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.


  1. It's a good thing you have lots of friends...looks like they come in pretty handy :)

  2. you've got more friends on your block than i've had my whole life!!! OOOPS