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1966 Ford Fairlane GTA

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  • 1966 Ford Fairlane GTA

    I'm taking a break in building a very large O'guage model railroad to build an Ertl 1:24 Ford Fairlane GTA. This was the car I owned from 1966 through 1968 when I was at Michigan State U. It was the car I owned when I got engaged to my wife (50 years in April).

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    There's a story about this car. While working at a manufacturing plant during Summer break, I was told about a 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe hot rod that was for sale at a local Hot Rod club. It wasn't quite done, but was drivable and very, very cool. I was in love with hot rods. We lived in Philadelphia which is about 700 miles from MSU. I took my then girlfriend to see the car, but she wasn't very happy with it. The car was severly channeled so the seats were almost on the floor. It wasn't conducive to getting into with a skirt (this WAS the mid-60s). My parents were also not very happy with it. I doubt that the car even had a heater (Michigan Winters..) and it had little to no luggage space. It wasn't a car to make the trip to and from E. Lansing to Philly 4 times a year. But I was very insistant.

    We were having dinner at my house and my future wife was there. My brilliant father opens a discussion with, "You know... you only have enough money in savings to a) buy the hot rod, or b) buy Michele an engagement ring." I was dumbstruck! What the heck! Michele was sitting right there and I hadn't even asked her to marry me yet. Needless to say I didn't buy that car. But my parents realized that my aging 1959 Olds 98 convertible had seen better days and needed replacing. They bought me a new 66 Ford Fairlane GTA which was significantly more expensive than the hot rod, but it did have a heater and a big trunk. It also had a 390 cu. in V8 putting out 335 Hp and could lay rubber as long as you had you foot on the throttle. It was very fast, didn't handle very well and eventually burned oil. We traded it in shortly after getting married, however what we replaced it with was awful and that's another story.
    Here was me, Michele and the car during a camping trip at Muskegon, MI on Memorial Day weekend 1966.
    We don't look much different today as we did then...

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    The car was sunshine yellow with a black interior. It was the first US car to have Firestone Wide-oval tires. It was the beginning of the low profile tire revolution that continues to this day.
    The engine is "Ford Blue". I mixed it up with Tamiya blue, white and a little green. The kit didn't include chrome valve covers so I painted them with Tamiya Bare Metal spray and then used AK Interactive real metal cream to brighten them up.

    The kit is a bit crude and I haven't built a car kit of any kind since the late 50s. I'm more used to the sophisticated models that are available today, but I'll make it work. I found some light yellow lacquer and wet-look clear at the Scale Reproductions today which is a close match to the car's light yellow. I will use Bare-metal foil where appropriate and will try to add some piping and wiring to the engine.

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    I put Micro-sol liquid mask on the areas of the engine that will receive other parts so there will be bare plastic glue areas for the remaining parts.
    The styrene doesn't seem to respond to the Tamiya solvent cement as quickly as I'm used to. I don't know if it's due to the age of the kit, or just the composition of the material.
    Stay tuned...

  • #2

    Very cool - and the car ain't bad, either!!!!

    I was driving a '62 Pontiac Catalina wagon (hand me down from my dad) until I left for boot camp. That car would really come in handy today (for carrying models, etc.).


    • #3
      GTA: Trials and Tribulations

      Well... thank you!

      Today was one of those days where you take 1 step forward and three back. I want to add ignition wiring and attempted to drill out the kit's styrene distributor cap. Not only did it not go as intended, I broke two tiny carbide drills in the process.

      So I attempted to machine one out of brass. I have very small brass capillary tubing that will serve as bushings for the wiring and I though (wrongly) that I could solder these bushing into the brass.

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      The machining went fine, but the layingo out and drilling the 0.032" holes for the bushings was a complete fiasco. Not only was my spacing all over the place, but I broke some more carbide drills and left a chunk in one of the holes.

      So I went to plan C which was to machine it out of aluminum.

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      Again, machining was not a problem and yet again, putting the holes into the cap was a nightmare. Besides the spacing problem reappearing, I also broke more carbide drills. While inexpensive, these things aren't free.

      Here are the three rejects. Picture was hard to get into focus.

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      Now I'm on Plan D which is creating another one out of Plastruct plastic pipes being machined to shape. Drilling will be much easier. If this doesn't work, I'm going to my LHS and buying an after-market distributor and wiring. I've alreay spent more than that on all those carbide drills.

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      ImageShack seems to work much better moving pictures.


      • #4
        Hope you don't mind me getting a little picky but since my blood is Ford blue I have noticed a few things. Starting in 1966 all Ford engines 390 and smaller had blue valve covers. The 1965 year was the last year the covers were different colors to denote engine type and size. In 1966 the only engine to have chrome covers was the 427-4V and 427-8V. Cast aluminum was used on the 427 SOHC-4V and 8V engines. Same in 1967 for those engines. Those covers were pent roof while all others were not. The oil fill tube in the front part of the intake manifold I believe was last used in 1963. Below is the 390 in my 1965 F100 which has the correct black block with gold pent roof valve covers. Oil bath air cleaner correct for 1965 trucks but the rebuilt engine was turned into a 390. Oil through oil breather. The next shot is a 410-4V in my 67 Park Lane which is simply a 390 with 428 crankshaft and standard OEM valve covers. This is how Ford engines looked starting in 1966.

        Horsepower close. The 390-4V was rated at 320bhp @4100 rpm in some applications in 1966.
        Attached Files
        Last edited by tbm3fan; 11 Nov 17,, 09:25.


        • #5
          GTA Valve Cover Discussion

          While your opinion is valid in most instances, in the case of the jazzed up 390 in the Fairlane GT/GTA, the valve covers were chrome as was the racing style air cleaner. Here's the picture that was on the side of the box. But I also remember my engine and the valve covers were chrome not blue. It also had a special Holley carb that was not a standard Ford item.

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          The engine specs for the GT/GTA was 335 hp.

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          And here's another picture of an engine that looks like it was in a Springtime Yellow GT like mine was.

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          So... I will stay with the decision to go with the chrome covers.

          I'm glad you're a detail hound. Even though you may have missed the mark this time, I'm sure I will run into some challenges where your help will be greatly needed.

          The picture shows positive crankcase ventilation. I'm not sure that was included in the car in 1966.

          The one problem I had with the car was valve float when under hard acceleration while in Drive. The shift points were too high and the valves would float before it shifted into second. It bent the push rods. Ford didn't believe me and was trying to deny the warranty claim accusing me of drag racing and manual shifting. While I argued that all of their advertising at the time was calling it the "Tiger Killer" directly referring to beating GTOs in a drag race, they weren't convinced until I took the tech out and had him accelerate the car in drive and he heard it with his own ears. They fixed the motor and adjusted the transmission.

          One of their ads showed the front of the GTA with a tiger's tail hanging out of the hood.

          I've got to tell ya... the Internet is a wonder! I went on Pinterest and found the ad I was talking about. I hadn't seen this since 1966 when I bought the car. It not only backs up the claim about "cooking GTOs", but the first line on the specs talks about chrome plating the rocker covers. Nuff said.

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          I think it's time for me to drop the mic.


          • #6
            After I posted that before bed I thought to myself "wait a minute" but computer was already off. There was the GT/GTA option in the years 1966-68 and one of my Cougar Club members has a 68 390GT. The GT option is what got you the chrome air cleaner and valve covers. The difference between the 390-4V and 390-4V GT engine is that the GT has the cam from the 428. Air cleaner was open element in 1966 but closed in 1967 and 1968 which meant the lid was chrome only. All Ford engines did use a pcv valve by 1966 and on the 390 it was attached to a metal tube rather than going directly to the back of the carb spacer block. Now what I meant about the oil fill tube on the front of the intake manifold it was last used in 1963. After that oil was put in via the oil breather on the left valve cover. Your engine picture and this car, in the video, are correct and show all that.

            Last edited by tbm3fan; 12 Nov 17,, 19:59.


            • #7
              That's a great video! Thanks for posting it. It showed beautiful interior details which I'm going to try and reproduce. I'm also going to add the PCV plumbing. The distributor wiring is annoying since the cables come out at 90 degrees. That will be tougher to model. My GTA had hubcaps, not the chrome wheels. I'm now suspecting the that the valve float problem could also stem from the higher lift cam competing with too-weak valve springs (possibly). It did 0-60 in the sixes. I have an Acura TL-S type with a 3.5 liter V6 with 285 hp that probably exceeds that and gets 25 mpg. In fact, my 303 hp direct-injected V6 in our Buick LaCrosse exceeds the acceleration of that big V8 powered 60s "muscle car". Engines have sure come a long, long way since the mid-60s.


              • #8
                There may have been another issue with the engine as the 390-4V Gt engine has the same camshaft and valve train as the 428 Cobra Jet. Lift was .481 on the intake and .490 on the exhaust. That isn't too extreme for an FE engine as the camshaft I am putting into my 302-4V Cougar has lift of .470 and it is a small block.

                Also another detail and that is the oil filter. From the factory the car would have a Rotunda FL-1A filter that could either be red or gold.


                • #9
                  That's an easy change to make. While I'm so "Car-focused" just for fun I put together a spread sheet (with pictures) of every car I've ever purchased. There were 23 on the list. Some of them I had my own pictures, but for others I found excellent pictures on Google, even down to the same color schemes.

                  BTW: How's the plane restoration going?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Builder 2010 View Post

                    BTW: How's the plane restoration going?
                    Which one?


                    • #11
                      GTA: Getting a Good Distributor

                      The TBM of course...

                      You are the guy that was rebuilding a real one... right?

                      After looking at the web for pre-made distributors I found that none of them solved my problem, but I did see a Detail Associates distributor kit that had separate top plates with 6 or 8 cylinder arrangements which made me realize that I too can make a separate top plate and if so, can lay it out better than trying to drill into the machined distributor itself.

                      So... I laid out a plan on Adobe Illustrator an 8-cylinder arrangement on a 3/16 circle which is the smallest size of gasket punch to make a nice round disc.

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                      I made six copies considering how many I'd screw up. I spray glued the paper and glued it to some 0.020" sytrene and then used a sharp end of a divider to prick punch the cross points on the drawing. My first attempt had the marks on the a layout circle that was a bit too close to the outside edge so I then punched inwards to the tips of the layout lines and this proved okay.
                      I drilled them with a 0.021" drill and then followed up with a 0.026" drill which is close to the size of the micro-tubing that's going in the holes to provide a raisded tubular surface for the wires. In looking a pictures of this engine, the spark plug wires come off at 90.

                      You can see the three that I drilled produced one really good array which is the one that I ended up using.

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                      Actually the first one that I attempted was on a piece of thin ABS. After gluing the disc to the Plastruct tubing and attempting to turn it on the lathe, the glue didn't hold and the disc disappeared into the quantum rift.

                      I then decided to use the styrene. The Plastruct tubing isn't styrene. It's butyrate and therefore, doesn't respond totally well to the ABS or styrene. It seems to bond, but then it doesn't. So this time I CA'd the disc to the butyrate. I then made the distributor. It wasn't easy since I had a collett that could hold the larger diameter (1/4") tubing, but when I turned it around to turn the small shaft that would mate to the engine, I had to improvise by using part of pin vise held in the lathe's three-jaw chuck. This worked marginally, but good enough to get close. After I machined it as far as I could go, I measured the shaft, found a drill that gave me a hole that size and drilled out the mounting hole in the intake manifold to fit the distributor. The results were good. I'm now going to machine a tiny natural aluminum vacuum advance diaphram to simulate this part with real metal so it will look spiffy. All in all this little distributor project has taken a lot of time and I'm not done yet.

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                      I then turned back to railroad work since the brass I needed to complete a 10ft long model chain link fence to surround part of the refinery project I'm building. I'll be working on the GTA interspersed with building the refinery.


                      • #12
                        Actually no work on the TBM except oiling up the engine and manually turning it over. The only other thing dealing with it is trying to determine which TBM we have. When Charles Jensen died in 1977 he had three of these planes. They were Bu 69375, 85560 and 86123. Web sites say we have 69375 as does our information board. I say that is wrong. Bu 69459 was also N8397H and my tracing says that was sold to a UK interest long ago. Bu 85560 is also N6830C while Bu 86123 is N6831C. Sites say Bu 85560 was last at Western Aerospace in 1994. They also say Bu 86123 is a the Mid-America Air Museum in Kansas. I talked with Mid-America and their plane has no Bu plate on the tail just like ours. I think the Jensen estate mixed the planes up when sold. Web sites say that I would be wrong about the plane we have but then I have a picture which looks pretty definitive to me which is why I say we have the plane with the Civilian number seen in my picture. Somewhere paper work is mixed up.
                        Attached Files


                        • #13
                          GTA: Finishing the Distributor

                          So... how many people own that TBM?... you used "we" when describing the work. It must be frustrating when you want to build and airplane and have to spend your time doing research on it's true identity.

                          Back on the GTA. I cut tiny pieces of 1/32" thin wall tubing and installed them in the new distributor. It looks a bit ragged since the heights of each is not uniform. I was not particularly careful when drilling the holes regarding their depth and really didn't cut all those pieces of tubing the same lenght either. But when painted, you can see any of this variation. To cut the tubing I used a sharp #11 and roll the tube on a piece of reversed masking tape to keep the little buggers from going to the quantum rift.

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                          I also added tubing in the tip of the ignition coil. I had to remove the tapered portion of the plastic part to give me a good surface to drill. I then added the taper back using medium CA with accelerator filling the profile back. I also drilled out the tiny sparkplug tips and added tubes there to receive the spark plug wires.

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                          I added the exhaust manifolds, the carb and did touch up painting. I painted the ignition stuff gloss black. For the carb, I first painted it flat aluminum and then overcoated with Tamiya clear yellow.

                          I needed to machine a vacuum advance diaphram and did it on the lathe, I now realize that I forgot to add the pipe input to its face and will add that with a small NBW casting.

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                          Here's the engine just about ready to receive wiring and plumbing.

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                          I'll be working on the railroad tomorrow, and then will have paint drying and be back on the GTA.


                          • #14
                            GTA: Finishing the Engine

                            Just about got the engine finished today. First I CA'd a resin hex nut to the vacuum advacnce diaphram and then piped it to the base of the carb using some 0.010" brass wire that came from the fancy cork netting on a couple bottles of Spanish Rioja wine. Besides getting this very nice fine gauge brass, wine bottles are also a great source of foil that can be used for lots of detail scratch-build parts. I ultimately painted this aluminum.

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                            The NBWs are from True Details and you can see the resin block to the left.

                            Next I used some 0.021" brass wire for the PVC pipe from the right valve cover to the intake manifold. This pipe was painted engine blue.

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                            And then it was time to put in the ignition wiring. First I was going to use some very fine gauge stranded copper that was an interesting yellow color. This was salvaged from an old printer that my grandson took apart. But it was a little too fat so I substituted 0.016" black iron wire. The iron wire holds its position well. I bent the ends going into the distributor cap 90 degrees since the prototype's wiring comes out this way. I use CA to hold them into place. I have no idea what firing order I created, I just alternated the leads coming out going to one cylinder bank and then the other.

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                            I painted all the ends and tubes Tamiya Rubber Black so it looked like the rubber boots on the wires.

                            I added the rest of the details (oil breather cap, air cleaner, belts set with alternator and fan).

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                            The air cleaner got a detail telling us that this is a 390 cu. in. V8. These are old style decals with large extended clear film areas. It means you have to trim them very close, but then there's nothing to grab hold of with the tweezers. I used Micro-set solution to soften the inner clear film so it snugged down inside the air cleaner's depression.

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                            I realize you can go further than this on engine details. There's wiring to the starter motor (not seeable), alternator wiring to and from the voltage regulator (which I don't think is included in the kit), brake lines (car had a simple, non-power brake cylinder which doesn't appear to have anti-lock brakes which weren't available in 1966) and full lines from tank to fuel pump to carb. I may add that since the fuel pump is on the engine.

                            I have some great images of the interior which should be fun to do. This is the first car kit that I have completed in about 53 years. I did run "Grandpop's Scale Model Clinic" at a community center and some of the middle-schoolers were building cars. That was a fun thing to do that was inspired by my older grandson. I ran two consecutive sessions.


                            • #15
                              Sunday Session: Painting the Chassis

                              Thanks fellas!

                              I finished up the refinery project on the model railroad. It was an 8-month endeavor that came out better than I expected.

                              You can see it all on my other post.

                              So today (rare Sunday session) I got back to working on the GTA. First I painted the aircleaner element white. I may add a dark was in the folds to give it more definition. I'm pretty much done with the engine and got to work again on the chassis.

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                              I wanted to drill out the exhaust pipe ends starting with small one and going to the final size, but it didn't work as planned. The Ertl plastic is brittle and the wall broke out when I tried to open up the hole. First I tried to repair using CA and re-drilling, but it broke out again. So I went to plan B; making new ends out of brass tubing CA'd to the existing pipe.

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                              Thinner walled brass tubing would even work better, but I didn't have any.

                              I glued the shocks into the chassis and then the leaf springs. I glued the rear together, sanded the very obvious seams after it dried, and then test fit it into the springs. The instructions show putting in the exhaust system before the springs and rear go in, but I wanted to air brush all the gloss black at one go and I wanted to paint the exhaust a different color. The exhauset could be put in, but it took a lot of bending and I think it would mess up the paint. So... I'm leaving out the drive shaft and rear until after the exhaust is in, but painting all the rest of chassis.

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                              The exhaust pipes were also painted gloss black in preparation to receive various metallic shades and a gloss black base coat is usually recommended.

                              I also sprayed the engine compartment and radiator plate with gloss black. Engine's not glued, just sitting there looking pretty.

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                              Tomorrow I'll finish painting the exhaust and install it, then put in the rear, install the engine and drive shaft and fasten in the radiator. I've decided I'm not going to add any more wiring except battery cables to the voltage regulator.
                              Last edited by Builder 2010; 04 Dec 17,, 01:26.