Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Dangerous Dash

You know, I think I'm glad that Tony the media blaster neglected to strip my dash for me because I'm getting used to the originality and I think I'll just keep it this way. A little shoe polish and some elbow grease and it'll be good as new...

...NOT! An hour or so with the old knotted wire wheel on the angle grinder and the dash was starting to look a bit more liberated.

The underside of the dash was another story, however. There was a bit of surface rust under there as this shot of the pedal bracket on the driver side attests.

I managed to wrangle the ol' angle grinder in the cramped space and clean it up a bit. This was a painful, scary job, by the way. While contorted up under there with my arms wrapped around and through various sheet metal orifices, the angle grinder's wire brush caught an edge and spun out of my hands. With me laying there, it bounced around wildly while I frantically worked to extricate myself from the tiny space that it was forcefully taking from me. It all happened in the about the space of 2 seconds where I managed to make it from being stuffed into an area the size of a suitcase to sitting fully upright in the back seat area. Sadly, I didn't make it out unscathed as it was wound up in my coveralls, gnawing on my leg, where it left an impressive-looking welt. I now have an idea of what it might be like to be trapped in a closet with an angry badger.

Here's a shot of the driver side after wire brushing.

I then crawled back under and treated the area with a coat of Ospho and worked it with a scouring pad. The passenger side looked like this afterward.

I then mixed up some water and a couple tablespoons of baking soda in a spray bottle and neutralized the Ospho. The result leaves a white residue as seen in this shot of the driver side.

And a shot of the passenger side after neutralizing the Ospho and rinsing the area with water.

The last step in preparation for paint was to remove any loose white residue and wipe the area down again with lacquer thinner. The resulting passenger side is seen below.

Same for the driver side.

I masked off the holes in the firewall in preparation for a spraying the underside of the dash with ZeroRust.

I mixed the ZeroRust with 15% lacquer thinner to make it more sprayable. On a side note, I stupidly left off my safety glasses while mixing the paint and managed to splash a drop of lacquer thinner directly into my left eye and oh-my-friggen-god, it burned so painfully much and still hurts a bit to this writing. Luckily, there was a sink close-by so I was able to flush it quickly and I filled up my Harbor Freight touch-up gun and went to work. I'm thinking of joining the circus after performing the contortions I had to do to angle the gun into some of these surfaces (not to mention the multiple scrapes and abrasions from sheet metal edges). If I wasn't double-jointed before, I probably am now. The finished passenger side:

The finished driver side.

And finally, a shot into the instrument cluster hole just for the heck of it.

I don't think it looks too bad... with my right eye... standing on my good leg.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Prime Time

A few days after the car was returned from the media blaster, I set out to apply primer to the newly exposed body panels to prevent flash rust during the winter. This can probably be left for a couple weeks in a dry garage but I needed to get it done while the weather was still warm. First, however, I had to clean out the gift left by the media blaster. Even though I took precautions, the media made its way into every nook and cranny that I had missed. It's like every little particle is programmed to find it's way out of the light.

Before I could even do that much, however, I spent some time grinding the original seam sealer out of the panel seams with a knotted wire brush on my 4.5" angle grinder. I did this before cleaning the media out because grinding away seam sealer is a pretty messy task in itself. Little tacky globs of sealer stick to whatever surface they happen to land upon and needed to be wiped off and cleaned up with the media.

I pushed my 5 HP shop vac to its fullest potential utilizing both orifices. By which I mean, suck and blow, of course. Blow was very handy with the reduced nozzle to coax the light weight walnut shell and sealer dust up and out of their various hiding places. I had to work backward and forward several times to remove the majority of the media but finally, I got it out... mostly.

The next task was to wipe down every freshly exposed surface with lacquer thinner in preparation for the primer.

Finally, I was ready to load my Harbor Freight 20oz Spray Gun with PPG DP40LF gray epoxy primer and shoot every square inch that I could see.

I decided to go with gray instead of red for the exterior panels because in my mind gray is a more neutral color that would be more "compatible" with blue if the paint got scratched. I don't know for sure if it really matters though. Probably not. I'll probably respray the interior with DP74LF red oxide though.

Here's an overall view of the new primer:

And a view from the inside up below the deck lid filler panel. I couldn't get a good spray up against bottom of the panel because I found more media hiding in there which kept blowing out into my eyes and sticking to my new primer.

Here's a close-up of the media stuck to hinge bracket... grrrrrr...

Shots down into the drain channel.

Down into the top of the wheel well. Oops... I probably should have scraped that bit of original sealer off first.

And from the back. I actually had made a couple of repairs to the rear panel first. There was a slot that I'd accidentally cut through the bottom right of the panel when I cut out the bumper reinforcement brace that I had to weld and grind as well as two rivet holes where I think the original dealer had riveted a logo. Now it's ready for seam sealer.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Having a Blast!

My car was such a beautiful mosaic of random colors, I really hated to do it. The paint had bubbles, chips, and drips exactly where I had wanted them. The two or three tones of off-white were just the right shades with a smattering of red and gray.

I couldn't just leave well enough alone. I had to go and ruin all of that... perfection... because Ol' Rusty had an appointment. An appointment with destiny.

The day had come to haul her carcass off to the media blaster. Again, something I should have had done right at the start but better late than never, right?

I had read somewhere that it's a good idea to mark out dings, etc on an old paint job to help you reference the location of those dings after the car has been blasted. So I eyeballed the panels the best I could to find even the slightest little dings and circled them with a grease pencil. I'll use these photos to determine where to pay special attention during body work.
Note that big circle towards the rear center of the panel. That wasn't actually dented but rather is the location of this car's dirty little secret. The PO had replaced the rear quarter panels on the car with early 68 (before 2/15/1968) quarters instead of late (after 2/15/1968). The early 68 quarters have an indented side marker whereas the late 68 models, like this one (built 2/28/1968), have a flush-mounted side marker so the PO had the indention filled. You can see the indention on the other side of the trunk if you look closely at the picture below. The big black circle on this side of the car is to mark the location of the indention so I can instruct the media blaster not to worry about wasting time digging out the filler because I'm going to do the same thing and fill and level the indention or, if I'm feeling all high-and-mighty that day, will attempt to cut and patch it with sheet metal.

I had read accounts on the VMF about the hell of removing media from the cowl so my bright idea to solve this problem was to cover any opening in the cowl with... *smacks self on forehead*, masking tape of all things and ask the media blaster to "work around the tape". Looks like it'll work doesn't it? Read on!

I also didn't relish the thought of blowing media out of every enclosed space so I masked off the holes over the frame rails, seat platform, and rockers even though I wasn't going to have these areas blasted. I just figured the media would go everywhere.

I did the same for the drain holes on the rockers.

The question of transport crossed my mind on many occasions and during several early morning insomnia sessions. The media blaster is 20 miles from my house and I could rent a tow dolly or car hauler from UHaul, call a friend, or hire a flat bed. Well, I really hate tow dolly's and I don't have a big enough vehicle to rent an car hauler, and I don't have any friends... with car haulers, so that left me with door #3, hire a flat bed. At the recommendation of the media blaster, I called Jose at DJ Towing for $55 hook-up with first 10 miles free, $2.50/mile after. He definitely had the best price that I'd found so I gave him a call.

He showed up right on time at 8:00 AM sharp Friday morning, and pulled the car up out of my pain-in-the-arse driveway and onto his flatbed. He used nylon straps around the LCAs on both sides.

I couldn't follow him directly to the blasters at that time so I paid him his $80 and Ol' Rusty went for a ride.

My empty garage bay. Haven't seen this in a couple years. Um... ignore the mess k? Thanks.

I found the media blaster shop. I could tell I was there by two clues. 1) There was a big sign that said "Media Blasters" which actually happened to be the company's name, and 2) There was a forlorn 68 Mustang Convertible in the front that looked vaguely familiar to me. Oh yeah, I strapped the trunk lid in the car to have it done too. I thought it would make a good test for hoods, fenders, doors etc so I don't put all my eggs in one basket. I chose this particular blaster because he had references, used walnut shells, and only charged $75 per hour.

The car was actually finished on Saturday (the next day!) but Ma Nature decided to water the flowers that day so Tony the media blaster and Jose the tow truck driver both agreed to meet me Sunday morning at 8:30 AM. Well, I got there at 8:25 AM and the car was already loaded on the flatbed which I wasn't expecting because I kind of wanted to inspect the work first but being on the truck made it moot since I wasn't about to tell these guys, who agreed to do the job on short notice and meet me on a Sunday morning, to unload the car to fix something. Tony the media blaster told me a few facts about how the job went. A) The metal is good, no surprises or new rust to repair anywhere. B) It appears that the quarters had been blasted before because the finish was really rough. The panels aren't warped or anything so they did a good job but it definitely wasn't walnut shells. C) The job took 7 hours. D) The trunk lid was coated THICK with filler or high build primer or something and took forever.

Nothing distressed me so I gave him his cashier's check for $562 and told Jose I'd meet him back at the house. A short time later, the naked pony saunters back into her stable.

It doesn't look too bad. I was expecting whiter, cleaner-looking metal I guess but this is how it turned out. I told Tony not to worry about the interior of the car at all other than in the inside of the quarter panel wells.

The tops of the wheel wells and insides of the rear quarters came out very nice. If you look at this picture you can see what it looked like before.

A shot toward the drain channel which looks to be in really great shape. I instructed the blaster not to do the passenger compartment side of the rear seat back.

Here's a shot from the rear. The red primer took a bit of a beating but that can be fixed. Also, they didn't remove the sealer from the seams. That was actually by my instruction as I could do it with my grinder wire wheel.

Issue #1 concerns me a bit. I'm pretty sure it's bad to see the location of the structural members on the underside from the top of the trunk lid. I don't blame this media blaster though. If he was telling the truth about the build-up on the lid then the prior media blaster who used sand on the car in the 80's is the culprit here. He likely warped the top and had to build it back up to level it. I have 3 choices here. 1) Build it up again. 2) Buy a new metal trunk lid. Or 3) Buy a Shelby style fiberglass trunk lid, quarter extensions, and tail light panel, and start the Shelby conversion I have planned in the back of my mind for 5 years down the road.

Issue #2 is that even though I instructed the media blaster to do the dash, he didn't. I don't know why, maybe he was trying to get the car done in the quoted time and wasted too much time on the trunk lid. This is one area I was really looking forward to having done so I was a bit disappointed.

Issue #3 is that my beautiful masking job wasn't particularly effective. The blaster shot right though masking tape like it wasn't even there. This is probably a big DUH to everybody else in the world but it escaped me. Duct tape is the only tape that even has the slightest chance against media. 2 layers even. Sooo... I'll be cleaning out my cowl... *sigh*. I'm okay that the cowl vent fins didn't get blasted. I can do that with my wire wheel and didn't risk the blaster messing up the sealer and paint in the cowl.

Issue #4. Oh, curse you issue #4.

So, there it is. I think we've all learned several valuable lessons today. I'm generally happy with the results but I wouldn't have wanted to be the media blaster on duty that day. A guy comes in with a hundred instructions, doesn't mask adequately, and has new paint to work around. I hope I didn't stress the poor guy out too much. The moral of this story: Blast first, ask questions later.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Removing the Windshield

Here's a task that COULD have been done way back at the beginning but did I make the right decision on this? Nope! This is yet another task I left undone until nearly the end. If you care about your windshield do yourself a favor and remove it before you start sanding, welding, grinding, or most any other kind of verb associated with automotive restoration. Besides the obvious risk of breaking the glass outright, there's the more subtle risk of microscopic blobs of molten steel embedding themselves anywhere that sparks are allowed to contact the glass. My windshield was pretty much ruined after all the metal work I've done with it in place. Sure, I covered it with a blanket but unless the blanket is weld-resistant, it will do no good and mine wasn't. I'm not crying over spilled milk here because the windshield also had some deep wiper scratches compliments of the PO so I wasn't emotionally attached to it. I've also researched polishing the flaws out of the glass to restore the windshield but the general answer to that question is that the windshield glass will become optically distorted like a funhouse mirror.

If your windshield is worth saving, however, then save it! Just a couple of reasons to keep your original if possible is that the glass on the original is thicker than repros and the repros don't contain the proper factory watermark etching. It's my understanding that windshields from 65-68 are interchangeable but watermarks differ from year to year so if you don't care about originality but do care about quality/thickness, then you still might be able to find an original from an 65-68 junk car. I'm likely going with a repro though despite the originality issues.

Okay, on to the removal of the windshield. I could have just smacked it with a hammer and pulled it since I'm not interested in saving it, but I've heard that many people have a problem with the windshield cracking during removal so I considered it a personal challenge to see how hard it is to get it out in one piece.

The first thing I did was to remove the rear view mirror by loosening the two philips screws on each side of the center arm. Two more screws held on the center visor support.

I next removed the philips screws all along the top windshield trim and the visor pivots.

It helped to remove the pillar pad to access a couple of screws in the visor pivot. Just pop the pad off with a flat tool like a screwdriver.

The interior top trim can then be removed exposing several square holes in the windshield frame as seen below. These square holes give access to the nuts that hold the outer upper windshield trim on. Also, note from this picture that there is a screw holding the top of the A pillar weather strip.

After removing the screw from the top end of the A-pillar weather strip, the rubber strip can be peeled away from the weatherstrip trim.

There's another screw at the bottom of the A-pillar weather strip that needs to be removed.

The A-pillar weather strip trim screws can then be access to remove the trim.

Now we just have the exterior side and bottom trim to remove.

This shot shows what the sealer and windshield gasket look like beneath the exterior upper trim that was previously removed.

The side and bottom trim are a special kind of nightmare. There are these little red clips that are snapped over posts in the windshield frame and hooked onto L brackets in the windshield trim. I lacked the skill/expertise/luck to unsnap the clips from the posts because they were embedded in sealer so I had to pry the trim away from the clips and dig the clips out separately.  MarkStang of the VMF has a video on YouTube showing how to separate the trim from these clips.  Thanks Mark!

The bottom trim was no exception although working around one clip at a time patiently unhooking the clips from the trim resulted in undamaged trim that could be reused.

Here's a close-up of the de-trimmed windshield. I've already dug out a lot of the sealer with a putty knife at this point to expose the rubber gasket.

Here's a shot of the windshield just prior to removal with the trim all off and the sealer dug out around the gasket.

Very little Googling gives up the pro's secret of using a utility knife to cut the outside lip of the gasket away from the windshield.

The windshield then easily pops out. Don't even try to save the gasket. It's not worth the hassle and new gaskets are cheap.

Here's the removed windshield along with the pile of dash parts from the previous blog entry.

Now I have a car ready for the media blasters after my lovely assistant helped me scrape the remaining sealer out from around the windshield frame.