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Discussion Starter #1
So, I have owned my Thunderbird for about two years, I've done a lot of replacing things on it, and I have been considering getting the body restored which will be expensive, but will keep a beautiful MN-12 on the road.

There are times where I feel overwhelmed with the amount of work the car needs, and I wonder if I should just give up, or keep going. It was my grandmother's car, and there's a ton of sentimental value in it, so that's my main reason to go forward with it.

The issues I've been noticing with my car:

- When it warms up, the car tends to vibrate when driving, if I take my foot off the accelerator, it stops immediately, then it disappears. From what I've gathered, that should be fixable with changing my trans fluid to Mercon V.

- I have an oil leak/burn somewhere. I don't see oil spots on my driveway, but the other night I had to add 1.5 Qts of oil. I did notice some oil residue on the driver side valve cover, but I think that was from when adding oil last time, I kind of spilled it everywhere, so I cleaned it off, and going to see if it reappears. I was told by another member on another site it could be from the valve seals, and perhaps doing a PI swap ought to fix that.

- All my lines need to be swapped... Rust has done a big number on my brake lines, those are all replaced. My trans lines look pretty bad, and the power steering lines look like they are going to go any day now... Fuel lines under the car look weak. So probably best to replace those too I suppose? I am hoping to find a good MN12 at a junkyard, where it has better lines that I can preserve and use instead of bending new fuel lines and such.

In addition to all that, I have an estimate for body work at about $6500, now that being an estimate, it can go up easily... Of course I will save money if I gut the interior, and gut some of the panels and such.

I just rolled to 77k miles on my 95 too, and I would like to see 177k down the road. Just seems overwhelming right now :(
 

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I hope you can keep it on the road! I think you'll find most people say it's just as easy to bend your own brake lines but if you want to buy, check out these guys : http://classictube.com - if you have ABS this article will help - http://www.mn12tech.com/brake-fluid.php

Keep track of how long it takes you go to through the oil. Is it like 1 quart per 1000 miles? Do you see faint blue smoke coming out the exhaust when the car starts or is running? I wouldn't rush into a PI swap just yet, you have other things to spend your money on first.

Yes, changing to Mercon V (drain the torque converter too) is a very good thing for your 95 transmission.

Keep us posted, and I'd sure like to see pics of the car if you have some. Honestly it might not be worth doing all the body work depending what it is, and maybe you can do some yourself to save $$, but post some pics, let's see.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Seems to be quicker than 1000k. Then again, I do not drive her all that much since I have a company van.

I don't notice blue smoke behind me, or when it idles, seems to be perfect exhaust. When it warms up I need to go underneath to investigate further. Every car I've ever had to do major engine work was a 4 banger and easy.

Also I have no ABS. And that site seems to lack any lines for the 89-97. That or I am missing it. I did all 4 brake lines myself, and just used unions and various size lines to make it work. Seems a bit sloppy, but it works and stops in panic stops :p

Pretty much I want to preserve the car, then spend money on having fun with it. I know it's going to be a money pit, but I suppose having people to help will make it easier, thankfully I've already researched a ton of stuff to do here while lurking

Here's some pics, don't judge harshly






A lot of those spots were from the bad brake lines when I got it. But I liked the picture because it showed how beautiful those tail lights are at night :)


I do have a new fender to put on, but that's what's on right now.







When I drop the car off to the body shop, I plan to gut the interior and put the driver seat back in so I can try to make the carpet and other seats look brand new again.

One thing discouraging me is the lack of warm weather Illinois has had lately.
 

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So, I have owned my Thunderbird for about two years, I've done a lot of replacing things on it, and I have been considering getting the body restored which will be expensive, but will keep a beautiful MN-12 on the road.

There are times where I feel overwhelmed with the amount of work the car needs, and I wonder if I should just give up, or keep going. It was my grandmother's car, and there's a ton of sentimental value in it, so that's my main reason to go forward with it.

Been there, done that, felt the same way. Just take it one step at a time and don't rush.

The issues I've been noticing with my car:

- When it warms up, the car tends to vibrate when driving, if I take my foot off the accelerator, it stops immediately, then it disappears. From what I've gathered, that should be fixable with changing my trans fluid to Mercon V.

Yup, torque converter shudder. At the very least get some new Merc V in there. Better if you drop the pan and do the J-mod and upgrade to the deep sump filter/pan. Best to swap in a 99+ trans. :D

- I have an oil leak/burn somewhere. I don't see oil spots on my driveway, but the other night I had to add 1.5 Qts of oil. I did notice some oil residue on the driver side valve cover, but I think that was from when adding oil last time, I kind of spilled it everywhere, so I cleaned it off, and going to see if it reappears. I was told by another member on another site it could be from the valve seals, and perhaps doing a PI swap ought to fix that.

94/95 4.6s are notorious for burning oil. The cause is the valve seals in the heads wear down. You can replace the seals which would temporarily fix the issue, but the cause of the problem is rooted in the design of the heads. Best option would be to upgrade to 96+ heads.

- All my lines need to be swapped... Rust has done a big number on my brake lines, those are all replaced. My trans lines look pretty bad, and the power steering lines look like they are going to go any day now... Fuel lines under the car look weak. So probably best to replace those too I suppose? I am hoping to find a good MN12 at a junkyard, where it has better lines that I can preserve and use instead of bending new fuel lines and such.

The brake lines are the most common failure. I wouldn't worry as much about the fuel lines as the power steering of transmission cooler lines since they're aluminum and don't corrode as badly as the steel lines for the power steering or transmission cooler.

In addition to all that, I have an estimate for body work at about $6500, now that being an estimate, it can go up easily... Of course I will save money if I gut the interior, and gut some of the panels and such.

Estimate seems a little high to me, unless you're getting a higher-end paint job. What is included? I had mine completely repainted last year in addition to a new fender, new rockers, metalwork by the fuel filler neck, removal of exhaust/gas tank and new door locks. That cost me over $2000 less than your quote.

I just rolled to 77k miles on my 95 too, and I would like to see 177k down the road. Just seems overwhelming right now :(
See notes above in bold.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well, sadly there is not one single perfect panel on this car. The bumpers are beat up, there is a horrible dent on the passenger side side behind the door, and rust ate though the rockers on both sides, so welding, preping, painting, etc, fixing the rust on the doors, fixing a dent on the roof, scratches on the hood, repairing and repainting the fenders, she's banged up. I do intend to get a few more estimates, and also, I do want to find a driver door in similar color, with the keypad entry. I figure if I am going to do all this work, I'll have the keypad installed. I would love to have keyless with keypad entry.

J-modding is something I want to do, but I've done a ton of work on cars, just never worked on transmissions. The most I've done to a trans is a fluid flush. So a little weary of doing my own work off the bat.
 

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Oh the car is totally restoreable. You need a new fender, the rockers fixed and some other body work but it's not "too far gone" IMHO. If you can do any of the body work yourself, you will save $$.

The JMod is not too bad. I was afraid of tearing into my transmission too, normally I don't touch anything to do with transmissions. However, take your time, follow the instructions, and you'll be fine. There are lots of people here who have done it that can answer any questions about it. I took a bunch of pictures and when I get time, I plan on posting pictures and a bit of a write-up to help newbies.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It is, I just went outside to take these. I am more embarrassed on this side :(







That's the expensive side :(
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I wish. Be nice to pick up a nice shell and have the money to transport it up here, do all the work and swap everything over. But then it also wouldn't be the same Thunderbird.
 

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I understand sentimentality and all but there's a point where you have to be realistic and consider the options.

I won't can't put a toe tag on it without actually seeing it but visible exterior rot usually means invisible structural rot and that's a whole nother ballgame compared to patch panels and filler. These cars aren't worth anything all over the country and for what major body/structure work and a full paint job would cost you could find a cherry one to transport across the country.
 

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Too bad you are in IL. I have a dent in my car very similar to that. I know a few guys that do body work on the side. One guy quoted me $50 plus materials to fix that dent. I don't have the rust issue like that though. That's not to say my car doesn't have it though. My rockers have a little rust, but we can't find any anywhere else. and I have a rust free door just sitting here. How close are you to Speedway Auto Salvage? They have a bird there the same color as yours.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
With the keypad? I can always take a small road trip. I would assume my Thunderbird can handle a semi long trip. Probably bring spare oil though :p

I just need to know the door is near rust free, and maybe they have other body parts there that would be worth grabbing if in good condition :)
 

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The doors I have dont have keypads. I don't know about the ones at speedway, but its way closer to you than I am. Speedway is in East St. Louis IL.
 

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Riverside salvage on hall street has a 95 v6 the same color body looked great except for the rear bumper.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
And now my odometers do not work :(

Stuck at 077771 and 89.1 on the trip odometer. Speedometer works great though.
 

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Look for a doner body from the south
I understand sentimentality and all but there's a point where you have to be realistic and consider the options.

I won't can't put a toe tag on it without actually seeing it but visible exterior rot usually means invisible structural rot and that's a whole nother ballgame compared to patch panels and filler. These cars aren't worth anything all over the country and for what major body/structure work and a full paint job would cost you could find a cherry one to transport across the country.
x2.
Now is the time to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I'd rather not send another bird to the scrap yard if I can help it. I always did say as a kid it'd be my car, and now it is. I'm doing some of the work myself to save money, so that'll help. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
My key no longer works my Thunderbird's ignition.

Suspected cause:

Bad Actuator... There is no feeling whatsoever when I turn my key. It will engage the starter though, but will not shut the car off. Damnit.
 

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Search for threads about the car not shutting off, Trunk Monkey posted a good writeup on the cause and fix several years back. There is a pin that connects two plastic rods together inside the steering column which falls out and leaves the linkage disconnected inside the column.
 
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