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Mad Max - Galaxie Tow Rig


Elite Explorer
Elite Explorer
April 1, 2012
Reaction score
City, State
Salt Lake City, Utah
Year, Model & Trim Level
1993 Explorer
Allow me to introduce my Galaxie :D


Probably more of a demolition derby contender than a tow rig, but you've got to start somewhere! I got this Galaxie from a wrecking yard earlier this year in January as a side project to get running. Long story short, it has now taken on an entirely different project than what I started with! I'll catch everyone up to speed with how I got her to this point in due time, but for now this Mad Max of a project is in full swing and this is what I've been up to for the last few days: Rear Brakes

When I went to unscrew the brake line from the wheel cylinder it just completely fell apart (rusted into oblivion). So I ran a new brake line from the wheel cylinder down to the splitter on the axle.


Ah, a happy rust free brake line! Next I stripped off all the old hardware and was left with the rusty excuse of a housing for my brake hardware.


After some wire brushing, elbow grease, and a bunch of new parts she came out looking respectable despite the 8 years of cobwebs and rust that had built up sitting in the junk yard.


Next it was on to the passenger side... I figured this was coming.


Ah, yeah. plenty of rust, enough so that it looked like it was mummified to the axle! Upon unscrewing the brake line from the wheel cylinder, as expected, the line just fell apart. What I didn't expect was for the end threaded into the splitter to be completely rounded off into a circular nut!


Well, after lots of crappy attempts, I finally removed the gas tank so I could get a really good go at it with my favorite tool; Channel Locks!


Haha! Success! Now I had a clear shot to run a new brake line down the passenger side of the axle.


With the brake lines now taken care of I could get back to addressing the actual hardware in the drums.


Yeah, definitely seen better days. On the flip side, I still had plenty of elbow grease left and the wire brush was still in good shape, so away I went!


Not sand blasted and air-brushed, but much more inviting than when I started. Next I dressed it up with some new hardware :)


Ah, looking much better! And quite a bit safer to boot! Now, earlier this month I had a chance to wire brush the old drums and throw a coat of paint on them.


I may be leaning towards repainting them black, but blue was the only high temp paint I had handy, so I just went with it. It definitely turned out better than expected! I decided to call it a day and chuck the rims back on so I could roll her into the garage for the night.


For a rusty old boat she is starting to go through the steps to recovery. I found myself with a little bit of time this morning to tidy up a few things and decided it would be a good chance to mock-up my plans for Mad Max.




I was smiling from ear to ear when I got done, can't wait to have this tow rig on the road!!! It is going to be a hell of a ride towing my Explorer down to Moab in my Mad Max of a Galaxie :D :D :D

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This is going to be interesting :D

I'm watching this. Same year Galaxie 500 I took my drivers license test in back in 1975.

Suicide 77,

Suicide 77,

Your brake shoes are backwards on the right side.

Long shoe always goes to the rear of the car.

Just a tip.

Retract that last post.

I missed the trailing arm in the picture.

They are correct.

subscribe to this

same here

This is going to be interesting

I'm watching this. Same year Galaxie 500 I took my drivers license test in back in 1975.

Hell ya buddy......

You guys are all totally awesome! Looking forward to getting this old bird off the ground!

Well, here is where I am as of this evening - starting where I left off :)

First to drag Mad Max back out to the operating table.


And on to the front brakes. Pretty on the outside -


- and a wee rough on the inside!


On to the stripdown to make room for new hardware! Now, unlike the rear, the front wheel cylinder isn't bolted on from behind the backing plate. Instead, there is this 1-1/4" nut that is torqued on with a little fingered washer that has tabs bent over to keep it in place (because rust isn't good enough!).


Now, you'd think it would be an easy battle with an extra long breaker bar right? Wrong! Came within mere pounds of pressure from stripping out the nut and bending the breaker bar! Thankfully luck was on my side (and a little elbow grease) and it finally broke loose with a sickening creak!


The lines just need to be disconnected and the cylinder should be free of its rusty residence! I hesitantly proceeded on the very un-inviting task...


Ta-Da!!! Disconnected! I knew I could do it :banghead:


At this point everything was clearly rust welded and preserving the remains wasn't happening, so I cut a corner to two...


...and that should do it!


Finally I could remove the rusted corpse of a cylinder and give it a proper burial in the trash :D


At this point I assessed the situation. If it hasn't become painstakingly obvious, the current trend has been replacing brake lines. So I surveyed the route through Mad Max's grime.


Well, this wasn't going to be a 'cake walk'. My current dilemma was on the passenger side and the master cylinder is mounted on the driver side.. (brake line is traversing across the engine cross member just ahead of my shoe)


BAM! Would you looky there! I fished the brake line out and got it staged next to a new one from O'reilly


I did the best I could eye-balling it to this point. From here I just couldn't get it to line up. I then had a good (or lazy) idea! Why not just zip-tie or twist-tie the lines together?


I started twist-tying from one end till I got to my current hang up. At that point there was enough tied together to keep it somewhat bound so I could bend as I pleased while comparing to the old one held in the correct position! In no time I had the whole thing bent just like the original!


Now, if anybody else noticed, I kinda ran out of brake line. Off to the parts store for a solution.


And would you look at that! My solution :dunno: this is the best I got


Alright, just had to get the back plate ready for the cylinder so I could give this circus of a brake line a shot.


Ah, my 'rust-OCD' has been appeased!


Well, here goes nothing! I started on the master cylinder end and fished the line the rest of the way through the maze.


Across the crossmember...


AH-HA!!! It fit! (with a little convincing) :hammer:


Finally, here is where Mad Max sits this evening.


A little more brake work and he should be good to go (or stop anyways!). This has been a pain, but it is time consuming, and has let me get a paycheck or two ahead. I'm just about to the point where I can buy the motor parts I need! *Foreboding Muahahaha!

Well, I the brake hardware kit I needed to finish the front came in today. Threw it in and ready to check the last one tomorrow.


I went ahead and gave the wheel a victory spin after getting the wheel bearings torqued down.


I basically burned the whole day running errands, however, one of those errands was hitting the junkyard to find a set of acceptable rims. Looky what I found!


Now, it is only the pair, but hopefully a few more good ones will show up in the near future. In the mean time I figured getting a paint scheme thrown together would be appropriate.


Don't want to spoil the plans, but I hope to have the paint scheme finished tomorrow :D

Ok, let me finally catch everyone up to speed with how this all came about:

I was at a wrecking yard in Magna, Utah looking for some parts. I saw the Galaxie sitting in the corner of the yard looking pretty sad and asked about it. As it turns out, the yard guy had bought it about 10 years ago from someone who dragged it in to junk it because the transmission had gone. He got it for his wife as a wedding present and they were planning on restoring it. He pulled the transmission and got it rebuilt, put it back in and replaced the distributor, then had a kid.


Fast forward 8 years to this January where I step in. The car sat ever since they had the baby, now an 8 year old, and they are planning on moving to Washington this summer. He had dragged the Galaxie out from the back lot and was going to pull the drivetrain out to sell then scrap the Galaxie in time for the move. I asked him what it would take to keep the car together. After some himming, hawing, and a little negotiation I ended up leaving the wrecking yard, returning with a trailer, then leaving again with the Galaxie.


Then I dove in and got to work!


Well... I will believe him when he said it sat in the back lot at the wrecking yard for 10 years. The seat is the first thing at this point to go on the check list. Now, my objective at this point was to get her to pass safety. Lets face it, under that really rough exterior is a car that I'll have a hell of a good time in! It looks mean, I can park it anywhere and not worry about door dings, and I bet tailgating people in this thing will make people move! So lets get started: the window crank doesn't work.


Now, anybody who has worked on the windows in these things know that the manual regulator is a piece of ----! Rusty bolts, high tension springs, jamming hands and arms thru little door cut-aways, no room for wrenches, and finally trying to take apart invisible parts! We've all been there, and I'll admit I abhor doors. After some fighting, and watching the spring send the entire assembly to the top of the door with no hope of return, I was able to retrieve the broken mech.


As you can see the metal decided to 'split' and broke in a very bad spot. After taking it apart I also found out that hens teeth are a little easier to track down than a manual door regulator for a '67 fastback (it has been 6 months and I still haven't found one). So if by some miracle any of you guys have a lead on a manual regulator I would be thrilled to hear about it!

At this point, being without a means to repair the regulator, I decided to work on getting the motor running. I'd heard it turn over once, but not fire. So I decided I would start with the tank and work my way forward. It was at this time that I found out a '69 gas tank would fit in a '67. All it takes it the gentle caress of smashing a hammer into the bottom of the tank...


In addition to having the late model tank conversion, it also included about 12 gallons of 8 year old varnish! Now, after looking at the Classic Auto Parts catalog I did notice that a '69-'72 tank is $200 less than a '66-'68 tank, but again, you must be willing to gently nudge it in place with a hammer. On the flip side it does still hold gas! So I cleaned it out as best I could, replaced the hardware, and hoisted her back into the belly of the beast.

After the rear end of the car was upgraded from 'maybe it holds gas' to 'that'll do' status I moved my attention to the front end of the car. When I first turned the key, I was rewarded with a nice curtain of sparks. A quick inspection revealed some very shaky wiring. I stripped it all out and just installed a push button start. Now, up to this point it really sounded like it wanted to start, but again there were a few things that were absolutely caked in wrecking yard dust. So I started with the carb.


This lovely little carb actually cleaned up quite nice, but was missing quite a bit of hardware (including one very important bearing ball piece in a valve). After getting it back together, adding an electric choke, fuel pump, metal fuel line, fuel hose, and a fuel filter = Eureka!


She fired up and sounded pretty solid! 390, 4 bbl, dual exhaust? Compared to my cute little 4 liter V6 Explorer this sounded like a race car roaring to life! At this point I decided to go ahead and take a run down the main drag on the temp tags and see what else there was to this rough old Gal. 2 things became very apparent on my outing. #1 There was a very considerable leak in the master cylinder. #2 There was also a very considerable leak of oil into the cylinders. Infact, enough that it was almost embarrassing! Any amount of heavy gas resulted in a smoke cloud that would linger for blocks! It was so bad that no amount of words will do it justice. Simply put, it was burning oil. BAD. And there was a knock knock knock that no amount of timing adjustment would get rid of. At this point I figured why not just take the top end apart and take a look? So I did! Valve covers are easy, lets start there


Should have seen that coming. I guess I can take his word that it wasn't started for 8 years, so some rust on the rockers makes sense. On one hand, ok there is rust. On the other hand, they actually look to be in pretty good shape! They move back and forth with ease and anything that isn't rusty is fairly clean. Now, I could have done without the insult of whoever decided to glue the valve covers down over the ignition coil wire. There is so much *facepalm* that at this point I think an eye roll coupled with an *implied facepalm* is about how I felt.


Well, the next thing on the docket was removing the distributor. Why is it that FE blocks love holding onto distributors for dear life? It took wriggling, jiggling, gentle hammering, prying, and even a little mechanics yoga to finally free it from the jaws of the 390! Whew*


With the distributor now out of the way I was able to clean up any loose ends and get the intake manifold ready for departure from the block. By the way, the intake manifold weighs as much as a baby rhino. Thank goodness for my neighbor's kind heart and heavy duty engine hoist!


Once I got everything unscrewed and unbolted I hooked up the hoist. I then began lifting. And lifting. And lifting. I finally stopped when the wheels started to leave the ground. I then grabbed a big pry bar and hammer. One loud bang and epoxy filled pop later the car was back on the ground and the manifold was free! (also, note the wooden block hiding between the exhaust manifold and steering)


And how about a glamor shot of the little 2x4 that was just keeping tabs on the exhaust?


Now, why there was a 2x4? I haven't a clue. Definitely one of those things that make you scratch your head while someone somewhere is secretly still laughing that they hid a 2x4 in the engine bay. After removing the silicone gasket caked intake manifold it was just a matter of removing the heads. Surprisingly the exhaust manifold bolts came off without much of a fight Just a few bolts in the heads and bam' - I was in the cylinders! I was also at the root of the problem....


Hmmmm.... there's where my missing carb parts went! And while were here, lets go back to the trunk where I set the heads and take a picture of those too because I'm still a little shocked about the mashed piston.


So at this point I'm pretty confident I know why it is burning oil? Well, this means the next logical step is to pull the motor, bore it out, and rebuild! So I went ahead and continued on my deconstructive path.


I got all the linkages, electrical do-dads, motor mounts, trans mounts, and etc undone. Just have the drive-line left to take out and she should be free to come on out! Even got a shiny chain to pull from.


For those who didn't know, the 390 is the same block as a 352, but just a different crank and piston rod length. Here is a shot of the casting number:


When I got on the war path again I started with unscrewing the nuts that hold the U-joints together on the differential end of things:


The good thing about oil leaks is that they inadvertently 'rust proof' parts. As you can see, the rust proofing shown here let the nuts come off with ease! Next is just sliding the other end out of the transmission. I made sure to mark the position of the driveline on both the differential and transmission prior to removing it.


With the driveline now out of the way the drive train is completely free from the car. The radiator however, is kind of at a pivotal point of the engine bay. Simply put, it would suck to ruin the radiator, especially when it is held in by only two bolts! More specifically, the two bolts shown below. Once those are unscrewed the radiator just slides on out


So at this point, all that's left is the motor and transmission. I was using two 28 link chains and decided to hook the 13 link from the front. No math, just looked like a good spot to hook it.


As it started to come out, it became obvious the high angle was going to put the splines sticking out of the transmission in imminent danger of hitting the transmission cross member. To keep the tail end of the drivetrain from dragging, I just slid a floor jack under the car and eased the tail off of the cross member so it could slide forward without landing on the splines.



With that little obstacle now behind me it was simply a matter of lifting the whole assembly out.


Once the center of gravity had cleared the core support, I picked up the tail to clear the transmission over the core support and walked the hoist away from the car via my gripping spot on the transmission.


Crikey! Would you look at the size of that one! At last the motor and transmission are out of the Galaxie. Now I can finally work on getting them rebuilt to power this fastback down the road!


Now, I don't know about you guys, but I abuse the crap out of my creepers. Besides being a great place to take a nap they also make pretty good dollies. I figured it would be a little safer to rest the transmission half on the ground till I get something a little more suitable for it to rest on. Next will be getting the engine stand and getting this thing torn down!

So, to kick of the tear down I started with the starter. Just 3 easy bolts and I came right off!


Then I went ahead and unscrewed the 6 bell housing bolts holding the transmission to the motor.


The last thing to get out of the way was the dust cover on the front bottom of the transmission. Super grimy!


After that it was smooth sailing! Luckily, by having the motor held with the hoist and the transmission laying on the creeper, I was able to simply slide the transmission off by rolling the creeper away from the motor/hoist. I didn't even break a sweat!


The next thing in the way is what I'm guessing is the torque converter? (I really don't know what I'm doing sometimes!) It looked like 4 nuts are all that holds this puppy on.


After undoing those I had the very unpleasant surprise of finding out how damn heavy it was! I mean, son of a gun that thing has some heft! After strong-arming it off I set it aside for later. I don't know if it matters or not, but I did mark where it was positioned on the flexplate (flywheel?) when it was on.


So far so good, now I could finally get her torn down.


Ta-da! A little movie magic and here is where the motor sits today:


Yeah, in the basement. I wanted to keep it out of the weather till I had the funds to continue the madness. Up to this point, I had gotten it completely torn down, took it to the machine shop for a bath and resurfacing, and also ended up getting it bored .060 over :D :D :D Once I get the crank mic'd, the new cam and lifter kit, and new pistons with rings, I can slap it back in to good ol' Maxy Max!


I think I can finally call this thread completely and irrefutably caught up with where I'm at. Now, on to tomorrows adventure!

tow vehicle choice?

I don't know what year your Galaxie 500 hardtop is but it's a classic restoration project vehicle and you're making great progress. However, I question its selection as a tow vehicle with a curb weight of more than 4,000 lbs and drum brakes all around. I would consider upgrading the front brakes to discs. Also, it has a long rear overhang which will contribute to side sway in cross winds. I suggest you have sway dampers on your towing hitch.

I don't know what year your Galaxie 500 hardtop is but it's a classic restoration project vehicle and you're making great progress. However, I question its selection as a tow vehicle with a curb weight of more than 4,000 lbs and drum brakes all around. I would consider upgrading the front brakes to discs. Also, it has a long rear overhang which will contribute to side sway in cross winds. I suggest you have sway dampers on your towing hitch.

Thanks man, it is a '67! It weighs 3800 lbs and with all the metal that has rusted off, maybe a little less :sawzall: I have the spindles for a front disc conversion, just need the time and money to get new calipers/rotors. I have a year to engineer this to be the tow vehicle I want it to be, although considering my grandpa used to tow the camper in the 60's with one of these I think it is probably a good candidate as she sits. I like the suggestion of sway dampers, I think I will go that route! As for why tow in a Galaxie anyways? It seems like more fun!

My goal is to:

-Have an off road capable tow rig
-Tow safely within reason
-Have matching tires/rims with my Explorer so I only have to buy one tire size.
-Cosmetically a low key Mad Max look with maybe a Demoliton Derby look.
-Enjoy the hell out of it!

I have rebuild 390's.

I would strongly suggest that you have that block Manufluxed and checked for cracks.

I rebuilt one once only to discover that one of the cylinders had a hair-line crack.

Already did! :D

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I think I'm gonna cry.

In this entire post, he hasn't said the word "sensor" yet.

Tell me, does the brake booster have the beer can holder option?