Not a Productive Summer

Know what I’ve done to the Mustang this summer? A whole lot of NOTHING; that’s what.

With temperatures in the 100s day-in and day-out, working on the Mustang just isn’t much fun — nor is driving it, given that the only A/C available is what you get when you roll down the windows. One thing is certain: You can’t really appreciate auto A/C until you go without it in the Oklahoma summertime.

Actually, I may be overstating, just a bit. With the Mustang, evening driving isn’t too bad. However, the Mustang’s dash lights and headlamps leave a LOT to be desired once the sun dips below the horizon. Neither is bright enough to make me a confident night driver.

However, in anticipation of cooler weather, I do have a few projects lined up. Parts for the following upgrades have been delivered, and are waiting in my garage:

  • New rear leaf springs and shackles
  • New LED bulbs and blue filters for the dash gauges (now done)
  • New wiring harness for the headlamps, to allow for modern, brighter bulbs (now done)
  • Pertronix electronic ignition
  • New steering wheel (now done)
  • New trunk weatherstrip

Before the summer heat really got rolling (not to mention the annual Oklahoma water-use restrictions), I did manage to give the engine compartment a good high-pressure hose-down. (Hey! The engine block’s still blue under all that dust and grime!) While I was at it, I repainted the air-filter housing, as it was looking more rusty than blue.

Per recommendations from a couple of auto techs I trust, I’ve been driving the Mustang at least once per week. A few miles on the highway, coupled with laps around various city blocks, ought to be far better for the car than just sitting in the garage 24/7.

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Our Mustang’s Audio System (Pt. 1)

One part of our Mustang which was never going to be stock (or even look like stock) was the audio system. There are a handful of reasons for this:

  • The original radio was already long gone when my wife first got the car;
  • I love a great-sounding car stereo, and “stock” was never that;
  • Reproduction “looks like factory” radios are absolute crap compared to the products of Alpine, JVC, and so on.

My History With Car Audio

You have to know this: I love good car audio. There’s just something about driving around, with good music playing through a good system, that feels right. Yeah, you can have a great-sounding home system (and we do), but it’s just . . . different . . . when you’re cranking out clean Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughn on the road. No, I don’t know why it’s different. But it is.

In high school, you could hear my ’83 Buick Regal — and its two 12-inch MTX subs — coming from blocks away. That car’s system sounded nice, and was far louder than any sensible parent would approve of.

But I got older, got married, and the Regal got traded in. For years, the car-audio lover in me was pushed to the shed out back. Had to make way for automotive reliability, family, fuel mileage, and stuff like that. (Plus the fact that decent car audio systems aren’t exactly cheap. When you’re young, paying off student loans and building savings are far more important than making sure crystal-clear “Layla” guitar riffs scream from your windows at stop lights.)

In any case, I’d done a few audio installs with friends in my younger days, and built a few speaker boxes. It was always fun, sometimes frustrating, and I learned enough that “car audio” was the one part of an automobile’s makeup that didn’t scare me to death.

Once we decided to restore the ’67 Mustang, and its body and powertrain were taken care of, I knew I’d have a great opportunity to get back to the road music I loved.

What Was Already There

The original radio had long since been removed from our Mustang. In its place was a scratched-up, non-working Audiovox cassette player with a green LED display similar to what you’d see on a digital alarm clock. If I had to guess, I’d say it was an early 1980s or late 1970s tape deck.

The rear package tray held a pair of Roadmaster two-way 6x9s. Whether they worked or not, I don’t know. They’d been beaten and scuffed-up over the years, the once-black speaker cones now faded to brown paper.

In the engine compartment was a small amplifier, mounted to the passenger-side wall. There was no recognizable brand name, but it was marked as “Distributed by JC Penney.”

I don’t know when J.C. Penney stopped selling car-audio components, but I bet it’s been a while. (Early 1980s?)

A New Head Unit

Pioneer DEH-6300UB

I’ve always had great luck with Pioneer head units, so they were my first choice for the new Mustang system. I watched local sales ads, and eventually picked up a Pioneer DEH-6300UB CD receiver for the Mustang. The fact that it had customizable button- and LCD-display colors helped me decide on the 6300UB, as I thought it’d be neat to see if I could get the unit’s display colors to closely match the glowy green-blue light of the Mustang’s dash gauges.

With the DIN dash adapter (part number RB12) from CJ Pony Parts, the head-unit installation was pretty simple. Plumber’s strap from Home Depot came in handy when it was time to secure the rear of the Pioneer deck to the frame of the dash.

Kick Panel Speakers

Kick Panel: Infinity 6.5in Speakers

Admittedly, your vehicle’s kick panels are not an optimal place to mount speakers. The location tends to be low, and if your kick-panel speakers don’t have component (read: separately-mounted) tweeters, then you can lose a lot of your music’s high notes. After all, those very directional high frequencies will be aimed right at your lower legs, most likely. In a perfect world, you’d want them aimed toward your ears, or close to it.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many other places to mount front-speaker pairs in 1967 Mustang coupes. Door panels might work, if you don’t mind cutting metal — but that’s something which I avoid if at all possible. Outside of that, there’s the dash, where the vehicle originally had one speaker mounted right smack in the middle. Not exactly an audio-friendly setup there, either.

Kick Panel: Infinity 6.5in Speakers

So kick panels it was. Thankfully, there are reproduction kick panels made which already have openings for 6.5″ speakers. Even better, because the Mustang has metal body panels directly behind its stock kick panels, those repro kick-panel openings slope outward and allow for (1) a decent bit of depth for the speaker to mount in, and (2) a slight angle toward the driver and front passenger listening zones.

As with most of my restoration parts, my kick panels came from CJ Pony (part number SPK22). They looked good, and felt sturdy enough. Into them, I mounted a pair of Infinity Reference 6032si 6.5-Inch shallow-mount speakers. Additionally, I mounted a pair of similarly-sized foam baffles behind the speakers. (Speakers and baffles purchased from Amazon.com.)

By themselves, without grilles, the Infinity speaker bodies (which are actually a bit larger than 6.5″) fit the kick panels almost perfectly. However, once I installed the Infinity grilles (sold separately), which are even wider, problems arose.

Because the grilles did not line up well with the kick-panel openings, I was left with a roughly half-inch gap between the speaker grilles and the kick-panels themselves. This turned out to be an easy fix, though. A quick trip to Michael’s Arts & Crafts store allowed me to pick up a small (less than 20″) sheet of thin rubber foam. From this I was able to cut two strips which I wrapped around the speaker bodies — they’re the lighter-gray strips you see in the accompanying pics. These foam-rubber strips, when cut just a tad wider than half-inch, secured into and filled the speaker gaps nicely.

Rear Deck Speakers

Rear Deck (Covered)

For the rear package tray, I mounted a pair of Infinity Reference 9633cf 6×9-inch speakers (bought from Amazon.com) from the underside. This required drilling a few new holes from which to mount the speakers to the metal package-tray support.

I didn’t want the speakers to show back here, so I purchased a new package tray (CJ Pony Parts part number PT1) and cut openings for the 6x9s using a jigsaw. My wife and I then covered the tray with black speaker cloth purchased from Parts Express (part number 260-335). We used spray adhesive (plus super-heavy tape on the underside) to hold the fabric secure against the board while we installed it.

And In the Trunk? That’s the Next Post!

Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll discuss “What’s in the trunk?” as well as various aspects of wiring all this stuff up!

Posted in Car Audio, Interior, That's Not Stock! | Leave a comment

Shifter Lever Rebuild

After reading some positive comments regarding shifter performance after replacing the shift-lever bolts and grommets, I decided to see if this was something I could do myself. (Without harming any children or small animals in the process, of course.)

“Best twenty-five bucks and thirty minutes you’ll ever invest in your Mustang,” was the general message-board sentiment.

Well, the “twenty-five bucks” part was right; the “thirty minutes” part, not so much. But that’s to be expected, as I’m not at all a car guy. I can drive ’em, gas ’em, and keep ’em clean, but that’s about it.

Shifter Performance Before Rebuild

To know how big an improvement the shifter rebuild gave us, you have to know what shifting was like before that. Before I dug into it, the shifter was, in two words:

  • Sloppy
  • Noisy

Yeah, the shifter lever was extremely loose — all over the place. “Broomstick in a barrel” is the expression I often see, and that matched our shifter feel precisely. Were you in gear? Weren’t you in gear? Only one way to find out: Let off the clutch, and see what happens.

That, obviously, is not what you’d call “optimal performance.” Add it to the fact that, at certain transmission resonances, we’d get a nasty metallic rattle from inside the shifter assembly in the floor. Pretty annoying, that, especially after having gone to the trouble to sound-deaden a bit when the floor carpet and other interior items were being replaced.

3-Speed Shifter … Rebuilt With 4-Speed Kit

Our ’67 Mustang has a 3-speed manual transmission, but for the shifter-lever rebuild, I decided to follow the advice of a couple of message-board enthusiasts and use the 4-speed rebuild kit (part number HW1622 at CJ Pony Parts). The difference? The 4-speed kit utilizes springs beneath the metal shifter cups, whereas the 3-speed kit uses rubber grommets. The springs apparently give a tighter shifting feel (and hold up better over time, I’d imagine). That “tight feel” is most of what I was aiming for anyway.

As it turns out, the new 4-speed metal cups appeared to be just a tad — and I mean just a tad — larger than the 3-speed cups which came out of my shifter. But that wasn’t a problem, as you’ll see below.

Shifter Rebuild Process

There was nothing difficult about the rebuild, which consists of replacing some large bolts, washers, cups, and rubber grommets at the bottom of the shift-lever itself. Even for a guy like me, whose mechanical knowledge is just to the right of zero, it wasn’t a big deal. Took me far more than thirty minutes, though. More like a Saturday morning.

Here’s the article to which I referred for guidance:

Mustang Monthly: How to Rebuild a Manual Shifter

Aside from the rebuild kit itself and a set of standard wrenches, a few other garage supplies came in handy:

  • Can of brake cleaner (for cleaning parts)
  • Tub of lithium grease
  • Spray-can of white lithium grease
  • Metal-bristle brush (for cleaning parts)
  • Dremel tool with small routing head (for cleaning stubborn parts)
  • Telescoping magnet (for retrieving dropped bolts/washers)
  • Small Ziploc bags (for holding loose bolts/washers/screws)
  • Shop rags

Additionally, I bought a selection of heavy-gauge metal 3/8″ and 7/16″ grade 8 split lock washers from my local AutoZone. Since our shifter lever had some mismatched, deteriorated washers around the two large bolts which attach it to the u-bracket inside the shifter box, I have to assume that such washers are, in fact, needed for a correct shifter rebuild. Given the size of the mounting bolts, the washers seem pretty integral. Why they aren’t included in the purchased rebuild kit is beyond me.

Working the Rebuild

I performed the entire repair from inside the car — no underbody access required.

While the article above states that seats must be removed, I found that that wasn’t necessary. Once the chrome shifter plate, both lower kick panels, and both door sill plates were off, I simply pulled the carpet back from the firewall, folding it rearward toward the seats, and maneuvering it up and over the shifter lever. The carpet was pretty stiff, so I had to do this slowly and carefully to prevent tearing.

I then unbolted and removed the rubber shifter boot. This gave me pretty clear access to the lower shift-lever assembly. Getting the shifter lever’s two large bolts loose from the shifter-box mechanism was a bit of a task, as they were super tight and dirt-crusted in there.

Once I had access to the shift lever and its mounting bolts, it was easy to see where the sloppy shifting originated. The rubber grommets — both those around the large mounting bolts and those around the cups — were either entirely gone, or worn into fragments so small they were hardly discernible as rubber. Yes, forty-plus years of gear-shifting can do that to you.

(Thankfully, the cups came right out of the shifter, and hadn’t been previously hammered in, minus grommets — something that I’ve heard people used to do. As a matter of fact, the cup grommets were so deteriorated and dry that one of the cups fell out as I removed the shifter itself. This is where having the telescoping magnet came in real handy, as it made fishing out the loose cup a snap.)

Dremel To the Rescue

With the shift lever out of the car, I gave it a stout cleaning with spray parts cleaner, rags, and a metal brush. No matter how much I tried to clean the inside of the shifter cup-holes, though, I couldn’t seem to get them debris-free enough for the sturdy four-speed cups to slide in without binding. There was just too much caked-on grease and dirt that my brush couldn’t get to.

So I reached for the one tool that, to this day, my wife says I don’t use nearly enough (given the price she paid for it when it was gifted to me): my Dremel.

Sure enough, with its small metal routering head attached, the Dremel quickly ate away the hard black grime inside the shifter cup-holes. A few minutes of Dremel-work, and the cup/spring assemblies slid oh-so-smoothly into their notches in the shift-lever base. Surrounding them with lithium grease made them move even better, and gave the additional benefit of securing the cups/springs in the shifter while I reinstalled it.

Was the Shifter Rebuild Worth It?

It was hard for me to imagine, beforehand, that twenty-five dollars’ worth of bolts, grommets, cups and springs could make such a difference in the feel and performance of our Mustang’s shifter, but OH BOY DID IT EVER.

Shifting is now entirely different: It’s tight, precise, and the annoying metallic rattles are GONE. I’m not sure why, but I find that it’s nice to think that THIS is what the shifter might’ve felt like when it was fresh off the factory line in the late 1960s.

The improvement, in short, is just astounding.

Posted in One-Day Upgrades, Transmission | 1 Comment

Humphugger Console

I’ll say this: I didn’t realize how much I used cupholders, and a right-side armrest, until I didn’t have them.

Our Mustang, being a base-model coupe (200ci engine with a 3-speed manual transmission), of course, had neither. So after a bit of research — and a lot of “Where do I put this cherry limeade?” — I elected to give the Humphugger console a try. (Purchased mine from CJ Pony Parts.)

But First … Some Dimensions

Before ordering, I looked around the ‘net for some size dimensions of the Humphugger, and really couldn’t find any. So, for those of you who, like me, want to know how something will fit before you buy it, here goes:

Console Body: 10″ tall x 20″ long x 7 3/4 ” wide
Compartment: 5 1/2″ deep x 10 1/2″ long x 5 1/2″ wide
Cupholders: 3″ deep, and just wide enough for a soda can

Size & Fit Concerns

Initially I was worried that the Humphugger would be too long, front-to-back, and would interfere with the Mustang’s 3-speed shifter … which sits very low and forward when in first or third gear. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case. In my opinion, the Humphugger’s fit was darn near perfect. (Images below.)

How Does It Secure?

There are two strips of velcro on the bottom of the console which “stick” to the Mustang’s factory carpet. And they stick well. So this thing’s not going anywhere when you take a corner.

If you’re going to be removing/reinstalling the console a lot, be ready: The velcro is going to fray your carpet modestly. Because, like I said, it grips well.

Humphugger Gallery

Here are the “before and after” shots of the Humphugger install:

Looks about as good as I could’ve hoped for! And a few more photos, from various angles:

Summary

I have to say that I’m really pleased with my Humphugger console purchase. I don’t think durability will be a problem, as the console seems to be built pretty well. (Even if the Mustang were a daily driver for us, which it isn’t, I think the console would hold up over time.)

The Humphugger’s black-vinyl appearance matches our seats nicely, and blends well with the rest of the interior. Some message-board commenters noted that the consoles looked cheap and out-of-place in vintage Mustangs, but I don’t have that impression at all. (Then again, I’m not a classic-car junkie, either.)

So, for a little over a hundred bucks, I now have a pair of cupholders (albeit small ones), a compartment in which to store CDs and whatever else, plus a place to rest my right arm. Sounds like a winner to me!

Posted in Interior, That's Not Stock! | Leave a comment