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...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Prep for Bodywork - Part 2

Time flies when you're having fun.  For me, it was more literally than figuratively.  In the course of 8 days, I was on 8 flights, traveled some 4,500 miles by air, crossed the US/Canada border twice, and saw a temperature swing of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.  A bonus of the trip was on my leg flying at 25,000 feet from Sachigo Lake, Ontario back to Winnipeg.   I got to see the Northern Lights for the first time.  It's quite a spectacle of nature.  But it is good to be least for a couple of weeks until the next venture "up north."

So after a day of recovery it was time to continue where I left off on the fastback in prepping the body for primer and bodywork.  The one advantage of this step in the restoration process is that there isn't a lot of set-up or tear-down of equipment such as the MIG welder, hammers, dollies, air tools, etc.. It's basically a couple of tools with a couple of different abrasives.  Oh... And a LOT of labor.

The first thing in the process was to drop the plastic sheets that make the walls for my Dexter "Kill Room" as my daughters like to call my dust containment system in the garage.  The second half of the roof went reasonably well except that I discovered a slight crease and indentation about a foot back from the windshield.

Front view of cleaned roof
Rear view of cleaned roof
 There are a couple of barely detectable dents over the driver's side door.   I'll have to deal with them all eventually.  I'm hoping my arsenal of slapping tools and files will get most of it out.  I'm not a fan of smearing a lot of body filler on the roof to make up for poor metalwork.  Less is always better.  I'm not looking forward to more metal massaging and it's a little disappointing but it is what it is.

The largest crease is visible just to the left side edge of the light reflection in the roof.

Another light crease is visible at the near edge of the light reflection

A couple of light ripples are visible near the edge of the light reflection.

I applied the PickelX-20 on the rest of the roof.  I then moved on to the driver's side cowl.  This will be more tedious as I'll have to hand-clean the vent grates.  That's why I bought that box of red Scotch Brite pads for occasions like this.

The next area that I need to work on before removing the body from the rotisserie is to get the rest of the interior surfaces cleaned, apply with fresh seam sealer, and painted in Zero Rust.   I figured I would start on the cowl and dash, including the underside which will be easier to get to on the rotisserie than on a body cart.  However, before I started cleaning up  the dash, I needed to document some of the hardware that I hadn't removed, or I took out and ran the screws or nuts back in place.

This is the left inside of the cowl looking through the instrument cluster hole of the dash.
This is the driver's side cowl vent.  Fortunately, in spited of the surface rust, they are solid on both sides.  So I won't need to cut the cowl apart and replace this part of the car

This is a view of the underside of the dash looking through the instrument cluster area to the passenger side where the heat/AC unit passes through the firewall.
This is looking straight through the instrument cluster hole in the dash and the bottom of the cowl.

This is a view of the backside of the lower half of the dash.  The console mounting brackets are still in place.

This is a view through the instrument cluster.
 Once I got all the nuts n' bolt n' screws removed, I started the metal cleaning.  I switched over to "surface conditioning" pads and away from the 40 grit sanding disc.  It does a fairly good job of cleaning the paint and light surface rust and will not remove or damage the metal.

Here's the driver's side of the dash that is mostly done.

Here is the passenger side of the dash mostly complete.

The top of the dash is about 80% done.  I need to use a stripping pad to get to more of the hard to reach areas.

I was able to get about 80% of the dash cleaned up.  There are some nooks and crannies that are left along with the bottom edge.  I'm waiting for my 3M Scotch Brite 2" Roloc 50 grit bristle brushes to arrive.  I've never used these before but hoping that they will do a good job of cleaning those contour areas that are hard to reach.  I might even try them on the cowl vents.

I'm figuring I have less than an hour of external dash work left.  Then it's on to the underside which will be a challenge as there isn't much working space under there.  It's times like this I wish this was a Mopar as several of them had removable dashboards making work on them duck soup.

I'm hoping to get some more work done in the evenings this week before my wife and I head to west Iowa to visit my middle daughter and her family.  We haven't been out there since, as one of my friends said, "the last tile project" which is true.  So It's our turn in the barrel to travel west.  My travels won't end there as I'll be home for 4 days and then hit the road for Red Sucker Lake, Manitoba to conduct another family and parent workshop in that First Nation community.  Long underwear is NOT optional there!  Then I'll be home for a week before I hit the road to northwest Michigan to open the family cabin.  I'll be back for a week and then off on a round-robin trip to LA and Edmonton, Alberta before heading home.   I'm tired just thinking about it.  And then people wonder why I'm not making such great progress on Eleanor.   So there you go.

Until the next time...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Body Prep for Bodywork: meticulous and boring

Paint flowed onto the underside of Eleanor in November last year.  What a milestone!   And then the flow of work came to a screeching halt.  You're familiar with the drill.  Thanksgiving.  Christmas.  Family gatherings.  Post-New Year reset.  Add to the regular seasonal stuff a Kitchen backsplash re-do that required a complete tear out to the studs and new drywall.  Then there is always the post-season garage space recovery.  And then there was travel.  Lot's of travel.   As I write this, I'm in between two trips to northern Ontario First Nation communities.

However, I may be using all of my personal family, work, and house projects to put off what has got to be one of the most tedious, meticulous and boring aspects of a Mustang restoration project but necessary for the finished product to come out looking great.  And that is body metal cleaning and prep for body work.

But in all fairness, I did spend a few days going through the garage gathering all the metal I had accumulated over the past umteen years of Mustang restoration and other bits and pieces of other vehicles (like my daughter's mangled Civic hood), RV parts, and metal plumbing and electrical pieces.   That filled the bed of my truck which then went to the metal recycler.  Then it was sort through and reorganize the space which is now much more roomier, though there's still a bunch of miscellaneous stuff sitting on my drafting table that should be sorted and stored.   But floor space grew at least 20% which in my garage is a huge accomplishment.  Now I have recovered space to work on the fastback.

I got a dose of reality thanks to a little Facebook reminder about when the Mustang was put on the rotisserie.  Sadly, it's been on the "rack" for 5 stinking years as of 10 days ago.  That was a rude awakening that I need to work on Eleanor even if it's just for an hour or two here and there.   So that's what I hour or two here and there over the weekend and last night.

I really have to take advantage of the rotisserie since it's easier to get to the roof (inside and out) and the interior thoroughly cleaned while it's still mounted on it.   Stripping surface rust and old paint is one of the most unglamorous jobs in auto restoration.   Sure, I could have spent $1,500 for the local portable soda blast company to come out and do the inside and outside.  Yeah, it would have all been done in a day.   But $1,500 could fund a nice start on the engine and transmission rebuild, or the new AC/heat system, or instrument panel and interior restoration, or...  Well, you get the picture. We all make our choices and deal with the consequences, right?

With dust mask and ear protection in place, a 6" DA sander, 2" air sander, 4" grinder with an abrasive head laid out and ready to go, I began the task of stripping half the roof.  There's really not a lot of detail and wiz-bang pictures associated with this work.  It's loud.  It's dusty.  It's dirty.  Nuf said.

The challenge is to be careful around the edges of body contours so that they are not distorted or rounded off, especially the small "peak" at the rear of the center of the roof.   Also, it's possible to get too aggressive and put small crescent gouges in the metal.   Unfortunately I have a couple of those, but thankfully, the high build primer/surfacer should take care of them.

A wipe down to remove any residual dirt and an air blow down preceded an application of Pickelex-20.   So that mischief was managed for one half of the roof.   Now it's repeat this for the other half.   I might get it done before my flight north Friday morning, but I need to pack Thursday night and do an oil change on my wife's Fusion tonight since it's been flashing that "oil change required" reminder for the last week.   That shouldn't take too long.  Maybe I'll get an hour or two in after dinner.   But with my past history not being to reliable, it's wait and see.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Finally! Paint is flowing!

It's been quite a Fall.  As I looked at the calendar and how full it was becoming, and how much of the month had already gone by, I had my doubts that I would have any window to get the floor, lower firewall, and front frame rails in epoxy primer this year.  I had to travel to Michigan...Twice in the first two weeks of November.  One trip for business and a second for vacation to close the family cabin.   I also needed to work in some deer hunting to get venison in the freezer since last year was a huge deer hunt bust.   Unfortunately, my first deer came using my truck as a weapon outside of Grand Rapids on I-196 instead of my bow or gun.  I was fortunate that my wife and I were in my truck and not her Fusion.  Otherwise, I probably wouldn't be writing this as the outcome would have been much worse.  I had to make some "field repairs" to make the truck more driveable.  I loosened the left-front fender and pulled/pried it forward so that the driver's side door could open. Then I used my knee to push and hands to pull in logistical locations on the fender to get it straightened out more.

After a trip to the local Ace Hardware store, I patched the corner up with a 9" x 11" throw away aluminum pan, a roll of Gorilla Tape, and a piece of plexiglass.  It worked surprisingly well.  I wanted to at least be able to drive it safely...and try and put off taking it to the body shop until after I got some hunting in.  It goes into the body shop the week after Thanksgiving.

I was hoping that the unusually mild November weather would hold out to give me a chance to get paint on the car.  Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for colder more seasonable weather after getting home.   The good news is that it made the deer more active and I got a nice size doe Sunday late afternoon.  That freed up the rest of the week before Thanksgiving to work on the fastback.

I have been thinking and planning about what I wanted painted with epoxy paint and what I didn't want painted.  With a plan in place, I used my Eastwood tape and paper machine to mask off the body along the outer flange of the rocker panel, the rear quarter panel flanges along with the trunk/gas tank flange.

All masked off and ready for some paint!

Then there was the final prepping of the floor.  I had some remnant of  undercoating I needed to remove and clean up.  I used the 3M red scuff pads on the underside just to make sure I had good adhesion even though the Pickel-X said I could paint right over it.  I followed that with a wipe down using wax and grease remover.

It was time to actually apply paint.  It seemed surreal that after 11-1/2 years of ownership, I was at a major turning point.  in all honesty, I was a little apprehensive about it.  It had been so long since I sprayed any paint on a vehicle.  It was my first time using a HVLP spray gun.  Would I screw this up?  Would I get it right?   But enough of that.  Time to forge ahead.

I used a mixing cup to experiment with the ratio of the DP74 red oxide to the DP90 black until I got to the color tint I wanted.  The DPLF epoxy can't be tinted.  So the only way to change the color is to mix the different colors of DPLF together.  I didn't want to go broke at $80 a quart for three more colors.  I only wanted the red oxide toned down some.  After adding a little at a time and mixing thoroughly, I found the ratio at 4:1 of DP74 to DP90 would work.  It was exactly what I wanted.

Straight DP74 on the left and the 4:1 DP74:DP90 mix on the right.
I got my HVLP gun set up with the desiccant filter and pressure gauge to adjust the air pressure at the gun. 
The HPLV primer gun I bought for just this purpose.

I lowered my previously installed plastic curtain to contain whatever paint overspray I'd make.  I was also hoping to manage the heat and ventilation to keep the garage warm enough for the epoxy to cure and yet keep the fire/explosion potential eliminated.  I got the garage heated up and then shut down the torpedo heater since open flame and fumes do not mix!  I moved the heater to the other side of the plastic just in case.  Safety first in my garage!

Plastic curtain is in place ready for paint.

The DP74/90 and epoxy mixed and ready for the gun.

I loaded up the gun, donned my respirator, and off I went spraying.  I was immediately and pleasantly surprised at the minimal overspray with the HVLP gun.  I varied the fan pattern to get paint into some of the tight spaces.  Being able to rotate the body to the best position for paint application and lighting was great.

Everything was going according to plan.  The garage was a little cooler (~60F) than I wanted, but the ventilation was important for both me and turning the heat back on with my torpedo heater.  You never really know how much paint to mix.  I initially mixed 18 oz total of paint and catalyst.  I had to mix another 12 oz to finish up which was just enough. 

I ventilated the garage for about 5 minutes before getting the heat going again and kept the garage door open a few inches just to be sure the ventilation was still going.  Thankfully, it all worked out perfectly!   I got the heat directed under the car with the floor side down to try and help cure the pain in garage that had cooled off to almost 50F which I really wanted to avoid.  However, as the temp rose back into the high 60's, it looked like it would be OK.

Finally!  The finished product!

I love the way the tint of the color worked out too.  You would have to look really close to see where the floor repairs were.  If you're like me, I notice that stuff but it is because I've been looking at it for so long!   I cleaned up the gun and the garage and stood back and looked at the dramatic change.  What a huge step in the right direction!

I left the garage door open for another 15 minutes and then closed it up with the heat still going.  When my wife got home from choir practice, I had two glasses of wine waiting.  I handed her a glass and said, "Let's toast to a major milestone."   She looked at me with a quizzical look.  I said, "Come with me" and started walking toward the garage.  "You got the car painted!" she said. I opened the door into the garage and turned on the light.  Then I went to the rotisserie and rotated the car so she could see the freshly painted floor.  My wife blurted out, "That looks fantastic!  I can't believe how good it looks!"   She knew as well as me what a ginormous moment this was since we've had the fastback. The garage was approaching 70F.  I shut down the lights and heat and closed up shop for the night.

The next morning, I took a look all over and for the most part, I got everything covered fairly well.  There are a couple of spots I'll go back and touch up later, but for all intents and purpose, the floor and lower firewall are done!!!

Now it's on to the interior metal prep for paint by removing the rest of the sealer and cleaning all the surface rust off the dash and upper inside firewall along with the inside of the roof and body panels.

Who knows?  I might just have this baby ready for paint by next spring.  No.  I better not make any speculation on when that will happen based on my history with this beast.  But one can only hope, right?

Until the next time...

Friday, November 4, 2016

Preparing for Paint and Body Work

I feel like I've got a foot in the U.S. and a foot in Canada lately.  It's been a crazy busy time with work and family.   Throw in a wedding, baptism, and weekend PR travel for me and October has flown by quickly.   Case in point:  I've only been able to go out bow hunting 3 days since the season opened October 1.  Oh well.  There's always November, right?  (sounds painfully like the Cubs prior to their World Series win this year)

Well... on to Eleanor.

I ordered a quart of PPG DPLF-90 which is the black epoxy primer.  My intention is to mix it with the DPLF-74 red oxide to darken it up as the straight 74 is brighter than I'd like and what was original to the car.  This product can't be tinted so that's the reason for the color mix.

The other thing I need to do is have a better environment in which to paint in my garage.   I need to keep the dust and crud off the car and at the same time, keep the paint overspray off the rest of the garage contents.  So in this exciting episode, I'll show you what I did to prepare for the paint and body work.

I wanted to have some flexibility in making this paint/dust containment booth so that I could open it up and have access to the rest of the garage when not in use.   After putting some thought behind this project, I decided to use 5 mil plastic sheets for the barrier.   Attaching it to the ceiling of the garage was the issue, especially to keep it all in place for a long duration (and everyone knows how long "long" is for me).

I laid out the location on the garage ceiling and used my stud finder to locate the rafter joists.  Then I used pine 1" X 2" X 8' boards and attached them to the ceiling using 3" drywall screws.  After that, I cut 2" wide strips of corrugated cardboard out of old boxes so that I would create a washer of sorts.  I sandwiched the plastic sheet in between the wood strips and the corrugated strips and stapled it into position.  If I didn't to this, the plastic would easily pull through the staples.  I attached it on the vertical face of the 1 X 2 boards.

I proceeded to do this around the perimeter of the main 2 bay section of the garage.  It would protect all the family items (i.e. junk) that is on the shelves from paint and body filler dust.  It looked like it would work quite well and I'd still have enough working space for the Mustang.


The best part, as you can see from the pictures above, is that I can roll it up and get it out of the way when not needed.  With Thanksgiving coming soon (Yikes!) I need to have a clear path to the refrigerator in the 3rd bay for food and BEvERage storage.   Clothespins to the rescue!   All I have to do is roll up the plastic and pin it up.  So far, it works great.

So now the pressure is on the actually get paint on the Mustang.  I refuse to put a deadline on myself since I've broken every single one so far.   Suffice it to say, I'll get the epoxy on the floor in the future...the near future hopefully.

Until the next time...