Monthly Archives: November 2012

It’s custom

2012.11.30 - El Camino (1)2012.11.30 - El Camino (2)2012.11.30 - El Camino (3)2012.11.30 - El Camino (4)2012.11.30 - El Camino (5)2012.11.30 - El Camino (6)2012.11.30 - El Camino (7)2012.11.30 - El Camino (8)2012.11.30 - El Camino (9)While Chase toiled away wet sanding the Plymouth, Chris and I spent today working on the wiring of the El Camino. Not so much installing the wiring as testing.

The first thing this morning Chris took an hour or so to hook up the horns. The car didn’t have horns when we first got it so the first order of business was to find out where the horns go and how they attach. There was no obvious way or place to mount them but after a few minutes of digging on the internet he found a picture and discovered what he needed to know. You can see him installing the horns in the first photo and the results of his handy work in the second. What I want to know is how did we do anything before the internet?

The owner of the El Camino wanted a lot of light inside the car to eliminate dark corners. To that end we mounted a pair of LED bulbs inside the smuggler box that come on with the interior lamps. A clever idea if I do say so myself.

The third and fourth photos show Chris mounting the LED’s in the box. The LED’s mount flush in the top of the box as you can see in the fifth photo. After the wires were tied together we slipped the box into place and hooked them up to the interior lamp circuit as you can see in picture number six. The LED’s aren’t dazzling bright, but they do throw a nice amount of light into the interior of the box. Just another of those little custom touches that will surprise and delight the owner.

And speaking of custom touches, here is another one. The owner asked that the intake be painted black, to match the rest of the engine and engine bay, but then he wanted to sand the black off the top of the strakes to reveal the aluminum underneath. To be honest, my first thought was “Why?”, but it’s what the customer wanted so we did it. It is hard to tell, but picture seven shows the intake after the paint was sanded off. In person you can easily see why he wanted it done … it looks great and helps ties the look together.

After seeing the intake we decided to set in place the fuel rail covers we painted way back at the start of this project. The covers were the first things painted as a color check, and we have been saving them for this moment. The engine is quit dirty, something we will take care of before the car it turned over to the owner, but you can get an idea of how the engine is going to look in the last two pictures, numbers eight and nine. We are going to have to modify the right cover just a bit to get it to fit, but I think they look good and will set the engine, once it is cleaned up, off rather nicely.

I wouldn’t call this El Camino a custom car, it is still basically as GM built it in 1969. Having said that, it does have enough subtle customization to make it a true one of a kind.

So maybe it is a custom car after all.

That’s deep

2012.11.30 - Plymouth (1)2012.11.30 - Plymouth (2)2012.11.30 - Plymouth (3)2012.11.30 - Plymouth (4)2012.11.30 - Plymouth (5)2012.11.30 - Plymouth (6)2012.11.30 - Plymouth (7)2012.11.30 - Plymouth (8)Chase spent his day with wet hands and feet. Just what you want on a chilly November day.

The first picture has Chase wet sanding one of the fenders with 3000 girt sandpaper on the DA (Dual Action) sander. The fender has already been blocked to remove the imperfections. This DA sanding with 3000 grit sandpaper is something we have just started doing on our High Performance Finishes. It doesn’t make the paint look any better, but it does make it a little easier to get there by reducing the amount of polishing the paint needs.

The second photo shows the fender after the wet sanding is complete. Because the 3000 girt sandpaper is so fine, it almost returns some gloss to the finish.

Wet sanding, like every sanding step before it, is performed to remove imperfections. No matter how good the painter, and Chase is a pretty good one, it is impossible to lay the paint down perfectly. It simply can’t be done.

Painting, done well, leaves the paint with imperfections that are so slight they are difficult to near impossible to see. But the imperfections are there, and when they are removed the paint jumps to an entirely new level of gloss and reflection. In other words, you don’t notice the imperfection in a good paint job … until they are no longer there.

The third photo shows chase polishing the fender to remove the dullness left by the sanding. The fender will be polished three times with progressively finer polish until the sanding marks and polishing swirls are removed. In this photo Chase is just starting the polishing process and is using the most aggressive polish.

In the fourth photo Chase has completed the polishing and is wiping the fender with a micro-fiber towel to remove any remaining polish.

Wet sanding is time consuming, messy, and in winter, cold job. But … there is no other way to get the depth and reflective qualities that you see in the fifth picture. Now that is a High Performance Finish.

I was so please at how the fender(s) looked that I let Chase do the same thing to the hood. You can see him slaving away with the sanding block in picture six. Doesn’t he look like he is having fun?

Picture seven shows Chase once again polishing the paint after the wet sand process. The process is always the same  … block with 1000 grit sandpaper, block again with 2000 grit sandpaper, DA with 3000 grit sandpaper, then polish with course, medium and fine polish.  The only variation is if the paint is white or very light, we might skip the final polishing step because it makes no difference on the light colors.

The final photo, number eight, shows the results of his labors on the hood … and a pretty good result it is too.

I have done my share of wet sanding and I can tell you that nobody likes doing it. As I said before, it is a messy and tiring job. But if you want the best finish possible I know of no other way to get it, and that deep shine makes it all worth while. Especially if you get someone else to do it.

Let there be light

Today we applied power to the car … and their wasn’t a firetruck in sight.

The first picture shows the head-lamps on. Well, three of them anyway. How annoying to have a bad bulb right out of the box. At least I hope it is a bad bulb. I will get a new one tomorrow and put it in to make sure but that is the most likely problem.

We also verified that the tail-lamps, brake lamps and all the interior lights work. The engine turns over, though we didn’t actually try to start it because the radiator isn’t installed yet. Even the wipers work. As we do further testing we may uncover an electrical gremlin or two, but energizing the car and have everything appear to work, and no fires … it was a good day.

The other two pictures show the right side fender on. The right fender is on because I no longer have to be in and around the engine working on the wiring. Just another example of the end, or nearly the end, of the wiring.

I have wired many cars in my career and never had a fire, or even a near fire. I make fun about first applying power to a car after I wire it … but truth be told, every time I hook the battery up for the first time I hold my breath.

It may be nerves … but it also prevents smoke inhalation you see.

Are we coming or going?

Today we worked on both front and the back of the car.

In the first photo the head-lamps are installed in the car. These head-lamps are the same unites that were sold in BMW’s for years … but with a bit brighter bulbs installed. If you look closely you can just see the blue bulb in the right most head-lamp. The bulb appears blue, but when energized it will light with a brilliant white light.

The second photo is of the back of the head-lamp. We had to modify the head-lamp bucket just a bit to let the new lamps fit.

The third photo shows how you get the power from one side of the car to the other. We will tuck these wires up out of sight once the radiator arrives and we get it installed.

The fourth photo is of the high-low head-lamp switch. This is actually a starter button that is functioning as a momentary switch. The wiring harness has a few optional extras in it, one of which is a flash-to-pass feature activated by the momentary switch when the lights are off. The switch is ultra-heavy-duty for this function, and nearly silent in it’s operation, so no more click-clunk when dipping the head-lamps.

The fifth photo shows where we are dividing the rear wiring harness from one loom that carries the wires from the fuse block to the back of the car into two looms to service various functions. The bottom of the “T” that runs into the grommet feeds the fuel pump, fuel gauge and the right side lamps. The left side of the “T” goes to the left side tail-lamps. The larger loom on the right side goes back to the front of the car to the fuse block.

In the sixth photo, we are further sub-dividing the harness. In the extreme upper right of the photo you can see the same grommet shown in picture five. The loom is threaded though the factory supports and then divided again for the fuel system, lamps and other functions.

In the seventh picture you can see another section of the harness fed along the extreme back of the car. That single little wire is for the backup-lamps.

The last four photos, numbers 8-11, show the tail-lamps going in. We actually were able to test these today … and I took pictures of them all lit up … but they were so blurry from camera shake that I didn’t want to use them. Trust me, they work just fine.

Another few days of progress like the last two and we are going to be ready to begin systems testing on the car. You know … to make sure the horn doesn’t turn on the wipers … things like that.

In its prime

Now that the Chevelle is back from Throwback Custom Cars with the new rear window panel in place, the next step is to prime the car so we can, you guessed it, sand it again.

The first photo shows the car masked off to prevent the primer from getting in all the places we don’t want it. You can clearly see the new panel as it is black on an otherwise gray car.

In the second photo Chase is applying the urethane primer to the new panel. He will go on to prime the rest of the car.

The urethane primer is the final undercoat before paint. It seals and protects all the layers under it and provides, after sanding, an extremely smooth surface so the paint lays down nice and smooth.

The last two photos are of the car after it has been primed. The primer has a bit of a gloss in these photos because it is still slightly wet but after it is fully dry it will have all the gloss of a chalkboard.

Now that we are to this point, are nearly ready to paint. You could say this old Chevy is really in its prime. 

I know, I know … that was a real groaner.

A mirror like finish

The bumpers for the Satellite have returned after being rechromed. Holy cow those things are shiny. The certainly look better than they did when they left and probably have deeper reflections than they did when new.

It took a few moments to work out which bumper was which since they are so similar but that is the front bumper in picture one, and the front bumper is above the rear bumper in picture two.

We need to get this El Camino finished up so we can get cracking on the Satellite. We need a place to put these.

What dent?

Today we finished up this Toyota Tacoma so it could go home. We actually painted it yesterday, you can see the truck in the booth in the first photo, but this was the only photo I took of it yesterday. Sometimes I have a bad case of CRS, can’t remember stuff, and forget to take photos of the cars, and trucks, as we paint them.

Beginning with the second photo you can see what we did today. In the second photo Chris is lying under the truck tightening up the bolts that hold the bumper on. It would be … annoying … to have that freshly painted bumper fall off and be run over by the truck, so we always take care to make sure everything is securely tightened.

The last two photos, numbers three and four, show the truck after clean-up. The dimple in the front bumper and the small dent in the fender … gone.

And soon forgotten I hope.

Wired up

We have made good progress on the wiring the El Camino since returning from our Thanksgiving holiday. The cabin is now completely wired and we have moved on to the external wiring.

The first photo shows a bundle of wires, some engine harness, some not, but all neatly wrapped in wiring looms routed tidily around behind the engine. In wiring, neatness counts because it reduces the likelihood of problems and makes troubleshooting, if there are problems, so much easier.

The second photo shows the engine wiring harness neatly bundled in a wiring loom. The looms, while not strictly necessary, certainly tidy up the engine bay.

The third picture shows an example of how we tie wires, which would tend to move around if not secured, to more solid objects so they are neatly routed and stay where they belong. Nothing will ruin your day faster than having a wire abrade or burn through the insulation and begin shorting against something.

The starter is hooked up in the fourth pictures. Let’s fire this baby up! Oh wait … I still have to hook up the computer and the rest of the engine harness. Never mind.

The last two pictures, numbers five and six, show the rear harness. The harness snakes through the inside of the left quarter panel from the fuse box mounted against the firewall to the back of the car. Not an impossible task, obviously since we did it, but it wasn’t much fun either.

Another few days with this kind of progress and we will be ready to try to start this beast for the first time.

Good as new

The Chevelle is back from Throwback Custom Cars after Kelly Murphy replaced the rear window panel. The panel that was there before had been improperly repaired at some time in the past.

Not wanting to be another shop who didn’t do the job right, we sent the car out to have the old panel cut out and a new panel welded in.

You can see Kelly’s typically excellent work in these two photos. Now, after this repair, this car is as straight and solid as it was back in 1967.

Back to the grindstone

After the holiday’s it was time to get back to work … so we got cracking on this Toyota. We sanded the fender down so the new paint would stick, which is why the fender is dull.

In addition to sanding the fender, we also repaired the dent in the front fender just under the right turn signal. You can see where we primed the area in the second photo.

Tomorrow it goes into the booth for paint, both for the fender and the replacement bumper … if it arrives that is.

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