September 1, 2007

Big-block '65-'66I have a stock '65 Mustang hardtop with a 200ci inline six-cylinder and four-speed. I plan to completely restomod the car when I get back to the states after my deployment to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army. I have the opportunity to purchase a big-block 429 Cobra Jet but need to know how difficult it will be to install. How much will I need to modify the engine compartment?Sean GilmartinVia the Internet

As you most likely know, the 429 engine won't fit into a stock '65 Mustang's engine compartment without major modifications to the shock towers. I used to discourage people from performing this swap. Now, due to the popularity of restomods, a number of aftermarket shock tower modification kits are available. The parts aren't cheap and require extensive welding skills because the old shock towers must be modified or removed; then the replacement parts aligned and welded into position. Typically, restomodders install modern suspension systems with rack-and-pinion steering along with the shock tower mods. Call the folks at Mustangs Plus (800/999-4289;, as they've been involved in the Mustang restomod arena for some time.

Cover ClearanceDo you know if anyone makes original-style stamped-steel chrome valve covers? They need to be tall enough to clear roller rocker arms and resemble the '65-'66 Hi-Po versions. I really don't want to use spacers or aftermarket aluminum covers.Keith GeraghtyVia the Internet

Depending upon the roller rockers, I've found that stock valve covers will clear if you double up on the valve-cover gaskets. I glue a pair of 31/416-inch thick Fel-Pro FPP 1613 gaskets together instead of using spacers. Ford Racing aluminum roller rockers and Crower stainless steel versions work using stock valve covers and double gaskets. Some minor denting and reshaping of the PCV may be required.

Power Pump FrustrationsI'm writing out of pure frustration. I have a '65 fastback with power steering. The pump began to leak, and I tried to replace it. You can't order a pump with a pulley already pressed on, so I ordered them separately and pressed it on according to the instructions. This wasn't easy, but I managed to get it done. Once I got the pump in the car, it sounded awful-similar to a coffee grinder. Figuring I had received a bad pump, I ordered another from a different vendor and pressed on another pulley. It made the same grinding sound.

I followed what I think were the proper procedures but can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. I'm not using a hammer or press to install the pulley, just the bolt-and-nut method per the instructions. The original pump is now back in the car. Other than the leak, it sounds and operates perfectly. Can you help me?Dan DuncanFort Hood, TX

I've also experienced noisy pumps that were purchased as rebuilt units from local auto parts stores. I finally began to obtain rebuilt items-power steering pumps, clutches, alternators, water pumps, starters, and so on-from my local Ford dealership. The factory-authorized rebuilders have to meet higher standards and maintain quality control to satisfy Ford or they lose authorized status. If you decide to replace the pump again, order one from your Ford dealer.

Since your stock pump functions normally, I suggest you replace the leaky seal. It's a simple one-piece design that taps into place after the old one has been removed. The pulley must be removed first so the seal can slide off the shaft. The pulley removal and replacement is actually more difficult than changing the seal itself. Of course, you already know about pulley installation.

Wheel InterferenceIs there a brake setup that will work with 15x7-inch Torq-Thrust D wheels and not cause clearance issues? I have a '68 Mustang fastback; the tires are 225/60x15. I currently have Granada front disc brakes and there's significant wheel-to-fender rub. Would switching to stock Mustang disc brakes relieve the problem?Vance VlasekVia the Internet

The Granada front disc brakes aren't dimensionally different from stock '68 Mustang disc brakes and shouldn't be the source of your tire clearance problem. Without more information or inspecting your car, it's difficult to determine the cause. You have an unusual situation because 225/60x15-inch tires on Torq-Thrust D wheels are a popular combination. They should fit your car without clearance issues.

I've seen the setup interfere with the bottom of the front fenders, just ahead of the tires, on '65-'66 Mustangs. The larger '67-'68 wheel openings usually clear easily. A simple tubular or strap brace installed between the framerail and fender can be used to push the fender bottom out to correct interference in that area.