Monday, November 24, 2014

Left Front Fender - Part 6

Yes, I'm still here.  And yes, it's been over 3 months since my last post and associated efforts on the fastback.   But as many of you know, life happens and sometimes it comes at you fast and furious.  The difficulty I've been having is due to my occupation and other personal and family commitments.  It makes working on the fastback during the weeks difficult at best with evenings fairly well filled up.  Add to that getting home at an hour that makes it hard to set up shop for just an evening and work just doesn't happen on the Mustang.  That leaves Saturday and Sunday afternoons as the optimum time to get something done.  Those time slots have been challenging to keep open over the past couple of months.

First off, there are the family commitments--birthdays, wedding anniversary, visiting kids in far away cities, and health issues.  So you'll have to put up with the litany of events before I get to the "car" stuff.

So let's tackle one at a time.  For our anniversary, we went to a bed and breakfast in a community on the north side of Indianapolis in Carmel, Indiana.  When I made the reservation, the owner said, "Are you going to attend "Artomobilia"?"  Apparently it's a huge auto show on the main streets of Carmel.  So after a nice dinner the night before and restful stay at the B&B, we headed a few blocks to downtown.   All I can say is WOW!  There must have been tens of millions of dollars of cars there if not more.

A wide variety of makes and models were represented.  There were plenty of American muscle cars from the 60's through the 2000's.   Old classics were present like an all original 41 Ford coupe.  From across the pond to the east were, Porsche, Jaguar, Austin Healey, VW, MG, Lotus, Maserati, BMW,  Lamborghini, and Aston Martin...

Can you believe that out of 6 Aston Martins only this one had a 6 speed manual transmission?   All the rest were automatics with paddle shifters.  Boring!

Then there were the out of production American cars that had representation there as well.  When was the last time you saw 10, yes, 10 Deloreans parked together....

....or the last time you saw a Bricklin?

But the star of the show was sitting at the heart of downtown for everyone to see...

Do you recognize it.  It is the only 1969 Shelby GT 350 Boss 302 Mustang ever produced.  Apparently Ford was going to make a run of 36 of them but cancelled the order after this prototype was made.  It was a stunning Mustang.  I can't even imagine what the value of this Shelby is, but I overheard someone who knew the owner say, "north of 7 figures."  A million dollar Mustang!!!

I spent quite a bit of time talking to the one-owner of an unrestored 1967 Shelby GT 350.  It was a nice car showing its age with some paint bubbles at the bottom of the doors and fenders.  I really liked the parchment interior in it.  I may just deviate and go in that direction.  It would look really classy with the Tahoe Turquoise exterior.    Anyway... so that was the end of August.

My wife had a business meeting in DC in September.  With our daughter and her Dr. husband having moved there in May, we decided to make it a weekend trip.  I snagged the flying club's Cessna 182T, the"glass cockpit" airplane and flew into the heavily traveled east coast air traffic control corridor.  I had taken the on-line FAA course that's required to fly into the Washington DC special flight rules airspace.  I was definitely playing in the "big boys" sandbox.  The trip went well with no F-16s showing up on our wingtips.  It was also my first "mountain" flying experience.  All-in-all, the trip was fun and went well, not to mention only 3 hours and 15 minutes from Indy to Manassas, VA.

After that trip was another one to Michigan to do maintenance work and close the family cabin for the winter.  That was a crazy quick trip with plumbing, roofing, and fireplace repairs taking place in 2 days.  Not much time for fun and relaxation there...

Another weekend was spent the beginning of October in Lexington, KY visiting my daughter and her family.  Unfortunately, this trip was about supporting her as she underwent another scan for thyroid cancer and the ensuing 2nd radiation treatment she required.   As of this writing, the oncologist are hopeful this will be the last treatment.  Her strength is coming back just in time for the holidays.

Meanwhile, a lot of attention was needed at the home front.  Trim painting.  Winterizing the yard and equipment, etc.   The joys of being a home owner.

Mixed sporadically into my schedule was my on-going commercial pilot training.  I finally studied enough to take and pass the written exam.  Now if the weather will cooperate, I'll get the flying part of this out of the way in the next month or two.   I'll be glad to have this next step in aviation behind me.

There were a number of Saturday's where work overflowed into them rendering them unavailable.  The garage was a mess from tools and supplies sitting all over the place from projects both near and far.   With our early dip into winter, I wanted to make room for my wife's car in the garage.  That would leave one less vehicle to clean snow and frost off in the morning.

So with an open workspace, and my wife taking her mom to a play yesterday, that left a few hours in the afternoon to try and get work on the fastback kick-started. 

One thing I did a couple of months ago was upgrade my 25 year old MIG welder.  It was a Century/Lincoln unit that had 2 heat settings.  It worked well on the heavier sheet metal of my 1929 Model A but has been a challenge on the fastback.   I know, I know.  I should have done this 5 years ago.   With the remaining patching and the dressing of the welds needing to be done, it was time to do something about it.

I happened across a floor demo Hobart 140 Handler for almost 40% off the list price with the 5 year factory warranty.  It's basically a Miller unit with the Hobart name.  It uses all Miller consumables and has 4 heat settings.   I could have bought a Miller 140 that has infinitely adjustable amperage settings, but couldn't justify twice the price for what this one costs.  Besides, it's a giant leap forward in a quality MIG machine from what I had.  My recommendation for anyone who has to do a serious amount of MIG welding on their Mustang is to pay for a good machine up front.  You will not regret it, not to mention having a welder that will last for years.

So with the welder ready to go, I went to work back on the left front fender...the one I thought I was done with.   After putting in the lower patch, I was inspecting the repair when I noticed the dreaded sight that has been hounding me throughout this restoration.  Wanna guess?   Pin holes.  Not welding pin holes, but more rust!   And the kicker is the rust perforation wasn't more than an inch above the repair I last did.  Aaarrrrggghhhh!

So it was on to making another patch.  I outlined the area to be removed to make sure I had enough new material in the new patch.  I also didn't want to cut across the weld seam from the previous work.  Sometimes it's a problem with the difference in weld material versus unwelded steel.  At least that's what one of my welding buddies told me.

The cutting wheel made quick work of removing the offending pin hole area...

I used a piece of micro-corrugated and laid it over the opening.  Then I pressed it into the opening which left the outline of the cut out area.  I used a straight edge to highlight the border...

I cut out the template and was going to use part of the original fender so that I'd have the same contour.

I took the DA sander with a P80 pad and started to strip the old fender.   Unfortunately, as the top layer of paint came off, it revealed an uneven layer of bondo.  So taking a piece of the fender was not going work.

I dug out a piece of scrap left over from the right toe board repair I made way back when.  I scribed a line around the template and cut out the piece with my sheet metal shears. 

After taking it to the vice and doing a little massaging to get it to match the fender contour, I cleaned up the edges of the fender and the patch.  Using one of my welding clamps, I got it in position ready for tack welding in place.

 After getting several tack welds in place, I took the clamp out...

Then the tedious process of multiple tack welds began.  I did one tack per side and cooled them off with compressed air.  Then it was more tacks and cooling, etc., etc...

I ground down the tacks after 3 groupings.  I love the new welder!  Night and day difference in ease and quality of the welds.   As I neared the end, I marked where I needed to fill in the seam with tacks so that I didn't have any visible pin holes (dang! that again) left...

Then I hit the panel with the DA sander and P80 disc.  It's not perfect, but it's not so bad either.  I have some hammer and dolly work I can do to level out the surface before applying any Metal-to-Metal filler which will be the next step.  But that won't happen until I get the fenders on the body and work all the panels together.  

My next project will be to remove all the remaining undercoating from the body, particularly in the rear fender wells.  Then it's on to doing the final weld dressing so that I can actually start putting the finishing filler on the firewall and floor.  Once that's done, I'm hoping I can get some DP-74 primer on those areas.

I am eating the elephant one bite at a time.  I just need to take bigger bites and not so far apart!

Until the next time...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Left Front Fender - Part 5

At our last exciting episode, the work on the fender continues including the fitting and welding in of the headlight support structure from the original donor fender.  The plug welds were mostly complete and needed just a little dressing up.   That pretty much finished up the metal work on the front of the fender.   Next up was the lower rear section of the fender.   

But before I go on, I have to admit to a little blogging dyslexia.  I realized that the past 4 posts on the fender topic were about the "Right Front Fender" when in fact, I've been working on the LEFT front fender.   I'm surprised all you Mustang manic people didn't notice!   I thought about going back and retitling my previous posts, but decided to leave them the way they are just to mess with everyone.  LOL.   Anyway...

After doing the plug welds on the front face of the fender, I realized that I didn't do the three welds that are on the top front inside edge.  It's no big deal but the welds are necessary.   It didn't take much to do them and clean them up.

This is before the welds with the fender and headlight support structure clamped together.
This is after welding and cleaning up.  Sorry for the fuzzy picture.

With this part complete for the time being, the lower rear corner was next up for repair.  One of the challenges to this repair was to match the contour of the inner and outer structure so that there were no noticeable  changes  in the fender skin after welding in the patch.  To help make sure the fit would be as close as possible, I used the right front fender as my guide.  I used the contour gauge to determine the shape of the inner structural member.  That meant putting the gauge between the inner support and the flange for the outer skin.

 After the contour gauge was properly fitted to the fender, I transferred the form to micro-corrugated board.  I now had a template I could use as a mirror for the left fender repair.

After cutting out the template, I made a trial fit.  I needed to do some trimming to get it as close as possible, but it came out nicely.  The "step" on the left side is the alignment point of the bottom edge of the outer skin for reference.  Now that it fit the right fender, all I needed to do is "flip" the template and I was all set for part fitting on the left fender.

One issue with the fender repair was the amount of "spring" in the fender--that is the tension that was released between the outer skin and the support once the bottom welds were cut and the pieces separated.  I needed to get the support structure back in position before welding.  Since the right fender was my guide, I needed to make sure the inner support and the outer skin were parallel to each other.   Using a scrap piece of square tubing and a C clamp remedied the problem.

Next came the fitting of the support structure.  Again, using the right fender and the template, I trimmed both the fender support and the replacement piece until I had a good fit.  This was quite involved since it's a 3 dimension fit--one to the support structure, one to gain the proper contour, and one to the proper length so when the outer skin was put on the bottom of the support wouldn't extend below the outer skin.  This step took longer than the photo or description depicts.  The closer I got the part to the final dimension, the slower and lesser material needed to be removed.  After a number of trim-n-fit sessions, it was ready for welding.

It looked good in the contour position.  But I also needed it to be in position for the outer skin alignment.   So good.

It was time to put a couple of tack welds in place and then check the position again...

I needed to tweak the contour and bend the replacement support to match the contour template.  The fit was as close as I could get it...

The final position check was to make sure the part was not only parallel, but the bottom edge was an 1/8" inside what would be the outer skin of the right fender.  Everything looked good.

Now it was time to start the painstaking task of welding this in position.  I stopped every half dozen spot welds to check that the position remained the same.  What helped was this part was heavier gauge than the outer skin.

With the spot welding near completion, I had a nice strong joint, although it wasn't the most beautiful weld job.  (Make a note Dennis: Next time you do another restoration, if you do, buy a TIG welder.)

The outside surface of the support looked good with plenty of weld penetration. Also note above in the lower right side of the photo that I tried Sven's method of using heavy copper wire to get a better ground on bare metal.  It did make a difference.  Check it out here.  I used a different gauge of 12" long wire, but I would say the results are similar providing a bigger contact patch for the ground.  

I turned the fender over to check the penetration on the inside that would be hidden by the outer skin patch.  I dressed up the weld joint and it looked good as well.

The next step was to trim the outer skin patch to fit the fender.  I didn't show it on the top horizontal joint, but I had slipped it underneath the outer skin and used a fine Sharpie to give me a starting point on trimming the horizontal edge.   This was a little tricky since I also needed to make sure the overlapping flange of the patch would align with that edge of the fender and at the same time, align the bottom edge with the skin and the structural support.  Again, there were multiple fit issues that were all interconnected and simultaneous as a lot of metal replacement tends to be.

After getting the top joint close, I did the vertical joint.  To define it, I again pushed it under the skin and then sprayed guide coat over the joint.  When I disassembled it, I had a clean line to cut along with my rotary cut-off tool.  

After that cut was made, it came down to judiciously trimming the edges until I had a little less than a 1/16" gap.  This had the advantage of being able to adjust the fit as well as give good weld penetration.  Here is the patch clamped in place and ready for welding. Note how nicely the edge and contour are.  :- ) 

The bottom alignment with the fender outer skin and the support were almost dead-on.  Another :- )

After the fitting of the outer skin patch and the welding of the inner support, I gave each part a cleaning and a coat of Zero-rust with a foam brush.  No need to be fancy here...

I put a fan on the parts and left them to dry while I ran an errand.  With the higher humidity, it took a couple of hours for them to adequately dry.  

Then the process of welding the patch into place started.  I needed to be extra careful to make sure that the joint of patch was "even" with the fender so that one side wasn't higher or lower creating a step in the weld joint.  It probably took 4 dozen welds at least to completely fill the joint.

This edge of the fender where the patch and fender skin met was critical.  Fortunate, the edges lined up and the weld didn't blow through the end of the fender.

After some more spot welding and gentle body hammer/dolly work, the almost finished product wasn't so bad.  I'll end up with a little filler, but not much.

I flipped the fender over and dressed up the back side of the welds on the outer skin.  Not to bad for a day's work,

I was pleased that the overlap pinch flange came out OK.  That was tricky with the plug weld and the end of the joint with the edge. 

I'll go back and give the fender another once-over and hopefully be done with the metal work on this beast.  I'm going to hold off any of the filler work until I get it mounted to the body. and start working all the panels together.

The next project is the RIGHT fender that I discovered had a couple of rust pin holes in it.  It's not where near as invasive as this fender was, but nonetheless, tracking down the elusive rust demon seems like a never ending story on a restoration.

Until the next time...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mr. Spicy

One of the items I neglected to include in my last post was a rather special drive I made while in Cincinnati for my cousin's Jeff' daughter's wedding.

Jeff and I are like brothers and have shared life experiences that are both good and bad.  That's what keeps us close.   Jeff also started and is president of a rather successful seasoning and flavoring company.   So he's a busy guy with not a lot of spare time on his hands.

He's been a huge supporter of my fastback project and needles me about when I'm gonna get it done every chance he gets.  So while I was in Cincy for the wedding, he gave me a huge incentive to get my restoration consistently on-track.

Enter Mr. Spicy.

A year ago, Jeff started talking about getting a "midlife crisis" toy.  The car that floated to the top of his list after several discussions with me was a Shelby GT 500.  And a convertible to boot.   The 2013 model year was over in May last year.  So he sought out a dealer who would work with him and order a 2014.   That was harder to do than it sounded, but he did find one who would do it.

Jeff and I then started talking options.  My question to him was, "What do you want to do with it?  Garage queen?   Investment potential?"   He said, "I want to drive it and enjoy it."  Ah!  A man after my own heart!   So he took my suggestions and ordered his Shelby with the SVT performance package, Recaro seats, and stripe delete since it would keep the piping in the seats black instead of red that looks much better IMHO.   Besides, it makes it look that much meaner and sinister.   His color choice was Ruby Red.   I told him not to waste his money on the fancy sound system or nav system.  The music will come from the exhaust and you won't care if you get lost or not.

He took delivery last fall, but I hadn't been able to see it until the rehearsal dinner at his house.   The first thing he does when we get there is grab me and we head toward the garage, much to the chagrin of our wives.

And this is what I see....

It's absolutely stunning!!!    Jeff hops in and starts the beast.  The built-in 4 pipe sound system was music to my ears.   He carefully maneuvers the Shelby out of the garage.  I hop in and off we go sedately through the neighborhood listening to the sweet sound of that  supercharged 662 HP V8.   We drive about 2 miles and make a right turn on a road he knows is flat and straight.   He turns off the traction control and mats the gas.

WOW doesn't even begin to describe how wickedly fast this Mustang is!   Redline shifts in the first 3 gears send us rocketing down this road at God only knows how fast.  I didn't look over to see and I really didn't care!   We both had wide grins on our faces.   Jeff slows us down to near-legal speeds and turns into an industrial park that vacant.   You can guess what's coming next.   A couple of scorching burnouts later and we're sitting there smelling fresh rubber lingering in the air.

Then the ride goes over the top!!!!

Jeff says to me, "No one else have driven this car except me.  But today, It's your turn!"

Now that is trust and friendship!   We traded seats, I buckled myself in, and turned the key.   Ohhhh sweet mama!   The clutch is really tight and has only a 1/2 of travel to engage.  So it took a little getting used to.  Then the shifter throw is maybe 2"!!!   My wrist never moved.  My fingers could pull the shifter from 1st to 2nd gear!.   I took it easy driving out of the industrial park.  I made a right turn to head back to where we had come from.   As soon as I crossed the railroad tracks and a  right-hand curve, I had that same stretch of open, flat, straight road Jeff brought us down earlier.   I had just shifted into 2nd gear and got up to about 3,000 RPM when I matted the gas.   It took some quick and short adjustments of the steering wheel to keep it straight but I swear I had never driven anything else with this much power and acceleration!   A 6,000 RPM shift to 3rd and wide open throttle yielded the same neck-snapping acceleration!  (Thank heaven for the Recaro seats!)   A Shift into 4th and  I had to get out of the gas since  I started to run out of road.   How fast was I going?  I have no idea!  I didn't care!

The wide grin stayed on our faces the whole evening, even though we were naughty for leaving the rehearsal dinner for 15 minutes.

This Mustang was worth the price of admission!  It wasn't just the drive train that was excellent.   The ride was rock solid.  The fit of the seats is like nothing else.  The whole car is amazing.

So now I can cross an item off my bucket list--Drive a Shelby GT 500 Mustang!

Thank you Jeff...and thank you Mr. Spicy for the motivation to get mine done sooner.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Front Fenders - Part 4

The week of July 7th started my 12 day vacation...well, supposed to be vacation.  It's amazing how many work-related items tend to crop up even when you're "off work."  The problem was that people at church knew I wasn't out of town until the following weekend and week.  So I guess that means it's fair game to call the pastor up with the line, "I know you're on vacation, but..."   I wonder how many other occupations are like this.  Physicians maybe, especially surgeons.   Add to that a rather convoluted and exhausting vacation including a wedding in Cincinnati, a stop in Frankemuth, Michigan, and then to our family cabin in northwest Michigan with 9 adults (one of them my 90 year old mother-in-law) and 4 children between the age of 18 months and 6 years old.     Anyway... I digress.

I ended up with part of a morning the day before vacation departure for continuing my reconstruction of the driver's side fender.   The last post, I had cut the headlight support bucket out of the fender and the lower rear outer skin and inner support.  The fender and the inner bucket had been coated with Zero Rust and left to dry.

In the mean time,  I took the lower rear fender pieces, put them in my blasting cabinet.  Here's the "outside" of the inner support piece after glass beading...

...and here's the "inside" surface of it that will be hidden by the outer skin.

This next picture looks like it was shot as a "black and white" but it's just that the cleaned up metal is nothing but shades of grey.  (Wasn't there a song with that title, "Shades of Grey" by the Monkees?  Dang!  I'm dating myself!)   It cleaned up pretty good.

With a fresh coat of Zero Rust on both sides, I hung it up to dry.

While this piece was drying, I proceeded to start the fit of the replacement headlight bucket support into the fender.  As is the case, this became a time-consuming process, as if I expected anything different. I got the bucket in the general location.  Then I started at the front bottom (bottom is to the left in the picture) and lined up the holes and clamped it into position.

This hole in the middle of the picture is one hole for the attachment stud for the fender extension.

This hole in the middle of the picture is where one of the fender extension pin goes into to position it on the fender.

But I wasn't satisfied with the gaps in the two parts.  It was much more than I wanted and I couldn't get them to close up with clamps no matter how I positioned them.

The nice part of this process is that I had the right front fender as a guide (though "flipped") to give me some reference points.  One thing I discovered is that the plane of the flange that the fender extension mounts to is exactly that--parallel across that plane.   Using my straight edge, it was obvious that in removing the bucket support, both flanges of the bucket and fender were "tweaked" from the drilling and the prying, etc. etc.  So there was a definite gap (not parallel)  across the flanges.

Bottom flange gab

Top flange gap
It took some judicious work with hammer and dolly to get the fender flange correct.  Then I would do what I needed to for the bucket flange to match up with this fender flange.   Easier said than done.

From the top, the flange was looking pretty good.

No gap at the top

No gap at the bottom.
From the inside, it was looking much closer to being parallel across the surface of the flange.
However, in spite of the PITA it was, the result was acceptable.  I put a scrap fender extension in position to see if there would be any horrific gaps.   So far, it looks pretty good.

Nice and pretty gap
The next step in the fitting process was how to be able to draw the two pieces together so that I had a tight plug weld.  A couple of screws and washers in the fender extension mounting holes helped in the areas where I couldn't get a welding clamp to work.  It drew the flanges up nicely.   And with the help of my pick hammer, I was able to get everything as tight as physically possible.

I was able to get one more screw in to the right to tighten the gap to the right of his screw

With another screw, I was able to get this flange nice and tight for plug welding.

 After getting the bucket-to-fender fit to the best of my ability, I marked the bucket through the spot weld holes in the fender so I would be able to remove the paint and prep for weld.  

After the bucket, it was the fender flange that got cleaned and prepped for welding.

I put all the pieces back together and got the fit back to where it was with the clamps and nuts/bolts.   A couple of "adjustment" taps with the pick hammer and it's ready to go.

Here is the bucket with a couple of the plug welds in.  Of course, the plan is to move around so that there's no heat buildup to prevent warping.  A blast compressed air helps also after each weld.

I kept the clamps and nuts/bolts in place throughout the process.   I got this front section done but not without issues.

The MIG welder was acting up...again.   I tried playing with wire feed, gun tip and nozzle, and shielding gas flow, but ended up with some knarly looking plug welds nonetheless.  I took the ground cable apart and cleaned it, checked the feed rollers and just about every other part I could think of.   While standing there pondering my situation, I noticed that the wind had changed directions and was now blowing toward the garage.  Duh!  The wind was disrupting the shielding gas!   So with a reposition of the fender, it was better, but the poor welding damage had already been done.

In the process of grinding down said ugly welds and fixing them, I got a little too close to the edge of the flange on the fender and ended up rounding it in a couple of places.  AaarrrrggghhHHHH!   Now I will have to go back and do some filler work to fix my ^$%@  mistake!    Shish!  It seems like it's never easy.  Not once.   I may wait on this repair until I have the extension I'm going to use.  It would suck to use this one only to have it be off enough to notice with the one I'm planning on using.

I have three welds left to do on the bottom of the fender-to-bucket bracket along with going back to do some repair of a few plug welds.  Then it's moving on to the bottom rear corner of the fender to rebuild the structure and the skin with the pieces from the other fender.  Hopefully that will go smoothly, but as in all things restored, I ain't planning on it.

Until the next time...