well as I could and eventually got it all to line up. I thought the other side with no apparent damage would be the easy one, but I actually had to totally disassemble the grille to get that one on. This is where the aforementioned thicker body seals would have come in handy.  

Part 5: Wiring Part 2: The Final Installation

I sort of left the wiring job hanging as far as the blog is concerned. I wrapped up the gauges and tail lights, as well as the stop switch which to my surprise and enjoyment was still operational after 63 years of service.
Here is the back of my gauge cluster. You can see the freshly rewired instrument lights as well as the 12v to 6v reducers. The empty hole un the upper left portion is for my fuel gauge I'm not runing it for the moment because it is ruined. I plan pn updateing the gauges with some Sunpro units that all but intall themselves, but for now the oldies will have to do.

This is the gauge cluster all wired up and ready to go in. Notice the switch I'm holding on the left. That is where I wired the gauge lights into the head/tail lights. That way everything comes on with the headlights. All new wires oh yea!

Here we're looking at the completed and reinstalled gauges. The chrome on the trim ring was in rough shape so stripped it and shot it with some almond colored spray paint until I can figure out a more permanent option. I cleaned up the gauge faces and repainted the indicator needles before reassembly. I also superglued the needle of the speedometer back together.

My original 6v horns were cooked so I got a pair of aftermarket Ooogas. I figured if one was awesome 2 would be even more awesomer, and I had already wired the car for two horns. But red wouldn't do.


After disassenbly and a little adhesion promoter.

They were painted black.

Here they are just before installation black and beautiful, ready to startle unsuspecting pedestrians.

Part 6: Head Rush

I had to pull the heads off of the flathead to do some repairs to my valve train so I decided while they were off I ought to gussy them up a bit. I started by stripping the paint
They were still pretty nasty, but it was cool to see all the ancient paint colors underneath.        
So I took my time and sandblasted them both.
Check out this sweet Ford Motor Company logo.
Then came the primer,    
And then the high temp paint. Overall they came out pretty good.


Part 7: In Your Gauge Face

The gauges in my 49 Ford could hardly be seen at night. Not to mention only half of the original 6 volt ones worked.I know that the common solution is to pull one of the little violet domes off of the lights, but I could not see changing away from that sweet phosphorescent UV display the car came from the factory with. I mean how cool is it to have a funky blacklight glow display? 

I also didn't want the cobbled look of some cheap aftermarket clocks hangin' off the bottom of my pretty dash.
    So what did I do? Well after a good deal of head scratching and some research I found someone on the message boards of who had swapped some 12 volt gauges into the original cluster. Exactly what I wanted to do! After I got the part numbers from him I ordered the gauges. When I got them all in I  realized that the water temp gauge was mechanical, and the 49 was wired for electrical. Boo. So I ordered an electrical unit. Unfortunately the closest thing the supplier had was a top sweep unit and I needed a bottom sweep.

    So I set to the task of shucking all the gauges from their housings and then carefully painting each of them with a few coats of the glow paint, and blacking out what i didn't like. I also touched up the stuff from the original gauges that I was going to reuse.

    The water temperatue gauge posed its own unique problems. Since it was a top sweep I had to paint over all the numbers and invert the information for use upside down. This was accomplished with a 6 pack of inspiration and some patience. I am not and artist, and I'm not tooting my own horn, but I think the results are pretty passable.
Gauge in original format
Gauge turned upside down and ravaged with a paintbrush
    To mount the new gauges in the original gaue positions the factory gauge backing plate had to be modified slightly. I did this by marking the backing plate in the areas that needed to be removed, clamping them in a vice and then getting after them with a dremel tool. Easy as pie I had modified mounting plates. All needed to be modified except for the ammeter.
    I slapped it all back together, hooked the whole mess up to my battery charger and turned out the lights. I was blown away, the iphone pics just don't to them any justice at all. I just sat and stared at the glow for a good 30 minutes, happy that it all actually worked. Very cool.
    This project was a time consuming endevor, but I'm happy with the results. It was also a nice project to do indoors on days too cold to turn wrenches outside. I now have a set of brand new, modern, reliable, 12v gauges to keep an eye on my old flathead with. Plus I have managed to retain the original look and  feel of the car's unique display. This is something anyone can do, and a viable alternative to the glass dome removal method. I can't wait to get these babies plugged into their respective new sending units and watch my new needles convey tasty info!

Part 8: Roll of the Dice

People choose to replace the door lock plunger knobs, or "Lock Knobs" in their vehicles for a number of reasons. Whether the originals are broken or unsightly, or they just want to stand out in a crowd. Replacing your door lock knobs can be a very rewarding process, but if one isn't careful it could be wrought with peril and danger.

This is a complex process with many steps so if you're trying to follow along at home I've provided an outline of the steps below and if at any point you get lost you can just go back one step and take a look at the previous on to regain your bearings. Or if you get really lost send me an e-mail and I'll  try to get back to you in a timely manor. Or if you're sweating and pulling you hair out consult a reliable mechanic. I'm confident with a little patience and the help of these 9 simple steps you'll have a nice set of knobs that you can be proud of.


Step 1: Selecting a door lock knob
Step 2: Receiving your knobs (if you didn't order your knobs proceed to Step 5)
Step 3: Open the package at one end
Step 4: Empty Package Contents
Step 5: Remove your new knobs from the manufacture's packaging
Step 6: Examine your Knobs
Step 7: Locate your vehicles existing door lock knobs
Step 8: Remove existing door lock knobs
Step 9: Install your new knobs
Step 10: Test your new knobs


Figure 1
Step 1: Selecting a door lock knob

The first step is selecting a door lock knob that's right for you. Everyone's taste is different and luckily there are a variety of styles from which to choose, many of which can be found at your local auto parts store. If you can't find them there you may choose to do what I did and find some you like online. A quick Google search will help you here. Figure 1 shows just a few of the varied types of lock 

Note: You must determine how many you need (generally one per door) and make sure you purchase the right amount.

Figure 2
Step 2: Receiving your Knobs

If you ordered your part online it will have to be shipped to you, If not skip ahead to Step 4. The first thing you need to do is get the package out of the mailbox. 
See Figure 2.

Note: Not all packaging will look exactly like this.

Figure 3
Step 3: Open the package at one end

Carefully open the package at one end making sure not to rip any of its contents.  You will know that you have opened the package when it looks something like this and you can access it's contents. Consult Figure 2a.

Figure 4
Step 4: Empty Package Contents

Empty the contents of the Package. If you order your parts they should have come with a receipt/packing list. hold on to these documents in case you need to make a return for whatever reason.

Figure 5
Step 5: Remove your new Knobs from the manufacture's packaging

Remove your new knobs from the manufacture's packaging. Our new knobs will come in some type of packaging from the manufacturer. The knobs will need to be removed from the package before you can install them on your vehicle. You'll know when you have completely removed them because they will no longer be inside of the manufacturer's original packaging.

See Figure 5

Figure 6
Step 6: Examine your Knobs

Examine you brand new knobs for any defects either from the factory or incurred during the shipping process. You'll know you'll need to replace them if they are ruined. 

Step 7: Locate your vehicles existing door lock knobs

Locate your vehicles existing door lock knobs. They should be located somewhere on your doors. Mine were located on the tops of the doors near the window.

Figure 8
Step 8: Remove existing door lock knobs

Using the proper protective gear and remove existing door lock knobs by turning them in a counter-clockwise manner until they have been removed. 

The exposed plunger should look something like this. Notice how there is not a door lock knob on the threads shown in Figure 8a. 

Figure 8a

If you are feeling  lost try going back a step until you are confident enough to proceed. 

Figure 9
Step 9: Install your new knobs

Install your new knobs by aligning the hole in the bottoms of your new knobs with the threads of lock plunger.  Then turn them clockwise until they become tight.  

Figure 10
Step 10: Test your new knobs

Test your knobs to see if they actuate the locking mechanisms of the vehicle.If they don't work start over at Step 8. 

Remember Up for unlocked and Down for locked. If you're having trouble remembering this do what I do and think to yourself Up starts with a "U" and so does unlocked, and Down start with a "D" and so does doesn't open.

Congratulations! You have successfully install your new door lock knobs. If properly maintained they will provide you with years and years of locking and unlocking action, and you can take pride in the fact that you personally installed them. Hurray.

Part 9: Something Drastic

"If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month."
                                                                                                                                     -Theodore Roosevelt 
I think I mentioned in a previous entry a problem with a rather nasty tapping noise which I thought I had fixed with a new valve spring retainer. I tore my flathead all down and installed the retainer and thought that I had the problem licked, but with very little driving my nasty tap came back. I knew to fix it for good I'd have to get in there deep. 
So it was off with her heads! This was a pretty daunting task since many of the bolts holding the heads on go down into the water jacket within the block which causes them to corrode and not want to come out.  On top of that there are 48 of the buggers not to mention I'd never done anything like this before. I spent an evening taking the head bolts out with the help of my buddy Spencer. Together we managed to get out all but 2 which twisted off in the block.It was precisely the same bolt on both sides leaving me with a big problem. With the broken bolts stuck in the block I could not replace the heads until I got them out of there.
I tried every trick I could think of to remove them. I consulted every online forum I could and even asked some oldtime mechanics what they would do. I had a lot of good input, and I tried it all. In the process I busted my knuckles and 2 different kinds of bolt extractors (which then had to be extracted). Unfortunately none of it worked. I ended up using a drill to punch a hole big enough to fit a rat tail file into then chucked said rat tail file into a drill and annihilated the the broken bolts. I then tapped the holes for new hardware.  
Tapping new threads into the old hole.
I can't say I recommend this method because it was laborious, time consuming and it got a TON of metal filings down into my water jackets in the block. As you can imagine this was a pain to get it all cleaned out but with patience, a magnet and a couple flushes I'm content I got things as clean as I could. 

At the end of the day it worked though and that's what matters.

While I had the cylinder heads off I took the opportunity to clean them up. They had lots of built up gook so I stripped blasted and painted them. Before the final install I also ran a file over them to knock down any irregularities on the mating surfaces.

With the broken bolts finally out I could concentrate on the task at hand. I started taking apart the valve train and quickly realized it was all toast, and that tapping noise was actually caused by a broken valve guide. I also saw that I had a stuck exhaust valve on one cylinder. I started looking around on the internet for new valve-train parts and stumbled onto Third Gen Automotive out of Nashville, Tennessee. 615-293-9985
Out with the old. Here are all my old torched valves and guides.
6th cylinder intake and exhaust
Third Gen was awesome to work with. I called the guy up and told him my issue. He had tons of technical knowledge and had the parts to me in a timely fashion for less money than I had anticipated. I ended up ordering an all new valve-train. All new valves, guides, springs and retainers. 

The first step was to get the old roasted stuff out. Years and years of carbon build up had the original valve guided locked into their spots. The valves were almost impossible to get out. It was a long and brutal process with me spitting and cussing the whole time. This was without a doubt some of the most grueling work I've ever done one any project. 

New Valve assemblies installed. Sooo clean,
Finally with the old out of the way and everything cleaned up it was time to bring in the new. Each new valve had to be labeled as to which cylinder it came from and what it's function was intake or exhaust. After everything was labeled and the guides were all mocked up I set to the tedious task of hand lapping each valve to make sure it fit it's valve seat perfectly. Then I put together the valve assemblies with the springs and retainers and threw the whole lot in the freezer. In the freezer the valve guide seals will contract and make installation easier.

Finally I was able to put everything back in it's respective place. Here I've got the heads and intake of with all the valve assemblies lapped labeled and installed.

Here is a details shot of the installed stud kit.
Once the valve-train was in I could put my heads back on. To hold them down I opted to order a stud kit. No more snapped bolts for this shade-tree mechanic. So I slapped my heads back down on top of my cylinders, put the whole thing back together and got her ready to fire.

The last thing I did was fill the radiator. Imagine my disappointment when water started pouring out from under the right side head. I had installed my head gaskets on the wrong side! So after I pulled the heads back off and cleaned them up I re installed them with fresh gaskets.

Ready to Rock!
I got everything back together and crossed my fingers. The moment of truth. I cranked and she wouldn't go. I had my plug wires on wrong. I rewired and tried again. HALLELUJAH she busted off! It was all immediately worth every cuss and every bruised elbow and every bloody knuckle.

I was so pumped I had to get in and do some shakedown runs. I called up my buddy Nick D., a helluva talented person and all around good guy, and asked him if he'd like to ride shotgun on the old Ford's first journey after a top end rebuild. He said he would and off we went, he was even good enough to shoot a little footage of the occasion. So we set out. Here we are cruising my '49 practically straight pipes and shrieking alternator belt but I couldn't be more proud! 

 The very same weekend I got it started I drove it into town and had an old flowmaster I had in my shop welded up behind that old flathead. This is just about the sweetest, most gratifying sound I've ever heard.
Up on the racks at Hercules muffler in Denton, Tx.
Me and the Machine

Part 10: Getting Tanked

"Happiness is not pleasure, it's victory"
-Fortune Cookie
The fuel tank on my Ford was pretty awful, it was full of rust and old gas. In fact when I drove it home the fuel source was an antifreeze jug full of gasoline bungee corded down under the hood. This was, needless to say, not safe and not a permanent solution to a rusty tank problem. I thought I had found a solution in a poly fuel cell, however after pulling out the old rusty tank and installing the the new fuel cell I noticed that it hung down much too low and was unsightly from the back of the the car. Not to mention unsafe if I ever scraped it on anything. What to do?  

I have treated a number of motorcycle tanks with chemical liners with a good degree of success, but it's always a  long and tedious process. Short of replacing the old tank with a new one I figured this was about the only solution to my rust problems. So after a little asking around and some research I found out about a complete kit from POR15 that would run about 75 bucks and a lot of labor and would line the inside of my fuel tank protecting the steel from any moisture.

The result

The Kit
I found the least expensive place to get one of these things was It comes with two bottles of marine clean, a bottle of prep and ready, a quart of tank sealer and some fuel stabilizer that I frankly know nothing about and I guess they just throw it in to promote the product. 

The Process
PictureRusty tank and chain.
Marine Clean

The first step is to get all the nasty crud out. I did some preliminary rinses, and then tossed about four feet worth of chain in there to try and scrape a some of the scaly rust out.

Then I blocked all the holes and poured in my first bottle of Marine Clean mixed 1:1 with hot water. The instructions say the hotter the better. I left the chain in the first go round just to agitate things. Then as per the instruction left it on each side for a couple hours. 

Then after a good rinse I pulled out the chain and in went the second bottle of Marine Clean. Then I just repeated the process. 

Prep and Ready 

Next came the Prep and Ready etching solution. This stuff puts a good bite on the metal and allows the sealant to bond to the interior of the tank. This is by far the quickest of the processes. Eye protection and gloves are a  really good idea here.

PictureUse tape as a spout to keep a clean can

The whole can goes in and you let it sit on every side for thirty minutes. You may be thinking, "sure that's all well and good, but I've got a couple pin holes." Well I did to. While I was cleaning the outside of the tank I scraped away some rust that was all the way through. It left me with a couple holes a between 1/16" and 1/8". I slapped some QuickSteel on there to fill the holes before I poured in the liner.

Next is the drain and dry. I used this set up, just some tape around a hairdryer set on low and tilted toward the drain plug so excess would pour back into the can. I ended up using about a third of the quart. This is messy so keep some gloves handy.

PictureNo more rust here!
Here's a shot of the inside of the tank after the sealant had dried, notice the pickup tube.They say after it dries out you have to wait 96 hours before you put fuel in it. But thanks to ample drain and dry time the inside of the tank looked great! Spotlessly clean. That was no problem for me because I still had a couple things to do.

PictureIf you're like me you might make a couple extra paint stands... for added support
I thought the outside of my tank was a looking a little rough, so I squirted a can of black satin paint at it. This was a pretty relaxing endeavor. The sun was shining and the weather was awesome out so between coats I'd kick back, make another "paint stand", and watch the paint dry. 

I also had to sort out my sending unit. I used a universal one from SunPro that talked to my fuel gauge. It came with a chart and you trimmed it down depending on what depth your tank is. In all about a 30 minute job. I did however have to do some problem solving here. The unit I ordered came with a 5 bolt mounting plate. If you've ever messed with the sending unit on one of these old Fords you know they have six bolts. What to do?

PictureThe old plate on the right has 6 holes.
Luckily I had my old sending unit still (and to think I was gonna throw this thing away). So with a little Frankensteinian logic and some elbow grease I combined the bits I wanted into a functional sending unit. 

I removed all the old junk off the back of the original sender plate.
Then I filed down this little plastic doo dad so the new junk would fit the old plate.
And just like that I had a fuel sender. A match made in heaven.
Then it was time for a pair of fuel tank mounting straps. I searched and searched for some universal straps online and really only came up with one option. I found some 42" galvanized strapsat I was able to call these guys and talk to them about what I needed. Convinced, I ordered them up. They came fast and I was very pleased with the quality. I laid them out and made my marks where they needed to be cut. I cut them after bending them over to double the thickness where the mounting bolt would go through. Then I drilled a hole in each one for said mounting bolt. 

To reduce rubbing I cut up an old mouse rubber mouse pad and glued the pieces to the mounting straps. I also cut some for between the body and the tank. With a little help from my buddy Stephen I got my freshly restored tank in position and strapped her in tightly.  After I hooked the pick up line back up and reconnected the filler neck I put some gas in it and cruised to the gas station. I put 8 gallons in my 16 gallon tank and whaddya know my gas gauge read half a tank! A good day indeed.

This good lookin' tank sure makes the rest of my car look rusty.
I've had the sealant kit in for about 2 weeks now. No issues so far at all. I would recommend it to anyone with a nasty old tank. That is to say I would recommend it with these words of caution. Do it right. Don't cut any corners. And don't rush. 

It is messy. It is time consuming. This is a weekend long project at least.  If you're gonna be around an awful lot you might get it done in a day and a half. Otherwise it could take all weekend. I had to do mine in two parts and it blew from one weekend well into the following week. There's just a lot of waiting, waiting to turn the tank, waiting for the tank to drain, waiting for the tank to dry, etc. 

With that said however, you can't argue with results, and the results I got from the POR-15 kit exceeded my expectations. 

Part 11: Trunk Wiring Completed

The other evening I spent a couple hours in the garage wrapping up the wiring job on the ford. I'd been putting it off for some time but driving after dark was a little stressful with no tag light. So wiring up some license plate lights was in order.  

I had some hardware from a previous project to mount the plate with. They were little chrome bolts with built in LED lights. I wired them to come on with my parking lights. I'm happy with them they throw plenty of light to see the plate and they're kind of cool as they serve two roles. There are some tight spots on the inside of the trunk so it helps to have a girlfriend with tiny fingers to help you out. 

PictureThird brake light above tag.

While I was at it I went ahead and wired up a third brake light and hid it up under where the original license plate light mounted. Hopefully this will draw even more attention to the ford as I slow my roll and maybe prevent an accident. 

Overall it was pretty easy and without too much drama just a little time consuming, but that's wiring in general.  But really I had just procrastinated because I thought it was going to be a bigger pain than it was, now that it's done I wonder why I waited so long.

Part 12: Electronic Ignition Completion

In one of the first entries I made on this blog I discussed and demonstrated an installation the Pertronix electronic ignition conversionkit. If you read closely you will have noticed I never really talked about starting it up after the install. 

Well that's because it never ran. I unfortunately received a defective part. That I may or may not have installed incorrectly... and with the wrong coil. So I ordered a new coil and the part still didn't work. Eventually and with much shegrin, I re-installed the original points ignition set-up and  put the electronic ignition back in the box and just sort of forgot about it. In the mean time I managed to blow up the new coil and went back to a stock style. 

The other day something got me thinking and I started searching around for the ignition module again to look at what kind of warranty the product came with. I recalled that it was 30 something. I knew I was way out on 30 day, and 30 week sounded weird, so with crossed fingers I started rummaging through my Ford stuff. I found the box and it said 30 WEEK! I was in luck. I called the folks at Pertronix to get the address for returns, got a polite human being on the phone, and mailed that sucker off to California. Talk about customer service

After about a week and a half I got a shiny new ignition conversion kit from Pertronix. No hassle whatsoever. Awesome! With the funds I freed up by returning the Aerostar front springs I purchased some seat belts and a new Pertronix coil with the 1.5 ohms of primary resistance required by the ignition module.
Before with Breaker points.
On the left is an example of the original points set up. You can see the breaker points and ballast resistor mounted under the distributor cap. 

On the right is the electronic ignition module installed. With the cap installed the only way to tell the engine has been converted is the extra wire running to the coil.  Notice how much more simple things are looking ...

After with Electronic ignition.
PictureNew coil and partially installed conversion module
The installation was pretty straight forward. I noticed what I did wrong last time. It's easy to overlook, but the new module must be grounded at the distributor. However with the ground and correct coil all the magic happens. 

By removing the moving parts in the distributor you also remove the possibility that they can fail. No parts contact, nothing rubs on anything else. After the installation was complete I tried to start the car and it wouldn't go at first. I had to really try the starter two or three times to get it going. 

This was due to my timing being set way off because of all the lag in the points ignition set up. I had the timing set in advance, but when I checked the timing with the electronic ignition installed It was right on the mark, no longer advanced. This tells me there was some serious slop in the points system that was compensated for by running the engine timing well in advance.

My flathead seems to run cooler and start more easily when it the timing is advanced a bit, so I advanced the timing. After fiddling with the timing it starts right up just like it used to. I did notice first thing though that it revs up faster now. By that I mean that the engine seems to get to a given RPM from idle faster than before.  I also noticed a difference in the amount of time it takes to get up to 60 mph.

It feels a little faster, and I would not be surprised if it was literally faster on the stopwatch. It also seems to be more comfortable cruising at highway speeds. Before the conversion the sweet spot was right around 55 mph anything . This is not to say that it would not go faster, simply that going faster felt like I had to push it harder than was comfortable. Now the sweet spot is up on the other side 60, a notable and worthwhile gain. 

Was this all the Pertronix product? It could be, but the installation wasn't the only variable.  The new Pertronix coil spits 40,000 volts, which I would guess is higher than stock. This hotter spark definitely can improve power. Also resetting the timing could have something to do with the better performance. But the reliability and accuracy of electronic ignition would have been a worthwhile conversion in any case. 

I never have to set points again, my points will never short and fuse together, and my car won't run like crap because my points got dirty, all this because I made the easy and relatively inexpenxive switch to electronic ignition! There is a reason why the automotive industry no longer uses points in .

Part 13: Simply Shocking

Recently I thought I'd do the Aerostar coil swap under the front end of my Ford. At some point in the past a former owner lowered my car by heating the front coil springs. This left them way lower than stock but also really soft and without much travel. 

A popular upgrade for the 49-51 Fords is to pull out the old factory front springs and throw some Ford Aerostar van springs under the front. The Aerostar springs are progressive rate springs which means they have more resistance the further they are compressed. This leads to less bottoming out and a smoother ride overall. All that technology and a 2.5 inch drop to boot can be purchased for around $60 brand new from the parts store. 

PictureBrake fluid covered the inside of the wheel.

As the adage goes the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, so also go astray the best laid plans of amateur Ford mechanics. As I was pulling into my bud's shop I pushed in on the brake pedal. It had been a tad spongy that morning, but this time it went straight to the floor. 

Thankfully I was moving at a safe speed and just rolled slowly to a stop without event. Once we got it up on the lift we found the culprit. A brake line that ties to the back of the wheel split and was spilling precious stopping juice all over the inside of wheel and making a puddle on the shop floor. I was grateful it was not a wheel cylinder and that it did not squirt fluid all over my brake shoes.

Mud and crud stuck to the axle
We pulled out the old original brake line and then cleaned up the fittings. After we bent and installed the new line we refilled the brake system with fluid and bled the lines of any air bubbles.
The issue with the brakes took up the greater portion of the time we had to work on the car that morning so the front coil swap out would have to be put off for a bit. I actually ended up returning them to free up some cash to finish another project (more on that in another entry). 

PictureShiny new rear shock

We did manage however to get the new shocks mounted on all four corners. Which was no simple tasks as the old front ones were rusted in pretty good and the old back ones were not there. 

That's right, I was running no shocks at all on the back. In fact the threads on the lower rear shock mounts were in such terrible shape, probably from being buried for years in mud, we had to run a thread die and cleaner over them to get the nuts to thread on. 

With the new shocks up front and the shocks actually existing under the back the ride has smoothed significantly. Cornering is much better and bottoming out is way less frequent.  This wasn't really an upgrade so much as maintenance but it really did improve the driving experience a great deal.  

Up front we noticed that the wheel bearings were awfully loose. I lucked out here too as the were not shredded and ruined. The previous owner had not tightened them down very tightly at all. 

Also for some reason they elected not to use a cotter key through the castle nut on the end of my spindles but instead used something that looked like speaker wire...

But after trip to the parts washer and a grease repack I re installed everything nice tight and tidy, except I elected to use real cotter keys. Lo and behold the wheel wobble was gone. Looks like there must be some wear elsewhere though but that's for another time.
Cleaned, keyed, and ready to roll

Part 14: Aerostar Coil Swap: The Dirty Low Down

A popular upgrade for the 49-51 Fords is to pull out the old factory front springs and throw some Ford Aerostar van springs under the front.I thought I'd do a write up on the Aerostar coil swap, PN Moog CC850, under the front end of my Ford. 

This is something that has been covered at lenghth on a number of forums online, but I didn't see a step-by-step with pics, so I figured I'd throw my hat in the ring.

At some point in the past a former owner lowered my car by heating the front coil springs. This left them way lower than stock but also really soft and without much travel. Not to mention it's not exactly a scientific approach. It isn't easy to do exactly the same thing to both sides. Which was the case on my car. There was a definite lean to the passenger side.

Left side at 25 5/8"
Gangsta lean not cool...
Right side at 26" +

PictureMOOG CC850

 The Aerostar springs are progressive rate springs which means they have more resistance the further they are compressed. Where as the old stock Ford spring has a linear spring rate which means it offers the same resistance until full compression. The progressive springs will offer less bottoming out and a smoother ride overall. 

All that technology and a 2.5 inch drop to boot can be purchased for around $60 brand new from the parts store. Or I found mine on Amazon for 54$ and free shipping.

This is how I did my suspension swap for under 100 bucks using some instructions I found on the internet. The cost doesn't include the new shocks as I had already purchased them.

First thing you have to do is get that old anti-sway bar out of the way. To do this you'll need to jack up the front end of your car and support it with jackstands. I like to chock the rear wheels when I jack up the front and make sure the car is in gear. Take your time and do this right and SAFELY being crushed to death is not worth it and is probably really painful.

If the nuts and bolts  give you trouble in any step use a combo of your favorite penetrant and a torch. Be careful because of course mixing fire and lubricant can cause a serious problem if you're not watchful. I keep a fire extinguisher handy in the car at all times.

Then remove your shocks starting with the top nut. The shock may turn so it's a good idea to use a crescent wrench on the top screw.

Put a jack stands under the frame and use the floor jack to raise the
lower a-arm just outside of the shock till a-arm is level thus leveling the shock plate.

To take the bottom of the shock loose I just remove the shock plate. It's a good idea to loosen both nuts together, not one completely then the other. When you do this the shock will drop out still attached to the plate.

You do not have to remove the shocks completely to take the A arms loose. I could have just taken the bottom nut off the shock and let the A arm down but I wanted to have a look at all the parts and take the opportunity to clean everything.

Remove the floor jack from the under the coil spring part of the a-arm and place it under the center of the inner a-arm shaft and put pressure tight to the frame.

Loosen the four bolts together, don't fully remove one before the others. They're under pressure from from the springs so rotate between bolts.

Let the jack down and work the shaft out. This might take some work. Be careful not to ruin the bolt thread in the process. 

If your car is anything like mine the A arms will fight you a bit and not want to let go. I used a crowbar to gently "persuade" them to cooperate.  If this is the case be careful what you pry against. to make sure you are not bending anything out of alignment.

The springs are not under much pressure and will come out pretty easily. There is  no need for a spring compressor. Use caution as these springs are HEAVY.

You want to make sure you're all clear when they come falling out. Take care with this as a falling A-arm or coil spring could mash your finger/hand/face and ruin your afternoon.

When the A arms come off be sure to look for spacers that might be between the shaft and frame.

You can  see a big difference between the stock torched coils on the right and the new Aerostar coil on the left. The one on the far right came out from under the passenger side and is practically collapsed... no wonder the car leaned to that side. 

You can see that the Aerostar coil is lower than both of the torched springs, and that the coils get tighter on one end. This is what makes these springs "progressive". Meaning that as the springs gets compressed it offers a greater level resistance.


You can do one side at a time if you like, I did them both at the same time because I knew I had a lot of cleaning to do and I was waiting for some parts to arrive in the mail before I would be ready to install the new springs.

This picture shows both lower control arms unbolted and the old springs removed.Now is a good time to pause and clean up. Not just your car but the work space. If your car is like mine it caked with the crud of some farmer's field and if you work like I do your wrenches, torch, crowbar, WD-40, etc. is strewn all over the place. It's a good idea to tidy up as a sort of reset before putting things back together.

Its also a good idea to replace those old suspension bumps stops while you've got everything torn apart. One of mine was missing, more than likely beaten to bits by the awful spring allowing the suspension to collapse again and again on that side. The other one, pictured here, was all dry rotted and damaged.
I found these for under 14$. Made in America too! They're just about the same size as the originals but witha funny Devo hat design.
Crack that whip!


Installation of the bump stops is pretty straight forward. Pull out the old and drop in the new. They come with lock nuts and the stud fits the factory holes nicely.

Before putting your new springs in it's a good Idea to replace your old, worn out spring isolators with new ones. These go on top of your coil springs

I got my new ones for 5$ each. Nice and shiny new.

After installing my new spring isolators I jacked up the inner a-arm shaft slightly to put the new spring in place, it will fall back out without a little pressure. Place jack so that it wont hit the frame before the inner jack is in place.

Put the bottom of the spring in the depression of the a-arm plate with the same orientation as the original spring.

With the spring in place put a little more pressure on the a-arm and make sure the spring seats properly on top side, if not, re-seat it and make sure the new rubber isolator stays in place. If you're not careful you can damage them.

Jack the spring up more and use a rubber hammer/crowbar to align the A arm and the rotation of the inner shaft.

 Make sure the bolts slide in easy and not force it too much. This can be easier said than done

Make sure to replace any spacers that may have been there during dis assembly and then torque the shaft bolts down to 50 ft/lbs.

Be patient  and go slowly. This can be time consuming or really quick depending on your car. In a perfect world the Holes in the A arm shafts will just line right up. These cars are old however and have likely been damaged at one point or another and may not be totally square anymore. 

This was the case on my car. One side went in like a dream. The other side took me three times longer to do the same job.

Once both sides are in re-install your shocks and have a beer.

Finally you'll need to re-install the anti-sway bar. I took this opportunity install new sway bar bushings from Dennis Carpenter. My originals were roached and crusty these new ones should dramatically improve the performance of the sway bar set up. 

It's a good Idea to clean up the brackets and shoot a little paint at them to tidy up their appearance. 

I loaded my bushings into the frame brackets and with a little lubricant they slid on easy enough. 

I then installed the frame brackets loosely so I would have more slack to work with on the A arm brackets

On my car this step was pretty brutal. It took a lot of time and effort to get the sway bar bushings to go into their respective places on the A arms. I ended up using a C clamp to press the bushing into the A arm enough to get the brackets on then used a pair of vice grips to squeeze them close enough to thread the bolts.

I also used some soapy water to try and lube them a bit so the bushings would slide in. 

After they were in I tightened the frame brackets down nice and tight and slapped the wheels back on. Now you're ready to put it on the ground and dig the new stance and ride.

When I first got the car off the jacks I couldn't really tell much difference in the stance. I think It's just about the same as it was without the lean. It does seem more level, but it looks like my front bumper is a little out of whack. Overall I'm very pleased.

After driving the car all weekend the biggest difference I noticed is the ride. The front end is so much firmer now. Not in a hard sports car way, but a yielding "in control" sort of way. The cornering is much flatter and it the wheel now will self spin back to neutral where it wouldn't before. 

The front end negotiates bumps better but isn't marshmallow soft like it used to be. Driving the car after the install made me notice how bad it was before.

 Before the install it would bump-steer and require constant attention and correction, now I'm able to let go of the wheel without worrying about being launched into the other lane.

I would say that for the effort on this project the juice was certainly worth the squeeze. There were some moments during the install I was spitting and cussing, but honestly it's not hardest thing I've done. I did it over the course of about 3 evenings after work. If you had all the parts you needed on hand and started early one morning you could feasibly get this project done by early evening. 


Part 15: Irons in the Fire

I haven't updated the blog in awhile but don't think I haven't been hard at it with the car. First off, I have the seats pulled out to refurbish, re-foam, and recover them. I found a replacement for my long lost back seat on craigslist for only 35 bucks! 
I pulled out the dash and all the interior trim to sandblast and paint them. I'm thinking I'll paint them to match the interior cloth then try and bribe my friend to pinstripe them for me.
The windshield and door glass came out and I had a new glass cut to fit using the old as templates. pictured here are my buds chipping the old windshield seal away to pull out the glass.  
I removed the hood to repair some damage around the hinges, common on the 1949 models, and to weld in some new steel in place of the rust holes. I have to say that it looks pretty tough with no hood on.
Unfortunately, having all these items out of the car does make it pretty difficult to drive so it has been mothballed for nearly two months now. I miss driving it but if I'm honest driving an old steel car in triple digit temperatures doesn't sound all that appealing to me anyway. I have to thank my buds who helped me with the tear down. It's always faster more fun to have help. I will do a full write up on each project as I wrap them up I just wanted to get something posted so I didn't forget how to type.

Part 16: Seating Available

Aside from covering a go-kart seat when I was a kid this is my first foray into the art of upholstery. The seats in my Ford were terrible to put it nicely. The front split bench had been covered again and again with one cover over the other until as some point a previous owner covered with weird horsey print itch blankets. When they weren't gouging my flesh with rusty hog rings they were dropping bits of ancient rancid horse hair all over the inside of my car. Which would then fill the air and my eyes when I drove around with the windows done. The dropped springs under the driver's site felt like you were sitting in a hole. They were apallingly uncomfortable, filthy and stinky. 
That and I didn't even have a back seat. It had been lost or misplaced long before I got my hands on the car. Finally, I decided to do something about it and began the tear down of my seats. 
I had help skinning the lean backs and I peelind the seat bottom. There was tons of old horse hair and decaying burlap that got EVERYWHERE. There was at least one mouse's nest that reaked of urine. I also found three potato shaped dirt dobber nests that were built within the seat springs.
Pretty disgusting and I still had to locate a rear seat. I debated making one from foam and plywood but nixxed the idea when I got on Craigslist and found a guy selling parts for old Fords like mine. I asked and he said he had one he'd sell me.

I drove out of town and picked it up for only 35 bucks. It was also disgusting, but after lots of clean up and pulling off all the old hog rings I had something I could work with.

The first thing I did after getting everything was stripped off the springs was to wire brush it all down and shoot it with some black Rustolium.  This makes the seats nicer to work with and prevents further rusting.
After everything was painted fresh burlap was stretched over it and hogringed in place.  I also replaced some of the damaged springs and hog ringed in some rod from side to side on the front seats for added support.
After the burlap I covered the seat bottoms with jute padding so passenger's can't feel the springs while riding in the car. Then came foam. I opted for a slightly firmer foam on the seat bottoms for added support. The lean backs got a mushy feeling foam that when covered I hope with be nice and comfortable. 

Here's are some pictures of my back seat all foamed out  and installed in the back of the car.

Next it was time to decide what I wanted to do to cover them. I chose to try my hand at sewing up some covers out of materials I chose. I looked online and I couldn't find any covers I liked and the ones I did find were way too expensive.  

To begin I started by laying out what the cover design would look like on my seat foam. Here is a picture of the markings I made while trying to get the layout right on the rear seats. 

Part 17: Good in the Hood

The hood on my Ford was pretty shabby. The hoods on the 1949 model often bind and break after years of use.  My poor old hood was not an exception. The damage from rust and from use had left my hood in a pretty sad state.
These pictures show the rust in the front edge of the hood after I sand blasted the old paint away. Swiss Cheese!

I cut out the worst of the rusted steel and made a patch to fit. There were also two small holes that had been drilled in to fit an emblem that looked like nostrils to me.They had to go, so I welded some little plugs in. I filled in everything but the Ford letter holes.  The holes that bolt the hood to the hinges were all torn out so I tried to weld them up as straight as possible.
No more nostrils
Vicegrips keep everything aligned before welding
I am not an expert welder by any means. This was a long and sometimes frustrating process for me. It  is a really good feeling tho when you get it right. and you can get the steel to do what you want it to.
There were stress cracks and fissures all over the hood that needed to be ground down and welded closed.  No part of the hood was more evidently damaged than the support brace that goes across the back of the hood near the cowl under the windshield. 
Brazed side
Hood and Brace separated
busted side
Both ends of the brace had broken. One of them broke long ago and was brazed back together in place. This means that it was also brazed to the hood and had to be surgically removed with a cut-off wheel. The brazing resembled chewing gum and they added a fender washer for strength. 

By brazing the end of the brace back on in place the previous owner had stuck it back together with a bit of a twist in it. I had to cut it apart to put the end back on nice and square. During this process I learned that you can not weld onto metal which has been brazed, it must be re-brazed.

The other, non-brazed, side was completely busted off. It was easier to deal with because I was able to just clean it up and weld it back.

Part 18: Getting a Handle on Things

The passenger door on my old Ford was sans one handle. This made it difficult for passengers to get in.

     To enter the car a passenger would have to risk contracting tentanous  by sticking their index finger into a dark and mysterious hole with sharp edges to push against a tiny panel that was difficult to find and even harder to push. 

     This was a skill that had to be learned by each new passenger. Needless to say it was irritating to try and explain and hard for folks understand.

Note the dark and mysterious hole

PictureNote the paint leftover from a terrible masking job by a previous owner.

     So I started looking through my boxes of junk that came with the car. Lo and behold I found a passenger handle. But it was incomplete, which is probably the reason it was removed in the first place. 

     I'm not sure what the part that was missing was called, but we'll call it a plunger. It is what makes contact with the plate that actually unlatches the door so it can be opened. 

     I thought a machine screw with a nice rounded head would work well as a new plunger. So I drilled out the existing hole in the handle and cut threads cut some threads for the screw. 


     After the threads were cut I ran a machine screw into them and made sure it was the right lenght by measuring the depth from the unlatching plate to the door skin and from the door skin to where my threads were cut into the handle. It came out to about 1 3/4". To this measurement I added how far the screw went into the handle.

     I smoothed the head of the screw the bench grinder some sandpaper to help reduce friction. I re-fit the handle and tested it for clearance. After I saw that it worked I pulled everything back apart and cleaned what I could with a wire brush and cleaner. I lubed both the handle and the latch mechanism and reassembled it all nice and tightly

     Below are some pics taken from the window channel looking down into the door. You can see the screw head against the unlatching plate. Closed position on the left and Open on the right.



Picture+ one handle

     This job wasn't too difficult it just required a little consideration. But the results are that I have passenger handle and latch that works better than the driver's side. You're welcom everyone on the other side of my car. 

Part 19: Interior Panels

When I bought my old Ford it had no interior panels in it whatsoever. They had all rotted away long ago. Being ambitious and curious "I figured how hard could it be to make some?" and dove right in. 
PicturePassenger door with pattern material
I got a good tip on how to use clear plastic material to create an initial pattern. It's nice because you can tape it up over what you want to make a pattern of and still see through it to make all the necessary marks. 

To create the pattern I used magnets and tape to hold up clear plastic material. You can find this stuff at most fabric stores.


PicturePlastic over quarter trim
To create the pattern I used magnets and tape to hold up clear plastic material. You can find this stuff at most fabric stores. I recommend getting the thicker stuff because it is less likely to stretch and wrinkle up. How do I know? Because I thought I'd save a buck and buy the thinner stuff. 

After the material is in place I marked out all the important things like door handles, window cranks and holes for the panel clips.

Here I have the plastic in place. It makes it easy to mark everything you need to when you can see it. 

After your patterns are made you can transfer them to your chosen material . I chose 1/8" masonite because it is close to what was used back in the day. You can make the panels from almost anything however. 

If you need a more water-proof application for a covertible you may want to build them out of a material that could hold up better when wet. Some ABS plastic sheets would work or some harware store bathroom paneling.

That is a drawing of a speaker in the bottom left, not a booby.

The panels are held on by clips that go through designated holes in the car's body. The clips attach to the panels by... 

There are lots of different types of clips. I used these because they are close to what was used originally.

The clips are offset by about half an inch so I drilled my clip holes through the panels accordingly.

The first panel was for my passenger door followed by the driver's side and then both quarter trim panels.

The quarters were a little tricky and required some extra attention around the wheel wells. 

I recommend a test fit of everything, then pull it all out again and block sand your edges nice and smooth. You want your panel edges as nice and straight as possible. 

This picture shows the interior of my car from the front looking back you can see the panels that I made for the doors, the quarters, and the package tray. You can also see all the junk in my car.
GoPro Fisheye good for perspective shots
I have both doors and both quarters done as well as the rear package tray. It takes a little time and there is some further work to do before I call them done. I will install some speakers in the quarter trim panels but that's for another entry. I'll also do an entry on how to upholster them.

Part 20: Off My Rocker

The rocker panels on both sides of my old Ford were rotted waaay beyond repair. They looked more like Swiss cheese than American steel. So what did I do? I Cut 'em off!


I started with the passenger side because it seemed to be the worst of the two and it was tearing up everyone's legs as they climbed in and out of the car. 

I was pretty nervous about cutting into it. It's a big project and I had never done a rocker replacement before. I mean what if I cut it all up and couldn't get it back together? I'd have a big rusty, undriveable mess on my hands.

 But after loads of research on the internet, including my first foray into Pinterest to assemble my reference pictures, I had a good idea of what to do and felt like I could handle it... probably. 

To begin I broke out the saws-all and the cutting wheel. The smell of hot steel hung thick in the air of the garage and the further I cut into the project the more I realized what a rusty old hulk I've been driving around. 

Digging into the rockers revealed a lot of rust issues that I figured were there but until this point I had seen face to face.


I the cut inner rockers along the bottom of the floor pans at the pinch welds to liberate both the inner and outer rockers at the same time.

I cut the rocker off at the door pillar. I will need to remove the fender to get to the front portion of the rocker. I will get this done in part 2. 

Taking the fender off will more than likely open up a brand new can of worms to give me new kinds of fresh hell, but It's gotta get done, and doing it will give me  even more to write about here. I have a nagging feeling that the grill is coming off to strip off the over-spray (thank you previous owner) and generally spruce things up. 

Here both the inner and the outer rocker have been separated from the car.  After cutting them off I went back with the cut-off wheel on my grinder and made sure that the bottom of the floor pan was totally flush. 

This is important because if the underside of the floor is uneven it won't fit flush against the new inner rocker. 

I haven't pulled the fender off yet or purchased the new outer rocker panel. I do however have fresh inner rockers for both sides of the car. 

After I cut out all the old rotten steel I cleaned all the surfaces that I was going to weld to with a flap disc and then treated it all with weld through primer. 

Weld through primer is a product that contains conductive elements that is applied to an area before weld and leaves a corrosion-resistant coating that can be welded  on directly. It makes for cleaner welds while protecting against rust. 

I don't know where the previous owner purchased these inner rocker panels from, but they aren't like any others that I've seen available for this car.


They were too long so I cut one of them down to fit and then tack welded it in position.

I will finish welding them when I receive my new outer rocker panels and I can make sure everything lines up. 

I intend on trying my hand a fabricating some outer rocker panels for behind the door.

I have to say it's a nice feeling to see some fresh steel in the old Ford. Feels like I'm winning the battle against rust at least a little bit. For my next entry I'll pull of the front fender and try fitting my new outer rocker panel. 

Stay tuned to see if I can manage to weld this mess back together into something that looks like a car, or if I will burn down my Ford and my mom's garage in the process.  

Part 21: Floors

The floors in my old Ford were in serious need of attention. They were soft and flimsy feeling and had been sort of patched back together with sheet metal and rivets. This kept the dust and road grime out of the cabin for the most part  and didn't look too bad but I knew something evil was lurking under those patch panels. 

So one afternoon I decided to see just how bad off it really was...

I drilled out the rivets holding the patch panels down and pulled the panels off and this is what was there.

It was rust. Surprise!

The soft floor was due to the awful state the body mount was in. Notice the rusty remnants of the body mount in the bottom pic.

I cut the worst of the floor out and I will make a patch panel to be welded in. 

I see you flowmaster
Body mount came out in a whole bunch of rusty flaky steel. But the 
body mount bold was so corroded you couldn't get a wrench on it and even if you did it was not coming out without a fight. 

I started by cutting a slot in the top with the cutoff wheel. 
This will come in very handy when it's time to back the bolt out. 

I started by heating the bolt. I probably didn't need to get it glowing red but hey that's good clean fun right?

Heating the bolt expands it within the threads thus breaking up the rust scale that has it stubbornly frozen in place.

Too much heat or too much awesome?
Then I quenched the bolt with 3 in 1 oil. I don't know if 3 in 1 
is the best thing to use but it certainly works. 

I've also read about folks doing this with wax. I can't vouch
 for that because I've never done it that way but you can see
how in theory it would because it is petroleum.

An impact driver was used to crack the stuck bolt loose. 

When you whack an impact driver with a hammer it 
turns just slightly in one direction or the other. The
force of the hammer blow keeps it well seated in the screw head.

Basic stuff but effective.

PictureOld bolt out
After cracking it loose with the impact I used a pair of 
vice grips to back it the rest of the way out. 

I like removing bolts this way because there is not drilling 
out snapped-off bolts or tapping new threads. It is a little 
time consuming, but not nearly as time consuming as drilling 
out rusty bolts.

It took me awhile to develop a little patience with old bolts.
But this approach keeps me from busting the bolt off in the
threads and spitting and cussing. 

In the end I think I save time not to mention I get to use the 
torch which will never cease to be at least a little fun.

After the old body mount was out of the way I could get everything cleaned and ready for a new one to be installed.

I bought this new body mount from Chris and Hollie at Shoebox-Central. They have a real passion for these old cars and provide excellent customer. 

The old body mount pads were roached out so I ordered some body mount pads from Energy Suspension part number 9.9533

They are not exact replacements but they're very close in thickness and I can trim them down to the original width if need be.

With some new hardware in place the body mount goes in with the new mount pads between in and the frame. The underside of the body mount is primed and painted and I will hit it with undercoat when the job is complete. The topside is prepared with weld through primer.

I have since added some washers under the bolt heads to spread the pressure out.

While I have a hole in the floor I am going to weld up the leak in the exhaust left by the muffler guy. Thanks muffler guy! In his defense its in a place that would be tough to get to but he's a professional so I don't know if that's really an excuse. 

After everything has been mocked up and I'm sure it's in the right place I'll weld the body mount to my inner rocker panel. 

Then I made a pattern for the big hole I cut in the floor. The yellow poster board was almost a dollar less than the white. I don't know why. 

I recycled the steel from the cheesy riveted in repairs to make my patch panel. 

I will butt weld the front  and inner edge and plug weld the rear. Then plug weld the patch panel to the new body mount below. This should make everything rock solid again. 

First impressions are that it fits pretty well. With a little more trimming here and there it will be perfect. The beads at the bottom left match up better than I thought they would. 

I was pretty excited to get welding on this panel.

To get it to line up there was some massaging to be done with the body hammer. But for a first try I think I made a pretty good effort

Here it is tacked in and sprayed down with weld through primer.

That's where I am right now. I will continue cutting, gutting and welding in new until my floors made more of floor than rust holes. Watch out for Floors pt. 2 where I'll try and tackle the forward portion of the passenger floor board.

Part 22: Floors Part 2

In Floors pt. 1 I managed to fabricate and tack in my first floor patch panel, as well as replace the rusted out body mount beneath. In this installment of the floors saga I will pick up where I left off and demonstrate my progress so far.
I started work by finish welding in the large patch I made in Floors pt. 1. The work wasn't too difficult but I did have to "chase" a lot of rust around with the welder. By this I mean that my welder would blow holes in the rusty steel as I welded to them. I thought I cut enough of the rusted floor board out but I guess not. It just goes to show that even though some metal looks OK it can still be rust-flawed

In any case, I got it all welded in, and as you can see here I primed over it. I welded the floor to the body mount through holes drilled directly above the mount. This is called plug welding.

After the primer was good and dry, I set about the task of cutting out the passenger foot well. It was badly rusted and although I tried to get it out in one piece, things didn't exactly go as planned. The picture on the right is what I ended up pulling out of the car.
The body mount felt pretty solid. I was holding out hope that it wasn't so badly rusted that I would have to replace it. No such luck however, it was nasty and had to be removed.

Also note the toe-board. It's really rusty on the top right. I will have to cut it out and replace it too!

When you remove your body mounts make sure you support the car's body in the same position. You can run a scissor jack up under the door pillar or stack some 2x4 under it. Whatever you do you want to support it somehow so your doors don't sag when you cut the mound away from the inside of the door pillar.  

The body mount must be unbolted from the frame in two places and then cut off the body at the spot welds.

Just like with the last body mount on this side the bolt was rusted in place. Unfortunately I twistedt the head off with a wrench. Out comes the torch and penetrant

Heat it with the torch and cool it with the oil. I like to use 3in1 because it doesn't start a big fire.

I then cut a slit in the bolt threads and used ratchet and a driver bit to ease it out. 

Once the body mount was removed I could go about making a new one. I went to a good friend's shop and took advantage of his metal break. After picking his brain a little I managed to knock up something that resembled a body mound.
Too Rusty!
I'll have to fit the body mount. I'm sure it will need to be finagled into place, but I think I can manage to do that.


I also welded in a small patch to make the passenger floorboard-patch a more square hole. I hope this will eliminate a little of the trouble when I make to patch for this portion.

There is much more to do but at least some of the work is done. In Floors pt. 3 I'll get my new body mount welded in, fabricate a big ol' patch for the floor over it, and tie up some loose ends with this project. The it's on to more rocker panel excitement! Thanks for reading and stay tuned.

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