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1955 Ford Part 62: "Houston Control, We have Heat!"

Updated: Dec 27, 2019

Houston Control, We have Heat!


The 55 Fairlane was put up on jackstands this morning in anticipation of removing the 3 speed manual transmission and Borg Warner overdrive unit. While the transmission shifts well, and the overdrive was working correctly, second gear kept "popping out" on extended runs when after the car had been on the road for several miles. I have an NOS syncrhonizer assembly to install now (the synchros were not replaced when I rebuilt the transmission a while back), and I need to check the end play on the main shaft. I hate having to pull this trans one more time, but I have no other choice. When it pops out of second, I cannot shift back into gear for a few seconds while traveling down the road. Hopefully the third time will be the charm!

Before I get into the tedious work of the transmission, I decided to pull the heater control unit from the dash to repair a previous "restoration" of the assembly. Not too long ago, the housing that sits between the bezel and the lever plates came loose from the bezel and one of the faces slid down behind the dash.

I decided to make a video to show more detail and give the solution to the problem, but suffice to say I had to tear into the dash and remove more than just the heater controls. Sometimes I end up fixing my own problems so often I think I can do each procedure blindfolded!

After the controls were put back in it was time to warm up the car and make sure we had coolant to the heater core, check to see if the plenum controls were working properly, etc. Things went pretty well - and before too long we had a warm car in cold weather. While the car was warming up, I got out this tool:

Last year on Black Friday my son and I hit up a Menards home improvement store early in the morning to capitalize on some good deals on hunting gear and tools. This infrared thermometer happened to be one of those good deals. If memory serves, it was only something like $10. The premise is simple - aim the gun at any surface and pull the trigger. Release the trigger and the thermometer will show the temperature. Obviously, this is a very handy way to know if your thermostat is working correctly, check any extreme temperatures whether hot or cold, etc.

My initial reason to bring out this handy tool was to check my cooling fan relay and the thermostatic switch that controls it. While I was checking on coolant temps, I decided to aim at other spots on the engine. Seems the exhaust manifold was warming up well and showing high temps all around... except for the port at cylinder #5. Kind of interesting what I discovered when I pulled the spark plug.

The spark plug reading tells it all...

Not only was it wet, but the electrode was just about bonded to the tip. I replaced the spark plug of course and wouldn't you know it, the temperature reading for #5 came up to match all cylinders. The infrared thermometer is a very handy device - I encourage you to purchase one for your tool box.

Hopefully I can pull that transmission soon, tear into it, and put the final fix on that part of the car as well! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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