Category Archives: FFR Cobra

4/23/08 – Dad’s Visit, Electrical & More Aluminum

The last we talked – over a month ago(!) – I was just wrapping up the brake lines, installing aluminum, had seen the return of the motor from the shop, and ordered wheels.

Since then, we received the wheels (well, most of them), finished the plumbing (both brake & fuel lines), picked up my dad from the airport, decided what engines heads to use (and ordered them), dropped off the driveshaft to get shortened, received my FFR heater and dash blank, started running the electrical wiring, received the remaining wheel, had a visit from my cousin Bill (Saturday) and another local Cobra builder (Sunday), caught the flu, fitted and drilled the rest of the cockpit aluminum, visited another FFR Cobra builder in North Bend (the following Friday),  laid out the dash, broke my drill press, received the heads, fixed my drill press, drilled the big holes in the dash, dropped off my dad at the airport, and picked up the shortened driveshaft.

And probably a few other things too… Let’s get right to the pictures proving it all happened.

First, the wheels.  As I mentioned, they’re kinda wide:  10 1/2" in the rear, and 9" in the front, and they look even bigger in person.  Three of the four wheels were correct, but one was the wrong style.  I ordered them from Gordon Levy and he made sure everything was right in the end.  Here’s a shot showing their width:


Then here’s another shot showing a front wheel with the 13" drilled & slotted, Mustang Cobra brakes (brakes like this aren’t really needed on a car this light, but they sure look great!):


Did I mention my dad flew in from Michigan (Chicago, Midway actually)?  Weather was here (and snowy); wish he were beautiful.  Jasper’s not impressed:


Then we started in with the wiring harness.  It took a while to sort it all out (especially the donor Mustang EFI/engine harness), but once we did, we were able to start threading it through the chassis rather quickly.  One thing we did was to mount the fuse box on a hinge from Lowes providing easy access:


For a change of pace we decided to gain some ground on the cockpit aluminum.  The area behind the seats is notoriously tricky and it was good having an extra set of hands, or two (thanks Rick!).  It all looks pretty simple in this photo, but there was a lot of pulling, pushing, grinding and bending needed to get it to fit.  We started with the passenger side, which took 2 hours.  The driver’s side took about 30 minutes:


There are a couple of generally accepted Cobra dashboard layouts, the "289" and "competition".  I’m a big fan of the competition layout, if only because it puts important stuff like oil pressure and water temperature directly in front of the driver, and leaves the unimportant stuff (like the speedometer) way out of the way, over on the right.  We mocked this up and rearranged everything for a couple of days.  Once we put the drill press back together – don’t ask (which, like everything else required a trip to Lowes, Shucks Automotive, and NAPA), we were able to drill the gauge openings:


Finally, the new Edlebrock Performer heads showed up and we picked up the completely refurnished driveshaft which ended up costing more than just buying a new one from one of the FFR Cobra vendors:


Thanks for reading.

Thanks dad!


All photos:

3/18/08 – Aluminum/Brake Lines/Motor

Last time I told you about getting the gas tank mounted and the arrival of the FFMetal Grand Slam kit.  The first thing I did was position the battery box and figure out what to do about the trunk aluminum covering it.

FFR provides a cheesy plastic battery box like you’d find in a boat.  The FFMetal box is .060" 5052 aluminum and is built like a tank.  No one’s ever going to see it, but I love it!


Now that I’m rolling with the whole mocking, marking, drilling, riveting process it’s time to move on to the passenger-side cockpit.  This is a pretty safe place to get started since there isn’t a lot going on plumbing/electrical-wise on this side (the fuel lines run under this side, but that’s about it).

Again, the FFMetal kit not only gives more room, but uses .090" aluminum for the floor (the FFR supplied floor is .030").  Here’s a shot from the engine bay.  I’m not polishing or powder coating the aluminum – too much work for something that’ll hardly be seen.  Besides, every race car I’ve ever seen has natural aluminum.


Here’s what it looks like from the inside.  Yes those are real rivets.  I mocked up the driver’s side, but left the rivets out since there’s still too much stuff going in…

Time for some plumbing.  I start at the rear by running my new brake lines along the rear axle.  My double-flare tool for the brake lines takes some practice (even now it’s 50/50 on how the flares are going to come out).  Hopefully it’ll last a few more lines before it gets flung through the garage wall while the dogs watch…


Did I mention the hard lines aren’t exactly straight?


After doing the rear, it’s on to the front and routing the line along the frame x-member.  Just like every major life decision, a support group makes those things easier.  And you can bet there are many opinions on how to run your front brake line.  I choose to run it on the inside of the x-member:


Finally, it was on to Action Machine to pick up the engine.  Rick & I wondered how all the lifting would work out, but they had a swing-out hoist, and dropped the motor (wrapped in plastic) on our dog bed in the back of his truck.  Once home, Barney helped mount the engine stand spider, slide it off the truck, and into the engine mount.

A summary of the work I had done:

  • Block dip cleaned, magnafluxed, and inspected.
  • New expansion plugs
  • Bored +.030" (It’s now a 306 C.I.)
  • New E303 Cam Grind
  • New Bearings/Bolts everywhere
  • Short Block Build

Pretty soon the wraps will come off and we’ll be doing some engine work!


Did I mention the wheels (17" x 9" in the front, 17" x 10 1/2" for the rear) are on their way?  One of the vendors was offering a special that I couldn’t pass up.

Thanks for reading.


All Photos:

2/26/08 – Pedal Box, Fuel Tank & Banana Bracket Brace

Since we talked last I’ve made progress in several areas.  First, I mounted the pedal covers.


Then the brake booster needed painting before it could be mounted.  I also verified the front driver’s footbox panel wasn’t getting replaced with my FFMetal Grand Slam aluminum kit (it wasn’t, so it was safe to sandwich against the footbox firewall).


Next up was the 3-link banana brace bracket.  FFR recommends stitch-welding the banana bracket to the axle housing if you’re going to be racing, dropping the hammer, or generally abusing the car.  This keeps the bracket from rotating on the axle, which would be a Bad Thing.  Since all of these are distinct possibilities I wanted to beef it up, but don’t have a welder.  Fortunately there’s Vintage Performance Motorcars and their 3-link banana brace bracket.

But you know what?  I don’t have any pictures!  Gonna have to fix that.  Trust me, I installed it…

Anyway, then I went after the gas tank.  First it needed some serious cleaning.  Here’s what it looked like when I got started:


Then I peeled all the foam & rubber stuck to it, before finally spraying it with some truck bedliner to keep it from rusting.  No one’s ever going to see it, so I wasn’t too worried about making it perfect.  Here it is mounted in place – the tie-down was to hold it in place (my third hand):


The FFMetal Grand Slam started showing up today with the arrival of the battery box and passenger footbox.  I’ll be mounting these up this week (hopefully).  Also, Action Machine called and the built short-block is complete and ready to pick up.  So you might see some pictures of the motor next time!

Thanks for following along…


All Photos:

2/11/08 – New Cabinets & Brake Booster

Another couple of weeks and a little more progress to report.  First, my neighbor Lance is remodeling his kitchen and was kind enough to donate some cabinets to the garage.  Little did he realize his role as donor included helping hang them in their new home.  We spent most of the day on Saturday (10 days ago) getting them mounted.


On that Sunday I marked and drilled the aluminum cockpit floor panels.  Now they’re held in place with cleckos.

This weekend I worked on mounting the power brake booster.  As mentioned last time this requires some customization.  First, I had to cut the frame so the booster canister would fit.  Then I had to grind out the footbox firewall in order to provide clearance.


The air compressor requires every bit of the 25 or so amps that supplies the entire garage.  I have to turn off most of the lights when using air tools so I don’t keep blowing the breaker.  Nothing like firing up a nasty 20,000 rpm die grinder and doing it in the dark…

Finally, to clear the steering shaft, I had to build some spacers using 1/8" aluminum.  Commons consensus says that 1/4" would be enough, but we (Rick & I were working on it Sunday) ended up making 3 plates, and using a set of washers to get it just right.



I’ve ordered the pedal kit that includes the throttle pedal and covers for the clutch and brake.  I’ve also ordered a kit providing additional bracing for the rear suspension.

The engine is getting built up into a short block.  I was originally going to build up the block myself, but since I’m getting a new (reground) E303 cam, the machine shop will be able to put it all together and degree the cam.

That’s it for now!


All Build Photos:

This Page:


1/27/08 – Pedal Box & Cockpit Aluminum

Whew!  It feels good to get back into a grove.  We’re back from the holidays and – close on the heals of getting back from Chicago – our travels to NYC (thanks Ed & Claire!).  All of which means I’m able to spend a little time out in the garage.  It probably sounds a little strange, but I’m actually looking forward to a couple more months of dark, rainy weather before the time change, sunshine, and outdoor activities start to compete for time.  Speaking of time, the other day I decided the ultimate luxury (in the whole universe) is time.  Everything beyond this is only fun if you have the time to enjoy it…

Anyway, the first thing I dug into was the pedal box.  This is one of the donor pieces and provides the pivot points (and associated cutoff switches) for the clutch and brake pedals.  And it needs some work.  Thanks for Ford Motor Company, it’s completely unfinished and covered with surface rust.  Then, to fit against the FFR driver’s firewall, the bottom 1" of the vertical mounting surface needs trimming to avoid hitting the steering shaft.

I cleaned it up, removed the pedal brackets, bent them to provide more room in the footbox, and painted it using some "hammer" finish paint from Lowes:


The red bits are an aftermarket clutch quadrant and firewall-mounted adjusted (another reason I went with this particular donor) from Cypress.

While stripping, cleaning and refinishing stuff I cleaned & painted the rear rotors the same ways as I did the fronts.  Sorry, no pictures of this (boring) process.  But if you’re interested, you can go back and look at what I did to the front rotors.

Then I dug out all the stored cockpit aluminum.  In addition to the pieces mounted for shipping, there was a whole other box full of strange and unusual things that had no obvious home.  After a few hours I managed fit and clamp most of it together:


Updates on other things:

I talked with the guys at Action Machine about the motor.  They’ve checked the block and our next steps include boring the cylinders .030" over, balancing the rotating assemblies, pressing new pistons on the connecting rods, and checking the cam with the Cam Doctor.  Hopefully they’ll be getting started this coming week.

I’m quickly realizing that – in many areas – I’m going to have to make some purchases.  Some of these include: Whitby Motorcar’s Power Brake Frame Mod., Russ Thompson’s Throttle Pedal & Pedal Covers, Vintage Performance Motorcar’s 3-link Brace Kit, and FFMetal’s Grand Slam aluminum kit.

Finally, we’ve got some more room in the garage.  This is nice for a number of reasons, one of which includes the ability have some perspective to get these kinds of photos:


Take Care!


1/13/08 – My New Favorite Tool

I just took a look back at last week’s update and, once again, it seems like a lot has happened since then.  The steering wheel arrived after being back-ordered for a while.  Rick & I mounted the rotors and calipers while the Seahawk’s lost to Green Bay.  Then today, I managed to get the rear differential painted, and mounted (without torquing anything).

So, sometime during the week (like I said), the steering wheel showed up.  Of course I had to get it mounted, if for no other reason than to make it easier to test the rack and pinion steering setup.

Here’s a shot of the wheel (with a bonus peek at the front calipers):


Did I mention the front rotors & calipers?  Oh yeah — the Seahawks.  Nevermind.  Anyway, since I painted everything a while back, it was pretty simple to mount the rotors, bolt up the caliper brackets, reinstall the old pads, and mount the calipers.  The front Cobra brakes have a single c-clip and pin holding everything together.  You could replace the pads using a pair of needle nose plier and nothing else:


This morning my buddy Lance Lambert stopped by with some of his car pals this morning to check out the Cobra.  We had a great time shooting bull, talking cars, and telling lies (not in that order).  A little later in the day I decided, since it was so nice (50 degrees & sunny), to paint the differential and see what I could accomplish.  Step one, was rolling the rear end outside, letting it warm up, and masking the engine stand it was setting on:


Ultimately, I ended up not only painting the differential, but mounting the entire rear suspension.  We have the 3-link rear suspension, which provides better road-holding than the stock 4-link (which matches the Mustang geometry).  The 3-link kit includes Koni coil-over shocks, a panard bar, and lower control arms to locate the axle in 3-dimensional space.

Here’s where I ended up this afternoon:


I’m heading to New York to visit my wife (Karen) on Wednesday and returning on Sunday.  So I’m not sure that I’ll get a lot done during the next week.  But the 21st of January is MLK-day, maybe I’ll get a little done then.

Oh yeah, my new favorite tool?  My 28oz. mallet:


Until then, take care


1/6/08 Update – Front Suspension & Brake Paint

Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been since December 9th since my last update.  That’s almost a month ago – way too long.  But, as you might expect with all of the holidays & travel, there hasn’t been a lot happening on the car.  It sure was good seeing everyone in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Shortly after my  last update, the backordered front upper control arms arrived from Factory Five (along with a few other items).   I was able to install them without too much  trouble and  took the opportunity to double-check  the torque on all the front-suspension bolts.  I left all of the adjustable pieces loose so it’ll be easier to slap a home-alignment on it when I get my wheels/tires.

I’m leaving blue masking tape on the things that are loose & un-torqued.


I also installed the new Baer stud that I ordered through Brad’s Custom Auto on the left steering control arm.

The paint on the donor Cobra brake calipers was pretty thin and dirty, so they were the next thing to freshen up.  I hit them hard with the wire wheel and was able to remove most of  the old paint.  Eastwood has a caliper paint kit that I had ordered in red.  I spent the Saturday before flying to Chicago for vacation painting them — it’s hard getting a good finish using the crappy little brush they supply.


This past weekend I rebuilt the front calipers using a kit that I ordered.  I would have done the rears, but I ordered the wrong kit and nobody seems to stock 1994 Mustang Cobra caliper kits in Seattle.

I also cleaned up the front rotors, grinding off the coating where it was compromised.  I then sprayed them with some silver high-temperature engine paint.  Turned out okay, I think:


This week I hope to wrap up the front end and maybe start putting some of the cockpit aluminum in.

All photos available here:

Take care!


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!


11/28/07 Cobra Update – It’s Here!

Despite a number of delays, the Cobra finally made it to the Caropepe house this afternoon!  My man Martin had a couple of delays on his way here from Fircrest, WA, but showed up just before 4:00 PM. Actually, it was good that he was delayed because we had to have the garage-door guy fix a broken spring.  The garage-door guy left about 3:15 and the car showed up a short time later.

Once here, we had to figure out how to turn the truck around before it got dark (about 4:40 PM these days). 


Probably the best thing to do is show some before & after pics and shut up.  There are a bunch online, check them out here:

If you want to see them as a slideshow, click here:

I’ll be posting more later – enjoy!