Thursday, March 15, 2018

More, More of the Same

What a tedious, dirty, and somewhat hazardous job this has turned out to be.  I never would have thought cleaning out the factory sealer and surface rust would end up with hours of work and dollars of consumables.  But it is what it is.

This post represents a number of nights and a long Saturday of work.  And I'm still not done yet.  But let's not dwell on that.  First order of business is safety first.  I use ear plugs instead of the muffs which are bulky in tight places.   Don't I look dashing?!?!

Decked out in all my safety gear.
I found that the best and quickest way to remove the factory seam sealer is Goof Off.  It's easy to apply and works well.  It will take three coats.  The first will get the majority of the larger pieces of seam sealer loose.  I used a wood chisel to scrape the first layer away.  The second coat will get most of the sealer off with the chisel and coarse steel wool.  The third coat I used red ScotchBrite pads to get the last of the sealer off.  Then I wiped down the area with mineral spirits on a cloth.  Finally, I used paper towels to dry off the mineral spirits.

This does a good job cutting through the factory seam sealer
The seam sealer is all gone and cleaned up

That process of removing the sealer worked the best.  The next step was to use the combination of 4-1/2" and 2" surface conditioning disc.  I did buy a lot of 25 Sharp brand 3" Rolok surface disc.  They seem to hold up a little better than the 3M disc. So work began on the door jamb area.

cleaning up the rocker panel and door jamb

The left rear quarter panel had never been completely stripped of paint entirely and there was some primer left from previous metal work.  So I got this all done.

I then started on the interior driver's side and got most of that cleaned up from the rear diff tunnel to the foot well area.

Then it was on to the part I was dreading...the upper firewall and cowl behind the dash.

The advantage to the rotisserie is easier access to areas like this.  It's not easy.  Just easier.  I can't imagine laying on my back or in a contorted position to do this work.  Because of the confines, I used the 90 degree die grinder with the 2" and 3" conditioning discs.

This is the view through the dash on the driver's side of the firewall
 On the larger flatter surfaces, I used the 4-1/2" angle grinder, especially on the toe board, side apron and flat areas of the bottom of the cowl.  I made good time but found that caution must be exhibited in the process.
Yes Virginia, the body is upside down! (not the picture)
My 29 year old Craftsman angle grinder has served me well over the years, especially on my 1929 Ford hotrod and this one.  However, I failed to notice a bracket that was spot welded on the bottom of the cowl.  The conditioning pad caught it, twisted the grinder out of my right hand where it then proceeded to dance across the back of my left hand, out the door and onto the floor while still turning!  Needless to say, there was some collateral damage to me, the grinder, and the hook and loop backing pad.
My ouchie looks better in the picture than in real life.
I used this moment to take a break, clean myself up so that a CSI team won't find anymore blood on the garage floor than is already there.  The grinder case was now loose at a parting joint.  I could probably just use some Gorilla tape to fix it, but decided it was time to replace it.  I ended up spending more than planned, but got a DeWalt angle grinder with more amps AND a paddle switch which is much safer than the toggle on the old Craftsman.  Besides, almost 30 years of service is enough.  I'm also going to make sure I'm wearing my mechanic's gloves when I'm using the grinder.

I had created quite a mess in my "Dexter" kill room, but that plastic cocoon I made has kept the garage messes at bay.  I pushed the fastback outside since it was a clear sunny day and blew the crud and dust out of all the nooks and crannies.  Again, the rotisserie really helps facilitate this process.

After the cleanup of the body and garage, I tucked her back in the garage.  The next step was working on the inside of the roof.  I was down to my last 4-1/2" conditioning disc.  So I placed another order for a box of 10.  The cost of consumables was on a steady climb at this point.

With the body hanging upside down, it made easy work of the roof.  My helper Joey came over for a couple of hours one evening and helped with the task.  I put him on the new DeWalt grinder and I used my 9" grinder with the big bristle brush that worked OK.  I spent a little more time doing some detail cleaning under the dash with my 2" discs.

My helper Joey getting after the roof
 The roof is about 2/3 done at this point.  Joey had school and I was getting tired, especially my hand that was somewhat sore after the fight with the grinder.

I'm probably 75% to 80% done on cleaning up the inside before it's ready for degreasing, resealing, and primer.  I did, however, order some of the sealer materials.  The October 2017 issue of Mustang Monthly had an article that was quite timely.  You can see the article here.   I ordered the "Fast N Firm", the spray rubberized undercoating, and the grey seam sealer that came in a sausage looking tube.  So I had to order the special caulking gun to use with that.  I was a little shocked at the cost.

More money for pricy product
What you see in the picture above represents almost $150 in supplies.  And I know I'll need more, especially at sausage seam sealer which is $40+ for that 10 ounce tube.  Yikes.  And people wonder why restorations can cost so much.  I haven't even gotten to the paint yet.  But if you're going to do a restoration to this level, it has to be done correctly.  So it's part of the price of admission.

I've got work and family obligations this weekend, and I'm waiting for my box of conditioning discs to arrive.  It will also give my hand time to heal up some more.  Hopefully, I'll be back on this beast in the next week or so.  Then I'll get the rest of the inside roof done, a little still left on the underside of the dash on the passenger side, and cleaning up the back of the truck area.  It will be time for some degreasing, Pickle-X 20, seam sealing, and finally primer.  Then the inside of the body will be finished...finally.

Until the next time.

Monday, February 19, 2018

More of the Same

Once again, I headed north of the border  the first weekend in February for more work among the First Nation people in northern Ontario.  I conducted a "train the trainer" class on family and parenting for a group of aboriginal pastors and elders.  It's a badly needed skill among the many communities thanks to the decades of children being raised in residential schools.  But that's another story for another time.

Nnow that I'm back home and south of the Canadian (Eh?) border for at least a few weeks, it was time for a little R & R... Relax and Restoration.  It was not going to be anything exciting, but a continuation of the joys of surface preparation for paint.   It's boring.  It's dirty.  It's time consuming.  But necessary.

The remaining part of the body that needed prepping were the rocker panels, the door frame pillars and surround, and the entire inside of the body.   That's a lot of real estate.  But on with the show.

First task was to start on the passenger side since it's the easiest part of the body to get to without too much rearranging.  I had ordered a box of 2" 3M aluminum oxide Roloc conditioning disc along with a box of 5" hook and loop conditioning disc and backing pad.  The amount of money spend on consumables just to clean up the surface of the body for any paint and body work is adding up.  But it has to be done and is a lot cheaper than what professional media blasting or dipping would cost.

I removed the door hinges being sure to make sure that they were marked for the right side and position.  I was going to do the trick of drilling an 1/8" whole through the hinge under the mounting bolts.  However, the hinge is thick and I'll be hanging a different original fender on the front.  So screw that idea especially since it's time spend on something that just isn't worth the effort in the long run.

I guess I've been putting this area off because of all the intricate surfaces.  But with an arsenal of discs, wire brushes, and bristle brushes of various sizes, there was no excuse left.

The "before" shot of the door frame surround and rocker panel

There's not a lot to show except the "after" pictures.  This represented over 2 hours of stripping and cleaning...

The B-pillar all cleaned up

The A-pillar all shiny

The cleaned up rocker panel (minus the pinch weld on the bottom)
The progress after one long evening
When this last Saturday rolled around, I moved to the inside to try and get as much of the passenger side done.  The heater was fired up, the "kill room" curtains lowered, and all the tools and supplies laid out.

I used "Goof Off" spray stripper and coated all the old seam sealer and let it soak in for 10-15 minutes.  A wood chisel provided the method to scrape the majority of the sealer away.  This took about the same amount of time as using my multi-tool with a scraper blade.  The results were mixed.  Some of it popped off all the way to clean bare metal.  Other sections didn't and left a layer of residue.  It took another application and some "persuading" with "O" steel wool and a red Scotch-Brite pad.  The remainder was removed with a rag and mineral spirits.  A blast of air cleaned out the joints.  (PSA:  be sure to wear rubber gloves, goggles or face shield, and a fan to vent the area).  I crawled up through the gas tank opening and cleaned up the rear axle tunnel.  (Try that on a Government Motors car!)   I was able to finish the floor from the axle tunnel up to the the floor before the toe board.  I'd do that when I dive under the dash.

The cleaned up passenger side floor

Before on the right...after on the left
I pulled the rotisserie into the middle of the garage and re positioned all my tools and supplies to the driver side.  First task was removing the driver side door hinges.  Then I started cleaning up the A-pillar.  I had a malfunction/failure of the 4-1/2" grinder hook and loop backing pad.  (Let's just say it involved operator error and a band-aid).  That limited my productivity on the door frame.

I decided to move on to removing the sealer on the driver side floor.  It looks like crap after the first application and removal.  But the final product is quite acceptable, in my humble opinion.

Part way through the sealer stripping process
I realized that it was time for supper both by the clock and my growling gut.  Beside that, my back was beginning to protest.  I can't imagine what it would have been like to do this WITHOUT the rotisserie.  Best money I've spend on a restoration tool!  (I'm hoping to sell it this spring...hopefully)

I got on my Amazon account and ordered another 5" backing pad and a 3" pad with a box of conditioning disc to get into smaller spaces with the angle grinder without having to deal with "Big Bertha" having to keep up with compressed air.  The plan is to do another weeknight and Saturday to try and knock out not only the floor, but start the work up the back side of the firewall and underside of the dash.

At any rate, there's more progress made and another bite of the elephant swallowed.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Diversion from Hammers and Dollies

This last weekend in January was the first weekend I have been home this year.  Yeah.  2018 is starting off that way.  But it's for a good cause with a couple of trips to northern Manitoba communities to support and encourage the children and staff at schools who have had a challenging school year.  With a weekend at home, it was time to get some R&R in and maybe some spare time to get back working on my fastback.

When you have a restoration project that is so expansive and involved with so many areas to work on, it can be rather daunting to figure out what to work on and in what order.  But it can also provide a break from one task to work on another.  That's what I decided to do this past Sunday afternoon.  I had started on the cowl cleaning some time ago (before diverting to the roof) and decided to just finish the task.  Beside, it requires very little brain power or muscle.  So this post is relatively short and more of a "before" and "after" documentation.

I got out my tools of choice with included my 4-1/2" electric angle grinder and 2" air angle sander.  The attachments included two different braided straight wire brushes, a box of 2" conditioning pads, and a 2" and 4-1/2"  3M brand medium grit "bristle brush"

This is my first time using the larger 4-1/2" brush.  I discovered that, like the smaller 2" brush, it works great on surfaces that do not have any lips or overlaps.  Otherwise, those edges tend to break off the bristles in little bits that fly all over the place including hitting your hands and body if the tool is pointed in the wrong direction.  Gloves and face shield are a must to wear.   Beside that issue, however, the bristle brushes last much longer than the reconditioning pads.  Their size and shape does limit access in tight spaces but I would give them a "thumbs up" if you're thinking about using them.  Just be forewarned about where and how to use them, especially since they aren't exactly cheap.

The 4-1/2" bristle brush with a bunch of the outer bristles missing

This is the 2" bristle brush.  About 50% of the height has been used at this point.
I  rotated the body to get in a comfortable and accessible position.  I had removed some of the surface patina before, but not all.  It was time to just get it all done and over with.

Passenger side cowl before starting the stripping process.

The driver's side cowl before finishing the stripping process.
Starting on the passenger side, the large bristle brush cleaned off the top of the cowl and part of the side.  What I couldn't get to with that, I used the 2" bristle brush.  There were still some areas that were difficult to get to such as the inside corners.  That is where the 2" conditioning pads came into play.

The other areas that needed prepping were all the joints covered with seam sealer.  The bristle brushes tore through it fairly well until you got down to the seam itself where it was either sandwiched or overlapped.  Then the bristle brushes started snagging and throwing off pieces of the brush.   Reverting to the 4-1/2" grinder and the heavier braided wire brush, I continued the seam sealer removal.  This was somewhat of a tough decision as I though about keeping as much as possible for a "factory" look.  But after seeing part of the sealer lift during removal, and then pulling if off by hand (which means it wasn't stuck to the metal) I could see surface rust under it.  It all had to come off to make sure there was no hidden rust to come back later.  It was quite messy with small bits of sealer all over, but the metal was clean.  The finer braided brush got into the spots the heavy one could not hit.  The 2" conditioning pad finished off the sealer in the sandwiched joints along with the tedious job of cleaning the paint and patina off the edges of the fins on fresh air grill on top of the cowl.

After 2-1/2 hours, the job is 98% done.  There are some very tight areas left that I can get with the red Scotchbrite pads.  I need to put a coating of Pickle-X 20 on it to preserve the now bare naked metal.  Then the new seam sealer will be applied and that section will be ready for bodywork and paint.  Yeah, I did find some small dents that will need to be addressed, but it's nothing too deep or serious.

The passenger side done

The passenger side done with seam sealer removed.
The driver's side is done

Now that the outside is done, I need to do the inside of the cowl and dash which will be a real pain from an accessibility standpoint.  Then it will be ready for a coat of Zero-Rust on the inside.

So that's it.  Nothing glamorous or flashy (except shiny metal!) for this post.  I'm off to Northern Ontario for a week to teach about 30 aboriginal church Pastors how to do Family and Parenting classes back in their home communities.  Then I hope to be home for at least two or three weeks before the next trip.  I might even get to squeeze more time in on the fastback.

Until the next time...

Friday, December 22, 2017

Prep For Bodywork - Part 3

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (almost)

2017, like so many other years in the past, has really gone by at warp speed... or maybe I should say "light speed" with all the Star Wars hype these days.  It's hard to imagine that I've only posted twice this year.  That's not a stellar performance when it comes to moving a restoration along.  But, it is what it is.

On this installment, I began work on the roof.  If you recall from my last post, I had completely stripped the roof and started stripping the dash and cowl area.  I had also discovered a number of ripples and dents in the roof that weren't apparent until after the bare metal was exposed.  I'm not a fan of slathering on body filler to fix metal imperfections like I see in so many of the TV shows on the Velocity Channel.  My goal is no more than 1/16"as the absolute thickness limit.  Any more than that and I didn't do a good enough job on the metal work.  Preferably, a high build primer should be enough.  Speaking of enough, let's move on to the roof.

The work described has taken place over a few afternoons and evening sessions.  So it represents probably 8 hours of work.  It's not a lot of time, but the progress is reasonable.  The PickleX-20 does a remarkable job of keeping the bare metal rust-free especially since the roof was stripped and treated 6 months ago.  It's worth the price of admission especially if you're restoration drags on like mine has.  So I didn't have to do anything except get out the body working tools and have at it.

I got out a part of my arsenal of body tools including a collection of spoons, hammers, dollies, shrinking disc, along with my 24" long Dura-block for sanding and a can of guide coat.

First order of business was to spray on the guide coat and then put on some 80 grit adhesive backed paper and sand in an "X" pattern across the roof on the driver's side to see how bad it was.

The first application of guide coat

The results after sanding off the guide coat.
Well..needless to say, there was more damage than initially thought.  The only explanation I have as to how this could have happened is that the roof was used for storage with little thought to what throwing things on it might do to the surface.  I didn't relish the thought of the possibility of just replacing the entire roof section.  But after seeing what Sven Pruitt went through on his Boss, (take a look here) I decided to go ahead and try metal working the ripples and dents out, remembering my filler thickness limit.

The metal forming began with the dinging/slapping spoon and a convex dolly using the "off dolly" process.  That places the dolly under the low spot and pushing up while gently but firmly hitting the high spots.  The advantage is it spreads out the force evenly and hopefully not leaving any deformation dents as a hammer might do.

This is the dinging/slapping spoon that is used to hit the high spots. 

Imagine this dolly on the opposite side of the two high shiny ridges pushing up while the slapping spoon strikes those high spots.
The fun began on the front driver's side corner working toward the back and center since that is how the dents got there.  It's sort of like moving against a wave of metal deforming and attempting to move it back in the direction from which it came.

The shrinking disk was not that effective, or if it was, it was so minute, I couldn't detect any metal shrinking.  Continuing on that route would have been time consuming and wouldn't yield any sizable results.  So I stuck with the spoon, dolly and off-hammer process.  I did discover that on some of the more stubborn wrinkles

Progress is being made although it's slow going.
It's getting better after a couple of hours with the off-dolly and slapping spoon.  I also have a large 1-1/2" head Fairmount body hammer; one end with a shrinking head and the other that has a flat head.  I used the flat end with glancing blows that worked well.  I hold the hammer just below the head and come down at a 30-40 degree angle lightly hitting the metal and then once contact is made I slide the hammer a couple of inches across the dent.  It's a combination of "hit and slide" that spreads out the force a little more especially on the smaller ripples.

Then there was a more pronounced dent above the windshield near the center of the roof.  I can't get behind it with a dolly due to the windshield flange and inner structure.  So my only viable option was the stud gun. 

The first attempted was OK but still not what I would have liked to see.  So I put another row of studs in between the first studs. It turned into a 2 man job with one person pulling the stud and the other with the body hammer tapping the area behind the studs.  (More on the 2nd person later)

It's better, but still not there.  I'm thinking about how I want to proceed.  There wouldn't be more than 1/32" of filler, but I would like it to be almost a translucent skim coat.

The dent after the 2nd set of weld studs.
I moved from the front area following the "wave" of ripples toward the rear.  This is what I started with...

...and this is after a couple of hours of work. 

At one point, I had to get creative because I couldn't reach in far enough to push up on the bottom side of the roof and yet still use the slapping spoon on the top.  I used the spreader bar that I normally have in the back of my pickup truck to hold loads toward the rear of the bed.  I blocked it up and then expanded it so that it was doing the pushing up while I slapped the snot out of the top.  It actually worked pretty good as the above picture attested.

I decided that to get some motivation on the project, I'd enlist other guys who might be interested in helping.  One of them is a senior in one of the local high schools and a member of the church I used to pastor.  He is an honest-to-goodness motorhead and jumped at the chance to help.  He even has his own Youtube channel called Supercars of Indianapolis.  So I put Joey on the rear panel to strip the paint off.  He was my second set of hands on the roof dent pulling the stud while I hammered away.  There's nothing like teaching the next generation about auto restoration, especially when they have a passion for cars.

Joey doing a very meticulous job of removing the paint with a stripping pad.

He did a pretty good job considering the rotisserie mount prevented him from getting into all the tight places.  I may have to do something to either redesign the rotisserie to mount the rear off the leaf spring shackle mount, or take it off the rotisserie and finish what I can't get to now after it's on a body card.  I've not decided if that's what I'll do yet.

I'm hoping to make more progress in the coming weeks, but I've been down for over a week with a raging case of bronchitis and then family will be arriving in a few days for Christmas.  January will be a busy month as I have two trips planned to head north to Canada for First Nation community visits and a PR weekend for the missionary organization I'm with.  I'm going to try and set up one night a week as a "work night"  I'm sure Joey will come when he can.  I might even get another guy or two to come.  I just want to try and keep things from stalling for too long.

Speaking of projects stalling, I have noticed that I'm not the only one whose project has been slow coming along.  A number of other Mustang restorers I keep track of are in the same boat as me.  So I guess I shouldn't feel too badly about my progress.

Well...that's about it for this installment.   Until the next time...