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1962 T-Bird 390 Automatic To 4 Speed Conversion Build Thread - Anyone Interested?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Green Rodz, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    My neighbors have a mint 1962 Thunderbird 390 Resto-Mod and have decided to convert it to a 4 speed car (which was never offered in the T-Bird). It's a pretty involved project, and they are about a week into it.
    I searched the internet for them when they first started talking about doing it, but I found nothing. Nothing at all.

    So, that being said, I thought maybe I should start taking pictures and documenting it. But if no one is interested, I won't waste my time.

    If you think it's worth while, post here and tell me.
    If you think it's a waste of thread space and bandwidth, tell me that, too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013
  2. Perrorojo
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 357

    Perrorojo
    Member

    My 64 weighs as much as a loaded dump truck. I doubt it's gonna be as fun as it sounds.

    Sent from my DROID device using the TJJ mobile app
     
  3. sounds enteresting
     
  4. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 2,431

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    Yep, I'm interested.
     
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  5. cmyhtrod
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 360

    cmyhtrod
    Member
    from ct

    Are they doing linkage or going hydraulic?
     
  6. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    I think they are going with hydraulic, as I heard him say he had ordered a unit to mount under the power brake master cylinder.

    I'll go over there tomorrow and ask a lot of questions and start posting the answers here and the tech info. (and pics, if my phone and this site will let me...arg!)
     
  7. I saw a '64 that was converted many years ago, didn't crawl under it, but it worked real nice. I would think that a similar-year Galaxie would be a donor for most of it, I'd have to eyeball up the 'Bird from the bottom first.

    Bob
     
  8. Barsteel
    Joined: Oct 15, 2008
    Posts: 719

    Barsteel
    Member
    from Monroe, CT

    Hell yeah! Tired of seeing everyone pull out a stick to replace with a slush box. Real hot rods have 3 pedals
     
  9. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    That's his thought EXACTLY.
     
  10. GTOMUSTANG
    Joined: Oct 5, 2010
    Posts: 115

    GTOMUSTANG
    Member
    from ct

    Olds Cars Guide or Old Cars Weekly, in newspaper form, had an ongoing debate over whether or not bulletnose birds ever had the stick shift as a rare option. Former gas jockeys claimed they had seen only one back in the day, others said there was no paperwork on it as an option.

    I would be interested in a report on it, there's a few sitting in a junkyard nearby.
     
  11. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    We looked on line, and he even called the tech people at Hemmings and Hot Rod, and no one gave him any advice except one guy who told him to try it out of a Galaxie.
    I'll start from the beginning on this tomorrow. I need to talk with him and write more down so you guys can follow.
     
  12. TrioxinKustoms
    Joined: Oct 16, 2009
    Posts: 551

    TrioxinKustoms
    Member
    from Romney, WV

    My grandfather did this in the mid 60s.. Still has the car although its in rough shape now.
     
  13. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 6,717

    junkyardjeff
    Member

    I do not think any part will bolt in from a galaxie since its a totally different body but might work with some modifications,the 58 to 60s had a manual trans option and possibly a more similar body but those parts might be very hard to find.
     
  14. TexasSpeed
    Joined: Nov 2, 2009
    Posts: 4,593

    TexasSpeed
    Member

    I would love to see more of this! Thunderbirds may be heavy but I bet if you were to strip it and take out all of the unnecessaries, then you could have a respectable weight.
     
  15. I was planning on doing something similar to my '62.......sold it before I could get the chance to. I'm still VERY interested in seeing how and what they come up with.
     
  16. The '64 I saw that was converted came with no AC from the factory and had rollup windows, that alone saves a bunch of weight.

    Bob
     
  17. TrioxinKustoms
    Joined: Oct 16, 2009
    Posts: 551

    TrioxinKustoms
    Member
    from Romney, WV

    I'm supposed to drag out my grandfathers 62 with a 4 speed to get the wheels off. I'll get pics. He took off the bumpers and a bunch of other stuff..
     
  18. propwash
    Joined: Jul 25, 2005
    Posts: 3,858

    propwash
    Member
    from Las Vegas

    My recollection is that the last Thunderbird with a stick-shift (3/tree) option was in 1959. You do run across them once in awhile. Could have carried forward to 1960 if there were sufficient parts, but I'm sure with the new 1961 body, it's unlikely any 59/60 parts were interchangeable. Better have plans for a serious clutch setup with NO lightened flywheel. Those things don't exactly leap off the line. Good luck on the intended project.
     
  19. Perrorojo
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 357

    Perrorojo
    Member

    Mine is a non-A/C with manual windows and it is every bit of the 4472 claimed. She's a cruiser. I'd love to have a stick but I'm not sure it could be done well with that interior. I do like my fat man steering wheel.
     
  20. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    Lets get started.
    So, my neighbor Ed decides to to by this 1962 390 T Bird about 10 years ago, but he really wanted a muscle car and has been disappointed since. He rarely drives it. It started as a solid #2 car bordering on #1. Last summer, he purchased the Edelbrock horsepower kit, which included the heads, intake manifold, and carb. He had already put bigger wheels and tires on it, as well as headers. It wasnt enough and he still wasnt happy. So he decided to make it a four speed car, but couldnt find where Ford ever made them this gen, and couldnt find where anyone had ever tried the conversion.
     
  21. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    This sucks. For some reason in the last year I cant post a pic from my computer or my pad.
     
  22. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    Anyway...the transmission it appears came from 1963 Galaxie 390 / 427. . Its rebuilt. He paid $800. The clutch & pressure plate came from Rock Auto. Cost $280 for the kit it is heavy duty made for 100 HP over stock.
     
  23. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    So he decided to use a hydraulic clutch because thats all that would work. Its very tight. He ordered the hydraulic clutch set up from Hot Rod Hydraulics for $650. The bell housing is off of a 63 F100 pick up with a 352. Not an easy find used.
     
  24. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    The flywheel is used and was $150 resurfaced. You have to use a an 11 inch clutch.
    The next issue is the pedals. Getting it out is near impossible. The swing away column will probably not work any more, due to a bracket that is in the way. He had to disssemble most of the dash just to get at the pedals. way. He found that the Ford manuals on the car are not an accurate representation of what is actually done in the car.
    This will all make more sense when I post pictures.
     
  25. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    When he took the hood off for access, he needed to remove the hood hinge for access. At this point, he is hoping the hydraulic unit will be small enough to fit behind the brake booster. Wont know for sure until the parts arrive
     
  26. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    One good thing is he found that the difference between the automatic to manual trans was 3/8 of an inch. All he had to do was order a different yoke. Its already done. That came from Driveshafts Inc in Tulsa, ok. He was very pleased with them.
     
  27. Green Rodz
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 495

    Green Rodz
    Member

    Another issue is the we dont know if we can use the original starter. The reason is because we dont know how many teeth are on the automatic flywheel. The new four speed flywheel has 184 teeth.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
  28. dirt t
    Joined: Mar 20, 2007
    Posts: 4,163

    dirt t
    Member
    from Kingman,AZ

    Take the starter to napa they will cross the numbers and tell you.
     
  29. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 2,431

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    Better double check on the bell housing, pretty sure I read on the FE Forum that the truck bellhousing is about 3/8" longer than the car bellhousings. I too scrounged a truck bell for my Mercury, was a little disappointed to find it wouldn't work. Also, the small block 4 speeds are a little different in input shaft length than the big block ones. If he is getting frustrated now, wait till he goes to put it together and his parts won't work. The bellhousing difference might just be for the granny gear 4 speed, but he might want to check all of this to be sure.
     
  30. CrusadersNV
    Joined: Feb 1, 2010
    Posts: 158

    CrusadersNV
    Member

    I did a hydraulic clutch/4speed setup in my 62 Tbird also. I used a 90s nissan master/ slave setup. Fab'd a bracket which just fit on the bellhousing for the slave. The push rod used for the slave to fork is a 1970 chevelle hood pin drilled out the same diameter as the rod the slave came with. then I threaded the inside of the hood pin and cut and die'd the nissan pin. screwed it in then welded it. Not sure if it made a difference in strength but ive never had a problem. Its a tight job to do, smaller hands wouldve made it alot easier! the pedal assembly was built along time ago by someone else so i have no idea what you would use for that.
     

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