Saturday, November 8, 2008





South Of The Border with Perry Anthony

In August, I met with the Mexican Thunderbird Club in Mexico City, and thoroughly enjoyed my time with these enthusiastic T-Bird owners. Their cars were mostly assembled at the Ford Mexico plant for all three years, and to authenticate this, each Mexican assembled T- Bird carries a brass plate that it stamped with some information about the car, but does not indicate what color the car was originally. The brass plate is affixed to the right doorpost below where the striker plate to located.

Each Mexican car also has a decal indicating it was assembled in Mexico and [it] was placed on windshields and rear windows at the factory. It was interesting to me to see one with the decal on the hard top rear-glass, as the entire hardtop can easily be switched to another car.

To the best of our knowledge. all Mexican assembled T-Birds from '55-'57 have the following prefix. P5MEXH, P6MEXH and D7MEXH or EMEXH [for the many "E' birds assembled there).
In one of the photos there is an off white "E" 'Bird that was originally owned by Gustavo Diaz Oraz, Presidente of Mexico from "64 to "70. [Presidents of Mexico can only serve for one-six year term.] It seems that this car fell into disrepair until purchased by my host and currant owner, Gerando Hernandez, who completely restored it.

Another un-restored black '57 was owned by Vincent Minnelli, father of Liza Minnelli, and fully documented. You can see part of this black 'Bird in some of the photos.

Gerardo drove me as the lead car in the T-Bird caravan through the streets of Mexico City (something I wouldn't do with a 25 year old "beater") with people taking pictures, including one that appeared in the Mexico City newspaper.

They have about 50 members in their club and are very active on a monthly basis. In October they participate in the Baia race [actually a rallye from Tijuana - nearly 2000 miles - much like the "Great Race" is in the US].

It was great to meet them, and they looked forward to my visit - as well as the "gringo from the north." Nice people, enjoying their Thunderbirds, never passing a restaurant, telling stories and kicking tires ... just like most T-Birders.

It typically costs 30% more to restore a Concours 'Bird in Mexico because of the very high import tax on parts. They are, however, very solid, good-looking cars as there is no snow to deal with in Mexico City.

We pledged that we would continue our cross border friendship and [we] plan on a get together somewhere at some time. Thought you would enjoy and could use [this] in the newsletter at some point.
- Perry Anthony

All Thunderbird Car Show


On Sunday, September 21st the Chicagoland Thunderbird Club held a Car Show at the A&W/KFC in Lombard. It was a perfect day with a couple dozen Thunderbirds of all years on display. There were many spectators who were browsing around, asking questions and just admiring all the cars. Art and Gail Hascek, with the help of Laura Hascek and Mike Cielenski, had their 2005 Thunderbird and 1957 Thunderbird on display. Many came by the 1957 T-Bird and asked Art many questions, and they were in awe that he was 92 and has had the car since 1957. This was Dad's first car show and he was excited to talk to everyone about his cars. More cars showed up towards the end of the day, due to them showing at the Cantigny Show, one of whom was Club member Pete Kramer. The show drew to a close with the raffle drawings in which Gail Hascek won twice. Lucky Girl... Then the big announcement: Art & Gail Hascek had won First Place for their 1957 T-Bird! There were a few damp eyes when Art went up and accepted the trophy. On the way home, as I followed in the '05 Bird, I could see Dad ahead, holding the trophy in his lap. It was a proud moment for all of us. He is still in shock; we all are so happy for him. As I stated above, it was a perfect day!
- Laura Hascek

Geneva Concours D'Elegance

THE 4th EDITION OF THE GENEVA , IL Show turned out to be the biggest and best ot all! Blessed with excellent weather, the event ran from August 22nd - 24th, with the Concours on Sunday.

In commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the New York to Paris Great Race, the Guest-of-Honor was Jeff Mahl, the great grandson of the winning driver, George N. Schuster. George drove the 1907 Thomas Flyer into Paris, after 169 days and some 22,000 miles of travel by land and sea!

It was my privilege to be assigned as Jeff's T-Bird chauffer and guide during his visit. Jeff presented his unique program, recreating the 1908 Race as related by his great grandfather. Adopting the part in the first person, Jeff's two presentations -on Saturday and Sunday - chronicled the hardships of the Race with a most impressive series of photos projected on a large screen.

Saturday featured a 1-hour back-roads ("E"-Bird) tour to visit the fabulous car collection at the Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. Among the countless exotics, we spotted our favorite, a Goldenrod Yellow 1955 T-Bird!

CTCC members in the Show with their T-Birds were: Larry Johnson, Lorry Kelly, Pete Kramer and Bob Lindsten. Congratulations to Bob Lindsten who captured a Trophy with his '56 'Bird!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Day at the Hangar

Day at the Hangar
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
(well, no trains)

Sunday, August 24th, could not have been a nicer day for Ken & Polly's 13th Annual "Day at the Hangar." Ken and Polly Kresmery are relatively new members to CTCC, and they were kind enough to invite our club members to this wonderful annual event.

Sixteen CTCC club members and several of their guests were in attendance... Lloyd and Joan Schellin, Bill and Liz Werth, Don and Kathy Roerkohl, Ken and Polly, Gary Smithe, Bob Wenderski, Dan Andersen, Gordon Gluff, Rudy and Janet Budach, and Bob and Helen Hoge. Liz's brother and his wife, the Cooks, and Steve Martin, from Valley Community Bank, and his two sons were also in attendance.

When we arrived, we were informed by Ken that the keys were in all the vehicles, and we should feel free to take any of his collectible cars for a ride around the airport property. Cars with keys in the ignition, among others, were a red Jaguar XKE, a blue '57 T-Bird, a 1979 Rolls Royce, a 1930 Model A Ford, and a 1955 blue Thunderbird belonging to Bill and Liz. Bill left his keys in his car, and imagine his surprise - while enjoying his lunch, as he saw his 'Bird flying down the road! Bill and Liz were very gracious allowing attendees to drive their 'Bird the rest of the day.

Willing attendees were also able to enjoy a wonderful ten-minute airplane ride. A pilot friend of the Kresmery's flew passengers over the greater Belvidere area in a 1973 Cessna.

The food was excellent... roast corn on the cob fresh off the grill, Italian sausage sandwiches, and a wide variety of salads, side dishes, and desserts. We certainly thank our host and hostess for a very enjoyable day. View pictures from the event at the CTCC Photos Page.

-- Bob Hoge

FOOTNOTE: Ken advises that 75 people enjoyed the Cessna flights, while more than 200 attendees consumed some 350 ears of corn!

CTCI Convention

Birds and Roses
(the female point-of-view)

The members of the Rose City Thunderbirds hosted a magnificent week long convention in Portland, Oregon this year. Bill and I flew out and attended the entire convention from start to finish. We were joined by Bert Eisenhour and his son, Bert III, who flew in on Wednesday.

Our hotel room on the 4th floor overlooked the Concours d'Elegance parking lot, so we spent much of our down time admiring the cream of the crop as they arrived and were polished up for the judging on Friday.

The Convention's Hospitality Committee outdid themselves everyday feeding hundreds of Thunderbird enthusiasts delicious breakfasts and lunches in the Hospitality Suite. The 'goodie bags' we received were filled with treats for both humans and cars. The predictable raffles exceeded our expectations and, while we bought many tickets, we did not win a thing.

Some of the non-auto highlights of the week included a walking tour of Fort Vancouver Officers Row, a Columbia River Gorge bus tour, a City of Portland bus tour, a bus tour to the Rice Northwest Rock Museum and a driving tour to the Evergreen Flight Museum which is built around the Spruce Goose. We took advantage of all of the offerings. There were also ample opportunities for social interaction with a circus themed welcome party, a Willamette River Dinner Cruise, a wine and beer tasting and, for the ladies, a Dessert Tea Fashion Show. Again, we availed ourselves of everything... well, Bill passed on the Dessert Tea.

While it may appear that our time was completely taken up by the above, there were auto-related events. Monday found Bill at the Tech Session and the "Ask the Experts" session that followed. The Friday evening event was a highlight - the attendees journeyed by car and bus to the nearby Portland International Raceway for a BBQ and drag racing. Quite a few Thunderbird owners tested their cars on the track.

CTCI meetings were scattered throughout the week. These included the General Membership Meeting and the CTCI Board Meeting. Your reporter was persuaded to throw her hat into the ring and run for CTCI Region 2 Director. Apparently, I am running unopposed in this race.
The Awards Banquet on the final night of the Convention was well attended and efficiently run. Bert was honored for having attended every CTCI International Convention and also wished a happy 85th birthday by the entire assemblage. Bert and Bird-News received a Gold Award in the Touring Division of the Newsletter Contest.

Bill and I met many friendly and interesting people during the week. We are happy we attended and encourage you to consider attending a Regional Convention in 2009 or the 2010 International Convention.

-- Liz Werth

Annual Picnic 2008


The weather couldn't have been more perfect for the Annual Club Picnic. No humidity, sunny and in the 70's with gentle breezes. Twenty-four 'Birds total: (3-'55, 7-'56, 10-'57, 2-'02, 1-'03 and 1-'05) in a rainbow of colors parked/perched at Pratt's Forest Preserve in Wayne, IL. Well worth the drive from any direction!

The first order of business was "hoods up" in the parking lot, admiring the marvels of our flock— with that done, we moved on to the pavilion which provided shade and tables. Thanks to Liz Werth who went to the Forest Preserve Offices in Wheaton to secure our spot on January 2nd!

We all brought dishes to share — a variety of salads, fresh tomatoes, baked beans and a variety of fruits and salads — even-sausages. All selections were plentiful and delicious. Provided by the Club, was finger licking good, fried chicken, picked up and delivered by Ken and Gordon. The desserts were great too - with brownies, lemon bars, cupcakes, cookies and two famous coconut cakes made by Paul and Urszula — so delicious.

It was a wonderful afternoon, full of camaraderie and laughs as we took to playing games - bag toss, bocce ball and even baseball (the sitting down kind).

Plenty of sodas and water bottles to go around too. Thanks to Irene and Len for shopping for these items and providing the ice for the afternoon. It takes a huge amount of organizing, phone calls and notices to make this all happen. Thanks to Bert and Jane for doing that.

This was a fun afternoon -- just an informal old-fashioned picnic -- perfect in every respect. Thank you to everyone who made this event so special. View pictures from the event on the CTCC Photos Page.

Those members who attended the Picnic were: Rudy & Janet Budach, Bob & Marcy Burhop, Steve Davajon, Bert & Jane Eisenhour, Pete & Lisa Ekstrom, Ed & Marlene Ficenec & Mickey, Gordon Gluff, Joel Greenberg & Annie Luginbill, Brad & Jan Hanson & Paige, Art & Gail Hascek, Laura Hascek & Mike Cielenski, Bob & Helen Hoge, Larry Johnson & Sue L 'Hommedieu, Len and Mary Keil, Larry & Karen Kelly, Joe and Sandra Kraatz, Pete & Marylu Kramer, Paul & Urszla Mounts, Perry & Cindy O'Kano, Jerry & Pat Peterson, Dave & Marian Pogorski, Ken & Kathy Smizinski, Len & Irene Vinyard, Bill & Liz Werth, Jim Wilson, Tom & Alice Wolfe, Joe & Madeline Zambon.

-- Marylu Kramer

Monday, October 13, 2008

2008 Holiday Party

Classic Thunderbird Club
of Chicagoland

Holiday Party

Saturday, December 6, 2008
Cocktails at 6:30 p.m.
Dinner at 7:30 p.m.

at the Schaumburg Golf Club
401 N. Roselle Road
Schaumburg, IL 60194


Breast of Chicken Marsala $19.50
Boneless chicken breast sauteed with mushroom and Marsala wine

-- OR --

Roast Sirloin of Beef $22.00
Tender slices of sirloin topped with mushroom bordelaise sauce.

Both entrees served with soup, salad, potato, vegetables, dessert, coffee and hot tea.


Please send checks by November 25 to:

Ken Smizinski
157 Oaksbury Lane
Palatine, IL 60067

This special CTCC price is good for member and spouse or one guest.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Concours Newsletter Category is for newsletters with a professional publication style/format, or that includes an emphasis on technical content. These include newsletters that have a high quality computer generated articles with color graphics and pictures as well as black and white graphics and pictures. The newsletters in this category will be judged on both technical articles and social functions. They can be in either individual page, magazine or booklet formats.

Photo- Gold Award, Touring Catagory awarded to Bert Eisenhour for the Bird-News.

Touring Newsletter Category is for newsletters that are written in a letter style format. or that have a more social focus, with little or no technical content. These include newsletters that are typed or created using a traditional "cut and paste" process, and they can be multi-letter format. The newsletters in this category will be judged on social function articles. Tehcnical content will not be emphasized. Limited color photos/ graphics can be included but will be judged as black and white.

Scoring will be done by people connected with the field of journalism for overall presentation, creativity and quality in each category.

The Editor's Notebook - September 2008

the editor's NOTEbook

With this issue, the reality of a fleeting summer sets in; the CTCC calendar is now showing only four events for 2008! An updated schedule for the Annual Fall Tour is presented on page 10. Since this is the last planned driving event for the year, check out the information and make your RESERVATIONS as soon as possible.

A rather hectic month has seen CTCC members attend the Annual Picnic (story by Marylu Kramer on page 8) as well as the Day at the Hangar (story and photos scheduled for the October issue of B-N). Thanks to members Ken and Polly Kresmery for inviting CTCC members to join them for this very special event!

Photo: Bert Eisenhour and Jeff Mahl

The cover photo this month features a group of dedicated T-Bird "racers" awaiting the starter's flag for their thrill of victory race in 1956! It is another of the photos in the Thunderbird Anthology CD.

If you are interested in the progress of the 48 in 08 T-Bird group, check out thir site which provides daily reports and pictures" We paid a brief visit when they were enjoying a lunch-stop at Rockford College on August 22nd. Rudy and Jandet Budach traveled on to the Madison area with the group. Janet's account of the Dells Event will be featured in the October issue of B-N.

The Geneva Concours (August 22-24) was a fantastic succss, the Guest of Honor being Jeff Mahl, the 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 and myself at the fabulous Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove. The estate contains a private golf course and a magnificent collection of automobiles! Jeff was my T-Bird passenger for the "tour" to visit the Rich Farms car museum.

Due to limited space in this issue, Part 2 of the "The True Sory..." will appear in the October issue.

The CTCC Annual Meeting and Election of Officers will take place at Russell's BBQ on September 11th. See "Upcoming Events" (page 1) for directions and futher information.

The Thunderbird Anthology- Cont.- Sept. 2008

This month, we again feature one of the many photos included in The Thunderbird Anthology CD. This is a very interesting (1956) photo, one that brings to mind the haunting disneyland/ Disney World song, It's a Small, Small World...

An appropriate caption might be: Boys and girls, start your engines!

One can only wonder if any of the youngsters went on to race Go-Karts, Then graduation to NASCAR, NHRA, Formula 1 or some other form of motorsports?

Also, what is today's value of the five small T-birds?


Friday, September 12, 2008

CTCC Member In The News


Joe Kraatz of Valparaiso [IN] couldn't be happier with the car purchase he made way back in 1957. Kraatz is the original owner of a Thunderbird. The Colonial white convertible hard lop T-Bird is a model E. So far, he has driven it 109,000 miles. Although it's worth at least 10 times more now, its delivery list price was a mere $4,414 back in the day. "There were only 1,149 model E's built," he said, quickly adding, "... and only 275 E's were built with a three-speed transmission with overdrive like mine." His T-BIrd is not restored. Kraatz belongs to both the Classic T-Bird Club International and the Classic Thunder-bird Club of Chicagoland.

Photo- Joe Kraatz is the proud and original owner of his 1957 Thunderbird.

Editor's Note: For those who might not be familiar with the "E" model designation, it is the Ford code applied to the Dual-Quad a 270 HP engine design.
Note Joe's adaptation of the custom fender-skirts! While not "original equipment," they are "period" design items that blend into the sweeping lines of the '57 'Bird!

CTCC Member's Model

In 1976, Monogram commissioned CTCC member Rudy Budach's Buckskin Tan '56 as their "master reference' for the design of a Die Cast Metal 1:24 scale model kit. The above is one of the artist's renderings that was used for the box cover design. Note that Monogram chose Red- in order to enhance the product's display-shelf eye-appeal!

The Thunderbird Anthology

This month, we feature the 1955 Ford Thunderbird, one of the many photos included in The Thunderbird Anthology CD.
NOTE: This is another example of a T-Bird racing - against the clock! The 'Bird is pictured in the "take-off" from a standing start, as evidenced by the sand flying from the rear tires! This owner is running with the hardtop (approx. 85 pounds of "extra weight") and wheel-covers in place. These factors indicate that the driver was not serious in attempting to break any speed records, but was intent on impressing his friends with his 'Bird's "stock" performance. The bumper sticker indicates (Daytona) "SPEED WEEK, Feb. 12-26." Note the "twin" rear-mounted antennas, a system that I employed on my new '55- Ed.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tech Tip: Power Steering Fluid

The power steering systems for the 1955-1957 Thunderbirds were designed to run on Type A transmission fluid. Since Type A transmission fluid is no longer available, many Thunderbird owners and their mechanics have used power steering fluids in their Thunderbird steering systems. Power steering fluid will work in your car's system, but by using regular power steering fluid your system is subject to developing leaks. This is due to the fact that power steering fluid is "thinner" than Type A transmission fluid. The "thinner" fluid is able to leak out of the seals, central valve, and cylinder. The solution to this problem is to once again use transmission fluid in your Thunderbird's power steering system. Though Type A transmission fluid is no longer available, Type F or FA transmission fluid is available and is an acceptable substitute.

Since Ken Smizinski has supplied this important maintenance tip, I asked him what a Thunderbird owner should do if he has been using standard power steering fluid in his Thunderbird. Ken recommends that to insure that the system has not been damaged or compromised, the power steering system should be drained completely, inspected, and refilled using the above recommended transmission fluids. Since draining the system completely introduces air into the system which can render your system inoperable if not removed completely, this complete change in fluid should only be done by a qualified mechanic! This is not a job for someone like me, your typical "dangerous" do-it-yourselfer. Make sure you know your own "mechanical" limitations. A Bird, and its owner, are a terrible thing to waste!!!

As an alternative to complete replacement, the less preferable option is to start using the above transmission fluids as you need them. Remove as much of the power steering fluid as you can from the reservoir and replace it with the appropriate transmission fluid. As you run low on fluid continue to add transmission fluid. Power steering fluid can be mixed with transmission fluid. If your lucky, you will eventually have enough transmission fluid in your system to stop any leaks caused by using power steering fluid. This fluid change over, however, will not fix any leaks in your system caused from old, hard seals, worn out pumps, and other problems associated with an aging system. If your car, however, has a new power steering system, yet you have leaks, this tip may solve your problem. Good luck, and remember your own "mechanical" limitations!!!

Source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Tech Tip: Fuel Filter Screen

Has your doctor recently informed you that your advancing age and your lack of exercise has resulted in the following symptoms: hard starting, rough idle, poor acceleration, inability to perform when called upon!!!??? If you answered yes, then you have something in common with your Thunderbird. You are both suffering from "sludge build-up!" Your doctor is the expert on you! Your car's problem, however, may best be solved by our own Dr. Ken Smizinski.

Ken has passed on the following information concerning your 1955-57 Thunderbird fuel filtration system. Your car has two "filters" which attempt to remove debris from your fuel before it enters into your carburetor. The first filter is the one in the glass bowl located in front and to the side of your engine. It is located in the fuel line as it makes its way from the fuel pump to the carburetor. The second "filter" is the one that is most often overlooked and forgotten. If you have changed your fuel filter recently, yet your car still suffers from poor acceleration, your problem may be a clogged fuel screen. This screen is your fuel systems second filter. It is located behind the brass fitting which connects your fuel line to the carburetor. With the advance of time, as well as the fact that our cars are not used on a frequent basis, the gas in our gas tanks is prone to sediment build-up. This "sludge" will clog your fuel filters. That is what they are there for, to protect your carburetor.

To clean your fuel screen, you first have to remove the fuel line from the brass fitting. On 1955 and 1956 Thunderbird's your fuel line should go to the back of your carburetor. On 1957 Thunderbird's your fuel line will go to the side of your carburetor. Once your fuel line has been removed, unscrew the brass fitting from the body of the carburetor. There will be a rubber gasket attached to the brass fitting. This gasket must be reinstalled behind the brass fitting or your car will be leaking gas!!!! Inside the brass fitting will be a wire screen. This is your fuel screen. You can tap it out of the brass housing. Inspect the screen for sediment buildup. Your screen can be cleaned with carburetor cleaner. If your screen is bent or missing, you will need to order a replacement screen. Once your screen has been cleaned or replaced, reinstall the fuel screen back inside the brass housing. Reattach the brass housing to your carburetor. Do not forget to reinstall the rubber gasket! Once you have installed the brass housing reconnect your fuel line. If your screen was clogged. you should notice a definite improvement in your car's performance.

Source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Tech Tip: No More "Slamming" Doors

Our cars are often one of our most prized possessions. As a proud Thunderbird owner, you probably enjoy "cruising" around in your car or displaying it at local shows. The pride of ownership is evident whenever and however we "show off' our cars. Many of you, however, are guilty of hiding a very annoying, and dangerous condition. Are you one of these individuals? Do you have to wait until no one is looking to get in and out of your car? Heaven forbid that someone should see you "slam" your car doors. Yes, I said "slam!" How could any owner slam the doors on their Classic Thunderbird? They do so out of necessity. Over the years, many cars have worn down their striker plates. These plates are responsible for holding the door in a closed position. Many owners have broken the window glass in their doors because they had to close them so hard. The solution is very simple and an easy "fix it" for most back yard mechanics. 1956-57 owners have it the easiest. You can replace your striker plate and not even have to realign your door, if you do it correctly. 1955 owners may have to realign their doors.

The door striker plates are located on the door opening and not on the door itself. The plate is attached to the body by three large Phillips head screws. The screws pass through the body of the car and screw into a metal plate which is hidden from view inside your car. This interior plate allows for the adjustment to the striker plate which is necessary to align your doors. For purposes of this "tech tip", NEVER REMOVE ALL THREE SCREWS AT 0NE TIME!!! These screws are usually the only thing that keeps the interior metal plate from falling down into the body of your car. When your car was built, the plate rested on metal clips. These clips kept the plate from falling out of position behind the body panel. Over the years, these clips have rusted away. The result is that once you drop the interior plate into your car's body, you cannot retrieve it without cutting into your door jamb. To avoid this risk, please, DO NOT REMOVE ALL THREE SCREWS AT ONE TIME!!!

The accompanying diagram shows the anatomy of a striker plate. It has a single top screw and two bottom screws. On 1955 cars, you will need to remove the striker plate completely. Remove the top screw and one of the bottom screws. The third screw will need to be loosened, but not removed. Use the third screw as a "pivot point" for the old striker plate. Pivot the striker plate so that the top screw opening is uncovered and clear of the old striker plate. Replace the screw into the hole and loosely attach it to the metal plate inside the door jamb. Make sure the screw is threaded into the inside metal plate. This screw will be the only thing that keeps your plate in place. Once you have attached your top screw, remove the lower screw you used as a "pivot point". Your old striker plate should now be resting in your hands. Install your new striker plate starting with the "pivot point" screw. Make sure your screw is threaded into the inside metal plate. Tighten the screw enough to make sure you have screwed it into the inside metal plate, but leave the screw loose enough to allow you to "pivot" up the striker plate. Once the "pivot" screw is attached, remove the top screw which has been keeping your metal plate in place. Align the two holes of your new striker plate with those in the car's body. Attach your screws and tighten all three sufficient to hold the striker plate in place. Close your door and check its alignment. You will probably have to "play" with the position of the striker plate to get your door to align correctly.

For 1956 and 1957 Thunderbird owners, Ford came up with a "better idea." On 1956 and 1957 Thunderbird striker plates, there is an insert which rests behind a thin metal plate. This plate can be removed by unscrewing only the two lower screws of the striker plate. In fact, you probably can remove the outer screw and loosen the inner screw enough to allow you to pull out the insert. This insert is all that needs to be replaced on the striker plate for 1956-7 Thunderbirds. Once replaced, your door should close perfectly. You will not even have to adjust your door's alignment as long as you did not loosen the top screw. Just think, all those years of door slamming and all you needed was a Phillips screw driver and a new striker plate. You now can take pride in your doors as well as your car. Once again, I thank Ken Smizinski for providing me with this month's "tech tip." Keep them coming!!!

Source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Spring Tour- May 2-5, 2008

Spring Tour - May 2-5

Participants: Bob & Marcy Burhop, Pete & Lisa Ekstrom, Gordon Gluff, Joel Greenberg & Annie Luginbill, Larry Johnson & Sue L'Hommedieu, Len & Mary Keil, Larry & Karen Kelly, Joe & Sandy Kraatz, Pete & Marylu Kramer, Ed Levin & Rose Kovalenko, Jerry & Pat Peterson, Doug Rogers, Ken & Kathy Smizinski, Dan Tinder & Susan DeSantis, Len & Irene Vinyard, Bill & Liz Werth and Jim Wilson.

photo caption: The CTCC Spring Tour group gathers in front of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum. View more photos from the 2008 Spring Tour at the Photos Page.

Despite the ominous weather forecast, 31 people, driving 13 little 'Birds, two new 'Birds and two regular cars, set out on Friday morning for Dearborn, MI to journey back to where it all began. A majority of us gathered at the Lincoln Oasis on I-294, and from there, were joined by others. Driving in and out of rain, our towels were put to use often. Along the way, Gordon's car lost power and he pulled off the highway followed by concerned helpers Joel & Annie and Bob & Marcy, who were driving the "chase car". Happily, it was a simple fix of a disconnected alternator wire.

We arrived in Marshall, MI hungry for an excellent lunch at Schuler's. Separated by a stoplight, half of the group got off course and gassed up at an alternate Citgo. After removing Doug's wire hubcap that had come loose, we used the radios and were able to easily reconnect with the front half of the caravan. The rest of the 300-mile journey was uneventful and, using alternate routing to avoid traffic congestion, we arrived at the Hilton Suites in Auburn Hills. It was determined that Bill's temperature gauge was not malfunctioning - his radiator cap inner seal was cracked which allowed 1.5 gallons of liquid to escape. Other problems during the weekend involved windows: Pete Kramer's driver side window got stuck and one of Ed Levin's windows cracked.

Ken & Kathy had arranged for us to use a hospitality room throughout the weekend. Len Keil presented Ken with a Yat Ming 1:18 scale die cast model of his car and Annie presented Kathy with two Micro Machine T'Birds. Annie also came with beautiful handmade necklaces for the ladies. Thank you Annie. Following cocktails, some of us ate a small dinner in the hotel's atrium while others ventured out for something different.

On Saturday, following a morning gas-up, we caravanned into Dearborn to "The Henry Ford," that consists of the Museum, Greenfield Village, IMAX and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. Since it was rainy, most of us explored the Museum and availed ourselves of the Rouge (roozh) tour that included several theaters and a catwalk tour of the F-150 Truck assembly plant. Those who did visit Greenfield Village found it mobbed with children there to enjoy a "Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine".

Saturday evening found us again in the Hospitality Room enjoying a CTCC sponsored pizza party. Ken and Bob picked up 15 pizzas from Pizza Hut, and they were quickly enjoyed by all. During the evening, Pete Ekstrom updated us about plans for the Fall Tour.

Sunday dawned bright and beautiful! The mud from the previous days was washed off the cars using the hotel's hose. The sparkling cars caravanned a short way to Meadow Brook Hall & Gardens, the fourth largest historic house-museum in the U.S. Built between 1926 and 1929 for Matilda Dodge Wilson (widow of auto pioneer John Dodge) and her second husband, lumber broker Alfred G. Wilson, the 110-room, 88,000-square-foot, Tudor-revival style mansion is filled with original art and furnishings. We were permitted to take pictures of the group and cars on the entrance circle before we toured the mansion and gardens.

Following a quick lunch at McDonald's, we drove to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum where we parked all of our Ford products on the courtyard. We learned the history of Chrysler vehicles, viewed films and saw many nicely restored vehicles.

Back at the hotel, people relaxed, swam or uploaded photos before gathering to caravan a short distance to Mountain Jack's Steakhouse. We enjoyed dinner in a semi-private area of the restaurant. Len Keil announced that July 19 is the date for the Second Annual Hot Dog & Drive In Movie Gala. Everyone thanked Ken and Kathy for planning and leading a terrific tour. Following dinner, everyone stopped by the Hospitality Room and received prints of the group photos which Liz had taken earlier in the day.

It was nice weather on Monday for our early departure from the hotel. It would not be an authentic CTCC Tour without a stop at Culver's for lunch, so we stopped in Stevensville, MI and took over about half of the restaurant. We said our final, in person, goodbyes and headed for home. We did have a quick stop on the side of the highway because Ken lost his wire hubcap. He retrieved it and happily it was not too damaged. Radioed goodbyes were transmitted along the way home.

-- Liz Werth

Picnic- 2008

Classic Thunderbird Club of Chicagoland
(for CTCC member, spouse/significant other and minor children)

Date: AUGUST 16, 2008 - Time: 11:00 am

Pratt's Wayne Woods Forest Preserve

The preserve is located in Wayne, IL in Northwest DuPage County
west of Route 59, one mile north of Army Trail Road on Powis Road.
Follow the signs to the CTCC Thunderbird parking area.
For maps and information visit the website

What to Bring
A dish to share (see below*) & serving utensil
Lawn chairs for sitting outside the pavilion
Fishing poles (see requirements in Bird News)
Sun Screen
Lawn game (volleyball, badminton, frisbee, etc.)

What NOT to Bring
Alcohol of any kind
Swimming gear (there is no swimming)
Bad weather

R. S. V. P. by Saturday. August 9
Call Jane Eisenhour (630-584-8383)
* tell her which dish you will bring to share - a side dish, a salad or a dessert

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hot Dog and Drive In Movie

Classic Thunderbird Club of Chicagoland
Second Annual
Hot Dog & Drive-In Movie Gala

July 19, 2008 4:00 pm-?

Join us for a day of fine food, hot dogs & brats. Bring your appetite. Following dinner we will be traveling to the McHenry Drive-In Theater for a night at the movies. When was the last time you were at a drive-in? Bring your lawn chairs; T-Birds, as we all know, can be a little uncomfortable. Show starts at 9:OO pm. T-Birders who don't want to go to the drive-in are urged to just join us for the dogs & brats.

Len & Mary Keil 815-759-8763
RSVP before July 12, 2008
Gala will be held rain or shine!

RT. 31 two miles north of RT. 120, look for a Remington Grove
sign, on left, Alexander Dr., Turn left into development, there is
a left turn lane. Proceed on Alexander past models to Jay St.
Immediately past models, turn left to 4211. Call Len for more
detailed directions. Area is not on mapquest.

2008 Fall Tour Update


The Uplands of Southwest Wisconsin ~ October 3-5th, 2008. We will meet at the Belvidere Oasis on Friday Morning at 10:00 AM on Oct. 3rd. Our tour will take us to several unique towns just south and west of Madison, Wisc. We will stay in Verona at the Holiday Inn Express, which opened Memorial Day weekend.

Cave of the Mounds
Little Norway
House on the Rock (photo of Infinity Room pictured)
Mt. Horeb Heritage Festival
Mustard Museum

Our 'Birds will be featured on Main St. at the Largest Event of the Year in Mt. Horeb.

Please make your reservation at the Holiday Inn, by Sept.1st, 2008.
Phone: 1-608-497-4500 ;
$109.00 per nite or $129.00 for a suite. Breakfast included.
Be sure to mention the Chicago Classic Thunderbird Club.

Total mileage from starting point will be less than 200 miles over 5-days.
If you have any questions please call the Ekstroms at 630-681-1069.

-- Lisa Ekstrom

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Editor's Notebook- June 2008

the editor's NOTEbook


THE CTCC CALENDAR [PAGE 2] NOW INCLUDES THE DATE FOR THE 2ND ANNUAL SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE DRIVE-IN. Preview information is presented on page 10, with complete details to appear in the July issue of BIRD-NEWS.
Mark the date - Saturday, July 19th - on your CTCC calendar.

Page 10 also outlines preliminary plans for the Fall Tour, which is being designed by the Ekstroms. Since our club has not visited this scenic area for a number of years, it is a not-to-be missed Tour!

Thanks to Liz and Bill Werth, we have comprehensive coverage of the Spring Tour - pages 6-8, including 2-photo pages and an interesting view of the classic T-Birds that appears at the top of page 9.

Sadly, we record the passing of Chuck Maddox III [page 4] whose family enjoyed many years of membership in CTCC, starting in the early 70s. Chuck's interest in things T-Bird was never-ending....

Don't forget to join us at the Membership Meeting; Russell's BBQ on June 12th! Great BBQ's.

48 in 08- July 10th update

The 48 in 08 tour is in countdown mode! For the most recent information, read on ....

1. Caravan communications: We will be using two-way radios on Channel 7, Interference Code 1, as long as there isn't a lot of outside chatter; if there is chatter, we'll try one channel up or down.

2. Phone communications: If you need to contact us by phone, please call Doc's cell phone, 650-759-4302. If Doc is driving, his navigator, Paul Lynch, will answer.

3. E-mail communications: Please send all e-mail to Lucy is taking a laptop computer and will check e-mail as time and Internet connections permit.

4. Capitol photos: Photos will be taken in the evening in Sacramento on Thursday, July 24, and in Carson City on Friday, July 25.

5. Reservations: If you plan to meet us in Sacramento and/or Carson City, please be sure you have notified Doc. We need a final count of the number of T-Birds and people for both locations. (See July Newsletter on website for details.)

6. Convention: The 48 in 08 tour will have an un-manned table at the convention. Stop by to see samples of the caps/shirts and order forms; if you order during the convention, your order will be shipped to your home -- in time for our arrival in your home state! The 'By the Time I Get to Phoenix' entry forms will also be there, plus McPherson College literature. We also want to take a photo of the 48 in 08 participants at the convention - probably before or after the awards banquet.

7. Publicity: Doc, the Chick Magnet and 48 in 08 are on the cover of the July issue of Northern & Central California's "Cruisin' News". A nice article about the tour and CTCI inside.

8. Friends: CASCO has been added to the list of Friends for the tour.

9. Newsletter: The July Newsletter is on the website and will be continually updated until we start the tour.

10. Journal and Photos: To keep track of the tour's progress, check the Journal and Tour Photos sections on our website. It will be updated as time permits.

We are looking forward to seeing many of you in Portland and/or on the road.

Lucy Clark, CTCI # 26656, home phone 714-630-4066
Doc Dockter, CTCI # 33331, Cell 650-759-4302

48 in 08 Tour information at

Tech Tip: Fuel Filter Replacement

Your Thunderbird is equipped with a fuel filter. Its purpose is to trap any impurities in the gas which would clog your carburetor if they were allowed to reach it. The fuel filter for your Thunderbird is located inside a glass bowl which is positioned in your fuel line directly above your fuel pump. The fuel pump and filter are located on the driver's side of the engine compartment at the front of the engine. To insure that your car's fuel system is working properly, it is important to make sure that you change your fuel filter with some regularity. You do not need to change it as often as your oil filter, but if you don't remember when you last changed your fuel filter I it's probably time to change it.

When changing your fuel filter you will be working with gasoline. Please use caution!!

The following tip is intended to make changing the fuel filter easier and also aid in reducing the chances of creating a gas leak due to an improper fit of the filter gasket.

The first step is to make sure that your car is on level ground and not running. Make sure you have a new fuel filter and also the rubber gasket for the glass bowl. The gasket should come with the new fuel filter. Now find the glass bowl. The glass bowl is held in place by a wire harness with a wing nut at its base. By loosening the wing nut at the base of the glass bowl, you can push the wire harness over to one side and remove the glass bowl from the fuel filter housing. Be careful to catch any gas that may spill. Next, loosen the two brass gas line fittings which connect the fuel filter housing on both sides to the fuel lines. You will need a 1/2" and 9/16" wrench. Loosen the 1/2" fittings enough to allow you to swing the filter housing upside down so that the fuel filter element will be facing up, directly at you. Once you have rotated the filter housing, remove the fuel filter. If your gasket did not come off when you removed your glass bowl, remove the old gasket now. Install the new gasket being careful not to fold or kink it. Make sure it fits evenly in the recessed channel of the filter housing. Next install your new fuel filter. Your old filter should have been installed with the paper side towards the fuel filter housing. Make sure your new filter is installed the same way. Reinstall the glass bowl and place the wire harness back in its original position around the glass bowl. Tighten up the wing nut so that the glass bowl fits snugly into the fuel filter housing. Make sure your gasket did not shift out of the channel in the filter housing. Once you are satisfied that all is well, turn the filter housing, with the glass bowl attached, back into its original position so that the glass bowl is underneath the filter housing. Now retighten the brass gas line fittings on both sides. Start your car up and check for leaks.

This tip is simple, but for all of you out there, myself included, who tried to change the fuel filter without rotating the housing, it sure makes the job easier!

Source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Tech Tip: Vacuum Advance

The vacuum advance mechanism for your 1955-57 Thunderbird is located on the outside of your distributor. It is a metal circular disk-shaped housing which is attached to the distributor directly below the distributor cap. On 1955 and 1957 models, there will be one metal vacuum line which attaches to the vacuum advance. On 1956 Thunderbirds there is a dual vacuum advance mechanism and thus there are two vacuum lines attached to the vacuum advance. A vacuum advance that is not working properly will make your car run rough at idle and give you poor overall performance. If you did not check your vacuum advance when you gave your car its last tune up, then this tip is for you.

To test to see if your vacuum advance is working, you can use a vacuum gauge, if you have one, or you can do the following procedure. You will need to remove the vacuum advance from the distributor. First, disconnect the vacuum line leading into the vacuum advance. For 1956 owners, there will be two vacuum lines to disconnect. Next, remove the distributor cap and rotor. There will be two screws which hold the vacuum advance to the distributor. Remove the screws. On 1955 and 1956 Thunderbirds, there will be a metal rod which comes from the vacuum advance and attaches to the underside of the distributor plate. There will either be a small wire cotter pin or "c" clamp holding the end of the vacuum advance metal rod up through a small hole in the distributor plate. On 1957 models, there will be a flat metal rod which is attached to a metal nub on the topside of the distributor plate. I t is also held in place by a small "c" clamp. Remove the pin or clamp and you can pull the entire vacuum advance mechanism away from the distributor.

Once you have removed the vacuum advance, use your mouth and try to suck the air out of the vacuum advance mechanism via the hole where the vacuum line was disconnected. It helps to clean this area of the mechanism before attempting this procedure. If the vacuum advance holds the vacuum, then your mechanism is working properly. You can tell if the vacuum advance is holding the vacuum by placing your finger over the hole before you remove it from your mouth. If the skin of your finger is pulled into the hole opening by the suction of the vacuum, then your vacuum advance is holding a vacuum. On 1956 vacuum advances, make sure you place a finger over one of the holes throughout this procedure.

If you have discovered that your vacuum advance is not working, and your car is a 1955-56 Thunderbird, simply install a new vacuum advance reversing the above procedure for removal. For 1957 owners, however, you must first disassemble part of your old vacuum advance. On the 1957 vacuum advance, there will be a cap at the end of the vacuum advance where the vacuum line is attached. Unscrew this cap. Inside will be an arrangement of washers and a spring. Remove the washers and spring taking note of their order of disassembly. These parts must be installed in your new vacuum advance in the same fashion as they were installed in your old vacuum advance. Once you have "reassembled" your new vacuum advance, you can install it in the same manner as the 1955 and 1956 vacuum advances. Just reverse the removal steps outlined above. Once reassembled, check and adjust your timing, if necessary. Your car should now run much better.

source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Tech Tip: Telescoping Steering Column

It might come as a surprise to some Classic Thunderbird owners that their 1955-57 Thunderbirds came equipped with a "telescoping" steering column. Yes, that steering wheel which has progressively inched up closer to the driver's seat each year and made you feel as if you might have gained a few extra pounds over the winter actually can be moved up or down on the column. With proper adjustment, you can adjust your steering wheel to accommodate your individual physical needs, within set engineering tolerances.

Your steering wheel can be moved by loosening the chrome sleeve located directly behind the steering wheel. The chrome sleeve has numerous grooves which run parallel with the steering column. By turning the sleeve in a clockwise direction, you will loosen the sleeve. Once the sleeve is loose, you can adjust your steering wheel, up or down, by pulling or pushing on the steering wheel. Be careful not to pull the steering wheel out of the steering column. There should be a stop which prevents you from pulling the steering wheel completely out of the column. My car, however, must have lost the stop during a prior restoration. I pulled the steering wheel out of the column with one strong pull. I was able to place it back in the column, but once the steering wheel is out of the column you run the risk of damaging the wires which run up into the steering column. Once you have adjusted your steering wheel, simply retighten the chrome sleeve. Your steering wheel should stay in its new desired position.

The above procedure sounds simple, and it is. The problem lies in the chrome sleeve that you are supposed to be able to loosen with a simple clockwise twist. Over the years, the threads on the steering column usually become clogged with dirt and road grime. Exposure to water in the form of dew, humidity, or the inevitable summer downpour, creates rust on the metal threads. The result is a seized steering column sleeve. Just ask any bruised knuckle on your hand how easy it is to loosen a seized nut from a rusted, dirty threaded bolt. The analogy is appropriate, except you can't apply a blow torch or hacksaw to your steering column sleeve. You can, however, do the following.

First, apply some WD-40 or other spray lubricant to the steering column sleeve. Spray the lubricant between the sleeve and the steering column. You should wait approximately twenty-four hours before attempting to loosen the sleeve. This will allow time for the lubricant to penetrate the threads. Be sure to clean up any overspray or drips immediately. You may want to wrap the area with rags to catch any drops. If you're lucky, this may be all you need to do.

If lubricant alone is not enough to loosen the sleeve, you will be forced to use physical force. The perfect tool to use to loosen your steering column sleeve is a large chain wrench. This tool is available at most hardware stores and should cost approximately $20.00 to $25.00. As an alternative, a trusty pipe wrench will work. Make sure it is at least fourteen inches or larger. Before using either of these tools, make sure you wrap the steering column sleeve with a good rag.

As a last resort you can use a 1" x 2" block of wood and a hammer. First, place the block of wood so its edge lies in one of the sleeve grooves. You should choose a groove that is easily accessible. By tapping on the block of wood with your hammer you should be able to free the seized sleeve. Remember to turn the sleeve clockwise. You should only need to use moderate force. Just be careful! One false move could mean a chip, dent, or sore thumb.

source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

48 in 08 - June update 2

It is hard to believe that we are only 30 days away from beginning the journey of a lifetime -- cruising the highways and byways to all 48 contiguous state capitals of this beautiful country. This means we have to get focused on many mundane details like what clothes to pack, what repair parts to carry, how many bushels of money to take for gasoline, and much more.

It also means time is drawing short for you and CTCI members to help a good cause. If you want 48 in 08 apparel and window decals in time for the tour, now is the time to order. Proceeds from these items, after deducting costs, will be contributed to the Historic Automotive Restoration Program at McPherson College.

You can participate in the 48 in 08 mileage contest called "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" during the convention, on tour, or by mail.

For ordering details and contest participation, please visit or simply google 48in08. Click on Newsletter - June for details regarding the contest. Click on Apparel for details regarding caps, tees and polo shirts. Click on Window Decals for details regarding the static-cling window decals.

We will meet many of you at the CTCI Convention in Portland or on the road through your state, or both. Proper 48 in 08 attire is not mandatory, but it would be nice and is for a good cause. Plus, it all looks pretty neat, too.

Hope to see you all on the tour!

Doc Dockter
CTCI # 33331
Cell 650-759-4302

48 in 08 Tour information at

48 in 08 - June update 1

So much has been happening the last few weeks for the 48 in 08 tour, we're sending a second June Update. Please note and share the following information.

The website has been updated several times since June 1st. Please check the website regularly for the latest news. New and addition information since June 1st include:
- An updated Schedule
- Hotels list now includes almost all overnights
- Plans in Sacramento
- Photo of SCVT chapter classic T-Birds with their 48 in 08 car door decals
- McPherson car window decals
- and, By the time I get to Phoenix - The Contest.
Yes, we're having a contest called "By the time I get to Phoenix....."!
Contestants must guess the number of miles Betsy Bird travels from the California Capitol to the Arizona Capitol. Entries are $1 each or 6 entries for $5. ALL of the proceeds will be donated to the McPherson College Historic Automobile Restoration Program. Be sure to enter during the Portland Convention or when you meet us on the tour.

Registration Forms are due by June 30th. If you are driving a portion of the 48 in 08 tour, please mail your Registration Form to Doc by June 30th. There is no fee to register and the information on the form will help us contact you before we meet on the tour.

One last item: We would like to take a photo during the convention of the 48 in 08 participants. If you will be in Portland, please let us know.

Lucy Clark, CTCI # 26656, 714-630-4066
Doc Dockter, CTCI # 33331, Cell 650-759-4302

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Editor's Notebook - May 2008

WITH SPRING TEMPERATURES HAVING (FINALLY) ARRIVED, we look forward seeing the classic T-Birds escape their long winter hibernation! In fact, four intrepid members drove their 'Birds to the CTCC Tech-Session on April 19th! See pages 7 and 8 for the story and pics. In addition to the members listed, we had Prospective Member, Don Roerkottl, joining our group. We hope to extend our official WELCOME to Don in the June issue.

photo caption: Bill Werth's camera, with Mary Keil at the controls, captures the majority of the CTCC members who attended the club's annual Spring Tech Session on April 19th. A few members had already departed at the time when this photo was taken.

The Spring Tour caravan heads out for Dearborn, Michigan on Friday, May 2nd. Good weather is on tap!

The cover photo this month features an "action shot" of a 1956 T-Bird taking off at the Daytona Beach Time Trials. Unfortunately, the Thunderbird Anthology CD doesn't include any information pertaining to the photographs included in the collection. The CD does include a number of reference sections, including listings of Specifications, Standard equipment and (Special) "extra-cost" items. Stay tuned for more pics/info. On page 6, we present what appears to be an official Ford photo of a (stock) 1956 and listings of Factory Options and Additional Cost Options. Again, this is one of the items from the CD referenced above.

Following a yearlong effort to trace the origins of the Thunderbird Club of America (TCOA), I believe the information that appears on page 9 offers the answer to the question.

A recent note from Great Race headquarters indicates that the 2008 New York to Paris event has been POSTPONED! In what has to be considered a monumental task to obtain clearances for passage of the vehicles through a number of foreign countries, the Chinese have refused permits for entrants and staff...

Note: Our membership is: 113, as we Welcome Back Chris Oie (Pg. 4). Add the name to your '08 Roster. The Back-Cover -Tech Session - Group Photo was taken by Mary Keil, using Bill Werth's Digital camera! Other Tech-Session Photo Credits: PAGE 7 - Bill Werth. PAGE 8 - Top Row: Editor; Bottom Row: Bill Werth (Left Col.) and Ed. (Right Col.)

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION - In what must have been an attack of Mad Cow disease (loyal fans of the outrageous TV series, Boston Legal, will understand!), I allowed the March and April issues to carry the incorrect Volume number. If you file your copies of BIRD-NEWS, please change your issues to read: Volume 47.

-- Bert Eisenhour, Ed. Bird-News

Battle Dress

This month in May, we (again) feature the 1956 Ford Thunderbird, albeit in "Battle Dress!"

The photo is one of thirty included in The Thunderbird Anthology CD. NOTE: The Continental Kit, rearbumper and wheel-covers have been removed (to reduce weight). Also, the windshield has been replaced with a small windscreen. The headlights are taped over, as is a large portion of the grille area. The tonneau cover further adds to the streamlining measures. The man at the left has just removed the "timing-hose" - after the front wheels crossed it to start the official course timing mechanism. Although not specified, this is obviously a Daytona Time Trials photo. (A front-view of this 'Bird will be featured in the June issue!)

Spring Tech Session 2008

Sat. April 19th -- THE TRIP TO THE KEIL'S NEW HOME IN JOHNSBURG began at 8 a.m. when my 'Limo Driver' Bill Werth picked me up to start our (rainy) 1-hour trip north.

photo caption: Len Keil at work on his 1957 fuse wiring.

Arriving on-location at 9 o'clock, we found a vast spread of pastries, etc., set-up in the spacious garage by Mary Keil. We learned that Jim Wilson was en route in his '57, but had suffered a freak failure of his accelerator linkage! Ken was on his way to the scene, but found the damage to be severe, precluding any chance of roadside repair... The seemingly endless supply of edibles and coffee helped us fill-in the time as we awaited Ken's return to start the T-Bird Tech-Session at 10:30 a.m.

PROJECT: Install a small, non-obtrusive, 30 amp. fuse-holder to protect the under-dash wiring loom on 'Birds fitted with electronic ignition systems. This safety measure eliminates the possibility of shorting out the wiring, should the ignition key remain in the "ON" position with the engine not running. The damage can occur in a matter of minutes, as the coil-resistor (P/N 12250) overheats. The Bussman assembly, BP/HHG-RP, sells for a mere $2.99, thus making this minor deviation from 'pure stock' well worth the effort and cost - since the end-result is protection of the entire wiring system! Ken pointed out that this installation serves a dual-purpose, since removal of the fuse prevents anyone from starting the engine!

A number of members were involved in the project, as indicated in some of the event photos. With several T-Birds parked in the driveway, the Keil hacienda became a point-of-interest for several neighbors! Mary Keil made the 'Iuncheon-run,' and she returned at 12:30 with some very tasty, monster Subway sandwiches, a welcome treat for our band of hungry T-Birders. Other items were included in the session, e.g., the timing on Bob Sroka's '57 was checked and adjusted. Ken reiterated his recommendation that the best solution to the question as to best oil for the T-Bird engines is: Shell - Rotella T (at $8.95 per gallon). This product overcomes some of the hazards to camshaft life compared to other oils that have reduced zinc content.

All-in-all, a very valuable session for us. Thanks to Mary (aided by Sandi Kraatz) for the food projects and Len, for making his spotless garage available!

Shade-Tree Mechanics: Dan Anderson, Steve Davajon, Bert Eisenhower, Pete Ekstrom, Jim Elijah, Gordon Gluff, Joel Greenberg, Len Keil, Joe Kraatz, Pete Kramer, Paul Mounts, Ron Pavlov, Lloyd Schellin, Gary Smithe, Ken Smizinski, Bob Sirocco, Paul Ureche, Len Vinyard, Bob Wenderski, Bill Werth, Joe Wintz, Tom Wolfe and Joe Zambian. A special note of appreciation for Ken's Tech info.

1956 T-Bird Price and Options

1956 Factory Options
Total Produced
Convertible 16,631

Standard Equipment
292-cid Y-block V-8 engine
Automatic choke
12-volt electrical system
Dual exhausts
There-speed manual transmission
Hotchkiss drive: ball-joint front suspension
5-leaf spring rear suspension
Five 6.70 x 15 tubeless tires
All vinyl interiors with harmonizing looped-rayon carpeting
17-in diameter deep-center Lifeguard steering wheel with 2-in. adjustment
Lifeguard double-grip door latches
Lifeguard rear view mirror
Astra-Dial control panel with illuminated control knobs
Parcel compartment with locking-type push-button latch
4-way illuminated starter-ignition switch
Parcel courtesy light with integral switch and automatic door switch
Dual horns
Half-circle steering wheel horn ring
Glass-fibre hardtop

Additional Cost Options
Full-flow oil filler
4-way power sea $65
Swift Sure power brakes $34
Master-Guide power steering $64
Power-lift windows $70
I-rest tinted safety glass
Fordomatic Drive $215
Overdrive $146
White sidewall tires
Fuel and vacuum pump unit
MagicAire heater $84
Radio $107
Rear fender shields
Full wheel covers
Simulated tire wheel covers
Engine dress-up kit
Auto-Wipe windshield washers
Turn signals
Lifeguard seat belts (March 1956)
Lifeguard padded sun visors
Lifeguard instrument panel padding (March 1956) $22-$32
Thunderbird 312-cid four-barrel V-8
Thunderbird 312-cid dual four-barrel V-8
Convertible fabric top alone $75
Both tops $290
Tonneau cover