Repairing the Driver’s Side Fresh Air Vent

Last year, we reconditioned the heater core, replaced the hoses from the plenum to the vent, and the removed, cleaned, and repainted the plenum itself.  We had also removed the fresh air inlet (vent) on the driver’s side.  Like the plenum on the passenger side, it too had been packed full with mouse nesting material.  We cleaned it out but in the process, when we opened the door, we actually cracked and broke the plastic where the (metal) door was riveted.  The result was a hole, I suppose about 8 inches in diameter, under the dash.  This meant air went straight into the cowl and then through there into the car.  During the summer, that was fine, but now that we’ve turned to fall, not so nice.

So, what to do?  Well, one option is discussed here, which is to retrofit one made for the later Ford Mustang.  We didn’t want to spend the $110 plus shipping, so I took a look at the situation and decided to glue a crack that had developed and cut and bolt in a piece of wood to reinforce the plastic.  I then screwed two new holes in the hinge and bolted it through the wood.  Micah got the PB blaster and a vice and sprayed and worked that hinge until it turned freely.  The rusty hinge had been the problem in the first place.  So, note to other car restorers–learn the lesson from us!  Spray those vent door hinges.  The plastic housing cannot support them if they don’t open freely.

Once we got it put together, we painted it so that it was off white and matched the exterior and seats:


No, it’s not pretty, but it will work and the bolts will all face the driver’s side fender and so won’t be seen.  The stock color had been black but it was faded and the off white looks better.  Along the top, we used window insulation:


It works just fine and helps seal out the air.  We had already replaced the foam seal/gasket on the inside of the door.  Here it is installed:


It’s not perfect and certainly isn’t concours but that’s not our goal.  Our goal is to look nice and serve as a good cruiser.  This Comet is well on it’s way toward that end!


Replacing the Comet’s Thermostat

Replacing a car’s thermostat isn’t typically a difficult task and certainly isn’t on a 1963 Comet (or any other inline six vehicle).  In the case of our car, it was the one thing we hadn’t replaced last year when replacing the hoses and reconditioning the radiator and heater core.  Well, the heater quit blowing hot and judging by the temperature gauge (which was very close, barely above, the “C” for cool), we suspected a temp gauge that was stuck open.  So, first step was to drain the radiator below the level of the top radiator hose (in this case, there’s a plug on the bottom of the radiator on the passenger side, which can be loosened and tightened by hand):


Then we disconnected the top radiator hose:


Once that is done, only two bolts have to be removed (as Micah was doing here):


With that done, you may remove the thermostat housing.  Here is a shot of the old housing with the old thermostat and gasket removed.  I placed the new thermostat in there for the picture but ultimately, we replaced the housing too because the interior of the old one had a little corrosion from all those years of just sitting in that quanset).  Here’s the thermostat in the housing:


Finally, we put the new housing with the new thermostat and new gasket into place and filled up the radiator:


Make sure to burp the system after filling.  Our heat worked at first and then blew cold.  To burp it fully, we drove it onto jack stands and ran it a while without the radiator cover on.  Some rather large bubble burped up and once they were out of the system, the heat was back to working.  Although not a regular driver in the winter, it’s good to know we’re well on our way to still making use of it in the fall.