1961 Ranchero climate control, plus how to identify random parts?

Discussion in 'Ranchero Tech Help' started by toddrichert, Jul 31, 2021.

  1. toddrichert

    toddrichert In Second Gear

    Messages:
    61
    To get my Ranchero legally registered, I have to get it inspected by the state patrol, and I've completed much of their checklist but now I'm on to the next item:

    They require a working defrost.

    Since I'm trying to recreate this Ranchero to be just like dad's (as close to stock as possible) it would be extremely helpful for reference if anyone had a 1961 Falcon or Ranchero with original venting intact, and could post pictures for me of what that's supposed to look like. Honestly I just don't remember what it looked like underneath the dash when I was driving dad's Ranchero around 35 years ago!

    (Apologies in advance for the inconsistencies of the pictures I'm about to post. I used the same camera and upload process for each of them but they seem to show up on the website in purely random sizes, through no rhyme or reason which I can discern.)

    Here's what my 1961 restoration climate control looks like right now:

    Ranchero parts 1.jpg

    It looks like there should be tubes coming off of those 2 things sticking up, and although this Ranchero came with quite a number of spare parts, none of them seem to be any sore of tubing.

    I'm quite eager to see what an original intact system should look like under here, including, to where exactly should these phantom tubes extend?

    Shifting to the right of that image, it looks like this:

    Ranchero parts 2.jpg

    I have the rest of the cover for this heater core, which looks like this:

    Ranchero parts 4.jpg

    There are a couple places where the edges are jagged, indicating to me a forceful removal which broke it in a place where it wasn't intended to separate. However I think if I were to get the other parts I'm missing from this heater/venting system, I should probably be able to get this part back in place for an adequate level of functionality.

    In addition, there were a few other parts stashed behind the seats, not all of which I am able to identify, but if you recognize something that I do not, please chime in. This first one I think is probably the "box" portion of my glovebox:

    Ranchero parts 3.jpg

    This next thing is completely foreign to me. Do you know what it is? I've included a ruler here for scale. The left circular piece of metal looks like it is meant to attach to the end of a large hose, but I cannot imagine where a hose of this size would exist on a 1961 Ranchero. The right circular piece of wire looks like it would be used to wrap around a hose to secure it to the piece on the left.

    Ranchero parts 5.jpg

    Finally, there is a random piece of metal which was probably longer, seeming to have been cut on the left end in this picture (?) with a screw through the flattened right end, and I'm guessing that screw was some kind of pivot point on an arm that moved... something? There also seem to be a couple of weld points toward the left end, in case that means anything.

    Ranchero parts 6.jpg

    Does anybody recognize these mystery parts?
     
  2. beerbelly

    beerbelly In Maximum Overdrive SILVER MEMBER

    Messages:
    3,477
    Location:
    Portland OR
    Todd, I can help, since I recently rebuilt the entire heater/defrost unit in my '65, and all '60 - '65 units are the same. I would also suggest that you Google falconparts.com and search 'heater'; they have everything you need. It would appear that if you'd like a fully functional unit, you may need all the parts!
    Starting with your top photo, that's the defroster plenum, made out of cardboard that decomposes after many years; a new one of plastic is available:
    Screen Shot 2021-07-31 at 2.07.59 PM.png

    There are two hoses that attach there and to the dashboard under the speaker grill:
    Screen Shot 2021-07-31 at 2.07.42 PM.png
    The next photo is your heater core, a mini radiator connected to the engine's cooling system to supply hot water and heat the interior. It's surrounded by a 2-part heater box made of fiberglass, held together with metal clips. The front portion of yours is missing a chunk; mine was too, but I repaired it with a fiberglas kit.
    Screen Shot 2021-07-31 at 2.11.16 PM.png
    There are a couple flaps inside the box to direct heat & defrost, and there's a foam kit to make sure they seal properly:
    Screen Shot 2021-07-31 at 2.08.11 PM.png

    The next photo is indeed the glovebox liner, and those are available also; again, Google or eBay are your friend.

    The next photo is what's left of a sleeve that connects the top of the heater box to a round fresh air inlet under the dashboard/ cowl:
    Screen Shot 2021-07-31 at 2.06.33 PM.png
    The last photo I believe is a windshield wiper connecting rod. Do both your wipers work?

    If you want everything to work correctly, you're going to have a substantial expense, and a lot of time upside down under the dash. But check around on Google & eBay, swap meets, etc. and you may be able to find some serviceable used parts. If you haven't already, I highly recommend you purchase a manual for your car, and bookmark falconparts.com or other Falcon suppliers; many Mustang parts are interchangeable too.

    Here's before & after photos of mine:

    IMG_7062.JPG IMG_7114.JPG
     
    Boiler92, DJ Clinton and Hillbilly like this.
  3. toddrichert

    toddrichert In Second Gear

    Messages:
    61
    From not even knowing where to start, this task suddenly looks very doable! Wow this is absolutely phenomenal, I just cannot thank you enough!!!!

    Just curious, the plenums in your before/after photos show a slight difference, with a hole in the foreground of the replacement plenum (which would be on the far left edge upon install) and is this just an extra hole they added aftermarket for warm air to enter the cabin? I presume it would be blocked from air flow when the defrost flap is engaged?

    I went back and took another look at my '62 donor, and my previous assessment that the climate control in there was in even worse condition might have been too hastily concluded. The heater box itself might actually be in superior shape. Also it is hard to say what is hiding back behind the glovebox in the 62; presumably there could be a cowl-sleeve, the condition of which could range anywhere from useless to some version of adequate?

    Well it seems my next step is to pull these systems out completely from both the 61 and the 62, combine the best parts of each and then compile my list of which parts are missing and/or too broken and need replacement.

    I don't want to break anything though, during the disassembly, like the last guy seems to have done on this 61. If you have any tips what to disassemble first so that I don't accidentally expand my "broken parts" list, I'd be super grateful for the intel.

    For disassembly, so far I'm seeing:
    1) small bolts surrounding the electric fan which would be accessed from inside the engine bay
    2) a few wires to the fan
    3) the heater hoses
    4) a clip at the far left edge of the plenum which looks like it would be held to the floor by a screw
    5) attachment to the lever which titrates warm air up or down between lower cabin and windshield
    6) attachment to the lever which (I assume) permits or prevents outside air from coming directly into the heater box

    What other securements am I missing?

    I had been holding off on buying a manual, thinking I already had one here and just had to find it. Last night I finally braved the attic ladder and went up to look in my old moving boxes where I suspected it might be, and I thought I was getting close because I did find my 40-year-old "Chilton's Camaro 1967 to 1981" with the front cover missing and the title page gnawed by rats. Also found a dehydrated rat corpse in one of the traps my son had put up there earlier this year (the heat is so brutal in the attic that a small corpse will mummify before it has a chance to rot!) and I couldn't help but wonder if this little fellah still had Chilton's on his breath when he tried to cleanse his palate with a taste of the peanut butter we left for him on that trap.

    Never did find my Ford Chilton's though and I'm not going to procrastinate any longer. I've moved 6 times in the past 35 years and can't be sure that my Ford Chilton's survived each and every move. So after this posting, my next stop on the internet superhighway is back to ebay and I'll get one ordered up today.

    As for the wipers, yes both wiper arms are fully functional, so the spare connecting rod is a bit of a mystery indeed but at least I know what it is now.
     
    beerbelly likes this.
  4. beerbelly

    beerbelly In Maximum Overdrive SILVER MEMBER

    Messages:
    3,477
    Location:
    Portland OR
    Yes, I added the hole at the end of the plenum to allow some more warm air towards my feet.

    It looks like your disassembly steps are just like the ones I used, except I believe the clip at the far left edge of the plenum you're describing is an attachment point for one of the control cable clamps.
    20210801_061918.jpg

    I can't recommend the Chilton's for any serious repair- they're kinda like Cliff Notes. Try to find a good shop manual, like this:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/254746031593

    Good luck, and be gentle with that old fiberglas heater box- it gets crispy after all these years.

    Edit- I'm showing the wrong heater seal kit (for a '64-'65). There is a specific one at falconparts.com for the earlier years.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2021
  5. toddrichert

    toddrichert In Second Gear

    Messages:
    61
    Thanks for the tip on Chilton's... I don't have a lot of experience with shop manuals so I wouldn't have known. Anyway I've got my ebay order in and a proper manual should be arriving later this week :)

    Can't wait to get these two HV systems pulled apart, and assessed, and get my missing parts ordered. This is going to be super fun getting another system working on my Ranchero!

    On a separate issue, my overheating turned out to be a leaky radiator that came out of the donor 62; however the 61 came with a new radiator that someone had left sitting in the cab. After I swapped in the new one then the cooling system passed a professional pressure test, and then I was able to drive for hours without any sign of overheating. The only real complication in the repair was that the new radiator, though it seemed to be the same external dimensions, had larger openings so the existing hoses wouldn't fit. Since it appeared to be a non-standard application I wouldn't be able to "order in" a correct fit so I had to climb the radiator-hose-wall at NAPA and try to find a "close enough" approximation to the hoses I had, but in larger diameter. There were hundreds to pick through and nothing even close to a perfect match. And I really had to wrestle them in place to get them clamped down securely, but somehow it worked! And now I can drive my Ranchero safely on longer distances, like up to my parent's house in Bellevue. It's so much fun!
     
    handy_andy_cv64 and beerbelly like this.
  6. handy_andy_cv64

    handy_andy_cv64 In Maximum Overdrive SILVER MEMBER

    Messages:
    12,132
    Location:
    Seguin, TX
    Your parents live in Hellevue? Wow. My friend Steven and his mom and brother used to live on 8th Ave., and everybody in his condo complex hated him, because his first car is an '87 Grand Marquis, which he still owns. Everyone who drove in high school had highfalutin' new or near-new cars...except Steven and his Grand Marq.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say, take your time, the stuff went together at the factory, it will come apart with a bit of patience. Frustration (as I'm having to learn) is a parts killer if you get mad and force something.
     
  7. toddrichert

    toddrichert In Second Gear

    Messages:
    61
    It took awhile before I could put the time into this defrost repair, but the last couple days I've finally been working on it and made GREAT progress!

    So first of all, thank you SO MUCH because I couldn't have done any of it without the donated expertise and experience.

    Well it turns out, the heater box in my donor vehicle was completely intact! When I pulled the systems out of both the 61 and 62 Rancheros, the only really important things missing were the 2 defroster hoses running from the "plenum" (defrost routing vent register thingie) up to the top of the dash.

    Here's my reassembled unit, just before I installed it:

    heater box 1.jpg

    I was able to make a fairly complete system by combining the heater box and electric fan from the 62 donor, along with the heater core and "plenum" defrost register from the 61 that I'm restoring.

    Now before I proceed, let me pause to restate that final detail, because I might be the first one in many a year to use any form of the following sentence: "I was able to re-use the original cardboard plenum from my 1961 Ranchero."

    heater box 2.jpg

    Yes it's true, this one has survived the harsh realities of life, including moisture, mice, misuse, and even the mere monotonous mantra of more than 700 months since manufacture!

    So yes I could have replaced it for a very tiny sum (just 30 dollars including shipping!) with a sturdy plastic remanufactured piece that would most certainly outlive me and never give me a bit of trouble. And yet, while seemingly all the other cardboard ones from that era have since disintegrated, this one has maintained most of it's original shape, along with all of it's original function! Yes it actually WORKS.

    Thus I have set aside my logical impulse to replace it with a "new improved" version of inherently superior longevity; yielding instead to my somewhat stronger curiosity to just ride this one out and see if the original cardboard vent has even a few more years left!

    All in all, this whole thing has gone pretty well. I've got 2 of the 3 cables attached and functioning correctly... the defrost and temp cables both have some resistance (not sliding as when new) but they do move and actually do their respective jobs.

    The heater cable is a different story though; I'll make a separate post about that with some pictures, and maybe someone can suggest a next step :)
     
  8. toddrichert

    toddrichert In Second Gear

    Messages:
    61
    Couple of things...

    Now that I've posted it, this post shows my pictures as 2 completely different sizes! Yet I used the exact same process to take these photos, transfer them to my computer via text message, and then uploaded them here. Why one is showing on my screen now 8 times larger than the other is a complete mystery... shouldn't they be identical size if using identical equipment and software? Go figure.

    Next item:

    I used the word "plenum" in quotes a couple times because I'm not sure if I'm using the word correctly. As was recommended to me, I did buy an original Ford shop manual from the 60's and Ford uses the word plenum to describe the main fiberglass housing (heater box.) But in more modern vernacular, if I buy the parts online the sellers refer to my cardboard defrost vent as the "plenum" and they are referring to Ford's version of plenum by the phrase "heater box."

    Nowhere in the Ford shop manual have I found the phrase "heater box." They just call it the plenum.

    Example:
    "5. Remove the clips retaining the plenum chamber halves together and separate the plenum halves.
    6. Lift the heater core from the plenum chamber."

    And the defrost vent that falconparts.com calls a plenum, is called the "defroster outlet register" by Ford (or at least it was 60 years ago when this shop manual was printed...)

    So a guy could get a little confused! ..... just sayin'
     
  9. toddrichert

    toddrichert In Second Gear

    Messages:
    61
    I picked up my defroster tubes from the post office today and got them installed. That was the final piece I needed and now I have working defrost!

    Many many thanks for all the help and especially to beerbelly, because after his post I went from hesitant and confused to suddenly knowing exactly what I should do next.

    I wasn't as thorough as I could have been but I've got a defrosting system that's 90% effective which is mathematically an infinite improvement over the 0% defrost capability I had before (heater core bypass.)

    I didn't purchase the seal kit because that seemed like a lot of work just to avoid a small amount of blow-by. The doors without seals are extremely effective at channeling the overwhelming majority of air where I want it to go, and trying to capture that last few percent seems like diminishing returns on time & money. For the same reason, I also didn't bother with the heater-to-cowl seal. I figured if it becomes a priority later, I can always come back and add it to the system. But for now I can blow heat up to my windshield whenever I need it so I think I'm good. If someone reading this thinks that the cowl seal is absolutely essential than these words of mine must sound like sheer crazy talk right now... and if so please let me know? If there's some significant reason I would absolutely want the cowl seal attached to my newly resurrected heater-defrost system then I'm all ears, but as of now it seems a bit superfluous to the main objective. I've got a working defrost now, and the state patrol will sign off on that when I take it in for inspection.

    One of the biggest time investments was just scrubbing out the inside, along every surface where air would eventually flow. By comparison, the outside of the heater-box-plenum got only a half-ass cleaning, but the interior I scrubbed out most extensively, everywhere that a long handled wire brush would reach, followed by healthy dousing of compressed air. I couldn't put my asthma at risk by enabling breathable air to blow through old ductwork, stirring up dust that had been collecting for untold years, and then spreading that fine dust ubiquitously throughout the enclosed cab I'm riding in. So it's really clean inside there now!

    All in all, I got off pretty good; beerbelly predicted I would "have a substantial expense, and a lot of time upside down under the dash" to get my defrost system working, but only the latter half of this statement came true... this was due to my good fortune in a generous donor car that just keeps on giving! I paid 500 for the 62 Ranchero parts car because it had a complete engine and drive train, but time after time it still rescues me with more parts that I didn't know I'd be needing. This time it was the heater box and the electric fan. Thus my cash expenses for a working defrost were only the 47 spent on ebay for the defroster tubes and 11 for new heater hoses at my local O'Reilly parts store; 58 total including taxes and shipping.

    And yes I did spend a lot of time under the dash (actually under 2 dashes) but I must confess to enjoying every minute of it! Fixing up this 61 Ranchero is by far one of the funnest things I've ever done, for realsies.

    Now I'm off to replace an odometer cable and also get some seatbelts installed, after which I believe I can then pass the state patrol inspection and get a legal registration :) (No more 3-day trip permits!)
     
  10. Hillbilly

    Hillbilly In Maximum Overdrive

    Messages:
    6,248
    Location:
    Winchester, TN.
    ??? How cold does it get where you are ? I had a 1963 Galaxie that came with essentially the identical heat / defrost system as you have, only the components were slightly larger. A mouse destroyed the heater to cowl seal in my 63 rendering the passenger front seat area unusable. My friends and wife refused to ride with me because that air leak would freeze you quickly in cold weather. Replacing that cowl seal seemed to double the heat / defrost output, hardly ever needed to use the blower except at cold starts. You won't regret replacing that seal.
     
    beerbelly likes this.
  11. beerbelly

    beerbelly In Maximum Overdrive SILVER MEMBER

    Messages:
    3,477
    Location:
    Portland OR
    I have to agree with Hillbilly; you'll now have a large hole under your dash funneling in air that you can't control. The defroster ducts and the cowl seal would have been the priority items for me.
     
  12. toddrichert

    toddrichert In Second Gear

    Messages:
    61
    That makes a whole lotta sense, especially "hardly ever needed to use the blower" because why would I want to put unnecessary wear on a 60 year old fan? So I'm putting the cowl seal back on my list, but somewhere after getting a permanent registration.

    I'm very close to a legal vehicle but the speedometer issue has been elusive. I installed a speedometer assembly that I had bought on ebay, and it worked perfectly... for less than an hour. Then it started "catching" and the dial would only go up, never down. Within a few minutes I was doing 100mph on the highway, except I'm pretty sure I wasn't ;)
     
  13. handy_andy_cv64

    handy_andy_cv64 In Maximum Overdrive SILVER MEMBER

    Messages:
    12,132
    Location:
    Seguin, TX
    That sounds like the cable. You should be able to have a new one made. You should also pull and inspect the cable drive at the transmission.
     
  14. toddrichert

    toddrichert In Second Gear

    Messages:
    61
    Yeah it might've been the cable all along because yesterday the cable started making noise and I wanted to pull it immediately rather than risk secondary damage, but I didn't have enough tools with me at the time. Headed for home but about 5 miles from home the cable full-on seized and by the time I got home the plastic (vinyl?) gear at the transmission end was damaged.

    That's ok I wanted to replace it anyway, from 17 tooth to 18 tooth. That should make my odometer count slower right? When I finally got the odometer working (and before yesterday's mishap) it was clocking 1.6 miles for every 1.5 actual highway miles, and presumably the speedometer (when I finally get it working) would have been reading too high by a similar ratio. So if I continue with these same size tires on the rear axle then I'd want to switch from 17 tooth to the 18 tooth gear, correct?
     
  15. handy_andy_cv64

    handy_andy_cv64 In Maximum Overdrive SILVER MEMBER

    Messages:
    12,132
    Location:
    Seguin, TX
    You *should* figure out the tire circumference, and choose based on that, but because I gambled on Babe's gear change and rolled boxcars, I'll just say "Sure. Go ahead, that sounds right.";)
     

Share This Page