Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blasting Off

There was a break in the temperatures this week...if you call a predicted high of 89F degrees on Saturday a break.  This summer heat wave has definitely hampered progress on the fastback.  I much prefer colder weather since you can always put on more clothes.  When it's hot, there's only so much you can take off...legally.

But weather aside, I've been pondering the next step on the car...finishing up the driver's side floor, or start work on the trunk drain lip or start on the rusty toe board...some part of the car that I could stand a chance of work in this heat.  So what did I decide to do was to jump into the fire and media blast the bottom of the car.  I already got a small start when I did my little "test" last week and made a nice mess in the garage.   I would be more prepared this time around.

For starters, I followed Sven's advice for personal protection equipment.  I somehow misplaced my respirator.  So a trip to Lowes snagged a nice 3M tekk respirator with the P100 cartridges.  These are good for, paints and toxic gasses including acid.   It may be overkill, but I have only one set of lungs I'd like to see finish this project.

Then, from my last experience I posted previously, I didn't want to be covered in a mess of blasting media.  So I also picked up a "monkey suit" to keep me as media free as possible.  It has a hood and "booties" along with elastic at the wrists.

To be sure that my blasting wouldn't allow media to get in places that I didn't want, I obviously moved the fastback into the driveway.

I moved all the vehicles to the end of the driveway hoping that the blasting force and the breeze wouldn't carry it onto the cars.   Hopefully they would be out of harms way....

Then after getting all the equipment and media staged, it was time to suit up.   I definitely won't win any beauty contests but it's about function, not form.

Now it's on to the work.   I got the Mustang rolled on its side.  I started on the driver's side rear seat floor and moved right towards the firewall.  Then I did the area over the rear axle and moved to the rear of the car.  I started on the passenger side and worked my way forward to the firewall again.  The top and bottom of the car on the rotisserie is a good "before" and "after" view.

This all sounds so nice and easy, but it was anything but.   First of all, my media blaster held only 20 pounds at a time.  That was good for maybe--maybe 4-5 minutes of blast time.  Then I would have to purge the air, load it up, re-pressurise, and blast away.   I had put in my last load that emptied the first 100 pound bag of media.  When I got done, I could have broken out the other bag, but there was, for all practical purposes, 100 pounds of media in my driveway, minus the losses from the wind, what was in the car, and what ended up in the yard.   After sweeping the media into a pile, I noticed there was a lot of foreign debris.  I had a screen in the garage I put over my media pail. 

Then I scooped up some of the media and poured it onto the screen, shaking it back and forth to sift it through.

When I got done, the debris was visible.   I dumped it off the side of the drive.  I took the sifted media and put it in the blaster.  It worked with no problems.

So this is the process that took four and a half hours.  I got the bottom of the car done and did do the front frame rails and the lower part of the firewall.   I did do some of the fender aprons where there was surface rust.   I had to take breaks to re-hydrate and move the car into position as the sun progressed to get the best visibility.   By 4 PM, I was hot, I had finished dumping the third round of media recycle, and the temperature decided to go north of 90F degrees.

Of course, not all was sunshine and roses.  I did find during the process some more of that wonderful iron oxide deposits called rust.   The passenger side trunk drop-off definitely showed it's true colors.

There are rust holes in the lower 2 inches.  The rest looks good along with the trunk floor, which is a relief.  So I'll need to order that part and add that to the list of rust repairs.  (Any suggestions on vendors would be appreciated)   The rough looking metal at the top of the picture is actually undercoating that needs to be removed.

Then I found some pin holes in the passenger side rear floor.  This isn't to bad and can be easily patched.   There's a small one on the floor just inside the right rear fender well that will also be an easy fix....or I hope all of these will.

When my wife asked how it was going, I mentioned the rust I found and the extra work needed.  She rather stoically says, "Better to find it now than later."   I guess that's true, especially after what Alex found late in the bodywork and paint process.  I took the 3" square tubing off the rotisserie so I could spin the car 360 degrees and blow the media out of it.  That took several turns to get most of it out.  The rest will have to be by shop vac.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the factory undercoating in the rear wheel wells.  It was not budging much, even with repeated passes.  The body color paint came off, but that was about it.

This was all I got done.  I was tired, hot, and had a mess to clean up.   I got some help from my better half getting the car back into the garage since my back was getting pretty stiff.   So the fastback is back where it started the day, and in much cleaner condition.  It may not be a "professional" job, but it's better than manning a whirly-bird and sander.

I think at this point I'm going to call this quits on media blasting since I can get the rest of the car, particularly the inside,  cleaned up with the braided wire brush. 

Reflecting on this exhausting and demanding task, I will say it was worth the effort.  I was able to get some nooks and crannies cleaned out that would have been difficult any other way.   I identified a couple  more areas of rust repair.  and the cleanliness of the metal is better than using a whirly-bird.   Messy?  Yes.  Demanding?  You betcha.   Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.

Now it's on to ordering the trunk drop off and getting back to the underside of the floor work.  With family coming in for the Brickyard races this weekend and the continuing 90+  temperatures in the forecast this coming week again,  it may be better than a week or so before I get back on the Mustang.  But at least it's ready to go whenever I am.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Floor Repair - The Underside Part 2

This floor work has been a slow process, painfully so at some points.  In part it's due to things outside my control, such as today being the 30th day that the high will be above 90 for temperature.  Unfortunately I don't have an air conditioned garage and even if I wanted to put a 12,000 BTU AC unit in the garage window, there are none to be found either in stores or Craigslist.  The other part that's hampered progress so far this summer has been a rather relentless schedule.  The second week of June was the push to get ready for Vacation Bible School.  The third week in June was VBS and as the "music man" I was the person doing all the music for all the age groups.  It was 4 hours of non-stop singing and playing the guitar.   The last week in June I flew out on Sunday afternoon to Phoenix and Sedona for a few days to spend some time with my wife who was in between conferences.  I got home on  Wednesday evening and then repacked and left 12 hours later for a 2 day convention in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Then it was back home Friday night with one day to pack myself and my 88 year old mother in law for a vacation to northwest Michigan to the family cabin.  I got up there on Sunday evening and got her settled in.  My daughter and her family joined us as well.  Then early Monday, I drove down to Grand Rapids to pick up my wife who took the "red eye" from Phoenix after her conference ended.   Keeping up with an almost 2 year old and a 4 year old can keep you busy, along with caring for an 88 year old.  I did all the cooking for the family.   But my son-in-law and I had great fishing this year and there were no major maintenance things to do this trip.   I got home a week ago today and was faced with what happens so often--a backlog of work from being gone for two weeks.  But that's how life goes.

I do have to say, I have been working on the car.  It's that it wasn't the Mustang.  My daily driver '97 Honda Civic with just over 279,000 miles decided that the AC compressor only wanted to cool the car for 5 minutes and then do nothing.  The local shop who does the work on my "fleet" when I'm unable to diagnosed it as a bad thermocouple.  Unfortunately, Honda/Acura thermocouples are internal to the compressor which means the compressor had to be replaced.  I got a "kit" from  I got the compressor, receiver/dryer, and expansion valve, all which have to be installed for the compressor warranty.  The shop removed the R-134 so I could safely open the system.   I now know why they wanted  $1,200 to put the parts in.  Getting to the evaporator in the dash was a 3 hour project by itself.  Access to the compressor and dryer was nominally better.  To make a long story short, the AC project stretched over 8 hours and 3 days.   I got it back together just before my 2 weeks of travel.   I got the car back to the shop this past week and now have working AC. I figured it was good practice for the Mustang when I put the factory AC back in it.

So as this past weekend approached with not much on the schedule and the promise of cooler temps and rain, it sounded like a good time to get back on the Mustang.   Well, as Meatloaf sang on his "Bat Out of Hell" album, "Two out of Three Ain't bad."   I did get some work done on the Mustang, but it was hot and dry.

The first order of business was to finish the bagging and tagging of some of the parts I hadn't  taken care of.  I finished drilling out the rivets that held the plastic clips for right side rocker panel molding so I could put them with the rest of the parts.  With that behind me I picked up the garage that had a myriad of things laying around from vacation, the AC work, and the accumulation of crap from who knows where that just gets thrown into the garage.  

As I was doing the garage cleaning I moved some tools out of the garage like my welder and media blast tank.  Then I thought, "Hmmm.   It would be fun to finally connect that blaster up and see how it worked."    It had about 10 pound of media I had previously put in it hoping to try it before this.  That should be enough for my "test."

With the hose connected and everything on the blaster adjusted, I began on the floor bottom behind the new driver's side floor pan and the transmission tunnel.   Here's a picture of the area"before" being blasted....

...and then here's the "after" pictures.  It took all of 3-4 minutes, if that, to look like this...

The good news is that it really did a nice job.  In fact, there are placed on the seam weld where you can't even see the weld joint.  I was very pleased with the results.  I would have kept going, but I ran out of "black beauty" and decided the test was successful.   Like I said, that was the good news.

Now for the bad...   I realized I had blasted away all my markings for the welding pinholes.  That's not that bad of news since I can put my halogen flood behind the floor and find them again.  The real bad news was this...

The media was pretty thick on the floor

At first, the media on the floor didn't look so bad.  I though that with the angle of the car and the direction of the blasting I'd be OK as far as controlling where the media went.  WRONG!   It was everywhere in the garage...EVERYWHERE!    So my little 5 minutes of blasting turned into an hour of cleanup and I still have more to do.   It even got up into the garage door tracks.  Great.

To be able to clean out the garage better, I moved the Mustang out into the driveway.   It too was full of the media in places I wouldn't have expected, the interior being one of them.   I rolled the car over while simultaneously trying to blow the media out of the car. 

This is the first time it was outside on the rotisserie.  One side effect of moving the fastback outside is that it was a real showstopper.   People were slowing down and gawking at it.  Another side effect is that I could see the work I've done and what has to be done much better out in the daylight. 

I got the majority of the mess cleaned up and got the Mustang back in the garage.  Obviously, there was one big lesson learned.   BLAST OUTSIDE!  And close the garage door too!   Live and learn, right?

I was hoping to get to work on it Sunday afternoon, but by 1 PM  the temperature was already north of 90 degrees and climbing.  I can't run my fan while welding because I'll loose all my shielding gas.  Then there's the issue of keeping myself hydrated enough, which has been a struggle lately.  So I'll be waiting for the temps to drop to something reasonable which right now I'd take anything in the mid 80's which is what our normal high would be.   But that's ain't happening anytime soon.  The temperatures this week are forecast to be in the mid to high 90's.   So I'll have to revisit my plan and maybe move onto another part of the car that doesn't require welding.   Besides, I've got that passenger side toe board to replace.  And there's the rust in the upper right corner of the trunk lip that needs to be repaired.   So I'll see if I can get the garage more comfortable and move on with something else.   I'll take progress...any this point.