Posted by Jonathan
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.