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Merry Christmas

2012.12.26 - Ford (1) 2012.12.26 - Ford (2) 2012.12.26 - Ford (3) 2012.12.26 - Ford (4) 2012.12.26 - Ford (5)Good thing we were open today. The owner of this Ford Explorer received a tail-lamp tint, in the form of a gift certificate, for Christmas and she was at the shop bight and early this morning to collect. Better get cracking then.

The first photo shows the lenses out of the car and in the booth. We only lightly tint the lens’s as we don’t want to dim the tail or brake light because of safety concerns. Having her tail-lamps tinted … good. Having her car damaged because a driver didn’t see the brake-lamps … not good.

After the lens’s are dry we put them back in the car. That’s what I’m doing in the second photo.

You can see in the third photo the lens’s look quite dark and match nicely with the black-out trim on the rest of the car. But while they look dark, they really aren’t that dark and the light from the tail-lamps is reduced hardly at all. The fourth photo shows how the tail-lamps are clearly visible, even during the day, and the last photo, number five, you can clearly see the brake-lamps and backup-lamps.

It is understandable, but most of the people I talk to wish they weren’t having the conversion. After all, who wants to deal with the hassle and expense of having their damaged automobile repaired? But this morning the customer was actually glad and excited to see me. That was a nice change of pace.

I think I need to sell more gift certificates.

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.

Painted pony

After smoothing up the bumper and filling in the small dent, this pony car was ready to paint.  So we got right to it this morning.

The first two photos show the bumper and quarter panel after the base coat is applied. The base coat always dries to this near flat finish. But that’s ok, because as you can see in the next three photos, numbers three, four and five, adding the clear coat makes that dull, lifeless finish come to life. It is the clear coat that is the magic of the two stage paint system, providing not only protection to the paint underneath, but the zing and pow to the finish to boot.

The last three photos are of the custom battery cover going into the car. Not content to have just a stock, black, plastic cover as provide by Ford, the owner of this car has a beautifully crafted metal one.

As nice as it was to look at in bare metal, we kicked it up a notch by painting it to match and complement the colors of the car. Yesterday we paint the cover gray, today we masked them off and added the red. You know, the battery cover looks pretty good right now, but tomorrow, after I clear it, it will look even better.

It is funny … I repaint the nearly half this car and nobody will even notice anything has been done to it. But the minute the hood goes up people are going to notice that battery box and go, “Now that’s cool.”

And that is just exactly the way I like it.

A little of this, a little of that

This red blooded, all American muscle car arrived at the shop today for a little TLC before the Mustangs of Burlington car show this weekend. In the first picture the car looks pretty good. But a closer look, in pictures two and three, show a few little minor dings and scrapes the owner wants to get taken care of. After all, who wants to put their car in a car show with even a small dent in the side?

Photograph number four shows the bumper removed and the small dent filled in. We’ve obviously sanded on it, but there is more sanding to go before the car will be ready to paint.

While sanding on the filler, we also sanded on the bumper to smooth out the scuff marks so the bumper will be smooth for the paint that will follow. You can see the work we did on the bumper in picture five.

While the guys were sanding away on the car, I was in the booth dressing up the tail-lamps. We have a process where we just ever so lightly smoke the lenses of the tail-lamps and mark lights. Not enough to reduce the effectiveness of the tail- and brake-lamps, but the darkening adds some depth to the lamps for a subtle, but noticeable, effect.

Photograph six shows the light after sanding to rough up the plastic so the tint will stick. We use a PPG tint that is sprayed on, just like paint, for durability. Like painting a car, the surface must be prepared by roughing up the surface so the paint, or in this case, tint, has something to get its teeth into for adhesion.

Picture seven shows the tail-lamp after the tint has been applied. The difference is subtle but there. The tint is quite light from directly behind so as to not affect the light output from the assembly. But looking at if from a slight angle, as in picture eight, you can see the tint appears to darken up some, which makes the lights appear darker than they really are.

Picture nine demonstrates what happens after the lights are cleared to bring up the shine. The lights gain some depth and pizzazz that is missing from the stock tail-lamps without affecting the performance of the lights or breaking the bank.

While I was busy in the booth, the guys finished sanding the quarter panel of the Mustang, making it ready first to prime then to paint. You can see their handy-work in picture 10. The entire quarter panel has been sanded, making the paint appear dull and lifeless. We will blend the repair across the quarter rather than painting the entire panel, then clear the whole shebang, making the repair invisible.

Blending is a technique for painting a section of the car without leaving a hard line between the old paint and the new for the eye to see. Without this blending of the paints at the edge the eye might detect any slight shift in color from the old paint to the new. It is a little bit of painters slight-of-hand, but it works. The dullness of the rest of the panel will disappear when the clear is applied, restoring the luster to the paint it had prior to sanding.

The last photo, number eleven, is a trick battery cover the owner had made. We are going to paint that to match the exterior of the car … one of these simple, but custom, touches that makes a car special.

Tinted tail-lamps, custom battery holder … simple changes … but a dead giveaway that a true petrolhead owns this car.

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.

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