12/9/07 – Spindle Paint & Steering

Or maybe this should have been called, "two steps forward, one step back."  Why?  Well, despite some good progress, there have been a couple of setbacks (not the last, I’m sure).  First, the progress.

As you know from last time, I was thinking of different ways to paint some of the donor parts given our lovely Pacific Northwest weather (lows around freezing & highs around 40).  I settled on keeping the parts and paint in the house at a nice room temperature, then taking them outside to paint, before bringing them back inside to cure.
First up on Saturday, the front spindles get some primer:


Then on Sunday, they get some black paint:


You can see that there are some brackets bolted on the upper portion of the spindle  The original Mustang utilized McPhereson struts attached to this point.  Since the FFR uses a dual wishbone setup, it needs a way to attach to the upper control arm – these brackets.

Then it was time to turn my attention to the steering rack.  This was the next thing I could install while waiting for those pesky back-ordered upper control arms (they should be here early next week, by the way).  Step one for the rack was to install the FFR spacers that extend the rack outward to clear the frame before the tie rod angles towards the spindle.  In order to install these extenders I had to pull back the boots – when I did this 1/2 pint of steering fluid poured out (this picture was from before the oil spill…):


Obviously the seals are bad – replacing them requires special tools and would cost about as much as just replacing the whole thing…  I did some calling around and found a new steering rack at Shucks up on Aurora Ave.  On Sunday we picked up the new rack, returned the old one as a core, added the extenders and swapped out the tie rod ends. 

Oh, speaking of the rod ends, good news here.  They are Baer bump steer tie rod ends (and not cheap). Fixing bump steer is a good thing on a lowered car like the FFR.  But, once again, there was a problem.  One of the rod ends had threads that were completely bunged-up:


Finally, I got the steering rack installed and added the shaft and bearings.   There are a couple of u-joints that I had to rotate just the right way in order for it to all line up (the directions call for installing the shaft first, then the rack, but really, who reads those?):


As I mentioned to a friend of mine, the older I get, the more satisfied I become with small victories.  So, although this is less than I thought I’d get done this weekend, it still represents forward progress and I’ll take it.


12/2/07 – Body Off & Build Begins

Since the car’s arrival on Wednesday, we’ve been pretty busy around here.  The first order of business was to inventory the 16 boxes worth of parts that accompanied the car.  This part actually reminded a lot of building HeathKit electronic kits as a kid.
I didn’t find anything missing that wasn’t already on the backorder list.  The list isn’t very large (especially compared to some other builds I’ve read about), but includes the upper control arms for the front suspension, some rear suspension parts, and the steering wheel.  The only one of these that might pose a problem are the UCRs since the build starts up front.


Once I dug through all the boxes (a big-boy’s Christmas!), it was time to document the body, aluminum panels and chassis with photographs.  This stuff was all temporarily installed at the factory in the proper places, with the pieces overlapping the right way.  The more documentation at this stage, the easier it will be to reinstall when the time comes.

A body buck is a temporary stand that holds the body, usually made out of plywood.  Some people build them to roll over the top of the chassis but because our driveway is gravel, I’m just storing the body outside in the yard.  Since the weather was so nice, I invited some of my neighbor-buddies over to help build one using the drawings from the manual.  They did all the work while I watched and took pictures.

Did I mention it was snowing? (!)


After cutting the pieces outside we assembled the buck in the garage and test fit the body.  We then put the body back on the chassis, and moved the buck into the side yard.  Finally, we took the body off again and shuffled it through the gate and to it’s new home.  By the time we wrapped it in a tarp with bungie cord it was too dark to take any more pictures – here’s one from this morning (I still need to prop a couple of pieces of wood in there to encourage water runoff):


Then today I was able to remove all the aluminum panels from the chassis.  Before pulling the sheet metal screws that were holding them on, I outlined where they contacted the frame with a Sharpie in order to make it easier to locate the rivet holes that I’ll soon be drilling.  With the chassis bare, I was ready to start building something.

As I mentioned earlier, the build starts up front, so I started here by adding the lower front control arms.  I then installed springs on the shocks and attached them to the LCRs.  I left the top shock bolt loose because to install the UCR you have to slide it over the shock.


It feels good to move into the assembly stage now that I’ve disassembled all that needed disassembly.  The one thing that I have to figure out is how to paint some of the donor pieces without destroying the garage (and the engine parts strewn about) with overspray.  Right now I need to paint the differential, front spindles & brake calipers, gas tank.  I also have to figure out how to clean and/or paint some of the cast aluminum parts like the steering rack, intake manifold, and intake plenum.

All photos available here:

Take care!