The car is running beautifully, and the driving weather has been superb. There’s little chance I’ll be taking the bird out of service for any extended projects in the next few months, but I do have a few smaller jobs waiting in the wings—just in case I have a free weekend over the summer.

New rubber for the rear springs. Less rattle on bumpy roads.
New rubber for the rear springs. Less rattle on bumpy roads.

Probably at the top of this list is new rubber bushings for the rear leaf springs. I measured the stance of the car and found no droop in the rear, but I do get a lot of rattling around back there over bumps. I believe that swapping out the old for the new pretty easy project, but the prospect of stuck bolts and springs under tension have kept the new bushings in the box for some months now.

In a moment of boredom last week, I found a decent original air cleaner assembly at a reasonable price, as well as a potentially good turn signal switch on eBay. I ordered both, and they are now on my bench, waiting expectantly.

Not as rusty as the photo would suggest.
Not as rusty as the photo would suggest.

The air cleaner will take some cleaning up. With it, though, I could take another stab at installing the Autolite carb I have on the shelf. Last year, I was unable to get it to idle—an issue that should be relatively simple to trace, though I didn’t have the patience for it at the time. Bringing this all back to original would also allow me to reinstall the hood insulation, quieting the car a bit more.

I will have to be pretty bored to tackle the turn signal switch—it will take some disassembly of the column in-situ and require quite a lot of time under the dash. Still, it would be nice to have the horn working, and I’m getting a little tired of the non-canceling right turn signal.

Long-term, I’m planning to revamp the front suspension, which rattles and squeaks under the right conditions. The project will include ball joints, tie rod ends and the control arm joints. With luck, I will also have time to replace the leaky steering box.

In a Blink

Lurking in the garage, waiting for the next run.

I took the car out after dark for the first time since the dash rebuild and discovered that the bulb illuminating the gear selector was (still!) out. This bulb has never worked, and it just wasn’t worth it before to dig down and figure out why.

Also, the dead fender-mounted turn indicators got even more annoying when I figured out that the right turn blinker doesn’t reliably self-cancel. It’s one thing to be old, in an old car, but I can’t stand the thought of being old, in an old car and driving for miles and miles oblivious to a right turn signal blinking . . . blinking . . . blinking.

Oh, and the horn doesn’t work.

So, off came the wheel—no puller needed since I do this so often. The circuit for the gear selector bulb tested out fine. Changing the bulb out with a new one (with a little wiggle in the socket) and it came to life. There is probably a little corrosion in there, but I’m learning that with electrical parts, regular use is the best prevention to failure. Now that it’s working, I suspect it will continue to light up reliably in the future.

Power splitter for the front turn signals

I found that, for whatever reason, the turn signal switch is not providing power down the two (yellow and red) wires that feed the fender indicators. Since the wires exist, this has to be the correct switch (the ’64 switch, I believe, is unique to this model year), so I suspect a problem in the switch itself.

The switch is riveted together, so there’s no good way to actually repair it. Instead, I jumped power from the wires that feed the front indicators to also feed the fenders—tricky work up under the dash with everything assembled. It was a simple fix with no permanent changes at all to the wiring harnesses. Nice to see the indicators light up, and to know that there’s no need to pull them off the fenders to get them going again.

I made no progress at all with the horn. The brush that makes contact with the steering wheel is jammed deep in its housing, which is part of the turn indicator switch. So, there’s three strikes against this switch: no horn, unreliable canceling and no power to two wires. Looks like I’m in the market for a better one.


This week was not really about repairs and restoration, but driving. I’ve had the T-Bird out for longer and longer drives—this week in very hot weather. Except for the gas mileage, it’s been a blast.

Old, cracked unit next to the new replacement.
Old, cracked unit next to the new replacement.

Earlier this week, I loaded a bunch of scrap metal in the trunk and headed down to the recycler. There’s normally a lot of waiting around: scales on both ends, paperwork to fill out. The car sits at idle, or there’s lots of stopping and starting in the heat. Historically, that’s been a recipe for overheating or heat soak, so I was a little nervous. All my previous work on those issues is paying off, though, as I had no trouble at all.

The scrapyard is mostly frequented by trucks, of course, so the car was a real head-turner. One guy was so taken, he offered me $10k on the spot, which I politely declined.

I did do some minor work on the car Saturday, replacing the sockets in the left tail light assembly. I’ve had intermittent problems with one bulb on that side not lighting up. When I pulled the lens, I found that the bulb was good, but the socket was cracked. On further inspection, I discovered that all the sockets were in similar condition and none of the bulbs were seated properly.

New sockets in, ready to be wired up.
New sockets in, ready to be wired up.

I found replacements on Amazon, of all places and ordered three. Getting the tail light assembly off is a matter of 12 screws and four bolts—just gotta keep pulling stuff off until the taillight is free, then unplug the small harness.

The old sockets are pressed in, then held on by some kind of shrink tubing. (I’m assuming it hasn’t been touched since leaving the factory.) The new sockets did not fit tightly into the openings, which was disappointing. Installing new bulbs would easily push them right back out of the fitting. I used a rubber mallet to tap them into place as far as they would go, then ran a bead of epoxy around the joint to ensure they would stay in place.

The original wires going into the socket are green and black, one for running lights, the other for brake. The new wires were not color coded, so I had to match up the contacts with the old unit before soldering the connections. I also tested the setup when I had one done, just to make sure I didn’t get them all backwards (and have to redo it.)

Even with the slow-curing epoxy, this was a one-day job. I had the assembly back together that evening. I hated the idea of driving around with dead light sockets—it can be the difference between an old car and a cool old car.

There are two additional electrical issues to tackle in the coming weeks–the fender indicators for the turn signals and the back-up lights. Neither are working and I don’t know why. Yet.