Updated: Dec 14, 2019
(Note: You are reading the progress from a project that began in August of 2014. This information was originally dated from June and July of 2015.)
Floor Pan, Power Brakes, & Hot-wiring
Well, isn't this peachy?
The driver's side floor pan is rotted completely through. A little bit of a setback on the timing here. I thought for sure the floor was pretty solid but that was only by looking from underneath and not really "banging around" with anything. However, when I pulled back the old carpet to throw it out about 2 lbs of rusted metal STUCK TO THE JUTE UNDERLAYMENT and just came right out. I have already had a replacement floor pan shipped in:
I did get the dash installed but only have this photo of some of the assembly on the bench.
And, this wiring harness came in today so I have some work ahead of me!
We did find a place to live in Milford earlier this week, and we go to closing on our house here in about 2 weeks or so. I did get the chance to get back with it last night though. I built a "cocoon" around the area that I worked on for the floorpan because I already had the new dash installed and I did not want to ruin the headliner, the door panels, etc. Basically I wrapped the dash in plastic and then put cardboard up all the way around - even to protect the headliner. When I weld and stuff starts spattering hopefully it will protect things.
The old rotten floor came up like butter. However, I was surprised to find how little of the floor was rotten. There was better metal in places than I thought so the section I had to cut out was not too big. I use the holes in the strut as a reference point so that I could trim the new floorboard to size.
The floor brace/strut is very strong so I just took a Roloc to it to clean it up for a sold arc for the mig welder. I did transfer the measurements of the strut to the new floorboard so that I could drill 3/16" holes so that the floorboard can be spot welded to the strut. The rest of perimeter of the new metal was also drilled out for spot welds, but I am going to see what I can get with lap welds in some areas. I primed the new floor with Weld-Thru Primer as well. I have sealer and I also have chassis black paint all ready to be applied once the repair is made. The only thing I will have to do after all of that is redrill the holes for the accelerator pedal. Following along in the photos above you can see the floor pan work. I did cut out all of the rot, checked on the condition of the remaining, and then cut the panel to fit. The panel was then drilled with 3/16" holes for spot welding and then fitted to the floor, shaped, fitted again, shaped, cut, filed, and then fitted one last time. I used the orientation of the body bolts to help with measurements and orienting the new metal correctly. I did use a "weld through" primer on the top and bottom and it worked pretty well. The conductivity must have been good because I had to dial back my welder because of early blow throughs and all. I also used self tapping sheet metal screws to keep the panel tight to the overlapped floor so the seam would hold pretty good. The panel is not perfect, but she looks good from underneath. I still need to hit it with sealer and then I will paint both top and bottom with chassis saver paint.
I was glad I had restored the pedal assembly sometime ago. It felt good to just pick it up and bolt it in. I did try to duplicate Ford's original "anti-rattle" fixes by using a spongey type of neoprene for the bracket to rest on the dash (I believe the factory used cloth?). I did that same thing when I mounted the dash too.
Next came the mounting of the aftermarket MP&B Power Booster and Master Cylinder. The instructions given on paper were good, but not very thorough. There was something they missed on their sheet - namely the adapter plate that bolted to the firewall. It held the rubber grommet for the brake pedal rod/lever.
I got everything mocked up and wondered how the lever was going to be sealed to the firewall because the instructions never mentioned. I just figured it was because it fit so many years, blah, blah, and I would have to make one. I actually took measurements and started wondering where I could find some generic grommets so large. I went back to the shipping box to put the MC box back inside and what do you know? The adapter plate was lying there in a plastic bag. I picked it up and knew immediately what it was for.
Then I sighed and said, "Yep, you've got to take it all apart Dufus!" Here is a photo of the booster assembly with the special bracket for the firewall.
All went well until I mounted the MC just to check on my bends and mockup for the brake lines. All went well up front - no issues - just the right amount of distance. However, you can see what happened at the rear.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh! I am missing just a couple of inches. So... back to the store to get a longer brake line. I will say that the brake lines I had were a complete set from Jackson's Auto Parts but they were a set for original brakes - not for this FrankenFord I am putting together. However, the booster and MC do fit well and although it is kicked it into the engine compartment more than I would like, it does not interfere with anything. I did check the fit of the xhaust manifold and what have you just to be sure.
The floorpan and quite a bit of the surrounding floor has been cleaned and now painted with Chassis Saver Antique Satin Paint. I had a whole mess of it so I figured why not. I am probably going to use Dyanamat (or something similar) anyway. The engine compartment is looking better too. I made up my own bracket for the return spring. You can see it below.
It sure is getting tight around the clutch pivot/steering gear area!
In addition to all of this work on the Ford, I have been packing up boxes in the house and the garage like a Tazmanian Devil because we close on the house on Wednesday the 24th, and oh yeh - I am trying to get this ol' 55 moving on her own before we haul freight here. Of course Father's day is also coming up and I shipped off a nice little load of antique truck toys and some cards to my father down in NC, I am sure he will like them. My family gave me my gift early - a new creeper. My son was so excited he talked the rest of them into it. So, Ethan came out to the shop and decided to assemble it for me. Nothing like working with "Lug Nut Junior"! He helped me quite a bit this week - bleeding the brakes, putting on the finishing touches, etc. He even dropped a wrench on his head while under the Y block.
Long story short, the son and I pulled her out of the garage under her own Y block power yesterday with loads of success... no leaks, no trouble, and we had a lot of fun together in the midst of the moving melee. I will have to record video when we pull her out again on Monday to load it up for the trip to Loveland, Ohio. Earlier this week we bled the brakes and tightened down some of the fittings that were dripping... I thought I had them all cinched down but there were a couple of leaks where they needed a quarter turn or so. I did wire it up just for a "hotwire" with the original switch and keys, a "batt" line/"start" line/"ign" line so that we can just hook up a battery to a relay and off we go. You can see my zip ties in the photos here. I would have liked to have had the Rebel Wire harness in and ready but I ran out of time (along with other things I wanted to do). I don't know about you, but I like using the uninsulated wire terminals, crimping, and then using the heat shrink tubing to seal it off. The box above is a custom kit that I put together and then organized the ends in a lure box from a big box store.
Don't start working on dash parts unless you have that little tool above. It is a must when taking off the collars and chrome fittings for your dash switches! I did get the "3 on the tree" all figured out and at a stand still the shifter will put the transmission in all gears. I did use some nylon washers to tighten things up a bit but you can tell by looking at the push rod that when the clutch pedal is depressed the clutch fork gets too close for comfort with the narrow rod that is actuating the lever on the transmission. I lengthened the push rod by cutting the rod in two pieces, welding a sleeve to one side, inserting a 3/8" stud in the center, and then welding the other side to the sleeve. A very solid piece indeed. As you can see though I did not need too much room, only about 1/2" to get the actuation I needed.
After hooking up some conduit to the radiator frame and the first exhaust bolt on either side I placed a starter relay on the radiator frame and got the battery secured to the car frame. The plumbing for the fuel was pretty straightforward but my son and I had a hoot trying to the fill the transmission case. I guess I need to get one of those drill operated pumps or something. We ended up running a hose from above the firewall to the main case and emptying a few quarts in there. Then we went to the tail shaft where the overdrive is located and I ended up using a small squirt bottle. It held more than I thought it would back there.
The move out to the Cincinnati Ohio area took 3 U-Haul Trucks. First trip was a 17 footer, the next trip was a 26 footer, a 20 footer, a two dolly, and of course a trailer. (I now own stock in U-Haul) What a mess. Here are a few photos of loading up and the actual trip out to Loveland, Ohio from Winchester, Virginia.
We made good time and everything traveled well... pretty much uneventful. The big event was actually the week before we left when I loaded up the truck that had all the parts and tools. I had decided to load up my son's basketball goal. That sucker was filled with sand at the base and very heavy. So, I decided to take it apart to load it in sections. After beating on it for 30 minutes I finally got it apart and got it loaded. It just so happens however that I forgot to restrap my tool box that I had to get into. I only the drove the truck in the driveway for about 60 feet, but that was all it took - you guessed it. The thing went careening out the back end and onto the pavement. DESTRUCTO box now. No, there are no pictures, I was not in the mood. I guess the heat had gotten to me that day. When we showed up in Loveland at the house, (Loveland is right next to Milford) I could not find both of the wheels to the basketball goal. I felt like backing over it with the truck since that crazy thing had been the cause of so much grief. Oh well, the trip was good and everyone is safe and sound. Tool carts I can replace - people I can't. We moved into a nice development called Ashton Woods. The kids and the wife like it - I personally don't care for it. Everyone is right on top of each other, no room for anything, etc. That crazy basketball goal even got egged early this week. There is a nice pond just behind the house though that we have already been fishing at and it lays pretty nice. We are renting for now and are going to spend some time looking around the area at different properties.
The big deal - I now have less than HALF the space I had in the old Y block skunkworks out in Capon Bridge, WV, where we lived. The new garage has ONLY ONE OUTLET and then only two light bulb fixtures. We fixed that pretty quickly. No subpanel in there, no wiring for a compressor, etc. I am lost. I had to rent a 10x10 storage unit in Milford to hold the extra parts and what have you. There is a large, dry basement though and you can imagine how much I have stored away down there. If you have any tips on storage solutions and space-saving ideas - let me hear them! On a different note, I am putting a youtube video of the 55 rolling out under its own power on the trailer. Once I have it loaded up I will post a link. I have not run it in 2nd or 3rd, but of course the thing was only wired and plumbed to be loaded on the trailer and go into the garage under its own power. I am kind of thinking though that we have a binding problem with the extended clutch push rod. I wanted to go with a floor shift anyway. We do have video of the 55 being loaded on the UHaul trailer - my daughter ran the camera for me and my buddy Aaron Miller helped with sight lines.
This move has been a real kicker, but I have finally been able to get back into things here and there. First up are a few photos of a future Christmas present for my dad. I took a 55 Ford Mainline Headlight Hood and turned into a clock... I think he will like it.