Project Creep timeline

I made an effort during the front-end project to try and get a picture from the same approximate angle at each major step in this process. Some didn’t come out or I was so busy I forgot, but it still make a pretty good timeline of the whole thing, so here you go.

Before I started, the wagon with it’s worn out front suspension & rusty wheels. The original plan had been to simply replace the front suspension, cleaning up and painting the parts & mounting points as needed.

This is that point, when the suspension was pulled apart. At this point I decided to clean up & repaint the insides of the fenderwells since it was easier to get in there with the suspension gone. As soon as I started I realized it would be easier without the pesky fenders in the way, which required removal of the bumper & grille…

So all those parts were pulled. At this point since I had them off I figured I might as well redo this whole area, since I could get at it all.

To this end the headlights, the hood latch, fender shields & all remaining brackets were pulled off.

Next up everything was powerwashed. I have a cheap little electric power washer, it is surprisingly useful and does an amazing job of removing grime that would take forever to scrub off. I should have a picture here of everything ground down and ready for paint, but I forgot that overall shot.

Next was Masterseries paint on all the rusty areas, Right after I put the first coat on it began to drizzle, thus the shot after I’d thrown the tent over it in a panic.

There was another coat of Masterseries the next day, then the primer went on over everything.

Lastly was two coats of semi-gloss black, and one coat of truck bed liner in the wheelwells.

With the painting done the re-assembly could begin. The new suspension went in first, followed by the smaller brackets, etc, then the headlights, valance panel & one fender.

Then the other fender & grille. In these pics the brakes are still wrapped in a plastic bag, this was because I couldn’t find my grease gun, so I couldn’t  repack the wheel bearings & finish up assembly. I tracked it down the next day and got all that put together.

Then the bumper & headlight trim rings. The car say more or less like this for a week while I located replacement for some defective tie-rods. Once those arrived I was able to wrap everything up.

The freshly painted wheel went on and the car was finally back on its “feet” for the first time in three weeks. It is amazing how much all the work doesn’t show, while at the same time how much the painted wheels chance the look of the car.

Lastly the hubcaps went on and I could finally call the project done. She’ll need an alignment but tracks straight enough for right now that that isn’t a huge priority, she’ll get it once I can carve the funds out of my budget.


Project Creep 4, I love it when a car comes together.

Those are all the replacement parts for the front suspension. Everything is being replaced except the spindle, strut rod & spring(all of which don’t have any wear parts). So once I’m done, The wagon will essentially have a brand new front end.

I forgot to take pictures of the installation, probably because I was too busy trying to convince the spring to seat properly. Despite cutting one coil off the springs(to lower the car) they were still a tight fit to get in place with new stiff bushing on all the parts. It turned out the tie rods they sent me as part of the kit were wrong, I had four inner tie rods and no outer tie rods. When I call them they said they’d just found out there supplier had screwed up a whole batch, and they had no correct inner tie rods. I ended up having to order them from another company, which delayed the whole project by an extra week.

Once I’d gotten as far as I could with the suspension, I started putting the sheet metal on. It took surprisingly little time, even with all the fiddling to get things to line up as straight as possible. With as many pieces as there was to put together, I made a few mistakes. I initially had the grille brackets upside down, but fortunately that was an easy fix.

One of the things with doing all of this work was that the area visible through the grille was going to look better, more consistently dark instead of a mishmash of black, rust and the pieces that were white from the factory. It is a little thing, but I always prefer cars where the area behind the grille is all dark, it just looks cleaner and more finished.

The only part of this project I wish I’d been able to do more with was the bumper. I don’t even want perfectly new looking chromed ones, but the level of rust on the current one bugs me. I did grind the rust off the brackets, and shoot them with some paint. However I didn’t bother to take them apart, as I didn’t want to risk stripping out the holes in the bumper.

Altogether I’m really happy with how all this turns out. Under the fenders it looks like a brand new car. Being able to look at something that looked like this, and make it look like this it immensely satisfying.

As soon as the new Tie rods arrived. I was finally able to put the last bits together and get the wagon back on the ground. Even I am amused at how little the three weeks of work show once the car is all together again. But now the steering wheel will actually have a more direct influence on where the car goes.

Project Creep 3, paint and more paint!

If you aren’t sick of seeing parts of a Falcon with paint on them, you will be soon, almost as sick as I was of painting them.

After two coats of Masterseries it was time for primer. I’m using various Rustoleum paints for this, as they are cheap and pretty durable. It may not be professional level restoration quality, but since that isn’t what this car is, it suits me just fine. So several cans of Rusty Metal Primer later and everything was consistently dark orange.

Since there was a lot of waiting for paint to dry, I was jumping somewhat randomly between lots of different parts of the car. So for instance I might find myself painting Masterseries on the inside of the fenders, then putting a coat of primer on front suspension parts. I had an elaborate (and likely baffling to anyone else) system as to where things got placed on the driveway so that I could keep parts from the left & right sides of the car apart so I didn’t cross anything important up.

One thing I learned on a previous project, and utterly failed to remember to photograph here was how I kept all the nuts & bolts organized. as things came off the car, all the relevant hardware would go into a simple ziploc style sandwich bag, and have “Right Fender” or whatever written on it. Then later I’d sort & count what was in that bag and add a list of the contents. I had gotten a Harbor Freight Vibrator Tumbler(which is less exciting than it sounds) for my birthday, so all the hardware got a run through that, which while it didn’t come out looking brand new, definitely cleaned it up significantly. Then it all got a quick coat of spray paint, just to keep it from rusting right back up and making my new paint look a mess.

After primer came the top coat. Everything got two coats of semi-gloss black, then any part that was going to be inside the wheelwell got a coat of truck bed liner to help protect it from stuff kicked up by the tires. I continued on painting the various suspension bits so that everything that was going back on the car would look like new.

One thing I needed to replace was the rubber seal that went between the inner fender & the fender itself to keep the tire from flinging stuff where it would collect and help form more rust. The originals were dry & cracked and basically fell apart when I removed them. I had planned to find some other material to make replacements out of, make patterns and cut new ones. I was even going to do a separate blog post about it. Then I discovered a full set of reproduction pieces was all of $24, so I bought those. Sorry. I ended up using sheet metal screws with extra-wide heads to install them. They were originally stapled on from the factory, but I don’t own any tools capable of punching a staple through 18 ga sheet metal.

Next up, stuff goes back together.

Headlight Bucket Restoration

As I missed a few updates, I figured I’d give you some short bonus entries to make up for it. So here is the first, the restoration of the headlamp buckets.

Each of these buckets were covered in surface rust, full of dirt and each had it’s own long empty hornets’ nest.

First everything had to come apart. Everything on these was intact, and like the car had no rot. The wiring & connectors were all still good and the wiring was still flexible.



Everything got a very thorough wire brushing to remove the surface rust, then two coats of primer, followed by two coats of semi-gloss black.

The back of the bucket got a coat of truck bed liner like the inner fender, then the wiring was scrubbed clean and everything was re-installed.


Little side projects like this are really great when working on a larger overall project, they give a sense of accomplishment and completion that helps keep the momentum going when the larger project is taking longer than expected.

Project Creep part 2, in which a rotted mess fails to materialize

In my last post (two weeks ago, sorry about that) I’d started out replacing the front suspension ,and ended up stripping the front end completely off. The new plan was to check over, derust & repaint all the inner structure, while leaving the exterior looking just as ratty as before. I’m sure some of you are wondering why I don’t just paint over all the worn out paint & surface rust, but I both rather like the patina on the car, and would prefer consistently ratty to a mismatch of ratty & repainted.

First up was assessing what I found. And I was surprised to find just how good everything was. There was surface rust in several places, like the edges of the cowl, the torque boxes, the bottoms of the fenders & inner fenders & under the battery tray. However there was absolutely zero rot anywhere. Not one rot hole to be found. When I pulled apart the “better” of the two ’62 Comets I had, it had been a very different story.

This was all the more surprising considering the piles of pine needles & mulch hidden at the bottom of both fenders and packed into the cowl drains. I can only guess that that stuff dated from the last few years(and in particular the eight months the car sat in the woods before I bought it), rather than the previous decades it sat in a barn. So the moist plant matter didn’t have time to really encourage rot.

The next step (after I spent 45 minutes with a pressure washer removing a garden’s worth of plant debris from inside the cowl) Was to start grinding down all of the rust in preparation for paint. It may not look it in shots like this, but every spot of rust has been diligently gone over with a wire wheel and/or angle grinder. Ford used a rust-colored primer though, so exposing that ended up making the car look more rusty, not less.

I also ground off what I initially though was a layer of undercoating, but eventually realized was actually a sort of clay-heavy dirt that was caked onto every surface of the wheelwell and had been there so long it had taken on the appearance of being part of the original car. I eventually was able to get everything looking as shiny new as I could, and was able to start putting paint on, instead of grinding it off.

Lets hear it for Masterseries paint, This is my absolute favorite rust-sealing paint, and I’ve been through at least 3-4 quarts so far on various projects (and have two more I just bought sitting in the garage for later on this car). I put a nice thorough coat onto everywhere I’d found rust, making sure to get it into and gaps or cracks where rust might fester. As much as I wanted to just coat everything, I had to prioritize as I was low at the time and didn’t have time to wait for more to be delivered. So stuff ended up looking a bit odd, with seemingly random silver painted bits over the worn old paint. And, of course, because the universe likes to mess with me, it started to drizzle the moment I was done paints, necessitating an emergency solution.

Next up, painting and more painting.