Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sphincter Factor

Began some exploratory cutting on the right hand floor panel up against the rocker. It's not going to be all that bad to fix up that section.  I just have to decide how much of the floorpan I'm willing to cut out.  It would be technically easier to just replace the whole pan on that side, and I have the correct patch panel.  But I'd rather keep as much of the old car there as possible, so I'll just cut a patch out of the replacement panel.

The spot weld cutter I bought a Harbor Freight works pretty well.   It's going to get a real workout shortly.

I also found another nasty surprise with the outside rocker panel.  For those of you not well-versed in auto parlance, the rocker is that chunk of the floor that goes under the door.  I saw some bubbles in the paint while cutting away that small section of floor, and hit them with the wire wheel.  It was nasty.  All sorts of holes just bloomed out from under the paint.

I'm sort of stuck right at the moment.  I need to clean the body, and spray down some of these repair areas with metal-prep.  One of the most important things I can do for this restoration will be to prevent new rust from eating holes in the car later on.  So I need to come up with a methodology of cleaning and coating all the little nooks and crannies.  It's just too cold to be out in the driveway going over the car with a hose.

You can see the rot from the back in the picture just above, and below, the nice collection of rust, dirt, sticks and leaves stuck inside the rocker panel.  Gotta figure out a way to make sure that doesn't get so nasty in the future.

I'm going to go today and probably pick up a mid-size shop vac.  Try to vacuum out all the leaves and junk inside the rockers. I may be able to just do what I did on the frame, which was to get a sponge on a stick, and get some of that good ol' POR-15 down in there.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why I like saying the F word

Well, I guess this just isn't my week for car stuff.  While I did get the driver side floor patch in, it's probably the ugliest patch job known to the restoration world.  Plus side:  Most of the ugliness will be covered by Evercoat Metal 2 Metal.

I am also trying the oven cleaner trick with the undercoating.  So far, results are mixed.  I think it may make the undercoating more brittle and hard, ergo easier to wire wheel off.  Jury's still out on that one.

Below is the ugly patch from the inside.  It may have been smarter to just replace the panels, but what the hell.

And below is the outside.  Ugly as it may be, it's pretty damn strong.  Easily as solid as any other place on the un-repaired stock floor pan.

On an unrelated side note, I also did a tune-up on the Pathfinder.  The tune-up went fine.  Which is good, because I've only done this about 1,000 times.  But as I was wrapping things up, I set my hand on the radiator hose, and POP.  The wonderful plastic inlet (outlet?) tube on the top of the radiator just disintegrated.  I thought I could repair it, but it just crumbled.  So, I thought I'd try a good old fashioned. . .  well, I guess I can't use the terms I'm used to and keep this work safe.  Anyhoo, I figured some JB Weld and a piece of copper might just do the trick.

I was to be disappointed.  The repair snapped off just like the original.  Guess those plastic pieces can only take so much heat over time.  So I'll just replace the radiator.  In the grand scheme of things, it's neither an expensive or difficult repair to make.  Just sucks not having your own ride.  I may have to shop around for a cheap backup.  Something in the way of a mid-70's Ford truck.

Removing the radiator is fairly simple.  Four screws undo the radiator shroud, another four take the fan/fan clutch, and two bolts hold the radiator in place on the brace.  The hoses and drain is much easier to get to when you get the shroud and fan out of there.

Below is a pic of the empty hole.  I'm completely without a vehicle until the replacement radiator comes in at NAPA.  Probably a couple days.  It should only take another 20 minutes to a half hour to get it all back together.

So, I'm thinking that if/when this engine dies on me (and it may be a long time yet), this might become home to a Chevy 350 or Ford 302.  There are a couple of them out there in the world.  The swap is involved, but doesn't seem that bad to me.  There are several potential donors in the pick and pulls here in the valley.  I'd need the engine, trans, transfer case and drivelines (or at least part of the drivelines).    I just read a thread on a swap that sounded like you could do this with minimal fabrication, given the right set of parts and preparation.

Sounds like fun.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ouch time

This is what we call, in technical terms, "Burning the Shit out of Your Foot with a Hot Piece of Steel".

How fast can a shoe and sock come off?  I'm not sure, I wasn't running the stopwatch.  But it was fast.

Lesson to learn here:  Don't drop tiny pieces of 2,000 degree steel down your shoe. Whomever told you that was fun was pulling your. . . leg.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bad Car Design 101

Well, I have a perfect illustration of the horrid design of the cowl on these first-gen F-bodies.  The cowl drains directly into these black holes, with very little in the way of drainage, or screening.  What this results in are these two festering pockets full of 44 years' worth of dead leaves, dirt, spider webs and God only knows what else.

Heres a view of the hole going down inside the rocker.  I've cut away a flap that was about 1.5" by 3".  I will not be replacing it, as now I have a nice relief hole for the junk that would otherwise collect down there.  I do have to make sure that the structure of the car remains intact, but I don't see a huge problem there.

  You can see the roundish hole at the end of that cut, which is in a problem area that will have to be repaired .  I'll also have to get all those dead leaves and junk out of the rocker.

On this photo, I've circled that little problem area.  I'll probably have to cut another small section out here, and weld in a little "L" shaped patch.  I've actually cut  just a hair more floor out than strictly necessary, but that was to make the patch more even, and to make the repair simpler and stronger.  We'll see how that works.

 Here's the same hole from the bottom of the car.  The rotisserie Is making this job about 1000X easier.  I can't imagine how much of a bitch this would be with the car on jack stands.  Well, that's not true.  I know full well it would be a super-bitch.

Tomorrow I'll get that small section cut out, and get working on the patch.  I have a great little piece of steel for patching, and the .023 wire is in the welder.  If all goes well, I may have this floor patched in a day or two (knock on wood).

I also tried a trick from the interwebs on removing heavy spots of undercoating.  It's revolutionary:  You heat up a putty knife with a propane torch, and scrape the crap off.  Works better than anything I've tried so far--although I have yet to give good old fashioned oven cleaner a try. . .

Monday, January 2, 2012

Progress=Good. Luck=Not so much

I took advantage of the great weather today, and dragged the car out onto the driveway for some work in the sunshine.  I did get the rest of the trim and weather stripping off, and all that's left are two bits of emergency brake cable where it attaches to the body at the front and rear of the car.  From here on out, it should be strictly clean-up, repair and reassembly.

The bodywork needed is extensive.  No doubt about it.  But I've seen WAAAAY worse cars out there.  In fact, just about every restoration I'm seeing out on the webs is far more difficult than mine should be.  I guess we'll see.

So, I will be making one more major tool purchase, in the form of an air compressor.  I will be getting a 25 or 27 gallon Craftsman Pro, depending on whether I want one that wheels around, or a stand-up model.  The air compressor will be a must-have, for cutting and drilling panels, and finishing work.  I don't think my electric angle grinders would survive.

We'll see how tax returns shape up, and whether or not that second bonus we usually get shows up later here in the spring.  Should be plenty to cover the compressor and some basic air tools.

Below is the opposite rear quarter, where we can see some pain in the ass slathered some bondo in there to hide the rust hole.  Dear bondo-slathering Philistines:  Knock it the hell off.  You aren't helping anyone.

The bad-luck spot I was mentioning was the left-hand front corner, right next to the driver's kick-panel.  There's a rather nasty spot that goes through both layers of metal.  The inside floor I can patch with what I have on hand, but I may have to get a small patch panel for the lower end of that cowling.  We'll see when I have a chance to cut the rusted section out.

 Above is a close-up view, below is from further back, to show the location of the hole.

 And below is a view from beneath the car.  This spot is MUCH worse than the other side, but shouldn't be too difficult to repair.  You can see some smaller spots toward the bottom of the frame, which correspond to the spots you see above, on the inside.  I'll get out my trusty 4.5" cutting wheel, and zap that section out of there, and see what we got.

One thing's for sure:  The rotisserie is worth it's weight in gold.  All I have to do to get to both sides of this hole is spin the car.  Magical.