Introduction....and introductory woes

So…intermittently perusing online resources for “classics”, I stumbled across an ad for a '70 base coupe located in Montana. Condition was acceptable, mechanically “young” (supposed 2015 rebuild with Edelbrock Performer components) reasonable asking price; incited me to make contact. Conveniently it turns out the car is 15 miles from the house of a friend who just moved (back) to Montana from Florida. Had my Bud go scope the car out and based on his positive assessment wife and I flew out for a visit. Day of arrival we stopped over for a visual on our way to friend’s house and went back the next day to secure the deal. Had anticipated transport back to Florida, and had a projected pick-up date for 9/25, but reaching out to the broker for confirmation got no response; so I decided to drive the car home. A few visits to local Pawn Shops, Thrift Stores, and Auto Parts stores to secure essentials (tools, parts, gas cans, etc.), a couple days at friend’s house going through obvious issues (battery, voltage regulator, plug check, windshield washer system recovery) and we headed South for Ft Mohave AZ (another friend) to see how she’d roll. A couple of electrical issues, incredibly sloppy steering, and a blown set of air shocks we made it to AZ only to find out our friends were enroute to Florida. Spent a day there to put things (somewhat) back in order and continued the journey to OK via Route 66. The trip had lost it’s romance by the time we got to OK so we jumped on 40 and rode it out to TN, then scooted down to MS/AL/GA and FLORIDA! Very happy to be back home, and praising God for the successes - I likely won’t be doing that again. Now it’s time to explore all the reasons for NOT driving an unknown vehicle 3600 miles 'cross country. One of the most prevalent issues is the aftermath of mice wintering over in the car. The back seat and trunk have been cleaned and assessed, but the shenanigans in the dashboard have really made a mess of things. Heater core is bypassed, factory A/C has been removed, every electrical wire that had been gnawed has been rerouted (by previous owner), no factory gauges work except speedo and odo - there are three mini gauges connected and functioning (oil psi, ammeter, water temp) and a tach. While I run through some of the lesser challenges (new plugs and wire set - MSD ignition system) oil change, idler arm replacement, eye towards new weatherstripping/seals; does anyone know of a QUALIFIED auto electric guru in North Central Florida that might be able to reconcile my dash or do I need to just bite the bullet, drop the dash, and start a potentially life long project on my own? Thanks in advance, looking forward to tapping into other subjects as they reveal their quirks along the way. Like steering slop once I’ve exhausted my knowledge base.

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WOW! Sounds like quite an adventure!

I’ve been wanting to drive my Cougar cross-country as well, and take it to Carlisle. Maybe someday :slight_smile:

I think that if you are confident the car is sound, and you take what tools you might reasonably need, and those spare parts that are “norms” (belts, hoses, thermostat, fluids) you should be able to do it in leisure. We had some time constraints, and there were a few known issues that I couldn’t take care of before the trip (no blower/heater; headlights). I see you’re from OR; this car started life in WA and has retired in FL. They can do the miles!

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Between other obligations and rain I’ve managed to get a few things accomplished. Petty by comparison to some of the “projects” on this forum. I got a new set of Autolite 25 plugs, after regapping the ones that were in there (they were at .035 with an MSD ignition system; they are now at .053) and a new set of 8.5 Super Conductor wires. Checked all of the external lighting, removed the Halogen headlamps and got some 4000/4001 off EBay. Replaced a missing back-up light and did a temporary auxiliary ground as it was dim, and replaced a broken license plate light. Today I yanked the 1 13/16" x 9 5/8" air filter from an obsolete Edelbrock housing and found a STP SA3588 - almost 3" high (2.8"). Next on the agenda: I’ve got to get a timing light on this thing so I can move on to carburetor calibration. Seeing as it was a Mountain Lion (7700’ elev) and is now a Wetlands Panther (250’ elev). Considering the mods done to the engine, she’s holding back on me.
P.S. - Oh yeah, I ordered a Marti Report. Probably not much point for this particular vehicle but it can’t hurt.

My opinion would be to bite the bullet and do the electrical work yourself - by stripping out the old mess and replacing wiring harness, using used gauges (or get them recalibrated) - all resources available thru trusted Cougar parts vendors. You’ll probably pay thru the nose having an electrical mechanic strip console down, figure out what pieces have failed and then either fix or source replacement. Just get the wiring harness - pretty straightforward if you keep track where all the old pieces belonged. You can attack heater core issue as well when doing this work. Plenty of help here as well.

Good luck!


Got to, then “more” section and “how to”. You’ll find documentation on dash cluster removal…

Suggest you look at doing the under dash electrical repair yourself by removing the main under dash harness and sending it out for repair. Good option for repair on harness would be Midlife Harness Restoration. IMO this is a much easier path than trying to repair the harness piecemeal in the car. You’ll also know your repaired harness is good when it goes in. You do the removal and installation and the repair is done by the professional.

Thank you both, Rod (Elroy) & mr_580, appreciate the links/references and the counsel. I watched the WCCC video as well on dash removal and have to agree with Don that “the other guy” isn’t going to care for your stuff like you will - and that’s the strongest argument for doing it myself. There comes a time when avoidance of the obstacle is more traumatic than just removing the obstacle. Sounds like a good winter project - as if we get winters here.

Timing was actually set around 5deg BTDC (no vacuum advance) and I moved it to about 14deg. Not accepted, too much clatter on throttle. Rolled it back about 3deg and found a happy spot around 11deg. The car definitely likes the advance, but to me it appears quite apparent I need to do some recalibration on the carb; unfortunately the appropriate “kit” (1840) is not presently available. We’re just going to have to live with it for now. Meanwhile waiting for my window to roof line and door perimeter molding, and waiting for availability on beltline weatherstrip. Monday see about siphoning diff and replace fluids.