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  • In Over My Head?

    I'll keep this as short as possible, but please do let me know your opinion. Please see post #3 in the following post for a little background on this project with/for my son https://www.squarebirds.org/vbulleti...e-60battlebird

    Please take a look at the attached pictures of my 1960 Thunderbird and let me know what you think about the following:

    1. Is it salvageable? More specifically, can it be saved and turned into a "good/nice" Squarebird or is there too much rust and whatnot to save it?

    2. I've followed the awesome advice in the "newcomer/first things to do when you buy a Tbird" and acquired a digital shop manual and wiring/electrical manual, however something I'm still confused about is when it comes to body work; specifically how to go about replacing fenders, quarter panels, etc. It doesn't look like I can simply get a replacement fender for example (at least I can't find anything on the internet and I don't see any seams at all, rather it looks like the entire front end is one piece); am I wrong in this thinking?

    3. Continuing #2, I've found a possible parts car that looks to have a solid hood, fenders/quarter panels, skirts, etc. However, if my assumption from #2 is correct, how the heck do you replace these areas on the car? Is cutting out and welding pieces the only way (skills I don't have at the moment lol)?

    Thank you!


  • #2
    Anything can be restored if you have the knowledge and enough money. From the pictures it's a borderline parts car. Personally I would not spend the money on it because you will never get it back. However if you are going to treat it as a project to teach your son about repairing old cars then it's worth doing up to a point. As you have found out all body panels are welded. If you don't have any welding or fabrication skills then you either have to learn, find someone else to help you or give up on fixing it. Replacement quarters are available but it takes a good amount of cutting and welding to get them to fit right. There are no replacement fenders available. You will either have to cut them off a parts car or fabricate the pieces you need. There are no shortcuts when it comes to Squarebirds. There are certainly much easier cars to turn into a father/son project.

    John
    John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

    Thunderbird Registry #36223
    jopizz@squarebirds.org 856-779-9695

    https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

    Comment


    • #3
      We have all seen worse. Squarebirds are different from most because the fenders and front skins are welded and the seams are filled. Even so, they still come apart if need be. Many body parts are done this way like where the roof meets the quarter panel (C-pillar) and where the roof meets the drip rails. These areas are spot welded then the seams are filled as well.

      We all start out the same way, knowing nothing. When I was a teen I had zero money but I wanted to own a car in the worst way. My parents refused to pay for my dates, a car, insurance OR gas. So, instead of playing football in High School, I worked. My first car was a Pontiac. I learned, not by paying someone else but by 'doing it' myself. I urge everyone to do as much work on your car as you can. You will know exactly what was done, you will save money and the end result is rewarding. I also urge you to find 'restorer buddies'. They will teach you how to do things and what materials to buy. More importantly, they will steer you away from the wrong direction. You can never have too many restorer buddies. They usually swap skills like, some paint, some sew, some are engine or trans builders and some are body guys. Everyone has his forte. I gained a couple buddies from the paint supply store and more from the plating company. Be willing to swap work if you have a skill.

      If you have zero skills the cheapest way to end up with a finished car is to buy it that way. That is not my suggestion because I can restore. I don't have a spray booth so I can't paint. Everything else, I can get around. If you need a transmission overhauled, YOU take it out and deliver it to the shop. The cost will be cut in half because now it's strictly 'bench work'. I don't have a machine shop but I can drop off a bare block to be machined and build it afterward, etc. - Dave
      My latest project:
      CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

      "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
      --Lee Iacocca

      From: Royal Oak, Michigan

      Comment


      • #4
        It doesnt look too bad to me aside from the rear wheel skirt area. but mine going in that same area. Honestly it depends on what your looking for. If you are going to do the work yourself then keep it. if your paying someone else to do most of the work then maybe not. really need to check the "frame rails" i know its unibody. if you have alot of rust there then its gonna be alot more work.
        1959 Thunderbird 397ci
        Cruise-O-Matic
        Flamingo Pink.
        Thunderbird Registry #8442
        Daily driver

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jopizz View Post
          Anything can be restored if you have the knowledge and enough money. From the pictures it's a borderline parts car. Personally I would not spend the money on it because you will never get it back. However if you are going to treat it as a project to teach your son about repairing old cars then it's worth doing up to a point. As you have found out all body panels are welded. If you don't have any welding or fabrication skills then you either have to learn, find someone else to help you or give up on fixing it. Replacement quarters are available but it takes a good amount of cutting and welding to get them to fit right. There are no replacement fenders available. You will either have to cut them off a parts car or fabricate the pieces you need. There are no shortcuts when it comes to Squarebirds. There are certainly much easier cars to turn into a father/son project.

          John
          Thank you so much for your opinion and insight John. I'm going to take it slowly and learn where I don't have the knowledge. My son has shown such a joy and interest in anything to do with the car so I'm attached to it now It'll be quite the journey but the Bird will fly again someday. Thanks again!

          Comment


          • #6
            First off, thank each of you StealthSRT10 simplyconnected jopizz so much for your opinion and thoughts; really helped me feel better about my decision to go forward and resurrect this BattleBird! I did some searching and there just so happens to be a salvage yard within 30mi of my house that has SIX 1960 TBIRD PARTS CARS! 5 of the 6 have good hoods, 4 of them have perfect fender skirt areas and whatnot that are rusted out on mine, etc etc. This was a huge relief because I was having difficulty finding body panels and whatnot (still have to learn how to weld better, but that's part of the fun).

            So now I have a couple questions about where to start:

            1. I know I need to remove all the trim to start but I didn't see anywhere in the shop manual that explains how to take off all the trim; do any of y'all have any ideas/resources?

            2. The Bird came with a piece of junk looking 460 (ran the casting numbers on heads and whatnot and it looks to be out of a 73 Lincoln) and equally rough looking C6 trans. I've got the engine down to the short block and though it's in rough shape aesthetically, it all seems to be solid with no cracks in the heads, valves look good, etc. I'm actually pulling the engine and trans today so I'll have a better idea about the condition of both here pretty soon. My question is: should I rebuild the 460 or clean it all up real good and sell it for a couple hundred $$ and go on the hunt for a 430? Keeping in mind I'd like to be able to take it on a road course every once in a while, but I think it'd be awesome to be able to build up a 430.

            3. Just to get an idea, what would you say is a fair price for a hood in pretty good condition with just a bit of surface rust? I'm trying to get an idea of what I should try and offer for things like the hood, fenders, etc.

            I've included some pictures of Liam and me working on the BattleBird Thanks again fellas!!

            Leonard

            Comment


            • #7
              Good Morning, Leonard! First of all, I want to say that Liam is a cutie and it is neat that you have involved him in this. Secondly, I will leave the answers to most of your questions to those with far more technical knowledge then I have to answer them. But I will say this regarding the 430. Keep in mind that there were far less 430 engines built than 352's or 390's. Therefore, parts for the 430 can be more difficult to find, and when you do, can be more expensive than 352 or 390 parts. If I remember what Dave ~ simplyconnected has said in the past, it was that you can get about the same horsepower out of a 390 as a 430 if the 390 is properly built, and parts for the 390 are readily available and not nearly as expensive as those for the 430. Plus with the 390 you can use some of more modern and lighter weight parts on it these days. If I got this wrong, Dave can slap me around.. If the C6 turns out to be in good condition, that should work well with a 390, but you will have to make sure it will mate with a 390 properly. (Which being off a 460, it may not). The ideal situation would be to find a good 390 married to a good C6, and go that route.. IMHO...

              Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
              The Terminator..... VTCI #11178
              Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

              https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

              Comment


              • #8
                Mornin YellowRose! Thanks for the info on the 390, I didn't know our Bird's would work with those; would it require some special motor mounts or something like that? I'm a huge fan of the Ford FE engines (427 side-oiler......or to sell a kidney for a 427 "cammer" lol if only). If it's an easy match for the engine bay, being able to go the 390 route definitely opens up a lot more doors. As for the 430, your statement seems to be what most think as well so I'm going to steer clear of the 430 for now; thanks for the insight. And thanks for the kind words about Liam he's a pretty amazing lil dude.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Most of the chrome trim and ornaments are held in place by either threaded nuts or speed nuts. You will need to get behind everything to remove them. The windshield trim and drip moldings need to be carefully pried off. The rear window trim is just held in place by screws and sealant.

                  All Squarebirds have the stock 352 mounting plates on the cross member. Whatever motor mounts are there now for the 460 just remove them and you will see the mounting plates underneath. 352's and 390's use the same motor mounts. They are readily available. I also recommend a 390 for the availability of aftermarket and upgrade parts. A C6 is definitely easier to find than a cruiseomatic but you need to find an FE version. Some modification of the trans mount and linkage is usually required. Since you already have a C6 in there that may already have been done.

                  As for the price of the hood most junkyards will give you a price and you have to negotiate from there. If they leave it up to you start low ($50-$75). You can always go up but you can't go down once you make an offer.

                  John
                  John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

                  Thunderbird Registry #36223
                  jopizz@squarebirds.org 856-779-9695

                  https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    You have a 460? That's a BBF engine like the 429. Jopizz is right, anything can be restored with enough money. YellowRose spoke to the popularity or rarity of parts since we go by supply and demand.

                    I cannot tell you which engine you should have because that depends on your wants and needs AND how much you want to spend. You're familiar with FE engines but you HAVE a 460 which is a great engine (and very much sought after by racing members).

                    I am cheap so I let the money talk loudest. For example, a pair of new Edelbrock aluminum heads for a 390 costs about $1,500 from Summitracing.com. The 460 version costs about $2.200. If you really like/want the 460, rebuilding it is well worth it. For a lot less money, you can find a 390/C6 and rebuild it. C6 transmissions have built-in bellhousings. They came in three versions; BBF, SBF & FE. You have a BBF (460).

                    Now the question becomes, what kind of service will your restoration see? What performance/economy are you looking for? Whatever engine you rebuild needs to be compatible with today's gasohol and modern oils. Modern engines don't have flat tappets. Instead, they have roller cams or roller followers that do not require zinc and phosphorus (ZDDP) in the oil.

                    When I build classic engines I spend the money on hydraulic roller cams and aluminum heads. Aluminum heads will have correct valve seats, valves, valve guides and seals for today's gasohol, they transfer heat 4X faster than cast iron so any overheating problems (including ping and knock) will be gone if you're running 10.5:1 compression ratio and they are much lighter. - Dave
                    My latest project:
                    CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                    "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                    --Lee Iacocca

                    From: Royal Oak, Michigan

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have a 430 in mine that I just rebuilt. It is EXPENSIVE, but way cool. If the thought of having one doesn't get you excited, put a fe in. Don't mess with cutting rear quarters out of an old car. They do make new ones and the are pretty good. I put a set in a year or so ago.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        jopizz Thanks for info on the engine mounts and trim. I've got the engine down to the the short block and will be pulling both it and the trans next weekend, so it'll be interesting to see everything a little better. The motor mounts in there right now look pretty rough but I'll be able to get a better idea next week. That's good to know about the 390; I'm going to keep my eye out for one around here; I've heard you can stroke a 390 to a respectable 427 . Thanks again!

                        simplyconnected Wow, that's a significant $$$ difference for parts between the 460 & 390; I've definitely got some thinking to do. I mentioned above to John, but I've heard they make a stroke crake for the 390 to make a "cheeper" 427 FE (427 SOHC "Cammer" is my dream engine that I'll never own, but the 427 side oiler is a close second). Thank you so much for that detailed information about your process for engine restoration, you've given me a lot to think about; very helpful!

                        Derbird The 430 definitely gets me excited, however your point on cost resonates with my bank account lol so I think the FE route is where I'm headed. Thanks for the info on the rear quarters because I've been scouring the internet for 60 Tbird parts cars. I did find a place in Charlotte that makes most of the body panels that are rusted out on my BattleBird https://www.classicsheetmetal.com/ec...d-1958-60.html, have you heard of this place and what do you think of the prices?

                        Gentlemen, would it be ok to use this thread as a continuing thread to document the long term restoration process of my BattleBird? It'd be nice to be able to reference this thread going forward, especially considering the awesome insight so far and I've already put pictures in here. No worries if not, but I thought I'd ask so as to not break any forum rules.

                        Thanks again to each of you for your insight and advice!!!

                        Leonard

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 60BattleBird View Post
                          ...Gentlemen, would it be ok to use this thread as a continuing thread to document the long term restoration process of my BattleBird? ...
                          By all means, Leonard. We would LOVE to see your progress, especially in pictures. Take hundreds of them as you go.

                          I will be doing a 390 restoration later this Spring, so we may be doing them simultaneously. I already have lots of pictures but as you will later discover, that one picture that you need to see will be missing. I take my pictures with about 5k of resolution, then pare them down to 800 pix wide to post. Sometimes I crop them to show a specific area of the pic (which can only be done if the original has high res.). I find it helpful to buy a 128GB USB drive so all my pictures are together and away from my hard drive. - Dave
                          Last edited by simplyconnected; January 25th, 2020, 10:09 AM.
                          My latest project:
                          CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                          "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                          --Lee Iacocca

                          From: Royal Oak, Michigan

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I bought panels from Larry's Thunderbird and with a little massaging around the rear wheel wells to fit the fender skirts they worked fine.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Mine came from classic sheet metal and fit real well. I believe that are making them for almost everyone else.
                              when I put install a panel I use a backer metal strip and sheet metal screws to get the panel in place first. Then short stitch welds spaced out. To grind the welds I started using a cut off wheel to get the bulk of the weld. The cut off wheel does not put as much heat in the metal and produces allot less warping.

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