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1956 T-Bird newbie...

Discussion in '1955 - 1966 Classic Ford Thunderbird' started by scottgeorge, Dec 24, 2018.

  1. Hello everyone. My father in law has a 1956 T-Bird, inherited from his wife's mother who recently passed. I am trying to convince them to let me start a restore project on it. Not a frame off show vehicle, but a daily driver in the warm months and garaged otherwise. From what I gathered from my grandma in law prior to her passing, is the vehicle drove well some 20 plus years ago. It was stored and didn't see daylight after her husband past. I looked the vehicle over and can only visually see some minor surface rust on the chrome bumpers. The rest of the car looks like it just needs a bath and some minor interior trim parts replaced to make it real nice. So my question is, where to start. I have never performed a restore before, but with the power of Google a manual and some friendly guidance, I could make this a successful venture. I was thinking fuel tank replacement, new lines etc., new plugs, air filter, oil change, new belts, coolant flush and see what happens. Thoughts?
  2. fordrodsteven

    fordrodsteven Well-Known Member Gold Donor

    Sounds like it could be a lot of fun! I can assure you that when you get it going it will attract a lot of comments and attention anywhere you go.
    If the fuel tank is not rusted out you might be able to get by with just a good thourough cleaning. I would ensure carburetor, fuel pump and fuel filter are clean and functioning. But most certainly I would go through the brakes! much more important to stop rather than go. Once running and stopping you might consider changing out the fluids in the transmission and rear end differential.
    scottgeorge likes this.
  3. Awesome info. Thank you. Guess stopping is more important. I don't have a scope to check inside the gas tank, is there a way to check for debris inside the gas tank?
  4. Good ol' YouTube. I saw a great post on dropping the tank and how to clean video.
  5. Scott, I echo what my friend Steve posted about your 56 Bird. I’d also suggest you check out CTCI.org This is a national Thunderbird Club and through their website or a phone call you can see the closest local Thunderbird club to you. Between this forum and other forums and clubs you’ll find plenty of help. Owners of these “Baby Birds” are a wonderfully passionate fraternity. Connecting with auto specific technicians is going to be extremely helpful.
    Good luck and hope to hear more about your car soon.
  6. This is awesome. Thank you for replying. I know I'm in the beginning phase, just trying to get permission to even start a resto on it, but in time, I'll add some pics and updates. Thank you for the info.
  7. A few thoughts come to mind. First off, change the oil. After the car has run a bit, change it again. Also, and I'm sure others can chime in on this, I'd suggest being careful about starting the car the first time -- rather, moving the crankshaft. Kick it quickly to move it slightly? Should the heads be pulled? Maybe just soak some oil into the cylinders, or maybe Marvel Mystery Oil, via the spark plug openings, just to put some lubricant on the pistons before they move. You don't know what those cylinder walls look like, and you don't want to damage them. Brakes and fuel lines, by all means. Radiator hoses, before taking it very far, get them replaced. Same with tires. And then -- on my own car which came to life after a long hibernation, rear axle. Bearings and pumpkin dry out, and the top portions which have no oil protection will rust. Drive the car a handful of miles and it'll start growling. But before long you'll be enjoying it -- sounds like a really nice inheritance!
  8. Great info, thank you. Have a Merry Christmas everyone!
  9. replace the fuel tank, lines, pump and rebuld the carb.
  10. fordrodsteven

    fordrodsteven Well-Known Member Gold Donor

    You say there is only visually minor rust on the bumpers. Was it in storage where it remained dry? Can you turn the engine by hand? Personally I would just clean the tank, lines and carb. I would just flush out the coolant. I would drain out the engine oil and replace the filter. I would put some mystery oil in the cylinders.. If the brakes are not functioning just don't move the car. Refill radiator with water. No need to buy antifreeze until you first see if the engine will fire and run. Don't dump a bunch of money into it until you have an idea what has to be replaced. Are the brake lines rusted? Check that the brakes work before you try to move the car. It should be able to run if you put the spark plugs back in and leave the distributor and wires alone. (Unless the wires were ravaged by rodents)
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2018
  11. From what I was told by my grandmother in-law before she passed, it was garaged kept its entire life. The rust looks like one could rub it out with some 0000 steel wool. It's only a few spots here and there. Someone took super good care of this bird. Good ideas, thanks for your input.
  12. I am in a similar situation, but definitely starting more from scratch. We inherited my wife's uncle's 56 whose last registration was 1977. More rust than I care to admit (kick panels). It's rough, but I am in love with it.

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