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1961 Mercury Meteor 800 restore


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Well I have been working hard, but not that much on the car.:( I did have a nice surprise when I got back to the house from running errands this morning. Across the street from the house parked on the side of the road was a beautiful Caddy. No one around. So I snapped a few pictures and kept my eyes peeled for the owner. Sure enough about 30 minute later he pulled up in his truck. I went over to talk with him and come to find out he just lives a few streets away. We got to talking about cars and what I had going on so he wanted to check it out. He has owned the car for 50 years he told me. He was taking progress pictures and then decided to go around the block with it and it ran out of gas right there. The interior is out of it and he has been working on it when he can. One nice looking Caddy.

I did finally manage to get my blast cabinet standing upright. Not to much more work on it and I will be ready for blasting.

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What a week. I decided to have some me time and work on the car finally. I installed the roof insulation and pulled just about everything on the front of the car. Guess I will need to get an engine stand soon. Been eyeballing the engine and I think it's coming out. Pulled some wiring hanesses out from the engine compartment and pulled off the old tape, looked them over and retaped them. Pulled a valve cover off just to take a peek to see whats in there. No sludge or gunk. Thats a good thing so far. Have to see what I find in the pan when I remove it.

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After a morning of working of the roof I took a few hours and got to work on the car. Got down to the meat and potatoes part of the car. Looks like I will have to get a stand this week so I will be ready to pull the power plant. I pulled everything from the firewall forward. I noticed that the plant destination number was written on the firewall (LA plant). I think the old girl was getting mad at me and decided to let me have it. I was taking off the lower bottom fender bolt at the rocker panel and it is so corroded that the clip broke. I was still able to get it to stay hooked enough to get it to turn. Well, while laying on my back, close to the work..... and pow. Managed to get smaked with a 3/8" rachet to the lower lip. The inside looks pretty ugly from where the tooth dug out a chunk. The outside, a good split. The wife told me that's enough for today, oh but I will return.:mad:

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Merc update. I pretty much have everything unbolted and ready to pull out the engine and trans. Drained all the fluids and they didn't look or smell bad. I was going to pick up a 2000lb engine stand from my local Chinese tool warehouse, but after reading reviews the night before I decided to build my own. I checked in my shop and I had plenty of steel left over from previous big jobs. I did manage to still go to the chinese place, but left with four nice casters. Then off to the steel store to get some bar stock and 1/4" plate. After I was all done with the stand I only had $50 in the hole thing. 4 casters and the plate and bar I bought. Just have to put some color on it. I will post pictures later this week. I'm pretty sure it will hold a motor or two. :rolleyes: Looking to pull it all out this Sunday morning. Can't wait to start tearing into that and getting the front of the car cleaned up.

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Well here she is. I think it will do just fine. I have my buddy coming over to assist and hopeflly it comes out without a hitch. I got the hoist all lined up. Just waiting until Sunday. :D I will take some shots of the progress.

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What a day. Made good progress on the Merc. Manage to get the engine and trans out. It's resting well on the stand now. Didn't move at all. Must of did something right on that one.:) I started cleaning the gunk off the block and testing areas to see how much cleaning is going to be involved. Not real bad, but it will take some time. I pulled out what was left of the freeze plugs on the drivers side of the block. Rusted clear thru. Got a lot of rust and junk to clean out of the block on that side. The motor ran great when I got the car so I will be basicly pulling everything except tearing down the short block. Just do a good cleaning and will be ready to put back together. I guess I will be busy for awhile now. I did see on the firewall the trim code (G-18) and the body code (65A) written with marker. It's a little faded, but I will be putting it back on when I get it all painted.

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Had some time after a busy day of work today. I decided to tear into the engine. I doesn't look to bad inside, but sure stunk. Had that old varnish and oil smell. :P Not to much build up which will make clean up alot faster.

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I know what you mean about the old engine smell once you crack them open. I swear I can smell it just looking at the pictures. Looks great inside considering the age and mileage.

Did you find the metal build tag on the right side corner where the fender meets the cowl? I met a family with a Mercury convertible that led me to look there for mine. Sure enough it was still wired there and sitting in the cavity created by the fender and cowl.

Too cool about the firewall markings. I will have to see what is behind the engine on mine. On mine the rotation number is clear on the firewall and inspector "28" signed off on the voltage regulator. Those are the only two I see currently.

Edited by flyermark (see edit history)
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It does feel good to get things moving on the old Merc. I will be keeping everything the same. The only thing I may change would be the exhaust. It had a single, but I may go to a dual setup. Nothing loud. I know Waldon has them for the car, but I have plenty of time to think about it.

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Thanks Chuck. It's actually a 352. I got the intake and oil pan over at my neighbors house and he is going to hot tank it in the am. I cleaned up the push rods today and some vacuum lines. I would like to have the engine all cleaned up and back together by the end of June.

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Well after tacking care of my two appointments today I went over to get my parts from the neighbor. The intake looks pretty clean. Still had some carbon build up on the under side, but cleaned up really quick. Need to get a small wire wheel to get into the tight spot to get the surface rust off. The oil pan came out pretty clean. Still had some left over crud, but it was in there for maybe 20 minutes. It was sure beat up. I don't know what he hit back in the day. Had to spend some time knocking the dents out of it. Ordered my freeze plugs for the block. Have to pull the heads next and do a little cleaning on them.

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Edited by Laughing Coyote (see edit history)
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I know that when I worked at a Chrysler assemble plant as an inspector (I was only in my teens) they used a liquid ink marker along with the grease pencil. The ink marker could be refilled and came in several colors, it had a round flat tip on it. Just info for what it might be worth. Scott...

BTW, Martin your doing one heck of a job and I'm one of those that really like the amount time and detail work that you're putting in to the car, all that work will show in the end.

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Thanks for the info Scotts. Any information is helpful. Well I have the oil pan all cleaned up inside and out. Dents are pretty much out and it's been primed and awaiting install and paint. I may have to buy new rocker arm rails. The others one aren't looking to good once I pulled them apart. Alot of years of gummed up oil and wear.. Going to call around to the parts stores and see how much lighter they will make my wallet. Should be posting more pics by the end of the week.

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Wow! You're doing a great job and the attention to detail is amazing. I was shocked to see somebody correctly restoring a 61' mercury. I also have a Meteor 800, 352 with the 3 speed. I have an extra set of rocker arms with the shaft in good condition If you need them.

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Well as I tear more into this engine I'm finding more crusty oil caked in all the passages and places it would be to hard to clean out. The old oil is just like liquid graphite with coal chuncks. Brake cleaner barely cleans it up. I decided to do a complete rebuild on the engine. My friend is going to take the block to an engine shop and have them put it in a vat to deep clean everything when I get it all the way torn down. Glad to have connections for this stuff. I did get the paint for the valve covers, air cleaner and oil fill cap. I guess I will clean them up and give them a new coat of paint and put them on a shelf for later. Oh well, just means the engine wont be done by June. Plenty more stuff to work on in the mean time.

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Well as I tear more into this engine I'm finding more crusty oil caked in all the passages and places it would be to hard to clean out. The old oil is just like liquid graphite with coal chuncks. Brake cleaner barely cleans it up. I decided to do a complete rebuild on the engine. My friend is going to take the block to an engine shop and have them put it in a vat to deep clean everything when I get it all the way torn down. Glad to have connections for this stuff. I did get the paint for the valve covers, air cleaner and oil fill cap. I guess I will clean them up and give them a new coat of paint and put them on a shelf for later. Oh well, just means the engine wont be done by June. Plenty more stuff to work on in the mean time.

Deere842,

I will be putting in new shafts. The shafts that came off the heads were bowed pretty bad and had a lot of wear on the underside of them. Miced them out per the manual and they are worn beyond specs. The rockers I will have to check the bores on them yet. Thanks for the offer though. If I change my mind I will PM you.

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You might want to considor having the rotating parts of your engine balanced. I had my 1960 352 balanced. My rebuilder said it wasn't necessary if I was not going to race it. I'm glad I did. It is smooth through all rpm ranges. It runs like an electric motor! Keep up the goog work. I'm enjoying your thread.

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Thanks Rick. Yes it would be nice to have it all balanced, but don't want to shell out the extra cash. If I was doing a performance car like a Mustang, Vette or something like that than I would consider it. I have attached some more pics of the progress. The aircleaner is done. I used engine primer on the intake and it's ready for when I get ready to install it. The heads have been stripped down and ready to hot tank them to cean them up this coming week. Still have a bit to do to get the block broken down all the way. You can see the sludge that is on the oil pick up.:P Still have to clean up the valve covers. Still caked with that nasty old oil. Just doesn't come of easy. I made up some trays to hold all my valves, springs and bolts. That way I can keep them all in the order they came out of the heads. Have lots of cleaning and checking to do on them. The sand blasting cabinet is almost ready. Just in time for me to put it to work.

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I would like to start of my update with a salute to those brave souls that fought a horrific battle on this 6th day of June 1944. God bless them all.

I did get the heads all hot tanked today and cleaned up. I have one bank of valves all cleaned up. I measured them all (stems and guides) and are within factory specs. Going to give them a quick hand lap and get them ready to go back together. The sandblasting cabinet is done and works pretty good. The gun works okay, but could be better. (Cheapy import) Need to look for a better one. I picked up the decals from my buddy that goes on the air cleaner. Other than that getting ready to do some more measurements before I tear down the rest of the motor down. Been pretty hot here. 108 for a few days. Takes the energy right out of you and you dont want to do much. Kinda like when it gets to -50 and tons of snow for the folks in the cold areas.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nope, A long way from done on this project. If your looking vor parts look on Ebay for a lot of the hard to find stuff. Mac's auto parts, Obsolete classic auto parts, Concourse parts. You can search on Google too. Lots of stuff out there. You just have to dig for it. My car came with all the hard to find trim and pieces.

While I'm posting I will update the progress. All the engine tin has been painted and ready to go. The intake is ready for paint. The oil pan is painted and ready. The valves have all been lapped and ready to back into the heads. Have to get the new valve umbrellas and keepers so I can get them back together, primed and painted. Pulled all the pistons and they are waiting to be disassembled and cleaned. Going to pull the crank, cam and timing stuff this weekend. Been really hot and busy with work.

Oh, figured out why the blast cabinet wasn't working to well. Had to add an additional tube to the pick up tube to create a vacuum effect. Works like gang busters now. Rips the rust and paint right off.:D

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Oh yes, the first day of summer. So lets go put the swamp cooler on the roof of the shop when it's going to be 105 degrees. Always had it in the back of my mind that this thing has to get up on the roof before it gets hot. Oh well too late. I just couldn't take it anymore having it in my way when I have to work and rolling it around makes it a pain to deal with. So I just had to get it done. I ended up getting the duct material at the local steel yard and drew up the design on the plasma software. Had it cut out and ready to go last week. I removed the wheels from the frame and put legs on it. Had to get the neighbors tractor to lift it to the roof and slide it off the bucket. Fun times. Still have to do some sealing around teh duct bottom, but i have a few days before any chance of rain. At least it's finally up, nobody got hurt and I can check it off the list. Good thing, it's going to be hotter this coming week. I posted some pictures of the job and some shots of Tucson and the mountains out back.

As for the car I haven't done much. I removed the sway bar, front brake lines and some small brakets. Going to try and get the heads together this week and get them into primer. Been sandblasting the other headlight parts so I can get that assembly back together. Need to get some 1/2" thick rubber pad for the front body mounts and then I can finish istallin gthe others and be done with that part. Just been really busy with the job so the car time has slowed some. :cool:

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Edited by Laughing Coyote (see edit history)
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Well I got the cranked pulled out and just have to get the cam out. The oil deposits around the bearings are keeping it held in. Going to have to use a little more umph. I was using a gear puller to pull off the balancer but it would just pull the outer ring forward. (putting a new balancer on anyway) Since I didn't have the proper puller I just used some chain links and removed the jaws and put the links in their place. Used the balancer front pully bolts and it came right off. Timming chain had about an inch of slop in it.

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Edited by Laughing Coyote (see edit history)
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