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