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-   1964 To 1966 Flairbirds - General Technical Discussion (http://squarebirds.org/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=26)
-   -   Steve's Ride (http://squarebirds.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=13598)

Yadkin 08-12-2012 07:47 PM

Steve's Ride
I started restoring this 26 years ago. I purchased the car from my father-in-law, Rick, for $1. He had it for years, not sure if he's the original owner, but his son's took turns abusing it as they came of age. They called it the Batmobile and used to brag how they'd take it into NYC and do donuts in Times Square.

Rick had every intention of restoring it and collected some parts, mostly sheet metal repair panels. He lost interest so gave it to me in 1986. At this time the car was stored in his barn in Rockland County, NY. The car had no brakes or exhaust, but it did roll.

Back then my daily driver was a 1985 TBird with a 5.0L small block and the trailer towing option. I figured I could tow the old Bird up to my rented garage in Syracuse, NY. The '85 weighed about 3500# and the '64 weighed in at 4400#. No sweat I thought.

I rigged up triangular tow bar and some trailer lights and hauled it out of Rick's barn. I loaded up all the materials that he had already removed or purchased into the old Bird, and armed with maps of the state and my bride as very capable navigator, hauled it down the road.

For anyone familiar with the '85 it was a very capable vehicle. Based on the Mustang "Fox" chassis, extended about 4", it was a light but rigid chassis. But hauling a big ol' FE block car almost 1000# heavier put it to the test.

Any speed above 45mph was out of the question, and the old Bird started to take over and bounce the lighter car around in a nerve wracking manner. My wife plotted a course away from the interstates and after what seemed to be an eternity- its normally a 4 hour drive- we pulled into our apartment driveway.

Vowing never to do that again I plotted my restoration from the running chassis on up. I spent about two years with the car on jacks and me underneath it, cleaning, replacing floor boards, all new suspension and of course, brakes. I got the car running safely just in time to move into our first home located in the southern part of Onondaga County, about 15 miles from our apartment. I drove the Bird into my beautiful 30' x 30' machinery barn and parked it.

Our new house was 18 years old and needed everything done. New kitchen, two new bathrooms, a new roof, new plumbing, gut the basement out and build an office for me and a playroom for my new priority of time: two beautiful children. Plus I had 2 acres of lawn that I used to mow with a '56 International Cub tractor. I got that machine for $1000 in not running condition and had to fix that up so I could cut grass and plow snow.

Also during this time my mother-in-law gave up on her '66 Mustang so I ended up with that project as well. A driver, it had barely survived many northeast winters and was laden with rust nearly as bad as my Bird. Since I've always been a fan of the smaller car that restoration would take precedent over the Bird. But with my career keeping me busy 50 hours/ week, the first priorities of kids and home, both projects languished.

After many hard winters and with our first approaching school age my wife was "done" with upstate NY and we were at the point in our lives to move out of the "starter" home in the country to our dream home in a neighborhood close to good schools. But our friends that we there were paying $10,000 per year in property taxes and I refused to.

So after a year or so of research we made the move to the beautiful Yadkin Valley in the Piedmont of North Carolina. We sold the old house and made a deal with the new owner to store the two cars there for up to nine months. I hired a moving company to take our furniture and since they charged by the pound I loaded up all my heavy tools into the '85, and my son sat next to me in the front seat. I loaded our minivan with basic necessities, my wife and daughter and after running out of room tied her ironing board to the roof. Looking like a modern version of the Beverly Hillbillies I lead the way with my trunk dragging and headlights searching for airplanes. On the way out of town we stopped to vote against Cuomo for governor then left for good.

We sold the Mustang to my wife's uncle and he, his son and I drove up late the next summer and formed a caravan of three cars back down South.

I had an unused room in our basement so I knocked down the wall between it and the garage to store the Bird. Life being what it is with career and kids there she sat for the last 16 years.

A good friend and old neighbor bought the car that she used to drive in High School- a '65 Galaxie 500 Convertible, and my now 17 year old daughter and I helped her drive it home from central Pennsylvania. It's currently stored in the garage at my mountain cabin and two weeks ago I took my wife out to dinner in it along with another couple. We all had a great time and that got my wife's interest in the Bird back along with mine.

I just hired a local guy to complete the portion of the project that I have learned over the years that I simply don't have the aptitude for: the body and paint work. Cost is going to be around $7200 and I have to purchase the new rubber seals.

Here's some photos of "before":

1oldkid 08-13-2012 07:43 PM

Great story Steve. I think most, if not all of us can relate to life getting in the way and our projects taking a back seat. Keep on it and it will get done. Keep the pics coming too.

YellowRose 08-13-2012 09:05 PM

Steve's Ride
I really enjoyed the story, Steve! Thanks for sharing it with us. As was previously said, often times other things in life take precedent over the things we would really like to work on. Press on!

Yadkin 08-14-2012 10:28 AM

I had been starting the Bird up periodically over the years to keep her lubricated and she always ran well. I'm a stickler for a good tune. This past week I rolled her out and she wasn't running normally, so I emptied the gas tank and put in 5 gallons of fresh stabilized fuel. That seemed to make matters worse, but she was still hitting all eight.

The carb was leaking at the power valve so I removed it and changed out that and the base gasket. None of the shops had kits in stock or warehoused locally so in order to make my appointment I made the gaskets from plain stock. I must have screwed something up because she's running terrible now.

Yadkin 08-21-2012 08:19 PM

I dropped the car off on August 13 and I barely made it there. The gas leak was in the accelerator pump and I didn't have that part but ran it anyway. Thank God it did not catch fire.

To me it sounded like a valve was stuck but my body guy was thinking the carb. I had a full rebuild kit on order so pulled that off, and when the kit came rebuilt it and reinstalled it. The base gasket in the kit was not the same as the one I removed but I put it on anyway. Still running terrible. Ordered a new base gasket and new spark plugs. Today I went to put those on but just to satisfy my curiously I removed one valve cover, and sure enough I found three bent pushrods. I found three more on the other side. :(

Time to rebuild the heads. I would have needed hardened valve seats anyway, so now is the time to get that done. Plus we have already decided to pull the motor to fix a cracked exhaust manifold.

Yadkin 08-23-2012 11:37 AM

My sources are telling me that I really need to dismantle the entire motor and clean it out, otherwise the problem will just resurface. Also "cook" the gas tank and install new gas lines. :(

Yadkin 10-15-2012 05:01 PM

My motor guy is saying that the modern non-synthetic oils aren't advisable for these old engines. Anyone hear of such a thing?

YellowRose 10-15-2012 05:14 PM

Steve's Ride
The subject of which and whose oil to use has been covered many times here, including which oil filters are recommended or not. Here is a link regarding your question on oil.


Using the Search engine, and searching on "Oil Filter Study" will get you this information.


dgs 10-18-2012 11:55 PM

Hemmings' blog did a post on oil in old engines a few days ago. I didn't read it, but it might be informative. Check it out here.

Yadkin 10-22-2012 08:09 PM

Short-block rebuild $1300. Add to the head rebuild and the engine, soup to nuts, is costing me $2700. Not bad for basically a brand new engine.

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