Tag Archives: Mark Dougherty

Finish Line! (February 8, 2017)

Hello Friends! Long time no talk.  I last updated this blog before Thanksgiving (2+ months ago) when I brought the Coupe back from the painter.  Since then, I was able to get it all back together and complete, and I ran the gauntlet of getting it registered and legal in Pennsylvania.  So as of today I am proud to share that my replica 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe is complete, legal, legit and roadworthy.  (Too bad the weather forecast for Eastern Pennsylvania is 6-8 inches of snow for tomorrow!)  Now lets go back in time…

Once I got the Coupe back from paint and in my garage at Thanksgiving, I was able to re-assemble the parts I previously removed for paint, mainly the lights and misc exterior pieces.  I worked hard to not scratch the paint.  Easy does it…  One slip of the screwdriver and – ouch!  I also applied the sponsor decals (because who doesn’t like stickers?).


In mid-December I trailered the car out to Mark Dougherty’s garage in Hershey and we put in a full weekend.  With his knowledge and assistance we were able to complete the heating/AC system lines, the wheel wells, the carpeting, the Russ Thompson pontoon covers, and lots of other misc bits.  I also came to the realization that the period-correct bullet-style side view mirrors were completely useless.  Several people had warned me, but I had to find out for myself.  Mark had an extra set of Hyabusa motorcycle side view mirrors.  Not period-correct, but I can actually see something!

I trailered the Coupe East on the PA Turnpike back to Bucks County through some snow.  The Coupe got messy, but it was fun cleaning it up.

Getting the Coupe legal was daunting, but ultimately worked out fine.  First, I made an appointment and trailered the Coupe to a special Pennsylvania state inspection site qualified to inspect reconstructed vehicles, specialty cars (like this one), etc.  The inspector spent about one hour looking her over, under, in and out. Safety inspection only, no exhaust emissions test required.   He filled out his forms.  He reviewed 4 photos of the Coupe (front, back and both sides as required for submission to the state) and initialed them.  I paid a fee.  I was on my way. (I also had him charge the AC system while I was there.)

Next I went to a auto tag place.  They reviewed my stack of paperwork including a certificate of origin from FFR, a thick stack of receipts for parts, photos, the inspection form, etc.  They calculated what taxes I might owe (for any components or parts not previously taxed), and they completed several forms.  I cut several checks, and off the package went to Harrisburg (state capital) for processing.

Two weeks later I received an envelope from Harrisburg with a title and vehicle identification number (VIN).  Interestingly the state used the FFR chassis serial number as my VIN.  I was hoping the title would say “’65 Shelby,” but no such luck.  It says 2017, Special Construction, Coupe.  Whatever.  At least its legal…  🙂

Several days later, the auto-tag place called to say that they had my new license plate.

With the title (and insurance) now in hand, I drove the coupe back to the inspection center and got the inspection sticker for the windshield – the final piece of the puzzle.

I left the inspection site with my sticker. Despite a winter storm forecast fee following day, it was a mild and sunny day, so…  I took the long way home. 🙂   It was great driving the Coupe on the road.  It is low, stiff, and loud, and I love it. In a 30 minute period I had collected 5 horn honks and 3 thumbs up from fellow motorists.

I still needed to calibrate the speedometer by driving the Coupe for exactly 2 miles.  So I entered the ramp to I-95, pulled to the shoulder at a mile marker, triggered the calibration setting, drove exactly 2 miles, hit the button again, and with that the speedo was set and the Coupe was complete.

There are still things to do, things to tighten, tweak, improve, tune, etc.  But she is done.  Now I just wait for Spring and some longer drives.  I joined the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) so I can try the autocross events soon.  Stay tuned.

That car looks great and is a blast to drive.  But more than that, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.  I am very proud.  FFR’s tagline is “Built, not bought.”  And I get it.  I learned so much, and I truly enjoyed the journey, even the frustrating parts.

One question hangs at the back of my mind.  It has been haunting me for a while, even well before I finished.  What will I do when the car is done?  What is my next project?  I don’t know.  Maybe another car?  Not sure.  There is no hurry.  I will enjoy this for a while.


Off to Paint (June 25, 2016)

Work in May and June has been geared towards getting the car ready to go to the body/paint shop.  There will still be work to do after the paint (re-assemble all exterior pieces, prep and install firewall extensions, wheel wells, door sills, carpeting, etc.).  However, getting the car to paint is a major milestone.

I completed the metal duct work in front of the radiator.  FFR provided no guidance regarding how to fit these pieces.  I may want to add a fan shroud later to maximize air flow through the radiator.1 radiator metal2 radiator metal

With the hood up, engine is looking splendid.  Sounds great too.

I set the rear hatch glass in place.  My son Zach helped adjust the u-bolt to catch the lock handle.  The FFR manual says to bolt the struts to a chassis tube.  But that is difficult because at this stage the tube is hidden under the fiberglass body and the metal sides of the hatch.

I fitted the headlight covers.  The plexi provided is over-sized and I spent an entire day gently grinding down the edges to make the fit as nice as possible.  Here the covers are fitted with clecos.  I will have to remove them before paint.

I removed the body (which required removing the side pipes, and seats) so I could do a few more things:  added weather-stripping where the body sits on the chassis, added Dynamat sound barrier to the ceiling (to be covered by the headliner), and completed the metal around the pedal box.  I cut a large hole on the top panel for future access to the pedals, brake cylinders, throttle cable, clutch cable, etc. and I created a panel cover door.  The firewall extension metal will overlap the access door, but I plan to install the firewall extensions with screws to make that removable also. 12 ftbx metal

While the body was off I took apart the dash, removing all gauges and switches, in order to prep the dash pieces for powder-coating..  11.1 dash11 dash

I took the dash pieces to Bonehead Performance in Warrington, PA and selected a flat black wrinkle coating. Here is the dash and switch panel re-assembled after powder-coating.  17 dash

I also took the side-pipes to Bonehead Performance and had them ceramic coated in a silver paint.  The traditional Coupe look is white for the pipes, but I went with silver as a matter of personal choice.

Mark Dougherty (The Travelling Builder) spent a day with me.  We connected the fuel filler neck to the Le Mans gas cap.  FFR provides a metal pipe from the tank which is too long.  I removed it from the fuel tank and we cut it down with the angle grinder.  Then we tossed the straight piece of fuel hose provided by FFR and used a 45 degree one instead.  (Thanks to a post on the forum suggesting the 45 degree hose.)  We also worked through 50% of the A/C system and hoses.  Still more to do there.  One last look at the Coupe before I take it apart for paint.  side-18 drive

Finally, I loaded the coupe on a Uhaul trailer and pulled it to Metal Morphous in North Haven CT.  Here is the Coupe riding my tail.  19 mirror

Ron at MM will do the final fitting of the body, hood and doors, prep and paint (going with the traditional Guardsman Blue with white rally stripes and gumballs),  and will install the spoiler and scoops.  I also asked Ron to install the headliner after paint and before he puts the body back on.  That should save me some pain.

20 at MM

Once Ron has the body and hood off for prep and paint, I may try to bring the chassis back to PA so I can finish off the A/C system, and do a few other things (i.e. install the carpeting, add padding to the roll cage, etc.)  If so, I will have to make another trip to bring the chassis back to him when he is ready to re-install the painted body pieces.

In the meantime, I have some A/C fitting to order, and I need to get some sections of the carpet bound.  I am also using the opportunity to upgrade my garage floor to Racedeck tiles.  Until next update, peace out, or drop the mic, or something trendy.





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!