Where have I been lately

OK, why haven’t I been posting any updates here lately? Well, just been busy in the shop.

Yes and there are lots of things going on here all the time.

I have been working on a customers 1961 convertible that was a total basket case and we rebuilt the complete car down to every last nut and bolt. Anything that I thought we might be able to just get by with what he had………. ha ha, it comes back to haunt us. I am down to putting on the convertible top and I find out that it is not made correctly. Waiting to hear from the manufacturer.

I have been getting a quite a few orders for relay replacement systems for the convertibles so always have a couple in the assembly process. This past week they caught up to me and I had to finish one quickly to install in a car that is in my son’s shop (oh, that is a story I have to tell also, about my son having his own shop…. and right out by me)

I sold the last upper back panel switch replacement unit that I had in stock so now there are a dozen of those in the assembly process. I have to make and machine all the brackets for those which is the time consuming part. I do most of it on my milling machine (shop tour will be coming on the blog here also).

Then of course there are the daily phone calls and emails for parts that customers are looking for.

I steel a few minutes here and there to organize and order parts for the stroker motor I am building for the “Blackbird” that has been in the works for over 22 years now. Almost had it going a year ago then a customer car bumped it out of my shop once again.

My CAT skid steer broke its oil pump so now I need to find $12,000.00 for a new engine for that also. What a motivating factor to keep working.

Later, people.

God bless all of you.

Sequential signal lights skipping

Got an email from a customer

i have some trouble whit my turn signal flash .. when i turn signal only 2 lamps flash back and no att frontfender at both sides do you now what it is best regard?

If you open up that package in the trunk there should be 3 items on the rubber flap
one is a large flat relay with about 10 wires on it and this is the signal light relay…… it switches the bulbs from brake light to signal lights……. usually not bad
the middle one is the brake light relay…….. if you have brake lights it is OK
the other one has a little motor with a white plastic switch box on it. This is the sequencer. if you pry off the cover for the plastic box you will find some small brass switches in there. One of them is not making good contact. Take some contact cleaner spray and hose it down good, then try it again. Many times that is all that it takes. You can also take that cam off the motor shaft and pull out the circuit board and clean each individual switch.
if you need any pieces, I have lots of them


87-88 Thunderbird Manuals


I just got in a couple of the 88 Thunderbird Electrical and Vacuum Troubleshooting Manuals. These are very rare already and they are invaluable if you have one of these cars. Everything electrical and  vacuum is covered with diagrams and locations in this manual. If you want one of these contact me quick. I have 2 of them for sale.

I also have a complete set of the electrical schematics and one set of 3 shop manuals. The shop manual set consists of Body, Chassis & Electrical, and Powertrain.

What I have listed here is pretty much everything available for the 87, 88 bird. One note here……… the 87 and 88 are basically identical cars so if you cannot find manuals for one year you can use the other.

drop me an email at   jdrax@tbirdranch.com for more info


69-71 Window Sweeps

Just a small note that I now have new material for the door window sweeps for these years. These are also referred to beltline weatherstrips. The material I have is like the original. You will have to fasten it to your existing stainless steel trims on the doors. Price on this is $25.00 each for the 2 door cars and $20.00 each for the 4 door cars. Shipping is extra and I do accept all major credit cards. Drop me an email or ring me at 715-884-6546

email is     jdrax@tbirdranch.com

My perspective on the hobby

Greetings from the deep freeze of Wisconsin

I have been surprised by how busy I have been throughout this whole downturn in our economy. Pleasantly, I must say.  When I tell other poeple that I have not felt hardship in my business with the old cars they all are surprised too. Some say that it is because the people with these old Thunderbirds have money anyway and are not hurting I have to strongly disagree. I know many of you personally and know that there are struggles for all of us and we are not “just the rich guys”.  Most of us are the struggling middle class.

However I have come up with an explanation for why the parts and service and repair business is still doing well.  This is my own personal opinion, however I would like to get some feedback from you people out there with the cars.

It seems that these old Thunderbirds are first of all a labor of love. And owners are for the most part people that like to have their hands involved in the care of these cars.  Unlike investments in gold or stocks etc, these cars are something that we have complete control of and possession of. We do tend to look at them as an investment however it is one where we can enjoy the benefits of all the while we own it. And yes, the problems, the hours of work, the frustrations and the money we have to pour into them is all part of who we are. If it were not we would have taken that money and stuck in someplace where we could earn a whopping 4% or so.  This investment is one that we can go look at and put our hands on it and understand that the value is there for us no matte what the market does. Yes, some of us worry that we are putting way more into it than we would get in cash if we would sell it. But why should we……. are we going to sell it real soon? I highly doubt you bought the car thinking you were going to make some money by selling it.

I take comfort in the fact that I have a ratty old ’62 bird that I can drive instead of a couple grand in cash. Economy crashes tomorrow, I can still drive my bird but if it would have been cash it would have been able to buy a whole lot less overnight. That bird has a real good chance that it will not lose any value over time, more likely it will increase, although slower than before. Machines only tend to lose value when they become no longer able to be used for something. And even if that something is just an outlet for our creativity, passion and problem solving abilities it is worth ore than the cash we have expended to get it to where it is at any given point. Try taking your cash and walking around at a car show, waving it and see how many people drool and give you the thumbs up. Try sitting in your garage with it on the bench and see how successful you are at increasing it or making it look any better. How much self satisfaction will you get after a couple hours of working on it?  Can you get together with your buddies and share shop time over a nice pile of cash or stocks or gold coins?  And another one for me, that cash is totally silent no matter what I do with it, but that old bird has a rumble that stirs something deep inside me that has been there for more than 60 years now. Money can’t buy that feeling no matter how long we let it grow. Sooner or later we will trade that money for one of these machines that gives us a whole lot more satisfaction and joy.

Thanks for all of you that spend some of it with me because I do turn it into things that will go Vroom. (I like to eat and stay warm also)

Let me know what you think>

Parts lists updated on Website

I have been working on getting my parts lists updated for a very long time and I finally figured out how to export Filemaker Pro databases into Dreamweaver to put on the web. I apologize ahead of time for the simple fact that they are not sorted alphabetically yet. I noticed that as I was uploading the second to last so now I will go back and get that taken care of and re-upload them as I go.

I would like to remind you that what you see in the parts list is such a small bit of what I all have here that when you are looking for parts please email or call with a list.  After parting out a few hundred cars I am still sorting and organizing all this stuff. Also, there are many items where I have lots of them and in different conditions so prices will vary.

There have been some other updates on the website also. They are quite subtle. I have added some year specific technical items to some of the year groups for one thing.  Another is the addition of the rear disk brake kit to the page for disk brakes.

Some of the next updates will be more diagrams to the diagrams index listing and more technical articles.

go check out my facebook page       https://www.facebook.com/Tbirdranch

Year end stuff

I have been working on so many things lately that it is hard to chose which should be mentioned here that might be of interest to you folks.

There are some things however that I have made in the shop that I think will interest you even if you don’t need any of them.

This is a set of convertible roof pins for a 1961 thru 63.  I make them on the lathe out of stainless steel.  Each one is made individually.  A set runs about $200.00. I also sell them individually.


convertible roof pin set

convertible roof pin set

This is a set of front fender splash shields for in front of the tire for a 1958 thru 60  Bird. These I make using a wood hammerform and also A Pullmax metalworking machine. Price is $200.00/ pair

58-60 front fender splash shields

As much as anything else this was also a test to learn how to upload photos to a blog post.  So have a good day.


Website Progress

I finally have the website back up and partially functional. I know there are still a lot of links that are not connected but at least I have overcome the main hurdle of getting the software figured out and loading it onto the host server correctly.

The blog is also linked to the site so if a person is on the website they can now access the blog from there.

I am on vacation from school for the next week and few days so I will be working on the website on and off between holiday functions and working in my Son’s shop. (that is a story that will be told in the coming week about the expansion of the Thunderbird Ranch business).

I have also undertaken a major cleanout of my shop. I had so many small projects piled on my workbench, work tables and all over the floor that I had a hard time walking through and especially finding anything. I had move the car out about a week ago that I have been assembling, and the past week I have taken care of a quite a few old parts orders, and some repair projects on window motors, hood hinges, carburetors, exhaust manifolds etc. I will have to figure out how to load photos to this blog so you can see what it looks like.

Come back often to check this all out. There is also a way to subscribe to this so you get notifications when there is a new post but that is also a thing I need to learn before I can explain it to you. However if someone is knowledgable, please share how to do it easily.

From bad to worse

I moved my website due to lousy support. I now have great support but poor knowledge on my part. Due to a couple of issues with software that is no longer supported I also upgraded to Dreamweaver as my website design program (yes I do the website myself).  In the process of importing my site into that program many of the links have gotten broken and now what you see when you log onto the site is just a short directory.

My fault it is not fixed yet. I had to order a book to learn more about Dreamweaver and I just recieved the book. Hopefully, I will have some of the site up and running this coming week. In the process of all this upgrade, I will be adding a lot more content. Included will be more wiring diagrams and many more technical articles.

On the personal side of things, the weather here has been frigid and soft snowflakes quite often but not much accumulation. I have been working in my shop getting out some of the small parts orders that have been on my list for awhile. I have also been rebuilding window motors and building convertible relay systems.

If you have not already done so, look me up on Facebook…..John Draxler. I have been posting a few pics now and then of what I am doing. I will be doing more of that with this blog once I get the website back up and functioning.

Have a good week