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Discussion Starter #1
I'll post an occasional update here when something particularly entertaining is found, or when major milestones are met. For the most part, progress is documented on my personal blog here (Linky).

Last night I started pulling the right front fender. I've already figured out that both fenders will probably need to be replaced with new. Now, I knew from the pre-purchase inspection that both fenders have patches welded onto the bottom rear corners. No surprise there. Well, not until I went to remove the fender anyway. As it turns out, whatever dork started this didn't remove the fender, cut out the rusted area, and weld in the patch like a normal, sane person. Noooooo, that would be almost correct. This patch was spot welded over the top of the existing rusted out metal, no prep, no primer, no nothing. Then, apparently the tab or bracket for bolting the fender to the body was gone too... the fender was brazed to the rocker panel and welded to the car.

I'm not making this up, I swear.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Heh. Remember, this is the same guy (apparently) that filled in one rust hole with RTV, and another one (in the trunk, found last night) with Bondo... smoothed them out and painted over them to hide the holes. Genius, I tell ya.

I'm not surprised to find this kind of stuff. I allowed time and budget for it. I'm amused, but not surprised.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I actually got the fender off during my lunch break (I work from home). Popped it off and laid id down on the floor and took a hacksaw to the welded tab the guy added. Really, other than the rusted out bottom corner, the original factory fender is nice and straight, in very good shape. I'm tempted to buy a repair panel from NPD and have it welded on, but I'd love to know how those things fit. OR how the repro fenders fit, for that matter.

The GREAT news: I got in under the dash (heater box is out already) and looked at the outside after getting the fender off, and the lower cowl is solid with no holes or significant rust. What I do NOT know is whether or not Cousin Cletus replaced that and horked it up beyond salvage too, or not. It almost looks like the front edge has been apart... but there appears to be original paint on teh bottom, and I don't think the dash has ever been repainted. It may just be heavy rust on the front seams that can be cleaned up and maybe treated. I won't know for sure until I get further into it.

Does this POR-15 stuff actually work? The last time I did any body work the only fix for rust was a grinder or plasma cutter.
 

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Yeah you'll be surprised what is hidden in these old Stangs. Seems a lot of the repairs made years back were to just get it by, or to sell it.
I've only used POR-15 on the inside of a 55 Chevy years ago. If you do use it, cover yourself up good, the stuff works pretty good, but is a bear to clean off your skin. Use a respirator as well. I sprayed it on the inner body, and after it dried, it was damn tough.

Don't know if this pic will come out, but Cletus may have had a hand in my 66 vert.

https://ibb.co/FK3SRwH
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Don't know if this pic will come out, but Cletus may have had a hand in my 66 vert.

https://ibb.co/FK3SRwH
Pretty awesome!! :) Last night I tried removing the splash shields. The rear splash shield is -- wait for it -- welded on. And welded onto a torque box that I don't think is original. Grinder time. Inexplicably, the front fender mount tab is NOT attached for the bottom 3/4 where it should be welded.

The good news is, everything i find on the cowl looks like it may be original to the car, and it's solid. Lots of rust around the edges, but it looks like I can clean it up and seal it.
 

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That's something, good news for sure if you don't have to remove any of the cowl. I've seen where folks are adding convertible torque boxes to coupes for stength.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The welded-on section of fender shield succumbed to my new Dewalt angle grinder in no more than five minutes. How on earth did I live to be this old and not own a big-*** angle grinder? Then I spent some time using a scraper blade on my oscillating saw to scrape undercoat and gunk from the fender apron area. Looking much better now.

I started scraping seam sealer from the trunk to see how much work it would be to replace the trunk floor. What I found was about a pound of Bondo covering up several rusted out places in the passenger side trunk, fender well, and probably into the quarter panel as well. Obviously someone went to great lengths to conceal some body rot. I was disappointed but not terribly surprised. I did violate one rule of car inspections… I looked at this thing when it was bitter, bitter cold and I didn’t really feel like crawling around on the floor and stuff for an extended time. But, most of this was pretty well hidden. Obviously there will be more cutting and welding than I planned, but it’s not a show stopper. Maybe it’s just karmic payback for the cowl not being rusted out.

I’ve been recharging the battery to see if it’s going to be junk or not. I may just take it somewhere and get it load tested. I’d love to know if this engine runs or not. There’s gas in the tank, and it doesn’t look or smell like it's ruined, so maybe I can get it started. The tank will get drained, though, and possibly replaced… the jury is out on that. It doesn’t LOOK bad, but then neither did the trunk floor.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Got a box of parts from CJ this afternoon. Over the weekend I received a little tiny bottle of speedo & gauge needle paint, and refreshed the paint on all the instrument cluster needles. They looked OK before, they look great now.

I'd have the instrument cluster all back together, but for some reason the Scott Drake instrument panel lens doesn't quite fit the Scott Drake instrument panel bezel. Go figure. I'd think they would at least make sure someone test-fit to see if the pieces they sell to go together, actually... well... go together. So instead of admiring my handiwork right now, I'm shaving about 1'8" off the bottom of three different posts on the lens that are just too big for the bezel. You don't want the think in there too tight, either; the pieces will expand and contract at different rates and need a little play so nothing cracks.

Tiny little problem, I know. Once they do fit, though, the cluster will look awesome... perfect chrome, perfect lens, fresh paint on the needles. Never even noticed these things have 140 MPH speedos before. Seems a little optimistic. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Needing some advice here...

The digging continues. After prying some more lumps of Bondo out of the right rear wheel well, I got curious about the actual condition of the quarters. Especially after I noticed about 1/16" of Bondo inside the wheel lip... not a good sign. Out came the grinder with a 40 grit flap wheel on it (how did I ever survive without that before?) Turns out BOTH rear quarters were worked on by the same bozo who did the front fenders. Steel patches plug-welded over the top of the existing metal. I'm going to guess the rust is still under the patch. Effing genius. Then the whole mess was ground down a little and covered in Bondo, then sanded smooth. The panel behind the wheel has a good 3/16 of filler over a wide area. On the bright side, the car will go faster with 10# of plastic removed, right?

SO... it's gonna need a passenger side trunk floor, the lower parts of the inner AND outer wheel houses on both sides, and the lower few inches of the quarter panel just in front and behind the wheel arches, and I'm not sure what else at this point. OK, still not a show stopper. But I don't weld.

I can post pics but you've probably all seen this kind of crap dozens of times. Here's my question: Better to just patch the small that are rusted, or cut the quarter panel skin off and replace the whole thing? It would seem cleaner to replace both quarter panel skins, both outer wheel houses, right trunk floor, and maybe just patch the inner wheel houses. They're both just perforated on the lower tip, right behind the quarter windows.

I've never gotten this far into cutting and replacing sheet metal before. I'm not sure how I'd get everything clamped to line up perfectly so I'm not left with something out of Lil' Abner when it's all back together. What say ye, O assembled experts? And if I do all the disassembly and hire the welding work out to someone who knows what they're doing, an I looking at hundreds? Thousands? A case of beer?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well... it actually runs. And even better, I started it with the STONE DEAD battery that was in it when I bought it. Two weeks on the battery charger/conditioner and it seems fine. The gas in the tank hasn’t gone bad, though I’ll drain it and get rid of it soon.

There is fresh oil in the engine, and a new distributor cap and rotor. Had to add some water to the radiator. I let it run long enough for the thermostat to open and circulate water. It got pretty smoky; she’s burning oil pretty good but it doesn’t sound bad at all. When I bought it I just assumed it would need a complete rebuild, so no big surprises other than being able to resurrect that battery.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
We also got the left front fender off. It was even more screwed up than the right side. The dude had welded this big patch over the top of not just bad rust... but bad rust that was already covered with a good coat of Bondo. And then welded the whole bottom end to the pinch weld. Ok, it’s scrap, no surprise... but it’s off now.

The floor pan welding is atrocious. I’m putting out feelers for someone who can fix it. I suck at welding. I may get better, but I’m not going to learn on the floor pan.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Video of the engine running here. I'll get some pics of the progress so far and post them tonight, if I can.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
For entertainment value... here are some pics. You can see the layer of Bondo between the old rusted metal and the new rusted metal. And again with the welded splash shield... and a few others.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I think there's something not quite right with the radiator. It's angled back at the top. Fan clearance looks pretty normal toward the bottom, but way too close for comfort closer to the top. In fact, it looks like there might have been some contact at some point. I honestly haven't seen under the hood of anything older than my long gone '73 that I sold in, oh, 1985. What's not right with this picture?
 

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Wow that's close, it's not hitting the radiator? Amazing the hidden secrets in these cars. I've pretty much come to the conclusion that they're all rust buckets waiting for someone like us to fix em... I thought the floor in our 66 convertible was good, but guess what, I've got to replace the whole floor. Nothing surprises me with these old stangs.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Nope, not hitting but way too close for comfort. At first I thought the radiator support might be bent, but it's identical on both sides. The top pic shows about an inch clearance between the radiator support and the radiator -- that's consistent and even all the way across. It's almost like the wrong radiator is installed or something, I don't know what to make of it.
 

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My super clean 2 owner cali car had a bent front rad support, which I found out about and replaced. I've looked at a pile of cars now and most have a 'little' bit of an angle from bottom to top. Yours looks a bit more than normal to me but not a ton.

Amazing what we find in 50 year old cars!
 
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