Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pelé preached words of comfort, Zina just hides her eyes

First off, I have to show off some of the crazy cars I've seen in the past two weeks. I have a habit of taking pictures of every interesting car related thing I see. If you were to go through my phone, you'd probably see 80% car related pictures, 15% biking/outdoors/landscape pictures, and maybe 5% pictures of people. I'm not sure if that makes me an unbalanced person, but it sure beats the heck out of a phone full of duckfaced selfies. Kids these days.... 

The first is an old Toyota pickup that was on display at a lunchtime event at work. This thing was a complete sleeper and serious business. The builder had stuffed a twin turbo 2JZ and 5-speed in this old truck. It was a bit of a tight fit, so the radiator and other heat exchangers went to the bed. The owner of this craziness was not around sadly, so I didn't get any details. 

Next, I saw this Porsche 356SC up in the mountains at a gun range. I didn't know much about this model so I looked it up. The 356 was porsche's first model released in 1948. Production ran until 1965, and the SC was released in 1964. This is a rare bird indeed, and the thing I was most impressed by is the fact that it's owner was still out enjoying this car as a real car, allowed to have blemishes and character, rather than relegating it to restored museum duty. If the owner were to sell it, it would likely be worth $60K+. I don't think these cars could have been more different from each other, but to me there was an exciting feeling to both weathered machines. Neither was attempting to look perfect or pull off the show car vibe, they were something more. They were fun cars.

I have come to the conclusion that TCI's 4-link kit for the 60-65 Falcon should be labeled with an asterisk. That asterisk would indicate that this kit fits 60-63 Falcons with the help of a few good tools. A job like this will help you find the weakness in your tool collection. I was lacking a good power drill.

When I went to install the lower links of the 4-link system, I found that the links were set up for a 1/2" bolt, but the bolt in the forward mount were 9/16". It was clear that I could not replace the 9/16" bolt with a 1/2" bolt, so I had to drill out the link bushings to accept a larger bolt. In the pictures below you can see a partially drilled bushing. I found that my drill would drill about 1/3 of the way through the bushing and the battery would die, after which the battery needed about 3 hours to recharge fully. This got old faster than

I decided to invest in some quality tools, so I headed to the Home Depot. DeWalt tools have a special place in my heart. I was spoiled as a kid because my dad owns a cabinet shop, I always had access to a large number of professional grade tools. You pay a bit more for DeWalt tools, but they never disappoint.  I picked up a DeWalt 20V drill with 2 lithium ion batteries and a charger. I was thoroughly impressed with how much torque was packed into such a compact, lightweight drill. It made short work of the bushings and spacer bores that needed to be enlarged. Even more amazing was how quickly the batteries charged. In about a half hour, one of these batteries can be fully charged. As an added bonus, almost all DeWalt tools come in a high quality case.

Lithium is also a powerful antidepressant when used in batteries.
This is where we find asterisk number two. The lower links attach to the body in the old leaf spring forward mounts. I'm assuming that this mount is wider on the 64-65 than it is on the 60-63, because it the spacer was fitting into the mount about like stuffing a cantaloupe into a toaster. Ain't gonna happen. The spacer needed about 1/8" of material removed from the face so that I could fit it in the mount. Using my ghetto voodoo magic and the same technique as I used last week, I made me a vise from vise-grips (see what I did there?), a c-clamp, and a termite infested carport post. I was then able to carefully remove enough material from the face of the spacer with an angle grinder to make it work.

Third world problems.

With the lower links in place, I could now attach the axle and coilover shocks. After attaching these, I set the pinion angle to 1 degree up as specified in the instructions. I attached the upper links to the 4-link cradle and located the upper link tabs on the axle housing. Once the upper link tabs were tacked into place, I also tacked the sway bar tabs in place and then removed the axle housing for welding.

Setting the pinion angle.
This was the first actual welding that I personally did on this car. I have photographic proof, provided by the girl next door AKA my girlfriend Shanna. Most of the welds turned out pretty good, but there were a few where the shielding gas was blown away by a slight breeze and they turned out with so much porosity they looked a bit like pumice. I ended up using the grinder a bit more than I would have liked, but in the end I was pretty satisfied with the welds and very impressed with how easy my welder is to use.

Of course I'm only going to show you the pretty side!

With the rear end in, I could slide an axle shaft into the housing and bolt on a wheel to see how it looks and check for clearance.

There looks to be a little room to play with.
AWWWWW riiiight!

I only have two wheels, but I got to to thinking, that doesn't mean that I can't drive. Some dude named Achmud is probably driving on two wheels right now, why can't I? 

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice.

Monday, June 3, 2013


I had meant to write this post at least 4 days ago, but writer's block set in. (Un)fortunately, not much has changed since that time so it will be essentially the same post 4 days late.

I finally tore into the rear end of the Falcon on Monday. I woke up early (for a holiday) and got right to work. I'm continually amazed at how easy it is to remove bolts on this car. I've worked on ten year old cars that had nasty corrosion problems that made working on them far more difficult than this 51 year old car. If you are looking for a car to restore, getting one from California's Inland Empire or High Desert will make your job so much easier.

Getting the rear out involved unbolting the leaf springs at both ends, unbolting the shocks, and unhooking the parking brake cables and cutting a brake line.

Not bad for 51 years old.

So maybe rubber doesn't fare as well as metal does in southern California.
I thought Red Ryder made BB guns.

Once I had removed the rear end, I got to work on attaching the 4-link brackets on to the new axle housing. The brackets I got from TCI were made for a Ford 9" axle. I am using the Ford 8.8" axle from an Explorer which I had narrowed. The axle brackets needed modification since the 9" axle uses a 3" diameter tube, while the 8.8 uses a 3.25" diameter tube. I cut the top of the axle bracket off and ground the bracket out to fit the larger tube.

Because I'm working under a carport I am somewhat lacking in shop equipment. I'm hesitant to buy certain things because my bedroom already looks like a crowded garage with all my tools (including a welder and two gas tanks) in it, and my friend who used to live under the bridge a half mile away has advised against keeping things outside. I kinda figured that was the case, but since the subject matter expert has confirmed, I think I'll avoid storing things outside.

Anyway, getting back on track, I don't have a workbench or a vise because I don't really have a place to put it. Lack of a vise makes certain tasks very difficult. I knew that if I tried to grind these brackets on the ground I would likely have a hard time keeping the bracket in place while working and if I tried to hold it while grinding, I'd probably grind a finger off. I've learned from experience that grinders will slip and when they do, they are very effective at removing flesh. I spotted a C-clamp on the ground and used it to clamp the bracket to the carport post. This makeshift vise allowed me to remove the material from the bracket without removing the fingers from my hand. Of all the things I did in the past few weeks, this is the one I'm most proud of.

We hooked my welder up to the 110V available in my shack house and set Vaughn loose with the MIG gun. It turned out pretty good.

My third world vise.
This is photographic evidence that I actually work on my car. 

About this point, Steve came wandering in from the back yard. Steve always has a word of advice for me whether I'm looking for one or not. This time he said that I should lift up the back of the car and pressure wash the underbody. I figured I may as well. It's nice to have a clean place to work and I had time so I agreed. Steve brought his A-frame crane and pressure washer around front. We lifted up the back of the car and started spraying.

Steve and the Falcon on the swingset A-frame crane.
 I also washed the interior of the car. I found that the pressure was high enough to remove the thick, hardened body coating on the interior. This will allow me to apply my own sound deadening materials to the floor.

After taking a several hour detour that involved too many fish tacos with Steve, I got back to doing what I was intending to do, which was to install the 4-link kit. This involved some frame rail reinforcements and the 4-link cradle. The cradle goes under the car, and bolts in at several points to give an attachment point for the upper links and coilovers. While installing the cradle, I got to a point where two people were required. Luck was with me because my Chinese friend Yi who lives around the corner stopped by to see how the project was going. Yi came to the US about 8 months ago and he's never ever worked on a car. I think the idea of a project car is completely foreign to him, but he was interested in it and I needed a hand. After a quick lesson in how to use a ratchet, I had him sit in the car while I went under the car and tightened down the cradle bolts. With Yi's assistance, the job went quickly.

Underneath the car, from the rear looking forward.

After I pressure washed the floor pan coating I noticed a wrinkle in the transmission tunnel. Perhaps this is why the right side of the car is lower than the left? I suspect the unibody is warped.

During the rest of the week I didn't accomplish much other than swapping the 2" drop spindles for stock height spindles. I came to the conclusion that while I liked the ride height, once the engine was installed the car would definitely sit too low.

As a sidenote, a certain female friend (you know who you are) gave me flak for always letting Vaughn do the welding. Stay tuned, because in the next episode: JESSE WELDS.