Modified Mustangs & FordsProject Vehicles
Modified Mustangs & Fords Project Snake Charmer Web Diary
Project Snake Charmer is finished and on the road Check out the diary for more!
Each week we'll update our Web visitors on our progress right here with photos, video, and diary entries. Check back weekly as we share our progress, tips, anecdotes, and more while we assemble our Factory Five Racing roadster right before your eyes. And don't forget to get the full story in an upcoming issue of Mustang & Fords.
Factory Five Racing
For more information about the 65 MK3 Roadster from Factory Five Racing, contact them at www.factoryfive.com
March 30th-June 2nd, 2008
Total Build Time: 857 hours
For those of you who've been following our Factory Five Roadster build both online and in print, I want to thank you for your words of support and encouragement. It was great to hear from so many people that enjoyed our series of build stories and especially our online diary, where we let our readers come inside the garage and see first-hand the inner workings of building a magazine project. For those that tuned in for our weekly Web updates, you were treated to exclusive images of our build progress before it even hit the magazine's printed page. Unfortunately, these last two months have been extremely busy while we merged two magazines into one, moved and changed staff, hit the busy spring and summer show circuit, and much more. I feel bad that the Web diary trickled off towards the very end due to these other pressing matters and I wanted to give our online readers some closure to the project's Web diary with this one last update covering the last nine weeks of the build.
We left off with the interior of the Roadster just getting under way with a few pieces of carpet glued down and the seat bases being installed. Since that time, we've worked on the Roadster an odd day or two each month out of the last two due to travel and workload. We finished the interior, including Schroth Profi-II FE restraints, a four-speed look shifter handle from Finishline Accessories, and a leather shift boot from Mike's Replica Parts.
Once the interior was completed, we wrapped up a few small exterior items, including brake duct screens and quick jack grommets from Finishline Accessories, an additional set of rear splash shields from Dark Water Customs to seal the body to the chassis, and we mounted the FFR supplied exhaust hangers for the sidepipes. Once these items were in place, it was time for our alignment. A trip north to Groveland, Florida, is where we hooked up with J.B. Alignment Service for a full alignment after setting our ride height and Panhard rod. Finally, we took some overall pictures of the project and posted our graduation thread on www.ffcobra.com. Stay tuned for one more assembly story coming in the September issue, followed by a final wrap-up feature on the whole project.
Factory Five is even following along with our build. Check out their story!
Factory Five Racing Discussion Forum
If you're thinking about a FFR roadster, you might want to look at the great forum hosted by Bill Pierce at www.ffcobra.com. This site has many answers to building these cars, events, insurance, registration, and more!
Each week we'll update our Web visitors on our progress right here with photos, video, and diary entries. Check back weekly as we share our progress, tips, anecdotes, and more while we assemble our Factory Five Racing roadster right before your eyes. And don't forget to get the full story in an upcoming issue of Mustang & Fords.
March 16, 2008
Total Build Time: 816 hours
After traveling to Montreal, Canada for winter tire product announcements; Indianapolis, IN for the Hotrod & Restoration Trade Show; and most recently to Bradenton, FL for the NMRA season opener over the last three weekends, it's good to finally be home with no travel in sight until early May. That means I've got a bunch of weekends coming to me where I can really crank on the Cobra replica project and maybe even wrap things up. My son's been itching to get started on our father/son '68 project but the Cobra has to be wrapped up first.
This past weekend I was only able to get a few hours in on Sunday for the interior portion of the project. But none the less I made some good progress here. I ordered a seat mounting kit from Breeze Automotive (www.breezeautomotive.com) that allows for an easier installation of the seats and puts the seat base on a slight incline like your production car seating. This gives more support for the thighs and provides for a more natural driving position than sitting flat on the floor. The steel seat brackets are installed with stainless steel rivets (those 3/16-inch rivets are a killer!) through to major structural sections under the aluminum floor. A quick shot of satin black paint and a couple of minutes with a drill and a rivet gun and we were good to go. For the driver side I ordered an adjustable seat track along with the kit from Factory Five Racing. The seat track is designed to mount directly to the floor, so I had to modify the cable mechanism a bit for it to work with the Breeze seat mounts (Breeze sells their own seat track to work with their mounts).
I also got back the rear bulkhead, floor, and console carpet sections that I had their edges bound in vinyl earlier in the week, which allowed me to start carpeting the cockpit. First went down a layer of Mr. Gasket's GMuff Titan-Lite sound absorption material, then the carpet itself, retained by a generous layer of 3M spray adhesive. I picked up a roll of industrial strength Velcro as well for some of the carpet that I want to keep removable for servicing of the car in the future. Hopefully this coming weekend I can finish the interior and move on to my other critical items like the alignment so we can actually take the car out and drive it. More next week, that's for sure.
Each week we'll update our Web visitors on our progress right here with photos, video, and diary entries. Check back weekly as we share our progress, tips, anecdotes, and more while we assemble our Factory Five Racing roadster right before your eyes. And don't forget to get the full story in an upcoming issue of Mustang & Fords.
February 18, 2008
Total Build Time: 809 hours
It's been three weekends since I worked on the car last. It seems like it was just a few days ago I was working on the trunk, but when I looked back at the calendar I realized it was actually several weeks. The weekend of 1/26 I spent on my back helping my neighbor put a clutch in his son's '01 Mustang (that was NOT fun) and the following weekend of 2/2 was when we headed to New Jersey to pick up the '68 coupe for our father/son project. The weekend of 2/9 was spent organizing all of the used and NOS parts that came with the '68, as well as finishing up some late articles for the May 2008 issue on Sunday. So now you see why it's been three weeks since I touched the Roadster; and the heavy event/travel season is about to start for me as well (I'll be out of town and on the road the next three weekends).
The punch list of finish items is a bit over a page long, some easy, and others, well, are going to take some time and planning (alignment for example). Since I had finished the trunk wiring a few weeks back I wanted to go ahead and wrap up the rest of the trunk while I had easy access to it in the garage. Having purchased some bulk black carpet several months ago, and having made cardboard templates of the trunk panels for said carpet, it was a simple matter of cutting out the carpet using the templates as a guide (a silver Sharpie works great on the black carpet). With the cardboard as a rough template minor trimming was a given, and easily handled with a pair of scissors or a single edge razor blade depending upon available working room. 3M spray trim adhesive was used for the most part to glue the carpet into place, while stubborn corners got brush on contact cement. The completed trunk really looks good now and only needs some sort of edging to finish off the openings of the Dark Water Customs (www.darkwatercusoms.com) trunk storage boxes. Another item I checked off the punch list was riveting the under door aluminum panels now that the body is in place for good. I sent a few pieces of the passenger cabin carpeting to be bound with vinyl edging and as soon as those pieces come back I'll be laying down the interior carpet, seats, and belts. Stay tuned for more when I get back from upcoming travel weekends.
January 11, 2007
Total Build Time: 786 hours
Though our Factory Five Roadster has been painted for a couple of weeks it took us a while to get everyone on the same page to get our project shipped home. Luckily, KR Performance & Restorations (www.krpandr.com) were able to literally drop everything and get our Roadster into their trailer to meet the transport driver in time. With our project safely on its way to Florida it was time to get my ducks in a row and start digging out all of the parts I'd need to get the car looking presentable for the National Parts Depot Silver Springs Mustang & Ford Roundup in just a scant four days.
First off came the easy stuff. Installing the headlights, taillights, and front marker lights was simple screwdriver work, and since I had already tested the circuits prior I knew everything would work the first time. After the lights I wanted to concentrate on the rest of the exterior trim items--those things that would make the Roadster look like a finished car. The wiper mechanism was installed so that the windscreen could be slid into place and secured with its hardware too. Finally, I added the side emblems that we scored from Ford Racing, which are the same emblems found on the new Shelby GT Mustang.
Just before loading the car into our company trailer the roll bar was slid into place and the front fender louvers were added. The hour and a half tow up to Ocala for the Silver Springs event was uneventful and we had a great display location right next to our subscription tent for the weekend. While I couldn't stay with the car all weekend (someone's got to take the event photos you see in the magazine) when I was near the car I was inundated with compliments on the project, questions, and dozens of people taking photos. Even the wet weather we experienced during the event couldn't wipe the grin off my face all weekend. Stay tuned as our web diary picks up speed again with the car back in Florida and we start wrapping up our Roadster build.
January 22, 2008
Total Build Time: 791 hours
The full court press is on to get our Roadster project 100% completed in the next 90 days or less to catch the spring show season here in Florida, and to enjoy the car before the hot summer months. The project was a huge hit at the Silver Springs Ford and Mustang Roundup last weekend, but for the car to look as complete as possible for the display we had to throw a lot of parts at the car that we really weren't ready for yet, such as the carpet, seats, wind wings, and more. This past weekend I spent the better part of Saturday just removing these "show" items from the car so that they could be installed in their proper order and be fully photographed for future print stories in Mustang & Fords as well.
Once I had everything off the car and carefully boxed up, it was time to get back to the business of finishing the car. Since the weather ended up being iffy during the weekend (sporadic rain) I left the Roadster in the garage and tried to do what I could at the rear of the car. I spent a few hours routing the tag light wiring through the base of the trunk lid, soldering wires to the tag light assembly, and then joining them in a quick disconnect through the trunk lid access area. Finally, I covered the trunk lid access area with a neat custom aluminum panel from Dark Water Customs (www.darkwatercustoms.com). Just before wrapping up for the day I also applied strips of industrial strength Velcro, obtained from the local big box hardware store, to the body side louvers and mounting brackets on the body. This will hold the louvers in place, yet allow removal of the louvers for access for any repairs or maintenance.
November 8, 2007
Total Build Time: 663 hours
It's been a while since we had a diary update, but it's not for lack of progress on our Roadster project. No, this time of year is very busy for us keyboard jockeys with the SEMA show, PRI show, and all of the usual deadlines and office catastrophes thrown in for good measure. So, please excuse the limited entries here the last few weeks.
The good news is we're getting closer and closer to having our project completely painted and on its way back to us here in Florida to be wrapped up. Since our last entry Bob Roeder and Aaron Kester at KR Performance and Restorations have applied a coat of primer or two and started using guide coats (the black spray paint lines) while wet sanding the body to find any remaining low or high spots. After the final wet sanding the chassis was rolled into the paint booth, taped off, and the first coat of sealer applied.
December 10, 2007
Total Build Time: 765 hours
There are many variables that determine cure times for painting a vehicle's surface. One thing to consider is the paint product you will use for the project. Some products take longer than others to fully cure before another layer can be applied or the surface can be sanded. Another variable is the working temperature. As summer has turned into fall and then winter the cooler weather has increased the cure time for many of the products were using. If things are rushed problems could arise later with lifting paint, bubbles, or hazing. After the coats of sealer had cured sufficiently the body's openings were sprayed with our base color. This is often called "jambing" or "cutting" in the paint, since it is being applied to the door jambs, hood and trunk openings, wheel openings, and so forth. This will allow for full coverage easily when applying the paint to the main surfaces later.
The inner surfaces of the doors, hood, and trunk are painted and clear coated before being mounted on the Roadster. Later these panels will be mounted to the body during the final paint application phase.
Since our stripe color is lighter than the main body color KR Performance and Restorations simply applied a wide swath of the Satin Silver paint down the middle of the body. Then the stripes were laid out using a laser level to find the center of the car and then fine painters tape to make the actual stripe sections. The sections were then taped off so the main body color could be applied.
September 24, 2007
Total Build Time: 537 hours
We're getting closer to having color on our Roadster project as the guys at KR Performance & Restorations work full time on our project now. As I mentioned in a previous diary entry about body modifications, there are certain things that can be easily done to the FFR fiberglass body to give it a more authentic look. One of them is to extend the hood into the hood scoop opening. Doing so makes the hood scoop look like it was fastened to the hood versus being a molded part of it. If you really wanted to I guess you could also build up the scoop's lines and add rivets around it as well, but we just did the extension. The scoop's under side was also smoothed with body filler in preparation to paint the underside of the hood.
For the trunk the fiberglass inner edge was blended into the aluminum liner. Some people polish the liner or leave it bare aluminum, but we opted to paint it body color. The newer FFR trunk lid does away with the aluminum liner all together with an all fiberglass trunk lid assembly.
October 11, 2007
Total Build Time: 559 hours
Ask any owner of a fiberglass bodied car (or one using fiberglass fenders) and they'll tell you their number one fear is star cracks from a tire throwing a stone into the underside of the fiberglass body. We knew it would be important to protect our killer paintjob from debris such as this and we also wanted to cover the exposed fiberglass for a more eye pleasing look in the trunk and engine compartment areas. After much research we came across the LizardSkin product. LizardSkin is a ceramic based spray on product that acts as a barrier to heat transfer, reduces noise, and also protects surfaces from moisture and corrosion. Best of all LizardSkin is a class-A fire rated product. With the LizardSkin being applied via a spray applicator there are no seams, no gaps, and no waste. We covered the whole body in a .040-inch layer (recommended) and then doubled the wheel well areas to .080-inch for crack protection.
October 19, 2007
Total Build Time: 571 hours
An email today from Bob Roeder at KR Performance & Restorations made my day when he told me paint had been delivered and that they had started to cut in the inside of several panels, including the hood, trunk and doors. Images here show the hood in primer and then the first coat of the Ford Tungsten Gray Pearl Metallic base being applied. Since the first time I saw the Tungsten color on the Ford GT supercar I knew I wanted to paint something with this sexy color. The only fly in the soup is the wife and I still haven't picked a stripe color. If I let her have her way the stripe would be purple. I originally thought of black or some sort of graphite color (I even contemplated carbon fiber look stripes). Bob sprayed a sample with some stripe colors for us to look at (shown here) and there's a few more stripe colors being considered that he hasn't sprayed samples of yet. Once we choose a stripe color there's also the follow up decisions as to whether we paint it as a solid stripe or some sort of ghost stripe and if we should add the pinstripes to the outer edges and what color those pinstripes should be (matching the main stripe or some sort of contrast). Decisions, decisions!
September 10, 2007
Total Build Time: 497 hours
Things have been moving pretty quick at KR Performance and Restorations now that our FFR Roadster project has been placed on the front burner. In just a few short weeks most of our body modifications we've requested have been implemented and we're just a few short weeks away from spraying color. Since our last diary entry Bob and Aaron have finished all of the body seam work, including grinding, filling, and sanding of the seams. In addition to the seam work we asked the KR team to beef up the taillight mounting pad so the taillights would not extend over the edge of the body. Another trick many builders perform is to "roll" the cockpit edges with filler to give the body a more accurate look (the original aluminum bodies were rolled over the frame edges). Finally, the body received a coating of spray poly filler, which helps reduce block sanding effort and time. KR Performance and Restoration even brought our semi-finished project out to their local Mustang club's show to show off their hard work. We can't wait to get the project back to the same ourselves.
August 24, 2007
Total Build Time: 446 hours
The guys at KR Performance and Restorations unfortunately had to back-burner our Factory Five project through June and July in order to finish another customer's Mustang. With our blessing the project was put on hold until the Mustang was painted and delivered to the customer. Now that Bob and Aaron have completed that Mustang they're ready to go full tilt on our project and boy have they been making some quick progress in just the few weeks they've been back on the clock.
In our last diary entry the guys at KR had just started mounting our upgraded hidden trunk hinge kit and had scuffed the body in preparation for body work. The body is even further along now with the mold seams fully ground down to remove any stray gelcoat and expose any pinholes. The seams were then filled with 3M High Strength Repair Filler. At this point our trunk hinges have been completed with the bonding of the stud plates to the trunk lid itself and all alignment of the hinges complete. The trunk lid and doors have been fully aligned and trimmed as well.
The centerline of the car was determined by measuring and a string taped in place to show the centerline. This will help align the hood scoop and for when tape is applied for the striping. A little more body work is required, and the hood still needs to be trimmed to fit, and then we just might start seeing some primer here real soon. Hopefully we'll be able to get more frequent updates too now that we're back on the front burner! Stay tuned!
May 23, 2007
Total Build Time: 411 hours
We're happy to be back with our web diary updates on our FFR Roadster project. Between transport time from (FL to IN and then IN to NE) and then plugging our project into the body shop's schedule, things are just getting under way at KR Performance and Restorations. Bob and Aaron not only have the fun task of prepping and painting our project for us, but Bob promised to send us photos and updates for our web diary. So far Bob and Aaron have washed the body with Scotch Brite pads and Comet cleanser, ground down the body seams, and have started working on our hidden trunk hinges.
Once the project arrived in Nebraska Bob and Aaron covered the engine and dash with plastic and proceeded to clean the fiberglass body of any release agents and grease by using a combination of wet Scotch Brite pads and a healthy layer of Comet cleanser, as described in the FFR build manual. Once the body was rinsed and dried you could see the gloss of the body had been scrubbed down.
Next Aaron and Bob grabbed the pneumatic sander and ground down the main body seams and inspected them for any bare gel coat areas that need to be ground out and built back up. We'll certainly be seeing more photos of the body with filler on it in the coming weeks.
Finally, Aaron and Bob removed the side pipes and removed the body mounting bolts in order to lift the rear of the body slightly to begin the assembly and fitting of our replacement trunk hinges. The stock external hinges that come with the kit work fine, but we like the smoother look of inside, or "hidden" hinges, thus we picked up a set from Breeze Automotive (www.breezeautomotive.com) made just for the FFR body.
April 1, 2007
Total Build Time: 404 hours
Well, this is it. I bled the brakes again with my power bleeder, set the fan temp controller, and made another two laps around the block. I think the engine needs to be "burped" some more, as the engine temps have fluctuated a bit while driving, but then again it could be the location of the sending unit because the engine hasn't overheated or puked into the overflow once. I'll worry about that more once the Roadster comes back from the paint and body work phase, as I think it is merely a concern of getting the last bit of air out of the system (as it was with my soft brake pedal).
Over the course of this long day (nine hours) I removed the body, finished the installation of the driver's foot box aluminum, test fit and drilled the four wheel well splash shields (but did not rivet them, I'll leave that for the boys at KR Performance & Restorations to do on final body fit), and made cardboard templates of the trunk aluminum so that I can cut direct-fit carpet sections to carpet the trunk with when the Roadster returns. It wasn't until almost dark that I reinstalled the body, dry fit the wiper transmissions to the cowl, and hand formed the wiper cable tubing to the shape of the cowl.
After dinner I went back out to the garage and bolted the body down to the frame, hung the doors and trunk lid, and marked all bolt locations with tape so when KR Performance removes the body for the first time they don't miss a mounting bolt. Reliable Carriers has been called and I'm just waiting for the call back to tell me when the truck is coming, and then it's off to DVS Restorations first (www.dvsrestorations.com) for a once over on all fasteners, check and correct any bump steer, and so forth before it heads to KR Performance & Restorations (www.krperformanceandrestorations.com) from there to begin the paint and body process. Don't worry; our diary won't be stopping just because the car isn't in my garage. I'll be getting weekly updates from DVS and KR Performance and I'll be adding them to our site as I get them.
April 15, 2007
Total Build Time: 409 hours
Well, this is it. Reliable Carriers is on their way to pick our project up to transport it for paint. I've been going over the car for the last couple of hours, making sure I don't forget anything that has to be sent with the car. Would you believe I accidentally threw away the side louvers? I'm going to have to buy new ones now, but otherwise I think I have everything ready to go. I'm sending the door latches, hood latches, and a pair of tail lights (so they can match the body to the light housing), the assembly manual with annotations, the body splash shields, and more. I even went around the body and used painters tape and a Sharpie to call attention to any areas where there is a fastener retaining the body so the guys at DVS Restorations or KR Performance & Restorations wouldn't miss a fastener when removing the body and possibly damage something.
Around 3:30 pm the Reliable Carriers semi inched into our neighborhood. This bad boy is 83-feet long with a 12-foot sleeper on it and it was a tight squeeze through some of the corners, but they got in. After moving a few cars around that they already had loaded the day before they had the Roadster on the top tier and strapped down, ready to leave by about 4:30. It was exciting to see the project head off to paint, but at the same time it was sad to see the big empty spot in my garage too. I've got a couple of months before the car comes back to finish it, so I'll have to find something else to tinker with in the mean time. One idea is to rebuild a small-block with my son for a future car we plan to build together. Like I said in my last entry though, the guys at DVS Restorations and the guys at KR Performance & Restorations will be forwarding notes and photos for weekly updates, so don't go away.
March 11, 2007
Total Build Time: 388 hours
As mentioned in our last entry the Roadster has finally gotten to the point where we can drive it. With about five laps around the block on its odometer I've maybe put a half-mile on it so far. I really want to put several more miles of road testing on it before buttoning up everything and shipping the project off for paint, so I'm going to start taking it for a lap or two each night after work and make sure the engine gets up to temp, the cooling fan comes on, all lights work, and so forth.
Being out of town last weekend didn't help our lateness in getting the project off to paint either, but I'm just getting into the travel season for the magazine (events, shows, races, etc.) which is why I wanted the project off for paint by now. I was gone this past Friday and Saturday as well, leaving me only Sunday to work on the car. As I also mentioned in my last entry I had a small brake line leak in the rear. My replacement braided brake hose arrived during the week and today I installed the new hose with new pre-flared hard line on the axle housing. I'm happy to say I'm rid of the leak and now I just need to bleed the brakes a few more times to get all of the air out. The remote reservoir system I installed works great too!
With the leak fixed I'm clear to permanently install the trunk floor and finish off the interior aluminum. I installed the Dark Water Customs (www.darkwatercustoms.com) trunk storage boxes for good with rivets and silicone and the lower trunk floor as well before I ran out of daylight. Hopefully next weekend I can finish the remaining aluminum and put a few more laps on the car, then it will be off to paint! I also received our trick column mounted turn signal kit from Russ Thompson's Russ's Garage (www.norcal-cobras.com/store/russ_garage/russ_garage.htm). Russ's kit uses a VW switch like the early Cobra, but he modifies it to work with the Factory Five steering wheel hub (you have to provide your hub to him) and he also converts the bent turn signal arm to a straight arm to keep the steering wheel closer to the dash--all in all a quality piece. I hope to install the turn signal setup next weekend as well.
March 18, 2007
Total Build Time: 391 hours
I thought I had all of our wiring handled, but with the decision to use column mounted turn signals I had to break out my wiring tools once again and wire up the Russ Thompson turn signal kit I mentioned last week. The wiring is really not that bad and Russ provides several wiring diagrams so whether I was using a stock Mustang harness or something aftermarket, I was covered. The switch itself requires three mounting holes to be drilled in the dash bearing support to mount the switch tube. This of course means I had to open the steering column hole in the dash a bit as well. I picked up the dash trim bezel from Mike's Replica Parts (www.replicaparts.com) to finish off the dash.
One last wiring chore I almost forgot was mounting the inertia switch for the Mass-Flo EFI system. During the engine testing and wiring phase I simply had it wedged up in the dash harness, but it needs to be secured to a solid portion of the body for the inertia switch to open upon impact against the car and shut the fuel pump off. I found this little out of the way spot worked nicely without having to extend the wiring and it can be reached from behind the corner of the dash if it needs to be reset.
March 25, 2007
Total Build Time: 395 hours
Knowing the time to transport the Roadster was coming up fast I wanted to finish all of the remaining aluminum this weekend. Unfortunately, with a 14 year old son, you often end up at the mercy of their schedule (when it should be the other way around). So after a trip to Best Buy and then dropping him off at the skate park I didn't even get to start on the Roadster until about 2:30 in the afternoon. Way too late to pull the body off and finish riveting the driver's side foot box aluminum. I did get the remaining panels in the passenger compartment done (rear bulkhead, corners, and trans tunnel top), which I did with the body on I might add.
One thing I noticed when sealing up the panel gaps was the large gap around the roll bar stubs in the trunk. While the smaller gaps can easily be sealed with silicone caulk (note the seat belt tab next to the roll bar stub) the roll bar stub opening in the trunk floor was simply too wide. I had some left over DEI Reflect-A-Cool (www.designengineering.com) from wrapping the foot boxes and I cut a square patch from the leftovers, which I then cut a small circle into with relief cuts around the perimeter. Carefully sliding the patch down over the roll bar stub while slightly rotating it, allowed the patch to slide all the way down and meet up with the trunk floor. Now I have a good seal against the roll bar stub, even before the trunk gets carpeted.
While it's too soon to mount it, I did test out various mounting choices for our H3R Performance HalGuard fire extinguisher. Using H3R's custom billet mounting bracket and quick release mounting base not only will add some bling to the cockpit, but allow for quick removal of our HalGuard unit in the case of emergency. Other locations I am considering include hanging it from under the dash, between the seats, and the top of the transmission tunnel at the rear. Once the interior gets carpeted and seats installed I'll have a better idea of where the unit will fit. I just need to pull the body one more time to wrap up the foot box aluminum and the Roadster can be shipped.
February 2007 Entries
February 4, 2007
Total Build Time: 361 hours
I'm another weekend closer to heading for paint and still no brakes. Usually the brakes would have been completed long ago but instead of holding up the whole project waiting on one vendor I continued on. Now the Roadster is practically done and ready to be shipped off for paint, yet I still can't test drive it due to no master cylinder/hydroboost setup. Hopefully relief is on the way in the form of a different supplier.
There's not much to do on the car so I only spent a couple of hours in the driveway finishing up the front brake lines and installing a line lock device. I may only go to the drag strip a couple of times, but to do a proper burnout a brake holding device is essential. Plus, I used the line lock as a distribution block to the two front brakes as well. The red plastic plug is the inlet fitting to the line lock and simply needs to be plumbed from the master cylinder once we install it.
I've had the cooling system completed for a little while now, but before I actually fill and bleed the system I wanted to finish off the Mr. Gasket G-Sleeve (www.mrgasket.com) installation to beautify our hoses. Using their carbon fiber look hose covering and these way-cool Shadow hose finishers gives the standard cooling hose a much racier AN fitting look with simple hose clamps. I may end up polishing the Forte's Parts Connection (www.fortesparts.com) degas tank to add some shine and to match the polished March pulleys nearby.
Most of the Roadster's aluminum has been installed and riveted many months ago. I have left the trunk floor loose for some time just to aid in installing the fuel system and most recently the brake lines. Now that both of these tasks are finished I prepped the trunk floor and the transmission tunnel top for final installation. The kit comes with a finishing plate for the shifter opening. Final shifter position is determined by several factors so they cut the shifter hole oversize and you add the finishing plate with a few rivets. The mating edge between the two panels was very slim, so I used some thermal barrier tape instead of silicone to seal the two.
February 11, 2007
Total Build Time: 366 hours
Well it looks like I finally have the hydroboost problem figured out. I've found another vendor who actually has built several hydroboost kits for Factory Five customers, so he's aware of any special mounting and line issues this project would create. I just have to wait a little longer for the unit to arrive. Maybe by this coming weekend, but at least I know an answer is in sight. Meanwhile, I finally wrapped up the cooling system. Last week I was able to cover the main radiator hoses with the Mr. Gasket (www.mrgasket.com) G-Sleeve and their Shadow brand hose finishers. Today I tackled the water pump bypass hose and heater bypass hose as well. Some of the hose ends required minor grinding or cutting of the hose finisher for the hose finisher to seat properly. For instance, the radiator upper hose at the water neck; this required grinding away the lip of the finisher so it would slip over the water neck, and then I had to make a split cut on the rear of the finisher to spread it open enough to fit over the hose. But the looks were worth it. Once the hoses were finished I filled the cooling system with a 50/50 mix of distilled water and Peak Long Life antifreeze/coolant. The Factory Five radiator filled easy with the built in bleeder opened to allow air to escape. Once we can start the engine again I'll finish topping off the cooling system.
I also finished the installation of the air filter assembly. As noted a few weeks ago we swapped to a Ford Racing Performance Parts (www.fordracingparts.com) Cobra oval air filter with a taller element from Mass-Flo EFI (www.massfloefi.com). I gave the FRPP air filter lid a coat of wrinkle finish topped off with a coat of satin black to match the FRPP valve covers that we got from Tony Branda (www.cobranda.com). The finishing touch was a new billet retaining knob we picked up locally from Classic Creations of Central Florida (www.classiccreationsfl.com). Hopefully next week we'll have our hydroboost tackled and we'll be able to put a few test runs around the block on our project. Stay tuned.
February 24-25, 2007
Total Build Time: 383 hours
It starts. It goes--and now it stops too! This has been one of the more exhausting weekends working on the Cobra replica, but it was certainly worth it. Starting right after breakfast Saturday morning I got started by yanking the body off the frame and mocking up our hydroboost unit from Hydratech Braking (www.hydroboost.com). While the Hydratech kit was originally designed for the Fox Mustang as an upgrade, with a few minor changes Hydratech now has a system that will fit the Factory Five replica. The system installed easily enough and the kit is very complete with all hoses, line ends, adapters, and more. I did run into a few small snags, but nothing horrendous. Remember too that parts like power steering pumps and racks can come from different year applications so there's always going to be the chance of minor modifications.
I really wanted a master cylinder with a remote reservoir for easy access and I found one with a little help from Hydratech at Master Power Brakes. That too installed easily. I had a few brake lines to finish making up and then it was time to bleed the brakes and power steering systems. The power steering system worked flawlessly and ended up being leak free. The brake system, however, had a few minor leaks--nothing squirting across the garage mind you, but enough of a drip to easily be noticed. I tried loosening and retightening the fittings, but to no avail (even ruining one), so I've got to pick up some new bulk brake line and make a couple of new lines. However, the slight drip didn't prevent me from taking a short go-cart run around the block. It was 7:30 Sunday night, so it was dark, but it still felt damn good to have our project run up and down the block under its own power. We're now just a week or two away from transporting her off to paint. This has been so much fun!
January 2007 Entries
January 13, 14, 15, 2007
Total Build Time: 348 hours
It looks like I finally got a handle on the wiring. Over the course of the three day weekend I wrapped up the nose wiring (horns, headlights, etc.) and installed the SPAL fan controller. The driver's foot box is about ready to be buttoned up but I'll wait until we have the brake master cylinder installed and a few test miles under my belt first. My wife has one of those label machines and it came in handy for a few extra wires I plan to use later, such as the wire shown here for the line-lock I am planning. Once I plumb the brake lines and mount the line-lock the wire will be in place ready to provide power to it.
With the wiring all but finished I started on some of the pre-body work prep. My plan is to have any holes drilled or modified before the paint is applied, this way I'm not drilling a hole for the license plate light into a painted body (been there, done that, and it makes me nervous). So, I test fit the roll bar and made any necessary clearance adjustments to the mounting holes. Same goes for the license plate light, tag bracket, and trunk latch/handle. I also pre-drilled the holes for the fuel filler pipe and LeMans fill cap as well.
While I initially ordered the optional Roadster heater kit, the more I played with the heater's mounting and plumbing, the less I realized I wanted it. I was going for a very clean firewall (nothing mounted to it or holes in it) so I returned the heater kit and ordered heated seat upgrade kits from www.cobraheat.com. These universal seat heating kits are easy to install, only requiring some minor fabric removal and reinstallation with new staples. The elements heat the base and seatback and are just like the OEM offerings found in newer Fords like the Five Hundred, Fusion, etc. Hook up power and ground, mount the on/off switch, and you're done. Thats easy and no bulky heater or heater hoses to deal with. There are just a few odds and ends left and then it's off to paint at KR Restorations in Nebraska (www.krperformanceandrestorations.com).
January 21, 2007
Total Build Time: 353 hours
With the wiring finally out of the way I was able to start working on body fitment this weekend. I'll probably bow out of any serious alignment work like the doors, hood, and trunk, but with the body securely bolted to the chassis I did want to make sure everything else was going to fit properly before the Roadster left for paint. Meaning, anything I would have to bolt to the body after it is painted such as the dash, roll bar, windscreen, lights, etc. would fit right before paint. The last thing I want to do is grind away on painted fiberglass to get something to fit. I have bad memories of drilling the holes in the painted fenders of my '66 Mustang to install the pin lettering and running horse emblems and I don't want to relive that anxiety thank-you-very-much!
Once I had assembled the three-piece windscreen I test fit it to the car, and drilled the appropriate mounting holes. The body opening on the driver's side needed a little clearance work for everything to sit nicely. The dash was a perfect fit, though I'll need to trim a little of the dash vinyl off of the top when I'm ready for our final dash install. You can see the excess vinyl pushing the dash out a bit at the top. Lastly, I grabbed my die grinder with an 80 grit sanding disc and started sanding down the mold seams on the body. The boys at KR Performance & Restorations said it wouldn't be necessary for me to do so, but I wanted to be able to say I did "some" of the body work on the project!
Our driveshaft is currently en route from Forte's Parts and we hope to have it installed this coming weekend. If our planned hydroboost system comes in as well I might even be able to take our Roadster for a test drive around the block. Then it's just a few small odds and ends and it will be time to say goodbye to the project for a while as it heads off for a coat of Ford "T8" Tungsten Gray. Man I can't wait!
January 28, 2007
Total Build Time: 357 hours
I'm batting .500 this week. The brand spanking new shiny driveshaft from Forte's Parts connection (www.fortesparts.com) showed up in time for my typical weekend wrench turning festivities, but still nothing for our hydroboost system. I can't expect the body shop to wait for me forever, so it could come down to installing the hydroboost system after the body is painted, though I dread working over a freshly painted body! The Forte driveshaft I ordered was a perfect fit and comes with a brand new yoke, flange, tube, and 1330 U-joints. What I was surprised to see in the box was four brand new factory Ford mounting bolts. No hunting for salvage yard bolts or getting inferior bolts at the local hardware store--a real nice touch.
I've had the oval air filter installed a few times for photos, but now that the body is on I needed to ensure there was enough clearance for the filter housing along with a high-flow aftermarket filter. Unfortunately the Tony Branda housing, while a more accurate reproduction, wouldn't clear the hood. A call to Ford Racing Performance Parts netted their single wing-nut version with a stamped metal base. The stamped metal base was just the right dimension to get everything to fit under the hood with our 351 Windsor. The air filter itself is from Mass-Flo EFI (www.mass-floefi.com) and I mounted the mass air meter control box directly to the base of the filter and routed the wiring through a grommet to the air meter within.
Even though I have no hydroboost unit to mount yet, I did start on the brake lines. I figured I could bend up and route the brake line from the rear flex hose, routing it forward, until I got close to the hydroboost mounting area and then leave the rest of the line for when the hydroboost would physically be in place. The same went for the two front steel lines. They were custom bent using a coat hanger as a template and then routed towards the driver's foot box area. Hopefully we'll have the hydroboost unit soon so everything can be finished on the brakes; a few test miles put on the whole project, and then get it up to the paint shop. Stay tuned.
Sunday, December 3rd, 2006
Total Build Time: 292 hours
Moving into December we're about three or four weeks behind schedule right now. Unfortunately I don't think we're going to have the Roadster finished for the Silver Springs Mustang & Ford Roundup in January. I might take the "go-kart" up there for display, but not sure yet. I've got another solid two or three days of wiring to do, then I can drop the body on and start test fitting the body components such as the windscreen, lights, wipers, etc. I want to have all holes drilled, cut, etc. before the body goes to paint. Today, after much debate I figured out a way to mount all of the Mass-Flo EFI (www.mass-floefi.com) electronics without drilling a single hole in the firewall, yet still have relatively easy access to the ECM, relays, and fuses if any problems creep up down the road.
In a nutshell I mounted the rear of the ECM bracket to the dash hoop support and then fabricated a small aluminum bracket to secure the ECM bracket to the main dash 2x2 brace at the bottom. Finally, I mounted the relays to the ECM bracket at the top with two 1/4-20 stainless bolts, and the fuse block to the side of the dash hoop support with 1-inch long stainless tapping screws. The fuse box for the American Autowire harness was mounted to the kit's aluminum fuse panel bracket with a little modification, and then mounted under the dash by the clutch pedal. I might go back and add a piano hinge to this panel for easy servicing of fuses later.
Saturday, December 9th, 2006
Total Build Time: 297 hours
With holiday parties, trade shows, and family all vying for my time it's amazing I can get out to the garage at all this time of year to work on the Roadster. As many of you that read my diary entries know I usually set aside Sunday afternoons to work on the project. I couldn't do that this week however since my Mustang club's Christmas party was at 3pm Sunday, so instead I tried to get a few hours of work under my belt Saturday.
While the rear body wiring is complete, I still needed to attach the MSD (www.msdignition.com) Weathertight connectors onto the taillight assemblies themselves. The lights have three wires, one for brake/turn, one for running light, and one for ground. I've read that the brake/turn wire and the running light wire are sometimes wired with the wrong color wire. I simply tested each light assembly with a battery and whatever wire was for brake/turn I put a small knot in it until I could add the Weathertight connector.
I also wasn't too keen on the ground terminal, which is simply crimped to the housing. With just a little force I could pull the wire right out. An easy solution is to simply add some solder to the connection to make it nice and tight. I did this for all four rear lights and the parking light assemblies in the front.
Finally, the small brass screw retainers for the rear light lenses prevent the housing from sitting flush on the body (in my testing) so again, another easy fix is to simply trim the rubber gasket to allow the lights to sit flush. Even though I'm not anywhere near ready to install the lights, when I am ready the lights will be too.
Sunday, December 17th, 2006
Total Build Time: 303 hours
This weekend I was able to get a few more hours in on our Roadster's wiring. I've been working on the wiring for some time now, mostly because there's so much of it to do and I've not been able to put my typical 6-8 hour days in on the project. I am nearing the finish line on the wiring though, with just some dash area wiring and the nose wiring (headlights, horn, fans, etc.) left to do before I start on body placement and other parts of the project.
I showed you where I installed the headlight switch a few weeks ago and now that the fuse box is in place I've been terminating all of the fuse box wiring connections. The first thing I did was assemble the headlight connector and install it on the headlight switch that was already mounted. I also wired the brake light switch and clutch interlock switch as well. There are a few wires that I'm not using from the wiring harness, either because they are circuits we're not using (like radio and heater) or because the same circuits are covered through the EFI harness or some other wiring. For these I simply cut the wiring clean and then added some adhesive lined shrink wrap from RJM Injection Technologies (www.fordfuelinjection.com). While the shrink wrap was still warm a quick squeeze of the open end with a pair of pliers seals the extra wiring and prevents shorts.
Another cool item I picked up from RJM is their oval wiring harness grommet for the firewall where the EFI wiring passes through. Since we're not using any donor wiring (the stock harness comes with a molded grommet to use in this location) our Mass-Flo EFI harness was not sealing at all in this spot until we added the RJM grommet, which fits perfectly. Hopefully with a few days off after Christmas I can finish all of the Roadster's wiring and move on to fitting the body and other subsections.
Saturday, December 23rd-Sunday, December 31st, 2006
Total Build Time: 331 hours
Having a few days off between paid holidays meant I could potentially have up to 10 days straight of working on our FFR Roadster to ready it for paint. It was a nice thought, but between last minute holiday shopping, family time, and a couple of days of rain that just wouldn't leave the area, I only got in about four or five solid days of work. This was still enough time to wrap up the wiring (all but the electronic fan controller that is en route as I write this), test fit the body, and assemble our roll bar and windscreen for their own body fit testing. I should just need another weekend or two and she'll be ready to head off for painting.
I finished up our dash by adding a rotary windshield wiper switch and a stainless steel LED lighted momentary button to be used as our horn button on the dash. The blue LED lighting matches the blue LED illumination of our Auto Meter Cobalt gauges. I had one unused warning lamp on the dash (a red bulb that comes with the kit) that is supposed to be used as a charging system warning, but instead I wired it to the original brake light warning switch on our parking brake to remind the driver that the parking brake is still set (since the parking brake handle is out of the driver's vision on the side of the transmission tunnel).
With the wiring complete (minus the aforementioned electric fan controller) the headlights, parking lights, and tail lights were plugged in and all circuits were checked for proper operation. While I plan to use a column mounted turn signal unit, I do not have possession of it yet, so I simply used jumper wires to test turn signals, headlight high beam switching, and the hazard circuits. All checked out 100 percent with zero problems.
I thought the aluminum foot box panels, though covered with sound absorbing G-Muff from Mr. Gasket on the inside, would need a little more heat protection on the outside. To that effect I used an adhesive backed thermal barrier product called Reflect-A-Cool from DEI (www.designengineering.com). The Reflect-A-Cool is simply cut to the size/shape needed and applied by hand (a roller can be used to make the product smoother). I think the Reflect-A-Cool will help with the close proximity of the headers, though time will tell once we get the body on and drive it.
Speaking of getting the body on I had my neighbor's help me install the body for test fitting of the aluminum panels, roll bar, and windscreen as well. This is the first time the body has been back on the frame since last February when I first took delivery of the project. After some measurements were taken the body came back off for roll bar fitment and drilling (the trick is to center punch the chrome tube and then drill a pilot hole all the way through, upsizing the drill bit a little until you get to the 5/16-inch size required). Now the Roadster sits waiting a dry weekend for some final panel fitment and the installation of our fan controller and then it will be off for paint and body work. I think the end is in sight!
Sunday, November 5th, 2006
Total Build Time: 247 hours
After spending a week away from home attending the SEMA show in Las Vegas it was nice to be back to the simple life. No slot machines, no exotic cars I can't afford, and miles of walking that made me want to cut my feet off they hurt so bad. No, instead I spent a relaxing Saturday inside doing absolutely nothing but catching up with the family, watching a little television (isn't Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel a killer TV show?), and even sneaking in an afternoon nap on the couch Dagwood style. Life is good again.
Come Sunday though the itch was too strong to hide, I wanted, no, NEEDED, to go out in the garage and work on the Roadster. Just like any car building project more than half the fun is the build up/repairs/restoration of the project. Getting in there and making a pile of parts into something whole, or making something once old new again. Luckily our Florida climate allows continued work through the "winter" months we have here so there will be no stoppage of work.
Still continuing on the wiring section of the project, I removed the Mass-Flo (www.mass-floefi.com) wiring harness from the engine and prepared it for final installation by adding the included high-temp convolute and harness wrap tape to the bare harness. I also routed the battery cables more cleanly (previously installed just to start the engine) with insulated clamps, shrink wrap on the ends, and some of the Mr. Gasket G-Sleeve (www.mrgasket.com) hose covering on the engine compartment ends of the cables for a clean look. The body wiring for the rear lights, fuel pump, and fuel gauge has also been neatened up with some sacrificial tie-wraps for now. Once I have the wiring connected and fully tested the tie-wraps will be removed and the harness completely wrapped for weather and abrasion protection and secured to the Roadster's frame.
Sunday, November 12th, 2006
Total Build Time: 251 hours
I'm deep into the wiring phase right now. I've got our engine's EFI harness back on the engine and routed and now I'm working on the rear body wiring since it is the smallest body harness to deal with. I don't even want to think about the front right now with horns, lights, fans, relays, etc. needing to be wired. The rear wiring is simple with just lights, fuel level sender, and fuel pump power to be routed. I finished the rough in of the rear wiring last weekend and this weekend I am starting to cover it with the supplied convolute, cutting the sacrificial tie wraps as I go, and then wrapping the completed harness in tape. All that will be left will be to install wiring connectors at the end of the harness for the taillights and for the fuel tank wiring.
Sunday, November 19th, 2006
Total Build Time: 256 hours
There's a cold front moving through our area, so I'll be donning a sweatshirt for the next week or so, but at least I can still work on the project, unlike some of my fellow builders to the north that have to either heat their garage or just wait for the spring before they can continue their Roadster build.
I picked up a Mr. Gasket (www.mrgasket.com) Flexible Wire Covering Kit (PN 4457) to aid in the wiring of the Roadster. The Roadster comes with harness covering, but you can never have too much, plus the Mr. Gasket kit (which is 1/2-inch split loom) also comes with Ts and in-line outlets, which help route wiring cleanly. Best of all, the kit comes with harness mounting clips that allow the harness to be secured to the frame. I much prefer these to a standard Adel type clamp because you can easily open these to remove the harness for repairs or updates.
Monday November 20th to Sunday, November 26th, 2006
Total Build Time: 288 hours
Since Primedia is closed for Thanksgiving and the Friday afterwards, I thought I would take Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off as well so I could get a full week in of working on the Roadster project. Right now the wiring phase is taking a little longer than I'd like and with the shorter days it's already dark when I get home in the evenings. I needed some solid work hours to get caught up and this was one of the best ways I could think of, besides, I'd barely taken any time off this year and I needed a break from the day to day, even if it was still working on a car.
During this week long festival of wiring I tackled about half of the car's wiring, including all of the rear body wiring where I used Weatherpak connectors from MSD (www.msdignition.com) for the taillight connections. Making the brake lights female and the turn signals male will prevent incorrect assembly later when the painted body goes on. I also mounted the windshield wiper motor to the firewall. The wiper drive cable and wheel boxes will not be installed until the body goes on, but with the wiper motor secured I can finish the wiring to it.
For a headlight switch we used the provided switch from Factory Five and mounted it to a small plate riveted to the chassis. This allows a quick reach under the dash to the left of the steering wheel to turn on the headlights. Notice the '65-'66 Mustang headlight identification ring from Virginia Classic Mustang (www.virginiaclassicmustang.com). The toggle switch next to the headlight switch will be wired for hazard flashers.
Later in the week after Thanksgiving the dash was completed. We've had the dash sitting in bare aluminum with the gauges mocked up for several months. With all this time on our hands this week it was the perfect time to finish the dash off by adding the padding, mounting the gauges, and wiring the complete dash with high amperage Deutsch disconnects, also from MSD. The only thing the dash is missing right now is the wiper switch and horn button, both of which have been ordered as of this writing.
The October Diary Entries
Sunday, October 1st, 2006
Total Build Time: 224 hours
I'm getting close to being able to fire the engine in the car for the first time. Today I mounted the starter solenoid at the rear near the battery and started running battery cables and wiring the alternator and other items for proper operation for our engine run test. The battery cables included with the kit are standard 4-gauge battery cables, which should work fine for most standard builds. If you are using a high compression engine and need a lot of cranking power you might want to upgrade your cables to 2-gauge or 1/0-gauge. The same goes for your starter and even your battery. If you expect heavy cranking loads don't be afraid to spend the money on your starting/charging system. The most un-cool thing you can have happen is to pull into a gas station, car show, or cruise night and have everyone gather 'round for a look, and then your car crank slow or not at all on a restart when you have an audience. We're using an Optima Red Top (www.optimabatteries.com) along with a PMGR high-torque starter from Tuff Stuff Performance Accessories (www.tuffstuffperformance.com) and we'll be upgrading our battery cables too just to be sure we don't ever have that embarrassment.
Monday, October 9th, 2006
Total Build Time: 228 hours
After spending the last week in California and spotting a few Cobra replicas on the road I couldn't wait to get back home get back out into the garage. I'm so close to starting the car it hurts and lucky for me, Primedia was closed on Monday. This gave me another day to recuperate from jet lag and the time change, but it also gave me another afternoon of daylight to get some more wiring done on the Roadster project.
Now mind you, the wiring I am doing right now is all temporary type stuff to make sure the EFI harness functions properly and the car starts. Once I know that I can take the engine harness off and wrap it up with the included plastic convolute and harness tape provided with the Mass-Flo EFI wiring kit (www.mass-floefi.com). Even though I won't start the main body harness (which is separate from the EFI) and wiring of the gauges until later, I decided it would be good to have the dash panel clamped in place with at least water temp, oil pressure, and tach functioning for when I do start it. So, I attached the Auto Meter (www.autometer.com) wiring to the sending units on the engine and to the back of the gauges and then made simple wiring connections for power and ground. The same goes for the '65-'66 ignition switch we're using from Virginia Classic Mustang (www.virginiamustang.com). I simply used spade terminals for now to temporarily connect the ignition switch to battery power and the EFI system. Keep your fingers crossed, as we may just fire it this weekend and if all goes well they're will be plenty of photos and even some video!
Saturday, October 14th, 2006
Total Build Time: 234 hours
I knew there would be little time for my usual Sunday work schedule on the Roadster because of a Mustang club function my wife and I were planning to attend on Sunday, so I opted to get out into the garage today for the majority of my work on the project. I also knew I would be needing to hit the local parts store for hoses and other items not supplied with the kit and the stores are open longer on Saturday.
I had most of the wiring handled last week, save for the actual battery cable runs and wiring in a relay for the PMGR style starter we're using. But before I could attempt an engine start I needed to wrap up the cooling system and seal the Tremec transmission. The hoses were a measure and test-fit affair but after three trips to the parts store I had them figured out. The trick aluminum coolant degas tank mounted on the inner panel is from Forte's Parts Connection (www.fortesparts.com) and will allow for easy fill and bleeding of the cooling system, plus it sports a pipe fitting in the bottom that can be used for a gauge sender or electric fan switch.
While on Forte's web site we also spotted this trick aluminum speedometer hole plug and transmission mount shim kit. When using the built in electric speedometer sender the manual cable hole needs to be plugged and this little guy does the trick. The mount shims help get the driveline angle just right without using an ugly stack of washers. Now that the transmission was sealed I could fill it with lube.
With the final battery cables connected to the starter solenoid and the starter itself, and the aforementioned starter relay wired in, the Roadster wiring was checked one last time and with everything appearing to be sound, I turned the key. The glorious sound of the engine cranking nice and clean without any problems greeted my twist of the wrist. Now to mount the side pipes and add some fuel!
Sunday, October 15th, 2006
Total Build Time: 236 hours
Sunday morning arrived bright, crisp, and cool, and I was itching to put that last little bit of work into the Roadster to attempt an engine start. Alas, it would have to wait a few hours as I promised a coworker I'd go look at a Mustang he was thinking of buying. It's always wise to bring another non-interested party with you and it helps if they know a little (just a little) about Mustangs!
By the time I got home it was maybe a half hour before the Mrs. and I had to leave for the club function mentioned yesterday. Of course, you know what I'm thinking; half an hour is plenty of time to bolt on a set of side pipes and throw some fuel in thank right? Hey, I even went and filled the gas can last night in preparation! So, out to the garage I went. The first thing I did was measure the header flange to ground distance and made sure it was the same side to side. The engine mounts were loose to the frame and the block from when we lowered the engine into place so it was only a matter of pulling up on the header to even out the two sides and then tighten all of the engine mount bolts.
The side pipes go on with but four Allen head bolts and lock nuts per flange, with a gasket between them. I had a helper hold the end of the side pipe while I loosely installed the fasteners. I'm not worried about perfect alignment right now so I just wrenched the bolts down tight. The word was spreading throughout the neighborhood that I was going to try to start it and the crowd was already gathering around the car. A couple of gallons went into the fuel tank, and it was time to see if our Mass-Flo injected Smeding 427 was ready to breathe Florida air for the first time. After priming the oiling system and cycling the ignition switch to build fuel pressure (two small leaks that were quickly fixed) I couldn't take it anymore. I hopped into the driver's seat, scanned everything one more time, and twisted the key. Our Roadster roared to life with a deep exhaust note that startled a few neighbors standing by, but there was nothing that could wipe the grin off my face at that exact moment. It's all gravy from here!
Saturday, October 28th, 2006
Total Build Time: 242 hours
Last weekend I just couldn't find the time to get out to the garage at all. I took my '66 Mustang to a huge car show on Saturday and by the time I got home I was beat from the day's heat. A cold shower and a late afternoon nap and next thing you know it's almost 8pm. Woops. Sunday wasn't much better as I helped my son tackle the yard (hopefully the last time this year) and a few other "honey do's" and before I knew it the day was done. A whole weekend without working on the Roadster hadn't happened in several months and with the previous week's excitement of starting the engine for the first time I was really bummed I couldn't get anything done.
I'm heading to Las Vegas for the annual SEMA show first thing Monday morning, so I knew this Sunday would be a busy one as well, so I decided to work on the Roadster Saturday instead of my usual Sunday. The first thing I tackled was the last cooling hose for our engine. I ended up using a pre-molded heater hose from a '90 4-cylinder Mustang between the intake fitting and the water pump. With a little trimming it worked great. Also notice I had to drill and tap the intake fitting for our Auto Meter (www.autometer.com) water temp sending unit since the normal spot on the intake has been used for the Mass-Flo EFI's (www.mass-floefi.com) engine coolant temperature sensor.
Now that the engine is installed it's been harder to turn the steering with all of that weight on the front end (I often have to tweak the steering left or right as I push the car into the garage). I finally decided to remove the locking pliers I was using and install the steering wheel and hub. Take it from me--do NOT use locking pliers on the steering shaft. I had to use a sanding roll on my high-speed rotary tool to deburr the shaft before the wheel hub would even slide on. Yikes!
With the EFI system wiring routed and configured I started on the main body wiring today. After determining a location for the fuse box I started routing the sub harnesses for the front and rear of the car. All of the body wiring will end up routed loosely like the EFI wiring to ensure everything works before I wrap it plastic convolute and harness tape. Luckily my plane from Las Vegas comes in late Friday night so I should be able to continue my wiring work next weekend. Another couple of weekends of wiring and I'll be ready to start on body fitment.
Sunday, September 10th, 2006
Total Build Time: 207 hours
After enduring a few weeknights of bad weather and a trip to Birmingham, AL that took up most of my Labor Day weekend, it was nice to finally have some decent working weather to roll the Roadster out of the garage and get some work done. It's been exactly two weeks since I've put wrench to project, the longest I've gone without doing something, anything, on our build up. So I was looking forward to getting out in the garage today and making some real progress. Alas, real progress would escape me right now.
Earlier in the build when I was installing the suspension or brakes, or even drilling all of the holes for the aluminum panels the work involved was straight forward. There's only one place that coil over shock bolts to. You assemble the shock, grab the attaching hardware, bolt it on, and then check it off your To Do List. But now that I have a rolling chassis I'm getting down to the little things, and frankly, it's the little things that drive you nuts. For instance, I spent a good hour or more trying to figure out where to mount the Mallory (www.mrgasket.com) fuel pressure regulator. When I found just the right spot I realized I couldn't get a drill into the location so I had to borrow a right angle drill adapter.
The same goes for the clutch cable installation. The clutch cable that I got from Dallas Mustang (www.dallasmustang.com), which is designed for a late model Mustang, has a retaining bracket crimped on it. The problem is the bracket mounts to the frame rail on the Mustang and there's nothing to mount it to on the Roadster. I finally figured out if I remove the bracket, flip it over, and then crimp it back on to the cable it would mount to the timing cover with only having to drill the mounting hole in the bracket a bit bigger. So while I did make some progress today, I feel I'm going to be in baby step mode for the next month or so as I tackle these little things and begin the wiring phase of the project. Hopefully I can keep my wits about me through this part of the build!
Sunday, September 17th, 2006
Total Build Time: 211 hours
I had the FFR 4-into-4 headers loosely installed with two bolts right after we installed the engine a few weeks ago, but I couldn't install them for good until I had the threaded fittings for the Mass-Flo EFI's (www.mass-floefi.com) two oxygen sensors installed (one in each side of the engine). While most fuel injected cars have the oxygen sensor located at the merge of the individual exhaust tubes, this isn't practical on the 4-into-4 setup since the primary tubes do not merge until outside the body right at the side pipe muffler. The best alternative is to mount them in a primary tube between 9-18 inches from the cylinder head. Once the fittings were welded in I could mount the headers for good using stainless header bolts from Totally Stainless (www.totallystainless.com).
I also started on the Mass-Flo EFI wiring today. There are basically two main harnesses for the Roadster we're building. The wiring harness The EFI harness, and the body harness. I wanted to start with the EFI harness since there are less connections to make to finish the installation, and quite frankly, I want to hear this baby come to life and bark a serious exhaust note. Who needs headlights when you've got 500 horsepower and side pipes! Wiring is one of my strong points, but I've never wired a complete car before. This step of the project will surely be more time consuming than what we've done so far.
During some late night brain storming I thought the driveshaft safety loop offered by Total Control Products for their classic Mustang subframe connector system might work for the Roadster as a nice, clean, bolt-in solution. I ordered one for this project and after taking their 90-degree mounting bracket and bending it back to a 45-degree angle to match the 45-degree angle of the square tube welded right over the driveshaft location it looks like it will work perfectly with only having to drill two holes to mount it. I'll know for sure if it works once we get our driveshaft in place, which should be here any day.
Saturday, September 23rd, 2006
Total Build Time: 216 hours
While I'm still working on the EFI wiring (mostly trying to determine clean and sensible routing so I can then wrap the harness permanently) I'm also trying to check off small items on my "first start" checklist, like the throttle setup. I'm going to need the throttle figured out for when I start the engine for the first time. For the pedal assembly I skipped on using the donor gas pedal arm and bracket, since I heard that it can be sensitive on higher horsepower engines. Plus I simply didn't like the angle of the pedal when it was bolted in. I ended up using a custom aluminum pedal arm with a trick adjustable bracket marketed by Russ Thompson (www.norcal-cobras.com/store/russ_garage/russ_garage.htm). Russ makes several upgrade parts for the Factory Five Roadster, and his throttle assembly gets high marks from all who use it. Once the throttle arm was installed it was a simple job to attach the throttle cable.
I've run engines without coolant, or even a radiator and water pump, but only for a minute or two to make sure the engine was in proper running order with good oil pressure before purchasing it. I wasn't planning on taking any chances with our Smeding 427 though, so I'm making a point to have the radiator and all hoses hooked up and the cooling system filled for our first start. I ordered FFR's optional aluminum radiator along with the kit for a direct fit installation. I used a small floor jack to hold the radiator in place while I marked the holes in the frame for drilling mounting holes (I used riv-nuts here instead of the supplied tapping screws). The two aluminum panels were clamped in place to determine radiator angle only and will be installed later when the body goes on. Hoses and a degas tank will be installed shortly. I also had just enough light to get the ignition coil mounted and the coil wire terminated, and then it was time to pack things in for the night. Hopefully I can get everything wrapped up over the next couple of weekends and have an engine start sometime in October.
Saturday, September 30th, 2006
Total Build Time: 219 hours
My apologies for this late entry, I didn't get a chance to write it before leaving for a business trip to California the first week of October.-Mark
Once I installed the Russ Thompson gas pedal assembly last week with the throttle cable I was able to measure and test out the pedal spacing. Wearing regular cross-training type sneakers put the edge of my foot on the brake pedal when trying to apply throttle. A popular fix is to carefully bend the pedals for more foot room. You can do this a number of ways, including simply placing the pedal in a vice and bending with an adjustable wrench. Since I didn't have a suitable vice in the home garage I put my name on the loaner tool list at www.ffcobra.com for a pedal bender. This nifty little tool simply slides up the pedal arm (even in place on the car if you wanted) and with the turn of a bolt it bends the pedal effortlessly for you. The tool works great and when you are done with it simply mail it to the next user on the list. There's no charge for the use, just the shipping to the next person. As you can see in the photos the brake pedal was moved to the left about two inches and the clutch pedal around one inch. Pedal placement is great now and it took just about 20 minutes to use the tool and check the pedal placement.
Thursday, August 3rd, 2006
Total Build Time: 187 hours
After a weekend of travel there's always plenty of catching up to do at the office and at home, and that includes our project car as well. It wasn't until Thursday that I got caught up enough on my desk work to be able to slip away for a few hours into the shop and once again put wrench to bolt to try and get our 427 stroked Windsor detailed. I ran into our first little problem setting up the two-stud reproduction air cleaner housing with the Mass-Flo EFI. The central mounted mass air meter usually works better with a single stud air cleaner housing, so I might have to go to plan B on this one.
The new timing cover supplied on the Smeding 427 requires a fuel pump block off plate since I wanted to run the Mass-Flo EFI system. I was all set to buy a fancy billet aluminum one when a friend said he had an extra from an old engine. Free trumps fancy any day in my book, and you'll barely see it once the power steering pump is mounted. Note also in the photo the modern oil pressure sending unit for the Auto Meter Cobalt electric gauges.
The last thing I was able to get started on today was swapping out the stock valve covers for replica Cobra open letter big-block FE valve covers. Yes, you heard me, FE. I found through the FFR forums at www.ffcobra.com a gentleman by the name of Rupert Hartman that makes these trick billet valve cover adapters. With his adapters, which bolt to the small-block head, you can easily mount any big-block FE valve cover. If you're interested in a set you can reach him at email@example.com or by phone at (856) 829-4007. Hopefully I'll have the valve covers on and the air cleaner figured out for more photos next week.
Saturday, August 5th, 2006
Total Build Time: 189 hours
The popular tire and wheel combination for the Factory Five Roadster with SN-95 style front brakes and a Fox-width rear axle is 17x9-inch front wheels and 17x10.5-inch rear wheels. Those 10.5-inch wide rears take a meaty tire, a 315/35R17 to be exact. The same rear tires found on the rear of a Ferrari F40 I might add! Up front I went with a more common P255/40ZR17. Both tire sizes are from Nitto (www.nittotire.com) with the fronts coming from their NT555 series and the rears from their NT555R series (street legal "drag" radial).
After getting the new tires mounted and balanced Greg Clark, our Online Editor, graciously carted them to the house for me and I bolted them up first thing this morning. After coming off of our Alltrade jack stands for the first time since February when I took delivery of the Roadster I just had to roll the chassis outside for a photo (and to sweep the garage floor). So now she's officially a "roller". Man I have to get that engine finished and installed.
Thursday, August 10th, 2006
Total Build Time: 193 hours
Right now there's not a whole lot I can do to the chassis until the drivetrain gets installed. I've been working after hours at the office getting the engine ready to take home for a weekend installation party. Things are coming along smoothly with that for the most part. I got the valve covers finished that I mentioned in last week's diary entry and man they look so cool on there don't they? I still have some figuring to do with the air filter housing and I may just wait until the engine is in the chassis to mount the body and measure how much room we have for an air filter before going further with the Cobra oval unit we have now.
Earlier in the week the high output 3G alternator and hi-flow water pump showed up at the office from Tuff Stuff Performance Accessories (www.tuffstuffperformance.com). Ordering the alternator and water pump in black powder coat kept our black/silver/polished engine them in check. March Performance (www.marchperformance.com) has sweet billet CNC pulley and bracket kits to adapt a serpentine belt system to any Ford engine. Using the March Performance kit allowed me to keep the front engine dress simple, functional, and of course, stylish, all in one. Hopefully next week I can get the engine off the stand and bolt up the clutch, bellhousing, and transmission in order to take the whole shooting match home for installation. Keep your fingers crossed!
Friday, August 18th, 2006
Total Build Time: 196 hours
A Tremec TKO-600 five-speed manual transmission (www.tremec.com) is going into the Roadster. The transmission is an easy fit with just a minor modification to the tailshaft housing. The TKO series case has several mounting points to accommodate aftermarket installations in various cars and to fit in the FFR chassis the rear most ear has to be trimmed from the tailshaft housing. Trimming it away with a cutoff wheel took about a half hour or so since I was being very careful not to cut too deep and also trying to keep the cut straight. Once I removed the ear and hand filed the cut to deburr the edges I bolted up the transmission mount, a urethane model from Dallas Mustang (www.dallasmustang.com), and set the bellhousing into place (also from Dallas Mustang). I checked the fit of the Centerforce clutch disc (www.centerforce.com) and the PMGR starter from Tuff Stuff Performance Accessories (www.tuffstuffperformance.com) and everything fit perfectly. The transmission and associated parts are ready for mating with our Smeding 427 Windsor now using our mounting hardware from Totally Stainless (www.totallystainless.com). Fingers crossed the engine will be going in this weekend.
Sunday, August 20th, 2006
Total Build Time: 198 hours
After bolting up the MustangTuning.com FR500 replica wheels for the Roadster project a few weeks back I felt something was missing. That something was a knock off center for the wheels to replicate the original true knock off wheels the Cobra had. I did a bit of digging and found BRS Parts (www.brsparts.com) that manufacturers and machines custom replica knock off centers for late model Mustang wheels. BRS Parts was the only company I found that made a kit that fit the deep center dish of the FR500 style wheel. My only problem was the center cap hole in the FR500 wheels I'm using is a little smaller than the ones BRS normally machines for, but BRS offered to look at the center caps and machine a custom size if need be. I got the knock off kit late last week and couldn't wait to fit them to the FR500 wheels. Not only do the "spinners" look great, the trick BRS slip-clutch design allows them to be carefully rotated for lug access or to position the tri-bar for display purposes. How cool is that!
Then I got to thinking for all those readers with Bullitt wheels or Cobra R wheels on their classic Mustangs and Fords that the BRS kit would be a nice addition and give your ride a classy look. BRS sells their spinner knock off kits in straight or swept style tri-bar designs to fit the original center cap from your late model Ford rims, but they might even do something custom for your aftermarket rims too.
Saturday, August 26th, 2006
Total Build Time: 201 hours
Well the big day has finally come. Today marked the pivotal spot in the Roadster build where the drivetrain was installed. With the help of a coworker I brought the fully dressed engine home Friday night and carefully placed it in the garage right in front of the Roadster. I let them get "acquainted" before the formal marriage the next day. Knowing the Florida rains come in the afternoon I took a gamble and scheduled the drivetrain install for late afternoon. My reasoning was that the driveway at my house is in the shade the latter part of the day and we'd be better off from a photography and temperature standpoint. So, to kill the morning and try to fend off some anxiety I fired up the lawn mower and cut the grass, front and back. That got me through until about 12:30. I then killed a little more time by helping a friend put a stereo in his new truck, but midway through the stereo install the rain came. Would I have to cancel my drivetrain installation? I guess luck was on my side because by the time I finished the stereo install the rain had stopped and the driveway was bone dry. Bring on the engine hoist!
3pm rolled around and our Web Editor, Greg Clark, showed up to lend a hand. I rolled the Powerbuilt Tools (www.powerbuilttools.com) engine hoist into place and picked up the Smeding 427 Windsor and mated Tremec TKO-600 and rolled the pair half way down the driveway. Then I grabbed the front of our FFR Roadster and rolled it out into the driveway as well. The Powerbuilt engine hoist worked great in that it was narrow enough and low enough to roll right under the Roadster's frame. The engine leveler also was time saver, allowing us to carefully adjust the drivetrain's angle of attack with the turn of a screw handle. I enlisted a few curious neighbors to be extra eyes, hands, and ears as the engine was lowered, and all went well.
Now that the engine is I've got plenty of work to do again, including finishing up the fuel lines, EFI wiring, main body wiring, exhaust, and more. As soon as I get back from the MCA 30th Anniversary show in Alabama later this week I'll be back on the project in full force!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Tuesday, June 6th, 2006
Total Build Time: 124 hours
Like most any project some days are "two steps forward and one step back". After proudly forwarding my progress report to the crew at Factory Five (mainly Joe Fournier who's been keeping me in line and offering great advice) I found out that the Flaming River steering rack I used is a different animal than the typical late model Mustang rack (I think it might be a Mustang II hybrid). This means my freshly powder coated steering shaft is too short. Thanks to Joe's watchful eye I was able to order a custom length steering shaft to fix the problem (should be here next week). In the mean time, I grabbed the dash panel that I had started working on and clamped it to the frame so that I could start finalizing switch locations and where I wanted to mount the FFR supplied heater kit. Tonight was only a few hours in the garage, but it was nice seeing how I hadn't touched the project in over a week (I was gone to Carlisle, PA for the All-Ford show last weekend).
Friday, June 9th, 2006
Total Build Time: 128 hours
I knew this coming weekend was going to be a busy one with a Mustang club road rally on Saturday and Sunday I planned to catch up on some work I brought home. This meant if I wanted to make any progress on the Roadster this weekend it was going to be tonight or nothing. I ended up foregoing our usual Friday night movie so I could spend the next four hours with just me, my rivet gun, and the bugs that love my garage lights. I was able to button up the passenger foot box and the small section under the firewall. Many of the small gaps are easily sealed with a bead of silicone but I'm still contemplating the foot box intrusion bar and how it passed through the front of the foot box. I might cut a small aluminum trim plate for the area since the gap is larger than what I would like to seal with silicone. Before it got too late I also installed the trunk side panels. There are three aluminum panels per side and they were easily riveted in place. I'm going to leave the trunk floors out for now since I still need to mount the battery box I got from www.ffmetal.com and I'm thinking of installing some sort of storage bins as well to expand the trunk's usable space.
Friday, June 16th, 2006
Total Build Time: 131 hours
The custom length of double D steering shaft I ordered from Factory Five showed up yesterday (Thursday) so when I got home tonight I wanted to measure the proper steering shaft length, cut the shaft to length, and paint it so that it would be ready to install over the weekend. I cleaned the extra paint off of the upper steering shaft and slid the shaft into the pedal box support bearing until it was in the proper location as described to me by Joe Fournier at Factory Five. I then measured and cut the shaft, painted it to match the powder coating done earlier, and set it aside to dry, calling it a night.
Sunday, June 18th, 2006
Total Build Time: 135 hours
Ah, Father's Day. A day just for me to do what ever I wanted (and luckily I cut the lawn yesterday). After a great breakfast of Belgian Waffles with the family and a small gift and card from the wife it was out to the garage to work on the Roadster. I wanted to put in a full day of work, but the Florida hurricane season is upon us and that means almost daily afternoon rain showers. This presents a problem because I roll the body buck containing the body and several cardboard boxes out into the driveway for working room on the Roadster. One quick dumping of rain and I have to hurriedly push the buck back into the garage. I'm probably going to buy a big tarp so I can keep the buck covered outside when it rains and just close the garage door and continue working.
Before the rains came though I was able to clean and paint the '96 Mustang pedal box I had received from All Mustang Salvage (www.ampperformance.com) and get it installed into the driver's foot box to check for proper pedal spacing. I also put in a little time with the passenger foot box that I finished riveting last week. The main four inch frame tube and the outer foot box intrusion bar both needed to be sealed off after riveting the panels in place. Using some high strength adhesive I bonded some aluminum patches to fill in the large gaps and then used more of the aluminum colored silicone sealer for the final step. Hopefully I can get a lot more done soon with the upcoming four day holiday weekend.
Saturday, June 24th, 2006
Total Build Time: 141 hours
I didn't have the luxury of a whole day to work on the Roadster project today, but I did want to start buttoning up the driver's foot box. The top is left off until the very end for wiring purposes, but at this point it is safe to rivet the floor and lower side panels into place. The row of Clecos shown here is being used until the silicone seam behind the aluminum has cured, then I'll remove them. When the top panel goes on for the last time I'll add another bead of silicone as well.
Sunday, June 25th, 2006
Total Build Time: 145 hours
Since it rained yesterday it looks like I'm going to have to take care of the lawn today. There's also a cruise night tonight I want to take our '66 Mustang out to if the weather holds out, so today would only be another couple of precious hours in the garage. Being that the rearend is going to be arriving some time next week I decided to install the parking brake handle on the frame in anticipation of installing and routing the parking brake cables. I also installed the removable transmission support as well. It's one more part off of the storage shelf and on the car.
Tuesday, June 27th, 2006
Total Build Time: 149 hours
I know at the beginning we said that the Roadster was going to be built completely in a typical two-car garage, and so far it has. But from an ease of shipping standpoint we are having some of the major items shipped to the magazine's shop first. Case in point is our freshly built 8.8-inch rearend by Drivetrain Specialists in Michigan. DTS built us a nice 8.8-inch Ford rear with an Eaton Posi, 31-spline Strange axles, and 3.27 Ford gear set. It arrived at the shop today and I set it up on some Powerbuilt jack stands and installed the FFR 3-link brackets after lunch.
Wednesday, June 28th, 2006
Total Build Time: 153 hours
Continuing the prep work on our Roadster's rearend, today after lunch I returned to the tech shop and assembled the Stainless Steel Brakes Corp. rear disc brake kit. The system installed easily and comes with a really sweet adjustable parking brake setup, braided brake lines, Zinc washed rotors, and aluminum calipers.
Thursday, June 29th, 2006
Total Build Time: 156 hours
There's only one last bit of work to be done on the rearend today before I can take it home, and that's bending up some brake lines. Another editor had some left over 3/16ths-inch bulk brake line and flare fittings from his recent project, so I snagged a few feet of hard line and four flare fittings and made my own hard lines in just a couple of hours. Now it's time to take the rearend home and slide it under the Roadster.
Thursday, May 4th, 2006
I got a call from our Technical Editor Wayne Cook today. He's spent the last few days at Smeding Performance photographing our engine build. Ben Smeding is screwing together a super-stout 427 cubic inch stroker based on a Dart Windsor block. The engine made killer power on the Smeding Performance dyno. We're using Mass-Flo EFI to give us great performance and drivability along with ability to use a 4V style oval air cleaner for retro looks. Here's a sneak peak at our engine and look for the full build details in an upcoming issue.
Saturday, May 6th, 2006
Total Build Time: 87 hours
The powder coater is almost done with all of our panels so I'll be ready to start installing a few key parts like the firewall and foot boxes later this week. More than likely though I won't get to it until the weekend (I know, Sunday is Mother's Day, don't spend the day in the garage or I'll spend the night on the couch, got it!) Since the rearend nor the gas tank have shown up yet I spent this afternoon installing those cool Seals-It washers on the rear 3-Link rod-ends and fitting up the rest of the rear suspension. Everything is in place and ready for the rearend when it gets here. I also did some trial fitting of other parts like the parking brake handle and gas pedal. I'd rather make sure a part fits right or take the time to tweak it now so when I grab it off the shelf at a later date I can keep on working.
Sunday, May 7th, 2006
Total Build Time: 91 hours
It's hard to believe we're closing in on almost 100 hours of construction time on our Factory Five Roadster already. Sure we've read about guys building their Roadsters to driving go-cart status in eight weeks, but frankly we don't have the luxury of that kind of time. Hopefully we won't be spending three years on it either like others, but everyone has to work at their own pace. We're still on schedule to finish the Roadster by the end of 2006, hopefully in time for the Silver Springs, FL Mustang & Ford show in January 2007. If we don't make that event our "back up" completion date is early April when my Mustang club hosts their own event here in FL.
While I'm waiting on some of the bigger parts to arrive I decided to work indoors today. I grabbed the dash panel, which we opted for the pre-cut version from Factory Five, and the box of Auto Meter Cobalt gauges and started laying out the dash design. Stealing a few ideas from the ffcobra.com forum I've decided to minimize the amount of switches on the dash to prevent confusing the Mrs. if she decides to get behind the wheel. Having toggles for fuel pump, ignition, so on and so forth will only amount to frustration behind the wheel and in my personal opinion, clutter up the dash. I'm planning to use a classic Mustang ignition switch, a few indicator lights, a billet knob or two for the heater and wiper, and have the actual headlight switch hidden under the dash. We'll see how it works out, but for now I'm really impressed with the look of the Auto Meter Cobalts and I also opted to install their angled mounting bezels to put the gauges in a better line of sight to the driver. More soon.
Saturday, May 13th, 2006
Total Build Time: 97 hours
I picked up a pair of '95 Mustang spindles from a local salvage yard earlier in the week. I wanted to use '94-'95 Mustang spindles in order to have a five lug bolt pattern and the option to use larger brakes, while maintaining the Fox Mustang ('87-'93) front track. It was a bit of a wait, but worth it. After some quick cleaning I hit them with several light coats of black chassis paint so that they were ready for installation when I came out to the garage today.
The brake kit I ordered from Stainless Steel Brakes Corp. (www.ssbrakes.com) was designed as an upgrade for the '94-'95 Mustang, meaning it would bolt right onto the spindles/hubs I got from All Mustang Salvage. The Tri-Power kit consists of a three-piston replacement caliper and a 13-inch rotor. Nice stuff! These later model brakes are so easy to work with too. Since the hub has a sealed bearing there are no bearing races to install, no bearings to pack, etc. I just slipped a rotor over the hub, bolted the caliper to the spindle ears, and that was it. With some time for photos and to test fit our FR500 look wheels from Mustang Tuning (www.mustangtuning.com) I barely spent six hours in the garage today. Of course I still have my share of all day work sessions coming to me, but today was a nice change of pace. With the front brakes installed I can't wait for the rear axle to show up so I can get the rear brakes mounted up. Then I can start running the brake hard lines. More soon.
Thursday, May 18th, 2006
Total Build Time: 100 hours
I ordered this cool late model Mustang fuel tank kit from Texas Mustang Parts (www.texasmustang.com) for the project. The kit includes a new fuel tank, fuel level sending unit, filler neck seal, tank mounting straps, and more under one part number. While I'm using a few donor items (either because they're not available new or their just crazy expensive new through Ford) I wasn't about to put a 15 year old rusty fuel tank in a freshly built project. I'm sure you wouldn't either, and I found the Texas Mustang Parts kit to be the best deal. Securing the tank to the frame is a matter of attaching the tank straps with the hardware provided by Factory Five. I'm going to leave the trunk floor panels off for now to allow access for wiring and routing of the fuel lines, which I plan to do in the next week or two in preparation for the engine's arrival. I've also hit 100 hours of labor on the project too tonight, how about that!
Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006
Total Build Time: 103 hours
The Factory Five donor theme uses the factory late model Mustang ignition switch, but if you're going the non-donor route the options are wide open for whatever you like and can afford. Several wiring companies offer ignition switches, but talking it over with the wife (who is going to be driving the Roadster as well) the dash configuration came down to ease of use and simple graphics. While maybe more original looking, the wife and I decided against a row of non-descript black toggles. I pulled the car cover back on my '66 Mustang, pointed at the ignition switch and asked the wife "you like that?" With her approval I ordered a '65-'66 Mustang ignition switch, bezel, and key tumbler from Virginia Classic Mustang (www.virginiaclassicmustang.com). It took a few minutes with a Dremel to make the dash hole bigger and cut two indexing notches and the switch fit perfectly. The dash will have a nice OE look to it and the ignition is easily identified. Additional work tonight included mounting the fuel filter assembly and making some rough brake and fuel line routings (there's not a single wire hanger left in our house right now).
Friday, May 26th, 2006
Total Build Time: 109 hours
I finally got around to stopping by the powder coater this week. Bill Gise at Competition Coatings, (863) 968-0700, did an excellent job. The wife decided on a color called Silver Sparkle. When the sun hits it you better be wearing sun glasses! I found the whole powder coating process so interesting I took enough photos and notes to write a whole story on the process, which will be in the magazine in a few months.
The panels, powder coated or not, are attached with rivets (supplied in the kit) and silicone sealer of your choice. I used GE Silicone II from the local hardware store in silver. It's meant to match aluminum frame windows and does a great job of blending in with the aluminum here. A simple bead is run around the rivet holes, or applied directly to the frame first, which ever you prefer. I invested in a cheap air-riveter to keep carpel tunnel at bay (we are talking about over 500 rivets here) but I found the good old fashioned hand riveter was also needed for some of the tight spots and corners.
Saturday, May 27th, 2006
Total Build Time: 115 hours
My daughter just graduated from grade school and will be starting middle school next year, and to celebrate my wife wanted to throw her a party. My daughter ended up inviting five of her friends over for a sleep over. So I had six screaming pre-teens in the house with junk food, soda, and a karaoke machine. Guess where I spent my afternoon and most of the evening? All I can say is the air compressor and mp3s playing on my garage computer kept the off-key Lindsay Lohan renditions out of ear shot.
I was able to rivet both the left and right floor pan sections into place today and I also covered the foot box panels (before installation) with Mr. Gasket's G-Muff adhesive backed sound deadener. I also installed the spindle adapters (which had been at the powder coaters) and finalized the steering shaft installation.
Sunday, May 28th, 2006
Total Build Time: 122 hours
After not getting to bed until well past 3am (don't you love young kids with tons of energy?) I slept in today. The yard was looking a bit rough so I had to race across the grass with the mower first before the wife would let me into the garage, which meant I didn't get working on the Roadster until almost 2 pm. I installed the passenger foot box panels that I had covered in the sound deadener yesterday, and I also started mocking up some of the fuel line routing and the location of the fuel pressure regulator. I'm not quite at the point where I can drop a seat in and make "vroom-vroom" sounds yet but the Roadster is definitely taking shape with the addition of some of its aluminum panels and the front brakes and suspension.
Sunday, April 2, 2006
Total Build Time: 49 hours
Our local Mustang club had our annual show yesterday and I'm pretty wiped out. There were 303 cars in attendance and it was non-stop work. For those of you who have put on a club show before, you know what I'm talking about. I hadn't had a chance to work on the Roadster all week due to other commitments and the show on Saturday, so I was bound and determined to get at least a few hours of work in today.
With the driver's side foot box aluminum completely finished (fitted and rivet holes drilled) I wanted to tackle the passenger side foot box as well. With the passenger side foot box done I would then have all aluminum panels forward of the firewall completely fitted and ready for final installation with the rivets supplied by FFR. Since I took the aluminum panels apart in my "new toy" haste I didn't fully mark the panel placement. Sure I wrote "passenger top" and so forth, but I didn't note how the edges overlapped, which slowed my work a bit as I scratched my head and slowly figured out how the foot box went back together.
Once I had the passenger foot box all situated it was a matter of marking rivet hole locations and grabbing the drill. There are a few pre-made holes from the tapping screws that held the panels during shipping and I try to use these holes as an index to place the other rivets with the same spacing, which usually ends up around every three inches. With the holes marked it was simply a matter of drilling the remaining holes and adding a few more clecos for strength as I went along. After I finished the passenger foot box I removed all of the aluminum panels from the engine compartment, as well as the door hinges and steering components for powder coating (note the PC on the panels that will be visible). A digital camera is a big help for a project like this. A simple picture of the door hinge brackets with a note in the image stating "left" or "right" will help when they come back from the powder coater for reassembly.
Saturday, April 8th, 2006
Total Build Time: 56 hours
Having finished the foot box panels last week I was ready to move on to the passenger compartment aluminum panels when I got an email from Joe Fournier at Factory Five. He had been reading my web diary and noted I had my rivet spacing drilled at every three inches in the foot box area and he recommended every two inches. Since I had already drilled the holes he suggested splitting the difference and going an inch and a half, as he had on his own Roadster project. So, I spent a few hours today reinstalling the foot box panels with my clecos so I could drill the additional holes. A pain yes, but I'm glad I had Joe "watching over me" in this instance as the increased rivet count makes for a stronger assembly since the foot boxes are mostly tied to adjacent panels and not the frame.
Once I got the foot box problem out of the way I moved on to the rear bulkhead panel found behind the seats. I actually timed myself and it takes roughly 45 seconds to drill a hole into the 3/4-inch tubing and about a minute and change to get through the thicker two-inch and four-inch tubes. With 500 plus holes to drill (most of them twice) you can see this is a lengthy part of the build process.
Around 9pm I checked the ffcobra.com forum for some information and had found out that a Factory Five Challenge Racer, Dan Lawson, had lost his life in a race related accident at Buttonwillow Raceway today. I didn't know Dan personally, but had read and learned from several of his posts. It was a weird feeling to lose someone you've never met, but still considered a friend. Internet message forums have a way of doing that. Dan will be sorely missed by all of us in the Factory Five community.
Sunday, April 9th, 2006
Total Build Time: 62 hours
I got an even later start today than yesterday since I spent several hours in front of the computer working on a late story (deadlines are the bane of my existence). By the time I finished my article, had a late lunch, and got my work clothes on it was almost 5pm before I even started today. No matter, the cool evenings this time of year make for a pleasant working atmosphere in the ol' garage of mine. Better to work at 10pm now than in July in Florida let me tell you.
I wanted to finish the interior panels today so that all that would be left would be the trunk area and some miscellaneous aluminum panels that will have to wait until the body is on. I got the left and right floor pans drilled out and then proceeded to cleco them to the frame and continue drilling the floor pan holes into the frame itself. I lost three more bits today (was trying to give my step-bit a break). I'm really getting tired of the bent chuck or drill shaft in my drill (and no one will own up to using it or dropping it either). And even though I have two batteries for it I sometimes get a bad charge and have to do something else or take a break until the drill battery is ready. I'm seriously thinking about bringing my 15 year old corded Makita home to use for the remainder of the car. I might go broke buying drill bits at this rate!
Well, when the clock struck 11pm I had the floors, transmission tunnel, U-joint cover, and inboard corner panels completed. That's not quite the complete interior, but a lot of work none the less. I've got six small panels left to fit and drill and the interior section will be done. Then I can move to the back of the car and start on the trunk area panels. Hopefully I can get a little of that done during this coming week so I can concentrate on the trunk panels this coming weekend. More soon, it's time for a shower and some sleep now!
Monday, April 10th, 2006
Total Build Time: 66 hours
I didn't quite get the interior aluminum finished this past weekend, which kind of ticked me off. I like to set a goal or a stopping point and all sorts of things got in the way of that. So as soon as I came home from work tonight, and right after I spent a few minutes with my wife and kids, I went straight to the garage and didn't come out except for dinner and to put my daughter to bed. By 11 pm I had the rear cockpit corners (which are kind of trial fit, modify, then trial fit again pieces) positioned and completely drilled and ready for riveting down the road. Now I could move on to the trunk aluminum, which will finish off the majority of the aluminum fitting and drilling phase.
Saturday, April 15th, 2006
Total Build Time: 75 hours
I really wanted to get out in the garage more this past week, but I had to work late on Wednesday and I had my Mustang club meeting on Thursday and next thing you know the weekend is here. With the cockpit finished I was looking forward to working on the trunk aluminum. The panels are all flat sheets and make for easy drilling. I did pick up a pair of small locking plastic clamps to aid as a third hand, which worked great. Of course any excuse for buying a new toy, er, I mean tool, right guys? The trunk panels only took about half the day and I spent the rest of the time buttoning up small things and consolidating boxes and what not. But I still have some measuring to do in the trunk area as I've decided to place the battery under the trunk floor with a neat installation kit from a company called FFMetal (www.ffmetal.com). This will require mounting the battery box first and then cutting an opening in the trunk floor for access. This sounds hard but it isn't and if I ever need access to the battery I'd rather pull it out of a hole in the trunk floor (with a trap door over it) then have to take the left rear tire off and remove the battery from under the car, but that's my lazy self talking. A little more work up front to save time down the road. This is probably the last time I'll work on the car for a week or so. I've got a road trip to Georgia next week and I won't be home until Sunday night. I don't know, maybe while I'm gone my gas tank or the rear axle will show up and I'll have more work to do. Let's hope!
Monday, April 24th, 2006
Total Build Time: 76 hours
After having been gone for almost a week on business travel it was nice to get back into the garage, even if it was only for a few hours tonight. No major work this time around, I basically made a pile of all the items, aluminum and steel, I wanted to powder coat. We're powder coating the engine compartment aluminum (visible panels only to save costs), door hinges, hood hinges, and spindle adapters. The Mrs. picked out a nice silver sparkle color at the shop we're using, Competition Coatings in Auburndale, FL, (863) 968-0700. Hopefully I can get there this Saturday and drop everything off.
Sunday, April 30th, 2006
Total Build Time: 81 hours
Can it get any better than this? My son is off skateboarding with friends, my daughter is at the beach spending a weekend with a school friend, and my wife is out surfing garage sales and getting groceries. I have the whole house to myself! I'm still waiting on my fuel tank and some brake parts before I can get the chassis into a "roller" but there's one thing I've been wanting to do and that's install these cool rod-end sealing washers from Seals-It [www.sealsit.com; (860) 979-0060). These trick little sealing washers seal out dirt and water that are the enemy of a rod-end. Their installation is simply a matter of placing the proper sized seal over each side of the rod end and trimming the rod end spacers appropriately. These 1/2-inch sealing washers are .040-inch thick, so cutting .040-inch off of each spacer will do the trick. While a lathe would be a Godsend, I accomplished the job on all 16 shock spacers (front and rear) in an afternoon with nothing more than a rotary tool with a cut-off wheel. It was a bit laborious, but it got the job done. If I had more room on my workbench I might own a bench grinder, but none the less the job is done. On to the next item!
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!
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!
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.
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!
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Total build time: 2 hours
Knowing the roadster is going to be arriving this week, my wife and I went to Home Depot and bought $117 of wood supplies to build a body buck for the fiberglass body. I tried to keep her in the building materials end of the store and away from the appliances and kitchen remodeling sections. I wanted to get out of the store with my wallet intact.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Total build time: 6 hours
Online Editor Greg Clark and I spent the morning working from my house. After lunch, we fired up my handy Craftsman jigsaw and proceeded to screw and glue a bunch of 2x4s and 1/2-inch sheet together to make the body buck. We literally finished minutes before the Stewart Transport delivery truck arrived at 5 p.m.--right on time.Using a specialized winching system, Stewart Transport drivers Dennis and Jolene Patterson brought our project car out into the Florida sunlight for the first time. The roadster frame and body come partially assembled for shipping, so we rolled it into the garage and placed the assembly on four aluminum PowerBuilt jackstands. They're light and come with a rubber-coated head to prevent scratching the powder-coated roadster frame.During this process, we attracted several neighbors who wanted to see what was going on. I'm sure this will not be the first time the neighborhood gearheads will stop by.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Friday, February 17, 2006
Total build time: 15 hours
I spent the next three nights going through every one of the 21 boxes that was delivered with the roadster. This is highly recommended, not only to verify everything was shipped (there were a few items on back order) but to also ogle all of the cool parts in the boxes such as the polished fuel-filler cap, coilover shocks, tubular control arms, and much more.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Total build time: 20 hours
This morning I finished checking the last few boxes of inventory. We're only missing the horn button and two rod-ends, plus the few parts we already knew were on back order.It's going to get close to 80 degrees today here in Florida, so it looks like this will be the first official day I sweat on the car. Can it be long before this project draws blood, too? Then all I have to do is cry over something, and I can say I've put my blood, sweat, and tears into this project. Ha! (OK, sit down you hecklers in the crowd).By midafternoon all of the boxes were either stored on the shelf we built into the body buck or safely tucked in a corner of the garage. With the help of some of my car-friendly neighbors (two Mustang owners and one Corvette owner), we carefully removed the roadster body from the frame and placed it onto the body buck. We designed the buck so that it would roll over the roadster frame in the garage and only take up one spot so that we could leave my '66 Mustang in the garage.Taking the body off for the first time was kind of exciting but also scary. I'm sure by the end of all of this the body will be on and off the car a dozen times, and I'll get to be a pro at it, but the first time was a bit harrowing!
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Total build time: 25 hours
After getting the chance to sleep in a bit, I fired up the computer in the garage and started cranking some tunes to shake off the morning. Once I rolled the body buck out into the driveway the roadster's frame was sitting there ready for me to get to work, and work I did. I spent most of today marking the aluminum panels with a permanent marker before removing them. This is what the manual says to do to determine where I'll drill rivets. All I know was that the marker smelled good, and laying on the garage floor under the roadster frame was kind of relaxing--and a pretty good place to hide from the wife and kids, too!
Monday, February 20, 2006
Total build time: 28 hours
Since today is President's Day, the Mustang & Fords office is closed. I thought I'd be able to work on the roadster a full day, but other household chores and some family obligations took the better part of the day. All told, I was only able to spend a few hours drilling holes in the aluminum panels and checking a few parts for fit.
Friday, February 24, 3006
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Hopping onto a plane, I flew to Michigan (nothing like 22 degrees and snowing to get your blood moving!) to attend the Factory Five Racing Roadster Build School at Mott Community College. Over the course of these three days, I met some really cool people and made some great friends. Charles Markman and Todd Baumann gave the class great instructions and plenty of tips.It was interesting to poll the class attendees. Most of them had already ordered a kit, and their backgrounds ranged from engineers to retirees and as close as 15 minutes away and from as far as Hawaii! It was a great experience, and I recommend it to anyone contemplating a FFR roadster build.