Frank Tate

1955 Thunderbird Basket Case

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So, I thought I would post some in process shots of the TBird I am working on.  I started this last year after having bought it as a basket case years ago.  I am still working on the Super Convert, but started on this to try to get it done for my wife while we are still young enough to enjoy!  As usual with buying a basket case, you hope you get all of it!

 

So, the previous owner (PO) had already torn the car apart, disassembled the motor and had the block tanked.  He had also painted the frame and some of the front suspension.  After it sitting for a couple years while I took care of the house chores and had an addition put on the house so I would have a garage to work in, I decided to get cracking on it.  The frame was showing signs of rust, so I took it to a chemical strip company and had it dipped along with a number of other parts while the engine block, heads and crank were at the machine shop.

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It came back nice and clean

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So, I got it painted with Chassis Black

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The engine came back from the machine shop

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And I started assembly

 

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Rebuilt the oil pump

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Found out I was missing the distributor and the harmonic balancer....both TBird specific.  So, once I sourced those, I finished assembly.

 

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While I was sourcing the missing engine parts, I took the opportunity to work on the rear suspension.  With Thanks to Gary and his Buick leaf springs series, I refurbed the TBird.  I am happy with the way they came out.

 

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With the rear suspension done, I moved on to the front suspension with the idea that I could get the chassis on its wheels and mount the engine, thus freeing up some garage space.  

 

So, it was on to blasting and painting and putting new bushings in the upper and lower arms.  Again, since I didn't take it apart I am looking for parts and information on how it goes back together.  CTCI's restoration manual  is a super resource!

 

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With all bushings in place:

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I am waiting on the special spacers that go between the lower front arm and the frame.  Then I can install the ball joints and the spindle.

 

And that is where I am at the moment, so while I am waiting on the spacer washers, I was going to powder coat the spindles and the brake parts.  Which is when I found this:

 

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That top spindle is bent!!!  So now I am on the hunt for a new spindle.

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So, I got lucky today and a gentleman in Gaithersburg had an ad on Craigslist for the front suspension and he was willing to make me a deal.  Now, it is back to clean up and powdercoating.

 

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It is looking good. You are moving right along.

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Wonderful, thanks for sharing... excited to watch this project!!

 

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12 hours ago, mercer09 said:

looks good!  looking for a motor for my 55 as well!

Where are you located?  The gentleman I bought the suspension from told me he has a yblock available.  Given that he is trying to downsize, his prices are very reasonable.

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It's interesting to see that the front suspension parts from that Thunderbird are looking identical to the ones from A Mark II, especially the upper A-arms. The lower ones are similar in configuration, details are different. Good work!

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On 3/11/2018 at 8:37 AM, Frank Tate said:

top spindle is bent!!!  So now I am on the hunt for a new spindle.

I have made some for supper Belltech axles.   just made of 4140 steel  it is some nice steel to work with.--kyle 

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Well after much scraping and wire brushing and 1 can of gunk engine cleaner and the pressure washer, here we are.

 

Now for disassembly and rust removal.  This is slow going!

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Well, things are going slowly.  I finally got the derusting tank set up and have started on the lower A arm from the passenger side.  While it is cooking, I am going to throw some smaller parts into another tank with the Evapo Rust and see how long that takes.

 

You can see what I am starting with above and here is where I stand now.  The carbon steel rods really make the solution a lot cleaner.  Much less orange sludge/crud.

 

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Hi Frank,  

... On this derusting tank setup is the process covered elsewhere?

Thanks, Ric

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Hi Ric,

I haven't covered it in my posts, but it is pretty well covered on youtube.  It is very simple... you fill the tank with water and add washing soda....NOT baking soda.  I got mine from either the Ace hardware or the Giant grocery store.  Rig up some steel for your anode.  I initially used some scrap 1/4" plate but that made a rusty scum in the tank so I switched to 1/2" carbon steel welding rods. Hook up a battery charger with the + to the anode(s) and the negative to the cathode (rusty part) that is suspended in some way.  Turn on the charger so that you have about 4 to 6 amps draw and let it cook.

 

Because my A arm was so rusty, I have cooked it about 12 hours so far.  I will check later today and post results.

 

Frank

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So, here it is cookingDSCN1434.thumb.JPG.88b880861bcb8878f9b105e66a3d2efd.JPG

 

And here it is done with the bath.

 

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And here it is after some quality time with the blast cabinet and a wire brush.

 

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I took one upper A arm inner shaft and blasted one end and wire brushed the other.  It took about the same time.  I am not sure which is better.

 

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I have the other inner arm in EvapoRust.  I will post that when I pull it out tomorrow!

 

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I have the impression that blasting can remove the rust from the pores; with the wire brush it's more difficult.

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I think you are correct Roger.  The right side was wire brushed and the left was blasted.

 

Here is the EvapoRust treated part after sitting overnight.

 

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It certainly was easier to do a quick rinse and scrub with a scotchbrite!  I am not sure what that discoloration is on the right side, but will see if it will come off with the wire brush.  Looks ready to paint or powder coat.

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May I ask where you purchased your engine cradle (stand)? Brand name, web site, etc.

Thanks, I am looking for a low profile engine cradle for my 1956 Ford Thunderbird 312 engine. The closest I have come is on Summit Racing web site. The problem is I would have to modify the one they recommend. I'd rather not do that if there is one I can purchase elsewhere that would fit the 312 engine. Any help you can give will be very much appreciated.

Larry Phillips

Evans, Georgia 30809

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Hey Larry,

 

Sorry, was visiting relatives up in Canada and didn't see this until today!

Just responded to your post in your thread.  Craigslist ad from a guy in my neighborhood, no less!


Frank

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Frank, thanks for your post.. I hope I can be as lucky. Can you send me a good picture of your stand to my email address? At Phillips.larryc@gmail.com

Thanks for your help, very much appreciated. In the meantime I will try Craig"s list.

Larry

 

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