January 15, 2000
Well, I'm just ripping along on Deja Bloo. I've been really happy so far with how easy everything has been to disassemble. I'm amazed at how little rust and corrosion there is on this car, considering all the bolts that just crumbled when I tried to remove them from old Bloo.
But all is not perfect. The new Bloo does have a cowl leak. My mechanic warned me that 99% of mustangs have a cowl leak, and all the mustangs in my price range do. Guess he was right. All the same, even the cowl leak isn't as bad as old Bloo's was. This car has relatively little rust under the dash, and I can see where someone tried to reseal the cowl once before on the driver's side by removing the vent and slopping some kind of silicone up there. They must have done a fair job because before I agreed to buy the car we ran a hose into the cowl until water was pouring out behind each fender (as it should), and only a few drops made it into the interior.
So a little sealing is in order. I thought the first thing to do would be to pull the driver's side fender. If I want to cut into the cowl on one end to reach in there and seal it, I need to pull off at least one fender, and that one has to come off anyway because it is crumpled. I don't know if there is a trick to getting the front end/grill parts off a Mustang, but by the time I get done I've always got a pile of fasteners and I don't know where they go, and everything still won't come apart. It only took about an hour this time to get the fender off, but I don't know if I'll ever get all that grill stuff back on, at least not without help.
So Deja Bloo is now in a familiar stripped down sort of position, like old Bloo was for many months. Except I hope to have Deja back together within a couple weeks. One thing I was surprised at was how good a shape everything is in. You can even see factory chalk marks on the radiator support. Not that I'm into that sort of thing, but it's still kind of cool.
When I got the fender off I found a lot of crud under it. I think this car was parked under pine trees for a long time. There were also some very big, very scary spiders living in it, and they were kind of pissed about this disassembly thing. I think we have evicted them all now.
I scraped off all the loose seam sealer, brushed off the pine needles, and other assorted crap. It made a pretty good pile on the floor. Although I wasn't going to at first, now I'm thinking I really should pull the other fender and clean under it, make sure the drain is clear, and make sure there's no rust starting anywhere. I want to do it right the first time, so hopefully I won't have to pull the fenders again for a long time (never!).
The key to my cowl repair plans for this pony is a set of plastic replacement 'hats' for the cowl vents. I bought them from Sacramento Mustang, though I imagine all the vendors have them. I like Sacramento Mustang because they have always done a good job of answering questions on the phone and trying to make sure I get the right thing. So that's my little plug for them :-) Also, I have a can of POR-15, which is a rust-killing paint. It's supposed to be serious protection, and I've heard great things about it. I just have to figure out how to get it in there to protect the inside of the cowl and stop the existing rust before it eats through.
The hats come with a tube of RTV Silicon Auto Sealant and instructions from a Mustang Monthly article. The instructions mention that you should be sure your cowl drain isn't blocked, and that a lot of them are blocked by the factory seam sealer. So I checked out the drain on the side with the fender off.
Here's the before and after pictures. The water in the cowl would have to back up until it was about a half inch deep to drain out of this drain because of the big dam of seam sealer in the way. I cut it out with a razorblade, and you can see how much bigger the hole is. Water will drain much better now. By the way, see all those pine needles in the drain? When I scraped them out they were quite decomposed. It's like a little compost pile in my cowl.
The next step is to remove the fresh-air vent on the driver's side, from under the dash. It's a little awkward to get to, but it's just four or five nuts, and they can be reached with a ratchet with a 10 inch extension and a little contorting. Then I wiggled it out past all the wires and the e-brake. Once it was out of the way I could see the old hat and the top of the cowl, which is very close to the top of the hat. No chance I can reach over it to do any rust-proofing.
Do you know how hard it is to take a picture under the dash? Here's the 'Blair Witch' view of the cowl with the vent removed.
February 5, 2k
I finally got a chance to work on the car again this week. I know some people may see me doing all this work to reach up from under the cowl and patch things up, and they're saying 'just take off the cowl cap, it's not that hard'. Well, drilling out those spot welds, pulling the windsheild - I'm sorry to say, that all seems pretty hard to me, especially since I already went through it with old Bloo. And frankly, If my husband saw me pulling the windsheild out of this car and warming up the spotweld drill, well, I might need a good divorce lawyer. So I'm going to fix this car's holes from underneith, as unobtrusively as possible.
I started out by cutting out the old metal 'hat', using my dremel tool with an extension wand accessory and reinforced fiberglass cutting discs. This made it possible for me to reach up from under the dash and carefully cut out the hat as close to the bottom as I could, leaving just a bit of a lip. Once I started cutting I realized there was a lot of silicon sealant there. Apparently someone sealed the cowl to keep the interior dry. When I picked this all away, I found two rust-through holes, about the size of a quarter each.
It probably took less than an hour to cut out the old hat, but I took lots of breaks because I hate laying on my back and working over my head (what am I doing in this hobby?), and my non-dremel brand rotary tool quit working in the middle of the job, so I had to go buy another one (a real Dremel this time), so of course it turned into an all day project. Otherwise, the dremel worked really good for this job, just put it on the highest-speed, go easy on the disc, and give the tool occasional breaks to cool off so it doesn't overheat.
Ultimately, victory was mine...
I made a flexible extension for my shop-vac so I could reach up there and vacuum out the debris (I made it out of one of those silver flexi-tubing hoses the auto parts store sells as carburator heat tubes). Then I scrubbed the area with a little metal brush, and vacuumed it out again. Then it was ready for a coat of POR-15.
I handled the POR-15 very carefully, as per package instructions. I was told that if I got any on me, I'd be wearing it for a week, so I used gloves and a smock. I did inhail qwite a bit ov it, though, so if I mis-spell anithng, it's nut my fawlt. (just kidding)
I used a small brush to paint the underside of the cowl, and inside as best as I could reach. I sprayed some, using a regular plant sprayer, in through the cowl drainage hole, and then used the brush to shove it around and get everything covered. That worked ok, but it was a little thick for the sprayer, so it didn't work exactly like I thought I would, and totally ruined the sprayer, of course.
Once the cowl was covered, I still had some paint in the tray, and you can't put it back in the can once it's been exposed to the air, so I painted the floor under the cowl on that side. I had previously scraped away all the loose paint and body seam sealer, and vacuumed it clean, so it was ready to go.
I've been told this is the stuff to use to keep rust from ever happening, and everyone I've talked to who's used it absolutely swears by it. Luckily, these floors were already rock solid, but I'll feel better knowing they should be safe for many years to come. Of course, with the cowl fixed, I shouldn't have to worry about it.
So, I'm waiting for the POR-15 to dry. When it is, I'm going to fiberglass those little holes shut, then make sure everything is sealed good with the POR 15, and then install the new plastic hats, so stay tuned.
February 6, 2000
Wow, two updates, two days in a row. I must really be working on my car for once. Today I got some fiberglass cloth and cut out a piece about the size of the area inside the cowl I wanted to cover, and cut a hole in it for the cowl vent. Then I painted another coat of POR-15 on the area, inside and out, and tried to stick it up there. Unfortunately, by that time I had POR-15 all over my rubber gloves, the fiberglass kept sticking to them and coming apart in big strings, and I was under the dash, trying not to drip anything on my head. Too frustrating.
So I got out my new Dremel tool, stuck a cutter bit in, and opened the end of the cowl. Good idea. It's a lot easier to reach in there and see what I'm doing from above, and I really want to seal this thing right the first time. By the way, my Craftsman Rotary tool, which gave up the ghost while cutting out the hat yesterday, took a long time and went through many bits cutting open the cowl ends on old Bloo. My new Dremel whipped through this one in about five minutes.
So now I could see the area I painted yesterday. It looks like I did pretty good, considering I couldn't really see what I was doing. Now I put the fiberglass cloth in and stuck it down on the wet POR-15, then painted more overtop of it until it was all sealed down against the cowl metal, and covered the damaged area completely.
I'll let this dry for a few hours and coat it again later.
February 12, 2k
Today I tackled the passenger side. First I took off the fender, which I have become an old pro at now. When I pulled it out, out dropped part of the original antenna. Apparently it broke off, and they replaced it, and just dropped the old antenna body down into the fender. Lazy SOBs. Right away I noticed the cowl drain on this side wasn't plugged with seam sealer like the driver's side. This side was free to drain. Then I climbed inside and removed the glovebox door, which gave me access to the inside area below the cowl.
Compared to old Bloo, I had good feelings right away with this car. You can see there's only a little surface rust. I unbolted the heatbox from the engine bay side of the firewall, disconnected the blower, and unscrewed the box from the cowl, and discovered, to my great JOY - no rust-through holes!
HALL-E-LU-JAH! (A little choir sang)
So, not believing my good luck, I opened the side of the cowl anyway, and after digging out a bucketful of pine needles, discovered it was true. No Holes! So I whipped out my handy-dandy Dremel tool and sliced off the top inch and a half of the hat, so I could reach in there, and this is how it looked.
Well, of course there was rust. Bad, Bad Ford - for not primering the inside of the cowl! But really, it's not too bad. So I scrubbed it as clean as I could with a little wire brush, and when I was happy with it, applied POR-15. This is what the distributor I bought it from recommended, painting right over the rust after removing any loose rust flakes. So I did. Then I trimmed a piece of fiberglass cloth to fit around the hat and cover the rest of the cowl around it extending out about four inches, and stuck it down in the fresh POR-15. When that set up I coated it again, until it was all smooth and stuck down. I figure that should keep things leak proof for a while and strengthen any area that was in the process of rusting through.
Inside, I scraped up loose seam sealer and scrubbed away loose paint from the floorboard. Quite a bit of it popped right off, and had let water under it and rust was starting there.
And then I applied POR-15 everywhere there was surface rust, and completely over the floorboards from front to back. So now both the driver's side and the passenger side of the floor are coated with this stuff from front to back.
So, now I just need to use the Silicon Sealant that came with the plastic hats, insert them, and test to see if water in the cowl stays in the cowl. Then it's time for re-assembly. I can't wait!
March 20, 2k
Well, sure I was excited to finish, but that doesn't mean I had time to do it. I just finally got around to testing the cowl for water tightness. About two weeks ago I glued in the hats, and finished them off with a thick coating of white silicon sealant around the bottom. It's ugly, but I hope it will work.
So after letting that dry for two weeks, I laid papertowels on the floor under the dash on both sides, put buckets under the drain holes, and dumped a bucketful of water in the cowl. It all drained out, left very little standing in the cowl, from what I could see, and none got on the towels, so I was pretty happy.
I went on to other chores, and about an hour later was getting ready to leave the garage for the night, when I noticed my droplight was still in the car, so I reached in to retrieve it and what should I see but...
So I crawled underneith and discovered water was dripping through a tiny little pinhole in the silicon sealant. Now I'm going to wait for it to dry out and put another coat of silicon over it. I hope that will hold it for a while.
Believe me, I got off easy with my little cowl rust problem. Here's a link to someone who didn't, had it much worse than me, and dove right in and fixed it right. Go see Tennessee Cub's Cowl Repair Page
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