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1958 continental convertible


dean56

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hi just found and bought a 58 that has 64 thousand miles on it has been siting inside a garage for 30 yrs. with top down, he said everything worked on the car, body great shape, glass on dash not cracked (how to prevent it from cracking?) how should i go about getting the top up? let it warn up, and go a little at a time, i dont know what kinda shape the top is going to be in, and i think i will change the oil and check gas tank put a battery in it and see if it will run. and other idea's thanks dean and what is the key switch on the left side of the steering wheels?

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Dean, sounds like a great car, show us photos! Regarding the top, you might want to disconnect the hydraulic cylinders, lubricate the top irons and linkage, and very carefully try to raise it manually with someones help. Once you know the frame is not rusted then you can try the hydraulics, although if they haven't moved in 30 years you probably have some work to do...

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That is a very good idea, definitely lube everything and disconnect the hydraulics and try to put it up by hand first. As I recall, Ford top frames were often made with castings that could break when the pivot bolt/pins would stick. Be careful and slow! Todd C

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I think all Ford products had their ign switch on the left of the steering wheel in those years. Good luck with your ride

You must be thinking of the old starter button of the 1940s which was located to the left of the steering wheel. My '58 Mercury has the ignition switch on the right as did '58 Fords and Lincolns. Don't know what he was seeing in that position but I would suspect something like an aftermarket kill switch. I Know the '58 Lincoln Continental Mark III I once owned had no key switch of any nature in that location.

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the key switch is on the right, and the one on the left turns 360 i think it might be the switch for the top, i will find out more when i get it home saturday, have a roll back going after it, its one mile away from my shop

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The ignition switch on my '61 Monterey is on the left side of the steering column....

Must have been a '59-'63 thing as in '64 ignition switches were back to the right of the steering wheel on everything Ford. Guess they fired the Lefty in the design department.:D;)

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The key is on the right on a 58 ford. Top switch is on the left side of the dash on the very bottom panel, like a toggle switch, moves up and down. Be very careful when raising the top. As was said earlier, lube all the joints and pins before you do anything, yes all the top rails are cast and can break easily. It will be hard to disconect the cylinders, but have 2 helpers to lift the top (one on each side helping to lift it, one running the switch), remember that the back window is solid and slides strait up in tracks, make sure you lube the tracks good. There are lots of relays and mirco switches to cause headaches till they are cleaned and working properly. These Lincolns are a lot of fun at car shows, first because the car is sooooo long and second the way the top works is different than most cars. Good luck.

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I thought Ford ignition switches were on the left from '49-'63. Maybe '58 was different but I distinctly remember my uncle's friend's '61 Fairlane had a left handed switch. They would also only start in neutral, so you had to pull it out of park to start it. My father had a '54 Crestline that was the same. The switch was on the left in the '60-'63 Falcon as well. Left handed ignition pretty much disappeared after '63. There were a couple of exceptions that I remember, one being the '69 Plymouth Fury and the other the mid-60's Pontiac LeMans.

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Unraveling the ignition switch location and pinpointing the reason for confusion. First of all everyone who said Ford ignition switches were on the left from 1951 to 1963 would be 100% correct. 1949 and 1950 models had the ignition switch on the right but retained the left side starter button of the '40s.

In 1958 Mercurys, larger Edsels, and Lincolns were designed and produced by what was the MEL Division which opted to place the ignition switch on the right side of the steering wheel. One real oddity is the smaller Edsels produced by Ford Division had their ignition switch on the left side of the steering column.

Robert McNamara who never embraced the idea of two divisions and absolutely hated Edsels became President of Ford in 1960 and summarily killed off the MEL Division and also heralded the return of the ignition switch on all Ford produced products to the left of the steering wheel. McNamara was President of Ford until appointed Secretary of State by JFK.

Enter John Dykstra as Ford President for less than two years and was replaced by Arjay Miller in 1963 who had been among Tex Thornton's "Whiz Kids" hired Henry Ford II following WWII in a desperate attempt to save Ford which was virtually bankrupt.

However it came about, the ignition switches on all Ford produced cars came to be located to the right of the steering wheel from the time Miller would have had influence on design. But I suspect it was Lee Iacocca who was named VP at Ford in 1960. Iacocca was over car and truck operations in the U.S. and would have had design influence on models appearing in 1964/65 the same year the ignition switch moved to the right of the steering wheel on all Ford Products where it appears to have stayed over the next nearly 50 years.

Plain as mud, right?

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JD is correct, it's the remote trunk release, which can be locked with a key. All '58 - '60 Lincoln's had the ignition switch to the right of the column.

Do yourself a huge favor and don't work on the car until you can obtain a factory maintenance manual (they are excellent), and then go buy a lottery ticket -- you're going to need it!

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Do you have your photos posted online elsewhere, like Fotki or Photobucket? Pulling the code from there for posting in forums is the easiest way (for me, at least). I'm sure someone will come along with the standard instructions that get posted from time-to-time.

With regard to your dash lens, yes, Lincoln was aware of the cracking problem and issued a service bulletin. I'll look through mine and see if I can find it and post when I do. It has to do with removing a bracket underneath that they believed stressed the lens. It's possible yours was taken out a long time ago since it hasn't cracked already.

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Do yourself a huge favor and don't work on the car until you can obtain a factory maintenance manual (they are excellent), and then go buy a lottery ticket -- you're going to need it!

He also needs the July, 1958 version of the Mercury Maintenance Manual. For whatever reason the 430 and some of the engineering changes made to it in late 1957 and early 1958 are far better covered than within the Lincoln Maintenance Manual.

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yes i got it running on sunday

Now the fun will really begin. There are some very basic things you need to know about the 430.

1. Fuel delivery failures are not necessarily the fuel pump. More than likely will be a worn fuel pump push rod.

2. You can only replace the fuel pump push rod with one having a bronze tip unless you also change the cam concentric to one from a later than 1962 version of the engine.

3. If you find an elevated coolant temperature problem has shown up, it is probably from the small thermostats between the water pump and block. When replacing the water pump pull those suckers out, they really serve no purpose other than causing future problems.

4. The water pump on your vehicle has a larger by-pass tube than those of later years. There are adapter tubes available to get you passed that issue.

5. Constant vacuum is supplied by a pump on the oil pump. That style of oil pump will not be found in any parts store today. The old pump can be rebuilt or one can used one without the vacuum pump which will require a plug where the line exits the block and pulling vacuum off the manifold.

6. Do not have any work done on the heads unless you know for sure the heads were of later than January 1958 production. The Mercury manuals will give you the casting numbers of the heads affected by a significant engineering change that was made to reduce a valves kissing the pistons issue.

7. Do not assume the engine will benefit from a higher cfm carburetor, it won't.

8. In very hot weather expect to run into vapor lock issues resultant from several issues having to do with fuel pump location and fuel line routing.

More when you find a need to know.

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i got it running, sounds great, worked on the hyd pump for the top. got it working, top goes up and down, i ended up using power steering fluid in the hyd system, the book said to use hyd brake fluid??, or should i have used hyd jack oil?? i can not beleive the shape that the car is in, next step is to rebuild master cylinder and new brake lines and check out all of the brake system thanks dean

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i got it running, sounds great, worked on the hyd pump for the top. got it working, top goes up and down, i ended up using power steering fluid in the hyd system, the book said to use hyd brake fluid??, or should i have used hyd jack oil?? i can not beleive the shape that the car is in, next step is to rebuild master cylinder and new brake lines and check out all of the brake system thanks dean

You should have used whatever was in your system before you added to it. If it's still brake fluid, you should have used brake fluid. When people rebuild them now they use ATF, but I think to do the conversion from one to the other you need to replace all the rubber components so they're compatible with the fluid. You'll find out soon. Chances are, if you had to add fluid, a rebuild is in your future, anyway.

There's nothing magical about the brakes. Just make sure the booster can for the master cylinder is in good shape. They tend to get pitted and that's where the trouble starts.

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As far as I know most hydro-electric systems all ran brake fluid. I had experience with the GM versions which used it not only on tops, but the power seats and windows. They were run from a central pump which was located in the engine bay on the firewall. The biggest issue was when the actuating cylinders leaked, the leaks would remove paint.:(

I don't know what sort of contamination and compatibility issues will surface running hydraulic oil in a system designed for brake fluid. Viscosity is certainly different.

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Today most everyone converts them to ATF when they restore a car for the reason you mentioned. I've never seen anyone mix the two in a convertible top system, but I have seen someone put ATF in a brake system (said he was out of brake fluid and couldn't get to the store) and it wasn't pretty.

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So I would imagine the OP may experience similar issues the individual did with their brakes.:eek:

Well as an earlier poster mentioned an eventual rebuild may end up being necessary.

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As far as I know most hydro-electric systems all ran brake fluid. I had experience with the GM versions which used it not only on tops, but the power seats and windows. They were run from a central pump which was located in the engine bay on the firewall. The biggest issue was when the actuating cylinders leaked, the leaks would remove paint.:(

I don't know what sort of contamination and compatibility issues will surface running hydraulic oil in a system designed for brake fluid. Viscosity is certainly different.

Today most everyone converts them to ATF when they restore a car for the reason you mentioned. I've never seen anyone mix the two in a convertible top system, but I have seen someone put ATF in a brake system (said he was out of brake fluid and couldn't get to the store) and it wasn't pretty.

I have a central pump hydraulic window system on my 1941 Packard 180 Limousine. I've already restored the pump which was a clump of rust caused by the hygroscopic qualities of brake fluid. I will be changing over to ATF after I completely flush the lines with alcohol and replace all the hoses.

Edit: More info... from the Hydro-E-Lectric website:

"Cars older than 1953 use DOT-3 brake fluid. Cars 1953 and up use brake fluid or automatic transmission fluid. Cars prior to 1953 may use ATF if all new hoses have been installed. CAUTION - brake fluid destroys paint."

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  • 3 weeks later...
what tire should i put on this car 950X14 bias or a radial , i plan on driving this car. i still cant post a pic??? thanks dean

If it were my car I'd put the 9:50X14 Bias PLY tires on it, that is if you can find any that large. Radials would probably work okay, but it would be possible you might gets some tire rub on very sharp turns.

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The Continental Mark II is a similar designed suspension. All of we Mark II owners that have switched to radials swear by them. Very few of us that actually drive our cars use bias-ply tires.

However, seeing as the suspension is similar you have to be wary of clearances to the upper ball joint. The cross-section of a radial tire is significantly wider, decreasing the gap noticeably.

This is resolved by buying new wheels with a shallower back-set, effectively moving your tires outboard. You really should run modern steel wheels with radials anyway as they are a heavier gauge metal to compensate for the extra sidewall flex of radials.

I believe the problem you may run into is a proper load rating. That convertible is a heavy beast. I don't believe that there are wide white 14" that meet the load requirements. Some people have gone to 15" and run Mark II 15" hub caps, which the Mark III caps were modeled after. Someone did successfully mate a 15" trim ring to the 14" hub caps. You might want to consider that as the P235/75/R-15 Silverstone or Coker Classics fall in the weight range you need.

One last thing. The hub caps tend to creep and bend the valve stem over so far as to cause catastrophic air loss. Use metal stems. They will hold the cap in position until the clasps bite into the inside of the rim, decreasing the common rotation of the hub cap.

Hope that helps.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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