Daily Archives: October 29, 2012

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.

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