The first part that I was able to get over the winter is a set of mint 1990 Ford Thunderbird SC blue cloth seats. These seats are awesome in every way. There isn't even any wear on the driver seat, no fading, no stains and not one problem with them. They look like new! These seats are lighter colored then the seats they replaced but they fit in the interior nicely.
These seats have many advantages over the LX seats including not just one lumbar, but two of them! They have both side lumbar and lower back lumbar. The LX seats didn't have even back lumbar as an option. The LX seats do not provide support for your back at all, your back sinks into the seat back. They also allow for full functional features for both driver and passenger sides. The wires were present in my 1995 for the passenger side, which made the swap a snap. SC seats do bolt up to LX interiors with no modifications. If you are planning to use the 1989-1993 seats in your newer T-Bird, I suggest you swap in the belt buckles. The original SC had an automatic seat belt with a manual lapbelt, so the belt buckle is in an odd place.
If you need better seats, I highly suggest finding a set of SC seats.
I am still on track for the DirtyDog 4R70W/AODE Torque Converter. I am still deciding on who will install it. With these new seats, I might just make the trip to Ohio to have the expert install it.
This summer has been busy for the Thunderbird. It started out with a rear brake cylinder leak, which caused a bit of brake fluid to leak. Many suggested that I put on rear discs but I wanted to keep the drums. While replacing the brake cylinder, we ended up snapping the brake lines creating a much bigger problem. We patched the system and ordered pre bent lines from DirtyDog Performance. Getting the lines pre bent was a big time saver, the lines were in the car within a couple of hours.
The other upgrade was a custom bent exhaust system to replace the old "fake" dual exhaust. I went with a 2.5" pipe to a single muffler. My goal with the single exhaust was to create the most efficient system possible. I initially went with no cat setup but quickly found out that it was too raspy for the 4.6L Thunderbird. The car also had a 3 chamber Magaflow 13236 muffler, which didn't do too much to muffle the exhaust. Instead, I went with a set of Magnaflow high flow converters (model 54306) and a Turbo style muffler. The exhaust note is great with this setup, no rasp, not over powering. I would highly recommend a single exhaust to cut down on weight and exhaust efficiency.
This is my next upgrade, a Mercury Marauder Torque Converter for the 4R70W transmission. This converter is considered the best of the factory options. It features a 11.25" size (compared to a 12" standard size), fully furnace brazed, larger sprag and a durable lockup piston. It is designed to handle the stress of modifications and horsepower. There are many aftermarket options that have even more performance, but I bought this converter as a upgraded factory option.
Along with this upgrade, a new J-Mod valve body will be installed. The J-Mod is similar to a shift kit for the transmission. This modified valve body will allow my transmission to shift more firm and quickly. This will also make my transmission last longer and run cooler.
After having some issues with the Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 tires, I decided its time for an upgrade.
These rims are from a 2000 Ford Windstar. The Thunderbird shares the same bolt pattern with the Windstar and the older Taurus. I wanted a 5 star rim and these were the best looking of the OEM Ford models. It is a shame that the Thunderbird does not share the Mustang's bolt pattern. I would have rather went with a Mustang rim instead.
I am still gathering parts for the 2012 season. My latest purchase is the matching 1990 crystal blue back seats! This back seat came off of a lower optioned car, which had no center armrest or fold down features. Unlike other cars at the junkyard, this car had no visable damage other then rust and a mismatched bumper cover. Whoever owned it must have been fussy, because the whole interior was nice. It did have a grease spot on a cushion, but it came off with some effort. All in all, I thought this was just the item to finish off my interior swap.
I purchased the Michelin Pilot A/S Plus tires and I can't wait to give them a try in the early spring. The car is also going in for a drivetrain vibration issue and possibly the torque converter. It should be pretty exciting once the Winter passes.
This spring has been a busy one so far. One of the items installed was the above intake tube on my 4.6L Modular engine. This tube was made by a member of TCCoA about 10 years ago. I was able to pick this up used from someone parting their car out. This tube fits 1994-1995 Modular engines and was a nice update. This part is a more direct intake setup right into the stock airbox.
I took my Thunderbird to the garage to chase down some leaks and install the rims/tires. I was thinking that it was the power steering rack and provided a new part to replace the rack. I got some news that the leaks were actually coming from the transmission and the oil pan (due to rust). Instead of having the transmission simply fixed, I decided it was time to upgrade the transmission to a 2002 Crown Victoria 4R70W. DirtyDog Performance has the transmission and will be installed at his shop. The torque converter from the Marauder was never installed, so all the work will be done at once.
I decided on the 2002 Crown Victoria transmission because it was the last of the 4R70W models of this type. Many upgrades were done at the factory to make the transmission more durable. The following is from the website CVPI.ORG:
The valve body recieved a new casting and significant changes in the overdrive circuit starting in the 2001 model year. PCM recalibration or valve body alteration may be required if installing one of these units into an earlier vehicle.
The output shaft speed sensor also had it's electrical connector changed in the 2001 model year. If installing one of these transmission assemblies into an earlier vehicle, make sure to install a 2000 or earlier oss sensor, otherwise you won't be able to physically plug the oss electrical connector on your vehicles electrical harness into transmission assembly.
The electronic pressure control solenoid first introduced in 1999 5.4L trucks now is factory installed in all 2001 and later crown vic transmissions too. The new XL3Z-7G383-AB epc solenoid can safely be added to earlier vehicles and is desirable since it results in slightly higher main line pressure under heavy load.
Other upgrades will include a 3.5" Aluminum Driveshaft from Dynotech Engineering, Forced Lube kit for the transmission and the JMOD valve body. I can't wait to see how it all goes! It will all be done in June 2012.
The trip to DirtyDog Performance is coming up in less then a month. I can't wait to get the new transmission, driveshaft and torque converter installed!
It has been a big summer for the Thunderbird. It has grown up in almost every way starting with the backseat, transmission, wheels, tires and now a Kenwood KDC-HD552U MP3 WMA USB HD radio has been installed. The old Kenwood KDC-4003 was a nice radio, but I decided that I no longer care if the radio is period or not.
This radio has all the modern features that headunits have including USB connectivity, HD Radio, MP3, remote and CD playing. Its display and face doesn't look too outlandish in the dash, which was important to me. The sound is much nicer then the KDC-4003, but I can't fault the old radio because it was 17 years old. Prices have come down as well, my new radio was $140, the old one had a sticker price of $299.99 in 1995 ($450.00 in 2011 dollars!).
Rounding out the features of the Kenwood KDC-HD552U are Pandora connectivity and Android/Iphone apps for streaming content. This radio does not have bluetooth, so don't think I will be using these features much.
HD radio is pretty active in the Detroit area. There are a few channels that are really good. I am not sure how much HD exists in other areas, but the sound is improved over non-HD for even the basic channels.
Overall, this Kenwood is a nice upgrade!