Perhaps the best part of restoration work is cleaning up an old, rusty part, giving it a fresh coat of paint and reassembling it. It doesn’t always look as good as new, but it’s (almost) always better than it was.
Long gone are the days of sheet metal interiors, but the T-Bird was built at the end of that era. I suspect she spent some time with the windows down, stored out in the elements–much of the interior is rusty, especially the unpainted portions.
Inside the steering column, the shift tube was a rusty mess with an accumulation of grease at the bottom. I put it on the wire wheel to shine it up and gave it a coat of primer to keep it clean. It’s mostly invisible inside the steering column, but in the off chance that the next guy to disassemble the unit is me, it’ll be nice to know it’s protected in there.
From the crap-previous-owners-do file, I’ve uploaded a shot of the old shift detente next to the new one. (The detente plate has the teeth the keep the shifter in gear–much like the
gates you move a shift lever through on a modern car.) The old unit looked ok until I compared them. Up close, I noticed that the groove for “park” (on the left side of each piece in this photo) has been deeply ground away, probably in a failed effort to keep the car in gear without buying new parts. Odd, really, because the repair pieces cost less than $30 in today’s money.
Tomorrow, reassembly of the shift tube into the steering column commences. I’m hoping to be back on the road this Sunday.