Every car build should have a plan. Actually there is a plan, you're building a Better Beater, Right? There are several ways to go with old cars. One would be the full resto. Not a bad way to go if you've got a place to keep the car out of the way for the several years and the patience to stay with it. Ultimately you will probably invest more money than you can ever recover. Another route is the full on tricked out show worthy car. I think a lot of us dream of having a car like that if only we could come up with the dough. This will also result in a hefty investment that may never be recovered. An attainable goal is the driver.
I like working on cars. Turning wrenches can be therapeutic and relaxing when things are going according to plan. Thinking about and planning repairs can be challenging. How many times have you consulted a repair manual and seen one fuzzy picture, with a caption" remove A,B, then C. Carefully remove item from vehicle." Then "assembly is reverse of disassembly" ?
After rebuilding the brake system on my Mustang I started driving it around the neighborhood as shake down runs. This was the longest period of time I had driven it in one session. ( about 40 min,) I stopped at the gas station and noticed water dripping from under the dash. The heater core was leaking. I wasn't surprised. Usually the heater hoses will be rerouted to bypass the heater, mine were still connected. No problem, I was less than a mile from home. I twisted the key and nothing. The car wouldn't start. No problem. I pushed it away from the pumps to check under the hood. I looked under the hood and noticed that one hose fitting on the water pump was leaking also. I jiggled a little and it snapped off spraying water in my face, luckily not too hot. I borrowed a screwdriver and an emergency car jumper from the station attendant and got it started up and drove it home.
After the replacement heater core arrived from Rock Auto I decided I should replace the core while most of the dashboard was already dissasembled. I knew that it would come out from under the dash, the glove box assembly and dash pad were already removed. I consulted my multi year "Classic Mustang" repair manual and saw the vague directions I referred to earlier. I removed the control cables, the wiring the ducting, the hoses, and some nuts from studs protruding through the firewall. I missed one nut but knew better than to force anything, I've been through the "hidden nut/screw" scenario many times in the past. After I pulled the heater box loose, I couldn't find a way to get it out from under the dash. Next step, check the Internet. Sure enough I found a video dealing with heater box removal in a 70 Cougar, close enough. Sure enough, as I suspected I would have to either remove or loosen the lower dash structure to gain the necessary clearance. I discovered that the blower fan motor cannot be removed with out removing the entire heater box. God Bless Ford, saving a nickle on initial assembly. Costing multiple headaches in the future. Ive had GM cars of this era that had the blower mounted from the motor side of the firewall. Manufacturing economies. To be fair I'm sure that nobody at Ford ever dreamed that there would be 50 year old Mustangs be collected and driven.
I had considered changing the blower motor also. The motor was working when I connected the switch before I dissassembled everything and I checked it outside the unit. It was quiet and smooth so I figured the bearings were still in good condition. The local auto parts store had a Chinese replacement for around 20 bucks but it was for the motor alone. At home I had loosened the set screw on the squirrel cage fan and it wouldn't budge. I did a little exploratory prying and decided that removal might damage the fan and I didn't want chance it. If I damaged the fan I would have to wait until a replacement arrived. I wanted to finish this job and put the unit back together Today.
You could say this was false economy. What I was trying to save wasn't money, it was time. I didn't want my car so dissasembled for so long. Sure I could have bypassed the heater and it wouldn't really have hurt the driveability. But I remembered one of my old 66 Buick Rivieras that had no heater and was a daily driver. I left for work at 5:00 in the morning and in the winter it was a lot of work to keep the windshield clear in the morning. So I wanted the heater to work. I figured the cheap Chinese replacement fan motor might not last any longer than the currently working original. Time will tell.