Classic cars just sit…..and sit…….and sit, until finally someone gets tired of paying storage or gets the motivation to see the old car ride again. This was just the case for our 1968 Ford Mustang. The car’s California registration ran out in 1991 and since we are in Washington I think it is safe to say the old horse hasn’t seen the open road in awhile. So how do you pull a car like this out of it’s Coma? Simple; start with the “GO” then deal with the “WHOA!” (Brakes). With that said here is a simple punch list of items to address on the GO side. Items in no particular order.
Safety. Have a fire extinguisher on hand just in case. Work in a well ventilated area old gas smells like shit. Of course wear safety glasses gloves and any other gear to keep you safe.
Visual inspection. Give the car a good looking over. Specifically watch for items near the exhaust. Also note make sure there are not any leaks.
Lubrication. Double and triple check the oils and fluids and be 100% sure there is no water in the oil or other fluids where they should not be. My rule is if the fluid; looks good, smells good, feels good then run them until you are sure the car is ready for the road.
Mechanical. If the car was running and was parked out of the weather as was the case for our Mustang you can be fairly confident that the engine internals are good to go. With that said it doesn’t hurt to throw a wrench on the crank and verify the engine moves freely. In addition not a bad idea to spray some oil in the spark plug holes (not too much) and then crank the engine with the plugs out till the oil pump builds pressure.
Electrical. Make sure you have a good solid battery, cables are clean and tight, and a charger on hand cause you may have to crank for a while. Don’t crank for more than 15-20 seconds per interval to avoid damaging your starter. On top of that, energizing the system with a good fused jumper before connecting the positive cable directly is a great way to keep you from burning down your car. Remember you don’t know if rodents have chewed through any insulation on your harness. Once you are sure the car is not going catch on fire and it cranks verify that you have spark.
Fuel. Use a vacuum pump or equivalent to pull fuel from the tank or your temporary fuel source to prime the pump. This step will save your starter. After you prime the system check and make sure you don’t have any leaks, old rubber lines crack. Also make sure you don’t have any fuel smell in your oil.
This list covers the main items before you can light the fire. Keep in mind that each one of those items will generate a list of other items that needs to be fixed. Car restoration is nothing but a bunch of lists. Anyway back to our 1968 Mustang project car, here is what we are staring with: 1968 Ford Mustang, one owner, V8 four barrel, automatic, with factory AC.
Upon initial visual inspection we found issues right off the bat. In our case the fuel tank is damaged and is showing signs of pin hole leaks so it is time to replace the tank. Therefor a temporary tank will be used for start up. Here are the highlights of the very common issues on our Mustang.
We removed all the spark plugs added some oil to the cylinders and cranked the engine till the oil pressure came up. Also found there was almost no coolant in the radiator.
Visual inspection showed us a badly dented oil pan. In our case we are lucky the pan is not leaking. In addition to the oil pan the battery cable needs some attention also.
Since it has become clear that we are not going to get the satisfaction of hearing the horse whinny I made the decision to move onto the whoa portion of the project. AKA the brakes. Come to find out that the brakes must have been rebuilt not long before the the mustang entered deep storage. Unfortunately the car does not have a wheel cylinder that actually holds brake fluid. Time to order some parts!!!!
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