The End of a Challenge

My Thunderbird experience
Final Assembly
Body Assembly
Dayton Convention
Restoration Problems
Panel Gaping
Engine Start up
Powder coating
Restoration Pictures
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Pic# 1

     I have lots of help setting the body back on the frame.Since I dry fitted it before painting I expect it to go together with no problems.I used 2 hoist ,the rear hook up was two 3/8 bolts thru a peice of chain using the body mounts at the front of the trunk.

Pic# 2

  • The front is hooked in the triangle behind the cowl mounts.Padding was used between the cables and the cowl.It was a big step seeing the body back on the frame again.

Pic# 3

     After sitting the body down I had to change  some shims from my drawing to fine tune door gap alignment. I had no paint damage as everything went as planned.

pic# 4

     The plater suggested to sandblast the back side before and paint a rust inhibrater after plating the bumpers.I brushed this product on and waxed before bolting the sections together.After assembling  them on the car I'll finish up the exhaust system.

Pic # 5

         I had all the connections pre made for the wires but because there is no room to work it was very hard plugging the wires together and hooking up the transmission linkage.This has to be done before installing the mufflers.

Pic # 6

        I do not recommend using a cleaner-sealer in the fuel tank.My friend purchased a new tank and it had rust inside and a pin hole leak on the bottom.I purchase two new tanks and used the sealer kit from a credible supplier for added protection.One tank I installed on the car and put gas in, the other I stored for future use.After one year the sealer on the driven car had a chemical break down,the other came out in sheets as the picture shows.

Pic# 6A

       After cleaning out the tank in picture 6 for the red car I pulled off the tank on the driven car,put some driveway stones inside to shake any liner material loose  and everything seemed ok. I put a stablizer and not much fuel in the tank to start and move it around the shop but I never had it on the road. Last spring I noticed an odd smell and a little liquid under the tank. The car always started and ran good  but after the odd smell and liquid I never tried starting the car.Last week I pulled the tank and started sand blasting to PC the tank because the paint was blistering some places. Nothing showed up untill I started blasting and this is what I found. Looks like the paint was holding the fuel in.

Pic# 6-B

      I felt the tank was safe  so I took a cut off tool and cut the end out of it. The gasoline broke down the liner material and got between the steel tank and the liner causing  the condition of the tank. The in tank filter was not plugged and the missing liner pieces disolved and disappered. I will never,never use a liquid liner in a tank again.Tomorrow I will be shopping for another tank.

Pic #7

      I proceeded in this order:The bumpers,exhaust and the fuel tank last.I used stainless bolts on the bumpers and fasten rags to the rear fenders when installing the them.

Pic # 8

      Putting the steering column together.Put the chrome and adjusting collars on first before fishing the wire through the column.Use a light coat of grease on the column and adjusting colar.

Pic #9

       A big step forward was finishing the tops.Go to the side bar and click on tops for this part of the restoration. I'm planning on completing this project by spring.

Pic# 10

      I'm starting at the rear of the car and moving forward with the tail lights. I've assembled the light body into the fender extension and than on the fender. I painted the reflecter with silver paint to illuminate the lights when applied. I've clipped the new wiring harness to the body and made all the connections before installing the baubs and covers.

Pic# 11

       In the trunk area I glued in a heat and noise mat mainly to smooth the ridges for the floor mat. Putting the left side trunk cardboard in was the hardest and I took out that tail light assembly for better access. I put the wheel housing covers on and tucked them under the cardboard. I installed the floor mat gluing the right side to keep the edges down and used very little glue on the right side to be able to access the fuel gage without distroying the mat. I finished up by installing the divider mat.

Pic# 12

       The sound deadener was applied before painting the trunk lid using coarse sandblasting sand and black asphalt roof paint. The weather strip was applied and the corner bumpers  installed. The jacking decal, the key and latch assembly and the deck lid handle were assembled. After the deck lid is mounted all that remains is the rear deck antenna.


I installed the deck lid antenna, routing the wire and fastening the wire clips following the instruction manual .The trunk mat was glued in mainly on the right side to allow easy access to the fuel gauge and the jack was mounted.

pic# 14
click on picture to enlarge

Before moving out of the trunk area I need to get the tail lights working properly. After weeks of frustration I came to the conclusion I needed  help.  Many times in the past I turned to the Thunderbird list forum where there is a wealth of information from car owners. I e-mailed John Sailors who is one of the go to guys on electric wiring problems. John has agreed to help me and let me share his knowledge on this site. I am very grateful for his help and this is the first e-mail he sent me. I hope others find John’s solutions helpful.

Pic# 15
Pic# 16

     This was the most informative e-mail John sent me. I had all the wires in the right order but I had the block on wrong. After making this change things started to light up.

Pic# 17

      From this e-mail I determined I had two wires turned around coming from the rear of the car to the main harness. Also the right rear lamp wire was not assembled right and had to be re-worked. After these changes all the exterior lights are functioning right. Without this information I would still be working on it. The biggest correction was the left front fender block. My next move will be to the grill.

pic# 18


     I should have installed the grill before mounting the body on the frame. The radiator had to be removed to insert the hardware behind the grill. This was a good time to rethink  the Prestone  anti freeze in the radiator and possible switch to a different product.



      The bumper brackets are unique for each side (left and right) and I have enough trouble getting the bumper on when their correct. Also the parker housings are installed.



      When mounting the bumper I tapped rags on the corners to prevent paint damage. I mounted the CTCI plaque on the right side of the grill,12 squares over and 4 down. The lift worked great with the tires off to work in this area. I have the radiator to put back in and I'm ready to move to finish the interior.

Pic# 21

      Before putting the seat in I'll finish the rest of the interior. Using the material in the interior kit the arm rest is the first challenge. I used some additional padding, clamps , glue and patience to get the wrinkles out and have a tight covering. Streching, gluing and clamping is the process used to install the material.

Pic# 22

      Because the interior stands out on any car it takes patience and is time consuming for every part of the instalation. I covered the door sills and assembled the cat whiskers using glue.

pic# 23

    Make sure the access plates and vapor barrier are installed on the doors. After the panels are assembled they fit into the chanel on the bottom of the door and the clips on the side are snaped into place. Last are the door and window handles snapped on the shaft facing forward.

pic# 24


       I purchased the sound and heat  padding from a local home supply store. It was ¼  x 48" x  96" and very reasonably priced. It is the same material I used in the trunk. I used table paper covering and made a template of the floor panel. The material was wide enough to do both sides of the tunnel  using the same template.

pic# 25


     I placed the barrier in the car using very little glue in the foot area and at the rear of the cabin. I marked the holes for the seat and placed the jute padding which came with the carpet set in place using little glue also.

Pic# 26

      The quarter trim and cowl panels are installed making sure the windlace is well secured. The carpet is the final item installed including the sill plates using the trim manual for a guide.

Pic# 27

     The mounting brackets have been powder coated and installed on the seat bottom. I couldn’t find any diagrams on the release cable installation so I e-mailed a picture to Wade and after looking at his seat he sent a picture back with the correct routing. The upholstery shop had covered the two upper cable clips making a problem trying to figure the routing out. Wade is on the classic bird chat forum which has been a valuable source of problem solving for me.

Pic #28

      Notice how straight the seat back is, not leaning against the deck rail. I believe this is because the seat foam is too thick. The thick foam makes the cover nice and tight but also lessons the distance between the seat and the steering wheel. I moved the seat back forward and with my knee worked the foam behind the seat back. This helped the seat back recline better and I believe with some use the foam will relax more creating a better situation.

Pic #29

       The uphostery phase of the restoration is complete. A vinyl covering replaces the clear plastic deck protector which is an inexpencive improvement.

Pic #30

     As this restoration comes to an end a picture of the undercarriage. The fuel tank and all small parts have been powder coated. The underside is highly detailed and pleasing to view.

Pic #31

        Here is the results of 3+ years of frustration but also pride in reaching my goal of complelting a nice restoration. My objective was to get the best possible outcome with the least amount of expence.  I started collecting parts years before starting the actual restoration, looking for good used and NOS items I needed. Planning and indexing are the key to knowing and not double buying the parts needed. Labor is a big expense in a restoration and having the right manuals kept the budget in line by doing what I was capable  of.

Pic #32

       I truely believe this project would not have been completed in the time frame mentioned if not for the valuable help I received from the internet fourm. This group of hands on advisors not only furnished tips and instructions but gave me the convidence to proceed to a sucessful conclusion.

The end