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October 29, 2011

Lipstick on a pig? Hardly!

You know you're moving along when it's time to get the chrome bits ready for install - and we're at the point where I need to put some red and black accents on some of the trim pieces.

As chrome can't easily be sanded, you HAVE to use an etch primer to connect the paint to the substrate. As well, over the years I've found Tremclad brand paints binds extremely well to odd materials, so that's what I'll be using here - just for that extra bit of bite I might get.

Before starting the masking process, I wiped every piece down with a wax and grease remover. I have some in a gallon bulk container from Pro Form, but I also like Eastwood's PRE in an aerosol with straw sprayer. It's easy to apply directly to the pieces and then wipe off. Just make sure it goees on wet and you wipe it off while still wet. That's how it removes contaminants.
First task is masking the parts that you don't want painted. I'm using "Fine Line" tape from 3M, which is a vinyl tape that stretches easily around curves and bends, as well as standard 3M 1/4" as well as 1" and 1 1/2" masking tapes.

A quick bit about masking tape: there is really no substitute for 3M brand masking tape in the auto body business. I've been doing this for over 35 years and in that time have tried several brands of tape and can honestly say both the glue and the paper is better with the 3M brand. Other brands have glue that comes off on your work, get gooey when exposed to moisture or heat, dry up if left out too long and the paper used is often too thin. As well, regarding shelf life, the entire roll can deteriorate very quickly. Many shops try to cut a few corners and try other brands, but the best shops always go back to 3M. It's just a product you don't need to cut corners on - OK, you actually cut a LOT of corners on masking tape (!), so you want the best there is. End Rant.

Once everything is all masked up, I'll clean it again with a Wax and Grease remover. There's no telling how many contaminants come off your hands  - like skin oils, whatever else you've touched - and that's exactly what causes "fish-eyes" (pinholes in primer or paint) and adhesion issues. As well, there are airborne particulates that settle on your parts as you get ready to paint, which you want to minimize by cleaning again just before applying your primer. On alrger jobs, professionals also use a "Final Wipe" to clean the panels between primer and paint and even between base and clear coats.

Two to three coats of Self-Etching primer were applied. After sufficient dry times, but still within the "re-coat window", you can apply the next coat. The re-coat window is a term that describes the time where the previous product or coat is dry enough that the solvents have sufficently flashed off whereby another coat won't cause a run or sag but still soon enough whereby the chemical bonds can still be`adhered to by the next product or coat. Each product will have this information on the can - or in it's MSDS sheets. It is a critical time period and easy to manage when known. If the re-coat window is exceeded, the previous coat will require mechanical abrasion (sanding) to allow adhesion of the next coat.

After applying the paint (one medium and 2  wet coats of the Tremclad Red), I threw together an impromptu bake oven. It bears a mention here that it's not the equipment you have, but the processes you adhere to. Since we know primer and paint adhere, flow and set-up better at warmer temperatures, it's prudent to keep the parts warm - no matter how you get them there! Normally, I would be using my parts painting booth, but I had dismantled it after the lion share of the parts had been painted to make more room for parts re-assembly!

NExt, the process is repeated, though on a much smaller scale. I need to reverse-mask the Chevy Bow-tie's in the centre of the hood and horn pieces to spray them black. Stay tuned for that process and a photo of the final product - they'll look GREAT!

Now..... back to the gas tank. As anyone who has tackled a restorations knows, there can be a lot of prep that goes into the re-installation of some parts. After the "fun" I had drilling out the three broken bolts for the tank straps, I spent time connecting the electrical and gas lines that reside behind the tank and connect the sending unit.

A key side note: Grounds are absolutely CRITICAL and will haunt you forever if you don't give them proper attention. Make sure - whether it's an engine to body ground, a signal light, or this gas sender ground wire - you scrape away the paint that the ground wire attaches to. It's NEVER enough to assume a screw will be sufficient ground - because 12 out of 9 times it WON'T be....and you'll be searching forever trying to figure out why you gas gauge is bouncing around! There's many a cautionary tale of guys and shops replacing all kinds of equipment trying to get things working when it was just a loose or impoperly set-up ground path.

Of course the next thing you'll be thinking is: "What about RUST?" This is where you should use some grease (di-electric grease is good) to protect the the area from the elements - AFTER the connection is tight.

Once all the connections are made, I used some tape to keep the wires within reach after the tank gets installed.

As well, the tank straps where attached on the back side with new hardware:
Next up, yesterdays news: Remember the cowl seal and the crappy METAL clips that came from the "repop" (re-manufacturered parts supply) company? As I wrote yesterday, I decided the metal ones (after breaking a couple!) could scratch the paint causing rsut, or just rust themselves. So I went to my local autobody supply store and found a couple different PLASTIC clips to try.
Be careful where you go though and check pricing on these small items! A lot of places price clips and other small hardware pieces at ridiculous "Insurance Company" prices. It's an auto-repair industry secret (or was!) that nuts, bolts, clips and such are marked up 300%-500%, because insurance company's pay for them and rarely argue. In this case, the EXACT same clip at one supply house was $9.56 retail  ($6.56 my cost). At another place that same clip was $4.70 retail ($2.35 my price). Still pricey for a little piece of plastic, but far less than the first place!

Unfortunately, the wide-topped clip was too big for the hole in the cab. It would have been preferable to hold more of the surface area of the rubber seal, but I ended up using the smaller clip. I justified the choice with the realization that the seal would not be subject to any shearing forces, just the hood setting down on it and then lifting straight off.  I think of stuff like that....

Lastly, I applied the sealer to the gas tank. During the day I rinsed it out again with water about 4 or 5 more times, then thoroughly dried it with mechanics paper towels (attached to a grab-it tool) and also a heat-gun stuck into the sending unit hole. Once very dry, I rinsed it with white gas (Naptha, or cooking stove fuel), then allowed that to dry again.

Finally, I was ready for the sealer. There are several manufacturers to choose from and for the Challenger tank, I used Eastwood's sealer, which worked VERY well and dried to a white rubbery film. This time though, I had a can of Steven's that I purchased a while back. It came highly recommended from the Model T and A (I love saying that!) community. It looked like honey, so I'm guessing it will dry clear. Tomorrow we'll know!

Regardless of which one you use, follow the directions, which include pouring in the sealer, taping shut all the holes (filler neck, air tubes, sending unit hole...), then slowly turning the tank in ever direction and holding it in each position for a minute or so. This allows the sealer to evenly coat the tanks insides. Once exposed to air, the sealer will dry to a semi-rigid film, impervious to fuel and water and sealing in any rust or scale that are left on the tank walls. These products will also seal small pin-holes, but of course it's advisable to repair those before getting to this stage. In this case the tank had held up well, it was just full of rust, scale and old, foul gas!

I removed the tank plug and set it up so that any excess sealer drained out from this opening. Don't use other openings, as the sealer will obscure them again. With the drain hole, you can always open it up again after the sealer has cured, with a piece of wire, pipe cleaner, or what have you. The can says a minimim of 24 hours is required before adding gas - but it'd be best to err on the side of caution. Double it in warm weather and triple it if cooler. I'll be giving it much longer!

Don't forget to check out the website at www.E-tekRestorations.com
Special thanks to www.Eastwood.com and www.CarCraft.com!

October 26, 2011

Sometimes you have to go backwards to move forward.....

Today was spent going backwards on a few projects in order to get them to the point that we can move forward. First up was the cowl vent seal.
These are the clips that came with the seal. Although I should have known better, I attemped to put a couple in only to find the metal tabs bend and break easily, plus could scratch the finish upon insertion, leading to a rust spot.

After aligning, measuring and inserting the metal push-in clips through the seal, I ended up breaking several of the clips upon insertion.

In the end, I decided to  purchase plastic push-in clips to replace these metal ones. Breakage, paint damage and rust are likely some of the reasons car makers went to plastic clips and here's a perfect use for them.You would think the replacement parts compnaies would know that too and I highly suggest you try to find a plastic replacement for any metal clips you come across in a restoration.

Below is the larger original clip and the new ones that came with the seal. Crappy!

Next up was the gas tank and it's hold-downs. These are two of those things that should have been done prior to paint, but I missed the boat on the broken studs and the gas tank itself went direct to the painter without being cleaned and inspected.

Oh well - time to get 'er done so the project can move forward!

 I've learned over time to use a scribe before drilling, especially in a spot like this! The last thing you need  - especially after paint - is a skating drill bit!

I broke 4 small bits, used a dremel at one point and also broke a large bit.....but I got it done. Sometimes I actually LOSE money at my shop rate!

Things are arely what they seem! The time lapse between the two drilling photo's was nearly 90 minutes!

After the drilling was finally done, I painted the holes with POR15, to protect them from any rust formation.

The tank looked great after paint, but no one had taken it apart yet. As soon as it was deleivered I could smell bad gas and hear rust sliding around. After removing the cover, this is what I found:

First, I vaccummed out any loose material from the bottom of the tank. I was surpirsed to see how much there was.  Here it is filling a half-inch of the bottom of the vacuum bucket:

Next came several good water flushings:

Once the tank is dry, I'll repeat the wash-out with fresh gas, then Muriatic Acid, then a baking soda solution to neutralize the acid. Once that's all dry the sealer gets poured in and the tank rotated until it's evenly distributed. Stay tuned for that tomorrow.

A couple other projects included relacing the gasket on the oil breather/filler cap. One of the owners noticed it was loose and commented on how it would dirty the valve cover quickly if oil could blow by the gasket - good eye.

By bending the tabs, the piece that clocks into the valve cover comes right out. Then I just cut a piece of rubber gasket material to match the old one and tested it for fitment - nice and tight!

Lastly, I glued the seal onto the tranny cover lid. I used Pro-Foam seam sealer in black, which adheres well to metal and rubber.

Once the gas tank is sealed, the interior will come togther quickly. I'll be able to install the tank and hook it up, do (a lot!) more work on the electrical connections under the dash, then I can install the seat and finally, the doors. It's key to do things in the right sequence: even though I would have liked to hang the doors, they would have been in the way doing all this work. Once the gas lines are attached wired and grounded, we can pressurize the engine with oil, add some antifreeze, stitch up the dizzy and get 'er running!

Thanks for following along! 

October 24, 2011

One of the best ideas for restoring a vehicle is the rotisserie. After years of crawling under a car - at worst on a gravel drive, at best on a garage creeper - restorers now are able to flip a vehicle up on it's side, or even upside down, in order to be in a sitting or standing position while stripping, repairing and refinishing the undersides.

There was a time that a restoration ended at the rockers. Even in decent quality shops, vehicle refinishing below the doors left a lot to be desired. It was not uncommon to see repairs left undone, filler left unfinished, primer spots and even a lack of paint down low on cars. Nowaday, if the shop you take your vehicle to doesn't have some way of lifting the car up to eye level, or of tipping the car over on it's side, I would suggest you walk away! There's just no way a man on a creeper, or piece of cardboard can do the work down low to the same quality as when that same area is easily accessable.
While the rotisserie is one tool that allows full access to the underside of a project is it by no means the only one and - arguably - not the best tool in every situation. Have a look below at the myriad of ways people have thought of to gain access to the underbody in order to treat these important parts of a restored vehicle.


Here's the link to my post on Garage Journal.com. It has a lot of great ideas, in addition to the wooden tip-over style:  Rotisseries and tip-over jigs

1956 Chevrolet Apache/3100 truck restotation - final stretch!

As promised  - today was an 8 hour romp in the fun-zone!  Got a lot of different bits done or started and other things sorted out for later this week.

First up, I pulled the seat out again, flipped it over on some stools and attached the underseat baffles:

Lubed and attached the runners. It's the last time I'll use graphite lube near upholstery though - it was hard to get off even after a few seconds, so I'm guessing it would stain if left any longer!

Ever screw and bolt gets lubed upon assembly:

Next up was the drivers door that didn't have it's windows installed yet. Even after learning how it should go when I did the passenger door, and having a helper, it took several tries and over an hour!
The "key" is to put the door glass into the static runner (latch side), holding it about half-way in, then carefully sliding the vent assembly in as well, moving it towards the window once it's half-way in to catch it in it's runner. Once that happens, you can then carefully push the vent assembly down into the door and into position, making sure it's tab engages the slot in the door. While still holding the window, put one or two of the small screws in that go around the top of the vent window. Next, put in the large screws that attach the bottom of the vent runner assembly. With the glass in between the two runners, attach the regulator arms to the bottom of the door glass and slowly roll the glass up and down to ensure it doesn't catch on anything, finally tightening the lower vent glass runner screws.

As I mentioned in the post assembling the passenger door, make sure to put a bunch of tape on the door to protect it from scratches. Of course no matter how well I know that, I often don't put tape on - until it's too late.....

The kick panels where attached - again with white-headed screws, just to add a little sum-sum...

Staying with the interior, I started on wiring the gauge assembly and more:

On the steering column I cleaned up the horn contacts and torqued the steering wheel down:

Next up were the HL buckets and rings. Sandblasted, primered with self-etching primer, the inners where painted with hammered-silver and the outers with flat lack, then rocker guard on the back, This will protect them inside the fender wells.

The retaining rings where cleaned with fine steel wool. It works on all stainless and chrome.

Lastly, I re-installed the window winder knobs in the handles, which consisted of trying to flare what is left of the metal stub. When removed, much of the metal was also removed, so it's not as solid as stock. If they don't stay attached we may have to order new knobs.

Stay tuned - lots to come this week!