Old Blue Gets a New Dash Panel!


As I had said in a previous post, every time I had to do any work under the dash of the ’39 I was always presented with a rats nest of wiring that went every which way, half the wires were unlabeled and were either red, white or black none of which mattered too much as to what function the wire was performing.

So my 1st order of business after removing the old ball milled billet aluminum dash panel, was to try and make some sense out of the wiring harness.  It had originally started out as a pretty decent after market harness, but had only a limited amount of circuits. So we had wires plugged into the fuse panels with inline fuses attached to them to power such things as the rear tail lights, the interior light and the kick down circuit for the transmission. After several days and a number of aspirin tablets I was able to make sense of it all. I had one bundle of 6 wires that had been intended to run the ignition, coil and regulator etc, that had been rolled up and taped together and wire tied to the fuse panel.  Of course all of those functions had been replaced with random red, white and black wires, so out they came! I found that the fuel pump which had an actual fuse on the fuse panel, also had an inline fuse as well. So if you had a problem with the pump, and you checked one of the fuse holders, and didn’t know about the other you would end up chasing your tail trying to find out what was wrong. Out came the in line fuse!

Further inspection found several other circuits that had been added, didn’t have fuses to protect them. So more re wiring to get that all squared away.

Finally, it came time to locate and mount the Dakota Digital control boxes. I had this great idea of mounting them on a piece of aluminum mounted in the left kick panel. Wonderful idea except, in the middle of all of it was the damn front speaker, so no room for the boxes. After fussing with it for some time I found that the only place I could mount them was on a new plate that was made to surround the existing fuse box, on the fire wall.

This solution created another problem in that all of the wires going to the control boxes ended up between the firewall and the dashboard. The good news was that thanks to the modular design of the Dakota Digital Dash Panel, I can easily pop the dash panel out of the dash by removing 4 nylon thumb nuts on the back of the panel. Once the panel is out, I have great access to all of the wiring, relays, flashers and fuses.

Other wiring issues that were solved this time around. I have always had intermittent problems with the turn signals in this car. I have replaced the switch in the steering column several times but the problems always returned. This time I found the culprit; the damn billet aluminum third brake light had an intermittent problem in the housing. Out it came! I had earlier replaced the stop/tail lights with a new set of very very bright LED units that really don’t need the help of the third brake light. To top things off, I had a new turn signal switch in stock that I put in the column since I had everything taken apart.

Another problem of late has been that the kick down switch for the transmission was no longer working… yet another billet aluminum after market POS this time from Lokar. The switch was pretty straight forward, a tapered steel slug on the end of a stainless wire cable that is attached to the throttle on the carb. The slug when the throttle was opened, would activate a micro switch, which seemed simple enough…. EXCEPT that they glued the switch to the aluminum housing using some type of isocynate glue. And since the housing was bolted to the transmission, and was next to the exhaust head pipe, the glue had dried out and cracked. When the slug moved, instead of closing the switch, it broke it loose from the housing, hence no kick down. I called Lokar and asked them about what I should do the fix the problem, no problem they replied! “We redesigned that housing several years ago and provided an aluminum ledge for the switch to sit on, and then held it in place with screws instead of glue.” Of course, this was done sometime ago and since my piece was 18 years old, I would have to buy a new one… which I did, from Summitt, but I still am not happy!

To wrap things up, so to speak, I bought some thermal header wrap from Speedway and wrapped the head pipes on both sides of the engine to help keep the steering box and starter cooler. I also found that the return line to the power steering pump had cracked due to being cooked too long by the exhaust header, so I replaced that as well.

About the only mechanical issues I have left is to have the seals in the torque converter replaced. When the car sits for a long time without being run, the fluid drains past the leaky pump seal and fills the pan up. The excess fluid will then leak out were ever it can, either the rear seal or the shifter shaft seal. I stopped by the local transmission shop that was recommended by everyone in town to see if they would reseal it. I have to say they are up to their eyeballs in work, and weren’t too excited about taking on repairing a home brew project like my Ford. I am to call them when I get back from Goodguys next month to set up a date for them to look at it to see if they want to tackle the job. I asked them what it would cost if I pulled the transmission and brought it in to them. All smiles and happy, they will reseal it for $125. So, I am thinking about pulling it myself… sigh…

The other issue is the paint chips, which I am still thinking about….



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.