Monday, April 30, 2012

Ordered new quarter and wheel house

I've placed the order for the new quarter panel from Auto Metal Direct.  The cost was significantly higher than I would've paid from Rick's Camaro or Classic Industries, but I believe I'll be getting a much better part in the end.  This quarter is supposed to be the original gauge metal, and they claim that they've done extensive fitting and development of the parts.  We shall see.

One complaint I have of the floor patch panel from Rick's was that it was noticeably lighter than the original steel.  It's a fine part, and there's no reason to redo the repair, but just something to note.

I think I can repair the inner wheelhouses myself with some simple patching.  I'll have a couple weeks to wait for the new parts, which should be plenty of time to clean and prep, and make that repair.  If this works out, then cost to repair the quarters will be a hair over $1200.  Which still leaves the roof.  Expensive!  But still cheaper than farming it out.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Quarter panel, continued

There's just nothing as spooky as taking a cutting wheel to perfectly good sheet metal.  I've put this off for days now, and when it came down to do it, I had to stand there and think about it.

I did finally get to cutting.  But there were a few steps to complete before busting out the die grinder.

First, the old lead filler has to be removed from the seam where the sail panel meets the roof.  This isn't too bad, but you have to watch yourself, because molten lead will burn the shit out of you.  I took my time, only melting a short bit at a time.  If you do it slow, the lead cools and sticks, and never runs off to drop down the side of your shoe.

After that, you cut spot welds until your head aches and you want to die.

You'll notice I cut all the way through on a bunch of these.  That's a no-no, but I'm still trying to get the hang of all this.

I then welded in another small support for the trunk.  There's a band of steel that holds the weatherstripping.  I tacked it in place, secured to the trunk floor, with a piece of 3/4" square tubing.

Then I cut.  I don't have pictures of the cut in progress, but it was emotional.  Nothing on this car has freaked me out as much as this.

After cutting out the panel, I found that things really didn't look too bad up under there.  The wheelhouse isn't nearly in as bad a shape as I had thought.  I may be able to patch the thing up, and leave 90% of the original in place. I hope that works out.

There's a thin patina of rust all over everything, but it's more like a light dusting than anything else.  I didn't find any new rot under there.  Not even the trunk drop-off.  And usually that's one of the worst places on these cars.  And I thought I had all the hornets nests out, but lookie there. . .

So now, no more excuses.  I'll be ordering the replacement quarter and wheel house ASAP.  In the meantime, there's a lot of cleanup and prep that has to happen.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quarter Panel Replacement

Well, I could've stayed inside and played God of War 2, but that seemed like a terrible waste.  So I rearranged the garage real quick, and got to welding in some temporary body supports.

Before welding in the supports, I leveled the body (you can see the carpenter's level on the package tray), and tack-welded the rotisserie in place.

The role of these supports is to strengthen the body while you remove the quarter panels.  I know a lot of restorers think it's the kiss of death to do the quarters on a rotisserie, but I think it should be OK.  I have a few extra things going my way.

  1. I'll only do one quarter at a time.
  2. I don't have to remove the back panel
  3. I'm going to brace the hell out of it.

The rotisserie is connected to the subframe mounts, and the leaf spring mounts.  I just don't see how that can present any more of a load on the body.  Again, I could be totally wrong.  We shall see.

So now I got no excuse.  I'll order the left-hand quarter and wheelhouse tomorrow.  I'm going to give Classic industries a whirl, and see how their panels stack up to that floor panel I got from Ricks' Camaro.

I'll also go pick up some more 1" square tubing and weld in two more angle braces in there.  May not help that much, but it sure won't hurt, either.


OK, no Camaro work this last weekend.  I had to make a bumper for my Pathfinder, because the original one had pretty much rusted through, and was going to fall clear off.

You can see the tinworm has done its evil work on that frame.  I hate to even think of what else is rusting away under there. . .

I simply re-used the stock brackets, with a piece of angle iron.

Here are the brackets, all fabbed up, and ready to go.

I treated the finished product with etch & prep, and painted with rustoleum enamel.  Not fancy, but should be well protected.

It leaves kind of a big empty spot, but it's heavy and rugged as hell.  Heaven help the person who rear-ends me now.

And, a close-up of that fabulous sticker. . .

I also had to move the spare tire carrier up about 3", but that was easy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Undercoating REALLY Sucks

Sorry for the lack of recent postings.  I have just been working on stripping all that old undercoating, and it's really not much fun.

Scraping worked really well for the big stuff, now I'm down to the nooks and crannies.  I finally said screw it and hit it with a wire wheel.  Once you're down to the smaller spots, the wire wheel is great.  Just noisy and tedious.  I'm sure the neighbors hate me right now.

Still haven't found anything chemical that will touch that undercoat.  It's nasty stuff.  I think I'll order a can of the Eastwood undercoating stripper and see if that works.  I'm doubtful, but I'd resort to just about anything short of a blowtorch at this point.  Aircraft stripper doesn't touch it, and neither does oven cleaner.  The most I can notice with both is that it sort of dries out the undercoating, making the top layer marginally easier to strip off with a wheel.

I also picked up one of those small sandblaster guns at Harbor Freight and some glass bead media.  It actually works pretty well.  But I'm finding that I didn't buy nearly enough air compressor for the job.  One of my new missions is to find some kind of 25 to 30 gallon pressure vessel (like a water heater tank) that I can retrofit into a supplementary tank.  Not sure how that will go, but if it's a big expensive hassle, I may just try to sell this compressor and pick up a bigger one.  So word to the wise:  If it seems like it might be big enough, buy one twice that size.

Pics to follow this weekend, I hope.  I will probably try to get some internal bracing welded in for the quarter panel swaps.  I'm seeing a lot of people say, "don't do that on the rotisserie", which makes no sense whatsoever to me.  Supposedly the body is under a different torque load on the rotisserie, which may be true.  But you can't tell me that there's more torque on the body when  you've eliminated about 6 feet of subframe.  I could be dead wrong, but I'm going to go ahead and do the quarters, one at a time, on the rotisserie.  We'll see.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Brake calipers, and Undercoating Sucks

Got the brake calipers cleaned up, but they still need a rust conversion treatment and some paint.  Once painted, they'll look nice and shiny and brand stinking new.

This first picture you can see the nice plastic and rubber bands I used to seal off the bleed screws and the brake line fitting.  The fitting will be replaced, but you don't want any water getting inside that brake caliper.

This next picture you can see the calipers drying.  they fit perfectly on the lip of the gigantic steel deep sink in my basement.  That sink is probably one of the coolest things about this house.  At this moment, the calipers are still there, waiting for me to get off my butt and get them painted.  I need to mask off the piston seals before I hit them with the Metal Prep.  I also found a similar Rustoleum conversion/etch product that I may test on these, just to see how well it works.  I may just get some liquid mask, and use that to protect everything during treatment and painting.  I thought about Vaseline, but that just sounds messy.

That all happened about two weeks ago.  This weekend, I spent the whole day Saturday under the car scraping off the old asphalt-based undercoating.  That stuff is truly evil.  I've tried multiple ways of getting it off.  No solvent seems capable of removing it, although aircraft stripper does seem to eat on it a little bit.  A wire wheel will remove it, but it melts and spatters, and almost makes more of a mess than it's worth.  So I grabbed a paint scraper, and Lo and Behold, it scrapes right off.  There are some tight places that will have to be hit with a wire wheel, but for the most part, scraping seems to be the most effective.  In the pictuer above, you can see the black areas where the undercoating hasn't come off, versus the lighter areas where it has.  I have a thin coat of aircraft stripper on there to help remove the light stuff left from scraping.

This is another good shot of the before and after.  The dark stuff is where I haven't hit it yet.  You can see some nice little rust spots under there, too.  But I haven't found any really nasty surprises yet (knock on wood).

I have it just over halfway done, as far as scraping goes.  I'll still have to clean it down to the paint/metal, rough the surface up, and then get it treated and coated with Metal Prep and POR-15, followed by a coat of black Rustoleum to give the POR-15 some UV protection.  Similar to how I prepped the subframe.

Here's another quick shot of the repaired floor area.  I still have some major cleanup to do here, but it's good for now.  I want to get all that undercoating off before I do much more there.  I still need to grind those welds flush, fill any pinholes, and then apply some Duraglas filler and prep for paint.  But that will probably mostly have to wait until I have the quarter panels done.

Speaking of which, after some cleanup, on the Left side, I did discover that I'll have to replace both the inner and outer wheelhouse--maybe.  It's possible that I could repair the inner wheelhouse.  I'll have to get the quarter off to know for sure.


That's the next phase of the project, then.  Removal and replacement of the driver's side quarter.  But that won't happen until I'm done with this awful undercoating chore.