Stripping Our Shelby With Steam

While our intern, Matt, toiled away, the rest of the team focused on reassembling the rear end.

Day five is a day for interns. Want to learn the car magazine business? Start by getting roped into operating the steam cleaner outside. In Florida. In July. Not fun, but it sure is effective. While a standard pressure washer will not take undercoating off, a steam cleaner heats the undercoating enough to soften it so that it washes right off. We were thrilled to see how clean, rust-free and glorious our Shelby GT 350 was underneath.

While our intern, Matt, toiled away, the rest of the team focused on reassembling the rear end. With only 59,000 miles on the car, the factory axle bearings were in great shape and we decided to reuse them. We ordered new seals and brake hardware, then installed Porterfield R-4S brake shoes. These performance items have improved pedal feel on past project cars, so we’re confident that they’ll make a great, low-cost upgrade to our car without affecting its appearance at all.

We also replaced all of our car’s brake lines and hoses. We opted for ones from Classic Tube on our Sunbeam Tiger project car, and we were happy to use their products again. We were thrilled with their quality and excellent fit on our Tiger, and we were even more impressed with Classic Tube’s concours-correct non-stainless lines for the Shelby. Peter Geilser of Orlando Mustang told us the stainless lines weren’t needed on a car that would be this well maintained. Plus, they were harder to bend into place.

We’ve known Paul and Lauren of Classic Tube for a long time through their association with the Shelby American Automobile Club; we knew that if there was ever an application their products would fit perfectly, it would be an early Shelby. Man, were we right. The level of detail is uncanny and the lines are exactly like the factory lines. We did sway from absolutely original parts by opting for braided steel brake hoses. We like the improved brake feel they offer and plan on running lots of high-speed events with this car. The change to concours-correct rubber hoses is an easy one if we ever feel compelled to enter the car in a show.

However, both Curt Vogt at Cobra Automotive and Peter Geisler at Orlando Mustang warned us about some brake issues with this setup. Peter predicted that we wouldn’t be happy with the brake feel on a power-brake Mustang with the braided steel hoses. As racers, we weren’t sure we believed him. After all, we use these lines on all our cars and are used to a harder pedal.

Curt told us we may be happier with Porterfield R-4 brake shoes. These race-only shoes (the S in the R-4S pads we opted for designates street use) have a harder compound that takes a little longer to heat up and grab. This may sound like a bad thing, but Curt contends that this counteracts the early Shelby’s imperfect rear-brake bias. This does make some sense, so we look forward to testing both of these braking theories and making changes as necessary.

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View comments on the CMS forums
10/3/11 10:25 p.m.

The pics show rebuilding the 'exterior' of the 9 inch and you address the bearings...but what are the internals: locker? gear ratio? is this coming in a future update?

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