Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cougar Safety Item To Do Checklist

After I installed the backup lights (see previous post) Mary came home from the Strange Folk Festival. Right about then Elsie got up from her nap and we all went to dinner. After dinner I made a pit stop at Auto Zone to get some amber bulbs for the front parking lights on the Cougar (PN 1157A).  The store was out of the normal packages of two bulbs, but the clerk ended up selling me a box of 10 for commercial accounts for $1 more than I would have spent if I bought two.  His reasoning was that it was better to make a sale rather than none at all. NICE! Now I have some in reserve for my emergency kit.

After we put Elsie to bed I installed the light bulbs for the parking lights. This was easier said than done. The parking light housings are a little worn and I needed to spray some WD-40 to get them moving again. I finally got both of the lights in after much pushing and twisting and a few choice obscenities. Unlike the backup light project this bulb replacement yielded great results!  Both of the bulbs worked as they should. When I pulled the switch on the dash out partially the parking lights came on. When I pulled the switch out all the way the parking lights went off. Good so far.  Then I tested the turn signals. Both bulbs also blinked when I turned the turn signal switch left and right. This is an exciting development because now the other drivers in front of me will know when I am turning left and right again!  Sometimes little victories are just as sweet as the big victories.

Along with my thoughts about the emergency kit is to focus on the safety features of the Cougar rather than aesthetics first. This would include getting all the lights to function as they should, making sure that I can change a tire if the need should arise, and make the windshield wiper system function as it should.  A secondary issue with the ride and steer ability.  The shocks that I bought a while back need to be installed and a front and rear sway bar should help in controlling the car through corners.

Parts Needed
Replace driver side exterior mirror - $124.95 (Mustangs Unlimited) - $122.85 (WCCC)
Replace tinted windshield - $199.95 (Mustangs Unlimited)
Replace turn signal switch in steering column - $79.95 (Mustangs Unlimited) $84.75 (WCCC)
Replace windshield wiper blades - $9.95 each (Mustangs Unlimited) $17.00 each (WCCC)
Replace front sway bar - $99.00 (Mustang Corral)

Replace scissors jack - $135.00 (WCCC)
Replace lug wrench - $ ?
Replace spare tire -
Install Door Jamb courtesy light switch passenger side door - $4.85 (WCCC)
Install windshield wiper motor - $104.96 (Mustangs Unlimited)
Install windshield wiper reservoir - $34.95 (Mustangs Unlimited) $23.85 (WCCC)
Install windshield wiper lines - $5.95 (Mustangs Unlimited) $6.85 (WCCC)
Install taillight wiring protectors - $29.95/pair (Mustangs Unlimited) $23.85 (WCCC)
Install fan shroud - $49.95 (Mustangs Unlimited) $48.85 (WCCC)
Install horn - $99.00 (Year One) - $27.85 (WCCC)
Install Battery Hold-down Clamp Kit - $11.00 (WCCC)
Install radiator overflow - $ ?
Install rear sway bar - $99.00 (Mustang Corral)

To Do:
Install KYB gas shocks - previously purchased
Aim headlights - no cost
Flush radiator

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New Back Up Lights

This is the classic tale of going to buy something cheap and ending up spending more than you planned. Today, I stopped by the Mustang Corral in Edwardsville between events. I was going there to buy two 1142 bulbs for the Cougar's backup lights. While I was there I thought about the condition of the current back up light housings that were on the car (pitted) and wondered if there was something wrong with the connections rather than just the bulbs.  I asked if they had the backup light housings in stock and they did so I decided to buy those too for $39.99/each.

After I left the Mustang Corral, I went to my parent's house to pick up Elsie and then to O'Fallon to the Strange Folk Festival where Mary was selling some items with a couple of friends, Tasha and Elizabeth who had a booth. Here's a link to their craftylicious items: Tasha and Elizabeth.  Not long after I arrived the storm clouds were brewing and we hurried up and put up tarps around the tent and braced for the rain. We stayed dry (thanks Beth for the Girl Scout level of preparedness was appreciated) and after the rain let up I scooped up Elsie and headed for my waterlogged Cougar.  Not knowing exactly what to expect, the interior stayed surprisingly dry and I was pleasantly surprised with the way the car performed in the rain. I kept my distance from the other cars and I think I only spun the tires once after starting from a red light. The windshield wipers don't always wipe exactly parallel all the time, but they worked well enough to get me home.

After I got back home from the festival I put Elsie down for a much needed nap and I went outside to wipe the rain off the car.  While I was outside I thought I would jack up the car and look to see how they are attached. The back up lights are only attached by two screws built into the housing that push through the lower rear valance and are attached by a washer, lock washer and small nut. The lights are connected to the electrical system with a plug so there is no wiring involved in the disassembly or assembly.

Both of the of the backup light housings came out very easily.  A problem came up when I was checking the fit of the new parts where the old ones had been. When I went to reinstall the new back up light housings I had to reuse the existing rubber body seals instead of the new ones that I purchased.  These body seals sit between the chrome plated housing and the painted valance below the rear bumper to keep from scratching the paint and keep water out and prohibit rust around the hole in the valance. The original rubber seals are oval shaped, but the new seals are more circular and did not fit easily.  I would have had to cut the new ones to fit and I did not want to do that. If they still didn't fit then I could not return them. So with the housings reinstalled, I inserted the light bulbs, reattached the clear plastic lenses  and plugged the wires into the electrical system.

Now it was time to test out the new lights.  I got in the car and turned the key to the on position, but did not start the car. I pulled the gear shift into reverse and got out to check the lights.


Grrrr! I didn't have much time to diagnose because Mary had called after I got the first one reinstalled and said she was on her way home.  However, it could be a fuse or it could be a connection at the transmission or  something hidden in the wiring.

This was a frustrating ending to a seemingly simple project, but hopefully it is easy to remedy the problem.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What to do in an emergency?

A couple of days ago I was driving in my daily driver 2001 Honda Accord.  Per my previous post here you may remember I had just had some work done to it at the dealer last Friday. I was driving and I had Elsie in the car travelling to the babysitter's when I noticed a noise in the front end of the vehicle. Initially I thought this was a road noise due to the pavement, but then I noticed that the noise increased when I let off the accelerator and diminished when I accelerated.  Finally, I decided to pull over and check this out.  Instictively I opened the trunk and went for my lug wrench and I'm glad that I did.  I checked the lug nuts on both front tires and three lug nuts were very loose and I could move them easily with my fingers. However, all of the lugnuts on both tires were loose to some degree. I proceeded to tighten all of the lugnuts on the front wheels and checked the back wheels and continued on about my route. 

During the day I thought how lucky I was that I had not lost any of the lugnuts before I tightened them up! After work I filled up on gas and checked the lugnuts again on the front tires and snugged them up.  Now to drive the 35 miles home.

This experience got me to thinking about having an emergency kit for the Cougar. An emergency kit can be an essential tool for any vehicle including a classic car. Whether you're taking a relaxed trip to the country or a longer trip to a classic car show, it is always best to be prepared ahead of time. If you have the right stuff in your auto emergency kit it could often mean less time stranded and more time on the road and having fun.

Having driven old cars while I was in high school I understand that sometimes you're going to have an unexpected problem.  I have an extra tool box that I won a couple of years ago that I could use. So I began wondering what should the emergency kit include?

  • Your classic car insurance company details.
  • Tools for minor car repairs including flat head and Phillips screwdrivers, vice grips, adjustable wrench, pliers, pocketknife, or a multipurpose tool containing many tools in one. Other items that can come in handy during a roadside emergency include oil, antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, rags or paper towels, duct tape, and an ice scraper.
  • A spare tire, vehicle jack, tire pressure gauge, and lug wrench. Another handy item to have available is a bottled tire inflator. If the tire is not completely flat, you may be able to inflate the tire enough to get to a service station.
  • Jumper cables
  • First aid kit containing basics gauze, bandages, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, scissors, instant ice pack, instant heat compress, and aspirin or other pain reliever.
  • A blanket.
  • A bottle of water.
  • Food such as Granola or energy bars.
  • A flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Emergency flares.
  • Pen and paper.
  • A help sign to place in the window for passing vehicles to see in case you are stranded inside your classic car.
  • Replacement light bulbs - 1157, 1142, 1157A, etc.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rain Out

On Saturday, my wife, daughter, and I made our monthly visit to the Belleville Flea Market. The weather was nice and we enjoyed walking around the booths outside and inside. Mary found a couple of old tablecloths and we bought some coffee for her dad.  I found the one seller that I like who has old paper related ephemera for sale: magazines,advertisements, books, road maps, etc.  Since I received a copy of the October 1966 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine when I bought the 1967 Cougar (see story here) I have wanted to see the other similar issues from the 1960's. As I posted before here, this issue was the yearly new car issue put out by the magazine that gave details about the new cars coming out that fall. So, I decided that each time we are at the flea market I would look for more of these issues from other years. I have also found that Popular Science also put out a similar issue each October to compete with Popular Mechanics.

This time I found the following issues for $1 each:

Popular Science - October 1966

Popular Mechanics - October 1967

Also, I couldn't pass up this issue with the rear engine dragster on the cover that posed the question: Are Drag Racers Really Crazy?

Popular Science - December 1963

About 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon I started to clean up the Cougar for the car show at Culver's in Collinsville.  I washed the car, vacuumed the interior, cleaned the windows and treated the tires. We loaded up about 5:30 p.m. and headed out.  I was going to park in the grass like I did the last time, but my dad had saved us a spot next to his car.  We hadn't eaten dinner yet so we went inside to have some dinner with my mom in tow and my dad stayed out by the cars.  We ate and had some ice cream and headed back outside.  When we walked outside we could feel that there was a slight mist falling.  We got back to where the cars were parked and I decided that if I was going to see anything that I better start walking around now because most guys would start leaving soon. My hunch was right.  The rain kept falling and the cars started leaving.  Some cars were ones that I see quite often because these are the guys that are in my dad's car club, including a 1969 Mercury Cougar Eliminator owned by the current President of the club. However, I find it interesting that each time I go to one of these shows I see some cars I've never seen before.  This time there were not one, but two DeTamaso Panteras at this show!  I also saw a couple of cool rat rod trucks and a 1954 or 1955 Oldsmobile with a very early 60's style gold and white paint job.  There was a very original looking 1930 Ford Model A sedan and there are always quite a few Mopars in attendance.  One couple made a brochure for 1968 Plymouth Barracuda which I thought was a good idea.  I think I might do one for the Cougar one of these days. When I have time...

When I got back to the cars my daughter was having a good time trying to hold the umbrella that my parents got out. We waited it out another few minutes and decided that it was time to go.  It was raining and it was getting dark. There will be another time as there are no make up dates for car shows.

Friday, September 18, 2009

With The Accord In The Shop, I'm Driving The Cougar To Work

I drove the Cougar to work again today.

My daily driver, a 2001 Honda Accord Coupe with over 180,500 miles, is at the dealer today for an air bag recall and an oil change.  That car also needs a run channel for the driver's side window and the timing belt, but those bigger ticket items (read: expensive) will have to wait.

When I left the house this morning about 6:30 a.m., the temperature was only about 55 degrees outside.  I dropped off Elsie at my in-laws house and headed out to work. I made a beeline for the gas station after that. Since the gas gauge is not working I had no idea how much I had left and knew I had driven enough that the tank had to be low.  As I was filling up a guy pulled up in a truck from utility company and just said, "Nice!" I replied with a "thank you" and he went on about his day.  That always makes you feel good...

After 11.9 gallons of gas and nearly $30 later I was on my way again. Once I got up to speed on the Interstate I realized what Mary was talking about the other night when we got some ice cream.  The fresh air blowing into the cabin through the hole under the passenger side dash was cold!  Brrrr!  This is where the heater assembly was removed by a previous owner for some unknown reason. I realized right then and there that this issue would need to be rectified before I took this car on any kind of long road trip.

The Cougar made it to work without incident. The Honda dealer called me about 10:15 a.m. to advise that my car was ready. The recall, oil change, and emblem were only going to cost me about $50. Nice!

Tomorrow, I am going to try to go to the show at Culver's in Collinsville hosted by the Lakers Car Club. I need to give the Cougar a bath and get it ready to go.  I don't think that I will be able to make the Ford show over in Crestwood, but maybe can drive by at some point.

SEPTEMBER 19th ~ SATURDAY ~ CULVER'S BUTTERBURGERS & FROZEN CUSTARD RESTAURANT CAR CRUISE ~ 6pm till 9pm, on the 3rd SATURDAY of each month, MAY thru OCTOBER ~ hosted by The LAKER'S CAR CLUB ~ Dash Plaques 1st 100 participants ~ Invite your Friends and Family ~ 50's 60's D.J Music ~ 50/50 Drawing ~ Attendance Prizes ~ info: (618) 344-8780 ~ Exit #11 from I-55/70 and then North on Hwy 157 (North Bluff Rd) to 100 United Drive, 3 blocks on left ~ Our next Cruise will be our Halloween Party Cruise! ~ COLLINSVILLE, IL

SEP 19 SAT ~ 22nd Show-Me Mustang Club: Mustang & All Ford Show ~ register 8am until 4pm ~ Dash Plaques 1st 150 participants ~ $20 entry fee ~ info: (636) 561-8976 or (636) 916-3696 ~ held at new location... Crestwood Court, 109 Crestwood Plaza ~ ST. LOUIS, MO

Good start to a great weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Junkyard Crawl

Back on September 4th, I went to lunch with my friend Tim.  I was driving my Cougar and along the way I thought I spotted a Cougar at an auto sales place between my work and the restaurant.  I didn't have enough time that day to stop and so I told myself that I should stop and check it out when I had time. I belong to a Classic Cougars group on

Today, over lunch, I went down to see if the car was still sitting there. As I pulled up to Wilson Towing 2605 South Old Highway 141, Fenton, MO - (636) 349-3228 corner of Route 21 (Tesson Ferry Rd) and Hwy 141 in St. Louis County I didn't see the car, but as I pulled into the lot I finally saw it. A 1969 Cougar convertible.

This is an auto sales/salvage yard place and I talked to the owner. I asked him how he was and he told me terrible. He said he had been robbed. I thought he was joking, but then he went into a story about how his lot had been broken into and thieves had stolen some parts from some cars.  Then, he mistook me for someone that had called earlier and was coming to look at a car. I advised that was not me and I proceeded to explain my intentions of looking at this 1969 Mercury Cougar and just getting the VIN, but he said that he got the car from a school and should have been scrapped years ago. He didn't want to get into any trouble.

The Cougar was in pretty sad shape, but still had some salvagable parts. This auto sales place was really "down by the river" and the owner told me the lot had been flooded in the spring. The convertible top was almost gone, but I did notice that it had a University of Kansas sticker on the back window. The guy told me he had sold the console & the rear axle. He said that thieves had stolen some XR7 emblems off the car. We raised the hood and the engine and transmission (automatic) was still in the car and looked like a 2 bbl. Door on passenger side was crumpled in. I think this was originally a St. Louis car because there was a sticker from Sunset Ford (Since 1912) on the rear decklid and that dealer is still in business and only a few miles away. Car was painted medium lime metallic and looked like it had a black interior. This one will likely end up as scrap one of these days.

After talking about the Cougar I thought that I would stall after I spotted some late 1960's and early 1970's Chevrolet trucks across the lot. I have a soft spot for these because my first vehicle was a 1971 Chevrolet Cheyenne pick up truck. I went to look at these trucks and he followed me over.  He said that one of the trucks was bought by his father new, but all three trucks were now in pretty bad shape. I was hoping he would leave me alone so I could get the VIN off the Cougar, but he kept talking to me. 

After looking at an old late 1960's Chrysler I told him I had to get back to work. We parted ways and he went back to work on something behind some large trucks he had parked there. I quickly went over to the Cougar and I was able to see the VIN number plate on the partially cracked driver door. I was able to get this VIN off the door, but I could not get the door open to get the data plate info. I also could not see a VIN on the passenger side dash. The VIN on the door was 9F91H585255. I came back to the office and after I looked up what I had on the Classic Cougar Network site, I posted the information that I had to the group.

I received a post in reply from Jim Pinkerton who said, "Something rotten in Denmark here. In May, 2003, from Kansas City, MO someone has reported 9F91H585255 / 65A-S-1A-25F-42-6-X Somehow or other I suspect you may have made a mistake somewhere in the vin number."

I replied that I did write down 9F91H585255 on my piece of paper without thinking about what the 91 meant (Standard Hardtop) until I looked it up back at the office. When I got back I questioned myself and thought I had made a mistake and it was 9F94H585255. The code was hard to see through the crack in the door, I checked it a couple of times, but didn't want the guy to see me and left. However,  the car was with out a doubt a convertible. Now it has me thinking that the door has been changed sometime over the years. The data plate should read 76A or 76B if the car was a convertible instead of 65A.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Really?!? A 2010 Mercury Cougar?

I stumbled upon an entry for a 2010 Mercury Cougar here and I got really excited. The only text was the options and features listed below.  I didn't know if this was real or not so I did some quick searching and found that the image above is likely a prototype from the Detroit International Auto Show or something similar and the pictures below are photoshopped. The nail in the coffin was that I didn't find anything at the Mercury website. I don't know why I got excited in the first place because my first gut instinct was skepticism. In this day and age of new car debuts I would have heard about this development already. Nothing is secret any more. Grrrrr - (no pun intended) - I really liked the car pictured above too...


2.0L displacement double overhead cam (DOHC)
inline 4 cylinder configuration gas engine
16 valves 125 hp @ 5500 rpm
130 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm regular unleaded fuel

5-speed manual transmission front wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension front and rear stabilizer bar

Exterior Features
alloy rims 15 in. rims, P205/60R15 tires all season tires, spacesaver spare tire steel spare wheel, variable intermittent wipers rear defogger, rear window wiper

Safety Features and Ratings
ventilated front disc / rear drum brakes child seat anchors
2 front headrests engine immobilizer

Comfort and Convenience Features
Front Seats
4 person total seating capacity bucket front seats
cloth upholstery height adjustable driver seat
Rear Seats
bucket rear seat split-folding, rear heating ducts

Power Features
power door locks power windows, 1 one-touch power windows power mirrors, heated mirrors

cruise control power steering, tilt-adjustable steering wheel remote trunk release, front door pockets front console with storage

air conditioning interior air filtration, dual vanity mirrors front floor mats, cargo area light

In Car Entertainment
AM/FM in-dash single CD player stereo 4 total speakers
mast antenna

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Scream! You Scream! We all scream for Ice Cream!

Tonight my wife, daughter and I took the Cougar to get some ice cream after dinner. I had not driven the car in over a week and even though the car was dusty from sitting in the garage we loaded up and went to Annie's Frozen Custard in Edwardsville. When we left the temperature was only 71 degrees so it was a nice night for a quick spin and some frozen goodness.

While driving through Glen Carbon we got a thumbs up from a guy in a Mercury Grand Marquis and another guy in a 1965 or 1966 Ford Mustang. It was nice to see someone else out cruising around in their classic car.

We parked and I went to the window and ordered my wife a concrete with Reese's Peanut Butter cups and banana and ordered myself a Cherry cordial concrete. My wife shared hers with our daughter and we ate in the car.

On the way home my wife wanted to see a house that one of her co-workers just bought in Edwardsville. We drove by and it looked like it was in nice shape. Maybe someday we'll buy an old house...

My wife was a little cold as I headed out of town past the old high school on part of Historic Route 66. The hole under the dash where the heater system used to be lets a lot of fresh air in the cabin. I rolled up my window a little, but I'm sure it was not too much help. Another item for the to do list.

Then I drove by the Robert Stille Township Park (or the Airplane Park to the locals) so my daughter could see the airplane that is on display from the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pennsacola, Florida. She loves to point out the airplane when we drive by after we took her to the park to see it up close about three months ago. Even though it was dark at this point she still pointed out the plane.

Daughter and Dad at the "Airplane Park" in July 2009
After we got home I parked the Cougar back in its assigned parking spot in the garage and we put the little one to bed. A nice evening.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy Friday

I drove the Cougar to work this morning. The weather is beautiful outside and it's the Friday before Labor Day weekend. I had the window down and the vent window open as I was driving down the interstate. As The Beach Boys put it, "I had the radio blastin' and I'm crusin' just as fast as I can now."

I'm having lunch with my friend Tim today and he has not seen the car yet. I'm sure that I'll get some good stories at lunch; maybe even one or two I can publish here. Speaking of posting I had some thoughts on some posts for this page while I was on the way to work this morning. So I need to start working on those so I don't forget.

The monthly car show hosted by the Lakers Car Club is in Lebanon, IL tomorrow night. I haven't taken the Cougar to that show yet so maybe I can give the car a quick wash and head out there for a couple of hours tomorrow evening.

Let's start the Labor Day Weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Everyone wants a Mercury Cougar!

Today, I called my insurance agent's office to get the insurance taken off the 1968 Mercury Cougar that I just sold. I didn't realize that I hadn't done this until my wife had already paid the bill and was giving me the new insurance card that came in the mail. DOH!

As I was speaking to the woman who was helping me she asked if it would be too personal to ask me how much I sold the car for. I told her and then she said that she had been looking for a classic Mercury Cougar or a 1960's Chevrolet Chevelle. She asked for my advice where she could find one. She said that she had searched on Craigslist, but would not give as much money for most of the cars that are listed there. I advised that she should look at some of the classic car dealers like Country Classic Cars, Gateway Classic Cars, and Fast Lane Classic Cars.

The only thing that was disconcerting was the fact that she felt that the Mercury Cougar was more of a ladies car and the Chevelle was more of a man's car. I should have reminded her of the marketing that Lincoln-Mercury did back in 1967!

Mercury...A Man's Car.