Headers back on the Engine

Clean Up the Head

Steering box is in, the engine bay clean and the old Pitman Arm is gone!

Pitman Arm Gone

So step 1 scrape and clean the face of the head without breaking any spark plugs (better still take them out!)

Clean head and spark plugs loose


Headers back in

Then all we need is a little copper based silicone and bolt ’em up!
(Permatex Ultra Copper High Temp RTV Silicone)

Pitman Arm In

So headers back in and plugs wired up! Now to check the pitman arm for clearance and bolt it up!

New Pitman Arm

Looking good! We might even try starting the motor now and check that we can even turn the wheels!

Steering Wheel test

Yep wheels turn and very obviously no play in this new steering box!
Mmmm that cut header pipe leaks a lot of engine noise – sounds like the drags!

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Getting Out The Steering Box

Square Pegs and Round Holes

So this is what faces me as I inspect the engine bay.

Ready to go!

First step is to undo the three bolts that hold the box on the frame and they come out very easily.

Retaining bolts out.

A steel brush and degreaser and they are like new!

Cleaned up Bolts















Lifting the steering box up it is clear that there is no way it is going up and out with the headers in place. Maybe with the original collectors I might have a chance but not with the Genie pipes! My reciprocating saw earns its keep on this job!

So jack up the car and cut the pipe near the U-bolt and undo the header bolts.

Header Bolts Out Cleaned

Cleaning up the bolts – very little rust – and they are ready to go back in once we have the new steering box in.

Steering Box out Headers off

An hour later and all is done!

Header gone Steering box gone











There we go, a little degreaser and the engine will be clean and ready for the new one!

The Old is Out Now for the New

First step clean up the new one – a lot easier to fit parts that are clean and not greasy and slippery!

Clean Steering box

Everything is straight forward now – reverse the procedures to remove the box and in goes the new one!

New box in

Not as Simple as It Seems

At this point I must recall a few challenges I faced before reaching this stage of the replacement of the steering box.
Once I tried to fit the steering wheel retaining nut it was clear that the thread was damaged and needed a tidy up before I can fit anything to the car. The same was true for the pitman arm connection.

I visited my local Pedders since it seemed a good place to start with all things suspension and steering. They gave it a good shot and managed to fix the lower thread but had no joy with the top one.
My next idea was to find steering specialists in the northern suburbs and found one right next door to Rare Spares in Osborne Park.
Auto Power Steering, 21 Guthrie St, proved to be the best find for this problem and I found a keen reception as the owner operator jumped at the chance to help me out. 10 Minutes later and the thread is clean and a perfect fit!

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Wires, wires, wires?

Alarming wiring!

Having removed the steering wheel we are now confronted with the components of the turn signal and horn contacts.
These are connected to the dash loom by wires feeding down the column and into the underdash area.

After 45 years of wear and tear often the loom is a little confusing – in my case two alarm systems have been and gone in the BeaXT and the loom has been piggy-backed too often!
The alarm system wires are all black so never cut them unless you have marked them somehow so you know which wire goes where!


After carefully identifying all plain wiring photographs of the loom will be a life saver later on!

I do know what goes where!

Removing the Column

Ok wiring sorted. Now to remove the base plate that holds the column in the floor and the bracket across the top!

6-7 little screws hold 2 plates and a large gasket to the floor.

Upper bracket is just two bolts and we are free!

2 bolts and the bracket is away!

Just gently lift the column up and out over the shaft and …..

At last! In one piece and no damage!

Wear and Tear

It is at this point that careful inspection of the column and the steering wheel reveals damaged from simply driving 100 of thousands of miles! The indicator/horn unit cannot be repaired easily so it is cheaper to order a new unit from Rare Spares.

The steering wheel also has some worn parts and I had ordered them a few months back so I can get on with that now!

The aluminium ring on the right is the old one and the new one is smooth and unmarked!

A couple of screws and the pieces fall out nicely!

Minutes later, the steering wheel is ready to go back in the car for another 500000+ miles!

Yes that is a genuine Ford part in the original bag from the 60’s!

Next time I tackle the removal of the steering box!
The big question is will we need to remove the starter motor? The Headers? Or lift the motor?

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Out With the Old and In With The New

Step 1 Read the Manual

Over the years I have tackled quite a few repairs on the cars we have owned and the first lesson I learned early on was to get a a good manual. By manual I don’t mean the little handbook in the glovebox of most cars. I mean the Haynes or equivalent! I have two manuals and set about reading them whilst sitting in the car so as to visualise each step as they described it. Manuals are not always perfect but at least you have some idea of where to next! I then write a short list for myself to help with overall progress in the job in question.

Remove Steering Wheel.

So first job is to remove the steering wheel inside the car – including the wiring and attachments for the horn and indicators.

Start here!

A simple push and twist (after removing the battery leads!) the centre piece is in my hands and we are ready to remove the retaining nut!

This is the part that sends the signal to the horn when you have an opinion to express!

Out with the trusty socket set and a little bit of muscle!

Hold the wheel with one hand and use the socket with the other!

Now the wheel is ready for the useful little guy the puller! The two holes in the centre are threaded and form the attachment points for the puller.

Nearly there!

Puller attached and ready for the socket again!

It takes some pressure sometimes but off it pops and exposes the wiring and contacts beneath.

At last!

Success! Photos at this stage are compulsory – if you hope to get it back in the right way when repaired!

That’s it for this update! Next time we need to get the column out of the car – tricky moments with the wiring lay ahead!

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Well Xmas 2013 has been and gone! I finally have a few quiet days and as is usual (once all the grandkids have been entertained) my mind falls to pretty girls and V8 engines! That’s right my favourite lady the green BeaXT!

2013 was the a year of hard work and transition as I did less and less teaching type work and cranked up the landscape business. This meant more pressure on the old girl and as I reported in the last post
Time to Rest the BeaXT wear and tear was starting to irritate me!

42degrees and moving 12cubic metres!

Apart from aesthetic changes I have also started work on the mechanical gremlins that I have largely been ignoring for a few years – mainly because I lack time and opportunity to do something about them! 2014 is my chance to change that and having dealt with the dash and the wiring bugs I turn my attention to the steering this month!


Now for most people these days the state of the roads is a common complaint however if you drive a car without power steering that’s more than 30 years old you know exactly what I am talking about when I mention road camber! The proper technical description is “cant” or cross slope!

Most people assume roads are flat. However, they are not! Mainly because of rain, yes rain that needs to run off the road so as not to build up and cause hydro-planing! With power steering most people won’t feel the drag of the car to follow the road camber unless it is particularly large.
In an older car with manual steering the setup of your alignment, tyre type etc will all have a bearing on how much you feel and therefore have to compensate for the camber of the road.

Just Old

Now my old girl was starting to get rather good at following the camber of the roads and I had just learnt to lean on the steering a little to compensate. However, with 45 years and over 500000km of driving the steering box had developed a slight vagueness and ultimately drift was becoming a real challenge!
During the last wheel alignment the tech mentioned that he could not get the play out of the steering wheel and felt that it was time to investigate this further. I agreed! I had been aware of the problem for 5 years or more – it was getting steadily worse each year.

Sometimes things just wear out!

So, today December 29 2013 I started the process of replacing the old steering box and this post and the ones to follow is my diary of that experience.

Order the Parts

This process began over a year ago almost as I started looking for solutions for my vague steering feel. First off I contacted the guys at GrandTourer and explained my problem. They agreed with me that the box was shot and I probably best fit another. So obvious next question – “Do you have one?” – they did and it was on it’s way to my place within the week!

A rather large box – can only be one thing!

Next time “Out with the old and in with the ……..”

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Time To Rest the BeaXT

Overdue Repairs

I have finally bitten the bullet and retired my BeaXT from active service. The car is no longer my daily driver and my business will now be based around a new car.
The car is not a “new” new car just new to me! I have decided to buy my daughters BA XT – appropriately, and turn it into my business and daily driver.

These two Falcons now roost in my garage!

My motivation is the car turning 44 years old and soon to be 45 years old in 2014! That year is also when I expect to be cutting back my work commitments even more as start a more serious semi-retirement! In that plan is the hope to get out to more car shows and cruises – and that means I want the BeaXT to be in a much better shape!

Retire the Old Girl

The last ten years have been pretty demanding on me and the car! Running a business and using the old girl as the main mover has taken a toll on the duco and the interior! Little knocks and bumps add up and before long ……
So to get things back in to shape I need both time and access – and working fulltime and having the car actively moving every day with a trailer on the back makes that very difficult!

I put her on the axle stumps to make it too hard to drive! Thus forcing me to get on with repairs!

So I made the decision this year, 2013, would be the transition year to a different lifestyle for the BeaXT. More time in the garage for a while and then more relaxing journeys like car shows with my grandkids in tow, cruises and trips south to visit family and friends.

Freshen up the Falcon

My youngest has scored a job that supplies a vehicle so she was going to sell her falcon. I had a little think and realised that the timing could not have been better – I could do us both a favour and buy the BA!
Now it needed some work and I have spent the last 3 weeks repairing and tidying it up so it’s ready for work.

We had problems with the bonnet latch last year and it broke again after I reconnected it! So I went to Ebay and found a new cable to fit – I mean you really cannot keep on using a pair of pliers to open the bonnet to check oil and water!
Anyway an hour of my time and the cable is in and working fine!
Ford have learned their lesson on this one and the new cable is much stronger in the handpiece so it should last longer than the original.

Old cable assigned to the rubbish!

Next up was the rear suspension upgraded for towing. So down to Peddars Joondalup and an overhaul of the rear suspension – struts, link arms, bushes and 4 wheel alignment – oh yeah, and a tow bar!

She is now good to tow 1500kg!

The next step was to attack the paint and patch a few rough spots – one major one on the front right quarter.

The paint has been peeling off this quarter panel for some time.

Paint is on just needs compounding a little and then clear coat!

Not perfect but the right colour and water proof! Took me a couple of days sanding it back and then priming and painting the quarter panel – but a reasonable job. Thanks to my pals at Autopro Edgewater for the colour match using they high-tech paint centre. $21 for an excellent spray can of paint that has a larger than normal quality nozzle for a great finish. Then a coat of clear coat to seal the job!

The rest of the blemishes are minor and with a bottle of Maguiar’s compounding product, the worst are gone and the car looks like new.

The BA is a dual fuel so I generally run it on LPG and use petrol when I run out or the price is too high! This gives me a huge range – over 250km on gas in the city with almost enough fuel in both tanks to get to Albany and back!

Now for the BeaXT

My first two jobs have been the rewiring of the dashboard and the repair of the first of 2-3 rust spots.

I have extra gauges that I have used in the BeaXT to keep track of oil and vacuum values and it is time to mount them properly along with the new temperature gauge that has been dangling under the dash! Every good Petrolhead wants to now whats going on under the steel bonnet!

Here is the final result – all gauges in and the dash rewired on the back – tidied and even LED lighting fitted! More on that in another post!

Much better – and everything within easy view!

Rust Repair

I have had a bubble pop up on the rear of the car near the windscreen and it has bugged me for some time so to get into that one has been great fun!

This is the before shot.

Note the rising paint – which is not rust it turns out but a filler reaction! For some reason the filler I used several years ago to repair some rust here has swollen. Experience has taught me this is usually caused by rust and is a expected repair. However, once sanded and cleaned out there was no rust to be found just this lump of swollen filler!

Sanded and primed the new surface is flat and looking much better!

Next step is to get some spray putty on to the primer to take out the last little bumps and scratches.

This will be sanded with 600-1200 grit sandpaper to get a sexy smooth finish and then another coat of primer ready for the top-coat!

Primer on ready for topcoat!

My Personal Spray Paint Mix

I have some matching paint in a tin that I will have put into a spray can at Autopro Edgewater!
The paint was prepared for me by a spray painter who mixed up the paint for me by eye – we parked the car in his workshop and he set to work mixing 500mL of paint for me. He added black and metal flake and like magic, a perfect match!

My new spray can with my paint! I still have enough in the storage can for another spray pack!

First coat on the patch and the colour match is perfect!

This is the first of several minor chips and dents that I have to remove from the old girl and I need to get this all done before the summer ends since the humidity and rain of autumn can cause problems when painting!

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Wash and Wear

Perishing Plastic

Even in what I consider a newish car there are still a few parts that wear out over time and some are actually quite surprising!
Today the part I am referring to is the washer bottle for the windscreen washer system.

The BeaXT is on its 3rd washer bottle! The main problem has been the little motor fusing out due to water splashing up from winter puddles! So I have never had a bottle simply perish from old age! The last time I was lucky enough to get a replacement motor and pump unit to replace on the bottle.

The one I replaced last month was from the Camry. I still think of the Camry as a new car but it is actually a 1994 model so it will be 20 years old next year! Not much compared to the BeaXTs 44 years!

Washer Bottle Worn

The top of the old bottle has perished over the last 4 years and at first we did not realise this was the problem we just faced the frustration of blocked jets in the bonnet sprayers! I use a bag tie (thin wire) to clear the jets and a couple of years ago I even had to replace some connectors in the engine bay side. Never did I think that plastic was dropping into the water and pumping up into the jets!

Out with the trusty socket set and I have the old bottle out in about 5 minutes!

Not bad! No signs of rust despite the leaking bottle! One drawback though – the rubber seal on the pump motor has split!

I quickly look in the bag hoping that the new bottle has a replacement – NO REPLACEMENT!
Damn! I bet it comes with the new motor! I did not need a new motor just the bottle – ok time to think!
Got it – heater hose looks similar in size – and yes after a little trimming it fits like new!

5/16 Heater hose – the new standard in OEM Toyota repairs.

Very proud of that solution – no leaks and fits like genuine part!

Just Like New

Well there you are – bottle in – pump working – no leaks and window washed!
Cost me less than $50 and my time!

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Paint and Polish

Today I thought I would share with you the frustration of dealing with the problems that can occur with old paint. I am using the Camry as an example since it is the one I have started on this week. I have the BeaXT in pieces this week as I upgrade the dashboard and do some wiring repairs (more on that in another post) so I thought I would show you on the wife’s daily driver! 1994 wide body Camry.

The car is regularly cleaned and is under cover when at home and yet the paint just does not have the same depth of colour and gleam that we saw when first purchased – sun and scratches have taken their toll!

I visited my local Autpro store to get me some Compounding formula – not a polish!
Compounding is something all experienced painters will recall from the days of old but it is still a valid approach to freshen up an old paint. As you will see even on the old Camry I get a pretty good result.

Compounding and old Bonnet

After cleaning the car bonnet gather some good quality rags and start the process on a small section of paint that you can work the compound into.

You can see I have done the side of the bonnet and as it dries I will use my micro-fibre cloth to remove the dried compound.
Note the discoloration of the rest of the bonnet!

Here we are with the compounding removed and you can see the big change in the colour and gloss on the bonnet.

I continued on to the front of the bonnet and it in fact took two goes to get the paint back up. You can see the edge of my first attempt on the untouched half!

15 minutes later and the whole bonnet has been compounded and the difference is startling! Even small scratches were lifted off and after a good polish the colour came right back!

I have started on the Falcon this week attacking the small scratches on the doors and boot and the result is very encouraging so far!

So if you have a tired old paint surface try your hand at a compounding formula – start on an inconspicuous section of paint first just in case you have other paint issues!

Looking good!

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Finding Parts for Your Classic

Having had trouble finding parts at times, it is a joy to find a business that can supply original or equivalent parts for my old BeaXT!

Grand Tourer is one such company!

I have been looking to replace my steering box and was having trouble finding a replacement when I saw the TV show Restoring Dreams. I traced down their web site and found what I needed!
I have the steering box sitting here in the office – waiting patiently to be fitted!

My replacement steering box! Big job fitting this one! So waiting to find the right week to get it done!

Grand Tourer

Why do I think the guys at GTR are a good bunch to work with well – passion!

Here is the blurb from their web page that caught my eye!

The company principal, Neil Thompson, a qualified mechanic, understands the needs of collectors and enthusiasts. He is passionate about Falcon GT’s and has some 15 years experience restoring and maintaining them.

Passion – that is so important with old cars – passion gets you past the problems and frustrations and gets things done!

Check out this video and you will understand my logic!

Restoring Dreams can also be seen on WTV Perth and many other stations around the country – check this page for other states! Restoring Dreams TV

Restoring Dreams

If you still have an urge to see more great GT action check out the Restoring Dreams website!

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Pump em up!

You usually think of tyres when you hear the phrase “pump em up” – not today pumping the brake pedal was needed to get me around safely!

It seems like only yesterday that I had a similar problem with the car – the master cylinder died on us!

However something was not the same as last time – there was no suggestion of brake power when the master cylinder went. This time I had good front lock up if I pumped and the pedal was not sinking all the way to the floor. After a few pumps there was a gradual drop and then it stopped. I was sure I had experienced this in the past – just too long to remember what the outcome was!

So I dive into my trusty social networks and put it out there to a few friends. Then a call to mate and mechanic (and drag racer) Mark. He has similar issue with the master cylinder idea – something just not right about the symptoms. He suggests I take the rear wheels off and look for a leak in the brake drums.

So up on the axle stumps she goes and off with the wheels!

Take a Careful Look

At first glance the brakes look as they should – so a closer inspection is needed. I look at the inside of the drum and there are marks that look like splashes of something that has dried after being spun around the inside of the drum. So I lift the dust cover rubber on the wheel cylinder and out drips a drop or two of rusty red liquid!

More than just a leak a serious corrosion and leak issue!

Look carefully at the axle and you can see how there is a damp red patch on the the right – this is where the brake fluid was hitting the edge when I pumped the brakes!

So no choice the wheel cylinder will need to be replaced so I set to tearing down the whole brake.
(Hint: I have learned a good lesson from past experiences – take a photo of the parts you wish to replace before you strip them down – especially when there are multiple parts!)

Basic tools to strip down the brakes. A pair of pliers proved very valuable to remove and refit the springs!

So, on the phone to the guys at Hi Tech Brake and Clutch Services They re-sleeved my master cylinder and have supplied me with numerous parts for the brakes over the years. It helps that most of them are petrolheads like me – owning classic metal themselves.

They have multiple cylinders for me to use and the price is so good ($11 apiece) that I grab two! Little did I know that this decision would save me a great deal of running around!

Clean and Paint

With the brake cleaned up and looking ready to go I decide that it would be a good idea to remove the surface rust and maybe add a coat of paint. So out with the faithful zinc based paint and she looks like new!

Zinc grey seems boring but you don’t see it unless you strip the brakes and it is a protection issue not aesthetics!













While the paint dries I decide to tear down the other wheel just in case there is an issue. I also received advice from a tyre specialist on the benefits of replacing both cylinders at the same time when you do a repair. It is often the case that they both go within a short time of each other and it saves the confusion of finding the source of a problem.

So I have a look and see the tiniest of fluid – I lift the dust cover and sure enough there is the tell-tell signs of rust – in fact this one is worse!

I cannot believe how bad this one is! It falls apart in my hand! Just to think this was what I was relying on to stop me.

Scarey to think that the pair of the rear wheels had failed me! I had no hint of problems in the weeks before. It is a good job that the brake system is a split system with the front and rear on separate circuits – the front brakes were doing the most work when I had the trouble start!

Close inspection shows the long term damage.













It is well over 15 years since we replaced a wheel cylinder on the rear brakes so I am not complaining – just grateful it all happened during a holiday break! The car had sat in the garage for 10 days and it was during the first drive after xmas that the failure took place!

Out with the Old and In with the New

So to work now rebuilding the brakes.

First in with the nice new wheel cylinder.

Shiny and new!













With reference to my photos on the I-pad, I rebuild the brakes.

Ready to go! Just need to repeat the process on the other side and we can bleed the lines!

Last thing to do is to connect the brake line to the back of the drum and drain the old brake fluid and replace with new!

This is what I want to see – clean and dry!













Bleeding Brakes

The last but no less important step is the draining and bleeding of the fluid through the pipes to clear all old fluid and air!

Replacing the drum I can now start the bleeding process!

The process is straight forward and I have been thru this in the past – Bleeding Brakes – so I won’t repeat the process here. I do decide to clean up the front discs as well today so I strip down the front wheels – give all a cleanup and then flush and bleed the front!

My nice RRS kit disc system still needs regular maintenance and so I check the pads while here – still a good way to go yet!













I quickly drive out to get more brake fluid and I can finally finish the job! The new fluid is considerably cleaner than the old and I can see that I am lucky to have no major damage to the brake system despite that very bad corrosion in the rear cylinders!

Clean fluid and safely back on the road!













Another note to self – dig a little deeper next time I check the brakes! Lifting up dust seals and rubbers could reveal early signs of problems before you run out of brakes!



Well what a busy day I spent tinkering on the BeaXT. Very relaxing actually – like a form of meditation! I know many would be perplexed by the statement but for me nothing is more relaxing than sitting in the garage working on the car.
The joy of seeing the job completed by my own hands and the return of function when things have gone terribly wrong.

On the purely commercial side I saved myself many hundreds of dollars – and no mechanic would willingly volunteer to clean-up and paint parts on the way. I spent $25 (inc GST) on parts and $25 on brake fluid and a single-handed bleeding kit.

A great tool to add to your kit!

If you run an old car then brake repairs are something you can attempt with a little advice and care. So invest in one of these one-man bleeding kits!
As usual I got mine from my pals at Autopro Joondalup!

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