I’ve come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that the ‘Bird falls solidly into the category of restoration project for the foreseeable future. For the past few months I’ve been playing catch-up, letting the car decide what I work on. That’s a valid strategy for a car that’s mostly working–just fix what’s broken, right?.
This Bird has just been sitting ignored too long; things are breaking faster than I can repair them, even with just occasional driving. From here on, I’ll be working through each individual system, making sure it’s sound, then moving on.
I can already check the shifter and starting system off the list–those have both been completely overhauled. Next on the list are the fuel system, ignition system and the suspension, front and rear. With those complete, the car should be safe and comfortable to drive and I can turn my attention to more aesthetic details, like the interior trim and carpet. (One positive note–the records from the original owner-just discovered–indicate that the transmission was replaced about 60,000 miles ago. It, like the engine itself, should be sound for some time.)
I finally just replaced the old Edelbrock carburetor. Even after rebuilding the one that came with the car, it still performed poorly. It’s likely that there is still dirt and corrosion in some of the interior passages. I replaced it with an exact duplicate, an off the shelf item from Pep Boys, of all places. (They actually have a cool store not far away that specializes in speed parts. Lots of stuff there for people still driving big V-8’s!)
I installed it, no issues, then tried to start the car. Lots of starting fluid and about 30 starting attempts, but no go. Looking at the glass fuel filter, I could see that there was just nothing in the gas line leading up to the carb. Checking the fount of all Thunderbird knowledge, I discovered that the fuel pump ought to be delivering fuel even when the car is only being cranked over by the starter. Here is where I had my revelation–this car is too far gone to just fix what is broken.
I pulled the fuel pump off–it has a built in filter that probably hasn’t been changed in decades. While I was there, I pulled off the coil and the oil pressure sending unit. All were in the same place and all needing clean up or renewal.
Next, the ONO phase: fuel pump, oil pressure sender, this time.