July 1, 2008

March Entries

Wednesday, March 1, 2006
When I arrived home from work, the chrome rollbar and optional FFR tubular lower control arms, which had been on backorder when my kit shipped, were waiting for me by the front door. There are only a few items on backorder out of the hundreds of pieces that ship with the kit, but it's still like Christmas Day when a new box arrives!

Saturday, March 4, 2006
Total Build Time: 32 hours

My Cleco pliers and Clecos arrived at the house Friday so I was itching to get out to the garage and try them on the Roadster after using them in the FFR/Mott build school for the first time just a few weeks ago. Friday night is pizza and a movie night at our house, so my work in the garage would have to wait until today. Drilling out the aluminum panels is quite easy, but you get metal shavings everywhere (no bare feet!). After drilling out the driver's side F-panel I attached it to the frame with two Clecos and the original tapping screw holes from where FFR mounted the panel for shipping. With the F-panel secured it was easy to drill the remaining frame holes.Breaking out the front suspension box I assembled the upper and lower control arms on the Roadster frame, and assembled the front coil over shocks as well. That's two boxes I emptied and had at the curb for Monday's garbage pickup. It's a great feeling to take a box down off the shelf, install the parts from it, and throw the box away. As the boxes dwindle that means I'm that much closer to a completed car!

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Sunday, March 19, 2006
Total Build Time: 34 hours

Much of the weekend was spent working at the National Mustang Racers Association season opening race in nearby Bradenton, FL. Mustang & Fords is sponsoring their car show series (along with our sister magazine Mustang Monthly) and I spent Friday and Saturday at the event for event coverage and to choose a car show attendee for my editor's choice award. This only left me half of Sunday to try to get any work done on the Roadster. On the drive home from Bradenton I ended up having cooling problems (my small radiator leak got worse) so part of my Sunday afternoon also got taken up with emergency radiator repairs.

I finally got to work on the Roadster around 9pm Sunday night and I was able to work more on the front suspension. I installed the coil over shock assemblies, the power steering rack assembly, and tightened all of the front upper and lower control arm bolts to their proper specs. As the project sits right now the front suspension is complete except for the donor spindles I am waiting on to be shipped. Since I'm heading out to Indianapolis on business later this week I'll probably only get one day of work in on the project this coming week. I've got to find more time!

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Friday, March 24, 2006
Total Build Time: 38 hours

I needed to burn up some vacation time before the end of the month or else I was going to lose it (being the workaholic I am) so I took today off and decided to get some work done on the Roadster project (after sleeping in and watching a little television first). I got a "bright and early" start at around 12:30 pm by rolling the body buck out into the driveway and firing up the garage computer for some tunes and parts searching.

The Flaming River rack I installed last week uses a '94 and newer Mustang input, that is pyramid shaped. The steering shaft included in the Factory Five kit didn't work (because we spec'd a pre-'93 Fox Mustang setup). So, one tech email later to Factory Five's Joe Fournier and we had the right steering shaft parts on their way. I just happened to have the luck of the Irish (OK, it's a week after St. Patrick's Day, but I am Irish) on my side because I wasn't in the garage a half hour when the FedEx truck pulled up and delivered the correct steering shaft. Talk about just in time parts delivery! Henry Ford himself couldn't have done it better.

So, with the steering shaft installed (for test fit, I'll take it back off and paint it) I decided it was time to break some drill bits and start drilling the over 500 holes the kit requires to mount the aluminum panels. I started with the driver's side foot box panels first. After breaking two drill bits within a half hour (I think my drill was dropped by someone and the shaft or chuck is bent) I switched to a step-bit to prevent more problems. Now the foot box is completely drilled and temporarily held in place with a handful of cleco retainers. I hope to get the passenger foot box completed next weekend and by then it will be time to run some brake and fuel lines.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006
Total Build Time: 44 hours

I'm really bummed that I've only been able to work on the Roadster on a Sunday for just a few hours over the last couple of weekends. While I don't want to get burned out on the project either I do want to keep the progress moving smoothly. Right now next weekend is wide open so I'm looking forward to getting a bunch of aluminum panel work done and maybe route the fuel and brake lines, if they show up before then (the fuel lines that is, the brake lines are in the kit).

While I don't have the front spindles yet, I did complete as much of the front suspension as I could. Everything is installed and torqued to the manual's specs. I just need the spindles to mount and the brakes for the spindles. With the front suspension pretty much completed I threw the two front "F-panels" in place with some cleco pins and then clamped the firewall in place for some measuring and drilling for rivet holes. I upgraded the stock firewall to an aftermarket one from a company called ffmetal.com. They offer various metal panels with small improvements or updates. I wanted their thicker firewall since I will be mounting the wiper system and heater system directly to it. I'll be using some of their other cool products in the build as well.

After a quick lunch break, which my lovely wife even brought out to the garage for me (I think she just wanted to keep the kitchen clean) I got cracking on the rear suspension. The rear axle assembly has not arrived yet (matter of fact I just finalized the parts list last week) but I was still able to install the control arms, coil over shocks, and panhard bar in preparation for when the axle does show up.

While I was gone earlier this week on a business trip the steering wheel showed up, which is one more item off of my backorder list (down to just a couple of items now). The Factory Five wheel is gorgeous with its clearcoated wood rim and polished center section. I just had to take it out of the box and hang it on the garage wall. I'm counting the days until I can mount it for the last time and twist the key! More next week!

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