Cougar Gets Attention

The past two days afforded me the opportunity to move the boxes and clean off the top surfaces of the Cougar, roll the cat halfway out of the garage and work on it. It’s been longer than I can remember since I last put any time or more importantly, money into the Cougar. Yesterday I spent about $21 on a piece of steel and two cans of rust inhibitor. Conversely I put in approximately 15 hours work, with the help of a neighbor and made good progress.

Goals for the past few days were simple. First make progress on the Cougar, second spend as little money as possible. Both objectives were achieved. While not immediately on the list, the battery ledge was cut out and replaced. Much of the work was cleaning and grinding surfaces to get the loose surface rust off before cleaning the surface and spraying the rust inhibitor. None of the rust (like the battery ledge) is so bad that it will require removal and replacement, so I am lucky in that respect.

A goal for this summer is to completely prep the engine compartment, which is about 95% stripped and cleaned, ready to be painted. It’s my hope to drop the engine, transmission and headers into the car in the next few months. Before that can happen I need to replace a few more parts, including the steering column and necessary stainless steel lines. Yesterday allowed to get the rest of the sanding/grinding done, with the exception of one corner that has a wiring harness and hoses coming through the firewall.

From there I moved on to the front windshield, pulling the rubber weatherstripping off and removing the glass. Unfortunately the window cracked from bottom to top. I believe it was cracked under the rubber and when I pried it up, the crack lengthen. Add another $225 to the total cost of the Cougar. Once the glass was out, I cleaned the remaining waxy substance around the window opening. I already had the back glass out, removed months ago. Much like the front window opening, I cleaned up the rear window opening. I did find one minor spot of rust, but I come bondo will easily fill that hole. I assume it’s from water, since it’s the lower corner of the rear window.

I started looking at the interior again and wanted to get the dashboard removed. I had all the interior panels removed previously, as well as the dash pad that covered the top of the dashboard. The dash pad was sun damaged and pulled years ago. I did clean up the bracket and removed the dashboard, along with the heating/cooling vents. While I will probably never use the AC system, but I do need to replace the heater core and possibly the wiring harness.

Much of the work was purely cosmetic. I was able to strip the remaining rust on the floor of the interior, as well as the walls over the wheel wells and the back deck above the seat. These areas were then sprayed with the rust inhibitor. Thankfully I had done a majority of the truck interior already. I did spray the areas I had already done, but still have some surface rust I need to know down. Lots of work and some good progress was made. I might

New battery ledge, welded and sprayed.

The most progress was made on the battery ledge, this was an area that was completely corroded due to water and battery acid. The battery tray that came with the car was not salvageable. What was worse was the ledge that tray was attached to was eaten though. Thanks to my neighbor, who is currently restoring a ’54 Chevy, he stopped over and offered his help. This turned into a 3 hour project, as he cut out the area, bent a new piece of 16 GA metal welding it to the car and then ground down some of the welds to blend it into the existing frame.

I was very pleased with the outcome, it’s strong and once the battery tray is in place you won’t notice the welded plate. I was surprised he took so much time and effort into helping me with this project. He has already offered to come back over and help me with a few other projects on the car, including a few dents on the passenger’s side of the Cougar and showing me how to use bondo to start filling in low spots on the roof.

It might be a bit too ambitious to say there will be time every week to work on the Cougar, but now that some work has been done I have been bitten…again! I will update with some pictures from the work accomplished.