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 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.