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25 Ford Mustang Restoration Tips
Cool solutions for your greatest resto challenges
13: Embrace The Sun
Replacing a classic Mustang dash pad can be quite a chore, especially if you’ve never done it before. Here’s a way to make it easier. Place the new dash pad in the sun for a half hour to allow it to become more flexible. This will make installation easier. You should do this with seat upholstery as well for the same reason. Obviously you will need more sun time in the winter.
14: Braid Raid
If you’re planning to drive your Mustang, electrical tape isn’t going to protect your wiring as well as some form of conduit. Plastic wire conduit doesn’t last or protect as well as some of the new wire braid kits available now. Painless Performance’s new PowerBraid wire protection does a fabulous job of preventing chaffing and deterioration. It also improves your Mustang’s electrical system appearance with a race-ready demeanor. PowerBraid is easy to install even on an existing wiring harness because it opens and wraps around the harness. It is available in a variety of sizes.
15: Strip Tease
Ever wonder why your Mustang’s glue-on weatherstripping falls off? Although weatherstripping is new, it isn’t ready for installation right out of the package. It must first be washed with soap and water, then dried completely before you apply adhesive. The adhesive must then be allowed to tack off (become sticky) on both surfaces before the weatherstrip is installed. It is best to gently close the door or deck lid and allow the adhesive to cure.
16: Double Protection
Few things are more frightening than an unexpected runaway Mustang at wide-open throttle. Ford originally equipped Mustangs with a single throttle return spring until ’69, when a spring-loaded throttle cable replaced the old-fashioned linkage. Throttle spring failure can cause your engine’s throttle to go wide-open without notice. This is why you should install two throttle springs at the wrap-up of a restoration. Summit Racing Equipment, to name one source, has dual throttle spring packages you can install at the carburetor as shown or at the linkage in back. Do this and feel safer.
17: Fan Shroud
When engines run hot, it is a natural knee-jerk response to assume the worst. However, overheating issues range from freeze plugs left in the water jackets during a rebuild to radiator size issues. Though a lot of Mustang applications don’t have a fan shroud, there are many which should have one. Air flow, in particular velocity through the radiator, is important to cooling. A fan shroud with the fan half way into the shroud will improve cooling. A standard “X” four-blade fan doesn’t call for a fan shroud. However, if you have a flex fan or thermostatic fan clutch, you must have a shroud.
18: Use Fuelie Hose
There was once a day when you could get away with using good old-fashioned fuel line hose in a restoration, but you can’t and shouldn’t anymore. Because today’s oxygenated fuels have harsh additives that contribute to cleaner air and octane enhancement, they tend to be hard on conventional fuel hose. It is suggested you use high-pressure fuel injection hose, especially if you’re going to drive your restoration. It can withstand low digit fuel pressure and will stand up to additives common in today’s fuels. Where possible, use heavy-duty fuel line clamps, especially underneath at the fuel sending unit.
19: Bring In Reinforcements
Does your restoration include fitment with dual exhausts? If so, you will want to know about these floor pan reinforcements from Classic Tube. They give your Mustang’s floor pan the strength it needs to support dual exhaust system hangers. You can weld them in or use industrial strength adhesive. In either case, you get strength.
20: Support System
One of the Mustang’s weakest links for nearly 50 years has been the brake and clutch pedal support. Plastic bushings and steel shafts just don’t cut the mustard when you have a manual transmission and a conventional three-finger clutch with a ton of spring pressure. This is why Scott Drake Reproductions offers a Clutch Pedal Roller Bearing Support Kit for ’65-’70 Mustangs. This kit takes the slop out of pedal function.
21: Purely Instrumental
While you’re restoring the instrument cluster, replace the instrument voltage regulator (also called the voltage limiter). If this guy sticks, instruments will max out. If it fails completely, instruments (besides ammeter) will stop functioning entirely.
22: Ceramic Coat Exhaust Manifolds
If you’ve discovered that most heat resistant paints don’t work long term, you’re not alone. Not all of them go the distance and eventually burn and flake off. Jet Hot has the solution to your exhaust manifold and header coating challenges. Ask for flat cast-iron ceramic for your manifolds and behold the result. Make sure your exhaust manifolds are not pitted, which will show up in the ceramic coating.
23: Do An Engine Mock-Up
Marvin McAfee of MCE Engines in Los Angeles strongly encourages you to do an engine mock-up—a test fit—before performing a final engine assembly. A mock-up allows you to check fit and clearances before the final stretch. This means installing pistons without rings for ease of mock-up with all moving parts lubricated. If you’re building a stroker, a mock-up becomes mandatory to make sure rod bolts clear cylinder skirts, oil pump and pick-up, and other critical areas. You want at least .060-inch of clearance.
24: Get Sprung
We get all kinds of arguments on this one, but there is but one truth—all lower radiator hoses must have an anti-collapse spring. Though common folklore is these springs were there strictly for factory fast fill, this doesn’t make any sense. The anti-collapse spring inside your Mustang’s lower radiator hose is there to keep the hose from collapsing at high revs. As the water pump whirls faster, it pulls coolant from the radiator faster than the radiator can deliver, causing the lower hose to collapse. This is why some of you experience overheating at highway speeds and cool down when you exit.
25: No Leak Bendix
Pity the poor old Bendix power-assist steering, which was original equipment on classic Mustangs from ’65-’70. The Mustang’s no-respect power steering struggles with leak issues to be sure, but not always from where you think. Leaks are rarely caused by seals, but instead improper line installation. All lines and fitting seats must be perfectly void of nicks and distortion. Even the smallest imperfection will leak. If the flare isn’t square on the seat, it will leak. Closely examine and install every hose carefully.