Updated: Dec 27, 2019
Rear Mount Antenna, Rear Bumper, & more Stainless
When dealing with reproduction parts the end user needs to be prepared to "massage" pieces and hardware that really would never have measured up to Ford's standard in 1955. Take for instance this Rear Mount Antenna that I purchased from a restoration parts company over a year ago. When it arrived way back then I only checked the appearance, completeness, and briefly reviewed the installation instructions. Last week, without much thought I retrieved the box from storage and laid out the contents on the workbench.
The box included the antenna assembly, the antenna cable, a rubber gasket, two bolts to secure the antenna to the sheet metal, and a set of instructions (FoMoCo copy) that included a template. Not wanting to destroy the instructions page, I made a copy of the template on 8.5x11 paper because I knew it needed to be cut and trimmed to match the trunk opening.
The copied template was then trimmed and taped into position, but I was careful to put down masking tape on the painted body of the car to keep the paint from chipping when I put the power to the drill. (note the pictures that follow) Three holes were required - a large hole for the antenna cable and two small holes for the mounting bolts.
The template helped tremendously (or so I thought it would) to keep the holes oriented.
After drilling the large hole, I test fitted the antenna. No go. The holes were not lining up. I asked myself how in the world I could mess this up... this looked so simple! It wasn't until I lined up the gasket that I discovered the problem.
The rear hole was not lining up at all! How could that be? I brought the gasket over to the Ford instructions I had copied.
And... now we see the problem with many of the reproduction parts - not quite up to par for FoMoCo requirements. The gasket fit the antenna base perfectly but did not match the template to drill the holes! Guess what else? The hardware for the mount - those bolts had a 10 mm head, not 3/8"! From what I could see the mount was supposed to have studs anyway. I worked the rear hole over with a small grinder to elongate it so the base of the antenna and the gasket would all line up to the body. In the end it was not a big deal, but there have been a few times I have run into a problems such as this after having purchased reproduction parts that were manufactured in Asian countries. On several occasions during this build I had purchased parts at very good prices, looking ahead to installing them in future months or maybe even the next year. Concerning this antenna, I had always wanted this accessory. I like the way it looks on the car. How functional this will be still remains to be seen - I have my doubts. I left the cable rolled into the trunk. One of these days I might place a blue tooth radio into the trunk and use this cable as an antenna.
One more word to give: I cannot say enough about using the masking tape on the painted surface before drilling the hole. This kept the paint from chipping and gave me very clean holes for mounting. Also, I used tape to mark my step drill bit so that I knew when the hole had reached the 1 1/8" diameter we were shooting for.
For the installation of the rear bumper I knew that the rubber gravel seal had to be installed first. I ended up making my own, using some leftover rubber gasket/seal material I had used for other projects and pop rivets.
After the seal was glued to the thin sheet metal strip and then pop riveted, my son and I used milk crates to help us put the rear bumper and the gravel seal in position. The bumper guards were saved until last.
The bumper is decent driver quality, but I would think that after a few years the piece will need to be re-chromed - especially the bumper guards. Later on when we mounted the front bumper, I decided to leave those bumper guards off (they looked so rough with serious rust issues).
I also cleaned up the three thin stainless strips that go on the lips of the fenders and hood. The old clips were too far gone so each piece received new clips that I had purchased a few months back from a restoration company in Pennsylvania.
The photo immediately above shows the clips that attach the stainless to the hood lip. Just a tip here if you have a 55 Ford (the 56 hood is different and does not have these small stainless strips) - you may have some trouble getting these clips to "catch" in the holes. I had to use a pair of needle nose pliers to pull a few of them through the holes. It may have been because of the paint work, in essence making the hole smaller because of mil thickness, I am not sure.
And a video update of where we stand: