August 24, 2009

Seat Lowering

I seem to recall seeing an article in the past with detailed instructions about lowering the front bucket seats in a first generation Mustang. I have a '66 convertible that I love but would enjoy more if the seats were lower. I am 6 ft., 2 inches tall and unless I really slouch down in the seat, the top of my head is generally above the windshield when cruising. Your thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Ed Kirby
Covington, LA

Lowering the seats in an early Mustang is best accomplished by removing and reshaping the seat platform that the seat attaches to. It's a labor intensive job that requires sheetmetal and welding skills. However, the modification is quite straight-forward and well worth the effort.

The carpeting and interior must be removed to allow access to the seat platform, which is spot-welded to the floorpan. The welds must be drilled out so the platform can be chiseled out. Once removed, the platform can be cut and reshaped to yield up to 2-inches more head room. It can also be installed further back than the original position to gain more leg room as well.

The June 2001 issue of Mustang Monthly contains an article about shortening the seat pan and can serve as an excellent illustration for the process.

Gear Choice

What is the proper rearend gear ratio with 265/50R15 tires? I have a 3.55 ratio now but I want more zip. My Mustang is a '65 with a transplanted 302 and a 4-speed. I had a 4.10 but that was too much. Am I right by thinking that a 3.73 gear will do the trick?
Tom Corace
Via the Internet

You have already experienced the large change in vehicle performance by changing the gear ratio. There are few other modifications that affect the way a car performs as much as a gear ratio swap.

Personal preference has a lot to do with axle ratio choice. Some people will trade comfort and fuel economy for the performance improvements with a higher numerical ratio, while others prefer the quieter, more economical ride provided by a lower numerical ratio. You are fortunate to have found your limits at both ends of the scale to narrow your choice to a set of 3.73s. I agree with your selection for a good compromise between performance and comfort. I would avoid anything higher than 3.73s for street use.

Right Fan?

I recently completed a two-year restoration on my '68 J-code fastback with factory air-conditioning. During the restoration, I purchased a new radiator, water pump, 180-degree thermostat, and hoses but the stock-bore 302 still runs hot. The temperature keeps climbing while driving or idling, reaching in excess of 210 degrees. The new radiator had fins that were spaced far apart so I suspected this was the cause. I recently replaced that radiator with another new one with 14 fins per inch and now the car seems to run cooler, although I haven't experienced a really hot day yet. The fan is marked C8SE-B. Is this the correct fan or should it have a clutch fan?
Carl Grein
Via the Internet

I agree with your choice of a 14-fin-per-inch radiator. I believe your problem can be traced to inadequate air-flow through the radiator.

Your stock fan should be a 5-blade flex fan with 2 1/2-inch blades. According to the factory shop manual, clutch fans were for big-block cars only. However, '68 Shelby GT350s utilized a clutch fan so it was actually used in a small-block application as well.

I suggest you try another fan and be certain it fits the shroud opening. Use spacers to get the correct position.

Also, double-check the thermostat because new ones don't always operate the way they should. A 180-degree thermostat should open fully at 180 degrees; it should begin opening at 150 to 160 degrees. Dropping a thermostat into a pot of water on an oven and raising the water temperature to gauge the opening with a thermometer is still the best way to test and observe thermostat operation.

Clock Draining Battery

I have a '71 Mach 1 and for some reason it has a clock on the left side of the main instrument gauge cluster instead of a tach. The clock runs even when the car is shut off. This means I have to disconnect the battery every time I park the car to keep the battery from draining. Is there a way I can shut off or disconnect just the clock? The wiring diagram for my car indicates that factory clocks were mounted in the center console.
Kevin Fansler
Toledo, OH

Automotive clocks are designed to draw very little current so they won't drain the battery when the car is shut off. Generally, clocks draw less than 1/2-amp, so it would take months to drain a fully charged battery.

Although I'm not sure what type of clock you have since it appears that it's not original to the car, I can say that original-style Mustang clocks were actually mechanical devices that "wound" every 30 seconds or so when a set of points closed and energized an electromagnet that pulled a lever to wind the clock. Fully electronic clock movement came later, and even though they run continuously, they do not draw enough current to drain a battery in a car that is driven frequently. Obviously, if a car sits for more than a few months the battery should be disconnected to prevent it from draining.

Brake Line Routing

I recently purchased a pre-bent stainless-steel brake line for my '66 Mustang hardtop. However, the line is about a foot too long. It fits perfectly up front and through the driveshaft tunnel. Just the last portion, from the second clip (where the brake line and fuel lines run together) to the end bracket, is where I'm having a problem. The label on the line indicates that it is correct for the year and model. Can you tell me how the brake line is supposed to be routed from the end of the driveshaft tunnel to the bracket where the rear brake hoses mount?
Jon Magnusson
Via the Internet

I've found that replacement brake and fuel lines are quite accurate. However, they take some time and patience to fit correctly. Small tolerance differences during manufacture and packaging for shipment can have a large affect on fitment.

Be certain you have the correct brake line for your car. Mustangs that came from the factory with dual exhaust have the brake hose mounted in a different position than a single exhaust car, so they require a brake line with a different shape and length. The difference is in the last portion of the line, which is where you are experiencing difficulty. The line gently arcs and follows the floorpan after the clip that joins the fuel and brake lines together. It is not firmly clipped to the floorpan after that so the exact shape and length can be modified to suit your needs.

Send your '65-'73 Mustang questions to:

Beyond the Basics,
c/o Bob Aliberto,
P.O. Box 205, Salt Point, NY 12578.
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