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FFCobra Master Craftsman
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just finished gutting my donor - 1990 GT. It took +/-70 hours of work over about 3 weeks.

I paid $3,000 for a nice, pretty clean car with the following new/newer components: new long block with less than 10,000 miles, new/newer alternator, starter, O2 sensors, water pump, radiator, fuel tank, new Cobra (with Cobra plaque) upper intake manifold, and new license plate screws! I bought from a military guy with 20 years of service so I didn't haggle price (he spent 20 years in the service of our country - I'm not going to argue with him over money).

Advice: Read this Forum as much as you can, visit as many build sites as possible, buy the Chilton's manual, get the FFR manual. Tools: decent mechanics wrench set: Costco @ $120 and came with a nice breaker bar, four jack stands - don't mess around with the two jack stand shuffle, these are cheap at about $10/pair at Walmart. PB Blaster - 3 cans - the best "tool" you can buy - spray on every bolt in the car every day for about 3 days before working on the bolts, 1 gallon Zep hand cleaner (Home Depot) and all the rags and cardboard boxes (parts bins) you can find, a 4' length of black pipe from Home Depot to be used as an extension on your breaker bar - you WILL need this on the suspension nuts. Fifty pounds of force on a 4' pipe = 200 pounds of force on a 1' wrench handle. Buy the pipe. Three rolls of masking tape, two rolls of duct tape and heavy markers to ID parts.


Prep - Day 1: Give yourself at least 6-8 feet of space at the front of the car to manuver the engine hoist, put the car up on jack stands at 4 frame points - at least 12" to 14" high (so that you can get under it easily on a dolly (buy one of these too) and so the front A-arms can fully extend when dropped. Remove the hood, remove the wheels and store under car for safety (in case jack stands fail), for access remove front inner fender liners (cut them out now, it will give you much better access to suspension, steering, engine, exhaust, etc.) and front seats (for under dash and dash access).
Congratulations - you're a master mechanic. Now take the family out for ice cream.

SAFETY: If you don't want to a) kill or maim yourself or others, b) burn down your house c) spend time in an emergency room:

Buy good safety goggles and wear them. I had safety glasses on while under the car when something fell on my cheek and bounced inside the glasses and into my eye. It cost me two emergency room visits and 3 days with something really painful in my eye. I started wearing glasses with a rubber/foam seal. I cut two 6"x6"x8' pressure treated landscape timbers into 2 foot lengths. They are great for using as leverage points for wrenches, to lower the fuel tank/rear axle onto, and - in a stack - as backup safety devices when you're under the car. When removing the fuel tank, hose down the floor, the tank, and the underside of the car - less chance of a spark. At the end of a day, put your dirty rags in a bucket of water. We had a neighbor in town lose their house due to a spontaneous combustion fire from grease/gas soaked rags. Wash down the floor on occasion at the end of the day. It will clean things up and dilute any dripping combustibles.

Toughest job: Frame Bolts - spin the NUT not the BOLT! most stressful: getting way under the car for the first time, fuel tank removal (potential for explosion), dropping front A-Arms (potential for supersonic spring release), engine hoisting (potential for dropping engine, ruining my day). Most tedious: wiring removal - this took about 24 hours for the whole car.
One other thing - do a lot of nice things with your family (I didn't do as much as I should have). This is a filthy job and the family will be supportive. Plus, you will need all the goodwill that you can get in this stage of the build.
 

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Charter Member
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7,902 Posts
"four jack stands - don't mess around with the two jack stand shuffle, these are cheap at about $10/pair at Walmart"

I bought 2 sets of 6 ton jack stands from Napa - they were like $40-$50 a pair I think, but well worth the money. If a jackstand fails, it will really ruin your day so I think it is an area that you shouldn't skimp on. I know you can put other stuff under the car for safety, but then all that stuff gets in your way which is also not good from a safety standpoint.

All your other points are great!

Howard
 

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Junior Charter Member
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1,066 Posts
Good job - that brought back some good and bad memories. One thing that I figured out after I had bandaids on every finger - a good pair of mechanics gloves will sure save you knuckles.
 

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FFCobra Craftsman
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3,355 Posts
PB Blaster - 3 cans - the best "tool" you can buy
I'll second that!!! Well maybe not the best "tool" but one I'll have around all the time.
Not too many people seem to know about PB Blaster.
 

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FFCobra Master Craftsman
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8,694 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
One other bit of advice to anyone like me who is brand new to auto mechanics: When you finish up a task, put everything away before you start the next task. For example, you take out the O2 sensors with a wrench and a screwdriver (to release the plug connector) then next you want to disconnect the headers. Put all of the tools away from the O2 task then get out the tools for the header task (keep all your current task tools in a plastic tray so nothing gets lost while working). This way you know exactly where everything is at all times. It is so easy to put down a socket and forget where you left it five minutes later. I violated this rule a couple of times to save a few steps and found that I spend triple the time trying to find what I mislaid. Also, keep your tools well organized - it cuts the work time and frustration in half. Put yourself in the mindset to practice neatness and organization and you'll be very effective - it works.
 

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Senior Charter Member
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712 Posts
Also when buying jackstands look for the truck/SUV stands they are taller which makes it easier to work under the car. Buy a good floor jack you will only regret buying a cheap one I did and took it back after one use plus it is a tool you will use a million times.
 

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As you are dismantling donor, put the parts into small and large sized baggies and label with a large permanent marker. Put all the bags into boxes and mark the contents on the outside of the box. That way you will easily be able to find parts without having to search through a box of unlabelled parts. This especially holds true for all the nuts and bolts. When you have some spare time, clean the gunk, grease and rust off the parts and re-bag them. Saves a lot of time guessing at which part goes where. Just my $0.02.

Allan
 

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Two words - "oven cleaner"

I've tried pressure washing, gunk, engine degreaser. Nothing degreases parts as well as oven cleaner. $4 a can at the grocery store.
 

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15,282 Posts
Lots of good tips. My original timeline didn't allow for all this. I was amazed at Cypress putting together my pallet. It was one of the first they had done for a modular-powered MKIII (if not the very first), and they went from donor car to pallet in a bit over 3 hours. Only forgot two parts that I can remember, and one part was broken. Replacements were provided overnight (ground, but close by) via UPS after the fact.

Cheers, John
 

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972 Posts
My one indispensable tool set: air compressor with impact wrench and die grinder. Any bolt/nut that the impact wrench won't remove has to be cut off. I bought a 1/2" and 1/4" burr for the grinder; they get into small spaces and will cut anything.

My 2 cents.

Dennis B.
 
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