1956 Thunderbird

Date: November 25, 2015 Author: [email protected] Categories: Current Projects

This 1956 T-Bird is a low mileage Canadian car that we're doing a full ground up restoration to. This car came to us as a running & driving car that required a whole lot of TLC, it had never been restored prior to coming to us.

We have a whole slew of pictures on this build (more to follow!!), here are a couple showing the state of disassembly necessary to bring a car back to like new condition. Stripping & sandblasting down to bare metal is an absolute must for the foundation of a problem free, long lasting paint job!

As this is a complete restoration, we are also completely rebuilding the engine, transmission & driveline. Bottom line, even with an engine that runs great & transmission that shifts smoothly one never knows what problems lurk beneath the surface. In disassembling this particular 312ci V8 we uncovered numerous internal problems (from blocked oil passages, to restricted coolant passages to incorrect rocker arm assemblies to name a few!!), problems that would surely come back to haunt this car on a serene Sunday drive if left unattended.

There's no doubt that spending extra time & money now will only save big headaches down the road!

Problems aside I was plesently surprised to find this engine had the cylinder heads off recently (mileage wise) and had new valve springs/keepers/locks, the valve guides were in decent shape(important because this is what centers and locates the valve to the seat when it closes) and the exhaust valve seats had been replaced to hardened units to accomodate unleaded gasoline. The cylinders were straight and had been bored out .040", which in a modern engine would be way too much, although in this magnitude of iron that merely skims the surface so it leaves us in great shape! The crankshaft mains & rods had been machined .020" under and were also in excellent shape. So that puts us in an excellent position to do some internal detailing...exactly the kind of attention that was overlooked in the days when this car was maybe 8-15 years old...you know, just another old piece of crap(hind sight is 20/20;) on the road:) This engine, like many that sit for extended periods of time without running, succumb to internal corrosion, specifically on the camshaft lobes. When corrosion penetrates through the hardened(nitrided) surface it leaves a pitted mess that acts like a scraper or file upon the lifter, quickly wearing both components and introduces metal filings throughout the engine causing further damage to other areas...bad bad bad!  Bottom line, if your engine has been sitting for the better part of 10 years, tear it down! It could save you a greater expense later.  I digress, back to the heads, so all looked well with the rockers until they were disassembled, where I found quite a bit of scoring to the shafts. And in cross checking the part numbers stampted into the rocker arms found that they were the wrong ones for this 312ci V8! difference being the ratio, the 312ci had 1.54:1 ratio rockers (compared to 1.4somethingorother:1). My go to in this case was John Mummert at ford-y-block.com I firmly believe in seeking out those in the know. John hooked me up with all the tried tested & true parts I needed to make this a rock solid Y Block build, from new rocker shafts, to gaskets, to cam & lifters, timing chain/gears and on...

So I've said it and I'll say it again, nothing beats the quality control of hand building, this engine is no exception. Little things like grinding oil passages so the holes in the block line up to the holes in the bearings. Deburring casting flash that obstructs everything from coolant passages to oil return passages to air flow in the cylinder head and intake. A side note on air flow, as this was a completely stock rebuild we didn't get into much porting, we did however match ports to one another, removed any flashing that obstructed airflow and did a 3 angle valve job to the heads...just a little icing on the cake so to speak. A polish of the crankshaft journals and new bearings serviced the bottom end, also servicing the big ends of the connecting rods & installing new ARP rod bolts & bearings brought clearances into spec nicely and added durability. As the cylinders were in excellent shape, a quick deglaze & hone and new piston rings looked after that end nicely. The biggest thing that was done to the block was to have the deck surfaced to bring the pistons up level to the deck. In the stock state, the pistons are recessed in the hole about .045", this allowed for an area to be filled with carbon deposits, carbon deposits are the precursor to pinging and detonation which are murder to an engine! Clearing this up gives us a little more squeeze which in turns improves efficiency yay!

 And now we have the frame & suspension...more details soon! You can check a few of the pics though:)