1955 Ford Part 93: Heater Core, Rocker Panel Trim, and More...


"Heater Core, Rocker Panel Trim, and More..."

When I came home from the office this past week I was surprised in two separate ways. The first of which was the sight of my son, without request, vacuuming out the interior of the 55 Ford and getting things cleaned up pretty well inside. What a treat! The second surprise was not so good. My heater core was leaking!


I ordered one from a vintage Ford parts supply in Indianapolis and within a couple days the new core was in hand and ready to be installed. Thankfully, Ford made this quite an easy affair if you had the fresh air heat system in your 55. I do remember years ago a system where the heater core was completely inside the dash placed within a recirculating air unit. It was not aftermarket as the air plenum and heater cover had an actual Ford crest and the heater core had very long tubes that went through the firewall to the engine compartment in the stock location. At any rate, below is a photo of the heater core removed.

I followed this procedure:

1. Disconnect the battery.

2. Drain the radiator at the petcock. (this will bring the level of the coolant below the heater core.)

3. Remove the square accordion vent tube.

4. Remove the Air Diffuser. (There are handy levers on the top and bottom of the heater core bracket - see below.)

5. Remove the hoses from the heater core.

6. Remove the heater core bracket. (Several machine screws hold the bracket to the firewall.)

7. Remove the heater core from the bracket. (2 machine screws on each side)

After I confirmed the condition of the gaskets, I installed the new heater core and just reversed the procedure.

At this point you may have already asked yourself, "Now why is he already having to replace the heater core? The car has not been on the road that long."


Good question. I had forgotten that many years ago when I was a teenager the heater core leaked a little. I tried in vain to find a replacement locally; finally got fed up with it and then decided to throw some Bars Leak in the system. That sealed it up pretty good and the whole thing slipped my mind until now. There was another heater core I had almost a decade ago that I sold to another fellow who had a 55 Ford. As I recall, I may have actually had that one re-cored at a local radiator shop thinking that I would need to replace mine some day! At any rate, we are back in business and heating up well. The mornings here in southern Ohio are still in the 30's.


Later on that same day I decided it was time to pull out the rocker panel stainless trim and prepare those pieces for installation. I had already purchased the clips sometime back, but I had never really prepared the used pieces I had purchased from another mid-50's Ford owner. (I got a good deal too, thank you!) Here are the pieces of trim in question...



The finish was pretty dirty, showed signs of rust on the surface, and just needed quite a bit of attention. Before straightening any dents, sanding, or polishing, I took a video to show some of the peculiarities and to take some notes as well.

As you can tell, my biggest concern is going to be attaching the clips to the body. Now that I have confirmed the original spacing, what about the size of the holes for the clips? These holes must be drilled into the body, and there are two holes for each clip. Over the past week, I have not been able to find any information, such as a template, Ford's instructions, or anything else for that matter. The 1949-59 Parts and Diagrams Manuals do not even record these pieces. Maybe this was a "dealer only" item. I do wonder what tool(s) Ford expected an installer to use when it came to attaching those clips to the body. It seems like one tab is to bend up and the other to bend down (for the two holes, respectively). I will certainly keep you posted on this as we go along.


For now, how about some pictures of the Ford the last time I had it out to give it a wash? There is nothing quite like that timeless 50's styling!








Stay safe during these days of the Coronavirus. Some are affected greatly - I have personal acquaintances and friends who have dealt with it either directly or indirectly. Others, from different parts of the country, have not much problem at all. No doubt all of us are playing a waiting game to see how things unfold with federal, state, and local governments. In some fashion or another, we are affected by all of this. Loss of life, wellness, income, social gatherings, religious exercises, and more are all on our hearts and minds. I trust you will take inventory during these days to consider those things which are most "essential" in life. What about your relationships? What legacy will you leave in this world? Are you prepared for eternity? If you have not done so, please visit my page entitled "Remember" and read about a life-changing experience I had almost 20 years ago. I hope that you will.


Keeping the FaYth,

The Hot Rod Reverend

aka Daniel Jessup

© 2019 by Daniel Jessup