I spent a humongous amount of time on the windshield wipers. My biggest fear was that they would bind. First let me back track. I am using wipers from Specialty Power Windows. It is a nice system. The motor operates a flexible rod that moves inside of a tube. The rod is connected to the wiper gizmos, which are mounted under the header panel. (Pardon the highly technical terms.) The instructions say to use a radius of not less than 3 inches when bending the tube. I am sure I had to use a radius much tighter than that to get the system installed. First the good news: they worked fine! No binding! Now the bad news... They were wired to use the controls on the Ford steering column, which were wired to the Mustang wiper control module, a black box. The intermittent part did not work. I was expecting that. The low and high worked, but... The instructions say that the park wire had to be zero volts when the wipers were on high or the motor would be damaged. The park wire was 12 volts all of the time. I had everything out and apart at least 3 times. I measured the voltage on every wire for every setting, even the extra wire that I had no idea what to do with. Then I hit on the idea of using a relay to turn off the park wire when the high wire was hot. I taught myself how relays work and figured out how to do it on the work bench using a 12 volt battery and light bulbs. When the "high" wire got hot and the bulb turned on, the "park" wire shut off and the bulb went out. Perfect! Except it didn't work when I hooked the relay up with the wiper system. I suppose there is voltage feedback through the motor or something that is much more complicated than using bulbs.

So... I ordered a dash-mounted wiper switch from Ron Francis Wiring. It was advertised as a switch that would work with the Specialty wipers. It arrived very quickly. The first problem was where to put the switch since I designed the dash layout without one, and there was limited room to mount a 2-inch square box behind the dash. I found a spot, not the most aesthetic spot, but a place where it would fit. I drilled a hole and mounted it. Then I wired it and tested it. It worked great! I even have intermittent wipers now! Another problem solved!

The next big thing, after I eventually get the doors on, will be the bed. The bed parts, rear fenders, and running boards were repaired and painted with epoxy primer and then high build primer. They have been comfortably resting in the garage and various out buildings, wherever I had room to stash them. After my experience with chipping paint when assembling painted parts, I decided that the best course of action would be to do all the prep work up to the point of final paint, assemble the bed, and then paint it. See, I am learning from experience! I have begun wet sanding the high build primer on the bed parts. I really hate sanding. The primer is pretty rough so it is taking a lot of work and a lot of time to get it smooth. I really hate sanding. I am using my usual final sanding process -- sand through high build primer, sand through epoxy primer, expose bare metal, reprime with epoxy primer, reprime with high build primer, repeat cycle. Did I mention how much I hate sanding?

I have been spending a lot of my "garage time" on my 91 Tracker convertible. It is a fun little car -- 4 wheel drive and 30 mpg! The clutch went. It took a full day and a half to get the transmission off the engine. I don't know what was holding the bugger on, but it finally just popped off. About 15 minutes to change the clutch and throw-out bearing. Then another full day and a half to get the transmission back on the engine. I don't know why it would not go back on, but it finally slid right on. I bolted the cross member back on, hooked up the driveshafts, and drove it out of the garage with no exhaust system, which had to be removed to get the transmission out. By this time it was well after midnight and I had promised my wife the Tracker would be out of her side of the garage and her Jeep back in that night. One of the advantages of living in the woods -- you can run your car without an exhaust system at 1 AM and nobody notices or cares. I pulled it to the end of the driveway, the clutch went to the floor and stayed there, and the engine died. So, I have been working on it outside when (1) it is daylight, (2) it isn't snowing or freezing rain, (3) it isn't covered or surrounded by snow, and (4) when the temperature is above 40 and the wind isn't howling. Needless to say it has been up on blocks in my driveway for a long time. Maybe I'll move to Arizona....
MARCH - APRIL 2008    

I dug out the door latching/locking mechanism for the passenger side door and cleaned and lubricated it. I also dug out a reproduction outside handle that I had purchased some time ago and the original inside door handle, which I cleaned up on the buffer. I bought the "Door Lock Assembly Mounting kit (P/N R-602) from Roy Nacewicz. Only $4.95 and I have brand new right size screws with the cup washers! Can't beat it! I also replaced the striker and the striker plate and the other parts that attach to the door frame. The door closes nice and solid and the mechanism is tight and works very well. No door handle sag either. I also purchased a reproduction door lock. NOTE: Buy the "original" lock not the "replacement" lock. The "original" lock has the stem that wiggles, just like the original. The "replacement" lock has a rigid stem and will not fit, even when cut to the correct length. Lets not discuss how I learned this.


You are probably saying, "OK. Time for a problem to crop up." You will, of course, not be disappointed. If you are not familiar as to how to lock your old Ford truck, it works this way... There is only one outside lock, and it is on the passenger door. You lock the drivers door from the inside, slide across the seat, and lock the door from the outside using the key. To get back in, you unlock the passenger door and slide across the seat. Its a safety feature I am told. More like a pain in the A$$. The obvious solution is power door locks with remote keyless entry. It should not be that hard to hook up. The problem arises because I want to retain the outside key lock. In case of a dead battery or some other electrical disaster, I can unlock the truck with the key and get in to pop the hood. Unfortunately, the inside door handle locking mechanism is separate from the key locking mechanism, and they operate in different directions. The inside door handle uses a horizontal motion to lock the door. The key has a separate mechanism that uses a vertical motion to lock the door. After spending way too much time fooling around with the lock, I decided that I would forgo the key lock and make the inside door handle locking mechanism the one that would be the power door lock. My wife has had cars with remote entry power door locks for 18 years and never had to use the key because of a battery failure.

I finally figured out why my truck isn't finished yet. It appears that I am 10 years into a 5 year project!

MAY - JULY 2007    

My goal for the summer -- or at least before the snow comes-- is to assemble and paint the bed and rear fenders. I can work on the doors and windows in the cold weather, but I can't paint in the cold.

The first step was to assemble the bed subframe. It was held together with rivits. I bought some rivits and tried my hand at riviting. There are lots of things I can't do. I can't sing, I can't dance, and I can't rivit. Actually, I got two rivits into the subframe without making that much of a mess of them. The rest of the subframe is bolted together.

The subframe rests on a wood pieces at the front and back ends. I have two of the back ends -- one from the 38 and one from the 39 -- but no front piece. The originals were minimally rotted, but I decided to duplicate it in pressure treated wood. I then figgured out what size the front piece should be and made one out of pressure treated wood as well.

The bedsides and front were originally rivited together and to the subframe, but that wasn't going to happen, so I bought some 1/4 inch stainelss truss machine screws and assembled everything with those. It didn't look too bad. I learned my lesson on fitting painted pieces -- DON'T! It is so much easier to fix chips and scratches in primer than in the finish paint!





My goal was to finish painting by the time the cold weather came! Mission Accomplished! The bed is painted and bolted to the chassis. The rear fenders, running boards, tailgate, and filler strips also are painted and are awaiting assembly.

All of these pieces were shot with high-build primer and left waiting. They were not in quite as good shape as I remembered. It took a LOT of sanding and some very minor bondo work to get them ready to paint.

It is a strange, but good feeling to know that there isn't any painting left to do. I guess I shouldn't say they isn't any. I still need to the re-paint the windshield frame after I get it to fit, and there are some interior trim metal pieces hanging around somewhere. But, she's lookin' good for right now.


This is the first time I have to say that I did not work on my truck. I have a legitimate excuse...

The story begins one morning in early November. It was a normal morning. I got up, took a shower, ate breakfast, drank too much coffee, dropped my son off at this bus stop, and drove to work. My goal that day was to print out nine copies of a report in black and white, sandwich in the 90 color illustrations into each report where they belonged, and Fedex everything out that day. I got to work, got some coffee, and started right in. After a couple of hours I was feeling lousy. After a couple more hours, I was feeling really, really sick. I could tell I had a fever by the way I felt. I stayed until the job was done, and there was a pile of big envelopes at the door for the FedEx guy to pick up. Then I went home. I barely made it.

As soon as I got home, I crawled into bed. First I was freezing with my teeth chattering under three quilts (with a heating pad!). A few hours later, I was on top of the quilts sweating profusely. Then a few hours later back under the quilts shivering. I had a fever and the mother of all headaches. I could not eat and could not sleep. I felt like my brain turned to mush. Now, being a typical male, I do not go to the doctor unless I am on my deathbed. After 5 days of this, I was convinced I was dying, so I called the doctor. My wife drove me there. I could barely sit up in the car, let alone drive one.

The doctor said it was hard to tell what was wrong with me without some blood work. My wife drove me across the street to the hospital, where they removed several vials of blood from my arm. Then I went home and went back to bed. The results of the tests were back in a few hours. My doctor called and told me to get to the emergency room. When I got to the emergency room, the folks there took one look at the results of my blood tests and freaked out. They immediately admitted me to the hospital, put together a team of specialists, and scheduled a battery of tests. I have to thank my friend Donna who is an emergency room nurse coincidentally on duty that afternoon. She took really good care of me and made sure I got the red carpet treatment. Thanks, Donna!

Did you ever see the TV show "House"? In case you haven't, it is about a team of doctors led by Dr. House. They get all the cases that no one else can diagnose. Well, I felt like a guest star on House--the patient. I had a team of specialists working on me. They CAT scanned my whole body. I was X-rayed, ultrasounded, poke, prodded, and swabbed. That wire they stuck up my nose was especially painful. They took more blood samples than I care to think about, sometimes eight vials at a time. I had not eaten for 5 days, so they put me on a liquid diet.

After a few days of testing, I wanted out of there. I must say that everyone at the hospital was very nice and super attentive. I have no complaints about that. I really hated being attached to an IV 24/7. It was a pain to drag that thing around. My brain was mush. I could not read anything, so I watched a lot of TV. Normally I watch zero TV. After a few days, I was well enough to get out of bed and sit in a chair. I convinced them to discharge me, even though I could barely stand up. All of the tests had come back negative, but my platelet count had risen to the point where the possibly of me bleeding to death from a small cut was minimal.

$32,000 worth of hospitalization and medical testing did not reveal why I was sick. The best they could come up with was that it probably was a virus.

A week later I had a relapse and went to see my doctor again. She was convinced that it was a tick-borne illness, and sent me across the street to the hospital for more tests. Two types of Lyme tests had come back negative at the hospital, but there are a lot of other tick-borne illnesses. She also put me on a month-long regimen antibiotics. All of the tests came back negative (of course).

When I went for a follow-up with the hospital infectious disease specialist, I asked him to have some tests re-run. One of them came back positive. I had babesiosis. The symptoms mimic malaria. It is very rare in humans, and more common in animals. It is a blood parasite that attacks red blood cells -- caused by the bite of an infected deer tick. Deer ticks are very tiny. If one bit me, I did not know it. I spend a considerable amount of time outdoors both for work and for fun, so a tick bite is certainly possible.

It took 2 months my brain to start working and for me to feel normal again. However, my wife keeps telling me I still am not normal. I am not sure how to take that. I am back to work (I missed about 6 or 7 weeks of work). If you are interested, you can check out babesiosis at