Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fall Tour is in the planning stages

Save the dates, Oct 3rd-4th&5th. We're heading up to the Uplands of Southwestern Wisconsin! Exploring the scenic backroads and many sites to see, Cave of the Mounds and Little Norway-a Norwegian Settlement.
On Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 our Little Birds will be featured at the Mt. Horeb 27th Annual Fall Festival, while we enjoy the area shops and Historic Museums as well as the Festival.
We have found a Brand New Holiday Inn Express opening May 30th in Verona and will be meeting with the Groups Mgr.
We will keep you updated on our progress.
More to come!

Lisa and Pete Ekstrom

Friday, May 9, 2008

48 in 08- May update

Some of you are probably wondering why you haven't heard much about 48 in 08 lately. Mostly because Doc and Lucy have been doing some pre-'48 in 08' traveling:
Doc was out-of-country for over 2 weeks touring New Zealand and Australia with members of the Santa Clara Valley CTCI Chapter. (They did not take their Thunderbirds but did meet with a Thunderbird club in Australia.)
Lucy just returned from the Arizona Route 66 Fun Run in Seligman/Kingman/Topock, Arizona. This trip provided the perfect opportunity to try out the cruise control recently installed in Betsy Bird. It worked great and will be used a lot on the Interstates during the 48 in 08 tour.
Now we're ready to concentrate on 48 in 08 again -- only a couple months before we start the tour. Here's the latest:

1. A few 48 in 08 apparel items will be available soon, including 48 in 08 caps and shirts. Check our website in another week or two for full details and photos. A portion of the sale price of each item - after setup cost is recovered - will be donated to Mc Pherson College's Automotive Restoration Department.

2. A limited number of small car window 48 in 08 static-cling decals are now available. They look like the 48 in 08 sign on the Chick Magnet. One will be provided for each Thunderbird registered for 48 in 08. They will also be available for purchase. If you want a free car window decal, register now while supplies last.

3. The historic Dearborn Inn has been selected for our overnight in Dearborn, MI, Monday, August 25. This hotel was built by Henry Ford in 1931 and is near Greenfield Village.

4. We would appreciate receiving all Registration Forms by June 30 so we have contact information for everyone participating in the tour before we are on the road (our mail will be on hold at the post office during the tour).

5. The 48 in 08 website has been updated, including the start of the May-June Newsletter, additional Hotels, more Friends, and a section where Photos taken during the 48 in 08 tour will be added as we travel.

Note: It has been a challenge to keep up with the e-mail and phone calls. If we haven't responded, please accept our apologies and contact us again.

Hope to see you this summer in Portland and/or during 48 in 08.

Lucy Clark, phone 714-630-4066
Doc Dockter, phone 650-591-5939

Thursday, May 1, 2008

CTCC Spring Tour May 2-5

Back To Where It All Began -- Dearborn, Michigan

CTCC Spring Tour May 2-5 2008

We will meet at the Lincoln Oasis at 8:30 AM on May 2, and start a trip back into automotive history. Upon arrival we will be staying at the Hilton Suites in Auburn Hills. The rate is $99.00 per night and includes a deluxe breakfast buffet for 2 each day. Call (248) 334-2222 to make your reservation. Be sure to mention Classic Thunderbird Club of Chicago.

America's Greatest Automotive Attractions:
- Meadow Brook Hall (the Dodge Estate)

Call Ken Smizinski at (847) 397-3747 if you plan on attending or if you'd like more detail. Look for upcoming information here as it becomes available.

* Room Reservations must be made by April 11, 2008.

Editor's Notebook- April 2008

Editor's Notebook Apr 2008

HAVING SPOTTED THREE ROBINS early on the morning of March 13th, it seemed a positive sign that Spring would soon follow! The arrival of some 5 Inches of snow on the 21st doomed any chance of seeing a classic T-Bird roaming the salt-laden highways.

photo caption: This month our cover features the 1957 Ford Thunderbird. The photo is one of 63 included in The Thunderbird Anthology CD that was introduced in the February issue of Bird-News. Pictured is a Thunderbird Bronze 'Bird, a color which appears in varying shades in restorations that are entered in today's Concours d'Elegance competition.

The CTCC Calendar (page 2) now includes "A Day at the Hangar" with complete details of this exciting event appearing on page 5. Also, some PREVIEWS of additional T-Bird events are listed on page 3. For more info on "the Dells" and the "Spring Fling" events, check out the following: DELLS or ; SPRING FLING XVIII (Iowa) .

Gail Hascek says that not only were she and Art at the Willowbrook Party on January 27th, but they braved the dance-floor to "trip the light fantastic!"

In compiling the 1977 Ford Museum information that appears on page 6, I recall having included Mr. Burnett's name on a list of Ford contacts for Karl Ludvigsen, who was writing "The Short, Happy Flight of THE EARLY BIRD" for Automobile Quarterly Magazine. As the Research Consultant for A-Q, I set-up as many Ford contacts as possible in the allotted 2-week "crash" program, to complete my part of the project. The article - and color photos - appeared in the Volume 9, Number 1 issue (Fall 1970) of A-Q, and I still recall Mr. Burnett's consternation when he discovered that he had not received a copy of the issue! A-Q promptly responded to my request to have a copy of the issue forwarded to Mr. Burnett. Happily, once this oversight had been resolved, Bill and I remained friends until his passing in December of 1975.

The T-Bird Registry (page 7) is reprinted from the March 2008 issue of Trail Bird News. Your T-Bird info would help expand this worthwhile project; why not send your Thunderbird data to Dave Tulowitzky and be included?

Get Well and Hurry Back! Joe Zambon has recently undergone surgery, and we all join in wishing him a speedy recover.


-- Bert Eisenhour, Ed. Bird-News

Star of Ford Museum

A 1956 Ford Thunderbird stars in The Henry Ford Museum - 1977

PREVIEW - While we are well aware that many museums rotate their display materials over the course of time, we would hope that the 1956 T-Bird owned by the late William Burnett is still on display. The information presented here appeared in the 1977 issue of SPORTS CARS IN REVIEW. The entire issue was devoted to the cars that have been featured in the HENRY FORD MUSEUM over the years. In addition to the' 56, a brief description of a 300 hp Supercharged 1957 is included, along with a photo on the inside-cover page. With luck, the '56 'Bird will still be on display in May! (during CTCC's Spring Tour to Dearborn)
- Editor

photo one: In 1974, Mr. and Mrs. William Burnett proudly posed for a Ford Motor Company photographer with their (original) 1956 Thunderbird.

1956 FORD THUNDERBIRD - Frequently the perspective of history is required before a car is recognized as a classic design. Hardly so in the case of the original 2-passenger Thunderbird, however. The car seemed to progress from the status of a prestigious new design to the ranks of a collectible, skipping completely the lowly designation of "used car!"
This particular machine was the coveted property of the late Mr. William Burnett, who was chief engineer on the Thunderbird development project in 1953-54. The car is completely original, right down to the tires. Note the gold anodized wheel trim rings and custom spare wheel cover, both of which were Ford experimental items.
Official approval of a crash program to develop a "Ford sports car" came on February 9, 1953, with a 3-month deadline for completion of a full-size design and engineering proposal! The car had to retain Ford product identity and use as many standard Ford car components as possible. While design work was being done, Bill Burnett needed something to try ideas on, to get a head start on problems like handling and brake balance. So he took a two-door sedan and shortened it, with torch and hacksaw, to the 102-inch wheelbase of the proposed sports car. Inevitably, perhaps, this cobbled prototype was dubbed the "Burnetti!" It didn't look like much, but Bill didn't care. He had a test vehicle!

photo two: To Bert Eisenhour, from Bill Burnett - 1974; "The Burnetti" - This was our first cobbled proto-type. All components were placed in the correct position, dimensionally, wheel-base, tread and engine placement, etc. - signed, Bill Burnett

Maker: Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Michigan
Engine: V-8, ohv
Displacement: 312 cu in
Bore and Stroke: 3.80 in x 3.44 in
Wheelbase: 102 in
Horsepower: 225 at 4600 rpm
Speed: 110 mph
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Weigh!: 3147 lbs.
Lent by Mrs. William E. Burnett, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Displayed in the 1975 Sports Cars In Review show.

Jan. 15, 1977
Dear Bert,
Bill's beloved Thunderbird is now in The Henry Ford Museum, where I am sure he would have wanted it to be. Thank you again for so faithfully sending him the Classic Thunderbird Bird-News - he loved them.
Thought you would enjoy "Sports Cars in Review."
(signed) Lydia Burnett

'55-'57 Tbird Registry

55-56-57 Thunderbird Registry

The purpose of this Thunderbird registry is to find and document as many of these fine cars as possible. All information is welcome, even if the car has been totaled, parted out, or sold to a new owner. To register your 55-57 Thunderbird, please send VIN and data plate information to:
David Tulowitzky
14191 Tudball Ave.
Port Charlotte, FL 33953
Or email:
As of 3/01/2008, the registry has more than 14,000 Thunderbirds registered.

Link to Smoky Mountain Classic Thunderbird Club

SMCTC Web Site Link

Subj: Club link
Date: 3/18/08

Hi Bert,
One of the important activities we have with our new Smoky Mountain Classic Thunderbird Club here in Tennessee is finding ways to quickly gaining visibility in our market for members. Several of our members belong to the AACA chapter here and we have linked their web page to ours which will help drive potential new members. The link to our website is here.
Might be something CTCC might want to consider with other clubs in the area as well. We are also posted to the "Members" section of the CTCI web site, thanks to Dick Burdette.

Our best to everyone,


What happens in Delaware ... stays in Delaware!

[source: Kovel's Komments] - A Delaware man sold the rights to his Delaware license plate, number 6, for a record $675,000! It is probably a record price for a U.S. license plate. Delaware drivers can keep the same plate number indefinitely, even sell them. The first plates were issued in 1909. Low numbers suggest the owner has been a Delaware resident for a long time. It is a status symbol and newcomers to the state buy them to show they have "arrived." Another single-digit plate sold for $186,500 fourteen years ago. Low numbers are so popular there is even a website to help you find one ( You can buy reproductions of the tags from the Delaware Historic Plate Company.

March Ford Quiz- answer

March Ford Quiz Answer

Based on the "dated" Ford script on the wooden-boxed Ford part (pictured on the rear-cover of the March issue), the QUIZ was aimed at the old timers in CTCC! Pictured was a Model-T Spark Coil! The "T" required one coil unit for each of its four-cylinders. The info appearing on the unit was dated: April 1914! Components in the slide-cover "box" are sealed in what appears to be a black-tar material.

Fuel Gauge Sending Unit

Fuel Gauge Sending Unit

Are any of you people driving around out there without a working fuel gauge? If the answer is "yes", the procedure for testing and changing your fuel gauge sending unit is actually very simple. You don't even have to get underneath your car!

The sending unit which tells your car's fuel gauge how much gas you have in your gas tank is located in the gas tank mounted underneath the floor of the trunk. To gain access to the sending unit you simply empty your trunk and pick up the trunk matting. You will see a hump located approximately in the middle of the trunk with a metal plate on top. There is one screw which holds this plate in place. Once you remove the plate, the top of the sending unit will be visible. Two wires will also be visible. One wire will be short and is connected to the sending unit resistor. The other wire is long and goes to your fuel gauge. Remove the wire going to the fuel gauge from the sending unit. You can test the operation of your fuel gauge by touching the wire you just removed from your sending unit to any good ground on your car. If your gauge reads full when the wire is grounded, your gauge is operating properly and any problem you were experiencing with your fuel gauge is lilely to be a defective sending unit.

Replacing the sending unit is very simple, but before you begin make sure you have no more than a half a tank of gas in your car. Make sure you have not only ordered the sending unit, but also the gasket which fits between the sending unit and the gas tank. Lastly, never smoke when working around gas!!!

If you have not already removed the wires going to the sending unit. do so now. Clean off any dirt and vacuum the area clean. 1955 and 1956 Thunderbird sending units are secured by screws around the perimeter. Unscrew the screws, gently tap the top of the sending unit and the unit should lift out of the gas tank. On 1957 Thunderbirds there are no screws. A metal retaining clip holds the sending unit in place. Simply work the clip out. A little WD-40 will help. Once you have slid the clip out, just tap the top of the sending unit and lift it out of the gas tank.

The new sending unit is installed reversing the above steps. Don't forget to install your gasket. You may need to bend the float up or down to get an accurate float reading on your gas gauge. I thank Ken Smizinski for furnishing this month's "tech tip."

Steering Box Lubrication

Steering Box Lubricant

As part of the routine maintenance on the 1955-57 Thunderbird, the level of lubricant in the steering gear box should be checked at least once a year. This applies to manual as well as power assisted steering units. This came as a surprise to me. I assumed that if there were no signs of leakage from the gear box that everything must be fine. I did not take into account the fact that over the years. as the seals on the gear box became brittle. the lubricant leaked out long before I bought the car. The result was a car with no lubricant in the gear box, thus no leaks! The only signs of trouble would be a car that was hard to turn. In power steering equipped cars, this would be only slightly noticable.

To check to see if your gear box has the proper level of lubricant is actually quite simple. The gear box is located at the base of your steering column and is mounted on the inside of the frame. By looking straight down inside your engine compartment. the top of the gear box housing should be clearly visible at the base of the steering column. The top of the housing will have two very noticable hex bolt heads. The two bolts are of different size. The smaller of the two bolts will be located "off center" and closer to the frame. This bolt will have a bleeder cap on top of it. The bleeder cap will look like a round rubber tip with a small hole in the center. The center bolt is the larger of the two. This bolt does not need to be disturbed to check or add lubricant.

To check your fluid level, you need to remove the small hex head bolt with the bleeder cap. Check to make sure that the bleeder cap is loose as it sits on top of the bolt. If it is not, once removed you should clean it thoroughly. With a flashlight, look inside the hole where the bolt was removed. You should be able to see the inside of the gear box. The gear inside the box should be completely immersed in lubricant. If not, you need to add 90 weight gear lube to your steering box. If there is no lubricant present, your gear box seals are probably in need of replacement. You can check by adding gear lube and look for leaks. As an alternative to gear box rebuilding, you can add STP oil treatment. The STP oil treatment is thicker than 90 weight gear lube, but yet fluid enough to ensure proper gear lubrication. By being thicker, the STP should resist leaking out of the gear box. If the seals on your gear box are not completely disintegrated, this "quick fix" should be all that you need to do. Your wheels should turn easier and your wallet will be happier. Once again, I thank Ken Smizinski for providing this month's "tech tip."

Temperature Gauge

Temperature Gauge Sending Unit

The temperature gauge for the 1955-1957 Thunderbird is located on the driver's side portion of the engine near the firewall. It is screwed into the top rear portion of the left side cylinder head. The sending unit is almost directly below the mounting bracket for the carburetor linkage. It looks similar to a spark plug with one wire attached to it and is clearly visible and easily accessible. The sending unit functions much like a thermometer. It does this by moving the needle on your temperature gauge as your car's coolant temperature rises. For those of you out there with "stuck" temperature gauges, this tip is for you.

To test your temperature gauge, simply disconnect the wire attached to the temperature gauge sending unit and touch it to any good ground. Your dash gauge needle should move. If it does, your temperature gauge is functioning properly and the problem is probably a faulty sending unit. If the gauge does not move at all then the problem is either a loose or cracked wire and/or a bad temperature gauge.

To remove a faulty sending unit it will be necessary to drain enough antifreeze out of the cooling system to leave your radiator about one-half full. This will lower the coolant level to a point lower than the sending unit. With enough anti-freeze drained from the system, you can safely remove the sending unit from the cylinder head without having anti-freeze leak all over your "detailed" engine compartment. Depending on what year Thunderbird you have, you will need a box wrench size 5/8" to 3/4" to unscrew the sending unit.

When installing the new sending unit, use teflon tape to help prevent any coolant leaks. With the engine running, pour the coolant back into the radiator very slowly. Don't pour all the coolant back in at once. Try to divide the amount you need to refill the radiator into four or five fillings. Allow a few minutes in between fillings to make sure the thermostat has opened and your coolant is circulating. Make sure your heater is turned to the "on" position. The blower does not need to be engaged, but the heater valve does need to be opened. By turning the heat "on" and pouring the anti-freeze back into the radiator very slowly, you will avoid developing any air pockets which may prevent your cooling system from functioning properly. Once the engine has heated up, check to see if your gauge is working. You should now be set to enjoy the summer: the sun, warm air, road construction, traffic jams, and temperature gauges warning you of impending disaster.