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...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Floors and Firewall - Part 4

It's said "Time flies when you're having fun."   Well, I would say, "Time flies when you have more things to do than the calendar can hold."  That's a better and more accurate description of my life..

My summer in Canada came to an end in August.  Over the 11 weeks I was there, I visited 16 First Nation's communities, flew over 55 flight hours covering almost 8,000 miles.  I was as far south as Dryden, Ontario and as far north as Churchill, Manitoba on Hudson Bay.  That's a lot of real estate to cover and a lot of people to see.  It was all good and I enjoyed meeting new people and seeing old friends again.  I always leave a little part of me behind when I come back home.  But it's always good to be home, especially when I had a new arrival waiting for me to see.   And no...it wasn't a car.  It was my newest grandson, Arliss Edward Shelman...

My new grandson, Arliss Edward Shelman.  He's better looking than his grandpa!

I had my flight booked to DC to go see him before I returned from Canada.  I was only home for a few days before that trip.  He was almost a month old already.  Now I have a total of 5 grandchildren--3 boys and 2 girls.  I can't be any more blessed!

After my return from DC, there was a whole list of things I didn't get done before I left for the summer.  Unfortunately, there was more than just the the Mustang to address.

We've lived in our house we built almost 13 years ago long enough that exterior maintenance is required.  The natural cedar trim around the top of the chimney had to be replaced.  It takes a real beating from the weather.  Then the trim and siding needed to be painted it as well.  The list continued with all three of the vehicles needing maintenance... brake work on the Civic and Fusion and spark plugs on the F-150.  The garage was a disaster area with paint, construction supplies and tools strewn everywhere including my stuff I took north.  I also took back over the lawn care my wife had been doing as well.   So I got really backed up and it took a couple of weeks just to get everything sorted.

So now...on to the fastback.

She was in the same condition as when I left, thanks to the Picklex-20.  I had picked up a couple of tubes of automotive grade sealer and had a can of Eastwood seam sealer on the shelf.




I took the factory weld and sealant manual with me up north over the summer to study the method and location of the sealant.  There's a lot that was used when panels were joined together such as the inner wheel tubs to the quarter panels.  That obviously wasn't going to happen.  But there were a host of other seams on the underside that were detailed...






If you don't have a copy of the Ford factory manuals, I highly recommend you get the set.  They're available on-line from a number of sources including eBay.  Even if you're not doing an original or "Concours" restoration, they will help you at least see how the beast was assembled.

With my fall return trip to Canada looming and a window of opportunity available, I gathered the caulking gun, tube of sealer, can of lacquer thinner, the can of brushable sealant, and tinning brushes, and went at the task of sealing all the joints.

Since I'm doing an "original" style restoration, I made sure the right sealant type went in the right places.  I also wasn't exactly "neat" about it since the factory wasn't either.   Ford made over 317,000 Mustangs across 3 plants in 1968.   That works out to approximately 40 cars per hour coming off the production line.  There wasn't time to be absolutely neat about the task.  Beside, there are complaints by MCA judges of over-restored cars that are too perfect.  So I put the sealer on without a worry about perfect beads and brush marks and left the globs and goobers behind. 

The sealer in the tube was beige in color.  The original factory color was black.  It's going to be painted over with red oxide epoxy primer.  So sealer color wasn't an issue, not to mention the beige was in stock and black wasn't.

The beige sealer is visible in all the seams specified in the factory sealant manual
The brushable sealer was a gray color.  No big deal either. I put it on where the manual suggested.  Some sealer isn't visible since it's applied to locations that are hidden from the eye such as inside the rear quarter panel to wheel tub seam.

The joints in the wheel tub/quarter panel area were all brushed.  That sealer is gray.

I need to do some more sealing in the engine bay and firewall area.  Before I do that, there is some old sealer and undercoating that I need to remove and clean up.   Then it's on to the next task of actually spraying on the epoxy primer on the floor and firewall.

After that, I'll need to focus on the interior of the body shell by cleaning up the surface rust that's on the interior floor and under the dash, remove and replace the factory sealant on the interior, and give everything inside a coat of Zero Rust.  When that's done, I need to build a body cart and take the shell off the rotisserie.  Then it's on to hanging the fenders, doors, hood, and trunk lid for alignment and any minor filler work.  Hopefully, I can carve out time to get this project moved further down the road so-to-speak.

So a little more progress had been made on the fastback.  It would be nice to have it go faster, but that's a pipe dream at this point.

Until the next time...

Friday, May 27, 2016

Floor and Firewall Finish Work - Part 3.1

I am not going to win the race.  It's not going to be a total DNF ("did not finish" for those who aren't familiar with the lingo) but there will be a delay of about 3+ weeks in the schedule.

I knew it would be a battle against the clock with all the family coming this Memorial Day weekend for my youngest daughter's first baby shower.  I am in the middle of getting ready to leave for Canada next Wednesday.  Add on top of that I wasn't able to totally dedicate this past Thursday to getting the floors done and in DP-74 epoxy primer because of numerous work-related things kept popping up.

Thankfully Sven Pruett once again shared some wisdom on how I could preserve the work I've done so far without going through major pains of getting rid of flash rust that had accumulated on the bare metal.  In the comments on the last installment, Sven told me about a product called Picklex 20.  I looked it up on line and it sounded phenomenal.  It removes rust, protects the surface for years if kept inside, and can be painted over without having to remove the product.   


There was one caveat.  Sven said it was expensive but I was surprised how expensive it was.  Since I needed it fast, I got in contact with my local Grainer industrial supply house and they could get it for me in 24 hours.  Perfect.  I ordered it and picked it up this morning...which also is "Carb Day" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Traffic was a nightmare but I got my Picklex 20.   And how expensive was it?   Take a look at the invoice...


Yeah.  You read that right.  $96.15 for just ONE quart.  It will cover 400 square feet which is plenty for the entire fastback.  A little goes a long way.  Spray enough on the metal to wet it and wait a minute.  Use a wire brush or ScotchBrite pad to loosen any surface rust. Then wipe it off or air dry with compressed air.    Seems simple enough.  Now it was time to find out if this was worth the price of admission.  Here's the "before" of the passenger side floor bottom...


...And here's the after picture of the floor...


The pictures really don't do it justice.  It works really well.  So even though Pickelex 20 was expensive, it was worth the price. 


I was able to get everything done from the rear floor pans to the rear of the car inside the frame rails.  I'll work on the rest as time allows me to this weekend.  What I don't get done I'll finish up next Tuesday.   That will keep everything preserved until I get back home the third week in June.   I'll have 8 days and should be able to take my time and get the epoxy primer on the car with no problems.  Then I'll head back to Canada for the duration of the summer.   At least that's the plan right now.

Until the next time...


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Race is on! Floor and Firewall Finish Work - Part 3

The race I'm talking about is not the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 even though that seems to be the focus within 100 miles of Indianapolis.  No.  I'm talking about the race to get the floor in primer before my departure to Canada for the summer.

It's been a challenging piece of the project.  In my whole life, I never ever expected to do body work on the floor, more specifically, the underside of a car.  I'm not going for a "Rad Rides by Troy" or "Kindigit Designs" showpiece.   It's not going to be a 100 point MCA concours class Mustang.  It's going to be a driven Mustang fastback that will be restored to the best of my ability.  That also means my anal engineering mindset dictates the amount of detail I'm willing to go.  I'm doing it because of me.  Yes, the weld seams in the floor would have been OK to leave, but I would know they were there and visible.  Which makes me wonder, how many people get down on their hands and knees and look at the belly of the beast?  In my estimation, more than you think.  I've been to enough shows to see that.  Well, enough of this.

So with a handful of productive days and evenings, I have been trying to get the floors and firewall all ready for a coat of DP-74LF epoxy primer.  The big reason is that I'm getting a very translucent shade of brown indicating the formation of flash rust on the bare metal which has been bare for far too long.

After 3 rounds of applying filler and then sanding it off...and then another application, etc., I'm getting to the point of calling the filler work done on the floor.


There is some work left on the firewall outside of the fender aprons, but hopefully that will go smoothly...no pun intended.  I was glad that all the metalwork on the car was finally done.   Or was it?

Somehow I managed to see an overlooked area of the passenger side floor.  Guess what I found?  The dreaded pinholes.  Except these were caused by rust, not by welding.  Two of the spots were in the curved section of the floor.   Ugh!  The one good thing is that these were pencil lead size holes with relatively good metal around them.  Then a though hit me.  I have my box of slugs from the punch press where I worked in manufacturing eons ago.  So I dug through them to find some with the correct thickness and then checked out my drill bits to find the right size hole to drill through the center of the rust pit.  With bit and plug matched, it was on to the repair.


I drilled through the three rust holes and then used a fine rat tail file to open the holes so the plug fit snugly.  The slugs were slightly thicker than the floor metal on purpose to give me something to weld to and grind down, especially on the contour.


After fitting the plug, I took a piece of duct tape and put it on the inside of the floor to keep the plug from falling through and becoming lost on the garage floor (which happened a couple of times).  


Then I tacked the plug in, blew compressed air on it and then did a couple more tack welds.  the weld was carefully ground down with my 2" air sander and then the process of tack, cool, grind continued until I had the plug completely welded with no gaps or pinholes.



The 3 plugs came out OK.  Nothing spectacular, but passable.  Remember, it's just the floor of a car, right?  I mixed up a small batch of Metal-to-Metal and put a skim coat over the repair. 


A little sanding and a finish coat of filler will have this repair done.  I'm holding my breath I don't find any more areas that need metal repair.  But the way my luck has been going, I wouldn't be surprised.

I'm hoping that I'll be spraying DP-74 on Thursday evening, but with house prep and family and company coming in mass from out of town for my youngest daughter's first baby shower, I don't think I'll get much done.  I still haven't begun to pack for my excursion up north.

So...if you check back in a week or so and see a new post, you can figure I was successful.   If not, then the fail has occurred.

Until the next time...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Hood Work - Part 2

This is more of an update than a major leap forward on the hood.  So don't get your hopes up that's it's finished and in epoxy primer.  Not yet.

One thing I discovered is that my Kobalt (Lowes) 6" DA sander had a 3 year "no fuss" warranty.  So I replaced the old one with a new one.  So far, it's working OK.  I noticed that the new one has a label calling for oiling before and after use that the old one didn't have.  Maybe that was the problem.  Anyway...

So with new DA in hand and the need to de-stress after a hard emotional few days in Manitoba, I worked on the exterior surface of the hood Saturday in nice 72 F degree sunny weather after cutting the grass that decided to jump to life.   Nothing spectacular.  Just plain 'ol patience.  That red factory paint is tough!

The one thing that did reveal itself is that there are 2 placed along the center peak between the turn signal opening and the front lip with minor creasing as if something was dropped across the hood or the hood fell over.  It's nothing that's major.  I'll probably pull the dents a little with my stud welding gun and a curved face body hammer.  Then a little filler will get it back into shape.



With the top of the hood cleaned and treated with "After Blast", it's ready for the body work and primer.  Unfortunately, the underside of the hood still needs to be stripped...or at lease the surface cut with a Scotch Brite pad.   I'll have to see how that whole process goes.  At any rate, progress was made, abet a snail's pace.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hood Work - Part 1

It's been a couple of weeks since I had my "2-fer" weekends working on the car.   I had to take a break since we were doing a semi-major kitchen upgrade to replace our counter tops that were in rough shape.  They had taken years of abuse from cooking and using the kitchen sink for every project around the garage and house.   They were stained and bubbling in places.   So with a really good sale at Lowes on granite we pulled the trigger and ordered it.  3 weeks later, it's ready for the install.  But it didn't go without some hiccups along the way.  In spite of a laser measurement by the stone company, one cabinet needed to be releveled if I didn't want a 1/4" gap.  I fixed it, but then the back splash didn't fit, a point I raised with the company before they cut it based on their laser measured drawing.  After 3 tries and 6 days, the kitchen was back together.  Then I discovered that the new undermount sink put it a good 3-1/2" deeper than the old top mount sink.  The plumbing drain lines were too high.   The only fix was to cut through the back of the cabinet and into the wall and modify all the PVC piping.   I got that done and then cut into the utility room wall for the drain line for a new utility tub  in the utility room (not using the new sink and counters anymore!)

So now, after I have finished the kitchen counter demolition, base cabinet leveling, plumbing, installing a utility tub, and acid washing the tile floor and sealing the grout, the garage was a mess and needed some serious purging of old kitchen pieces parts.  Good Will and Ray's Trash took care of the leftover kitchen hardware.  A trip to the recycle center purged the pile of corrugated boxes from sinks and garbage disposal.  A broom and compressed air got the sawdust managed.  And all the tools used for carpentry, pluming, and electrical got put away.  Now the garage was mine once again.

Sunday afternoon was fairly warm and nice.  After I got home from a presentation of LAMP  (you can check out the organization here)  at a church a couple of hours away I had some time to get a couple of hours in on the fastback.

At my last post, I started to apply the filler with success and started working on that.  But I noticed that I was getting a thin layer of flash rust on the floor where it was bare metal.  I guess it's my fault as I expected to have this in primer long before now...the story of my life, right?

I bought some Eastwood "After Blast" which is a mild etching and phosphate coating product that is used after media blasting or cleaning metal that can be painted over.  I put some in a spray bottle and coated about a 2 foot section at a time, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wiped off the residual product.  It did a really nice job of bringing back the color of the metal.  I worked from the base of the firewall back to the rear of the car including the wheel housings.  It looks pretty good even if I do say so myself...



I really didn't want to get into the whole body filler thing and the hood had been leaning up against the back of the garage for months, I thought I'd go ahead and start the stripping process on it since the front fenders are done and I want to get as much of the car in primer before my long summer departure.

A small 1' x 1' section of the hood had been stripped using one of the 4" stripping pads on my grinder.   I thought I'd give the quart of "aircraft stripper" a shot to see if it would speed up the process of ridding the hood of the old paint.

Well, it did get rid of the layer of blue paint, but left what appeared to be a coat of brown primer/sealer. 


Round 2 got the primer off down to a layer of red paint that was the original color of the hood.



When I put the stripper on the red layer, it did absolutely nothing!  Even letting it sit on it for 15 minutes, there was not even a wrinkle of bubble in the paint. So it looked like mechanical removal of that layer was necessary.  I got out my Kobalt 6" DA sander and started the laborious task of stripping the red off.  An 80 grit pad didn't do much.  A 40 grit pad worked as long as I was judicious on how aggressive I got with the pressure.  The problem was the sander kept throwing the pads off.  It has the head for pads with adhesive backing.   I went through 3 pads in 2 minutes.  I cleaned the surface with acetone and tried again.  It was better but it would only keep a pad on the backing head for 5 or 6 minutes.  After 4 or 5 repeated head cleaning and pad replacements, I put a new pad on and hit the trigger to start up again.  Nothing but air blowing through it.  I had to take it apart to find out what happened to cause it to jam.  I didn’t’ see anything, lubed it with air tool oil and put it back together.  It worked…for about another 10 minutes when I replaced another thrown pad.  Then it stopped again.  I spun the head by hand in both direction and tried it.  It started to work, and then threw the pad off again.   Put a new pad on it and then it wouldn’t work again.  

Well, suffice it to say that the Kobalt DA sander is no longer functioning and in the metal recycle bin.  I decided to revert back to my 4" stripping pad even though it takes more time.  I got about 2/3  of the hood stripped before calling it quits to a dusty, frustrating work session.  But what's done on the hood looks OK.  I treated the bare metal with "After Blast" to keep it from flash rusting.



I'll probably replace the DA sander since I really need it for all the body work yet to do on the Mustang.  I can guarantee Lowes will not the place to buy air power tools (and don't get me started on Harbor Freight!).  Home Depot has Ingersoll Rand products and I'll be checking into one there.

In the mean time, the clock is running and what's left before my month of heavy travel in April is quickly slipping away.  I have a training session and presentation to make in Wisconsin this weekend.  Then leave Monday at 6 AM to fly to Cross Lake, Manitoba to help the community there with a state of emergency dealing with youth suicides (you can read about it in the news article here)  It's a tragic situation, but unfortunately one that's not so uncommon in isolated parts of First Nations communities in Canada.  I'll return to the states Thursday night and then collapse.   I might get a chance to work on the fastback again Easter weekend but I'll probably be catching up on stuff for work and home before my crazy April travel schedule kicks in as I'll only be home 8 days that month.   But in the final analysis, people's lives are more important than restoring a classic car.

Until the next time...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Floor and Firewall Finish Work - Part 2

I cannot recall the last time I had two Saturdays in a row of work on the Mustang.   I don't know what's come over me!  A renewed passion?  Could be.  A desire to get this project further along?  More likely.  Sheer stubbornness?  Definitely.

When I closed shop last weekend, I had started to process of applying Metal-to-Metal body filler on the weld joints of the repairs on the firewall and floor.  The results were not great.  The material would not set up even after heating the garage to a toasty 75F.   The next day, it was still soft.  I was going to have to remove it and start all over.

That brings us to this past Saturday.  I got out all my body supplies in the hope that I could get this filler problem resolved.  Then with my trusty scraper blade in my Dremel multi-tool, I proceeded to remove the defective filler which was fairly easy.


If you look closely, my fingerprints are visible in the filler that never hardented

With a straight braided wire brush on my 4" grinder, I removed the remnant followed with a rubdown with Acetone to get all the old tainted filler off the body.

Ready for another try of filler.

Flakes of the filler required cleaning up after removal

The offending areas were the firewall and the floor between the transmission tunnel support and torque boxes.  There was also a section on one side of the driveshaft tunnel area of the floor that wasn't hard enough to work.  I basically used the scraper everywhere I had put filler.  If it started to come off, I removed it all.  If it didn't and was hard, I left it.  It was the only way to make sure that unhardened filler was gone.  Hitting all the filler with the wire brush was the final test.  Powder flying...OK.  No powder or dust...remove it.

Round 2 began on the driver's side firewall and much to my dismay, even after adding 20% more activator, the results were only marginally better.  I began to wonder if the activator and filler were suspect.  I had it on the shelf for over a year, but it was never opened.  I thoroughly mixed it before starting to use it the weekend before.  So, just in case, I decided to make a run down to the local auto parts store and snag another can and activator.  It was a different brand, but the same basic stuff. I returned to a warm (68F) garage and noticed the driver's side was still soft enough you could dent it with a fingernail.

I decided to mix up a batch of the new stuff according to the directions  to find out if it was a product problem, an environment problem, or an "operator error" problem.  To make a long story short, I got the same results as with the original material.  Hmmm.  It had to be environmental.  The garage temp was OK.  Maybe the material hadn't come up to fully to room temperature.  And the body metal was probably not warmed up enough yet.  So I let things warm up for another couple of hours while I went up to the bonus room and watched my Louisville Cardinals loose to Miami.  So much for winning the ACC championship outright this year.

With everything in the garage thoroughly warmed up to 68F, I began round 3.  It started with  removing the offending filler again and adding 25% more of the activator to the filler.  This time, the product did what it was supposed to do and after 20 minutes of curing time, it was finally hard and workable.


I proceeded to the passenger side firewall inside the fender apron and got a good application of filler applied there.  Then it was moving on to the firewall outside of the fender apron.  However, I noticed there was still some of the factory sealer and undercoating present and I didn't want to risk ruining the filler with the paint remover. 

I put the multi-tool to work getting the big globs loosed followed by a coating of "Goo Gone" paint stripper.





After 5 minutes, I hit it with a 3-M stripper pad to loosen whatever residual sealer was left.  Paper towels were used to mop up the excess.  I followed that with a couple of wipe downs with mineral spirits soaked towels and then wax and grease remover.  So now everything in this part of the body was spick n span clean and ready for filler.




The next batch of filler was mixed at the same ratio as the previously successful batch and applied to the firewall and left to cure.


While waiting for that to set up, I moved to the right rear quarter panel to put some "Metal-to-Metal" on the rust repair in the top upper right corner of the trunk lip.

The metal was cleaned up with an 80 grit disc and red Scotch Brite pad.

The application of filler went on nicely.  

While this area was curing, I went back to the driver's side firewall and worked on sanding down that area.  I do have to keep reminding myself that this doesn't have to be "perfect" but respectable.  I think I'm meeting that goal...maybe going a little beyond that.  I can't help myself.  It's got to be good enough that if anyone ever climbs under the Mustang, there will be no telltale signs of metal work.


With this side done, I proceeded to work on the passenger side.  First, the inner firewall was sanded...



Then the outside firewall area was sanded smooth...


I proceeded back to the right rear corner and got this all sanded smooth.


I rotated the body on the rotisserie and got the filler sanded and smooth on the transmission tunnel and the seam between the front and rear floor pans.  Now I was ready for the finished filler to be applied.  I started on the right rear quarter panel top and got the first layer applied...


Then I mixed up a batch to smooth out the seams on the floor...


At this point in this rather protracted and somewhat frustrating day, I called it quits to go watch my wife's Alma Mater, University of Kentucky play and loose to unranked Vanderbilt on the road.  Not a good NCAA basketball day for our family.   Maybe I should have kept working on the fastback.   No.  I was tired and burned out on a process that should have been a slam dunk...no pun intended.

I have the firewall finish filler work left to do.  It will probably take another coat or two to get the underside and firewall ready for DP-74 epoxy primer.  Hopefully that will go better.   So the plan for this coming weekend is finish the filler work and get the metal cleaned of surface rust and remaining sealer.   Then comes the primer.  It's an aggressive plan, but who knows?  Maybe this round will go much smoother...pun intended!

Until the next time...