Monthly Archives: October 2012

What a blast

A few weeks ago the Plymouth was sent out for sandblasting to remove the old paint and surface rust. Today, a few of the parts came back.

The rest of the car should be following along shortly, but until then we can get started preparing these parts for primer and paint. We always do the fenders, doors, hood and trunk separately anyway so not having the rest of the car in the shop makes no difference whatsoever.

Who wants to do some sanding?

Today we rolled the Chevelle into the booth so that we can apply the high solids primer. You can see the car after the application of the primer in these photographs.

The high solids primer is like sprayable body filler. It’s function is to fill and smooth any small ripples and imperfections in the sheet metal. The primer is sprayed on the car a fraction of an inch thick and after it dries it becomes a solid that can be sanded smooth.

The sanding process, called blocking, involved wrapping a piece of sandpaper around a semi-flexible plastic block. The block allows the sandpaper to really dig into any high areas while only lightly skimming over low areas. Most of the material that was sprayed on the car will be sanded off, but that which remains will produce a glass like smoothness that really brings out the beauty of the paint. Since this car is black, having the ulta-smooth surface will make the paint really pop.

Tomorrow the primer will be dry and ready for blocking. More sanding … I can hardly wait.

It’s déjà vu all over again

After removing the side mirrors and welding up the mounting holes, the door were ready to paint. Yesterday we got the doors primed and painted. You can see the doors fresh from painting, still in the booth, in the first two pictures.

After allowing the doors to dry over night, today we got cracking on wet sanding and polishing to return the shine to the point it was before we started hacking at the doors. You can see Chris polishing one of the door in the third picture.

The last two photos show the doors after they have been polished back to a brilliant shine. Now that the doors have had, in effect, two complete paint jobs, they are just about as protected from rust as any piece of metal can be.

The doors are going to look great with the new style windows in them. Moving the mirrors forward on the door is only going to help the look. Certainly worth every bit of the time and effort to move them.

Good as new

After another company botched the repair, a repair made in the parking lot, we have this bumper properly repaired.

The first picture shows the bumper after the base coat has been applied. The base coat is the first of two coatings that form the modern, two-stage, automotive finish. The base coat provides the color and dries to a near flat finish.

The second coating, the clear coat, is applied after the base dries. As you can see in picture two the clear coat not only provides a tough protective layer for the more delicate base coat, it also provides the gloss.

The third picture shows another section of the bumper. Though undamaged we painted these in addition to the bumper to ensure a perfect color match.

We actually painted the bumper yesterday but I forgot to post the pictures to the website until today. That’s fine because we put the bumper on the car today and the owner picked it up … and I forgot to take pictures of the car finished before it left.

That makes for a certain symmetry, don’t you think?

Time for plan “B”

It was bound to happen … this build has been moving smoothly along with nary a problem. Until now. The owner delivered several boxes of parts removed from the car during the rust repair at Murphy Rod & Custom. Two of the parts that were to be reused were the vent window frames. The frames are made from unobtainium I guess because you simply cannot find replacement frames, new or used. Unfortunately for the owner one of the frames has some small rust spots in the chrome. That left him with three choices … use them as is, send them out for rechroming or don’t use them.

Option one isn’t really an option … this is too nice a car to put rusty parts on, even if the rust is minor. Option two is an option, but it’s expensive in both money and time … time that is beginning to be in short supply. That leaves option three, do without, the option the owner selected.

There is a kit available for the ’68-’72 El Camino that converts the door to use a single pane of glass as nearly all modern cars use. This option will cost about the same as the rechroming of the frames, but we can have the kit delivered and installed in just a couple of weeks.

Installing the kit isn’t hard … I have done them before, but it does require some modification to the door to remove bracing that was required by the vent window assembly. The owner also wanted to move the mirrors forward on the doors since the vent post is missing. The mirrors will look more “proper” for being moved forward … but it would have been nice to have known we were going to have to do this before we painted the doors.

The first photograph shows the bracing that is going to have to be removed. The next two photographs, numbers two and three, show Chris cutting the bracing out and grinding the edges smooth. This is really the extent of the modifications for the new door glass.

The next three pictures, numbers 4, 5 & 6, show how we filled the existing mirror holes. A small plug is cut to fit the holes as Chase demonstrates in the fourth picture. The paint is ground away to reveal bare metal so that the plug can be welded in as shown in pictures four and five.

After the holes are welded closed, the area is smoothed with body filler as shown in picture seven.

When the filler has hardened we sand it smooth, as seen in picture 8, and the primer applied to seal the repairs as shown in picture 9. Tomorrow we will sand the primer smooth before we paint the doors again. After the paint is thoroughly dry we will wet sand and buff the doors to put us right back were we started, but without mirror holes in the doors.

I think the owner is correct in his desire to move the mirrors forward on the door. When the car was built it made sense to have the mirrors mounted where they were to avoid having the vent window post in the way. But with the post gone the mirrors will look odd so far back on the door.

After the owner discovered the conversion kit he took a philosophical view of events by stating the single glass pane side windows sort of falls in line with the other modernization touches made to the car. Removing all the badges and marker lamps, shaving the rain-gutters … and removing the vent windows … they all give the car a retro-modern look that suites this car very well.

It’s too bad that we had to do this after the doors were painted … but a whole lot of life is how you handle plan “B.”

In that regard, I think this guy is going to be ok.

A do over

The owner of this Maxima wanted a do over. After the car was damaged the owner had the car repaired using one of the “we come to you” body repair businesses that repair minor dents and dings in the parking lot. I’m not knocking the work these guys do, but the fact is you can’t possibly get the same quality work repairing a car in a parking lot as you can in a body shop. Because of time constraints the repair guy has to focus on doing the job quickly to the detriment of doing it well. This car arrived this morning, but it won’t be ready until tomorrow because it simply takes that long to do the job right.

The first picture shows the repair on the rear bumper. It is a bit difficult to see in the first picture, but in the second picture, taken closer, you can see that the repair is still visible. A definite no-no in the body shop business.

After sanding you can see in the third photograph the damage, a crack in the bumper. The first step is to remove the improper repair.

In picture four the defective repair has been removed and we are ready to repair the bumper properly this time.

Picture five and six show the bumper with a high-strength epoxy used to bind to and seal the damaged area on the bumper. We also applied a fiberglass mesh to the backside of the bumper, shown in picture six, for added strength. Once this filler dries we will be able to sand it smooth.

The last picture, number seven, shows the damaged area fully repaired. It still need paint of course, but the bumper is now as smooth and strong as it was when new.

This type of repair only works on light damage, as this bumper had, but even this only slightly damaged bumper still takes time to repair correctly. It takes time to allow the products to fully cure, to sand, and finally to paint. Time the parking lot repair guys simply don’t have.

Remember, it almost always costs less to have it repaired properly the first time … than to have it repaired twice.

Like new again

Today we finished painting the sheet metal on the car. I think. We may turn up a few things here and there that need a new coat of paint, but I really think we are done painting Blackberry Pearl, the base color of the car.

The first photo is of the “smuggler box” cover painted to match the car. Considering how bad it looked when we started, it looks really, really, good now.

The second photo is the other end of the bed, the tailgate inside cover. The owner made a late evening run to the parts store to pick this piece up so we could complete the painting today. 

The next three photos, numbers three, four and five, are shots of various parts that came with the car cleaned up and painted. Picture three contains the head-lamp buckets and various braces. After looking at all the parts hanging there most of the day we started referring to this stand as the “body shop Christmas tree.”

The items in picture four are the tail-lamp mounting brackets. You won’t see these at all, they will be hidden inside the fenders, but they were so grungy that I couldn’t stand it so we cleaned an painted them too.

In picture five you can see the tailgate latch mechanisms. These are mounted to the edges of the tailgate and lock the tailgate in the upright position when they interlock with their mates on the edge of the bed. The only part you will see of these are the parts painted black. The rest of the mechanism will be hidden inside the tailgate.

In the sixth photograph I am hunched over the instrument panel wiring the gauges. It isn’t hard, but it is tedious cutting and fitting all the wiring to make everything work. I worked on it for a couple hours today but ran out of time before I finished, so you will probably see another shot of me looking much like this in a later entry.

Though the instrument panel isn’t fully wired, you can see what it will look like in picture seven. These are a new style of gauge recently introduced by Auto Meter called Black Diamond and they look fantastic, a perfect match for this car.

We have gone about as far as we can with the car until it comes back from Murphy Rod & Custom. About all we can do until then is wait for the paint to dry.

Staying busy

Work on the El Camino has kind of stalled while it is over at Murphy Rod & Custom having the mechanical bits installed. But we did put in a few hours working on a little of this and a little of that on it.

The first two pictures are of the hood latch assembly. It was a yucky nasty thing until Chris ran it through the sandblaster. After Chris finished with it looked brand new … all clean and shiny. Now it needs some paint, not only to protect it from rust but also to make it blend in and disappear in the inky shadows behind the grille.

Picture three shows the latch after the etching primer has been applied. Etching primer is used to bond to the bare metal and to provide a coating to promote the adhesion of the paint that is going to follow.

Finally, in picture four, you can see the latch painted in a nice flat black. As nice as it looks, it isn’t he most attractive thing on the car and painting it black will make it disappear behind the grille.

While the painting of the hood latch was going on, we completed the blocking on the bed panel that covers the “smuggler box,” what would be the rear seat foot well if this were a Chevelle instead of an El Camino. This was an original piece of the car and it was in rough shape, but it fit so well I decided it was worth the effort to save it instead of replacing it with an aftermarket piece and risk it not fitting as well.  There were a couple of times during the blocking of the panel that I wondered if I was making the proper choice, but now that it is done, I am very happy with the decision. You can see in picture five Chris blowing the dust off the panel after the blocking was complete.

Chris did most of the blocking on this panel, with a paint stick no less, because a regular block wouldn’t fit down into the grooves in the panel. You can see the blocked panel in picture six.

During the blocking process Chris uncovered a hole in the panel. It looks like it might be a place that something sharp, like maybe a heavy nail in some wood, was dropped on the panel punching a hole in it. What ever caused the hole, it couldn’t stay. You can see me welding up the hole in the seventh photograph, then grinding it smooth in picture eight. And in case you are wondering, yes, I was using the welding helmet of eye protection while grinding. I couldn’t find my safety glasses and welding helmet was handy.

After smoothing up the weld the panel was put in the booth and primed. The panel you see in picture nine looks a whole lot better than it did before we started work on it. This will be sanded again tomorrow to further smooth the surface and maybe, if everything goes according to plan, we will get the panel painted tomorrow too. If we are going to paint the top of the panel tomorrow, we needed to get the bottom of the panel painted today. After the primer dried enough to handle we hug it up for paint.

Chris has been hankering to try his hand with the paint gun. Since this is the bottom of the panel and will never be seen, short of removing it of course, I decided to let Chris have a go. After a little bit of coaching you can see Chris painting away in picture ten. I checked with the owner to make sure it was OK before I turned Chris loose but I needn’t have bothered. There wasn’t a single run in the entire panel. What is he trying to do, take my job?

Photograph eleven shows the panel painted in the same semi-gloss eggshell paint that we have used extensively on this car. The bottom of the panel can’t be seen so we didn’t send any time smoothing it up to make it look nice. We always go the extra distance to make our project cars look their best, but I don’t see any reason to spend a customers money making something that will never be seen, pretty. Like the owner said one day during a similar discussion, “If someone is going to comment on that, they better have a nicer one.” I think that is a good attitude.

The photographs beginning with picture 12 are a collection of photographs, all dealing with the lighting on this car.

The owner wanted to go with LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting where possible. Picture 12 shows the six LED’s, two each in red, white and yellow that will be used to replace the turn signals, brake-lamps and backup-lamps.

LED’s work differently than old fashioned incandescent bulbs. With incandescent bulbs, the standard type of automotive lamp, you stick a clear bulb behind a colored lens and bada boom, bada bing, you have a brake-lamp, turn signal … whatever. But since LED’s emit light in a very tight spectrum you must match the color of the LED to the lens otherwise the perceived light will be much dimmer than it would be otherwise.

The replacement head-lamps, seen in picture 13, will accept the modern H1 and H4 head-lamps, the same bulbs used in modern cars. These high-quality head-lamp assemblies will throw considerably more light on the road than the old-fashioned sealed beams ever did. We are also putting in the highest wattage bulbs available for on road use. The bulbs look blue but when lit they produce a bright pure white light that makes this car much safer to drive at night.

Because this car will have modern wiring and lighting we don’t have to worry about the dim brake- and tail-lamps like this car had when new. Since safety won’t be compromised we added a light tint to the tail-lamp lenses to tone down the redness of the lenses. You can see the difference between the standard lens on the right and the tinted lens on the left in picture 14. The darkness of the tint is variable but this is about as light a tint as can be applied and still have the tint be seen.

Picture 15 shows the other lens tinted to match but before the clear coat is applied to bring the shine back up.

Picture 16 shows the completed lenses. As you can see the lenses are still red but the tint takes away some of the vibrancy of the red. This is about a 5% tint, which means the lens will pass about 5% less light than it would without the tint. But since these LED’s are just as bright, or brighter, and light up faster than incandescent bulb, nothing is lost in safety even as you add some style points.

Picture 17 shows the lenses assembled in their bezels. They are going to look great against this dark colored car.

The owner has purchased some rechomed OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) bumpers, which you can see in picture 18. They look great, better than new even, and the owner wasted no time putting his new lamps into the bumpers. You can see the parking-lamps/turn signals in front bumper in picture 19 and the backup lamps in the rear bumper in picture 20.

We’ve been staying busy on the El Camino, getting some of the little things done. This means that as soon as the car comes back from Murphy Rod & Custom we can begin the wiring and assembly process. We are sooo close to being finished I can almost see the finish line.

Since we’re painting

The Plymouth Satellite has been gone for a couple of weeks while the motor is pulled for a refresh and body is sandblasted. Work is progressing on the car, but it isn’t work we are doing.

However … since we were sandblasting and painting a few parts for the El Camino I decided to throw a couple of the Satellite parts into the mix. They needed the same treatment as the El Camino parts and I figured if we were sandblasting and painting parts, we might as well do them all.

These are  the bumper brackets and part of the hood latching mechanism from the Satellite. I neglected to get any before pictures, but take my word for it, they look a lot better.

Call it done

Yesterday we painted the front and rear bumpers on this Camry. The front bumper had a few scrapes and bruises that didn’t show in the pictures I took. The rear bumper, however, had a nice little ripped place in the bottom.

In the first picture Chris and I are putting the rear bumper back on the car. We put the front bumper on a few minutes earlier. Modern cars are great … once you get everything properly lined up the bumpers practically fall onto the car.

The second picture is of the car cleaned up and ready to go home. It looks good in it’s bright white paint sitting in the sun.

I think we can call this one done.

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