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just bought 1966 tbird for restore any suggestions ??? newbie

Discussion in '1955 - 1966 Classic Ford Thunderbird' started by Steeletbird, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. I just bought a car i always wanted and finally got a 1966 tbird with 390 ... wheeeew now the fun begins restoring ..... what a mess ....
    now what any suggestions .... i was thinking pu;; power train out and already talked to guy about sandblasting frame and body as a starter

    anhything in " NEED or should know before starting .... kinda like u really need to know this lol
    my wife thinks im crazy why didnt i just buy one already done with no rust ...why would i put myself thru this grief lol
    any suggestions

  2. Take lots of photo and notes before you disassemble anything. Note the colors of fasteners, are there washers? What kind? Sealer? Undercoating? This will be your best aid in getting everything back together correctly. Your memory will fail you. Which way are the cotter pins facing? What are the markings on the bolt heads? Minor details like this might not be important to you but may be useful to the next owner.
  3. There are plenty of things I've learned along the way. for starters, yes indeed it's better to buy one fully restored than to fix up a project. These cars are expensive to restore because (1) repro prices are higher than the same parts for Mustangs or Falcons -- because there are fewer cars to divide the costs with, and (2) the car is actually a Lincoln, built with the concept of "Why use 3 moving parts when you can use 47?" Then when all is said and done, the finished car is not worth as much as that Mustang. Why? It's a head scratcher. BUT -- take it on a drive, take it to a car show, take it anywhere, and it turns heads. The general public doesn't look at auction results, they love the cars!

    As for restoration, you should ask yourself -- are you doing a total rotisserie restoration, or are you fixing it up as you go along? This makes a difference as to what to do first, or how far you should dig.

    In my case, I bought a basket case of a car -- sitting in a field for years with rodents living in it, formerly owned by some mountain boys who knew how to rig it up with bailing wire and chewing gum, and parts source being another Bird in the backyard on blocks. I made it a rolling restoration, and although it still is a bit rough around the edges I've had years of enjoying it.

    One major piece of advice: before you drive it anywhere, replace the brakes. I'm talking cylinders, brake shoes, flex hoses, steel lines, everything. ESPECIALLY the steel lines and hoses. Rotten hoses can let go, and even good-looking old hoses can swell up inside, making the brakes feel sticky. The steel lines can rust, and the rear one is notorious for rusting inside a plate, where the line turns and goes under the driver's door. Use new stainless lines and you're good forever.

    As for body, first chance you get, remove the carpeting and the carpet backing, and hang it out to dry. Trust me, it's soaking wet, and rusting out the floor. It rained one day in 1969, and some water got inside the car, and it's still there. That carpeting feels bone dry until you remove it -- and yuck!

    Looking for a good shop in your area? Go to some local car shows and ask around. Don't go with the shop that sets up a booth -- well, you can, but only if you have 10 other people telling you this shop does really good work. Some are ripoff artists. I've had my own bad experiences, and I've heard stories from others that are even worse. I know a shop in Bradenton (FL) who disappeared in the middle of the night, taking several customer cars with them. These cars were later found in North Carolina, picked apart. But there are plenty of good guys, and you can find them by asking around.

    That's about all I can thing of at the moment. Good luck!
    Leon likes this.
  4. If you are removing engine, then replace the bushing that keeps the steering column and selector together. It would be a whole lot easier with the engine out. Good luck!! Dan (forest hill, md)
  5. 64ZCODE

    64ZCODE Well-Known Member Gold Donor

    Hi there Scott, I admire your fortitude pursuing this ambitious project. I've noticed there is a manual available called the Thunderbird Restoration Guide 1958-1966 and perhaps this would be a good resource for you to have. Also, check out the Thunderbird Ranch website, there is a lot available there including practical tips, technical specifications, assembly manuals, and even a parts interchange catalogue which would show what parts would swap in and work on your model of car.

    Please keep us posted as matters progress! Doug (Santa Cruz, CA)
  6. 64ZCODE

    64ZCODE Well-Known Member Gold Donor

    PS - several of the attached original Ford advertising pieces are for the '66. As they say, we're not driving, we're thunderbirding. Enjoy!

    Attached Files:

  7. shes right just finished my 66 town coupe bought a parts car for spare parts
  8. lol ..funny :) i didnt buy it save $$$ thrill of the kill and all that lol ....
  9. btw i just uploaded some pics in my gallery , of me bringing it home .... let me know what you guys think .....
  10. Huh? You said you DID buy it. How do we see the pictures?
  11. 64ZCODE

    64ZCODE Well-Known Member Gold Donor

    Click on his icon, then there is a Photos link.

    Nice looking car, Steeletbird!
  12. thanks i'll keep that in mind btw i also posted pics of it now
    Dj-Dan likes this.

  13. thanks i really appreciate the in depth feedback its great !!! yes i am doing it for the fun of it and pride of doing it myself with my boys ... and yes i am removing the power train to sand blast the whole frame etc....and easier acess/ replacement of parts such as all the brake lines etc..... i'm NOT looking for a concourse look just doing it right for long time .....
    Dj-Dan likes this.
  14. 64ZCODE

    64ZCODE Well-Known Member Gold Donor

    Hi Steeletbird. As far as I know, all the Flair birds were unibody, my '64 certainly is. Seems to make for a real solid configuration with minimum of body flex, squeaks and creaks. Not sure how all this plays out with sandblasting though?

    Brake lines are really accessible. There's one spot where the rear brake line goes under a plate aft of the driver door, but the plate is removable. Good to check under this plate to see the condition of current brake line as crud and moisture can collect there.

  15. Angry Bird

    Angry Bird Angry Bird's 64' Lifetime Donor

    Yes they're all Unibody, 58 thru 66 at least.
  16. 64ZCODE

    64ZCODE Well-Known Member Gold Donor

    So does anybody know why Ford moved away from unibody construction? Too expensive to manufacture compared to a body on frame car?
  17. Angry Bird

    Angry Bird Angry Bird's 64' Lifetime Donor

    I'm pretty sure that the reason Ford went to the Unibody construction was to cut costs and to reduce the weight of the car. It would seem to me that there may have been an assembly reason also. The car's were modular built in sections with two subframes one front and one rear attached to a rigid body frame or cage if you would. So that would tell me that it may have been a safety consideration also.

    Interestingly, the reason the 66 front end was redesigned was to reduce the number of fatalities of crashes not to the occupants of the Thunderbird's but to occupants of other cars that were in a front end collisions. The sheer strength of the 64 - 65 front end was leathal in crashes and Ford was ordered by the NHSA to reduce the rigidity of the 66's and replace it with a lighter crumple zone Thunderbird in that year model. Safety for the 66 passengers was not compromised however body damages to the Thunderbird's in a front crash were greater.

    Sorry I got carried away with my post. Crazy Thunderbirder here.

    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
  18. 64ZCODE

    64ZCODE Well-Known Member Gold Donor

    No worries, very interesting actually. I'm intrigued that the '64 and '65 T Birds are disguised battering rams. Look out other traffic, coming through!
  19. i'm confused about ignition wiring on 66 tbird .... as you guys know a " parts car came with it .... 1966 tbird ... but someone had put a 351 windsor motor @ some time in the past and i was thinking of selling the motor and was trying to get it running to see its " condition" but i cant seem to get it start becuz no spark .... both being 66 birds you would assume the wiring would be the same doooooooooh lol.... but for some reason the " parts" car has a 1 wire coming out of distributor and my good one has 2 wires and " standard / original coil .... ( which runs fine 390 4bl ) other than the obvious coil is dead dooooooooh .... i'm thinking maybe i got it wired up wrong ... any ideas ??? i dont see any " loose / disconnected wires laying around
  20. Angry Bird

    Angry Bird Angry Bird's 64' Lifetime Donor

    The firing order for the 351 W is:

    1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8- the distributor turns counter clockwise.

    Hope this helps.


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