The Ford Torino Page Homepage
Forum Home Forum Home > General Discussion > Project Updates
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - 1979 Ford Thunderbird
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

1979 Ford Thunderbird

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  12>
Author
Message
T-Bird_79 View Drop Down
New Member
New Member


Joined: 05-May-2017
Location: Riga, Latvia
Status: Offline
Points: 30
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote T-Bird_79 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: 1979 Ford Thunderbird
    Posted: 20-May-2017 at 11:18AM

Hello everybody!

So I’m gonna start thread about my 1979 Thunderbird. This will not be very complicated restoration project. Goal is not concours, not hot rod, I simply want to keep it as original as possible and make it roadworthy again. Here I will post my thoughts, questions (there will be many, as this is my first American car) and progress with car. And of course photos.

For a start what I know about car:

VIN code is 9J87H177441


The car was made in Los Angeles plant, originally it had 351 engine, I don’t exactly know was it a 351W or 351M. Now the car has 302Windsor. Transmission was FMX (I suppose), what’s there now is not clear, this I must find out. Rear axle is 2.47. Paint (still original, not repainted) is 5N, Burnt Orange Glow. Vinyl roof is (was) Chamois.

It was quite a well equipped car. There is:

Exterior Decor Group, which includes vinyl roof, remote adjustable sport mirrors, pinstriping and polycast wheels.

Interior Decor Group with all vinyl split bench seats.

Sports Instrumentation Group

Power Moonroof with gold tinted glass.

Cruise control and tilt steering wheel

Manual control air conditioner

Convenience group, which includes interval wipers, trip odometer, automatic parking brake release.

Power Lock Group with remote decklid release

All above might look like a for sale ad, but it’s not.LOL

So what’s been done so far:

Honestly, not much.Smile

I hate a lack of information, so first I bought a dealer sales booklet, owners manual and a set of genuine Ford shop manuals for 1979 cars. I still need to find electrical/vacuum diagrams for reasonable price.



As car’s interior was partially disassembled and all the parts in trunk, one of the first jobs was to make inventory of what is and what’s not. It turned out that almost everything is there. Biggest thing, that was missing (not counting sunroof and headliner), was passenger side dash panel with a/c registers. Some other trim pieces were broken, but I found almost all missing pieces in trunk.


Tried to clean trim pieces, here’s some pictures before/after:




Dash pad is in fairly good shape, but the dash is damaged: I can understand why there’s a bigger hole cut for radio, but why there’s a hole cut below heater controls I can not understand.



Also made a list of things that is missing/damaged on exterior. One of the main thing is missing headlights with all installation hardware, as on some point someone decided to put on a square headlights (they are missing too). Also, I guess in Germany, as car was imported in Latvia from that country, there was a turn signals installed on bumpers, now they are missing, and I want to restore turn signals back to American specs.



Electrical system in general is one big problem as currently car is starting by jumping starter solenoid and  gauges, lights, etc does not work. For example, I wanted to look at headlight switch as the knob was not original and of course it turned out that the switch is not original too and headlight cover vacuum hoses was just connected together. I wonder how the headlight covers worked? I managed to find a used headlight switch on ebay with knob and wiring plug.




As there are so many interesting things still hiding under the dash, I think next job will be taking the dash out and trying to figure out whats more there’s wrong and try to fix electrical problems.

Here’s the couple of pics under the hood.




First question is about carburettor: what model is it ? Is it dead? I see there’s choke actuator missing, also I don’t see any linkage to transmission.

Next question is about ignition: what’s the ignition, that is installed on engine? Doesn’t it need vacuum advance?

I suppose the valve covers are not correct too: oil filler cap must be on other valve cover and they look like they came from some kinda 80’ties Ford. Maybe the whole engine is from some late model Ford?

I have an original looking air filter (shiny aluminum) and I’ve tried to put it on carburettor and I think it will not fit . Next time in garage I will take a photo of it.

Bought a used passenger side dash panel on ebay, it is from TownLandau version, but the only difference is badge, correct one can be found on ebay.


Thanks for looking!
Andris
1979 Ford Thunderbird
Back to Top
californiajohnny View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 05-October-2013
Location: winlock, wa
Status: Offline
Points: 8110
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote californiajohnny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-May-2017 at 6:49PM
let me know what you need in the way of small parts... there are several 77-79 t-birds at a wrecking yard i get parts from Wink


Edited by californiajohnny - 20-May-2017 at 6:50PM
JOHN
74 GRAN TORINO S&H CLONE
74 CORVETTE COUPE CUSTOM
90 S10 BLAZER 4X4 LIFTED
77 CELICA CUSTOM
75 V8 MONZA SUPERCHARGED
79 COURIER VERT. SLAMMED
75 VEGA V6 5 SPD
70 CHEV C10 P/U
Back to Top
changinlatitudes View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 14-April-2013
Location: Union, MO
Status: Offline
Points: 340
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote changinlatitudes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-May-2017 at 12:29AM
Looks like a good solid car to start your project! Under dash wiring is already a nightmare from the factory, and when it's hacked up by an individual, it's a compmete disaster! Might be easier to just start at the beginning, and rewire each system (headlight switch, etc.). Those manuals you got will be a big help!

A lot of these parts you need, the guys on here can help you get.

Welcome!
Matt

1972 Montego MX
1973 Gran Torino Sportsroof
2003 Mercury Marauder 300A
2003 F-150 5.4
Back to Top
Big Bird View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 25-August-2013
Location: New York
Status: Offline
Points: 3068
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Bird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-May-2017 at 2:16AM
Headlight door were vacuum controlled. The headlight switch is 77-79 Thunderbird-specific as the switch controls vacuum to the lights. That's what the hoses on the back do.
As far as 351m or 351W, Ford used the same VIN indicator for both, so no way to tell for sure.
Usually the 2.47 axles were 351M cars and 351W got a 2.75, but there are no absolutes with these cars.
Your Carburator is a Ford/Autolite 2100/2150, and your choke is missing its insides.
You should have a transmission kickdown, it's a hollow tubular rod in a sort of "S" shape, about 2 1/2 feet long. (Usually rusty)
Valve covers are 1980s, Pickup truck or Crown Victoria.
The above post should be read in a "Grumpy Old Man" voice.
Almost forgot: "Get off my lawn!!!"
Randy
1979 T-Bird
2006 GMC Sierra
Back to Top
n2fordwagons View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 20-July-2013
Location: GA
Status: Offline
Points: 1872
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote n2fordwagons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2017 at 12:23AM

For whatever reason, I can't see your pictures.  I couldn't see them in your "welcome" post either. 

 
I'll be getting rid of the vacuum components that operate the headlights of my '79 T-bird.  That includes the switch, the actuators (I guess that's what they're called) that operate the headlight doors, and anything else you think you might need.  I've got all the hoses, connectors, etc.  They're all in great condition, from a well taken care of, low mileage car.  Let me know.


Edited by n2fordwagons - 22-May-2017 at 12:24AM
Jeff

76 Mercury Montego MX Villager w/ 460
79 Ford Thunderbird w/ T-tops
Back to Top
T-Bird_79 View Drop Down
New Member
New Member


Joined: 05-May-2017
Location: Riga, Latvia
Status: Offline
Points: 30
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote T-Bird_79 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2017 at 9:46AM
Originally posted by californiajohnny californiajohnny wrote:

let me know what you need in the way of small parts... there are several 77-79 t-birds at a wrecking yard i get parts from Wink

Thanks! Yes, I have a list of things that I need, but I can't send You a PM.


Edited by T-Bird_79 - 22-May-2017 at 9:55AM
Andris
1979 Ford Thunderbird
Back to Top
T-Bird_79 View Drop Down
New Member
New Member


Joined: 05-May-2017
Location: Riga, Latvia
Status: Offline
Points: 30
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote T-Bird_79 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2017 at 9:53AM
Originally posted by changinlatitudes changinlatitudes wrote:

Looks like a good solid car to start your project! Under dash wiring is already a nightmare from the factory, and when it's hacked up by an individual, it's a compmete disaster! Might be easier to just start at the beginning, and rewire each system (headlight switch, etc.). Those manuals you got will be a big help!

A lot of these parts you need, the guys on here can help you get.

Welcome!

Thanks! My plan is to take dash out and try to figure out whats wrong, but for a start I have to buy a Wiring Diagrams. I want to repair existing wiring, not rewire everything, but we'll see.
Andris
1979 Ford Thunderbird
Back to Top
T-Bird_79 View Drop Down
New Member
New Member


Joined: 05-May-2017
Location: Riga, Latvia
Status: Offline
Points: 30
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote T-Bird_79 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2017 at 10:30AM
Originally posted by Big Bird Big Bird wrote:

Headlight door were vacuum controlled. The headlight switch is 77-79 Thunderbird-specific as the switch controls vacuum to the lights. That's what the hoses on the back do.
As far as 351m or 351W, Ford used the same VIN indicator for both, so no way to tell for sure.
Usually the 2.47 axles were 351M cars and 351W got a 2.75, but there are no absolutes with these cars.
Your Carburator is a Ford/Autolite 2100/2150, and your choke is missing its insides.
You should have a transmission kickdown, it's a hollow tubular rod in a sort of "S" shape, about 2 1/2 feet long. (Usually rusty)
Valve covers are 1980s, Pickup truck or Crown Victoria.

Yes, I know, that headlight doors are vacuum operated, that's why I wanted to find a correct one.
I suspect the whole engine is from 80-ies LTD Crown Victoria.
Andris
1979 Ford Thunderbird
Back to Top
T-Bird_79 View Drop Down
New Member
New Member


Joined: 05-May-2017
Location: Riga, Latvia
Status: Offline
Points: 30
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote T-Bird_79 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2017 at 10:42AM
Originally posted by n2fordwagons n2fordwagons wrote:

For whatever reason, I can't see your pictures.  I couldn't see them in your "welcome" post either. 

 
I'll be getting rid of the vacuum components that operate the headlights of my '79 T-bird.  That includes the switch, the actuators (I guess that's what they're called) that operate the headlight doors, and anything else you think you might need.  I've got all the hoses, connectors, etc.  They're all in great condition, from a well taken care of, low mileage car.  Let me know.

I don't know why You don't see pictures. Strange.
Anyway, thanks for Your offer, but, as far as I can see all other components for headlight doors are here, the only thing missing was switch, which I've already found. I need to reconnect everything and start a car to tell that everything works, and, if I will need something more, I will let You know!
Andris
1979 Ford Thunderbird
Back to Top
Big Bird View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 25-August-2013
Location: New York
Status: Offline
Points: 3068
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Bird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2017 at 1:46PM
I missed your question about ignition.
Can you get a better picture of the distributor? And the drivers inner fender?
There should be a aluminum ignition module about 5 inches by 5 inches on the driver's side inner fender (where all the little colored wires are now).
For the distributor, If it has a long grey rectangle along one side of the body and no vacuum advance, it's a TFI distributor and will not work.
If so, you need a duraspark distributor.
If you need to change that, you need to find out if the engine has a factory roller lifter cam.
Those need a steel distributor gear. Easiest parts-store answer is a distributor for a 1985 mustang GT with a manual transmission.


Edited by Big Bird - 22-May-2017 at 1:51PM
The above post should be read in a "Grumpy Old Man" voice.
Almost forgot: "Get off my lawn!!!"
Randy
1979 T-Bird
2006 GMC Sierra
Back to Top
californiajohnny View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 05-October-2013
Location: winlock, wa
Status: Offline
Points: 8110
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote californiajohnny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-May-2017 at 3:22PM
can't tell in the pic but it looks like a advanceless dist. which will only work with a computer so i'm thinking you need to change it to an older style with a vacuum advance. looks like a newer style coil on there looks to be late 80's to early 90's stuff
JOHN
74 GRAN TORINO S&H CLONE
74 CORVETTE COUPE CUSTOM
90 S10 BLAZER 4X4 LIFTED
77 CELICA CUSTOM
75 V8 MONZA SUPERCHARGED
79 COURIER VERT. SLAMMED
75 VEGA V6 5 SPD
70 CHEV C10 P/U
Back to Top
n2fordwagons View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 20-July-2013
Location: GA
Status: Offline
Points: 1872
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote n2fordwagons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-May-2017 at 12:18AM

Ah.  There they are.  Pictures work from home.  They don't work from work.  You must be hosting them on a international site.  We block international websites where I work.  Now I can see you have all that stuff. 

Jeff

76 Mercury Montego MX Villager w/ 460
79 Ford Thunderbird w/ T-tops
Back to Top
T-Bird_79 View Drop Down
New Member
New Member


Joined: 05-May-2017
Location: Riga, Latvia
Status: Offline
Points: 30
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote T-Bird_79 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2017 at 11:01AM
Originally posted by Big Bird Big Bird wrote:

I missed your question about ignition.
Can you get a better picture of the distributor? And the drivers inner fender?
There should be a aluminum ignition module about 5 inches by 5 inches on the driver's side inner fender (where all the little colored wires are now).
For the distributor, If it has a long grey rectangle along one side of the body and no vacuum advance, it's a TFI distributor and will not work.
If so, you need a duraspark distributor.
If you need to change that, you need to find out if the engine has a factory roller lifter cam.
Those need a steel distributor gear. Easiest parts-store answer is a distributor for a 1985 mustang GT with a manual transmission.

Pictures of distributor and ignition coil:








So I guess I need correct distributor, ignition coil and ignition module? If I take out current distributor, can I determine is there a lifter cam by looking at distributor gear? If I buy distributor from Mustang GT, I must have ignition module from Mustang or Duraspark module will work too?
Strangest thing is that the engine can be started, so I think distributor and coil is somehow rewired to work without computer.
Here's the air cleaner that I have:





This air cleaner doesn't fit my carburetor very well, I think it is from engine with trottle body injection system?
I always wondered, what's the decals on trunk lid:



So Google helped me and I've found out that this is Centroplex Ford dealership decal in Killeen, TX. As the car's DSO code is 52, which is Dallas, I am pretty sure, that the car was sold new in Centroplex Ford, Killeen, TX.



Edited by T-Bird_79 - 24-May-2017 at 11:06AM
Andris
1979 Ford Thunderbird
Back to Top
Big Bird View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 25-August-2013
Location: New York
Status: Offline
Points: 3068
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Bird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2017 at 1:12PM
That distributor is a TFI (Thick Film Ignition) unit. it's designed to work with fuel injection. The little black module is the "Brain" for it.  It has no mechanical or vacuum advance. It needs a vacuum sensor and a few other inputs to work. I've never seen anyone make one work without the EFI. It was not used on any carborated engine. Your fender picture shows where the tie-ins were made, and since it's (more or less) self contained, someone made it work.
You would need to fix the harness where the ties were made, add a Module, and change the distributor to go back to stock. Easiest way to tell whether it has roller lifters is to take the intake off.
Roller cams didn't show up until 1985, so there are TBI (Throttle Body Injection) engines with flat tappet cams and TFI ignitions. (And it may be a Franken-motor as well)
If it runs and works well, it may be simpler to leave it (Tidy up the wiring).
If it won't do much more than start... that's the first place I would look at re-doing.
The above post should be read in a "Grumpy Old Man" voice.
Almost forgot: "Get off my lawn!!!"
Randy
1979 T-Bird
2006 GMC Sierra
Back to Top
72FordGTS View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 06-September-2005
Location: Ontario, Canada
Status: Offline
Points: 1702
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 72FordGTS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2017 at 1:22PM

Correct me if I am wrong, but would a TFI distributor still fire without a computer, but have no way to advance or retard the timing?  So it'd work but the timing would be totally static? 

I think you need to go back to a stock DuraSpark distributor setup to get this to run properly.
Vince

1972 Ford GTS Sportsroof - Survivor, One Family car
Back to Top
Big Bird View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 25-August-2013
Location: New York
Status: Offline
Points: 3068
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Bird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-May-2017 at 5:27AM
Without a MAP sensor, no "Vacuum" advance. The TFI adds/subtracts timing like a "real" computer, but needs it's sensors.
Without being able to go through this "Hands-on" it's hard to tell what is and isn't connected/working properly. It's an odd situation, one that was more complicated than just using the correct parts.
Best guess would be the current engine was swapped in in Europe. The car was a 351 car (W or M?, who knows) A 351M distributor won't work, and a 351W isn't SUPPOSED to, (Swap oil pump, oil pump drive, and distributor, and then it does.)
So someone used what they had and made it work. 
The above post should be read in a "Grumpy Old Man" voice.
Almost forgot: "Get off my lawn!!!"
Randy
1979 T-Bird
2006 GMC Sierra
Back to Top
T-Bird_79 View Drop Down
New Member
New Member


Joined: 05-May-2017
Location: Riga, Latvia
Status: Offline
Points: 30
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote T-Bird_79 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-May-2017 at 10:36AM
Thanks for all your advice!!! There's no Map sensor, no coolant temp.sensor for ECM, no TPS, so there's no way that TFI module knows it should advance or retard timing. So it just starts and runs with static timing advance. So to get it work properly I have to:
1. Take off intake and see is there roller lifters or no.
2. Find Duraspark module and distributor. Will the existing coil work with Duraspark, or I need a coil from Duraspark system too?
3. Restore wiring to ignition module.
Next stupid question: Carburettor bolts to TBI intake with no problems? Bolt patterns are the same?
About engine change: now when I think of all this, I think I can tell how it happened (not 100% sure, as I was not there, but I think it was like this). Previous owner sold to someone 351 engine from this car and installed a 302 TBI engine from LTD Crown Victoria, without taking much care of making it work properly. LTD CrownVic without engine is still in his yard.Wink
By the way I looked at transmission, and I think it's a C6. At least it's not a AOD from the same CrownVic.
Andris
1979 Ford Thunderbird
Back to Top
Big Bird View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: 25-August-2013
Location: New York
Status: Offline
Points: 3068
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Bird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-May-2017 at 11:34AM
Carb does bolt to TBI intake, and some of the TBI intakes are a fairly decent 2V aluminum intake.
Existing coil not correct for Duraspark but might work.
If it is a C6, it's not original to the car your door tag has "X" for a trans code, which is FMX trans.
FMX will have an aluminum Bellhousing and tailshaft and (Except for a couple weird units) an iron centersection.
C6 is all aluminum, and the bellhousing is not removable.
The above post should be read in a "Grumpy Old Man" voice.
Almost forgot: "Get off my lawn!!!"
Randy
1979 T-Bird
2006 GMC Sierra
Back to Top
torino335 View Drop Down
Member
Member


Joined: 27-December-2016
Location: ca
Status: Offline
Points: 96
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote torino335 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-May-2017 at 11:51AM
looks 85-89 engine,that dist is not a good one to have,they go out alot,my 84 bronco with a 302 had that dist with a 2 bbl carb,you have alot of mis matched parts,can you get some pictures of numbers off intake,heads exhaust,would could get the date close if not to the year,
Back to Top
T-Bird_79 View Drop Down
New Member
New Member


Joined: 05-May-2017
Location: Riga, Latvia
Status: Offline
Points: 30
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote T-Bird_79 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-October-2017 at 11:12AM

So it was a busy summer and not much has been done. Still there’s some little progress.

Managed to find Wiring and Vacuum diagrams for reasonable price.



Last time the car was started by previous owner by jumping some wires under the hood, so I tried to figure out why it is so and why he said, that it can’t be started by ignition switch. It turned out, that the ignition could be switched ON, but in the  START position 12V disappear on ignition coil. Didn’t look at it more closely yet, but it seems like ignition switch problem. So for now I turn the ignition switch on and start the engine by jumping starter solenoid. Found and deleted a top secret anti-theft switch (that’s those two light blue wires going through firewall).


On distributor wiring plug noticed, that the two wires, that should go to engine control module are simply cutted off.


From all the electrical equipment only tachometer, door ajar warning light and blower fan low speed (which can’t be switched off) are working.

To my big surprise, the car still has some brakes and it can move (at least in and out of garage) under it’s own power.

At one point get tired of constantly flat tires of three different sizes. Shop manual says, that the original tire size is HR78x15. Tried to find matching modern tire size and it’s approximately 215/80R15 or 225/75R15 or 235/70R15. The latter two seem a bit wide for 6 inch rim, so for now I bought a used 215/75R15 Michelin tires, just to see do they look OK on these rims and on car. Two wheels where badly rusted on hubs, so it was a big pain to take them off. Made a minor repair to one of the rims.



Tried to find some numbers on intake. This is the only numbers I could see. Is this manufacturing date, or some kinda part number?


Finally made a small list of parts, that I need (for a start). It can be found here:

http://forum.grantorinosport.org/parts-for-79-thunderbird_topic16636.html

If anyone has something from this list, or knows where to find one of these parts, please let me know.

Thank You!



Edited by T-Bird_79 - 18-October-2017 at 11:17AM
Andris
1979 Ford Thunderbird
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  12>
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.10
Copyright ©2001-2017 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.125 seconds.