Thursday, August 14, 2008

Editor's Notebook - July 2008

the editor's NOTEbook

WITH SUMMER OFFICIALLY HERE, we look forward to an improvement in the weather, and the sight of "topless" 'Birds on the highways and byways of the Midwest!

Apologies to new members, Don & Kathy Roerkohl, whose name was inadvertently misspelled in this column last month. (The correct spelling appeared on page 5 - WELCOME.)

photo caption: Jeff Mahl, Great Grandson of George Schuster, winning driver of the 1908 Great Race, cranks the (American entry) 1907 Thomas Flyer. This winning car, on loan from Harrah's Reno collection, was also a participant in the 1986 Great American Race! Photo courtesy of Jeff Mahl -

The CTCC Calendar for July features the 2nd Annual "Keil Special" on the 19th. As an added attraction this year, Len and Mary have included Brats in the food service line-up! If you don t care to have your T-Bird out after curfew, plan to join in the cookout portion of the event. See page 7 for the schedule.

The cover photo this month features a 1955 Ford Motor Company advertisement, one of the fifty-five 1955 photos included in the Thunderbird Anthology CD. The August issue will feature a stock '55 at Daytona!

The CTCI 48 in 08 driving extravaganza will be in the Midwest as indicated on page 10. Area overnights are: Thursday, Aug. 21st - COMFORT SUITES, 2620 S. Dirksen Pkwy., Springfield, IL (217) 753-4000. Friday/Saturday, Aug. 22 and 23 - MADISON MARRIOT WEST, 1313 John Q. Hammons Dr., Middleton, WI (608) 831-2000. NOTE: If you plan on staying at the Marriot, ask for the S. Wisc. T-Bird - 'Birds in the Dells' - club rate. For complete info/routing, see

A highlight of the upcoming edition of the Geneva Concours (August 22-24) will be the appearance of Jeff Mahl, Great Grandson of the winning driver of the 1908 Great Race, George Schuster. To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Race, we include a picture (back cover) of Jeff with the (original) 1907 Thomas Flyer!

Be sure to mark your calendars for a busy month of activities in August: ANNUAL CTCC PICNIC on Saturday, the 16th (page 9) and the DAY AT THE HANGAR outing on Sunday, the 24th (page 8).

From our Letters Dept:
Dear Mr. Eisenhour, I very much enjoy the CTCC web site and especially the Tech Tips link. I was wondering if I may submit an ad for your next printing of Birdland? I have an original '56 soft top for sale. I have included a print out of the ad and $2.00. I also do have the car it came off of but do not wish to sell that. It's a very nice western car. Thank you.
Yours truly, Tony Kiedrowski

While visiting the Annual Classic Car Club display of approximately 100 vehicles at the Oak Brook Shopping Center, my son and I ran into some CTCC members who had their cars in the show. Mike Pavlak showcased his '57 Star-mist Blue while Ron explained their newly acquired 1957 Super-Charged Studebaker Golden Hawk's history. A bit of tweaking to raise the boost on the Super-Charger resulted in an engine output rated at approximately 340-hp! Pete Kramer had his 1956 on display at this well attended event, in spite of the rainy start to the morning. Some of the "regular" Classics were not on-the-scene due to the threat of more rain. Fortunately, there was no further deluge, and the owners were on their way home at 6:00 p.m.

Enjoy A Safe And Happy 4th Of July!

Thunderbird Anthology - 1955

This month, we feature another one of the several Ford Motor Company Thunderbird advertisements included in The Thunderbird Anthology CD.

The sleek 1955 T-Bird is attracting many admiring (envious?) glances from the folks illustrated in the background of the ad layout!

I recall much the same reaction when my 1955 Goldenrod Yellow was new, with one "sidewalk" expert overheard answering his girlfriend's question, "What kind of car is that?" His (feeble) answer was, "It's one of those sports cars imported from England..."

- Ed.

Sign Of The Times

At a time when the outrage of soaring gasoline prices provide inspiration for a plethora of cartoons, this clever sequence is a tribute to the desperation we all feel at the pump!

SOURCE: The State, Columbia, S.C.


This year the Annual Chi-Town Sta-Bil Kruze and Car Show lasted all week for us. We got up very early on Tuesday, May 27, and, with our ten-year-old granddaughter Georgia, drove our '55 Thunderbird into Chicago to the corner of State and Lake Streets. We were the first of four live "I Love My Car" segments during the 6:10 AM ABC Channel 7 traffic reports with Roz Varon promoting the Kruze on Saturday. While we were only "on air" for about 80 seconds, it was fun to visit the studio, meet the personalities and promote the Kruze. Thanks to the votes of friends and family, our car was voted the favorite May "I Love My Car" vehicle.

photo caption: At top, the Werth's '55 "TV" Thunderbird; middle: some of the Sta-Bil Kruze show cars; at bottom: Bill and Liz hawking Kruze t-shirts.

Saturday dawned bright and beautiful and, after meeting up with Joel Greenberg, we cruised the three mile loop which started at Buckingham Fountain and followed Columbus Drive to Roosevelt Road, turned right on Michigan Ave to Randolph Street, and then right again to Columbus Drive. One loop was enough and we followed CTCC member David Zornig to the Soldier Field south parking lot. By noon, the lot was filled with about 800 show cars. Also at the show were Bob Sroka, Pete Kramer and Larry & Karen Kelly. I worked in the show tent selling hats and t-shirts while Bill walked around, looking at cars and talking to other owners. We volunteers were treated to breakfast and lunch, but Robinson's Ribs was the featured food for the public this year. As always, Mark Giangreco, ABC 7 Chicago sports director and primary sports anchor (who has still not restored his '57 - I asked him about it) presented the dozen trophies. The event, which was free this year to the public, raised $25,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.

Following the show, we drove north to Annie and Joel's for a delicious cookout and a tour of their garage with its new resident (a yellow '55) and fancy lift.

The 5th Annual Chi-Town Sta-Bil Kruze and car show will be held, rain or shine, on Saturday June 6, 2009. It would be fun to have more CTCC members take part. So, put it on your calendar and let's get a group together to cruise the lakeshore and show off our lovely cars in 2009!

-- Liz Werth

Tech Tip: Horn Wire Replacement

Your car's horn is its most important communication device. The horn alerts our fellow motorist that we have something to communicate. The message may be a simple hand gesture or it could be a warning of impending disaster. In either case, a horn that does not work results in a "failure to communicate." For any driver of a car with a non-functioning horn, this failure to communicate may result in an accident which could have been prevented. As the passing of time has affected all of our cars, it is important to remember that some of our nonessential accessories, such as our horn, are very essential to our driving safety. If your horn is not in working order, do yourself and your car a favor and get your horn fixed before it is too late for your car, and possibly yourself!

The horn on the 1955-57 Thunderbird is activated by a horn button which is located in the center of the steering column underneath your steering wheel's horn ring. Over time, your horn button may develop an electrical short or the horn button spring may wear out. In either case, the result is a horn that does not sound when needed. Before deciding to replace your horn button, check to see if your horn relay, located in the engine compartment, is functioning. A simple, but not full-proof, way to check your horn relay is to listen for a clicking noise when you have someone else press on your horn ring. On 1955 and 1956 Thunderbirds, the horn relay is located on the left front inner fender well. On 1957 Thunderbirds, the horn relay is located on the right front inner fender well. If you hear a click from the horn relay, your problem is not with your horn button. You may have a malfunctioning relay or a short in one or both of your wires leading to your horns. If you fail to hear a click, then you may have a bad horn button.

The horn button for the 1955-57 Thunderbirds is located at one end of a long horn wire. This wire runs from the horn button, down the steering column. It exits at the base of the steering column by the steering gear box located inside the engine compartment. The wire continues from the base of the steering column and ends with a plug which plugs into the main wiring harness located on the inner fender wall by the battery. The horn wire and button come as one complete part. As a result, a bad horn button requires the replacement of the horn wire as well.

To replace the horn button, first disconnect the battery. From inside the car, press down on the center of the horn ring and twist to the left. Your horn ring should twist right off. Once you have removed the horn ring, the horn button will be visible in the center of the steering column. Now that you have one end of the horn wire in sight, namely the horn button, you now have to locate the other end in the engine compartment. As stated above, the horn wire comes out of the base of the steering column by the steering gear box. Once you have identified the wire, follow it to the point where it plugs into the main wiring harness. Unplug the horn wire from the wiring harness. You now have both ends of the horn wire located, disconnected, and exposed. Using a minimum of 4 to 5 feet of fine picture wire or some other strong, single filament wire, fasten the picture wire to the plug end of the horn wire. It is best to twist the picture wire two or three times around the last two to three inches of the horn wire. Give the two wires a good pull to make sure they will not separate. You will be using the picture wire to trace the path of your old horn wire up the steering column.

With the two wires attached, push the horn wire up the steering column. This should send the end with the horn button up and out of the steering column. From inside the car, pull on the exposed horn wire until you have removed the complete horn wire and have reached the picture wire. Make sure you still have picture wire visible at the base of the steering column in the engine compartment. You will need this end of the picture wire to pull your new horn wire down through the steering column.

From inside your car, with picture wire in hand, remove the old horn wire. Take your new horn wire and attach the plug end to the picture wire in the same fashion as you did with the old horn wire. Make sure you give the two wires a good pull to test how well you have tied them together. Apply a small amount of vaseline to the plug end of the horn wire. This will help the wire pass through the steering column. By pulling on the end of the picture wire located inside the engine compartment, you will pull your horn wire down through the steering column. Once the plug end is visible, pull on the horn wire until the horn button is seated in the center of the steering column. Remove the picture wire from the horn wire to the wiring harness. Reattach the plug end of the horn wire. Reinstall your horn ring and reconnect your battery. Hopefully, you have successfully re-established your line of communication with the rest of the driving world. Congratulations!

I wish to thank all of our "tech tip" contributors for their ideas and clippings. I hope they know that without their help, this column would not be possible. This month's "tech tip" idea is from our very own Thunderbird GURU, Mr. Ken Smizinski.

Source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Tech Tip: Exhaust Manifold Paint

For those of you out there who spend as much time, if not more time, cleaning and detailing your engine compartment than you do cleaning the rest of your car, this tip is for you. If you drive your car regularly, and also maintain a spotless engine compartment, you probably have a problem keeping your exhaust manifolds looking good. Exhaust manifolds on a car that is frequently driven, quickly loose their luster. They become coated with oxidation. Many exhaust paints used to cover up this fine layer of rust often flake off requiring repainting of the manifolds. I am not one to spend countless hours cleaning my engine compartment. I am lucky to keep my car's exterior clean. My exhaust manifolds, however, are very presentable. When the engine was detailed, almost three years ago, the exhaust manifolds were painted with a spray paint manufactured by Seymor Paint. Ken Smizinski, our President and frequent "tech tip" source did my engine detailing. He has graciously provided us with the following recipe for exhaust manifold painting success.

First, remove your exhaust manifolds from your engine. You should get new exhaust manifold gaskets whenever you remove and replace your exhaust manifolds. Beware of over-tightening your exhaust manifold bolts upon reinstallation. Too much torque can result in a cracked exhaust manifold. Check your shop manual for the proper torque setting!!

Once you have removed your exhaust manifolds you should have them sand blasted or bead blasted to remove the top layer of oxidation. You can use a wire brush attachment for a power drill, but the only known failure among those of us who have tried this paint occurred on exhaust manifolds which were cleaned only with a wire brush. Be sure you do not touch the surface of your exhaust manifolds after they have been cleaned. The paint will not adhere to oils or grease. The oil from your fingertips is enough to ruin an otherwise perfect painted surface.

The paint to use is Seymor's Cast Iron Paint. It only comes in grey. It is available through your local auto parts store. The paint is good up to temperatures of 1200 degrees. One spray can, if used properly, is enough to do one set of exhaust manifolds and your heat riser. Spray using light coats. Keep the can approximately 8 to 10 inches away from the surface being painted. There is no need to use a primer. Once your paint is dry, place your painted exhaust manifolds in an oven pre-heated to 500 degrees for one hour. After one hour, turn the oven off. Leave the door closed and let your parts cool down slowly. After the manifolds have reached room temperature, you can reinstall them. As I stated before, my exhaust manifolds were done this way three years ago and they still look very good. I thank Ken for providing this information and testimonial.

Source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Tech Tip: Dash Light Switch

The interior dash light switch for the 1955-57 Thunderbird is located on the headlight switch. The interior dash lights are turned on by pulling out on the headlight switch. At least that is the theory. This "tech tip" is a simple test. If your dash lights do not work when you pull out on your headlight switch, the problem may be that your switch has developed a thin layer of oxidation. The lights are turned on when a small spring tip comes in contact with the inner mechanism of the switch. As you turn your switch from left to right your lights will dim or brighten. This is due to increasing or decreasing the tension on the spring. The greater the tension, the greater amount of contact is made by the spring. This increased contact allows more current to flow through the switch creating a brighter light display on your dash. As oxidation builds up on the spring contact, a failure to make contact can result. No contact means no dash lights. As most veteran Thunderbird owners have discovered, if you simply turn your switch from left to right a few times, you can cut through enough of the oxidation to make contact again with the spring. Your lights will now work. Sometimes, a few turns are not enough. As I was having problems with my switch, I called our resident "Guru", Mr. Ken Smizinski. He asked me if I had turned the switch a few times. I replied that I had turned the switch three or four times with no results. Ken proceeded to tell me that it may take a dozen or so rotations of your switch before contact can be restored. Sure enough, after further effort my switch was restored to standard operation.

The oxidation of our dash switches is the result of infrequent use. Most of us rarely drive our cars at night. If we do drive at night, our nights are limited to those hot summer evenings when there is not even a hint of rain in sight. The replacement switches available from the parts supplier appear to be more prone to oxidation than the original switches. As such, inspect your switch closely before deciding to replace it because your interior lights no longer work. The solution may be as simple as a few twists of your hand.

Source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997