3/31/02 Over the past month or so I’ve been getting together what I would need to continue the project and trying to decide exactly what made sense. I had to spend some bucks to get the radiator redone. No way around that one, but this time, I also spent $26 and got an electric fan from a Taurus. Got rid of the steel fan entirely. With the mondo radiator and a thermostat switch on the electric, I should be ok. It is mounted in front of the radiator and pulls the heat and air forward . I had to remove a radiator bulkhead spreader bar to mount it and when I did that the fenders suddenly became 3/4 inches further apart. To get it all to fit together again, I had to run a threaded rod between the right and left fenderwalls and tighten down. The fan really moves air, but also uses the amps and requires heavy wire and a big circuit breaker. One thing leads to another, and I decided to bite the bullet and get going on the brakes and clutch.
Stalling on this, I first made up some brackets and mounted the leather (and electric) bucket seats. They feel great and fit the TurboStude as well as they fit the LeBaron they mere mouldering in….
Stalling over, I got to work on the brakes. Dave Levesque sold me some Chrysler calipers and adapters which I was going to use to put discs on the 53′. Haven’t gotten around to it, and since the TS has spindles from a 54′, I knew they would fit. Well, the way this works, one needs to take the hub off the front brake drums (it is riveted together) and then chuck the hubs in a lathe to face them off so they can be assembled with the big chevy rotors which are used. The hubs also needed to be drilled for the right bolt pattern if it is different, and the holes need to be a size which will allow a press-fit of wheel studs. When I got to the point where the calipers were to be bolted on, I found that they didn’t have enough clearance with the steering arms. I needed to grind down some bosses which are cast into the calipers. These are symmetric castings which when drilled, allow the caliper to be either a right or left and if undrilled, they are just unnecessary. With the car up in the air on jack stands, the front suspension was completely off the ground, and the brake hoses were too short. I sent an e-mail to Raybestos describing the problem, and they promptly wrote back with the part number for just the right length. I had been debating about whether to go to a dual master, but couldn’t decide until I tried the brakes after adding the discs. They wouldn’t release, and I realized that I’d need to disable the check valve in the original. This is needed when the master is lower than the brakes as in under-floor installations. I took the whole works out and will hunt for a dual master to mount on a fabricated bracket in the original location. Master Power Brake has a good site for evaluating needs, and it looks like I’ll need to add a 2# residual check valve in front and a 10# in the back, as well as a combination valve and maybe a proportioner valve (adjustable) to keep the rear from locking up too easily. More than I was counting on, but probably a good idea….. This is still without power brakes, but Dave and a friend have run similar setups without hard braking.
Couldn’t stall any longer. Started to remove the clutch. To do this, I needed to unbolt the starter, pull off the transmission and remove the housing first. This is taking forever, as the 10 bolts holding the tranny crossmember are difficult to reach, low profile (easy to strip) and totally rusted.
4/9/02 The crossmember finally gave way to my ministrations and was so filthy, I sent it and the now easily removed bellhousing off to be sandblasted. The clutch, which has 300 or so miles on it, is toast…. The disk is worn down to the rivets, and showed signs of warping (it was new). The pressure plate shows signs of “distemper” and the flywheel itself heated up enough to show some “frost-heaves” which the resurfacing company says can be surface-ground mostly away. I guess the big question is whether this would happen again with the new improved clutch. Maybe the combination of the 3.40 rear-end and the overdrive (which may have somehow been left engaged on start-up) was just too much, but now, I’d expect the car to buck or judder and just stall if the gearing was too tall. Never, ever, could I get that to happen, even when the clutch was fresh. Maybe this was masked by the free-wheeling feature in the tranny….
Found that a late 60’s early 70’s Mustang dual master could be made to fit under the floor-boards. I am making a mounting bracket to use the original holes. This will set the axis a bit inboard , and I’ll need to compensate with some kind of offset clevis rod set-up from the brake pedal lever.
Wired up the fan with 10 gauge wire, a 20 amp circuit breaker and a thermostat switch. That fan really draws the amps…. I need to use a relay to run it, and still need to find a thermostatic switch (hopefully from some derelict car at the junkyard) to turn it on and off.