The day starts with firing up the Mustang and backing it out of the garage to make room to work on the Road Runner. Easier said than done! The new battery and a squirt of ether allowed the little 289 to fire right up but as the car was dropped into reverse and the clutch let out a big surprise awaited us – no brakes! Brian and Tim spend about one hour bleeding the brakes on all four corners as the single reservoir chambered master cylinder had somehow run dry letting lots of Texas air into the brake lines. After trying a few wrenches we determined the bleeder valves somehow ended up with metric fittings. Pumping the brake pedal, bleeding the mixture of air and brake fluid into the brake fluid recovery canister and minutes later we had brakes once again…finally the ‘Stang was out in fresh air!
Peeling back the car cover, pushing the Runner back to give elbow room to turn wrenches, and surveying the engine room to develop a plan of attack…
A slight diversion before proceeding with the thermostat and rad hose replacement – we added a billet power steering pump filler cap picked up on the last R66 trip to SoCal as an upgrade to the stock black unit.
Quick drain of the four year old oil and a refresh with some Quaker 10W30 with Fram P8HA filter. Then, a mock up of the new rad hose to ensure clearance around heater hoses, water temp sensor, distributor, and alternator brackets.
The distributor and drive gear were pulled to allow oil pump priming with electric drill motor and a hex shaft that was long enough to reach through the distributor opening in engine block down to the oil pump drive. After liberal gasket surface cleaning and scraping some blue painter’s tape was used to protect key areas from the Hemi orange engine touch up paint.
Installation of the 160F thermostat, a new chrome t-stat housing, and a new upper radiator hose completes the repair. Connecting the new battery, flipping the switch to the electric fuel pump to fill the twin Holley carburetor bowls, a dash of ether, a couple of pumps of the accelerator pedal, a turn of the ignition key, and bingo! The big 440 came to life spewing billows of exhaust smoke as rich gas fumes and oil slipping past the valve seals struggled to burn off. After 10 minutes the exhaust went clear, the engine idled without help, and we watched as the rad temp climbed to 180F before the thermostat popped open. We let the water circulate through the block for a few minutes to allow the Prestone Super Flush to do its job. The Runner was backed out of the garage to facilitate draining the spent water after a short cooldown period. Fresh water was poured into the radiator to rinse the flush out before a final exchange of fluids with new antifreeze. This last step never happened though as the age old engine starter gave up the ghost. Jumping across the starter relay and straight across the starter terminals revealed the starter was truly dead. Four teenage boys later the Runner was pushed back into its rightful spot in the garage banished to sit there once again until starter repairs could be executed.