The number one task on my to-do list was to treat the unprimed steel inside the cowl (an air chamber in front of the windshield) before rust ate its way through. This would require a fair amount of work:
- remove the windshield
- break open the cowl by drilling out dozens of spot welds that held the top and bottom pieces together
- coat the inside surfaces with a rust converter (converts existing rust back into a metallic water barrier and prevents formation of additional rust)
- reweld the cowl halves back together
In addition to all of this, while not strictly required, I also elected to remove the engine in order to get better access to the spot welds around the cowl's perimeter.
Many Mustang owners/restorers consider a rusting cowl to be the number one nemesis of vintage Mustang restoration.
The cowl is an enclosed chamber between the engine compartment and passenger compartment. Air enters the cowl through the vent in front of the windshield and is channeled into the passenger compartment at the driver's feet and into the heater box on the passenger side.
Along with air, an assortment of rain, dirt, leaves, and debris passes through the cowl. Metal cylinders inside the cowl serve as barriers diverting this flotsam to drainage channels, bypassing the vents that open into the passenger compartment.
Over the span of many years, the drainage channels become clogged, preventing water from exiting the cowl. Left untreated, rust eventually, inevitably eats through the metal cylinders that keep water out of the passenger compartment.
Also high on my initial list of objectives was a new windshield. The old one had become so pitted that I could barely see through it when driving into the sun.
Before breaking the first weld on the cowl, I drew up a wish list. In addition to the cowl and windshield, the list grew to contain the following items:
- upgrade to power steering
- replace carburetor with electronic fuel ignition (EFI)
- install new convertible top
- install new interior carpets
- new seat belts (replacements for front, add new to rear seats)
- new paint job
First, the fenders and hood came off, then out came the radiator, off came the driveshaft, and finally out came the engine and transmission as a unit.
With the engine out and steering linkage exposed, and me thinking about upgrading to power steering, it soon became clear that there was more to add to the list.Next: Work Goes On