Due north of Toronto, TTAC reader Nick R writes:
My dad’s Ford Thunderbird 30th Anniversary Edition (i.e., 1955-1985) hasn’t been started in about two years. It has 140,000km, never been winter driven and its original save for the radio (I still have the non-functioning original one though). I want to start cleaning it up and fixing a few little things, but to do that I have to get it started and run it.
It has been stored outside, under a cover, in my driveway. I know the oil was replaced and the tank filled up just prior to being put in storage. Prior to storage the battery was removed, the oil and coolant changed and the tank filled with gas.
After prolonged storage, is there any special I should do other than dropping a new battery in it? Are the tires likely to be flat spotted? I also need to fix the antenna, which got bent; any tips on finding a replacement for that would be helpful too!
The 30th Anniversary Thunderbird was the first car I drove. I’ll never, ever forget its glowing digi-gauge cluster encouraging me to make things happen with my right foot. The unique blend of Turbo Coupe underpinnings with a 5.0L mill was awesome. I mean, for the time.
Luckily for me, my brother kept his rare Blue Bird. And it sits around a whole lot these days, lookin’ all sleek and Fox-y in the garage.
So I’d check the brakes: hold the pedal down and listen for a pop. If you hear it, you unfroze a caliper’s dormant piston. If not, you’ll need more than a brake fluid flush/bleed: examine the calipers (front) and wheel cylinders (rear) before you stray too far from the driveway.
Ah, about fluid. Burn off the old gas, re-fill and change the fuel filter. Change the engine oil/filter too. As far as tires, they might be flat spotted bad enough to not “come back” after a few miles of use. If they have dry rot (cracks), change them sooner rather than later. You’ll regret it when the belt separates from the tire and subsequently smacks steel belts all over your freshly waxed Medium Regatta Blue fender. Other than that, I think your hibernation regiment has you covered. Good job!
Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:
Sometimes Quality is NOT Job 1: the 5.0L engines older than 1986 used a Phenolic cog in the timing chain. Which won’t last much longer than 10 years/100k miles, and sometimes destroy motors when they fail. If the ignition rotor has slack and it struggles to crank, replace the chain with a roller unit for $80. Have fun with the labor. And, of course, thank FoMoCo for their brilliant engineering.
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