I have finally sorted out basic drive-ability issues.  Beginning to lengthen the drive distances as I gain confidence in the car’s reliability.   There is still a lot of work to be done to restore driver/passenger conveniences and cosmetics. Here is a short video of  the current state  of the vehicle.


Now that the engine work is bolted down (as opposed to screwed up) and the car painted, the last major tasks are to carefully reassemble the numerous pieces that were disassembled for the renovation, such as interior conveniences and exterior trim (e.g., chrome).  As can be seen in the first photo, the grill and bumper have been attached.  One of the lower bumper guards was damaged beyond my ability to repair but I found two for sale at reasonable cost on Kijiji, Calgary Alberta (Kijiji is a Canadian “Craig’s List”).

(click to enlarge)

Weatherstripping and seals had to be installed on the door and interior door panels prior to installing the windows and the doors’ interior parts (door locks, stereo speakers, etc.).  Window cranks and door locks were cleaned and lubricated for smooth operation.  The doors now close with a solid, satisfying “thunk”.  (Beats holding them closed  with bungee cords while driving on the highway.)

There was still a problem with the engine quitting after getting hot, so the fuel line was moved again: this time up against the firewall so that it doesn’t cross over the hot engine (see photo).  Also had a chance to lean out the carburetor  fuel mixture.  The engine was running too rich and fouling the spark plugs.


They’ve been taking their sweet time getting it done, but I can’t complain as to their attention to detail.  They insisted on redoing some of my body work (included as part of the quoted price) and the re-sanded, primed car was indeed highly professional quality.  After urging by me to please move it along, this morning they sent me some pics of their progress.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Green arrows indicate dents or rust that was repaired. Self-etching primer applied to exposed metal. Still need to smooth body glaze on minor irregularities and pinholes, then spray on epoxy primer.  (Click any photo to enlarge.)

 Fwd  LeftFwd
 Aft  RightAft

My 390 FE has a hot camshaft and a Street Demon 4-barrel carb.  It’s been trouble tuning it to optimum. It’d be running fine and then, for no apparent reason, stall.  Restarting afterward often problematic.  The car wasn’t being driven enough because I had no confidence that it wouldn’t leave me stranded on the road far from home.  Had always thought that this was due to my inexperience in doing a proper tune-up. So I took the car to a shop specializing in performance engines and had them do the tune up.

When I picked the car up it ran better than it ever had before. It drove fine through the surface streets leading to the highway and then ran OK at highway speeds. But after about 10 miles, off the highway in stop-n-go traffic, it stalled again. It would restart but stall when put in gear.  After several start-stall iterations, it died completely.  Had to tow it home. The next day I got it started (using some canned starting fluid) and was able to drive it a short distance.

Started it again a few days later. After a full warm up, it idled smoothly for about 5 minutes and then faltered and died.  It was beginning to dawn on me that the problem was more than what a tune-up could remedy.

Suspecting a possible problem with the stock mechanical fuel pump, I compared the specs for the Demon carb and the stock fuel pump. The input fuel pressure range for the carb was slightly higher than the output range of the pump, although the nominal numbers did fall within both ranges. However, the pump was old (the original).  So I decided to install an electric fuel pump.

The carburetor manufacturer suggested the Mr. Gasket Model 12S as meeting their pressure and flow specs. The new fuel pump solved the problem of erratic engine behavior and sudden stalling.  Here are some pictures of the installation. (Click each to enlarge.)


Fuel Pump Relay in Trunk. Wiring to battery and fuse box is routed through center console.


Secondary Fuel Filter. Primary fuel filter is mounted to Fuel Pump.

Fuel pump mounted under car forward of fuel tank in rear axle well. Flexible hose is protected from road damage by routing it through a steel spring.


Circuit breaker for fuel pump, connected to battery + at starter relay.

OK, this has nothing to do with Thunderbird restoration but it’s a concept that’s just out-of-this-world.  GM designers are toying with the idea of a thorium-fueled Caddy.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

As a “barn find” discovered in a junkyard storage module on the outskirts of Titan City in the year 2135, it’s sure to be a classic restoration project.




Toward the end of 2014 there were engine problems, so it was hoisted out, partially rebuilt (including a new hydraulic roller camshaft), and reinstalled.  Recently it was successfully restarted. 

The dog was so happy he was jumping for joy!

The new camshaft package has the advantages of modern engineering redesign and is optimized to provide more low-end power to my stock Ford 390 engine. The new camshaft package came from Competition Cams™ and includes hydraulic roller lifters. Stock hydraulic lifters contact the cam with a flat bottom surface, whereas the roller lifters contact the cam with a small rotating roller resulting in a smoother, less fricative lift.

Installing the new cam and lifters requires a detailed series of test measurements, referred to as “degreeing the cam.” Performing the tests ensures that the new cam fits properly and will operate without damage to the engine. This took a few weeks for me to complete because I didn’t fully comprehend the reasoning behind each measurement. My research was supported by the advice of, and challenges set by, my automotive mentors.

This is the order in which the measurements should be done.
1. Check the “run-out” of the installed camshaft
2. Align the crankshaft sprocket, camshaft sprocket, and timing chain for Top Dead Center (TDC).
3. Using the degree wheel, find the true TDC of the crankshaft.
4. Find the highest point (center) of the camshaft lifter lobe.
5. Establish where the cam lobe center occurs relative to TDC. Check that point against the specifications provided by the cam manufacturer.
6. Using an adjustable pushrod, measure the required pushrod length.
7. Measure to ensure sufficient clearance between the valves and pistons.
8. Purchase a set of pushrods of the measured length and install.

After reassembling the engine, it started and ran OK.  But only just OK because, despite smooth idle and acceleration, there’s a tapping noise emanating from the valve covers, which is louder on the right side. I removed the valve covers to locate the source of the tapping. The oiling was good, no bent pushrods, and no valve lash. What else could it be?


Bend in Splash Pan to Prevent Lifter Bar Tapping (click to enlarge)

I suspect the noise to be one of the roller lifter retaining bars tapping against the sheet metal splash pan that’s under the intake manifold. (I noticed that that could happen when I was degreeing the cam. Was mindful of that when I reassembled the top end, but perhaps not careful enough.) My theory is supported by a mentor at Squarebirds.com, who also had this problem. Here’s a photo of his 390 showing how to bend up the splash pan so that it clears the lifter hardware.

 So once again (I’ve lost count how many times!), the intake manifold had to be removed, repairs made, engine reassembled and restarted.

Bending the baffle in the indicated spot did clear the #1 lifter bar, but then I had clearance problems at the #8 position. Truth is, the whole baffle is warped and defies attempts to bend it back to its original shape.

To ensure clearances I installed stand-offs.The stand-offs are 2″ Baffle1tall.  Each stand-off is secured with a lock washer, opposing nuts, and sealer. The stand-offs are positioned to contact the “V” in the valley behind/between the lifter sets, so that the stand-offs stay put.

Click the photos to enlarge.




Here are the pics of my friend’s 1957 T-bird. Purchased in 1958, he’s the second owner. The last time it was running was when his kids drove it as their high school car. It’s been stored in his former gin mill (now an antique shop) for the last 25 years. The engine is a 292. The original paint was a coral red, not the current green.

He wants to get it running again. The starter turns the engine smoothly, no problem there. Frozen carb accelerator pump (I’m currently rebuilding the carb). Rusted fuel line to the carb (replaced). He’s removing the fuel tank (seems to be rust-free) to drain, clean, seal. Some rusty ignition wiring.

57-1 57-8
57-2 57-3
57-4 57-5
57-6 57-7
Hairline crack (right) and partial repair (left)  (click to enlarge)

Hairline crack (right) and partial repair (left)
(click to enlarge)

The brass coolant reservoir tank sprang a leak along its edge seal. You can see the hairline crack in the accompanying photo. Since a new unit costs $200+tax+shipping, it was worth trying to repair it. Here’s how it was done.


Brass Strip

• Cut a piece of brass shaped to wrap the edges of the tank.  The serrations are cut so that the strip can bend smoothly around the tank’s curved corner.

• Clamping it to the top edge on one side, solder it in place, then curve the strip around the corner and solder it to the top edge on the other side.
• Flow solder along the entire top edge, making sure the joint is completely covered.
• Tapping with a small brad hammer, gently bend the brass strip around the tank’s edge. Use pliers to finish bending the strip so that it makes a tight fit against the edge’s underside.
• Flow solder along the bottom seam between the strip and tank edge, ensuring complete coverage.

The first photo shows the tank partially repaired on the left side.

I found that using a 40 watt soldering iron doesn’t provide sufficient heat. A propane plumbing torch provides too much heat, causing solder to slide off the connections. What worked best for me was a butane mini soldering torch (e.g., Bernzomatic #ST250, available at Lowes for $20).

Coolant tank repaired, painted, installed . (click to enlarge)

Coolant tank repaired, painted, installed .
(click to enlarge)

Here’s a shot of the successfully repaired tank.