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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

An Export walks into a Monte Carlo Bar…….and Gets Gassed!

On any given day, this tag-line could be true, but for the past few weeks, it pretty much sums up the variety of work that has been completed on the Night Mission Boss 302 project as we soldier on toward getting the car off the rotisserie and on a body cart in preparation for the Fall and Winter workload.  A lot of small and not-so-small tasks absorbed the past few weeks and the results were, once again, a reward in every capacity.

The Street or Track Billet Export Brace with a Night Mission Twist
The journey begins with the installation of the exceptionally nice billet export brace kit from Street or Track.  As I have come to expect from Shaun @ Street or Track, this kit was top-shelf stuff with only minor fitting required on the firewall bulkhead brace (which Shaun and I discussed beforehand).  Outside of that, the pieces fit perfectly.

Once the installation of the export brace kit was verified, I set about designing and building new shock tower mounting plates that would serve a dual purpose and solve an issue I had with the style of the plates included in the kit.  It is worth noting that the mounting plates included in the kit are perfectly adequate for “normal” installations, but I have concerns over the conventional method of divorcing the mounting functions of the export brace and the Monte Carlo bar and determined that I would need to fabricate my own mounting plates to satisfy all of the demands I had imposed on the design.
The first design goal I wanted to address was to integrate the export brace and Monte Carlo bar outboard mounting features into a single, solid mounting point at the top of each shock tower.  This is where the forces of the suspension converge at the top and, in my mind, it only made sense to combine the mounting locations at this critical point. 

Secondly, the top of the shock tower is a MUCH stronger structure than the commonly implemented fender apron mounts of just about 99.9% of the commercial Monte Carlo bars out there.  A fender apron mounting scheme also forces the Monte Carlo bar to be much lower in the engine bay, making distributor clearance a constantly annoying dilemma that is, more often than not, addressed by putting a huge bend in the bar which does absolutely terrible things to the stiffness of the bar itself.
And finally, since the car would have no need to allow for provisions for upper shock mounts to protrude above the shock tower, I wanted the upper shock tower mounting plates to have no holes in them for this purpose.

So, after carefully measuring and photographing a few complete 69-70 Mustangs for reference and several nights sketching designs and making paper patterns for mock-up, I established a simple and very strong integrated mounting plate that would satisfy every design element I required and look good in the process.
Once I made a wooden test piece to check fit, I ordered fresh 6061-T6 aluminum stock and dedicated a few hours of band saw, milling machine and belt sander time to fab up the new mounts.  Once they were complete, they fit absolutely perfectly and I could then take careful measurements that would allow me to have a custom swaged aluminum Monte Carlo brace made that would match the export brace links perfectly and provide the lateral stiffness I expected from the assembly.  The end result solves all of the design and functional concerns I had in a simple, and somewhat elegant solution.

Lokar Billet “Direct-Fit” Gas Pedal
Lokar products are another line that I have been very impressed and satisfied with and I was keen to use their new “Midnight” series billet pedals in the car to add just a bit more style to this otherwise rather unsightly area of classic Mustangs and to improve the ultimate performance and operational smoothness of the gas pedal and throttle cable setup.

Lokar’s direct-fit gas pedal is a very nice piece of engineering that is fully adjustable and fits in the stock pedal location.  This makes installation a breeze with the only modification being the need to drill a 5/16” hole for the new throttle cable location.  In fact, the installation is so simple there is nothing really interesting to include in this write-up, so I will let the pictures and captions do the rest.  Of course, there will be more follow-up on the entire Lokar pedal upgrade in a future entry as we get a bit closer to tackling that work.
Front and Rear Suspension Parts are Finally Powder Coated

The final spate of work that needed doing was to get all of the raw steel parts of the front and rear suspension as well as the modified Unisteer rack and pinion steering mounting bracket in powder coat.  The batch of parts was fairly large so Ted and I dedicated several hours over the course of a few evenings to getting everything cleaned and prepared for powder; followed by another few evenings spent applying the powder and curing everything to our satisfaction. 
I am very fortunate to have full professional powder coating capability in my home shop as part of my “other” interests in the custom motorcycle, bicycle and automotive realms, which makes the entire powder coating process much more affordable and approachable than it would be otherwise.

Using my favorite urethane matte black powder, I was able to get all of the pieces looking absolutely beautiful.  Once finished, Ted and I assembled the hardware back onto the components and even had the opportunity to install the rear upper coilover mounting bracket in place.  The look of the smooth matte black finish against the Raptor bed liner material we sprayed on the bottom of the car a few weeks back looks absolutely unbelievable and gives a nice hint on how the bottom of the car will look in finished form.
Next on the agenda, Ted and I will complete mapping the inner fender aprons and firewall to allow us to begin the long and tedious process of filling the many unnecessary holes in these surfaces.  While I don’t want the under hood panels to appear “fake” or overdone, I do want the surfaces to be smooth and uninterrupted while maintaining a simple factory “look”.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed that we can pull it off.

The Street or Track billet export brace kit is a wonderful piece that fits the car perfectly.  Here is the substantial firewall bulkhead mount that really ties the upper and lower cowl together and provides a solid foundation for the forward braces that support the shock towers.  Top notch stuff!

A unique feature of the Street or track export brace kit are these two mounting bolts that tie the cowl securely to the flange mounting plane.  This adds tremendous stiffness to this mounting location and does not rely solely on the cowl flange for support.

This is the upper mounting plate as supplied in the Street or Track export brace kit.  For 99% of the applications, this plate is a perfect solution, but as with many aspects of the night Mission boss 302, it needed a few tweaks to satisfy all of the design requirements.

A few different paper patterns were made based on the intended design and trial fit to the assembly to evaluate the end result.  This pattern ended up satisfying all of the design goals in one rather simple solution.

The front view of the pattern shows how the Monte Carlo bar mounting location would be positioned on the plate and how it cleanly integrates into the core structure of the mount.  Also not that the shock mount clearance hole in the middle of the original plate has been eliminated.
Another look at the mount pattern shows how this configuration will allow the Monte Carlo bar to be mounted either above or below the mount for distributor clearance.

A few hours of fab work applied to a fresh piece of 3/8" 6061-T6 aluminum resulted in a pair of upper mounting plates that serve dual;-duty as the export brace and Monte Carlo bar mounts and look nice in the process.

First trial fit of the Street or track export brace kit with the new mounts shows they fit perfectly.  So far, so good!

Trial fit of the custom Monte Carlo bar shows perfect fit at this location as well.

A top view of the passenger side shock tower mount shows how cleanly the forward braces of the export brace and the Monte Carlo brace converge at the mounting plate.

Here is a look at the driver side assembly all buttoned up.

The passenger side view of the assembly is equally satisfying.

And there it is in finished form.  The Street or Track export brace has been integrated with a custom fabricated Monte Carlo bar via the specially designed shock tower mounts.  (Night) mission accomplished!

Lokar offers this impressive and wonderfully well made direct-fit gas pedal kit for the 69-70 Mustang.  While this will most likely disappear under the dash area when the car is complete, the look is miles ahead of the stock pedal and the action is buttery smooth.  Plush, it looks pretty kick-ass too!

From the engine bay, these two button head screws are all you see that give away the Lokar custom pedal.
A shot of the Lokar pedal from the passenger side.

We finally were able to catch up on a lot of the powder coating work on the many raw metal parts we had in the front suspension, rear suspension and rack and pinion steering system.  Here are the power steering mounting bracket for the Unisteer R&P conversion and the modified upper rear coilover mount with freshly applied powder just before going into the oven to cure.

Still hot from the powder coating oven, the brackets look great!
Up close, you can get a really good idea how beautiful the matte black urethane powder flows out over the part.

This is the rear upper coilover mount installed in place after powder coating.  While the flash makes the Raptor bed liner material look glossier than it really is, the smooth and elegant look is clear to see with the bar mounted in place.

Another look at the mounting saddle for the upper rear coilover mount.

A better look at the whole rear bar installed in place.  The matte black powder coated finish is the perfect compliment to the Raptor bed liner finish under the car.

After all of the hardware was reinstalled on the front and rear suspension components, the batch of parts looks ready for business.  Love it!


  1. Dang Sven! You'd give the Ring Brothers a run for the money with your work! The shock tower bracket is sweet. And the power coated suspension is top shelf. Once again, you have wow'ed us with your skill!

    1. Whoa Dennis! At least those guys get paid to do what they love! Maybe some day! LOL!

      I really appreciate the support and encouragement!

  2. Once again, you show off your mad fab skills. Looks great! I am jealous of your powder coating accessibility every time you post about it, looks good though. The under side of the car is going to be as smart looking as the upper side.

    1. Thanks Grant! I have to admit that all the years in the racing industry have come in more handy in later years than I ever expected. I sure hope you are right about the under side looking good. With all of the black, he details start looking so subtle I am a bit afraid most of it will be missed!

  3. Beautiful as always Sven - but you should have let me jet those shock plates!!!! Would love to have a little of our work in your car :)

    This was my export brace solution for SusieQ:

    Keep the momentum going!


  4. RJ, you are too kind! I would definitely like to drop you a note on some 'jetting work I have in mind on some other parts (e.g., adjustable motor mounts, air cleaner base & lid, etc.). Got plenty to keep me out of the bars for now!

  5. Your meeting your long over due expectations and impressing people along the way. Keep up the great work :-)