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Building a 1960 Mercury Park Lane convertible

Posted: Sat 22. Feb 2014, 15:13
by mercs4fun
Hello, as this is my first post here on this forum I would like to say that even if I am new here, I am not at all new to MEL cars. A few years ago I did a huge restoration job on a 59 Park Lane convertible that was more or less a pile of rust and dirt when I bought it outside Chicago back in 1999 and that took me about 6 years to finish. Here is a couple of pictures of that car.
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The 59 after about a year of body work
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The car is mostly done here and looking pretty good.

Back in 2007 I needed to free up some space for other projects and sold the 59. When I bought the 59 I was actually looking for a 60 Park Lane convertible to restore, so in 2002 I found one for sale in Michigan for $2000. Unfortunately that car was terrible rusty as well, (what could I expect for that kind of money?) but since I also had a much better 60 Park Lane 2d ht I decided to go for it and make one car out of both. OK, here are a few pictures of what I managed to do in the summer of 2002.
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The convertible just arrived Norway in June 2002
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Going down in pieces and becoming a donor car. The lower 8 inches of this car was totally rusted out, but everything above that was in incredible nice condition. Probably caused by the Michigan salty roads?
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My hardtop is becoming a convertible. All the convertible parts had been removed from the rusty convertible by drilling out the factory spot welds and then transplanted into the hardtop body so it would be near impossible to see that this car body was a hardtop. Some people would prefer to take the good parts from the hat parts car and transplant them over to the convertible, but in this case I think that would have made a not so good result in the end.
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Body conversion almost done

Then nothing happened. Every year I said next car to be restored is my 60, but every time I thought I should get time for it something else came up and the 60 ended up sitting with a heavier and heavier layer of dust covering it.
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Here you can see the 60 sitting behind a couple of other cars I've been restoring.

OK, so lets move forward to December 2013 :)

Re: Building a 1960 Mercury Park Lane convertible

Posted: Sat 22. Feb 2014, 15:54
by mercs4fun
Finally I decided it was time to let something happen with my 60. After all these years it was nice to clean off all the dust and see it without lots of parts for other cars on the top of it.
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Now the fun part starts and that is to disassemble the car and it didn't take long before it looked like this. Unlike many others I don't waste my time bagging all the different parts, screws and fastners. I take hundreds of detail pictures, and find that much more helpful when the car is going back together again.
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Body is off the frame.
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Engine is opened for inspection and looked to be in good condition. It will be taken totally apart, cleaned, honed and get new piston rings and bearings, but there luckily is no need for a total rebuild.
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Ready for the not so fun part, and that is to remove all the old dirt and rust protective stuff under the body.
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The underside of the car isn't bad at all. The trunk floor had been replaced back in 2002 by the way.

Re: Building a 1960 Mercury Park Lane convertible

Posted: Sat 22. Feb 2014, 19:59
by Shelby#18
I sure hope you keep us posted on your restoration.
That '59 is beautiful. Could I possibly have seen the restoration thread on that somewhere else before?

Re: Building a 1960 Mercury Park Lane convertible

Posted: Sun 23. Feb 2014, 00:12
by mercs4fun
Shelby#18 wrote:I sure hope you keep us posted on your restoration.
That '59 is beautiful. Could I possibly have seen the restoration thread on that somewhere else before?
You are absolutely right, I had a big story going over 5 or 6 years on the restoration on my web site when I was restoring the car. In 2012 the story and also picture quality felt outdated so I removed it as I had a plan to make a new short version with better pictures, but that never happened.

Re: Building a 1960 Mercury Park Lane convertible

Posted: Sun 23. Feb 2014, 01:01
by mercs4fun
Since the frame I am using originally was for a hardtop it needed to be made into a convertible frame. These frames are basically the same, but the convertible frame have lots of reinforcements and also all the brackets for the body mounts are different and located in different places.
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The big X is an obvious extra on the convertible frame. Then there is a tube going across the frame in front of the rear end that needs to be welded in as well. Also the body mount brackets are different due to different body mounts. The ht frame had larger holes that needed to be modified to the smaller holes used on the convertible. In this picture you can see the difference from left to right side.
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Solid braces under the frame added. All parts came from the original convertible frame.
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Close up of the body mount bracket on the frame. Now the frame is officially declared to be a convertible frame :)

60 Mercury rust repair.

Posted: Sun 23. Feb 2014, 01:31
by mercs4fun
Time to pay some attention to the body. the 59 and 60 Mercurys are known to be rust buckets. If you study the way they made these cars it becomes pretty obvious that the design team did not plan for these cars to last for 50 years or more. There are lots of places under and inside the car where moisture and dirt can be trapped, and also I suspect that they used cheap sheet metal with less carbon these years to cut cost as the auto industry were suffering from low sales.
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Both lower quarter panels needed to be replaced or partly replaced. I also found some rusted areas in the lower wheel well that I replaced before I put on the outer skin. Of course the inside areas are cleaned from surface rust and treated with a rust protective layer of zinc before I put on the outer sheet metal.
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Luckily I was able to find a NOS LH quarter panel some years ago, but to ship it in one piece from the US to Norway turned out to be a little on the expensive side, so I decided to have it cut for shipping and just to replace the lower parts.
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Front part of the quarter panel is done, here is the inside of the rear welded and ready for the outer skin.
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With the NOS sheet metal parts this turned out really nice. :)
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For the right side it was pretty much the same process all over again except for that I had to fabricate the sheet metal myself.
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Doors

Posted: Sun 23. Feb 2014, 01:52
by mercs4fun
The doors are always a problem on the 59 and 60 Mercurys. I had a total of 6 doors to choose from that all looked pretty good, but when I started to examine them one by one they all got problems. There are actually several issues that may cause problems on these doors. First of all, they did not give them any rust protective coating inside from the factory. the next problem is draining holes, that are not in the lowest part of the door, causing dirt and water to be trapped inside the door. Finally the rubber weatherstrip they used back then were probably good for a couple of years, but since they were made out of a spongy rubber material they worked just like a sponge and and soaked up water, which again cased the rust to attach the door not only from the inside, but also from the outside.
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Cutting out the rusty bottom of the door.
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Transplanted the bottom from another door that had rust in a different area.
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Welding it in and the door is as good as it gets. I was considering to drill out all the spot welds to clean the door sheel throughly, but decided not to as this door is not bad all over. Mainly the rust I found on this one was caused by the water in the weather strips and not from inside rust, which is way harder to deal with .
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The usual rear corner rust are is cut out....
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and replaced with fresh sheet metal. One note about sheet metal. When I replace metal on an old car like this I always use original metal from a similar car. I cut off roof from cars being parted out, hoods, trunk lids and clean up the metal before I use it. Why you may ask? I have found that this metal is more form-able and also that it behaves just like the metal on the car, causing less warping when I weld. Also I think it is a good thing to reuse as much as possible from other cars being parted out.

OK, I guess that was the rust I had to deal with on this one. Nothing makes me more happy than that :mrgreen:

cleaning up the body.

Posted: Sun 23. Feb 2014, 02:12
by mercs4fun
There are different ways to clean a body from old paint and surface rust. I prefer to avoid sand blasting the outside sheet metal if I can avoid it. Unfortunately I had some bad experience and also seen cars totally ruined that way. So instead I prefer to sand old paint off using an eccentric or by using the 3M clean and strip discs on a drill. It takes more time, but it is safe and especially under the hood and trunk lid there is no other option anyway if you want to keep the original asphalt inlay.
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Now it is ready to get the underside, cowl and the hard to get to areas sand blasted.

cleaning parts

Posted: Sun 23. Feb 2014, 02:26
by mercs4fun
Here is another way I clean parts with surface rust. I have a plastic barrel in my garage filled with citrus acid. Before I can put the parts in there they need to be free from fat and grease. Then I have them soaked in there for a day before I flush them with a steamer. Usually I have to repeat this process once or twice depending how much rust there are on the parts but in the end the parts looks like new.
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Other parts I just clean and wire brush before they are painted. No I am not using a hand held wire brush, I use my angle grinder with a brush on it.
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This is about as far as I have come with the car to date.

Future plans . . .

Posted: Sun 23. Feb 2014, 03:26
by mercs4fun
Since I bought this car I have had time to change my plans for it several times. Back in 2002 when I first started to work on it my plan was to build a black car with a black top and silver and gray interior. I also wanted to build a loaded car with Air, power everything and dual bullet style mirrors. I wanted to use as many NOS parts as possible and have bought all the NOS parts I have found over the years, and also had the new upholstery in silver gray made. But plans have a tendency to change over years, and now I want to build a 50's style cruiser in a brave, yet classy color, dual spot lights, dual antennas, spinner wheel covers, and most of all, a continental kit. A set of NOS spot lights wasn't too hard to find, but the correct brackets were not so easy. Unfortunately I used my super rare NOS set of factory rear mount antennas on my 59 Mercury, but found a pretty neat and unusual time correct after market set that I will likely use. Spinner wheel covers I have NOS just waiting to be put on the car. Then it was the continental kit :?
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My guess is that very few ordered that as an option to their 60 Mercury, and no one is making a repro or aftermarket kit. I guess that back in 1960 most people considered this to be out of fashion and made the car look like a fifties car, which of course did not appeal to many buyers. But I wanted one, so when nothing is out there to buy there is only one way to make it happen, and that is to fabricate one. So after talking with a friend of mine in Austria, who was restoring his 60 Monterey convertible, he said he wanted one as well, so now I had to fabricate two kits, which makes more sense than to build just one.

I ordered the face plates and the chrome bands around the tires from Continental Enterprises in Canada. The rest was not that easy as I not only wanted a continental kit that looked good, it also had to function like the original.
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I started with the swing arm mechanism that holds the tire. I studied the function on a few other cars before I started just to find out how it was working. To make it work exactly as it should is kind of hard, as there are lots of elements to take in to consideration as the wheel has not not only swing to the side, it also has to move outward and in a more upright position to clear the trunk lid when it is opened.
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Then I had to make the upper surrounding bumper section to fit the wheel.
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Cutting the original bumper is kind of a point of no return on this project. But it has to be done. It also took me some time to find the correct angle on the bumper and tire so they would line up nicely to the car.
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Starts to look like a continental kit now?
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Plates filling the gap between the wheel and the bumper had to be made.
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Here is the kit finished and installed on my friends 60 Monterey.
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Function is just as it should be. The wheel swings to the side and out of the way to give access to the lid for the gas tank( kind of important on these cars :lol: ) and the trunk.