Category Archives: 1963 Thunderbird

Repairs, modifications and general notes on my new to me 1963 Ford Thunderbird.

1963 Thunderbird Tail light lens…

Woke up this morning to get an early start at the swap meet held at the Lodi Grape Festival facilities. I’ve been hunting for a rear tail light lenses assembly for a couple of years now. I have gone to several car swap meets but never gotten lucky until today!!

I was able to fund a set for Josie brand new inside of the package and to top it off I got a set of the lens center trim piece that fits inside! All this for the price one NOS replacement lens on EBAY. What a freaking score. It also shows that you need to come early to these shows and at least have a first crack at something if it is being sold.

1963 Thunderbird Squeak Continues…

Well, I jacked up the front of Josie to gain access to the upper A arm inner shaft and bushings. On different variations the end caps will have a zerc grease fitting. I was hoping I had a plug and would be able to install a right angle 90 degree fitting. No luck. The damn inner shaft was an older type and no fitting access.

Since I had the car up in the air I went ahead and greased up the zerc fittings that were available and accessible.

1963 Thunderbird Squeaking…

My wifey and I went for a ride for a cruise and coffee at the local Starbucks this morning. Somewhere during the ride Josie developed this squeaking sound from the front right of the car.

I jacked up the car and removed the front right tire and hub. I was able to duplicate the squeaking sound by pushing the front end up and down. I was not able to repeat the sound by shifting the car side to side. I applied some grease onto the stabilizer shaft as shown below. This stopped the squeak for now but I expect it will return once the grease has come off or dried. I’ll need to replace that piece later on.

One good note is the brake pads are still good and have a ways to go. I’ll need to check out the rear brakes to see if they are the cause for the humming noise when the brakes get warm. It sounds as if it is coming from the right side of the car braking system but I’m not certain.

1963 Thunderbird Temp Control…

I took Josie out for a ride and cruised along. All was going good until I got home and turned off the ignition. The motor turned off as expected but the electric radiator fans kept on spinning even with the ignition key completely removed. After some troubleshooting it turns out the piece of shit Durale controller failed again! This is the second one I purchased. I thought the first failure was due to a fluke but I guess they are not as robust they claim to be.

I ended up using a temp sender on the intake manifold that is set to 175 degrees fahrenheit. This activates a 12V 60A relay that powers up my dual electric fans. So far it seems to be working, it turns on as expected and the engine is running about 185 degrees (original setup was at 180F). Even though it is an increase in temperature it is not necessarily a negative thing. I’m closer to optimum running temperature.

I still need to figure out a manual “turn on” mode just in case something happens to the temperature sensor on a hot day.

63′ Thunderbird Is back!

I picked up my 1963 Thunderbird this morning after a week at the transmission shop. I took her for a spin and everything seemed to be fine. I was nervous since the last time I went out for a ride I was stranded on the freeway next to the sound abatement wall structure.

The gears are shifting as it should using D1. I’m not sure if the green dot drive is gear is shifting through the gears properly. Very hard to tell. I’ll need to get a second opinion on that aspect of the rebuild.

All the clutch plates were replaced along with the torque converter.

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63′ Thunderbird Tranny Problems…

So my 63′ Thunderbird has been leaking since the day I got it. I’ve tried tightening down the tranny pan and vacuum modulator but it still leaked oil.

I decided to take it to a local transmission for leakage repair and vacuum modulator replacement. I already purchased the “green stripe” modulator and brought everything over to High Speed Transmission located in Stockton, CA.

The gasket replacement and valve replacement went well but when I took it off for the ride home it started slipping after 5 miles or so. When I was entering the freeway entrance the motor and transmission completely lost engagement and I was forced to coast next to the sound abatement wall. Not a good spot, no shoulder and right next to a wall to get smashed.

I’m still don’t understand why after getting service this all happened. A part of me is saying it’s not  a coincidence and that the mechanic Mike made an error in some process. I will make sure I get a warranty and have him test drive before receiving the car back. This definitely sucked.

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Thunderbird tranny…

If my thinking is right I have the Cruise O’ Matic three speed transmission. This is an earlier cast iron version that is prior to the more known C4 tranny. I’ll need to get under the car again and try to read the part numbers for verification. When I get back into town I will to see if I can really tell if the tranny is shifting through the gears as the speed increases. It’s been bugging me that there is no distinct change in torque as expected. 

I’ll check the following:

  • Vacuum line from the intake manifold “T” is good all the way down to the governor/modulator or control valve as Ford calls it
  • Linkage from carburetor to the transmission is there, used for the “kick down” function when passing cars or need of acceleration 
  • Check for the F4 type transmission fluid, while the car is running 

I’ll research more as the time gets closer.