The Possum

1961 Falcon Picture The Possum is a 6 cylinder, 170 cubic inch motor which was upgraded from a 144 cubic engine, 2 speed (low and drive) automatic 1961 Ford Falcon Deluxe back road cruiser. It has 2-55 air conditioning (2 windows down at 55 mph!). The BTU's are not so good but there is an increase when you can hang your head out the window while holding your tongue out like a rabid dawg. The slobbering has an overall cooling effect on the overheated braincell. Opening up the interior under-dash air vents has prevented heat exhaustion during the summer and caused severe frost bite during the winter. The cockpit has a split back front seat with original AM tube radio for audio realism during a trip. Great for listening to foreign radio stations during a clear night! There is an AM/FM CD player installed within the glove compartment to play Mellencamp, The Who, Mercyme, and my favorite Bluegrass tunes from "Bill," "Ricky," "Stanley" and others. Our favorite station to listen is the radio station at KFGT 100.7 FM "Christian Talk" during our roaming adventures. Pocahontas and Colonel Big Daddy Dave spent five years in the restoration of this vintage road rager. This antique does do the speed limit, barely on a good day with the wind to our back bumper and going down hill. lol.. We have seen Banana slugs pass us while climbing steep mountain passes here in Colorado. Would not have it any other way......... The possum loves Jesus, high octane gas and its family..... Slowpoke Rodriguez

The Possum's restoration can be seen at www.tffn.net. The Slow Poke Rodriguez (cousin of Speedy Gonzales; "He always gets the girls...") sticker is affixed to the driver side rear passenger window in an effort to convey to passing vehicles, the sense of driving urgency displayed by the Possum's driver. In the future, there will be an effort to acquire custom license plates with the word, "Tortuga" on them. It is Spanish for the English word, "Turtle." Enough said about my driving patterns..Turtle, Turtle. Can you name that movie? I have a frail ego and I am in therapy because it. LOL. Yes, that is a Cracker Barrel Possum in the back window...

UPDATE SUMMER 2012!

The Possum has made a technological leap into the present century. Yes people, it is called air conditioning! This technology was only available as under the dash models during the 60's and in the attempt to make this antique rolling microwave bearable during the summer months, Big Daddy Dave installed an after market airconditioning unit. The "knee knocker," as it was called during the last century by their prehistoric owners, finally made its appearance at a National Street Rod Association meeting in Colorado being sold to any self-determined amateur mechanic who would bravely wade through the reams of paperwork provided by the vendor, aka very vague instructions, which was necessary to install this little beastie. We had the multi-component set of boxes (seven of them) from different manufacturers stored in the basement for the past five years and after reading the uninformative paperwork, and then researching the internet for several months to figure out the instructions, the work began in earnest. It was supposedly, "a couple of weekends" job to put in this system... You know that everything on the internet is true, just like the commercial said...

First I purchased a larger radiator, an OEM Ford Mustang type, that supposedly would perfectly slide into the existing location without any modification and increase the cooling capacity needed for airconditioning use during hot days. Wrong. I had to take out the grill, the battery, battery mount, fan, alternator, alternator mounts, bumper, bumper valence, headlights and horns and other hard to get things within the engine compartment. So far, slow good... After the freelance use of an electric hand-held grinder on the front grill mount in an effort to cut away the "extra" metal that was not needed, it was possible to slide the new OEM radiator into place upon several dozen dry fittings. New bolts to install the radiator were not included but they were bought at the store where people help you with home projects, "BLowes." The finish was within sight! The alternator mount was replaced with an additional $120 for a "one-of-a-kind" mount which after mounting the alternator, was instrumental in the again removal of the radiator to perform "miner" surgery to the uniframe of the possum to get the ac compressor to fit in conjuction with the alternator...There were lots of nice hot flying metal, and sparks which would not have burned so deeply into the skin if the "worker" had worn a long sleeve shirt. And always remember to wear safety glasses or welding goggles so there are no flash burns to the eyes when spot welding as when the "worker" had done this to himself last summer while welding a 1957 Jeep Wagon floor panel! Safety first! Now for the easy part! Installation of the high pressure hoses. Holes were cut into the firewall and other unmentionable private places on the Possum to get the different size black tentacles to the correct life support systems of the ac to other places within the engine compartment where fingers cannot fit.

Possum airconditioning It was now month number 2. It was good thing that this non-intrusive surgery was performed during the freezing cold months of a Colorado winter in an unheated garage because I could have suffered heat exhaustion. LOL...Upon connecting the hoses to new dictionary words such as dryer, evaporator, compressor, and other previous unknown terminology, it looked great! Picture perfect rewiring for this monstrous amp puller. After admiring this endeavor and the two frustration filled months which included numerous trips to NAPA to have the hoses cut to specific lengths and to have the "correct" connectors crimped, I felt something had been overlooked. What could it be? What could it be? Where is the battery? I know. In the trunk because it doesn't fit in the engine compartment with the new alternator and compressor in place. Well it was back to BLowes to get 15 feet of oversized copper cable to run from the new battery box in the trunk to the engine compartment. There is a saying that money can solve most problems except divorces...Another fiddy dineros, drilling holes for the ground strap, pulling up the carpet to lay the cable in the passenger compartment, more holes in the engine compartment, it was fixed. Woo hoo, the light is in sight! Big Daddy's hands were now too big from being swollen to install the fan, so Pocahontas stepped in to give it a woman's touch. Great Job she did. All the grill components put back in the right places and it was time to start the engine.

It worked just as the cereal box top instructions said it would. Now, we're well into the third month of bruised body parts, cuts on the nonbruised parts and this thing is not going to get the best of me (widely known in the man world as: I'm not paying somebody to do something that I think I can do!) mindset, but ruh-roh, the fan was hitting the radiator...The great thing about the old cars is that you can bend metal in the four cardinal directions and it probably will not break it unless it is something that takes weeks to find on the internet or costs a huge chunk of the national debt to buy. Unlike trying to bend plastic fan blades on the modern machines which can only be replaced as major component units ordered through non-english speaking asian telemarketers. After hitting the start key , I was listening to the sputtering point driven engine while watching the fan belt and compressor belt clear each other without self-destructing when the warm glow of success came over me which in the medical field is commonly referred to as the first symptom of heat exhaustion. I had finally finished installing something that I was not going to pay somebody else to do. The next day an appointment was made with an automobile airconditioning expert on the other side of town. It was now summer, and the temperatures would make the drive a hot one in the two tone silver classic reactor. Unfortunately, the hood latch would not work when closing the hood because of the "un-needed" modifications performed on the grill frame... The grill was taken off again, the radiator had to be taken out, a new latch was welded, made from plate steel and a 3/8 inch bolt. Then the newly gloss black painted hood latch was shimmed to get the correct spacing needed to latch the hood shut, radiator put back in, fan belt installed, fan blade put back on, alternator adjusted ( By this time, I could do this procedure in the dark with a Kentucky Socket Set aka adjustable wrench) and Oh Yeah..High fives for the members of the pitcrew, me, myself and my alter-ego....it worked.

Possum airconditioning cut off switch The next day I was now sitting in the AC doctor's waiting room like an expecting father with his first child only this time there were no cigars because it was "close but no cigar." The AC doctor took me to back to the surgery room to show the expecting father how the compressor was pushing into the narrow space between the fan and the radiator, hitting the turning fan blade when the airconditioning shut off switch, which is used to add a two or three horsepower to the engine when in emergency conditions i.e. putting up mountain passes, was engaged. It was the same sweet sound a wide-eyed child hears at midnight when Santa's reindeer's hooves are frantically clattering on a slick snow covered tin roof shack while searching for some nonskid paint during a STOL (aviation term for Short Take Off or Landing). This metallic sound was money set to an 80's heavy metal tune, when big hair and make-up was in for men and short hair and pants were vogue to the opposite gender, for the self-employed garage mechanic. Back in the microwave, back to the garage at home, where heat exhaustion was a true possibility at this time. After several attempts to bend the metal blades into the proper contortions needed to make an additional 1/4th of an inch appear where there was no more room, this delusional attempt in manipulation of physical matter within in a space dimension was not possible. A spacer was needed to push the fan forward the point two five (.25 is the correct decimal engineering term) of an inch.

Taking out the metal fan was now possible because of the fact that the majority of the meat had been skimmed from my swollen hands. Four more days to get the proper "unobtainium" spacer for this "one of a kind" generic Ford four blade fan type motor. After healing for several days, finally the prize had arrived and in haste, it was bought and the package was opened like a Christmas present (underwear again???).... Only it was.... another trip to BLowes to purchase (with a military discount) the "right" sized bolts which were supplied with the kit, to install the uniquely standard aluminum prosthesis. Pocahontas said she would help getting the fan put together for a meal at Golden Corral (Seniors Night LOL). More Neosporin on my hands and some more R and R until the weekend. It was a good call for the home team. During this R and R, another appointment was made at the AC doctor's garage. Scabs were now growing on both hands and the swelling was pretty much down by the time which had been appointed for grazing at the Corral arrived. A healthy meal while gorging on special food supplements not offered with Mexican cuisine, such as okra, sweet potatos, and chick peas were welcomed. The next day Pocahontas delicately installed the parts with a brain surgeon's steady hand while Big Daddy tensely watched in case there should be any technical questions i.e. "lefty loosey, righty tighty?" or there was a need for brute force assistance. With everything in its assigned place, the engine was started and the compressor switched on... It lives! It lives! Hooyah! No metal parts grinding away at other metal parts! It was back to the AC doctor for a fill up of the proper U-235 style freon to bring chilled air to the wild crazy eyed driver of a 61 Falcon while sawing with its steering wheel through rush hour traffic. The story happily ends with the windows rolled up and the Possum's occupants arriving at destinations without sweat stained clothing. Feeling refreshed, hydrated, and with no lingering effects of road rage caused by heat searing of the single water-crazed gray matter cell. It took only 51 years for this classic to be updated and four and half months of the owner's life which can never be gotten back for this "a couple of weekends" job to be completed...

The Possum Just another notch in the toolbelt and don't forget the handyman's secret weapon: duck tape.....Would Big Daddy do it again...you betcha!

Coming Soon, the next sequel to this series of updating the available technology within the confines of the Possum's interior. The astounding saga about the present from my AC/DC, Journey, Kiss listening brother, a gift which keeps on giving. A surreal story about the installation of a real-live 70's era, Hitachi 8 Track Tape player with FM stereo radio that actually works; The (Monty Python) Holy Grail for any discerning consumer material minded Ford Falcon owner. I can imagine the listening pleasure created and the quaint ambience experienced when hearing the loud "clunk" emanating from this technological dream package during track changes while looking for a pack of matches to stick under the tape to enhance the musical entertainment fidelity enjoyed by listeners. I can hardly wait... Sweet....

The Possum

Here are some additional pictures of the Possum taken during the fall of 2013. Hope you enjoy them!! Still working on the 8 track installation; still looking for the brace to hang it below the modern Air Conditioner..LOL.. You will notice the original style hubcaps which were specific for a 1961 Falcon Futura, 13 inch wheel. There are a couple of spares in the trunk when one of these babies jump to their death when they pop off the wheel in heavy traffic only to be crushed by some swerving swearing car seen in the rear view mirror. Another option was the hood ornaments which look like shark fins. I found these on sleezebay for a minimum amount of dinero and they were NOS (new old stock). The vendor was located in Yosemite, Kentucky which is the hometown of John Calder who is my great great grandfather and great great grandmother. What a coincidence; parts for the Possum from the Holyland! The shark fins are a rarely bought option for Falcons during 1961. The Falcon was an economy commuter vehicle so why dress up a pig when it only looks like a pig? But it is an option that was available, along with the chrome darts located on the rear quarter panel. This option was only for the Futura model which was the upgrade from the basic 144 cubic engine to a 170 cubic engine straight six. The Futura also had the two speed automatic transmission another upgrade from the three on the tree standard transmission. A white steering wheel along with bucket seats and a center console. The Possum's steering wheel was painted black and this car came with the split bench seats instead of the buckets. We prefer the bench seat because Pocahontas and I can sit together while exploring the remote back roads.

The Possum The paint scheme for the Possum is called "Stone Silver" for the main sheet metal. The interior and top are painted "Charcoal" with a dab of pearl to give the top a light luster is the direct sunlight. All the exterior stainless steel was buffed out and shines like chrome. The windshield stainless looks great due to efforts by Rocky Mountain Polishing. The side windows stainless, drivers and read passenger, are another upgrade for the Futura and also polished by the same company. The engine hood letters which spelled Ford were removed and the letters which spelled Falcon across the back of the car were not installed. We think it provides for a cleaner look for the rear of the car. Another option was the windshield wiper fluid sprayer which is activated by pumping a foot pump underneath the driver side dash. A modern electric pump and wiper fluid reservoir was installed; additionally a push button was installed beside the instrument panel to activate the sprayer. The Possum went through a major upgrade when an electric two speed wiper and switch was found at a local junk yard and went through modifications to replace the vacuum operated wiper motor. Now you can turn on the windshield wiper and push the black button to spray wiper fluid and magnifico. The windshield is clean. Just an easy four step process. Turn on wipers, push the button, release the button, and turn off the wipers. Woot! Woot! What day is it?.....

The Possum The photo shows the black steering wheel. Just couldn't cope with a white steering wheel...The steering wheel was cracked and looked horrible after the first fifty years of owner abuse. The cracked and chipped artifact was sanded and then the cracks were filled with epoxy and then sanded again. It was thoroughly cleaned with grease remover and promptly spray can painted with an epoxy paint. When it was finished, it looked new but was still too hot to handle during the summer months. To prevent from slowly roasting driver phalanges during the 100 degree plus temperatures, a black lace steering wheel cover was put over the overhauled steering wheel. The increased diameter size keeps my Great Ape size hands from wrapping around the steering wheel three times. Nice.....

If you look closely, you can see my High School graduation tassel hanging from the rear view mirror. The tassel itself is a blast from the past. It is nearly 40 years old, and not faded! Just trying to relive my youth..LOL..Ancient American history for today's students. Additionally, the mechanical oil guage, voltmeter, and the water temperture guage can be seen hanging from the bottom of the dash. The mechanical oil guage was added because the idiot light in the instrument panel usually lights up when the engine has been fried because of an empty oil pan. Ask me how I know this.... The voltmeter was put in when the engine was converted from a generator system to an alternator system. It helps to diagnose why all the electrical equipment is smoking, dying, or dead and the headlight are blown when the voltage regulator fails. Ask me how I know this....I have two temperature guages for the Possum. The temp guage in the instrument panel is hooked up to the front of the engine near the incoming hose and the guage which was installed displays the temperature for the rear of the engine. The rear of the engine temperature is a more realistic engine operating temperature and can prevent blown head gaskets if you kill the engine in time. Ask me how I know this....





The Possum The seat covers were NOS and again purchased on sleezebay. The covers were for a 64 Ford Galaxie. What a bargain I thought to myself when the package arrived at my doorstep! When I opened the box, my false teeth fell out of my mouth. They were absolutely beautiful but the back seat cover was too small. Ok, I can fix this went through my mind when I was perusing utility cloth at Joann's Fabrics. I found an exact match and bought enough to cover the door panels and to fix the "too small seat cover" problem. I cut away the material surrounding the inserts and used it to make a pattern for the new "not too small seat cover." Measurements were taken and taken and taken and taken to insure that not too small seat cover would have an exact fit. The Sears sewing machine was brought out of retirement in the basement storage and everything adjusted for the sewing. It is a great thing that my Mom taught me to sew! There I was in the garage with some classic tunes blairing over the airwave. Inch by inch was sewn at times the new material was covered with fresh blood from puncture wounds made by the needles placed in line to align material correctly. After a day or so, the back seat was finished. My Special Forces buddy from across the street came over to watch in amazement at the tedious endeavor aka sweatshop worker sewing. He kept shaking his head, "It will never work...." When my arms rose in field goal completion for extra point, he slowly walked away still shaking his head, "How could it have worked?" They were an exact fit and looked great. I quickly sewed a small purse for Pocahontas displaying my prowess of the acquired skill! I basked in the glory of sewing competence but had to move on....

The Possum

The last photo shows where I moved the gas tank neck filler and the gas cap. I was tired of the gas splashing back and having to hunch over while filling the tank. It also prevents the occasional gas siphoning from the criminal element. Gas is not cheap. LOL...

I replaced the 12 gallon tank with a 20 gallon Mustang tank from the vendor "Kentucky Mustang." This was in concert with my yearning for longer cruising range and infrequent gas stations in remote areas of Colorado. This can't be too hard..Rightt?...wrong...

First, the tearing out of the old carpet, padding, and trunk boards was completed within a couple of hours. Then draining the tank into 2 1/2 gallon buckets. No smoking allowed..Safety first.. Scraping the waterproof sealing away from the seams and the bolt heads took another day. It is a two man job being done by one. Double the fun, Double the pleasure! Just like the old chewing gum commercial. Wiring was disconnected and the tank was pulled from the trunk without spillage or an electrical fire. So far, slow good.

The new tank went in perfectly except the bolt holes were not aligned. Drilled a couple of new hole where there weren't supposed to be and "voila." New holes...Pocahontas came to my rescue to help install and then tighten all the tank bolts. Brushed on some asphalt sealer to waterproof the trunk and called it another day for the two hour job.

The next day's project was installing the Mustang fuel tank sender correctly and securing the wiring . The sender arm was calibrated at the 10 gallon position by eyeballing the midpoint of the float swing range then bending the rod. After finishing this precision setting and completing the gasket seal without electricuting myself, I remembered that I should have disconnected the car battery. Famous last words..

A new filler neck was installed on the tank. It really was not new, just a reconditioned 1950 Ford shoebox filler neck and gas cap. The filler neck was custom cut to a precision length. This was accomplished by marking the approximate length with a piece of white chalk, then cutting it to length with a hacksaw. The rough edges were smoothened with a hand file. Always use the right tool for the right job. A brace was cut for attaching the filler neck to the trunk lock frame. The filler neck gasket was somewhat larger than the 1950 filler neck but with a some brute strength persuasion and a new hose clamp, the job was perfecto. The vent tubing was removed from the trunk and one end was fitted into the filler neck which was sealed to prevent escaping fumes from filling the closed trunk.

The venting end was moved to the left side of the trunk compartment and a new exit hole drilled. The original exit hole for the vent exited from the inside of the trunk directly over the tail pipe. It just didn't make sense that the vented fumes from the tank would be released next to the hot tail pipe. I guess the engineer was smoking weed during 1961 when he/she was making the blue prints for the vent system.. Some how this reminds me a Ford Pinto commercial.....

About a week later, after replacing the tank, the worn gray carpet was replaced with new black carpet along with 1/2 inch felt padding which was glued to wheel wells, the front of the trunk and to the custom cut bathroom paneling trunk boards that were placed on top of the gas tank. This took another week. What is a week in my life, especially since I will never get it back before I die...

The original chrome gas cap was wired in place so that it cannot be removed. The real fun started with installing an electronic trunk lock release. Had to run wires to an activation button which was finally found at Radio Shack three different times. This was installed on the drivers kick panel and then wired to the ignition switch. The wires were ran under the door sills under the back seat into the trunk and wire tied to the trunk hinge. Drilled some holes in the trunk deck frame, measured and measured again to get the cable length correct for the activator. Fishing the wires into the frame to the activator took about 2 hours. That was about 7 1/2 inches an hour. I wonder how long it would take to rewire my house at that rate? Well back to reality. Everything worked out and the trunk now releases from the drivers compartment when I need to fill the gas tank. When the fuel guage registers empty, there is still another 2 gallons in the tank. That is a scientific fudge factor of 2 gallons. People still look at me like a three eyed atomic age frog at the gas station when I insert the gas pump into the open trunk. At the end of this "couple of hours job", which took 4 weeks, it was worth it. As Porky Pig (the one that doesn't wear lipstick) says, "That's that's all folks......"

I am not finished....still editing this...trying to put some lipstick on this pig...