June 1, 2004

Brighter LightsI bought a '72 Mustang Grande last September and have begun working on it. I have a question about the gauge-cluster illumination. I replaced all the bulbs with the 194s specified in the manual, but it's still difficult to see the gauges in the dark. What can I do to improve visibility? I was thinking about whiteface gauges but I don't really like that look. Do you have any other suggestions?John SlaterVia e-mail

The '71-'73 Mustang dash illumination has always been the source of complaints and, as the cars aged, the situation became worse. Typically, the bulb shields inside the dash cluster, which provide the blue light, discolor, making the dash lights dim. Also, the back of the instrument bezel becomes dull over time, further aggravating the problem. Try replacing the bulb shields with a new set and painting the back of the bezel with a flat-white paint. The shields are available from Scott Drake Mustang Parts (3101 Camino Del Sol, Oxnard, CA 93030; www.scottdrake.net; 805/988-9992) in a variety of colors and the paint is a standard hardware-store item.

Leaky SealI own a '65 Mustang fastback. Last summer, I put in a new timing chain and water pump. Now I'm getting a fine mist of oil on the front of the engine. The fan is blowing it around and up onto the hood. We've checked the problem under a black light and found some oil coming out of the intake. I've changed the two gaskets on the intake, but the problem is still there. Do you have an idea of what's wrong and what I need to do to fix it?Les NortonWausau, WI

Although the black light seemed to show a leaky intake gasket, I don't believe this is the cause of your oil leak. The intake manifold was not disturbed during the timing-chain replacement and occurred only after the removal of the timing-case cover.

The leak is most likely from the front crankshaft oil seal inside the timing cover. If the seal leaks, oil will be thrown out by the spinning vibration damper where the fan picks it up and blows it around the engine bay. If the vibration-damper hub is not centered in the oil seal, the seal will leak. When installing the timing cover during chain replacement, it's quite possible the cover is installed off center, as the cover mounting bolt holes allow the cover to shift around. The cover must be centered before the mounting bolts are tightened. A common mistake is to tighten the oil-pan bolts that go into the cover before tightening the cover mounting bolts, as this will pull the cover down and off center.

Your situation will require the removal of the timing cover in order to replace the front seal. Avoid simply loosening the cover to try to shift it about, as the cover gasket may not reseal and an internal water leak may develop. The seal should be changed, as it's most likely worn in one spot and will continue to leak. When installing the cover, pay attention to concentricity between the crankshaft and oil seal, and do not tighten the cover mounting bolts until you're certain the cover is centered. Tighten the oil-pan bolts last and don't forget to lube the oil seal with grease or motor oil so it won't burn during a dry initial startup.

Going For GearsI currently own the car I've been looking for since I saw Steve McQueen flying around San Francisco in Bullitt. I found my Highland Green '68 GT with a 390 and four-speed last spring. It has seen little use since an engine rebuild in 1996. I am in the process of having the car completely refinished. It has a 3.00:1 9-inch rearend. I'd like to add a bit more jump off the line. Which gear would you recommend for my car? I was considering a 3.50:1. Some friends have suggested a 3.73 or even a 3.91 gear. The car is a factory A/C car, and I know the lowest gear from Ford in '68 was a 3.25 for factory A/C cars. If I do change the gears, should I go for broke and make it a Posi-traction? Please let me know which rearend configuration would be the best way to go.Dave TedescoHighland, IN