As work continues on the Mustang, I’m finalizing my plans for this year’s summer road trip.

A year and a half ago, my friend Dmitry decided to sign up for the Alcan 5000, a road rally that runs from Seattle, Washington, up through Canada on the Alaskan Highway, into Alaska, continuing north until you hit the Arctic Circle, and finishing down south in Fairbanks. Dmitry signed up for the rally on a motorcycle, because he’s nuts.

I’m not quite as nuts as he is. Therefore, I decided to sign up for the rally in a 50-year old car: my old ’66 Mustang. So I’m still arguably nuts, just not quite as nuts as Dmitry. A friend of mine, Mike Boryca, also signed up for the Alcan 5000 in a vintage car. I convinced my friend Brandon Boyd to serve as my navigator for the rally.

I had just completed an 8k mile road trip in the Mustang, traveling from Michigan to California, up to Washington State, and back to Michigan. A road trip to Alaska would be a similar distance, so the Mustang, already having proven itself a more-than-capable long distance road trip machine, would be perfect for the Alcan.

For the past year, I’ve been keeping track of my travel plans in a Google Doc, just like I did with my previous road trip in the Mustang. In the year since I started planning, a couple of people have joined in the adventure. For better or worse, these folks are already well versed in foolish adventures, either with me or on their own. (more…)

Nuts, both figuratively and literally! I neglected to buy hardware for hanging the mufflers, and I don’t have any 1/4″ nuts and bolts in my workbench cubbies that will work. Naturally, I discover this after all the local hardware stores have closed. Either way, the fitment of the exhaust so far has me quite worried — you may notice that the exhaust is slightly canted towards the passenger side of the car, which makes me suspect that the h-pipe I bought wasn’t bent correctly — so this exhaust job probably won’t be a single-evening type deal.

I have four things left to do on the car: 1) install the exhaust, 2) bolt the seat in, 3) bleed the brakes, and 4) bleed the clutch. Installation of the carpet, the passenger seat, and the hood can wait until I’ve taken the car around the block at least once.

Clutch hydraulics are finally all hooked up. Now I just need to bleed the clutch. The hydraulic clutch was the original and biggest road block during the transmission swap, from the agony of mounting the clutch master to installing the new clutch pedal linkage to adjusting the hydraulic internal slave. If I had stuck with the original mechanical z-bar linkage or went with a clutch cable, I would have been driving this car last summer…

Finally!! The brakes are done! Half of the brake lines are replacement pre-bent pieces, and half of them are custom fitted by me. It took me so long to get to this point that I seriously wondered at several points during the past year if having dual circuit brakes was really worth the effort…

This is today’s to-do list. It isn’t much. Doing a parts run right now and will continue wrenching in an hour. I should be able to do all this in 10 hours, right? The goal: a single lap around the block tonight.

All of the carpet is out of the car, and nearly all of the damned fuzzy carpet pad is scraped out, giving me my first look at the floors in the Mustang. Aside from all of the random holes in the floor drilled or tapped by a previous owner (nearly two dozen, what the fuck?), there are three areas of concern. The left rear passenger footwell has a seam that is rusted through, and the two front passenger footwells have a lot of surface rust — but no holes yet — from the water that keeps leaking into the interior from the ancient windshield seals. I’ve got a feeling that I’m going to disassemble the car for metal work and paint once I get back from Alaska…

Removing the carpet from the interior of the Mustang. I did manage to release the brake and fuel line clips from inside the car, so I can finally finish the replacing the rear brake line. And since I’m ripping out the carpet anyway, I have a new carpet kit for the car to install. It’s the scourge of scope creep, but I’m still optimistic I’ll have the car running and driving by my new goal of “end of the month.”

Current status: working on the braking system. Brandon and I gacked up the brake line going to the rear drum brakes, so I’m attempting to replace them. That means unclipping the brake line from the underside of the car. Naturally, I gacked up the clips trying to remove them from the underside of the car, so now I’m attempting to remove them from above — which means I’m now tearing the carpet apart in the interior. Progress?

One step forward, one step back. I was super excited that I finally got the driveshaft into the Mustang, at long last. Well, this evening, I took it back out.

The little clips holding the brake line and the fuel line underneath the car and in the transmission tunnel are kicking my ass. After hooking up the parking brake, I decided that I needed more space in order to deal with the clips, so I undid the parking brake and removed the driveshaft. I still haven’t managed to remove those little clips yet. Fuck me.

At this rate, I don’t stand a chance of getting this car running in time for the local autocross this weekend.

The frustrating thing is that there really isn’t all that much left keeping the car from driving out of the garage. It’s just literally taking me weeks upon weeks to do simple things that most competent wrenches could turn out in a single weekend. Here’s the list of things I need to do to make the car drivable:

  1. Install the driveshaft.
  2. Hook up the parking brake.
  3. Install the exhaust/
  4. Tuck in the wiring underneath the dash.
  5. Replace the brake lines, bleed the braking system.
  6. Hook up and bleed the clutch hydraulics.
  7. Install the center console and shift lever.
  8. Install the seats.

Like I said, not much needs to be done. At this rate, though, it’s gonna take me another three weeks to finish the car…

New driveshaft yoke was installed on to the shortened driveshaft that Mike gave to me, so a piece of his old Mustang lives on in mine. I need to replace some of the hardware before I can state that the drivetrain is completely done, but I can smell the finish line now. I can’t wait to drive this car with an overdrive gear, gear ratios that make sense, and a limited slip diff in the back. The race is on to see if I can get this car running and driving for the local autocross event this Sunday at Schoolcraft…