Monday, January 16, 2017
Doing a little plumbing on the Boss tonight! Got all of the bulkhead fittings in place and line routing mapped for the hard and soft lines. The car will be injected so we have a feed and return line we will need to route from the tank to the engine bay.
Cleanliness is the name of the game and all fittings will be Aeroquip Socketless black anodized everywhere. Next step is a nifty Aeromotive Phantom 340 Stealth in-tank fuel pump module and 10-micron post-pump filter. More to come!
Sunday, January 8, 2017
At long last, I am extremely happy to say we are fully up and running in our new shop and FINALLY back to work on the Boss 302 project in earnest. But before we cover the latest progress on the Boss, a quick overview of the last year or so in in order.
As many of you know, several circumstances and events of the last 2 years have conspired to consume most (ok…..almost ALL) of the time that would normally be dedicated to the ongoing build of our custom 1970 Boss 302 Mustang. The domino effect began with the untimely passing of my uncle in April of 2014 from the ravages of cancers brought on by exposure to Agent Orange during his service in Viet Nam in the late 60’s. This event required a rather sudden re-evaluation of just about everything going on in our home and existing work space to be able to accommodate the enormous amount of his belongings that were left to me on his passing. Most significant in this was his prized 1932 Ford 5-window coupe; a Henry steel, real-deal gem that was a fixture in our home town in deep southern Texas since some time back in the late 40’s to early 50’s when my dad and uncle were youngsters.
Suddenly, the undeniable need for a new work space became the absolute priority and the only way we were going to be able to afford it was to build it ourselves. Particularly since I had a lot of unique and otherwise rather costly features I wanted to incorporate along with construction details I was unwilling to compromise as well. So, in the summer of 2015, we began the long process of constructing a new shop to accommodate everything we needed and to provide a comfortable, albeit still undersized, work area that could now be dedicated to the current and future car building endeavors.
All told my dad and I, with the help a small handful of wonderful friends, my two son-in-law’s, and a few excellent pros, the structure was completed in about 4 months with the remaining interior finish work and details taking an additional 6 months or so to get everything “move-in” ready by our April 2016 deadline.
As April 2016 came, my good friend Bob (a true friend and soldier!) and I made the trip to East Texas to pull off a marathon 3-day pack-‘n-load effort (with amazing help from Gay, Midge, Jesse, & Jim!), of all of my Uncle’s wares and “The Coupe”. With everything road-ready, we made our way back to Michigan with everything and ourselves in one piece.
The next four months were spent sorting EVERYTHING and putting things in their respective places so we could see the beautiful new floor again! This felt like just about as much work as building the shop in the first place! But, with perseverance, everything found its place and we were able to move the remaining cars and parts into the shop for the last time. A few remaining smaller projects were completed to add a bit more functionality to the space and we found ourselves well into November 2016, and the first opportunity to actually refocus on car building in a year. So there you have it……..the short version!
|The "storage" side of the new shop..........already FULL!|
|This was a GOOD day! The Boss project finally makes it's way into the new shop and a space all its own! Still a good bit of clean-up needed in this shot, but that was completed shortly after this picture was taken.|
Installing the Rear 4-Link Suspension Assembly
Getting back into the swing of things was a welcome and relatively painless process. Funny how it always seems to work that way when you LOVE what you’re doing!
The rear axle and suspension had been essentially finished quite some time ago with only a few small details remaining to wrap up before it was ready to install. First, I didn’t like the configuration of the brake “hard” line on the axle and decided to make a new one before the axle could go under the car. I have gotten rather picky about hard line plumbing and while the first line looked plenty passable, it just wasn’t providing the “look” I wanted, so there was no choice but to scrap it and make a new one.
Once the brake plumbing was to spec, I installed the new rear brake calipers and brackets, along with fresh brake pads to round out the entire assembly. At this point, there was nothing left but to install the entire works in the car and see how it all looked!
|With the new hard line fabricated and in place and the new calipers and brackets installed, the axle was loaded on the cart and rolled under the car, ready to be lifted into place and hung in the chassis.|
Installation was rather easy given the fact that, by this time, I had assembled and disassembled this system roughly a dozen times in fabrication and mock-up, so there was little doubt everything would drop it with little fanfare. And so it was; everything installed with little conflict and in the course of a few hours, the axle was centered in the chassis and in the wheel openings (a nice bonus feature of a fully adjustable rear suspension!).
|A shot of the right side panhard mount and coilover. Everything really looks tidy and business-like.|
|Left side coilover and panhard mounting detail.|
|Thanks to some diligent research and some excellent help from a local parts yard expert, we found a set of these 18" spares we harvested from later model Ford full-sized sedans. Problem solved for the ripe sum of $11 bucks each!|
So, for our first shot of work in our new space, we certainly didn’t move any mountains but I swear the earth moved when the last of the bolts was drawn up and the rear suspension was there for all to admire in its proper environment. I’ve missed this work terribly and fortunately, we are well on our way to many more significant updates.
In the meantime, I wanted to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of the many supporters and enthusiasts who have stuck with us through this unusual period of non-car-related activity and your unwavering support and encouragement is appreciated more than I could ever express. You folks are what make this community so incredible!
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Hi folks! It's been a long time since we've had the chance to dedicate some time to the blog, and our projects and we are finally getting close to being a functional shop again! A lot has changed in the last 18 months or so and we will get caught up on that story in the next few months.
In the meantime, I just wanted to thank everyone who has checked in and continued to follow the Night Mission blog and encourage us to create more content and just check in. Stay tuned for more bits and pieces in the next few weeks as we get rolling in our new space!
In response to several years of requests, we are SLOWLY entering the video age. The following is the first attempt at a video installment, so please excuse the mess that it is in all respects. If you'd like to see more video content, please "like" this video on YouTube and leave a comment below with anything you'd like to see covered or with any questions or suggestions you might have.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Behind, behind, behind! That has been just about the story of life around here for the past month. We 40 tons of concrete in the ground BUT we need 40 MORE tons to go before we can start construction. And every day we wait is a day we waste! GRRRRR!
This update is basically an account of what has kept me sane over the last month to avoid committing a felony while waiting on concrete contractors. Car building is therapy to me and that has never been more obvious than in the past few weeks! The good news is I have been able to get a lot of little things done and collect up a few tips to share along the way. So let’s get to it!
As many followers of this build blog will recall, there is absolutely nothing in the suspension and braking systems of this car that remain stock. Far from it in fact, and with that, the brake system hard line plumbing is a fully custom job from front to back. This is not only driven by simple necessity, but also the fact that I am very particular about brake line visibility, especially in the engine bay. The bottom line is, I HATE seeing brake lines in the engine bay and Mustangs are notorious for a lot of “in-your-face” brake line plumbing in factory form. Well…….not this one.
While I did a poor job of photographing all of the intricate details of the new brake hard lines, I did capture some of the more sanitary aspects as well as a few trick bits I use on custom builds that are worth sharing.
The first “tip” I wanted to share was a little known product called “Quick Clips” from TJ Tool out of Rogers, AR. These nifty (and patented) little hard line clips are just about the most discrete and cost effective means of attaching hard lines ever invented and they cover the widest range of sizes of any I have ever found (from 3/16” to ½”). As the story goes, Quick Clips were designed by Kenny Davis Hot Rods and shared with the likes of Troy Trepanier (Rad Rides by Troy) and Chip Foose on a few of their spectacular builds and the rest, as they say, is history. Soon, Quick Clips were being manufactured in bulk and made available to us mere mortals at an absolutely excellent price. Each clip is located using a 9/32” drilled hole and is simply pushed into the hole and retained with a heavy duty “Christmas tree” barb. Once it’s in place, you simply snap in your line and move on to the next one. It couldn’t be simpler.
Next up, I often find the need to pass brake lines through frame sections in order to keep the presentation tidy and tightly tucked to the parent surface. For this job, I like to use stainless steel thru-frame fittings from Stainless Steel Brakes Corp (SSBC) for a couple of key reasons. First, they offer a size range that works perfectly with a lot of the frame sections I deal with. Second, they use standard 1/8” NPT female ends that allow maximum fitting configuration flexibility and the ability to keep any associated plumbing a tightly tucked as possible. And finally, they look great!
On the Boss, I use the SSBC thru-frame fittings to discretely route the lines from the master cylinder to the outboard side of the driver frame rail and again on the passenger side to route the right front caliper line outboard as well. Since this car is fitted with rack and pinion steering, I simply enlarge the appropriate steering box and idler arm mounting holes to fit the thru-frame fitting O.D. (they just BARELY fit!), and run them through. Simple and clean. I like that!
Another Mustang-specific upgrade that is worth one of those “holy sh*t” remarks when completed is a ball bearing clutch pivot conversion. Now, for the record, there are a number of bearing conversions on the market that are intended to upgrade the Mustang clutch pivot shafts/bushings. However, most of these are absolute junk or they are not properly engineered for long-term use and reliability. In simplest terms, if the conversion EVER involves running roller bearing needles directly on the clutch shaft, avoid this design at all costs! The clutch shaft is not of the proper material or hardness to endure long term use as a bearing race under any circumstances. In addition, these inferior kits rely on an almost perfect clutch pivot shaft to work or a new shaft will be required, at which point you have to start asking if the repair is likely to be cost effective and reliable over the long haul.
Having said that, there is one solution offered that frankly is head and shoulders above the rest in quality, dependability and repair-ability and that is the conversion kit offered by Steve Wilkes at MustangSteve’s . The MustangSteve’s ball bearing clutch pedal conversion will require more installation effort as a whole than any other kit out there, but the end result is far and away superior to anything out there and can be used successfully with shafts exhibiting rather heavy wear based on the fact that the ball bearing inner races operate on the outer ends of the pivot shaft and away from the normal wear surfaces that plague the stock pedal pivots to begin with.
The quick and simplified overview of the install involves removing the remains of the original (and likely thrashed) pot metal pivot bushings and welding a pair of spacers to the inner shaft pivot holes in the pedal bracket and following that up with welding on the bearing housings to the outer pedal bracket. Once the welding is completed, the bearings are simple slide-on operations over the pivot shaft and are retained by the stock Mustang retention hardware. The end result is an unbelievably smooth clutch pedal operation with far less effort than even the best the factory Mustang mechanism could offer. This kit is truly one of the best $40 investments you might ever make.
Finally, another modification in support of under hood cleanliness! Like brake lines, I absolutely loathe the look of batteries no matter where they are. Hate ‘em. I don’t care if they are in the trunk, under the chassis or wherever; if I can see it, I hate it. And, in similar fashion to brake lines, I don’t like the look of battery cables under the hood and I do everything I can to keep them as minimal and out of sight as possible.
To help in this, I like keeping battery cables tucked inside the car until absolutely necessary and then passing them through bulkheads and/or firewalls using a quality terminal bulkhead connector. There are a number of different styles out there, but the two designs I prefer are the round thru-panel design that are retained by a large jam nut or the bolted design offered by Painless Performance.
On the Boss project, we opted for the round, thru-panel design for their simplicity and overall better looks. I find those offered by Jeg’s are of very good quality and are available in both red and black for polarity separation. These terminals require a 1 ¼” hole to be cut into the panel to fit. With a thin film of urethane body sealant or silicone gasket maker, these terminals are weather tight and look very clean. Plus, with a bit of ingenuity, you can trim a pair of alternator charging terminal boots or battery terminal covers to insulate the connections once they are made up for an added measure of protection and cleanliness.
Well, that’s about all for the moment. Fortunately, these little bits of progress are working well to keep me from killing incessantly unreliable concrete contractors that have conspired to delay our shop project over a month. I know the work will eventually get done, but until we have a floor, we can’t build squat. Looks like it’s going to be a busy fall!
|Quick Clips from TJ Tool in Rogers, AR are probably the smallest, most effective and easily installed hard line clips anywhere. I love these things and they work incredibly well! Cheap too!|
|Again, in the interest of keeping brake lines on the minimalist side, the prop valve is mounted close to the booster and the lines are kept short and cleanly routed. Look closely at this shot: Can you find the rear brake line from the prop valve?|
|Using an identical SSBC thru-frame fitting on the right side, the brake line and bracket combination is a mirror image of the left. The brake hose brackets will be powder coated satin black to blend in beautifully with the under body finish.|
|This is all the brake line visible in the engine bay on the passenger side. With the engine in place, this line will be virtually invisible and easily shielded if necessary.|
Like untold thousands of classic Mustangs on the planet, the Boss clutch pedal pivot bushings were shot. While there are a number of different repair choices out there, it was decided that a "lifetime" repair was the only way to go! This is where a brilliant, ball bearing repair kit from MustangSteve's fits the bill.
|Using a small chisel to break the retention tabs off of the original heavily worn bushings, I was able to remove the bushings intact with absolutely no damage to the original pedal bracket.|
|Here is our starting point: A clean bushing hole that needs a quick pass in the blast cabinet to clean up before the installation of the Mustang Steve's ball bearing clutch pedal conversion kit.|
|Skipping a few steps ahead, here is the MustangSteve's bearing holder and spacer washer TIG-brazed in place. One more on the opposite side and we can fit the bearings and pedal back into place!|
|A perfect fit and a perfect, lifetime repair to a notoriously lackluster feature of a classic Mustang clutch. The difference in pedal swing accuracy and smoothness is phenomenal!|
|From the opposite side, you can see how nicely the kit fits the clutch pivot space and once powder coated black, it will be virtually unrecognizable as anything but stock.|
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
In between new shop general contracting duties, I managed to sneak in a few hours of work on the Boss project this week. I have been working on a few details at the rear of the car and the time finally came to finish the bottom surfaces of the fuel tank and rear valence to match the rest of the lower surfaces of the car.
A few months back, I prepped and primed the bottom of the stainless fuel tank in preparation for the Raptor liner application. Since then, I have been working on the fit and finish of the rear valence and with that work now complete and the entire valence primed in PPG epoxy, the time had come to finish the bottom exposed surfaces of each part in Raptor.
Some followers of this blog may recall that I am a HUGE fan of U-Pol Raptor bed liner and protective coating material to finish the underside of my project cars. This incredibly durable, waterproof, semi-flexible and easy to apply sprayable coating is an awesome choice for a very clean, custom appearance on the bottom of the car and it is very easy to maintain and keep looking fresh for years to come. Truth is: There is practically no limit to the applications you can dream up for the stuff, but in this case, we keep it pretty simple.
Like just about any paint prep, Raptor requires a moderate “tooth” on the surface to ensure optimum adhesion of the product. To achieve this, I scuffed all of the surfaces with a red Scotch Brite pad and wiped everything down with prep solvent to ensure the surfaces were absolutely clean. Then, a few run downs with a fresh tack cloth and it was off to masking.After the masking work was complete, it was time to suit-up and apply the Raptor coating to the tank and valence. To match the texture that was applied to the rest of the floor, the “triggered” air pressure at the applicator “Schutz” gun was set to 45psi. Once that was set, the process is very simple: mix the catalyst with the product according to the instructions, shake for 2 minutes and shoot!
To ensure the texture was a perfect match, it was critical to maintain a shooting distance of about 16-18 inches. I find this provides a medium-fine texture with a non-directional finish that looks great. The first coat will generally provide about 75% coverage and acts as a very solid ground coat that needs to be left to flash off for one hour before the second finish coat. By alternating the spray direction between coats, the finish is absolutely non-directional and coverage is 100% on all surfaces.After letting the second coat flash for one hour, I carefully remove the masking being very careful to avoid dragging the tacky Raptor material on to clean surfaces. The benefit of removing the masking when the Raptor is still a bit tacky is that the mask edges will pull very clean and sharp and the edges will “lay down” and provide a very nice finish.
With the tank and valence bottom surfaces finished, the bottom of the car is now fully finished and looks fantastic. This finish is far more durable and easy to maintain than any factory undercoating option and the ease of maintenance is far and away easier as well. Consider this finish option on your next project!
|The top of the new stainless steel fuel tank will remain in bare metal, however the flange will be the base for the back-taping that will begin our masking work.|
|Here is a shot of the primed, scuffed and masked tank bottom, and the rear valence in the background. At this point, I wiped down the parts with prep solvent and tacked them off in preparation to spray the Raptor material.|
|Apologies for the bad picture quality, but here is a shot of the tank right after the second coat of Raptor has been applied. The glossy sheen is normal for the wet coating and mutes considerably during the curing process.|
|Here is another poor shot of the rear valence after the second coat of Raptor has been applied. After about an hour, the masking is pulled from each part and they are left to dry overnight before any further handling.|
|Fully unmasked and completely dry, the tank fuel sender hole contrasts very nicely against the fresh Raptor coating. This is now a perfect match to the rest of the underside of the car and will look seamlessly integrated under the car.|
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
This time, I think I might actually have a legitimate excuse for the excessively long interval between updates. For over a year and a half, I have been designing a new shop and going through the rather painful process of getting approvals to build it. This process has been unbelievably demanding on my time and resources and we are several months behind in the process due to numerous administrative hiccups out of my control. However, as of mid-June, we were finally able to get the process of building started with full approval of the local township and much gnashing of teeth at the hands of our local self-righteous, unscrupulous gang of HOA egotists. But first, a little history on how this all came about…In the earliest entries in my blog, you will find that my uncle was an instrumental element in getting my Boss 302 transported from its lifelong home in Texas to its new home here in Michigan. Without him and all he’d done, the car would likely still be in storage and nowhere near the project it has evolved into today.
As a kid, my Dad and Uncle were my very first automotive mentors and motivators. So much so, that I decided at a very young age to make a lifelong career in the automotive industry. “Cars” most definitely run long and deep in the family and over the years, my mom & dad picked up a 1956 Thunderbird in the early 80’s and my uncle a 1932 Ford 5-window coupe way back in 1974, and I've picked up a few wheeled money pits over the years as well.Unfortunately, my uncle’s service in Vietnam in the late 60’s would come with a cruel, hidden menace that would unknowingly stalk him for over 40 years, and ultimately take him from us far too soon. On April 23, 2014, my uncle passed from this life to our God in Heaven; a victim of ravenous complex of cancers confirmed to be the work of Agent Orange exposure at the hands of our government, just one month shy of his departure from Cam Rahn Bay, Khanh Hoa Province, Viet Nam. His name added as another tragic casualty of the Vietnam War.
Somewhere along the line, my uncle decided he wanted me to have his entire shop & the Deuce and made that happen a few short months before he passed. Having never had children of his own, I suppose I was the closest thing he had to a kid, and in that, I am quite sure he got the short end of the deal. Growing up, I was certainly no angel and he was a career Texas State Trooper. As polar opposite as that combination was, one of the greatest rewards of my life was to find just how similar we had become in our later years in terms of tastes, perspectives, and general outlooks on life in spite of many years conspiring to the contrary.Now, a year following his passing, I am on my way to a promise kept. After our Street Rodder Magazine road tour in the coupe a few summers ago, I think he knew I had a love for the old car and a respect for what it is and where it came from. In a manner of speaking, I “grew up” with this car and maybe that was yet another confirmation to him that it would always remain loved and cared for. I promised him it would always have a proper home and the past year has been spent designing a space where ALL of the hot rods can live in peace and harmony in a dedicated facility to care for and preserve them for my family to enjoy long after I fall off the perch.
Like all big projects, planning ahead was the key to getting a lot of things figured out ahead of time and putting together a proper budget. I knew ahead of time that the cost of this particular building project would be quite a bit higher than “average” due to a number of unique challenges and the peripheral upgrades I wanted to make that would benefit more than just a new shop, like a whole house generator, a 2-post and 4-post lift, and upgrading the house breaker panel to a more modern and safe setup. Additionally, the main electrical service to the house and shop would have to be moved and while doing so, I upgraded to a higher capacity service to ensure I could power my house and shop to supply all of my needs with plenty of reserve left. All told, these preliminary requirements cost about two months of valuable construction time before any “real” work could begin on the building itself.As I write this, the preliminary work is finally complete and preparations are being made to have the concrete contractor put us in the queue to have the footings dug and 6" reinforced concrete foundation poured. Once that critical bit is done and dusted, the building materials will be ordered and delivered to the site and the real work will begin. Up to this point, I have been pretty much at the mercy of other contractors as the work required was nothing I could do myself. However, with a foundation in place, the focus will be on me to make the best out of the next 3-4 months to get this baby up and dry before the snow flies here in Michigan (again). As you can imagine, work on the Boss will come in short bursts between “down time” and not of substantial quantity. However, I will document every piece of progress on both fronts right here, so there is plenty more to come! In the meantime, here is a load of pictures to document where we are:
|Hated to remove four beautiful oak trees, but there was no choice based on our limited building site availability.|
|Although hard to see in this shot, there are four large stumps left after the trees were removed that need to be ground out before we can get going on the first phases of the build.|
|The business end of the stump grinder. That grinding wheel is about 24" in diameter and will grind most root balls out completely. Nasty beastie.|
|Here is where the new electrical service will enter the house. All of what is in the shot will eventually be replaced with a much cleaner and simpler setup.|
|Our first trenching job out of the way. We hired this work done as the roots and other obstacles were just too much to hassle with.|
|New service cable in place and ready for inspection.|
|Here is where the cable "jumper" will connect to the new meter panel. The white stake marks the northeast corner of the new shop floor.|
|New panel and meter box in place. These upgrades are a much needed improvement to the electrical service and includes a master cutoff that the house did not have before.|
|With the first trench filled in, we are ready for the electric company to continue the trench to the pole where the new electrical service cable will be laid in and connected.|
|These little mini-excavator machines are just about the coolest thing. They make unbelievably quick work of trenches and are worth every penny given the tremendous amount of work they save. This one is about to get down to business!|
|15 minutes and this little dude has trenched about 100 feet without breaking a sweat.|
|The power company liked what they saw when it came time to prep the new meter box for connection.|
|A half hour into the job and the trench work is out about 200 feet!|
Friday, April 24, 2015
It’s been far too long between updates, I admit, but a lot of custom Harley work has kept me very busy for the past few months along with some pretty major occurrences at home that have demanded just about every spare moment I had (more on that is the coming weeks). However, much to the chagrin of most of my neighbors and even a few family members, I am NOT dead in spite of the rumors and wishes to the contrary!
This update will be a quick one and somewhat out of sync with the most recent work on the Boss. I find myself having to step back from a certain line of thinking for a while to regain perspective and let the matter “breathe” now and again, and one way I like to do that is to pick up a project I have let lay and drive it through the goal post if at all possible. One of these projects has been to have my original brake booster rebuilt and the other is to configure a modern aluminum master cylinder as a replacement to the old iron original that, in my opinion, has too small a fluid reservoir capacity for rear disc brakes.
The booster rebuild was ultimately a disappointment. No because it wasn’t successful, but because the condition of my original booster was not up to my standards. When it was all said and done, the two case halves were pitted from rust when cleaned to bare metal and plated in zinc dichromate and because the rebuilder was a bit less than tidy in the reassembly process, leaving many tool marks and gouges along the seam. I guess I had higher hopes given the rebuilder was perhaps the most highly recommended outfit around but I can’t complain too much as the price was hardly arguable. The bottom line is it works and will function as a good spare, but I will be replacing it with a new unit from NPD very soon.
The master cylinder solution was quite a while in the making as I ended up using a combination of parts from three different vehicles to get the entire booster/master cylinder setup I was looking for. The key features I was after was a nice, 1” bore, modern aluminum master cylinder with the fittings on the outboard side just like the original. Also, I wanted a clean, see-thru fluid reservoir and the whole works needed to work within the stock packaging space. As it turns out, I might have actually created something that could have some potential for aftermarket sales if I put my mind to it (but that is another issue altogether). In the meantime, I will continue to refine the setup with a Wilwood distribution block with built-in bias valve and a mounting bracket designed to mount the valve and the reservoir for the hydraulic clutch as well. But that being comparatively easy work, I might let that lay a bit while I return to working on the doors and mirrors!
|Another shot from the top shows how much cleaner and slimmer the modern master cylinder is over the old iron unit.|
|Clearance to the shock tower is exactly the same as the stock iron master cylinder!|