Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Making A Splash (Shield)

Okay so I've got a body shell, deck lid, doors, fenders, and a hood.  Time to put it all together right?  Not so fast gimpy, there's more to a fender than just a big round hunk of sheet metal and as such, we have a couple more things to do before we go stampeding off and trying to align the panels.  For you see, fenders do more than just keeping the sunshine off your sick 25's, they also protect the tender nether regions of the A pillar and headlight bucket from all the muck and slime we wallow around in on the roads on a daily basis.  So let's show some love to those thankless little sheet metal minions of the fenders, the splash shields.  Like it or not, they affect the way the fender fits onto the car and probably shouldn't be overlooked until after paint is on the car.

There are four splash shields on a Mustang, one ahead of the front tire (protecting the headlight bucket) and one behind (protecting the A pillar) on each side.  My original front shields were pretty much destroyed as I had chipped away what was left of them when I had disassembled the fenders for media blasting.  The rear ones weren't as bad but still in seriously poor condition so I opted for new repros from NPD.

Here's a comparison of old to new:

You might notice the conspicuous lack of rubber strips along the edges of the new ones.  I wish I could say that I bought them this way on purpose but then you'd suspect that I'm a complete idiot rather than just an ignorant newbie (take your pick).  I say this because these splash guards are available completely assembled and ready to go.  Unfortunately, I bought these months ago and ferreted them away and now I'm stuck with them.  So I just had to suck it up and figure out how to attach the rubber strips to the shields.

Enough whining and on to the task.  The first thing I did was to compare the old to the new for the placement of the staples that had come with the shield rubber kit.

After I marked the staple locations with white grease pencil, I positioned the rubber strip on the shield with clamps placing one on each side of a staple position.  I started out with clamps all along the rubber strip to hold it completely in place but soon found it wasn't necessary and resorted to simply using two clamps.  Also, I had initially just marked the staple positions with lines but after clamped, I drew one perpendicular line to represent one side of the staple and then held a staple against that mark and used it to make the second mark.  The two marks are where the staple holes need to go.

I used a spring punch to pop dents into the metal behind the rubber.  These spring punches are powerful enough to completely ignore the rubber and sufficiently peen the sheet metal behind at each staple hole:

I then simply drilled through the rubber and the sheet metal.  Because of the spring punch, the drill didn't wander around on the sheet metal and drilled through nice and fast.

The staple is then placed through the holes.

And a pair of dikes is used to bend the ends of the staple over so it doesn't pop out.

Then pressure is placed on the staple from the other side by pressing it up against an anvil at which time it's ends are tapped down with a hammer or such.  Pressing it like this ensures the staple is tight when it's crimped down.

Here's the finished product.  This process really didn't take all that long.  Probably 30 seconds per staple.

That was just half the job.  Let's not forget their little brothers from the front.  Passenger side:

Passenger side assembled:

And the driver side (note the longer edge):

Driver side done:

The front shields needed to be installed directly onto the fender headlight bucket (excuse the dusty parts).  First the position is determined by aligning the rubber strip plastic clip holes with the headlight bucket and then the sheet metal screw holes are marked:

The marked holes (white) are then center punched and drilled:

Finally, the sheet metal screws are driven in and the plastic clips are inserted and locked.  Regarding these little plastic clips, they aren't available as repro items from the regular Mustang parts suppliers.  In fact, I called NPD and the guy acted like I was crazy for asking.  I started a thread on the VMF though and got some sources for the actual original style clips.  Check that thread here.  I had originally planned to buy the original clips but put it off and then didn't remember that I'd needed them until I got to this point so I ran to NAPA with a caliper and found the clips shown below as Balkamp part number 665-1388 (Push Type Rivets) that matched the holes perfectly:

Now, came time to install the rear splash guards.  These don't actually go on the fender itself but on the side cowl of the car.  I had to trim the shields in a couple of places to get them to fit where they were designed to go.  The lower fender mount brackets were no exception.  This is how I understand they are to be installed between the shield and the torque box flange.  Note how the hole doesn't line up.  I had to trim about 3/32 from the side of the shield to make room for that vertical bend in the bracket:

Here's how I'm 95% sure it's supposed to be mounted between the shield and the torque box flange.  The problem is that the lower horizontal portion of the L bracket is about 1/2" away from the lower rocker flange and my fender edge wants to sit right up against the rocker flange:

The "correct" mounting of the bracket from the mounting side.  Note that a notch had to be cut in the bottom 1" or so of the torque box flange to allow the bottom of this bracket to come through.

I always have to be different though so I hammered the little bend out of the driver side bracket which allowed it to be screwed right up next to the lower flange of the rocker so it would fit my fender better:

From the business side showing the hammered out bend sticking out to the side:

This is a side-view of the installation of the rear splash shield.  There are two sheet metal screws from the side cowl.  Screws are driven out through the cowl side/firewall flange.  There's another sheet metal screw that is driven down through the top of the rear apron into the top of the shield "Z" bend.  The shield mounts to the front of the torque box flange and the fender bracket is sandwiched between the shield and torque box with a single screw driven through all three:

Here's a picture from the inside of the mounted fender looking back toward the top of the rear splash shield:

The bottom of the rear splash shield from inside the fender:

A shot towards the front splash shield from inside the fender:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Fifty Dollar Hood

Several months ago, I answered an ad on Craigslist advertising a 1968 turn signal hood for fifty bucks.  I drove the 25 odd miles to the neighboring town to meet the guy.  I noticed it had some issues such as some minor dings, a rusted-out front reinforcement, and hood pin holes.   I decided that the price was still right so I loaded it on top of my SUV, drove home, leaned it up against the house and forgot about it for the remainder of the summer.

Fast forward to this week.  I need to get a hood on the car so I can align the fenders and doors so, it was time to dust off the new hood and set to work.  First thing I did was to compare it against my original hood.  One thing immediately noticeable was that the new hood was way lighter than my old hood.  Either the new one is a cheap repro or my old one has a ton of bondo on it.   Now, new repro hoods aren't really that expensive but the freight shipping charges double the price so, being a cheap b*****d, I decided that since I'm going to upgrade to Shelby glass in a few years, I could live with a cheap hood.  Besides, I like the turn-signal hoods.  Here it is... beauty ain't she?

Red is the wrong color plus I needed to get it down to bare metal.  I could media blast but I've heard horror stories about blasting hoods plus, see the previous paragraph where I'm a cheap b*****d.  I bought this paint stripper at Home Depot.  The aircraft stripper stuff at NAPA was nearly $50 a gallon!  This stuff was around $20.

I thought I'd go ahead and make the stripper's job easier by breaking up the surface of the paint with a sanding disc.

Then I liberally brushed on a heavy layer of stripper:

I let it work for about 20 minutes and then scraped it off with a wide bladed putty knife.

I applied it a couple more times to get a layer of gray primer but then it stopped working at this point (would the fifty dollar stuff have gone all the way to metal?).  I think this is original paint (Lime Gold) and red oxide primer.  Could this be an original hood?

I decided to strip the rest of the way with the angle grinder and flap disc.

That's all good and fine but the real work is underneath.  I lightly did a little stripping to try to expose any part numbers.  I found a couple of codes but they were unreadable after I... kind of... made them unreadable with my 46 grit flap disc.

Here's what the next few evenings of work looks like.  See the rust holes along the front support?

I started on the passenger side by just cutting away the rusted portion.  While this was off, I took the opportunity to hammer and dolly out a dent that was in the hood at the front that the PO had filled with bondo.

I then (poorly) welded in a patch.  The problem is that I welded the support frame member edge before I tacked the front flanges together.  I'll let you know why this was a problem further on.

For the driver side, I did things differently, hey! this is all experimental to a newby like me!  This time I made a flange in a patch first and then clamped that flange to the front edge of the hood and then hammered the patch down over the existing, rusty metal to form it.

Then I marked around the new patch edges to determine where to cut.

I cut out the bad metal and then etched and primed the inside surfaces.

This time, however, I tacked the front flange first and then finished bending the patch down to accurately meet up with the reinforcement member.   See the passenger side patch sticking up there?  If I had forced that patch back down in the front to weld the flange, the top of the hood wanted to warp.  So, back to the drawing board for the passenger side as I cut the patch back out again.

The problem is that I couldn't make a patch the same way as I had done the driver side (soooo much faster and cleaner than hand-forming the patch) because I had cut away the metal already that I would use to form the patch.  Old hood to the rescue!  I clamped a pre-flanged sheet to the target area of the other hood...

... and then hammered out another patch.

This time, I welded it in like I had done to the driver side.  Flange side first.

Here's the complete repair.

I ground down the welds...

... and leveled it with some polyester glazing putty and sanded it smooth with 220.

I originally was going to leave underside of the hood as-is and just primer over the old paint but decided that I'd give one of these 4.5" composite stripping discs a try.  I'd used the ones made for drills but never for an angle grinder before.

It did a pretty fast job of taking off most of the remaining paint and primer.

But you need to watch that little bugger near sheet metal edges.  A sheet metal edge will cut into the soft composite stripping pad and then the angle grinder will twist up edge.  I had to carefully hammer this down by inserting a wide bladed putty knife between the hood skin and the damaged edge to keep from dinging the hood.

Those hood pin holes had to be welded shut and ground smooth.

The entire bottom side was etched with Ospho, rinsed, and then cleaned with metal prep (giving the metal that white, chalky look).  Also, new seam sealer had to be injected between the support and hood skin because the old had pulled away causing the top of the hood to "oil can".

Finally, I can get to resurfacing the top of the hood.  I scratched it up good first with a course sanding disk and then cleaned the metal with metal prep.

I laid down a thin layer of skimming filler like I'd done with the deck lid.

And then I sanded... and sanded.... and sanded.... and filled some more... and sanded... and sanded some more.  By the way if you see this kind of sand paper at Harbor Freight RUN AWAY!  This is the worst crap I've ever used.  Besides being completely worthless as sand paper, the glue is actually water soluble.   A little bit of sweat or water on the paper makes it dissolve and fall apart.   However, if you get the black crud on your hands then nothing will clean it off.  Ack!  I tossed the whole bag in the trash.

Fortunately, I had good 3M paper on hand as well and was able to finish the sanding.  As I'd done with the deck lid, I roughed the skimming putty with a 46 grit 17 inch idiot board, getting it as level as possible and then skimmed the whole thing again with a microscopically thin layer polyester glazing putty.  Just enough to fill the 46 grit sanding scratches.  I wet sanded that directly with 220 (NOTE: I found out later that it is bad to wet sand filler as it can absorb moisture and cause problems with paint later), wiped it down, dried it, checked for imperfections, filled those as I found them, sanded again, rinse, repeat until done.

When I was finally ready to primer with DP40LF epoxy primer, rain was on the way so it was now or wait for another four days or so.  It was getting dark out so I opted to hang the hood from the garage door and spray it from inside the garage.  Top first.

And then bottom.

Yeah, the straps got in the way at times but I worked around them and got the job done with a couple of flaws that I still need to fix but I got it done.  Now, on to cleaning up the hood hardware for test mounting to the car for panel alignment.