Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tech Session- 2012


Saturday, April 28 thirty CTCC members gathered at Bob Wendrerski’s garage for our annual Spring dust-off event, a Tech Session given by Ken Smizinski. The weather was cold and rainy but three “retro” ‘Birds parked in the rear of the property. Andy Rominiecki drove a Merlot ‘04, Pete Kramer a ’05 Cashmere, and your scribe a Thunderbird Blue’02 Others in attendance were Dan Anderson, Lee Bakakos, Tom Bruin, Jim Elijah, Joe Esdale, Gordon Gluff, Joel Greenberg, Arthur Hahl, Len Keil, Larry Kelly, Joe Kraatz, Bob Lindsten, Jerry Michna, Dan Mrozek, Ron Pavlak, Jerry Peterson, Dave Pogorski, Lloyd Schellin, Gary Smithe, , Ken Smizinski, Bob Sroka, Len Vinyard, Bob Wenderski, Bill Werth, Joe Wintz, Tom Wolfe, and Kami Woody.

Bob had the club library out for our perusal. After coffee and rolls, Ken started the Tech Session. The first major topic was brake adjustment and maintenance. Early ‘Bird brakes are not self adjusting. If you spin a tire and it keeps rolling, the brakes likely need adjustment. There are three types of brake fluid. Dot 3 and Dot 4 are compatible and can be mixed. These absorb moisture. Silicone brake fluid should not be mixed with the other types under ANY circumstance and poses a problem in that it is too thin to make the brake lights work. Cars using silicone brake fluid require a mechanical brake light switch. The advantage of this is that the pressure can be adjusted so that it goes on in advance. Condensation builds up in the brake system and the car starts to pull. This is not a problem in temperate climates such as California. Ken told the old adage about brakes, “It’s not if it’s going to leak, it’s when.”

Most people use Dot 3 brake fluid which is very corrosive and leads to rust and sediment. Every 2 years it is wise to pull all of the dirty fluid out of the master cylinder with a turkey baster. This extends the life of the brake system. Dot 4 is high temperature brake fluid and should be used with dual master cylinder disc brakes. Heat from the exhaust manifold builds up and degrades brake fluid. Silicone brake fluid has a pinkish color and if you don’t know what type is in your car, don’t guess. The disadvantage of old brake fluid is that it absorbs moisture.

The problem with stainless steel brake lines is the seal at the ends. The flex line for the rear brakes goes along the main part of the frame to a block and the wheels on the left side. On 90% of cars, brake lines deteriorate from the inside. ’55 and ’56 ‘Birds have the rear brake line going through the frame. For most cars, it is original. The emergency brake cable has two adjustment issues, the center pull and the lever arm. Emergency brake cables must be taut. The nut on the back of the arm can be adjusted so there is more tension on the cable in front.

The rubber plugs should be taken out and brakes adjusted once per year. Crank the star down, tighten, and back off 1 turn. Brake pads absorb moisture and fail from age. As brakes glaze more from this moisture, it becomes harder to stop the car. There is a rubber stop, a block that plugs in to the frame. If the brake pedal is too high, the rubber block is off. In an emergency stop with disc brakes, the plunger must activate the second master cylinder. With drum brakes the front do 70% of stopping, the rear 30%. With disc brakes it is 75%, 25%.

The last major topic of the Tech Session was cooling system maintenance. There is a drain plug on the radiator and two on the block under the exhaust manifold and the power brake booster. All three should be opened to drain the cooling system of old antifreeze. CLR can be poured into the block from the bypass hose opening to clean out rust and sediment. Extended life antifreeze is made for aluminum blocks and is NOT for Thunderbirds. Our cars have a pressurized system and the radiator cap is spring loaded to provide 13# of pressure. Pressure raises the boiling point of antifreeze and a pump can be used to test pressure. Even a cap which looks good may not provide enough pressure.

In a general discussion Ken mentioned that any part for the ‘Bird is available in 24 hours. There is no such thing as matching numbers for our cars as there is no serial number on the engine block. The serial number is on the firewall, on the right side of the frame in the rear, and on the frame over the rear end. The body must be off the frame to read the last one. Ken has seen Thunderbirds with Ford passenger car data plates.

The problem with sealing gas tanks is that residue gets in the carburetor and fuel system. New tanks are readily available at a reasonable price. If a ‘Bird has a passenger car transmission, the speedometer runs backwards. The speedometer typically reads 10 mph. over the actual speed. A discussion of the quality of parts available from vendors followed. Ken has seen defective coil resistors and accelerator pumps sent out.

We then had the group photo session and most of the group went to Fat Man’s Bowl for lunch. We then said our goodbyes and departed, looking forward to the Spring Tour.

 By Jim Wilson

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