Thursday, March 13, 2008

Editors Notebook- Feb 2008

WITH OUR CTCC T-BIRDS SAFELY IN HIBERNATION, as we endure the onslaught of winter weather, we offer some auto-related items, as well as "new" T-Bird photos/information. Since 2008 represents the 100th Anniversary of the running of the New York to Paris Great Race, a bit of local history is presented on pages 5 and 6.

A relatively new source for Thunderbird photos, specifications, Ford advertisements, etc., is The Thunderbird Anthology CD. Refer to page 8 for more information on this unique collection of Thunderbird lore. This month's cover-photo, as well as the one on page 7, is from this source. Page 9 features a portion of the full-page Macy's ad that appeared in a recent issue of the Chicago Tribune. The caption was "You're invited to celebrate love." Note that the '57 'Bird is fitted with wire-wheels. Could this be a T-Bird owned by one of our Members? If you have any information on the origins of this advertisement, let me know.

The ever-popular FREE Pizza Party at Jake's Pizza is scheduled for February 14th. (See page 10.) The Calendar is updated to include the dates for the Spring Tour (See Back-Cover for Preview). Be sure to checkout the item relating to the progress being made on our new CTCC Website. Webmaster, Joel Greenberg, outlines the exciting, developing news in his report on page 6.

Also, on page 6, the photo of the famous 1907 Thomas Flyer: This is the very same vehicle that was permitted to participate in the Great American Race! It was quite thrilling to see this car in action on the cross-country event, especially in view of the fact that the American Flyer was the winner of the 1908 New York-to-Paris Race!

NEW CTCC MEMBERSHIP DIRECTORY - The 2008 CTCC Roster will be updated for publication/mailing with the March issue of Bird-News. If you have any changes, please notify our Membership Chair, Madeline Zambon as soon as possible. Direct your mail to Madeline at: 24346 South Timberline Trail, Crete, IL 60417. CTCC Roster information: Dale Sherwood change zip code from 60127 to 60123. Urszula Mounts: (was Ursala) correct spelling to Urszula.


-- Bert Eisenhour, Ed. Bird-News

Thunderbird Anthology CD

Thunderbird Anthology 2005 CD

THANKS TO MEMBER RUDY BUDACH, we have a NEW storehouse of information and photos on the 1955 - 2005 Ford Thunderbirds! This photographic encyclopedia for the TBird contains nearly 600 photos, videos, hundreds of graphics, TV commercials and much more to guide your tour. The compact disc was produced by: HI-TECH SOFTWARE. 10 Little Tarn Court, Hardyston, NJ 07419. Visit:

The 1955 section contains 55 photos, some of which are from Ford advertisements (see the cover and page 7 of this issue) in addition to many 'Birds appearing in Concours and car show events. etc.

While Rudy indicates that he paid $40+ for his copy of the CD in 2006, the above-mentioned website indicates a price of $19.95 plus a $5 shipping charge. There is also a Thunderbird Ads CD with over 200 Ford advertisements (1955-1969). This CD is priced at only $14.95 (plus $5 shipping). Look for more photos as space permits.

TBird Anthology- Part 1

The Thunderbird Anthology 1955 - Part 1

1955 Ford Thunderbird
Pictured, a very early Ford T-Bird advertisement, represents the first in a series of photos/info which will be featured in Bird-News issues during 2008. The "license-plate" is of particular interest, bearing in mind the fact the 1955 T-Bird was assembled on September 9, 1954. Note that the fender-skirt has no trim and the headlight "brow" is a "foreshortened" (non-production) design. See page 7 for more info.

TBird Anthology- Part 2

The Thunderbird Anthology 1955 - Part 2

Editor's Comment: This is an early Ford presentation of the Thunderbird and the (non-Port Hole) Hardtop. Note that there is no trim on the fender-shield. Also, note the odd headlight "brow" design! The photo is one of 568 from The Thunderbird Anthology, a disc that covers the T-Birds from 1955 through 2005 with photos and information.

1955 Factory Options
Total Produced: Convertible 16,155

Standard Equipment:
292-cid Y-block V-8 engine
6-volt eIectricaI system
4O-amp generator
90 amp-hr battery
Three-speed manual transmission
Hotchkiss drive, ball-joint front suspension
5-leaf spring rear suspension
Five 6.70 x15 tubeless tires
Astra-DiaI control panel with illuminated control knobs
Parcel compartment with locking-type push-button latch
4-way illuminated starter-ignition switch
Panel courtesy light with integral switch and automatic door switches
Rear view mirror on windshield upper molding
Dual horns
Half-circle steering wheel horn ring
Glassfibre hardtop (as a running addition)

Additional Cost Options:
Full-flow oil filter
Oil bath air cleaner
4-way power seat
Swift-Sure power brakes $40
MasterGuide power steering $92
Power-Lift windows $70
I-Rest tinted safety glass $25
Fordomatic Drive $215
Overdrive $110
White sidewall tires $30
Electric clock
Cigarette lighter
Convertible fabric top $75
Special fuel and vacuum pump unit
MagicAire Heater $85
Radio $100
Rear fender shields
Full wheel covers
Simulated wire wheels
Engine dress-up kit $25
Windshield washers $10
Both tops $290 (until glass-fibre hardtop become standard equipment)

CTCI Convention

Are You CTCI Convention Bound?

While our current sub-zero temperatures have us in their grip. I readily admit that the month of July seems to be a long way in the future! Nonetheless, if you are contemplating the possibility of driving your classic Thunderbird (or other car) to Portland, Oregon, "sign-on" so that a "mini-caravan" can be formed. If you plan to fly to the Convention. we would also like to include your name in the list of CTCC members planning to attend the CTCI International Convention. The Convention dates are July 28th through August 3rd, 2008. Send an e-mail outlining your plans:

-- Bert Eisenhour, Ed. Bird-News

Whale Crossing




Source credit: the item/photo appeared in a recent issue of AutoWeek Magazine on the always interesting page titled BWTM (But Wait, There's More).

California Calamity

California Calamity ....
Classic Car Fan Saved Family, Then His Cars


Don Benson's 1957 Thunderbird was once Starlight (Starmist) Blue with a white hardtop. Now it's a black shell sitting in a heap of soot-covered paint cans, spare carburetors and hubcaps.

His house and garage burned down Sunday, but he didn't see the ruins until Tuesday.

"I already talked to a neighbor who said it was leveled to the ground, so I guess I was prepared," Benson said.

He and his wife fled to a friend's home in another of his classic cars Sunday when flames rushed down the hillside behind his property after he moved his 1964 ivory-white Galaxy out of harm's way.

As he surveyed the destruction Tuesday, a neighbor drove by and stopped long enough to call out. "I hope God is good to you, Don."

"I believe in him, but sometimes it wears thin," Benson called back.

source: AP - Associated Press

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Tech Tip- Automatic Transmission "Lock"

Automatic Transmission "Lock"

I am pleased to pass on this interesting tip concerning the 1955 through 1957 Ford Thunderbird Automatic Transmission. With much thanks to Bert Eisenhour, Dan Mrozek, Ken Smizinski, Bill Neff and the other knowledgeable Bird-owners present at the last club meeting, I was educated as to a little known safety measure Little Bird owners take to "lock" their car's gear shift lever into the "Park" position. By "locking" the gear shift lever into "Park", the car's transmission is rendered inoperable, thus the car is unmovable. A gear shift lever that refuses to go into "Drive" would discourage most car thieves, at least those not familiar with the 1955-57 Thunderbird. The best part about this safety measure is that you don't have to buy anything. Your car already comes equipped with the locking device. Like myself, most of us just need to be educated as to how we can lock our transmission.

The procedure is very simple. First park your car in the desired location. Place the gear shift lever into "Park". Turn off your engine. Now, while remaining seated in your Thunderbird, turn the knob of your gear shift lever counter-clockwise until the push button in the center of the gear shift knob will not release your transmission out of the "Park" position. Do not unscrew your knob higher than your button. To do so would risk the removal of your gear shift knob from the gear shift. To "unlock" your transmission, simply turn your gear shift lever clockwise until snug on the lever. This procedure, though simple, may save your car. I hope you find this "tech tip" useful.

source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Tech Tip- Rear Differential Lubrication

Rear Differential Lubrication

Most of us change our oil and grease the front end steering components of our cars on a regular basis. Some times we change the oil and grease the front end just so we have a record of when these procedures were last performed. You may have, for instance, just purchased a car and you want to make sure the car has been properly maintained. Do you know when the last time your rear differential fluid was changed? If you have no record of the fluid being changed, then it would probably not be a bad assumption that your rear differential fluid needs changing. Many cars out there still have the original fluid in them. Though by now, the fluid has turned into gunk.

The procedure to change your rear differential fluid is no more complicated than changing your oil. Your rear differential is located on the rear axle of your car, where your drive shaft joins the rear axle. The differential housing appears as a ball or bubble directly in the middle of the rear axle. At the base of the differential housing is a drain plug which has a square indentation. The indentation should be the same as a 1/2" drive socket wrench if you have a 1955 or 1956 Thunderbird. For 1957 Thunderbirds, the indentation will be 1/4" square. For 1955 or 1956 Thunderbird owners you can use your 1/2" drive socket wrench to remove the drain plug. 1957 Thunderbird owners will need to obtain a 1/4" square steel rod to remove the drain plug. Your local hardware store should carry the appropriate steel rodding. A piece no longer than one foot with a 90 degree bend in it will do the job.

Located on the top side of your differential is the filler plug. For 1955 and 1956 Thunderbird's, a 5/8" wrench will be needed to remove the filler plug. 1957 Thunderbirds have their filler plug on the left hand side and require the same 1/4" square rod to remove the filler plug as was needed to remove the drain plug. Through this opening is where you will add your new fluid. Your old fluid will drain faster if you remove the filler plug before you begin draining your old fluid. Check your differential for signs of leaks. Adding new fluid will most likely increase any existing leaks. Any existing leaks should be repaired before changing the fluid, otherwise you will be changing your fluid a second time when you repair your rear differential seals.

Once you have drained the old fluid from your rear differential, replace the fluid with gear lube. The fluid weight should be 80W90. Remember to replace the drain plug before you begin refilling. Refill through the filler plug opening on the top or side of the differential. Keep putting the new fluid in your rear differential until the fluid comes out the filler opening. Replace the filler plug. You are now done.

source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Tech Tip- Headlight Wires

Headlight Wires

One of the easiest electrical components to inspect and yet one of the most overlooked components of your 1955-57 electrical system are the wires to your headlights. Over the years, the three wires which connect to your headlights become exposed due to vibration, age or corrosion. If these exposed wires ever short out by touching the metal of your car, you can do serious damage to your wiring harness and/or the other components of your car's electrical system. New headlight wires are sold through the many parts supply houses and come "ready made," complete with connectors. Their cost is usually below $20.00 each.

The procedure to check the condition of your headlight wires is very easy. Simply remove the headlight bezel of your car by unscrewing the one retaining screw at the bottom of the bezel. Remove the headlight bezel by lifting up and away. Be careful not to scratch your paint or damage the metal clip at the top of the headlight bezel. Next. remove the headlight retaining ring. This is the metal ring which fits over your headlight. It is held in place by three screws. Make sure you unscrew the retaining ring screws and not the screws which adjust the angle of your headlights. Your headlight should slide freely away from the car exposing the headlight wires behind the headlight. Inspect your wires for exposed sections or corroded contacts. If your wires have not been replaced, they should be.

To replace your wires, remove the headlight from the wire connector. Install your new wires and connector to your headlight. Take your old wires and push them through the hole leading to the fender well. Push your new wires through this same hole. Follow this same procedure of removing your old wires step by step and immediately replacing them, in the same location, with your new wires. You will end up at a small junction box located in the front of your engine compartment. near each of your headlights. Follow your old wires to find the exact location. Disconnect each old wire one at a time and replace with the same color new wire. You will do this for each of the three headlight wires of each headlight. Once you have connected your wires you are done.

source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Tech Tip- Valve Lash Adjustment

Valve Lash Adjustment

The 292 and 312 cubic inch engines are the standard engines for the 1955 through 1957 Thunderbird. These engines are equipped with mechanical valve lifters which require periodic maintenance to maintain the correct valve lash setting of .019 (nineteen thousandths of an inch). The maintenance to the valves is considered routine, yet it is the most frequently overlooked maintenance procedure. Improperly set valve lash will create a "clattering noise" which will be most noticeable at idle speed. Unless you are familiar with the workings of the internal combustion engine, you should not attempt to adjust the valve lash yourself. The information in this article, however, will provide your trusted service technician with the appropriate information needed to adjust the valves correctly. Improper adjustment of the valves can result in damage to the valves and the engine.

The following reference information was obtained and submitted by Ken Smizinski and can be found in the book entitled Fix Your Ford by Bill Toboldt, copyrighted 1971:

"To adjust the valves on the V-8 engines with mechanical lifters first locate the timing marks on the vibration damper, and make three chalk marks, each spaced 90 deg. from the timing mark, so that the damper is divided into four equal parts. On the 272, 292, and 312 engines which have mechanical valve lifters, and a firing order of 1-5-4-8-6-3-7-2, crank the engine until No.1 piston is near top center on the end of the compression stroke and adjust the following valves: No.1 exhaust, No.4 exhaust, No.5 exhaust, No.1 intake, No.2 intake, No.7 intake. Rotate the crankshaft 180 deg. or one-half turn which puts No.4 piston on T.D.C. then adjust the following valves: No.6 exhaust, No.8 exhaust, No.4 intake, No.5 intake. Rotate the crankshaft 270 deg. or three-quarter turn from 180 deg. which puts No.3 piston on top center, then adjust the following valves: No.2 exhaust, No.3 exhaust, No.7 exhaust, No.3 intake, No.6 intake, No.8 intake. Valve lash should be adjusted to specified value."

The above procedure is best done with the engine off. To check the valve lash settings after adjustment, however, the engine must be running at idle speed. Allow the engine to run thirty minutes before checking the valve lash. The valve lash should be .019 with the engine running at idle speed.

source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Tech Tip- Windshield Wiper Motor

Windshield Wiper Motor

The windshield wiper motor on your 1955-57 Thunderbird is a vacuum powered motor which is powered by the vacuum created from your engine. If your wipers perform better on deceleration than acceleration this is typical of a vacuum powered wiper motor. With the age of most of these original wiper motors, the wipers often will barely work, if they work at all. One inexpensive way to help an aging vacuum motor is to soften the leather baffle in the motor to help maintain a good vacuum. This can be done by applying WD-4O to the leather seal in the motor. The process is simple and the results usually are noticeable overnight. Please note that there is an after market electric motor available and that this process is not recommended for the electric replacement motor. This procedure is also merely a temporary measure. Any original wiper motor should be replaced or rebuilt to insure that it will operate when needed.

The first step in the process is to locate the vacuum line which is attached to your vacuum wiper motor. From inside the engine compartment, standing on the driver's side of the car, locate your starter relay mounted on the firewall. The starter relay is the part to which your positive battery cable will make first contact. Once you have located the starter relay, look directly below it. You should see a rubber hose going into your firewall. This is the vacuum supply line to your wiper motor. To make sure you have the correct hose, follow this rubber hose away from the firewall. The hose should be connected to a metal tube. Following the path of the metal tube should lead you to the top of your fuel pump. If this is where you are after tracing the rubber hose from the firewall you have the correct hose.

Once you have determined that you have the correct hose, start at the firewall again and trace the rubber hose to the point it joins the metal tube. Disconnect the rubber hose from the metal tube by sliding the hose off of the metal tube. Once you have detached the rubber hose, simply spray WD-4O into the rubber hose in the direction of the firewall. Make sure you have your plastic applicator tube attached to the spray nozzle of your can of WD-4O or else you will make quite a mess. Hold the hose upright to allow the WD-40 to flow into the wiper motor. A few applications will probably be necessary and if you are so inclined, it does help to blow into the rubber hose to insure that the WD.40 reaches its desired destination. Reconnect the hose when you are finished. If you have noticed any cracks or tears in the rubber hose, the hose should be replaced. The hose should be replaced if it appears to be dry and brittle to the touch. After allowing a few hours for the leather to absorb the WD-40, your wipers should perform better than before.

source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Tech Tip- Brake Light Switch


Do your brake lights on your 55-57 Thunderbird work only sometimes, only if you press hard on the brake pedal, or not at all? The problem may be your brake light switch. If they work sometimes or only if you press hard on the brake pedal, the problem is most likely this switch. The brake light switch is located in the engine compartment on the frame under the steering column near the inner drivers side fender well. Follow the brake line until you see the line go into a round, metal housing with two wires coming out of the center on the top side. This is your brake light switch. To replace, simply disconnect the wires from the switch and unscrew the switch from the brake line. Do not press on the brakes as this will cause brake fluid to flow from the opening in the brake line at the switch location. Replace the old brake light switch with the new part immediately to prevent any air from entering your brake lines. Don't forget to reconnect the wires. To be on the safe side, you should bleed the brake lines to purge any air from the system. If your brake lights did not work at all before you replaced the brake light switch and they still do not work, you may have a short in your electrical lines from the switch to your rear lights and the problem is probably not your brake light switch. The brake light switch itself is available from most local auto parts stores and is relatively inexpensive. This switch is hydraulic and is activated by the brake fluid when pressure is applied during braking. This switch has a tendency to grow less sensitive with age. The same switch was used on all Thunderbirds from 1957 to 1964 and on Ford Pickup Trucks from 1957 to 1967.

source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Chi Town Kruze

Stay tuned for more information.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

48 in 08- March update

This year is flying by and it won't be long before we're cruising around the country in our Classic Thunderbirds!

The 48 in 08 website has been updated. A few of the new things on the site include:
Friends - CTCI, Chevron, FastSigns and the Lane Motor Museum.
Hotels - will be continually updated as hotels are selected.
March-April Newsletter.
Link to the registration form for Birds in the Dells.
Photos of Betsy Bird and Chick Magnet with their 48 in 08 decals.

photo caption: 48 in 08 decal shown on Lucy Clark's "Betsy Bird". (the Panda in the passenger's seat is really a dog car seat)

If you, or anyone you know, will be participating in the 48 in 08 tour, please be sure to complete and mail the tour Registration Form.

Lucy Clark (H# 714-630-4066)
& Doc Dockter (H# 650-591-5939, C# 650-759-4302)
Betsy Bird & the Chick Magnet

48 in 08 Tour information at