July 1, 2008

July Entries

Saturday, July 1st, 2006
Total Build Time: 162 hours

Randy Bolig, editor of our sister magazine Mopar Muscle, helped drop off the rearend at the house first thing this morning. He couldn't stay to help install it, but another friend of mine, Alan Colding, happened to drop by the house at just the wrong time (for him anyway) and was recruited to help install the rearend. One thing we weren't aware of was the fact the axle-housing end must pass through the welded 3-link chassis bracket. The brake rotor and caliper just barely fit through after temporarily removing the axle bracket. Once past that hurdle it was a matter of supporting the rearend with a floor jack and getting all of the control arm and rod end bolts started. After Alan and I had everything fitted and tightened to build manual's specs I threw one of the rear wheels on for a quick look. Wow, that Mustang Tuning FR500 wheel, which is a 17x10.5 is going to look killer once we wrap some massive P315/35R17s around them! I'm sorry for the delay in getting these last few entries posted, it's been super busy around here. More soon!

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Tuesday, July 4th, 2006
Total Build Time: 165 hours

"Remember, we're going next door at 4 o'clock." My wife was starting to sound like a parrot. Yes I knew we were invited to a Fourth of July cookout and pool party next door. Yes I knew it started at four. I just didn't know that the last time I heard her say it the clock on the garage wall was showing 3:40 pm! Oh well, I'll be fashionably late I guess, but now that the rearend is in the Roadster I just had to finish installing our FFMetal.com battery box kit. FFMetal's battery box mounts to the frame under the trunk floor (like earlier FFR Roadsters) in place of inside the trunk (like the current Roadster). This allows for more trunk room and with our Optima Red Top battery we're planning to install we won't have to go inside the battery box for a long time. After the fireworks were over I snuck out to the garage for a few minutes and started routing the parking brake cable kit from Stainless Steel Brakes Corp. I guess I'll have to finish that this weekend.

Saturday, July 8th, 2006
Total Build Time: 168 hours

With our engine slowly making its way across the US it was time to get our fuel system in order so I would be ready to hook the fuel system up and pressure test it as soon as the engine was in. I originally had simply dropped the Mallory direct replacement 255lph fuel pump into the tank and tried to connect our Mr. Gasket push-lock hose with a factory Ford fuel line fitting. It worked and I don't think it would have leaked, but I found out through some research that the '94 and later Mustang had a fuel pump with a 3/8-inch pressure fitting (same size as -6 hose) instead of the 5/16-inch fitting on earlier pumps (and on the one we had). I ended up ordering a used pump from All Mustang Salvage (www.ampperformance.com) and simply swapping the top of the used pump, with its 3/8-inch pressure fitting, to the new Mallory. In the end I had a brand new pump and filter with the larger fitting to match the -6 push lock hose we were using.

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To connect the -6 hose to the fuel pump we used Aeroquip Versil Flare fittings that make a flare connection on tubing without having to flare the tubing itself. Once I had the fittings converted from 3/8-inch pressure to -6 and 1/4-inch return to -6 I was ready to route the fuel lines. I ordered up a selection of Mr. Gasket's Shadow fittings, which are a high class looking black and dark gray, in various angles and, after installing them on the fuel hose, attached them to the pump. Use AN wrenches on AN fittings to prevent damaging them! I routed the fuel line along the passenger side four-inch frame tube and secured it with clamps and rivets all the way to the engine bay.

Sunday, July 9th, 2006
Total Build Time: 173 hours

Being that our FFR Roadster is mainly a non-donor build and we built a brand new 8.8-inch axle assembly and dressed it with Stainless Steel Brakes stock Mustang parking brake cables wouldn't easily work with our current setup. Stainless Steel Brakes Corp. offers a nice universal parking brake cable kit and I opted to go that route here. The kit is long enough to probably be used on a limousine so I had to measure the parking brake cables and outer sheath lengths and cut them to fit the Roadster project. A simple hacksaw did the job and the cables were routed per the FFR build manual in short order. The last hurdle to get over is how to connect the cable clevis system to the stock late-model Mustang parking brake handle assembly. I'm sure we'll have something figured out by our next diary entry. Stay tuned.

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Saturday, July 15th, 2006
Total Build Time: 175 hours

I knew it was going to be a busy weekend around the Houlahan household, so I had to split up my usual full day of work on the Roadster into a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday. I don't need much sleep and I rarely sleep in on the weekends, but today I woke up with a killer headache. After popping some ibuprofen it was back to bed for a few more hours. With the morning shot and the weather report calling for rain I wanted to get into the garage as soon as I got out of bed. Unfortunately my wife had other plans (for those that have been reading my diary since the beginning you can see the pattern). She surprised me with the news she had bought us a replacement entertainment center to replace our aging wall unit at a nearby garage sale (one of her weaknesses in the shopping category). So before I could work on the Roadster I had to gut the old wall unit of equipment and media, move it out of the house, go pickup and move the replacement unit, etc. I needed some longer cables to get everything right so I basically stuck the TV and VCR in their respective holes and connected them so the kids could watch TV.

Finally, with that out of the way I was able to make it into the garage in the late afternoon, but the skies were already getting dark and the breeze coming in so I had to work fast. I had received the clutch cable, and adjusting hardware from Dallas Mustang (www.dallasmustang.com) earlier in the week so I was eager to get everything setup. The firewall adjuster was a bit of a tight fit due to the weld bead inside the firewall mounting ring. A few minutes with a grinder fixed the interference and everything else went on easily. Dallas Mustang also shipped our engine mounts and some other goodies for getting the engine into the chassis, so hopefully we'll be doing that soon.

Sunday, July 16th, 2006
Total Build Time: 178 hours

Between the wet weather and the wife's quest for a replacement entertainment center I didn't get the grass cut yesterday. So, right after breakfast I had to plow through the weeds we call grass here in Florida and get the yard looking in good shape. I didn't want the homeowners association taking notice (which they will soon enough when I fire the Roadster for the first time!) Once the yard work was done I headed to the garage for a few hours of "me" time with the Roadster project.

The FFMetal.com battery box we installed last week looks great, but the final step for installation is cutting an access opening in the trunk floor for it. This step was pretty easy with just having to lay the trunk floor into place and mark it from the underside with a Sharpie for cut lines. A few minutes with a rotary tool and a cut-off wheel and I had our access to the battery box. The battery box from FFMetal.com even includes a cover with attaching screws. Now, once our Optima RedTop shows up I'll be ready to drop it in and start wiring the chassis.

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006
Total Build Time: 183 hours

This Florida rain is really getting tiresome. I couldn't put any time into the project yesterday due to my daughter's 11th birthday party. Between cutting the grass, preparing for the party, and the party itself, the day was gone, leaving me only with Sunday to work on the Roadster. Of course it never rained on Saturday but on Sunday when I wanted to make some real progress I had to stop and roll the body buck back into the garage and close the garage door three different times today. While it's raining and everything is shoved in the garage there's just no room to work. Like I said before I'm going to have to get a tarp to cover the body when it's outside or purchase a portable shelter or something because this weather is putting me behind schedule.

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In between chasing the rain and drying off the body and other parts on the shelf I was able to get a few things done. Our Optima RedTop (www.optimabatteries.com) showed up earlier in the week so I dropped it into the FFMetal.com battery box and clamped it into place. Once our drivetrain is in battery cable routing and main wiring will commence.

I also figured out the rest of the parking brake cable setup with the help of a couple of the forum members at ffcobra.com. Using the clevis system that came with the parking brake cables I used the stock Mustang parking brake handle cable and used a slotted nut welded into the clevis to connect the two (see last week's pictures) after cutting off the steel "T". The setup works nice, is simple, and will clear the transmission easily.

Finally, I worked on finishing up the trunk area (pre-fit only, I won't rivet the panels until the car is running and I know the fuel and brake lines are leak-free). The Roadster's trunk isn't the biggest and some people cut and refit the frame tubing to make a bigger trunk area if they are using the stock tank (the trunk is designed to also handle the larger racing fuel cell under it without modification). While cutting and welding isn't a big deal for me, I wanted to find a simple solution for those following along at home and I found it at Dark Water Customs (www.darkwatercustoms.com). DWC manufactures this cool drop in trunk storage boxes. Simply drop them in place, rivet them up, and attach the bi-folding lid (similar to a Mustang fold-down seat) and you have a nice hidden storage area for cleaners, tools, etc. Works for me! More soon, so stay tuned and check the site often.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006
Total Build Time: 189 hours

Woohoo! It's here! Let the fun begin! Our Smeding Performance 427 Windsor showed up late in the day yesterday and I had just enough time to get it into the shop and pull the top of the crate off to drool all over it before I had to head home for the day. So first thing today, after the obligatory email and voice mail checks I snuck off to the Mustang & Fords tech shop to start dressing our crate engine. Once I had it out of the crate the first of many new parts to find their way to the Smeding 427 was our new block plate from Dallas Mustang Parts (www.dallasmustang.com) and our billet steel Centerforce SFI flywheel (www.centerforce.com). The flywheel holder tool from Alltrade really made tightening the ARP flywheel bolts (also from Dallas Mustang) a breeze.

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Once on our Alltrade engine stand I wanted to get the engine mounts installed right away. The reason being I had marked them for left and right when they arrived from Dallas Mustang Parts and I didn't want them to end up on the wrong side if the boxes (where I indicated their side designation) got misplaced or damaged. We used the heavy-duty convertible Mustang mounts, opting to only use urethane for the transmission mount.

Since I'm heading out to Joliet, IL for the NMRA/NMCA race and car show this Thursday I didn't have the luxury of the rest of the week or this weekend to work on the engine, so I just tackled little things before wrapping up the end of the day. For instance, the Auto Meter gauges come with their own sending units, so I went ahead and got them in place now. Next week when I get back I'll tackle the water pump, serpentine pulley kit, and Cobra lettered valve covers and air cleaner. Then I'll be ready to mate our new TKO-600 transmission to the engine and get it into our chassis. No Roadster work this weekend, but I'll get an update in our diary as soon as I get back next week. Until then!