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  #21  
Old 12-26-2012, 05:22 PM
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Some of the numbers seem to be different in one row compared to the other, i.e. the 3 at the end, the Y at the beginning.
Almost a different font.

Just an observation
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  #22  
Old 12-26-2012, 06:56 PM
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Default Restoring raggarn61 ~ Conny's '58 Tbird

Yup, I noticed that also, and is very plain to see that the bottom VIN #, for whatever reason, was only partially stamped.
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  #23  
Old 12-28-2012, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmjsong1aolcom View Post
I am not sure where the notion that the vin numbers were engraved into the frames of the 58-66 birds...
That came from me. I told Ray that these VIN numbers are engraved. I should have been more clear.

VIN numbers come from the Scheduling Department based on orders (and parts availability). Normally, VINs are assigned in the Body Shop. Since convertibles are so different and harder to make, they are mixed into the line to give the workers time to 'catch up'. Rarely, do two convertibles have consecutive VIN numbers.

Since the bodys came from Budd, they flew through Wixom's Body Shop. The Body Shop is where the VIN (from scheduling) is assigned to a built body. They deliver a ratio of so many hard tops, then a convertible, in consecutive order, to the Paint Dept. Build Sheets (or Rotation Sheets) are printed in Paint (just after the ovens) based on the VIN info from the Body Shop, and broadcast throughout the plant because the correct (paint colors, axles, tires, seats, & engine/trans) must be built in advance in subassembies that all come together in the correct sequence.

The Trim Department used a huge pneumatic 'number roller' that hung over the line from a counter balance, to make the VIN characters in the frame. The operator set the VIN number, clamped the machine to the frame and it rolled the characters over the paint.

That picture showing multiple numbers; only the middle number is valid. It starts with a star and ends with a star. This machine was a fight, all day long. The numbers must match the rotation sheet. Then, the number was supposed to advance in the machine for the next car (it didn't always happen as planned).

The picture is a good example of a substitute worker, just learning to control the VIN machine. First he's too high on the frame, then he's too low. Finally, he gets it right in the middle.

Today, Ford uses a smaller machine to engrave the numbers into various parts of the body. The machine gets instructions from a computer and simply drags a stylus to form characters (instead of printing). It's much safer than the pneumatic monster to operate and far easier to muscle around. If a body is out of order or skipped (pulled off the line), the computer easily adjusts the VIN accordingly. Back in the day, the characters were manually set (or adjusted) in the 'number-rolling' machine. - Dave
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  #24  
Old 12-28-2012, 07:53 PM
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Default Restoring raggarn61 ~ Conny's '58 Tbird

I received a reply from Motor Trends magazine Back Issue department. There was NO report of them testing a 1958 Thunderbird Hardtop with a 430MEL engine in it in the APRIL edition. I went back and re-read that comment in the William Wonder book. It reads, "Although, in April, Motor Trend magazine tested a prototype of the 1958 hardtop with this engine, no examples were thought to have been sold to the general public, and the option itself did not officially become available until the 1959 model year."

I misread that statement. I made an assumption that they reported the test results in the April edition. It does not say that. It says they TESTED it in April. I have gone back to Motor Trends and asked them if, after the April tests, did they publish the results, and if so, in which Month?

The other thing I note, that although the March Marketing brochure touts the availability of the 430MEL engine as an Option for the '58 Squarebird, this comment above states that it did not officially become available until the 1959 model year. That might have been a surprised to Marketing, who was already touting it.

I will let you know if I get an answer back from Motor Trends on the test results conducted in April (1958, I assume...) and what they say if I can get them.
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  #25  
Old 12-29-2012, 01:41 PM
Alan H. Tast, AIA Alan H. Tast, AIA is offline
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Ray:

It must be remembered that, prior to the digital age, magazines required a few months' lead time from the cover date. Items for an issue to be released in a monthly publication, say for instance in June, may have been written in March-April, meaning article preparation/research had to preceed submission, typesetting, etc. By the time printing and distribution takes place it well could be into mid-late May before it would have hit subscribers' mailboxes or newsstands.

To help place this in perspective, photos taken of '58s at the Dearborn Test Track that were included in magazines in February 1958 were shot in approximately November-December 1957.
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  #26  
Old 12-29-2012, 02:12 PM
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Default Restoring raggarn61 ~ Conny's '58 Tbird

Hi Alan, thank you for that insight into conducting road tests and reporting on them. After I realized that I had mis-read that comment in the book, I went back to Motor Trends and asked them if they would look at the rest of the editions that came out after April 1958, and see if they could tell me if and when they did publish the test results. Hopefully, they did and will tell me which edition.
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  #27  
Old 02-04-2013, 09:16 PM
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Default Conny's ~ raggarn61 '58 430 Convertible!

It's time to get the popcorn out, pop some and sit back and read this! I have been communicating with Motor Trends Magazine regarding their testing of the 1958 Squarebird back in 1958. According to William Wonders book referenced below, Motor Trends was supposed to have tested a '58 Squarebird with a 430MEL engine in it. In his Thunderbird Restoration Guide 1958-1966. On Page 27 he says that back in 1958 Motor Trend magazine test drove a prototype '58 Hardtop with the 430MEL engine in it. The article states that no examples like this were thought to be sold to the general public. No mention was made as to what happened to that car. The 430MEL engine option did not appear on the Tbird production line until the 1959 model year. However, they were being put into the Lincolns which also were produced on the Wixom line.

That sent me looking for a copy of that test drive of the '58 Squarebird. So I contacted Motor Trends and they search every 1958 Motor Trends edition for the '58 Squarebird test results. The ONLY report they could find in any edition for 1958 was in the MAY 1958 edition, which I now own.

The Performance report was written by Sam Hanks. NOWHERE in that report does he talk specifically about actually road testing the 430MEL engine in a 1958 Squarebird. In his write up he does not talk about the 430MEL engine performance compared to the 352 engine. EXCEPT FOR THIS.... There is an Acceleration example showing the acceleration for a 300 bhp engine and a 375 bhp engine with an asterisk next to the 375 bhp (the 430MEL rating in 1958) figure. In that asterisk, it states: "Horsepower is probable figure of prototype installation. Engine is identical appearance-wise to '58 Lincoln with 4-barrel car. BOTH CARS (capital letters my emphasis) had Cruise-O-Matic transmissions and 2.9 to 1 rear axle." That leads me to believe that they must have tested two '58 prototypes, one with the 352 engine and one with the 430MEL engine. It does not state that one was a Hardtop and the other a Convertible. We know that the '58 Marketing brochure lists the 430MEL engine as an optional engine for the '58 Squarebird. And... wikipedia states this... "The 430 cu in (7.0 L) engine was produced from 1958 through 1965. It was primarily used on Lincolns and upper level 1959-60 Mercurys although it was also optional on 1958-60 Ford Thunderbirds."

On the other hand... In the article by Sam Hanks he mentions that "I hear lots of talk about them going to a bigger engine of 430 cubic inches for the T-Bird. Not that they need it! The present job has plenty, so they don't need 360, or the 400 horses I've been hearing about too."

Does anyone know if Sam Hanks is still walking this earth?

Here is the Acceleration results from this issue that leads me to believe they test two prototype engines, the 352 and the 430MEL.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg May'58MotorTrend'58TbirdAccellerationResults.jpg (38.5 KB, 75 views)
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Last edited by YellowRose : 03-19-2013 at 12:04 PM.
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  #28  
Old 02-05-2013, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YellowRose View Post

Now I know that there are no records of a '58 Tbird ever coming off the Wixom production line with a 430MEL engine in it. They were planning on having one, because there is a '58 advertising brochure they put out that listed the 430MEL as an optional engine for the '58 Tbird. However, that never came about for what ever reasons. So this got me involved in a conversation with him and with John Rotella of the Tbird Registry.

It turns out that John knows about this '58 prototype '58 Tbird 430 Convertible! He has it registered in his Registry, but had lost contact with it until Conny reported that he now owned it. There were TWO '58 Tbirds reported to have had 430MEL engines installed in them. John told Conny about the article in William Wonder's Thunderbird Restoration Guide 1958-1966. On Page 27 it states that back in 1958 Motor Trend magazine test drove a prototype '58 Hardtop with the 430MEL engine in it. The article states that no examples like this were thought to be sold to the general public. No mention was made as to what happened to that car. The 430MEL engine option did not appear on the Tbird production line until the 1959 model year. However, they were being put into the Lincolns which also were produced on the Wixom line.

The next statement in that article is the grabber! "However, one convertible, VIN #H8YJ129793, (My addition - Build date of 08H- 8 August - Data Plate 76A - E - XG - 08H - 4 - axle 1) is reported to have been equipped with the 430.

This engineering prototype had the engine installed in the car AFTER (emphasis mine) leaving the assembly line.
...hmm...

This little factoid explains why the unique 1958 Model Year MEL Engine Series engine mounting design was carried over only in the 59/60 BIRD and not the 59/60 MEL cars (LINC - MERC).

Thank You! An another interesting little part of MEL history has been discovered.

I have a photo of a factory trial fit 430 in a 58 chassis.
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  #29  
Old 02-05-2013, 12:17 PM
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Default Conny's ~ raggarn61 '58 430 Convertible!

Hi Gary, Thanks for you post! Can you email me that picture so I can post it for others to see? Thanks.
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  #30  
Old 02-05-2013, 12:58 PM
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Ray, what a fantastic story and a terrific bird find. Who would have ever thought, a 58 ragtop with a 430? Great research all you guys have done on it. Betcha Conny's one happy bird dog know knowing all of what you have come up with about his Bird.
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