And the wagon goes away

I sold the wagon this weekend. It had been sitting since we bought the house, and I had no enthusiasm to work on it any more. I finally got tired enough of it taking up a garage space for no reason. So it went up on Craigslist and the first person who actually came out to look at it bought it.

He owns a small gas station and is thinking of getting it logoed up like and old service car. Whatever he does with it, it’ll be getting used instead of just sitting taking up space I don’t really have.


I will miss the wagon, it looked really cool, and on the few occasions when I could drive it it was a lot of fun. But those times were too far and few between and I simply don’t have the money it needed to be made more reliable nor the space to store it until I had that money.


I lost money on it, but then I always lose money on cars I own. I did get enough back out of it to not feel like I got completely screwed. And I’ve already used some of the money to buy things I need for the truck. I’ve got some patch panels, new mirrors and a few other things being shipped to me right now. This past weekend I went to a flea market and found some custom tail lights and a few other pieces.

Also I’ve now got a garage space to put the truck in, so I can work on it without worrying as much about the weather, and our driveway is less cramped. So in the end it was a good thing, but I’m still going to be a bit sad that it is gone.

Of windshields and vandals.

The windshield of the wagon has been leaking since I got the car, I’d attempted to seal it temporarily with some caulking, however that made no measurable difference. I decided to finally replace the seal so that I could start repairs on the floor without the water getting in and ruining them again. Once again came to my rescue with a reproduction window seal.

First order of business was to get the old seal out. Since it was a wreck and I was replacing it I just removed the inside trim and rear view mirror. Then cut the lip of the seal where it overlapped on the inside.


With the seal cut it was pretty simple to push on the windshield to pop it out of the opening.  My big fear at this stage was cracking the windshield getting it loose, but it came loose without any struggle. In this car the trim around the windshield sits in another groove on the seal and comes in and out with the glass.


Once the glass was out, I pried off the old seal, pulled loose the trim and tossed the old rubber. Then it was a simple bit of work to scrape off the bits of caulking from my failed attempts and the windshield was ready for its new seal. The opening however needed a bit more work.


There was minor rust spots in a few places on the seat of the seal, and the inside has surface rust due to the roof leaks. All the rust was ground down, then painted with a few coats of Masterseries.



The inside was given a coat of Masterseries a ways back, both to stop the rust and to just make the area look better.




Once the metal was dealt with it was time to re-install the glass. The new seal was wrapped around the glass, then the trim was installed. It has an L-shaped bracket that fits into a groove in the seal and once the glass is installed it is locked in place. Next a cord was pressed into the groove that sits on the metal lip of the body.


Then the glass was laid in the window opening, and while applying pressure to the glass the cord was pulled out. The cord pulls the lip of the seal over the metal lip of the body and that locks the glass into place. It went surprisingly easily, I only had to take two tries because I accidentally put the start of the cords at the top instead of the bottom(starting at the bottom allows you to use the weight of the glass to help hold the seal in place while you are starting out).

It thought this was going to be the end of this post, but someone decided it wasn’t. About a month later we’d bought the house and I’d moved the wagon over there to make more room in the driveway at our apartment building. Well one day I came over to the house to work on it and found this.

Less the tape obviously

Some vandal(s) decided to welcome us to the neighborhood by throwing bricks through the Wagon’s windshield and four windows of the house. They threw them hard enough to punch through and cover the dashboard in glass. I was able to find a replacement windshield for $50 and re-use the seal so it didn’t cost me much, but it pissed me right the hell off.

This may be the last straw. I’ve been bothered by how the wagon isn’t really usable, and I had been wanting something I could drive and enjoy. So I’m seriously considering sell it and getting something else. Possibly an old truck which would also be useful around the house.

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.

Project creep, part one

The plan was simple, replace the worn out front suspension with all new parts so that the steering wheel would feel more like it had a say in the direction the wagon went. To that end I ordered a complete rebuild kit that had nearly every piece I needed, and on Saturday started pulling the old parts off.

All things considered it came apart surprisingly easily. The tie rods were stuck in place, but after some enthusiastic hammering they popped loose. Compared to other times I did this job this was a cakewalk, no stripped nuts, no rusted in place bolts. Everything came apart with simple hand tools. I spent about 1.5 hours on saturday getting the driver’s side completely removed, and got a good start on the passenger side before having to clean up for a friend’s party.

It was an OMGWTFBBQ!!1!, where you’re supposed to bring weird or disturbing food. We brought a meat cake. Two layers of pork & beef meatloaf frosted with mashed potatoes and iced with ketchup.

Yeah, we’re weird.


Sunday found me back out working on the wagon. One great surprise during all of this was the front brakes. The guy I bought the wagon off of told me he didn’t think his mechanic had touched the brakes, so despite them working well I was already budgeting for a complete brake overhaul. So imagine my surprise when I pulled the drums and found front brakes that looked like brand new.

Everything in here looks like new, the pads have tons of meat on them, and the rubber parts are in great condition. Even if the rest of the system is junk this is $100+ in savings right here. Regardless they were removed for now, and eventually the suspension was stripped down to the bare spindles. The spindles, strut rods & springs are the only parts I am re-using, so they will get cleaned up and repainted before going back on.

the squiggles are from a quick pressure-washing before I started, turns out pressure washers remove old undercoating

Eventually I was left with two empty wheel wells. I had planned to paint the mounting points for the suspension before re-assembly so I wouldn’t have to take it back apart to paint those later. Looking at the space in the wheelwell I decided it would make even more sense to clean up and paint the entires wheelwell area while the suspension was out of the way. I started cleaning in here, then realized that if I was going to repaint in here, it would be even easier if I cold reach everything.

And so the project creep begins.




In the next post I start in on the rust cleanup and repainting.

the manifold exhausting attempts to fix the exhaust manifold.

As I have said before, the exhaust manifold on the “new” engine was cracked, so I needed to pull it and swap the good manifold from the old engine. Ford sixes are notorious both for cracked manifolds and for the bolts rust-welding themselves to the head. A fun combination. So in the days leading up I sprayed the bolts with PB Blaster and Freeze Off. Once I started in I used a bolt extractor to get a grip on the badly rusted heads.

End result was six bolts actually coming loose, four snapped off bolt heads and one bolt who’s head stripped badly without shifting. I spent the next while trying to shift the stubborn bolt, I tried the bolt extractor, vise-grips, welding a nut onto the head and probably a half-dozen other things without the slightest sign of movement.


I finally gave up and cut the head off with an angle grinder, and pried the manifold off in pieces. The places it snapped in the pic are not where the cracks were, but just the result of overly enthusiastic prying. Fortunately I didn’t need this piece anymore. Frustratingly, the bolt that had given me so much hassle and wasted so much time, once the manifold was off it came out in moments with a pair of vise-grips.

Once the manifold was off I still had the problem of the four bolts that had snapped off. I was lucky in that they hadn’t snapped off flush, but I still couldn’t budget them. Vise grips would just chew them up, and attempts to heat or freeze them didn’t do a thing. I even tried welding a nut to them and putting a wrench on it. All I did was snap the nut back off.

Finally I gave in and decided that if the bolt wanted to be a permanent part of the head, I would take advantage of that instead of fighting it. So I cut the bolt back about half way with an angle grinder to get a flat surface. Next I cut the heads off some short bolts and chamfered the ends to give my weld someplace to bite.


Then one by one I welded the new bolts to the old once, effectively creating a stud I could put a washer & nut on. Because I was working down in the engine bay I had no good way to get the pieces aligned perfectly straight. So after welding each one I had to grind the welds down and test fit the manifold. I was lucky in that they all ended up straight enough to allow the manifold to slide on and off easily.

Add some stainless steel hardware & a new manifold gasket and the project was done.

Engine swap, woefully under-photographed.

As I mentioned in the last entry about the wagon, the engine had violently overheated while trying to drive the Falcon to work. Since I already had a spare engine for it waiting, I filled the radiator with water, cut & re-routed the heater hoses to take the now blown heater core out of the circuit, and limped her home, staying off the highway. On the way home I stopped and rented an engine hoist, & loaded it in the back.

While it had been bright & warm when I left work at noon, by the time I got home at 1:30 it had remembered it was early February and gotten cold & grey, with erratic drizzle. However I was already going to have to pay for the engine hoist so I pushed on with the swap anyway. You can see however why taking photos was not my priority.

I started disconnecting things, sawing off radiator hoses and generally swearing up a storm. After about an hour I had the motor disconnected to the point where I could start actually pulling. Ford sixes have no good place to hook up chains to yank them, ,so I ended up using two ratchet straps from my trailer to form slings front & rear. With my girlfriend manning the engine hoist I pushed pulled, pried & kicked the engine free of the transmission and guided it out of the engine bay & down to the pavement.

Once the old lump had been pried free, there was a bit of jockeying engine hoist & straps to get the “new” engine secured. Then that was lifted, swung around, and dropped into place.

Ok, that last sentence is technically correct, however what it leaves out is the 1.5 hours that it took pulling, prying, levering, shoving, swearing, bashing, cursing, praying, etc. to get the engine & transmission to line up and slide together. I hate putting engines in when the transmission is already in place, and doing in a cold driveway while being drizzled on does not improve the experience.

Once the engine was in place and bolted to the transmission and frame, the engine hoist was disassembled & loaded into Box to be returned and I went upstairs to shower off. Over the next few weeks the cold weather hung around, and once it started to lift my work went on insane amounts of mandatory overtime. So the wagon sat with the engine in place but other wise unattached for almost a month before I could carve out some time to start reconnecting everything. Most of it went smoothly, and with few surprises. I couldn’t help but be amused to use guides I had written up myself to rewire the car for an alternator & modify the radiator support to fix an thicker radiator. The only issue I had was swapping out the cracked exhaust manifold for the good one from the old engine. That was enough of a project to warrant it’s own blog post, so that will be coming soon.