Saturday, December 25, 2010

Santa Stopped By

Merry Christmas!  I didn't do any actual work on the Mustang this week but when I went into my garage this morning to see if Santa picked up his motor oil and spark plugs (I always leave Santa a little something before I go to bed on Christmas Eve) I found some things sitting under the tool tree.  Ol' Rusty must have been a really good car this year for you see, he left her a set of valances!  Note to self: Don't rush down to the garage with .45 in hand when you hear strange noises on Christmas Eve.

The front is an Original Ford Tooling and the rear is a Dynacorn repro.  Notice anything different between the old rear valance and the new one?  Hmm... what are those little cut-outs for?

New Valances!

There also laid a bag full of wires but not just any old wires, engine compartment wires!

There was discussion on the VMF about the repro rear valances.  Folks claiming that they were too short.  I did a comparison between the new and the old and if they're any different, it's fairly unnoticeable.

Overall comparison

Right edge closeup.  Might be 1/8" difference?

Left edge closeup.  Not a huge difference.
So I hope everybody had as good a Christmas as Ol' Rusty did.  Have a happy and safe New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Playing In the Mud Again

Update 1/30/2011:  A fellow VMFer with a LOT more experience than me (Thanks Steve!) in body work came over to give me a realistic estimate of what it would take to get the body of this car ready for paint and in addition, I received a free course on Basic Auto Body 101.  He showed me how to feel the metal (something you just can't learn from internet media) and gave me many good tips on how to apply and sand filler correctly.  So, this blog entry is a lesson on what NOT to do.   This is not a good example of auto body correction so please don't stop here for any kind of example other than for an example of the wrong way.  He did, however, feel that the top of the hood and deck lid were adequate which made me feel better.  The bad news was that even with what I did here (in spite of perhaps) there's still about 60 hours of filler work to do on the body before it's ready for blocking primer.

I've pretty much got the body panels repaired and test fitted so now I'm ready to begin the REAL work, preparing the car for primer and paint. The body is pretty darned straight for the massive project it's been but there are still a few little dings here and there not to mention the various patches I've made in the doors, the bottoms of the rear quarters, and the fenders. I tried to weld them in the best I could but compared to the panel skins they're welded into, they're noticeable. I could just start filling any and all low spots in the body, but as I was searching the net for body-working tips, I came across this YouTube video entitled Car Dent Repair Training - No Filler by Restolad. He demonstrates the use of a home made "slapper". I thought to myself, "Hey self, I'd like to give that a try!"   So, I set out to make a tool similar to that used in the video. I borrowed an old bastard file from a coworker (thanks Mark!) but files are hardened steel and I don't have a torch so what to do? Well, I DO have a home-made hobby metal melting furnace and it has a home-made burner that can get stuff up to a couple thousand degrees. Out in the open air it's considerably less capable but will at least get the file cherry hot so it can be bent. I clamped the file to one jack stand and the burner to another and fired it up. Pretty soon the file was ready to bend. I'd heat up a section, bend it in my vice with a 5 pound sledge and then heat up the next section and bend it again:

That's one hot bastard.. file

Until it looked like a "Z".  The wide end of the file with the rat tail became the beating end of the slapper and the narrow end of the file became the handle after some smoothing.  After I was done shaping the file, I reheated it and quenched it in a bucket of water.
My newly forged tool

If you didn't watch the video I linked to above the process pretty much involves slapping the dent evenly from the outside with a dolly on the backside of the panel shrinking the metal back into shape.

I decided to  do just the passenger side first.  I started at the rear quarter and ran over it completely with an 80 grit sanding block to find uneven spots that needed repaired.  I found two dings that I could beat out, the others were very small and shallow so I just marked them for filler.  You can see where I exercised my new slapper on the two shiny spots in the picture below.  I'm not good enough to get it perfectly level yet so the spots will still require a skim of filler. 

Scuffed, beaten, and ready for filler

The rear quarter was followed by the passenger door which I scuffed and marked the locations of the flaws.  The flaws are the shiny spots that the sanding block wasn't able to scuff.  I had attempted to use my slapper on those door dings by the upper ridge of the scoop intention but the door was too awkward to get my hand inside and hold a dolly in the right spot.  Also, the contour would have required a rounded slapper which I don't have yet so I gave up on the idea here and felt it safer to just use filler.

Then I got a bit sidetracked.  I decided I didn't like the wide gap between the rear quarter and the rear of the door.

Pretty big gap

So I went and bought some 1/8" welding rods, knocked the flux off them, and welded a couple to the edge of the door.  I've seen this mentioned on various car restoration forums such as the VMF and also recently on Spiderman's Blog.

Starting at the middle and working out

Tack, bend, tack bend, rinse, repeat

Ground down and ready for filler

After patching up the door gap, I decided to revisit the B-Pillar.  Yet more shoddy work by yours truly.  On recommendation by a VMF friend (thanks again Pete), I cleaned the seam sealer out of the quarter skin flange, layered several layers of masking tape along the flange as thick as the flange sheet metal and then applied filler to the flange and sanded it level.  The tape was then removed and the flange was wet sanded level.

Yuck!  Who made THAT mess?
I can't believe I was going to leave it that way
Masking tape was built up next to the flange to form the new edge.

Filler applied and sanded level.

Finally, it was time to play in the mud... well, play WITH mud anyway.  This is the same Evercoat filler I used on the hood and deck lid.  I laid down a good thick layer over the old mud in the tail reflector indention that isn't supposed to be there.  The previous owner replaced the quarter skins sometime in the 80's with the wrong type.  I hope this filler doesn't crack on me 5 years down the road.   I also applied filler to the quarter panel patch behind the rear wheel.

Lay down a moderately thick layer of mud.

Level it with a 40 grit "idiot board"
Same here

Glazing putty applied to fill scratches

Same treatment for the back edge of the door.

New improved door gap

I then pulled the fender and started working on it as well.  When the time came to sand it down, however, the filler started peeling away.  WTF!?


I scraped the new mud off the fender and determined that the problem was that I had initially sprayed the fender patch with etching primer and then sprayed over that with DP40LF.  Well, that didn't fly at all as the DP de-laminated from the etching primer.  I took my 80 grit sanding disk to it, cleaned it up with wax and grease remover and applied the mud directly to the bare metal.

Strip it clean and start over
Idiot board work done.
Glazing putty awaiting wet sanding.

As I'd done with the hood and deck lid, I applied a thin skim of polyester glazing putty across anywhere that I'd worked with my 40 grit idiot board to fill the scratches and then wet sanded that with 220.  Just to be clear this is 2 Part Polyester filler.  Not the traditional lacquer glazing putty.  The only difference between this and regular filler is the ultra-fine size of the talc that fills the sanding scratches quite nicely.

Rear quarter done and wet sanded.

Door done and wet sanded.

Front fender wet sanded and temporarily stuck on the car to get it out of the way.

While I had the fender off, I thought I'd take a shot at closing the gap between the fender extension and the front of the fender.  It took me about 1.5 hours to get it as close as I did with much difficulty.  I drilled the mounting holes a tad larger to allow more play but even then I noticed that the very front inch or so where the most pointed part of the fender is was tweaked out of alignment ever so slightly so  I massaged it a bit.



I need to touch up a couple of spots along the passenger side of the car but I think I got a majority of the damage repaired such that running a hand over the repairs, it feels nice and level with the exception of some missed scratches that I need to run another skim coat of glazing putty over and re-sand and then it's on to the driver side.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Panel Alignment Part 3

After stripping, repairing, and painting the fender extensions, with associated parts, I can now mount them on the fenders and finish test-aligning the sheet metal panels I've worked so long and hard on de-rusting.

Before I do that, I decided to install the headlight buckets into the fender extensions.  The old headlight aiming hardware was pretty much deteriorated beyond use but thankfully, reproduction adjusting kits are produced and sold by the various parts houses for about $5 a side.

The new adjusting assemblys just directly replace the old
The slots in the tabs on the headlight bucket are aligned with the groove in the screw heads and the spring is inserted as shown below:

This is how the hardware fits into the bucket

The buckets for left and right are unique to each side.  Note how the three tabs align with the openings in the side of the pot metal fender extension.  The adjusting screws are threaded into their nylon nuts, and the spring is pulled down and hooked onto the spring protrusion of the fender extension.

It's ready to have a headlight installed
New repro rubber extension seals are also available.  They need to be cut to fit the fender extension and slide into the slot around the perimeter of the housing.  Special attention needs to be paid to the area around the stud seen at the lower right corner of the picture below:

A view from the back side.  Notice where the spring hooks onto.
The fender extension is then attached to the front of the fender by 3 studs and associated nuts. 

The fender has been extended
 The fenders can then be remounted and realigned.  Also, I bolted on the hood latch striker bracket and the hood latch.  Adjustment of those parts involved centering the latch to the striker and then setting the latch all the way down and tightening it.  Then I noted how "too far up" the hood was in comparison to the fender tops and adjusted the hood latch up the corresponding distance.  I also mounted the front hood bumpers to their brackets and, after closing the hood, reached in and screwed them up until they barely touched the bottom of the hood and set the set nuts.

OMG, it has eyes again!
The whole point of this exercise is summed up in the following images.  The hood front lines have to align with the front edge of the fender extension.  Somehow, it just happened to align with no further need for adjustment.  If it had needed to be adjusted, it would be performed by moving the hood further forward or back as needed.

Passenger side

Driver side

Driver side overall panel alignment

Passenger side overall panel alignment
I went ahead and test-fitted the grill parts to remind me what she used to look like and hopefully will again someday. 

Hey, I remember you.
Now I get to take it all apart again and start doing minor body filler work.  Lots of little dings and such to fix before the body is ready for blocking and leveling.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Prepping the Fender Extensions

After seeing my Panel Alignment Part 2 post, a friend from the VMFsuggested that I test-fit the headlight fender extensions to ensure that the position of the front of the hood aligns correctly with the front of the fender extension (thanks Pete!).  What he didn't know was that I had been slacking in my paint-stripping duties and that the fender extensions were in a box and had never been so much as scrutinized after having removed them from the fenders. 
Pristine unrestored fender extensions sporting a Maaco paint job

Back side.  Rust was provided free of charge.

The fender extensions disassemble fairly easily.  First you remove the outer, painted pot metal ring followed by the inner chrome (stainless?) ring.

Rings.  Remove them and the headlight pops out.

Each extension body has two adjusting screws and a spring that need to be removed.  The adjusting screws can just be unscrewed all the way out and then the spring will be loose enough to just remove.  The nuts through which the adjusting screws thread can also be removed by removing two small screws in the plate on which the nylon nuts are mounted.

The headlight adjust tensioning spring.

There are a couple of trim studs that need to be removed along with some J-Nuts and soon, I was rewarded with a pile of rusty crap and a pot metal housing.

Rusty crap

This is why I've been putting this job off for so long.  There are a lot of little nooks and crannies that need to be cleaned out.  Well, sometimes lazy trumps cheap for me so I gathered the fender extensions along with the quarter extensions and a few other odds and ends to take to my favorite media blaster, Tony, to be cleaned up.  I gave him a call to set an appointment and during that fateful call, my world was torn asunder.  For you see, my media blaster... Tony... sold his business.   I know, right?  I'm choking up a little right now just thinking about it.  I'm here to tell you, don't ever take your media blaster for granted.  If you find one worth holding on to, respect him and cherish him today because he may retire tomorrow.  Let's have a moment of silence.

Okay, so why not just go to the new guy?  Well, he was still learning the ropes and not ready to open doors yet so now what?  Well, I just had to suck it up and strip that paint by hand that's what.  I spread paint remover all over it and waited.

Burn baby, burn!

Like the hood, the paint stripper got through the newer paint and primer but all it did for the original lacquer paint underneath was soften it.  At this point, it starts taking multiple applications of the paint stripper at which point I gave up in favor of one of those composite paint stripping wheels. 

Frustratingly ineffective paint stripper
That composite stripping wheel makes fast work of the paint but you have to be careful, it will also chew through the pot metal if you're not careful.

And so it went that I stripped the remaining parts in this manner.  First taking off as much paint as possible with chemical stripper and then finishing up with the disk.

I thought they were ready for primer until I looked closely at the driver side extension and noticed a crack at the valance mounting point.  It's always something isn't it? 

Awwww MAN!

Well, I couldn't just leave it, it had to be repaired so I did some online research and found that there's a pot metal repair system from Muggy Weld. Looks awesome doesn't it? Well, it's also $50 for the minimal kit and that just wouldn't do, for me anyway. I could buy a new fender extension I guess but that's $120. So after more research, I found some references to headlight bucket repair kits and some suggestions by people on the VMF that indicated that JB Weld sticks to pot metal and was the method of choice for repairing fender extensions.  So, I made a couple of sheet metal reinforcements and roughed them up on one side and roughed up the repair area:

Prepared for the repair
I then mixed up some JB Weld, spread it liberally on the contact surfaces and clamped them into place over night:

Clamps on.. now we wait

The next morning, the reinforcements were secured in place.  Prior to the fix, the fender extension could be flexed with little effort around the area of the crack.  Now it can't be flexed at all and seems to be good to go.


I also used the JB Weld to fill the crack and sanded it smooth:
Filled crack

Finally, I could apply the primer!  I cleaned up all of the parts with wax and grease remover, hung them up to be painted and... was out of primer.  *sigh*  Fast forward to the next day and I had picked up a fresh quart of DP40LF and catalyst.  No matter how often I go buy this stuff I never fail to suffer sticker shock.  I'm getting better at keeping my hair from popping off my head and my eyes from bugging out when the guy at the register tells me what to pay though.

While I was at the paint shop getting the DP, I picked up some handy-dandy mixing cups.   DP40LF mixes 2:1 with it's catalyst (DP402LF) and it's pretty easy to just figure out in my head how much of each needs to be mixed but these mixing cups, although they look complicated with all of the little lines and numbers, are pretty simple to use once you figure out what they're trying to tell you. 

The cup has various columns indicated with the headers 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, etc so you use the column that pertains to your primer, 2:1 in this case.  Just choose a number that pertains to how much you want to make.  The numbers are unit measurements and don't necessarily pertain to ounces or such so just pick a number and fill the cup with your DP under the 2 heading (I used the number 5).
DP poured up to the 5 under the 2 heading of the 2:1 column

Then pour the catalyst to the same number under the 1 heading and BAM! You have a properly mixed ratio.

catalyst poured up to the 5 under the 1 heading of the 2:1 column

I hung the various parts that I had prepared from the garage door for some quality time with the HVLP gun.

Like a scene from "Predator"
I like to batch my painting because I really hate cleaning my guns.  My grill, hood latch striker bracket, and stone guard brackets were going to be painted with the same PPG paint I had painted my engine compartment with so they each needed a couple coats of DP40LF in preparation.

After the primer cured, I sprayed the grill, hood latch striker bracket, and stone guard brackets with black PPG DBC paint and now I can finally mount the front fender extensions to the fenders for further hood alignment.