Monthly Archives: August 2011

How mad would you be?

This beautiful new Nissan Maxima arrived in the shop Friday. This car, a 2011, has less than 5,000 miles on the clock and in the simple act of washing it, well, let’s say it didn’t go as planned.

The owner took the car to a local automated car wash … the name is not important … and as the car traveled along a bit of the car wash mechanism either broke or came loose. In any case, it fell on the car, damaging the left head-lamp and front bumper. Then, to add insult to injury, it scraped all the way down the car, damaging the front wheel, denting the front fender, and gouging the paint all the way to the rear wheel. You can see its path in the first couple of photos.

I believe I can guess the first word out of car’s owner, and the car wash owner’s, mouth when they saw what had happened. My guess is it was “Oh … !” The good news is the car wash has stepped up and is paying to have the car repainted.

The first couple of pictures show the car in the booth with the gouge in the paint sanded smooth and primed. The last two pictures show the car painted, but not cleared. I ran out of time today so the car will be cleared tomorrow and the bumpers painted on Friday.

I know it must have nearly killed the owner to see his brand new car come out of the wash bay with a big honkin’ scratch down the side. It would have me.  But by Monday I don’t think he will be able to tell it even happened.

Painting the Old Timer

Friday we painted the cab of the 1932 Ford truck a beautiful, vibrant, blue. Next week we will paint the front fenders and the bed, then the truck will be ready to go back to the owner for assembly.

The first three photos show Jordan and I masking the truck to prevent the paint from getting on things that we don’t want the paint on. It’s a tedious job, but time spent here saves a lot of time cleaning up later.

In the third photo I am wetting down the plastic that I use to cover large areas so it will stick to, and seal around, the truck so the paint can’t worm its way through a tiny little gap.

The fourth and fifth photos show us cleaning the truck to remove all dust and oil so the paint will have good adhesion. The first step is to remove as much dust as possible with compressed air. Then the entire truck is wiped down with a strong degreaser that removes any oil that has been left on the truck from touching it.

We spray the degreaser on a section of the truck then wipe it down with a lint free rag, as shown in the fifth photo. I normally will wipe the entire truck two or three times to make absolutely sure that I didn’t miss any places. When the truck is thoroughly cleaned we close up the paint booth then move to the fun part … mixing the paint.

Paint is mixed by weight. I have a computer that tells me the proportion for each of the pigments that go into making a color. In the sixth photo you can see me measuring pigment out of a can into a larger can sitting on a scale. The can on the scale will, after all the ingredients are added, contain the paint that is sprayed on the truck. Today this truck will require two of those silver cans, or two quarts, for coverage.

The next two photos show me spraying the paint I just mixed on the truck. It will take several coats of color for uniform coverage. The color layer will shine only while the paint is wet, then will try to a dull flat finish. It is the clear coat that is applied next that provides the protection and shine.

The last three photos show the result after the clear has been applied. This truck is not receiving our High Performance Finish so this part of the truck, once dry, is complete. Even without the wet sand and buff, this old truck looks a lot better now than it did with it arrived in the shop.

In case you are wondering … the buckets in the last two photos are my low-tech solution for reaching the top of the truck. It’s not fancy, but sometimes it is difficult to improve on the tried and true methods.

Preparing for the heart transplant

We are just about ready to put the new heart, a massaged 351, into this Mustang. Before it can run, though, it is going to need some go juice. But before the go juice can get to the motor, we need a place to store it. So today we painted the fuel tank which we will install tomorrow.

The first picture shows the tank in bare metal, just as we received it. In order to ensure this fuel tank has a long and productive life, it needs some attention.

The second picture shows the tank primed and ready for paint. Even on something few people will ever see or think about, like a fuel tank, it gets the same careful attention to rust proofing as the rest of the car. The tank was first etched then epoxy primed to seal it against rust and to give the paint something to stick to.

The third photo shows me painting the whole thing black to further protect the tank from rust and to make it look finished and like someone cared.

Today we also put the head-lamp assemblies in the car and put in place the air conditioning condenser to mock up the wiring and hose runs. The condenser is that radiator looking thing in the nose of the car. The condenser looks like a radiator because that is exactly what it is, but instead of cooling the engine, the condenser helps cool the driver by removing the heat collected by the air conditioning refrigerant.

With the fuel tank being installed in the back, and the condenser and head-lamp assemblies in the front, we are working from both ends to complete this project so we can return it to the owner as soon as possible.

Rockin’ and Rollin’

OK … the title is overstating it a bit, but as you may know by now, today we had the largest earthquake in this area since the Giles County quake of 1897. And I didn’t even know it.

I was working away in the paint booth when the metal walls of the booth started banging and rattling. Because I didn’t feel anything, at the time I thought it was Jordan, one of the employees, horsing around and pounding on the booth. But no, it was Terra firma that at the time wasn’t as firma as you would think. It wasn’t until later, after emerging from the booth, that I found that Burlington (NC) had taken a good shaking.

Darn it. I always miss the good stuff.

Old Timer

Yesterday we started blocking this 1932 Ford pickup. It was delivered to the shop with the body work complete and primed so all we are going to do is block it smooth then paint it. It will then be returned to the owner for reassembly.

Blocking is the smoothing of the primer to remove imperfection so when the paint goes on it is as smooth and flat as possible, producing the best shine from the paint. The nice thing about blocking this truck is all the slab sides … which make the blocking process very fast and easy. The problem is all the little details, like the belt molding as seen in the second photograph, which has to be sanded by hand.

No way to shortcut stuff like that though, so you just grit your teeth and do it. The sore fingers will feel better in a couple of days.

Change is nigh

If you are still sending email to, now is the time to stop using that address and start using the new address …

Sometime tomorrow my internet and phone service with BellSouth will be disconnected and switched over to Time Warner Cable. While my phone number will remain the same, the email address will cease to function.

I planned for this eventuality a couple of years ago when I bought my domain and setup my own email account, but because address still worked it hasn’t mattered if email was still being sent to the old address. But it matters now.

So once again, if you are sending email to you need to stop using that address immediately and begin using

Going topless

After the weeks and weeks of just brutal heat this summer, the weather has taken a turn to the pleasant. Don’t get me wrong, it is still plenty warm, but 88° beats 98° every time.

Because the weather has cooled off I was feeling frisky this morning and decided to haul the Ghia out and go to work topless. Wait! Rather, what I meant to say is I drove to work topless. No, that’s not right either … What I really mean is I drove to work with the top down on the convertible. Yeah, that’s it.

This is the 1960 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia convertible that I use to promote my business. I have completely reworked the car, bringing a real rust bucket back to the car you see here. The car is painted Suzuki Miami Blue with a white interior, a color scheme picked out by my lovely wife I might add.

The car has been dropped 5-inches, and because of that, I had to narrow the front beam 2-inches so the tires wouldn’t rub. Out back there is a dressed out 2096 cc horizontally opposed four cylinder with all forged internals, breathing through dual 44 mm Weber carbs. This setup makes about 140 horsepower, up slightly from the 1200 cc, 36 horsepower engine the car had when new.

I think it goes without saying the car has a bit more punch that it had back in ’60, so front disc brakes have been added so I don’t kill myself in it.

You can’t be cool without control

To be cool you have to be calm and unruffled … in other words, in control. Just ask the Fonz. A car is the same way. Having all the air conditioning capacity in the world does you no good if you can’t control it.

There are still some plumbing to be done on the Mach 1, but while waiting on parts to arrive, I started working on the control panel for the new heating and air conditioning system.

The first order of business was to clean and paint the face plate. A squirt of a degreasing cleaner, a little elbow grease, and the panel was ready to be painted. You can see the painted face plate drying in the third picture.

The fourth picture shows the control levers all taped up and painted silver so they will look as nice as the face plate they go into.

The final photo shows the control unit assembled with the new new Vintage Air appliqué in place and all the gizmos that allows this original control panel to control the modern climate control system attached.

As soon as the shiny new control knobs arrive this control unit will be ready to take on the task of keeping this Mustang … cool.

It’s like sunglasses … for cars

Yesterday a customer dropped of their Infinity G35 to have the tail-lamps tinted.

In my opinion the G35 needs very little help in the looks department, but like a pretty woman putting on her sunglasses, tinting the tail-lamps just makes an appealing package that much better.

Look at these before and after shots and tell see if you don’t agree that having the tail-lamps tinted, slipping on its shades so to speak, doesn’t make this beautiful car look just a little bit better.

Cool car

Today I started installing the Vintage Air system in Cassie and Carl’s Mustang. When complete this car is going to be as cool inside as out.

The first picture shows the Vintage Air unit waiting to be installed. The Vintage Air system is a self contained unit that provides both heat and air … and that makes the unit a little bulky.

The second picture shows the unit tucked under the dash. It’s a tight fit in there. So tight in fact, as you can see in the third photo, that the glove box becomes only big enough to hold, well, a pair of gloves. Given a choice I think I would rather be cool than have a place to store a bunch of stuff, but that may be just me.

I still have some plumbing to run before the unit is ready to heat or cool anything, plus I still have the controls to hook up, but at least have the main unit muscled into place.

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