January Update (January 31, 2016)

I was not as productive as I thought I would be in January, perhaps because I lost two weekends to a family vacation (not complaining).

I completed the fuel line and brake lines.  (Perhaps in the next few weeks I will add fluids and see if it holds.)

I purchased tires.  I went with Nitto NT 555 G2.  These are the newer version of the NT 555.  Rears are 315/35/17.  Fronts are 245/45/17.  It was exciting to see them mounted.  I am very happy with how the rims look.  Maybe later I will consider stenciling the “Good Year” billboard lettering.

Tire 1Tires 2

I also purchased and installed a battery.

Battery 1

I am slowly moving forward with the electrical wiring harness connections.  I purchased heavy duty toggles for all functions from Ron Francis, and I am working up a switch panel.  I also purchased a few additional electronic components (clutch safety switch, battery cut-off switch, turn-signal delay box, etc.).


I worked on the cooling system, connecting the radiator hoses and overflow/expansion tank.

Coolant 1Coolant 2Coolant 3

And this week I am celebrating a birthday.  Check out the amazing cake my wife commissioned at a local bakery.  As much as I enjoyed eating it, I would rather be driving it.

Cake and GCake



December Update (December 29, 2015)

More good progress in December.  It may seem like I am jumping around a bit this month, because I am.  🙂

I replaced the FFR-supplied accelerator pedal with a Russ Thompson pedal (much sturdier, and cooler-looking) and installed the matching pads on the brake and clutch pedals.  Note the background – I applied Dynamat sound deadener/thermal barrier to the entire interior of the  passenger compartment.

IMG_5643Back to the sheet metal – I prepared and installed the side and rear walls in the trunk/hatch area.  First I installed aluminum access panels in the sides and rear so I will be able to reach the electrical connections when installing and removing the body.  The panels have nifty little quarter-turn locks.  Then I riveted the walls in place.  (As noted previously, the round holes are for stereo speakers.)

I installed the Hooker gasket and headers.  They look awesome.  (The side exhaust pipes will connect through the body to the headers.)

On to the brake lines.  Thanks to Mark Dougherty  (aka the Travelling Builder) for showing me the way on this.  As noted previously, I am running two brake fluid reservoirs so that the front and rear brake lines run independently (if one fails, hopefully the other does not).  First I installed a block-off plate in the pedal-box firewall with two connectors. Note the temporary rivets (clecos) holding it in place while I fit it.


Next I connected the reservoirs to the block-off plate, and then behind the firewall I connected the block-off plate to the brake master cylinders.

And then we ran the hard lines.  The front line runs from the master cylinder, to the driver side front, and then over to the passenger-side front.  The rear line runs from the master cylinder, through the transmission tunnel, and then splits to the rear brakes.  Some time soon I will fill the lines with fluid, bleed them for air bubbles and then find out whether my connections are any good!

I took the first step in installing the air-conditioner (made by Vintage Air)- mounting the evaporator unit behind the firewall and under the dash (before the dash is installed).  It is a very tight fit and I suspect that it will be very challenging to get all of the ducts and vents to fit under the dash.

On to the fuel lines.  FFR provides hard lines and pressure connectors.  However, I opted to use flexible braided PTFE fuel lines and connectors by Aeroquip.  First I installed a fuel filter (Fuel Labs).  Then I started the fuel lines.  The lines run as follows:  (1) from the fuel tank to the filter (not done yet, waiting for proper connectors), (2) from the filter, through the transmission tunnel to the engine, (3) from the engine to the fuel regulator (not done yet, waiting for proper connectors), and (4) from the regulator, back through the transmission tunnel and to the fuel tank.

I started the electrical.  FFR provides a very complete and well-labeled wiring harness made by Ron Francis.  I installed the fuse panel under the dash and laid out the harness.  Wires everywhere!!!  I started connecting the obvious ones.  I will start to tackle the others later.  The good news is that the wiring harness came with a separate manual that seems very thorough (much more so than the primary FFR manual).


I mounted the MSD Atomic electronic fuel injection module on the inside of the firewall.


On to the cooling system.  I started by mounting the fan on the radiator.

IMG_5608Next I mounted the radiator to the chassis.  Note the angle – one of the unique features of the Daytona Coupe is that the radiator vents up through a large cut-out in middle of the hood.IMG_5632IMG_5633 Mocking up the duct work. IMG_5635IMG_5637Now, duct work done, with weather stripping.


What’s up next?

  • final connections on the fuel lines
  • coolant system hoses and connections
  • emergency brake connections
  • bleed and test the brake lines
  • electrical connections (lots and lots)
  • a/c, heater
  • dash, gauges and switches
  • mount the seats
  • etc., etc. etc.

If I keep up a good pace, I should be able to start the engine and maybe even “go-kart” the car by February or March.

Happy New Year!

Engine!! (November 28, 2015)

Despite busy times at work and home, I made a lot of progress this month.  The engine is the big news, but a lot of other things are going on as well.

The engine – built by Engine Factory, a New Jersey business specializing in crate engines for kit cars like mine – is based on a Ford small block 8 cylinder, a “302 stroker.”  The cylinders are bored out, making it a 331 stroker, with fuel injection, Cobra dressings, and capable of generating 415 hp – more than enough for such a light vehicle.   EF sent me photos of the engine during testing:IMG_9414IMG_9404


They also posted a link of a video of the engine starting, running, growling and howling on a facebook site:  https://www.facebook.com/MuscleCarEngines/videos/vb.119427678989/10153304985968990/?type=2&theater

Knowing that the engine delivery was quickly approaching, I worked quickly to prep.

First, I finally sorted out the rear brakes.  You may recall that I was unable to get the rear brake calipers over the rotors.  They were not lining up, and despite many calls and emails with FFR and Wilwood, sending pics, etc., Nobody could figure it out.  Well, it turns out it was 1/4″ of powder coating on the remanufactured rear axle that was throwing it all off.  About 15 minutes of filing and the brakes were on. IMG_5526


Next I hustled to complete the cockpit aluminum panels and firewall.  It would be impossible to get those done after the engine was in.  Here they are:IMG_5539


The transmission arrived.  It is a Tremec TKO 600 5-Speed.  I requested a mid-shifter set up, moving the placement of the shifter forward.


And then the engine arrived!



The next step was to lift the engine with a hoist, and mate the transmission.  Special thanks to Mark Dougherty for use of his hoist and amazing car building skills.IMG_5548


With the engine and transmission mated, we maneuvered the engine/trans over the chassis, under the firewall and through the transmission tunnel. IMG_5558


And then it was in!IMG_5560

The transmission in the tunnel.IMG_5561


IMG_5562I installed the drive shat between the transmission and the rear axle.   Here is a pic of the tunnel cover altered.  I cut a new hole for the forward shifter, patched the old hole, and cut in two cup holders.  Not very pretty, but it will all be covered by black carpet.


Then I installed a power steering fluid reservoir (March) and an upgraded 2-quart radiator overflow tank (Canton).IMG_5583

I cut access panel holes in the rear compartment floor for access to the fuel pump, light connections, etc.  I also cut holes for possible speakers in the rear side panels.


IMG_5566I installed a stainless steel front-mount battery tray.  (FFR suggests putting the battery in the rear, over the gas tank, but it makes more sense under the hood.)IMG_5586

I purchased a second brake fluid reservoir and installed both side by side. IMG_5584

I started to mount the headers to the engine block, but I found that the mounting surface on the headers was uneven and therefore defective.  FFR is sending me new ones.

I was not happy with the location of the emergency brake handle, and there are no good options, so I am planning to install an electronic e-brake, using a push button on the dash.

Looking ahead, I have a lot of plumbing to do:  brake lines, fuel lines, power steering fluid lines, etc.   And the electrical system, cooling system, air conditioning, etc.

In the meantime, I started to mock up the dashboard layout and center console.  I am not impressed with the switches provided with the kit.  They are lightweight, and don’t match.  I will probably source some heavier matching switches.



That all for now.


Where Did October Go?

October came and went like a flash.  Family and work commitments prevailed, but I still managed to progress a few things on the build.

I completed installation of the power steering rack and steering shaft.  It was tricky to get the steering rack (and bushings) to fit into the bracket/flanges on the chassis.  At the same time I was lowering the rack into position, I had to push the steering shaft and adapter onto the rack.  In order to confirm that the steering wheel would be straight (or close to it), I temporarily mounted the steering wheel and tried to keep an eye on it while I conducted this complicated maneuver.  It all worked out fine.  IMG_5518IMG_5517Next I added the tie rods to the steering rack, and attached the tie rods to the steering arms.

IMG_5519Next up:  the fuel tank.  Interestingly, the assembly manual includes great detail about positioning and strapping up the fuel tank under the chassis, but includes absolutely no instructions or information about the various components that go in or on the fuel tank.  Since the photos in the manual show the tank being installed with all of the components already in place, I went to the internet to do some research   First, I installed the fuel tank vent (a valve loaded with a ball bearing – it lets air out of the tank when you put fuel in).  Next, I added the rubber fill neck and gasket (this will connect the fuel cap to the tank after the body is installed).  Then, the fuel level sender (the floater that will eventually send information to the fuel gauge on the dash).  Next, the fuel pump.  FFR does not provide a fuel pump with the kit, probably because the pump you need depends on what engine you go with.  I sourced my fuel pump from Breeze Automotive, a firm very familiar with FFR builds.  I told them about my intended engine and they recommended an in-tank pump.

What all of the components installed, I mounted the tank to the chassis.  This involved raising the tank in place with the floor jack, and bending the metal straps under and around the tank.  It was very difficult to bend the straps and get the bolts through the holes.

IMG_5520IMG_5522IMG_5523Next I started working the cockpit aluminum.  The process is quite slow and involves cleaning and fitting the sheet metal panels, marking and drilling many (many) holes, attaching the panels to the chassis and each other with “Clecos” (temporary rivets with origins in the aviation industry), taking it all apart (ugh!), preparing the metal pieces with protectant or paint, and finally re-assembling each piece with silicon and rivets.

Here you can see the first mock up of the passenger side footbox looking from the engine compartment.  Note the porcupine effect from use of the cleco pins.

IMG_5524And here is the passenger compartment from the side, the floor panel sitting in place. IMG_5525If you look carefully, you can see one of the seat belt bracket (attached to the frame) sticking through a hole in the floor.  Also, note the hole in the floor next to the transmission tunnel.  That is where the parking brake handle is supposed to be installed.  However, that is too difficult to reach from the driver’s seat, so I may try to locate the parking brake handle on top of the tunnel, next to the shifter, in which case I will patch the hole in the floor with a small piece of sheet metal.

Ultimately, I will probably cover all of the metal with sound/heat insulation, and the interior with carpet.

Pedal Box, Steering

In my last post, I was having trouble getting the rear brakes to fit properly.  I still have not figured it out.  I read all of the on-line forums.  I exchanged emails with FFR.  I spoke with a representative from Wilwood.  No clear answers.  I thought I had it solved when I ordered larger brake rotor adapter rings.  However, there is still something amiss among and between the brake brackets, calipers and rotors.  So I decided to move forward elsewhere on the car, and I will come back to the rear brakes later, perhaps with some external help.

Before installing any of the pedals, I had to install the front footbox driver-side aluminum panel.  Interestingly, the kit came with two (2) alternate panels for the same spot (each with different holes and cuts), and no explanation regarding which one to use.  After reviewing the on-line forums, I learned that one panel is used with a new Wilwood pedal assembly, while the other panel is used with donor Mustang pedals. I am using new Wilwood pedals.   Installing the panel involves marking and drilling holes for rivets, applying silicon to the back, and then riveting the panel in place.  Here is a pic of the front footbox panel installed.  IMG_5496Moving on to the pedals, I first had to modify them by:  (1) removing the threaded mount at the top of the clutch pedal (because that mount is for a hydraulic clutch, but I will be using a mechanical cable), and (2) mount the brake switch bracket and brake switch.  The brake switch is an electrical switch released when the brakes are applied, resulting in the exterior brake lights turning on.  I drilled a hole in the underside of the pedal assembly and attached the bracket and switch.  Here is a pic (you can see where the brake pedal will touch the white plastic tip of the brake switch):IMG_5499

Next I assembled the clutch quadrant – a series of metal pieces that come together like a jigsaw puzzle to hold and pull the clutch cable at the top of the clutch pedal.  Here is a pic (you can see the curved quadrant with three bolts through it). IMG_5500Fortunately (or unfortunately?), I realized that I installed the quadrant pieces backwards, so my son stepped in, took it apart and put it together correctly.  (Got lucky – he was home from college for the weekend and gave me a few minutes of his time.) IMG_5505Here is a pic of the clutch and brake pedal assembly attached to brackets and in place.IMG_5503Next I installed the first brake master cylinder above the pedal, threading the shaft into the mounts atop the brake pedal:IMG_5506And then the second brake master cylinder:IMG_5507And then on to the gas pedal.  The trick here is to mount the pedal and its upper arm so that the throttle cable goes straight through the hole in the firewall without rubbing and fraying.  Here you can see all three pedals in place (the gas pedal is on the right, black and harder to see):IMG_5509Nest I installed the throttle cable.  I had to cut an end off the cable kit, remove the wire cable from its sheath, thread the wire cable through the pedal, through the firewall and then back through the sheath. Here is a pic showing the cable attached to the pedal and passing through the firewall.  The other end will attach to the engine.  Can’t hardly wait.IMG_5510With the pedals in place, I started the steering system.  First, I loosely mounted the steering bearing in the footbox panel (you can see it just below the spot where the throttle cable is coming through).IMG_5512Then I loosely mounted the top pillow block on the chassis (just in front of where the steering wheel will sit someday).IMG_5513I installed the lower steering shaft by starting in the engine bay area, and going through the bearing in the footbox panel.  I inserted the upper steering shaft temporarily to see how it would all fit together.IMG_5514Next up is the steering rack which will connect the steering shaft to the steering arms on the front suspension – transferring the steering wheel movements to the wheels.  The kit came with a manual steering rack, but I sourced and hope to install a Mustang power steering rack, seen here on the floor.   IMG_5516

Rear Suspension (and rear brakes?)

Following the manual, I moved on to the rear suspension this week.

FFR offered several options.  I went with a solid axle (as opposed to independent rear suspension) and a 3-link rear system which has all 3 links running parallel to each other and a panhard bar to keep the axle centered.  See diagram.

3 link diagram

The 3 link is designed to keep the rear axle centered, and to keep the pinion angle from changing (keep the axle from rotating). It works especially well under hard acceleration.

I started with the 8.8 rear axle assembly(which weighs approximately 150 lbs).  Note the shiny chrome cover plate over the differentials (the “pumpkin”).

IMG_5444First I mounted brake caliper brackets to the collar mount at the end of the axle (gotta have brakes), then the traction lok brackets and the lower control arms to the axle.

IMG_5447Next I mounted the upper arm mount.  It is hard to see in the photo, but it is mid-axle and sticks out the back (waiting to receive the upper link bar).  The two halves of the arm mount around the axle with 4 bolts. The initial fit was not good and I spent a good amount of time fidgeting and filing before it all came together.  The upper arm mount also has a front attachment that goes under the axle and must be bolted to the flange of the “pumpkin”.  The assembly manual notes:  “This hole has some variance and may need to be drilled out from the bottom side…”  True dat.  I am going to research drill bit manufacturers and invest.


Next I attached the upper link bar to the upper arm and readied the axle assembly for installation. I muscled it onto the floor jack and prepared to lift.  But I noticed that the panhard bar frame mount was in the way.  That frame section is meant to go under the axle, so there was no way I was going to be able to maneuver the axle assemble around and above it.  So I removed the frame mount, to be re-mounted after the axle was in place.


Here is the axle assembly with the lower control arms, and center upper control arm, now bolted to the frame mounts (but still sitting on the floor jack).


Next I had to assemble and prepare the rear Koni coil-over shocks.  Note the “selfie” close ups of the final assembly step (inserting the retainer ring with snap ring pliers).

IMG_5454IMG_5457IMG_5458IMG_5455Here is the rear axle assembly fully suspended with rear shocks in place.

IMG_5461And finally, now with the panhard bar frame mount re-installed (running under the axle), and the panhard bar (see metal bar going side to side behind the axle) installed.  The upper control arm and panhard bar are adjustable and will have to set once I have the full weight of the vehicle resting on the tires.  (Same for the front alignment.)

IMG_5464In the photo above you can see the rear brake rotors in place, and the red brake caliper on the floor.  While the front brakes went on just as the assembly manual said they would, I am having a hard time with the rear brakes.  First, the holes in the rotors needed to be drilled out in order to fit over the studs/lugs, which required purchasing a hard to find bit size.  Done.  But now the calipers don’t seem to fit properly over the rotors.  I searched the on-line forum boards and read through several discussions of similar problems, none with clear solutions.  It felt like a good time to stop for the night.  Tomorrow I will re-read the manual, check the on-line forums, re-check my work, and call FFR if necessary.

Once I get those rear brakes mounted, the next step is building the “pedal box” (the gas pedal, brake pedal, clutch pedal assembly, brake cylinders, accelerator cable, etc.) and then on to the steering system.

Front Suspension and Brakes

I feel like I am off to a very good start.  After getting all the parts and pieces sorted, I rounded up a few friends (my wife and brother-in-law were selected for their strength and good looks) to help remove the body from the chassis.   IMG_5406First we removed the hood:  This was fairly simple, lifted right off.


Then we removed the rest of the body.  This was a little trickier as we had to pull outward on the body at the same time that we lifted it up and off.


That left the chassis with some of the sheet metal temporarily screwed in place.  (You can see the doors leaning against the wall behind the chassis.)


I set to work marking and labeling all of the sheet metal pieces before removing and storing them.  Here is the chassis stripped down and ready for the build.


I am following the order of the instruction manual strictly (I lack the experience to do it any other way), so I started with the Front Suspension.  First, I assembled and mounted the front lower control arms. When I tried to insert the very first bolt, it would not go through the hole in the bracket on the chassis.  After some struggle and frustration, I eventually figured out that the holes on the chassis had gotten smaller from the powder-coating.  I ran a rounded file through the holes to remove the excess powder coating and all of the other bolts went through as they should.

IMG_5424Then the front upper control arms.

IMG_5426Then front coil-over shock absorbers.  The spacers on the lower mount of the shock did not fit and I had to take some time to file them down.

IMG_5427Then the spindles.  A footnote in the assembly manual states that the spindle marked DSS (driver side spindle) should actually be mounted on the passenger side on this model, and the PSS (passenger side spindle) should be mounted on the driver side of this model.  This underscores how important it is to read (and re-read) every word in the assembly manual!

IMG_5429Then the hubs.  It took several attempts to get the hubs to sit properly and slide onto the spindles correctly.  Then they had to be torqued to 225 tf-lbs.  My torque wrench only goes to 150 ft-lbs, so I was happy to discover that a local auto parts store was willing to lend me a larger wrench for this step.


Next I moved to the front brakes.  I am using the larger upgraded Wilwood 12.88 kit with red calipers.  The brake lines will be installed at a later time (when the manual says so)..


Then I mounted the front wheels to check and confirm that everything was spinning with no interference.  All good.  The wheels are 17″ Halibrand replicas, period correct for the ’65 Coupe.  I am going to run 9″ wide in the front, and 10.5″ wide in the rear.  Note the cool lug nut cover and knock-off and spinner design.  I also like how the red brake caliper shows through the wheel.


Next up is the Rear Axle and Suspension.  Stay tuned.