Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

From dusty barn find to daily driver, it seems our cars are never really done. This is the place to share your progress on your project car. We will celebrate your victories and commiserate over your tragedies. But most of all this is a great place to learn!
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mfc133
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Location: Perkasie, PA

Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#1

Post by mfc133 » 06 Jul 2017, 14:30

I just brought home my first classic Cougar about 3 weeks ago, a Madras Blue 1968 standard J-code 302 auto w/factory air. As I mentioned in my first thread I sold my 2013 Mustang GT to buy this car. The Mustang had great power and was fun to drive, but aftermarket parts are so expensive for them. I wanted something that I could tinker with and slowly improve without breaking the bank, and I've always loved the 67-68 Cougars. So I went to the Carlisle Ford Nationals this year, put the Mustang in the car corral hoping to sell it and possibly find a nice Cougar for sale.

It was cool to see all the 50th anniversary stuff going on at the show, but there weren't too many Cougars actually for sale. There was a nice '69 convertible, but it was a little pricey for me and I really wanted a 67-68 anyway. I did notice that a '68 had popped up on craigslist in the Carlisle area.

The Mustang got a lot of activity, but it was mostly tire kickers. I did eventually meet a couple that were seriously interested in the car. We didn't settle on a price until Sunday when the banks and notary were closed, so I agreed to meet them in Carlisle the following weekend to complete the sale.
Afterwards, since I was already in Carlisle I took a drive to look at this '68. It was pretty much exactly what I was looking for. Something that was partially restored but still had room for improvement, and the paint/body were nice. I'm not afraid of tackling anything mechanical, but I wasn't looking to get into a full restoration involving bodywork and paint. I agreed to buy the car, my friend and I came back the next weekend with a Uhaul to trailer it home. I briefly considered driving it home (2.5 hrs mostly highway), but between the sloppy steering and manual drums it would have been a white knuckle ride for sure.

So my plans for the car for this summer are just fixing up a bunch of minor things that need attention, keeping her drivable so I can enjoy the car and take her to some local car shows. I already got a few things done I'll post shortly. This winter I'm looking at replacing the front suspension and converting to power disc brakes, maybe wheels/tires if I can fit them in the budget (what's on there now has to go :roll: ). More long term I'd like to do an overdrive trans conversion, whether that's a 5-speed or AOD haven't decided yet.

Here's some pictures:
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-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

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mfc133
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Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 12:15
Location: Perkasie, PA

Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#2

Post by mfc133 » 06 Jul 2017, 14:53

First order of business, engine is tough to start and keep running until warmed up. I find that there's vacuum leaks everywhere, and the choke/fast idle is siezed up on the carb. Some new vacuum plugs, a little carb cleaner and futzing with the carb and it's running a little better. PCV valve has failed which is probably causing a vacuum leak, replaced the valve and hose.

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Checked the base timing with vacuum advance off, looks to be set to TDC! I later see that someone marked the balancer at 6* BTDC, I make a new mark at 0* and set timing to 10* BTDC. Vacuum advance seems to work, and with it connected motor is actually idling pretty good now. I'm getting about 18-19" vacuum at idle, I still need to check the headlight door actuators to see if they've got any leaks. They do work, but they're a bit lazy so I'm sure they leak slightly.
-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

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CougarCJ
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Location: Salem, Oregon

Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#3

Post by CougarCJ » 06 Jul 2017, 15:50

Nice looking J code. That Jeep FC looks pretty sharp too. Yours?
Scott Behncke 1968 XR7
Carcheologist - West Coast Classic Cougar


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mfc133
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Joined: 20 Dec 2016, 12:15
Location: Perkasie, PA

Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#4

Post by mfc133 » 06 Jul 2017, 18:29

CougarCJ wrote:
06 Jul 2017, 15:50
Nice looking J code. That Jeep FC looks pretty sharp too. Yours?
Thanks! The pictures are at my friends garage, the FC belongs to his father-in-law. It's a neat truck for sure, he built that custom bed for it and swapped out the original motor for a Ford 302.
-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

DieselD
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Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#5

Post by DieselD » 06 Jul 2017, 20:27

She looks to be in pretty good shape already! Amazing the things you find from the previous owners that make up scratch your head wondering wtf they where thinking!
1968 Standard, 302 2v, 3 speed.

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1967 S Code
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Joined: 25 Dec 2010, 20:35
Location: Sumter, South Carolina

Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#6

Post by 1967 S Code » 06 Jul 2017, 21:26

Glad you're enjoying the Cougar and getting things sorted out. Vacuum leaks can give Classic Cougar headlights a fit but at least yours are working.
Steven
Image

Our Cougars

Image

1967 Standard
Dan Gurney Special

6.5 Litre, Black / Black, AC Whisperaire, Am/FM, Sports Console,
Front and Rear Bumper Guards, Clock

1968 XR7-G
302 4V, Lime Frost / Black Leather, AM/FM, Black Vinyl, Tilt-A-Way
Heavy Duty Suspension, Power Disc Brakes, Rader Wheels


1968 XR7-G Hertz
390 4V, Black Cherry/ Dark Red Leather, Black Vinyl, Sunroof, Tilt-A-Way,
Cruise, Rear Defrost, AC Whisperaire


1968 Convertible Conversion "Top Cat"
Standard, 302 4V, XR7G Console, XR7G Front Valance, XR7S Taillight Bars

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wish
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Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#7

Post by wish » 07 Jul 2017, 07:30

Good score on the 68.

Maybe you already know this, but with the little info in the thread figured I'd mention it ... the carb needs to be pumped once to set the choke. Also you'll need to loosen the screws holding the cover to rotate it if it's too tight or loose when cold. But of course before all of that, check that the wire on the choke cap is going to a SWITCHED power source and isn't constantly heating the choke making it stay off all of the time.

Those FCs are neat trucks, in-laws family has one that is very early (they claim number 7 off of the line) that they ended up with I think a 283. The 4cyl just wouldn't pull through the mountains without overheating. They did a custom camper on theirs for bed modifications.

Bill
Just my $.02
wish
69 Cougar, That 70s Truck, 84 Cherokee Chief 2dr, 88 Grand Wagoneer, 95 Grand Cherokee,96 Mustang

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mfc133
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Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#8

Post by mfc133 » 07 Jul 2017, 09:19

wish wrote:
07 Jul 2017, 07:30
Good score on the 68.

Maybe you already know this, but with the little info in the thread figured I'd mention it ... the carb needs to be pumped once to set the choke. Also you'll need to loosen the screws holding the cover to rotate it if it's too tight or loose when cold. But of course before all of that, check that the wire on the choke cap is going to a SWITCHED power source and isn't constantly heating the choke making it stay off all of the time.

Those FCs are neat trucks, in-laws family has one that is very early (they claim number 7 off of the line) that they ended up with I think a 283. The 4cyl just wouldn't pull through the mountains without overheating. They did a custom camper on theirs for bed modifications.

Bill
The choke linkage was actually physically jammed, I think from sitting too long in the previous owners garage. Once I broke it free and sprayed some carb cleaner around I got it moving freely like it should. I do need to move the electric choke wire, it's currently hooked up to the coil. I'm gonna rewire it to the STA port on the alternator.

I think FCs just have a chronic overheating problem. You just can't fit that large of a radiator in the space under the cab. That one has a new aluminum radiator with an electric fan and it still has trouble on hot days.
-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

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mfc133
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Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#9

Post by mfc133 » 08 Jul 2017, 20:25

After playing around with the carb I found that using the original linkage rod on an Edelbrock carb doesn't work too well. Between that and the kickdown cable being installed wrong, flooring the gas pedal only gave about 25% throttle. I got an adjustable linkage rod made for Edelbrock and Holley carbs, and installed new dual throttle return springs. Throttle action feels smoother and allows the full travel to WOT. The sending unit/ignition harness that runs over the top of the motor basically disintegrated when I touched it, so I replaced that too.

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I think because of where the fuel line connects on an Edelbrock the previous owner ran a hose the long way to the fuel pump, all the way across the firewall and down. Then into a cut end of a hard line, which was leaking. I ordered a metal line for an Autolite 4300, wasn't a perfect fit at the top but I was able to bend it slightly to work. I found a 90 degree banjo fitting for the carb so the hose could come straight down, into a filter then to the hard line. Not the prettiest setup, but it's functional for now and hidden under the air cleaner. I wanted to use this, but the coil is in the way.

OLD:
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NEW:
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Also discovered I've got air shocks in the back. The leaf springs are sagging badly, but for now I pumped up the shocks to at least get the car sitting level.

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-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

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mfc133
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Location: Perkasie, PA

Re: Sprucing up a '68 Cougar

#10

Post by mfc133 » 10 Jul 2017, 08:31

The driver's side fender extension was badly misaligned, to the point that it was contacting the hood and wearing off the paint:

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It took some creative usage of ratchets and extensions, but I was able to loosen up the top two bolts of the fender extension and muscle it back into place. Luckily the fit was good on the lower part of the extension so I didn't have to worry about loosening that bolt. After getting it lined up, I can tell the extension doesn't exactly follow the contour of the fender like it should, but it'll have to do for now. Overall it looks much better, just gotta throw some touch-up paint on that corner:

Image
-Mike

1968 Cougar Standard, 302 4V, auto, Madras Blue

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