Sunday, June 24, 2012


A gorgeous 1961 Studebaker Hawk at the Northwest Vintage Car and Motorcycle Museum in Brooks, Oregon

My friends Les, Jon, and Richard thought I needed a break from panel beating and sanding (I think it may be called "an intervention") so they took me to a cool little museum in Brooks, Oregon. The fit and finish on this factory 4-spd 61 Hawk was amazing.

Naked! (Left front fender, part 3)

Last post, I had one rust spot left to patch on the left front fender--the small hole near the top. Let's get started:

My inspection hole wasn't nearly large enough for the patch--or the clean up of the underlying brace. A few minutes with a cutoff wheel, followed by a wire brush, and I was in good shape.

Following this, I treated the rust, then primed it.
Then it was simply a matter of cutting a patch to fit the opening. I'm getting better at cutting my patches--this one came out looking very nice (if I do say so myself!)

I then tacked it into place, using the standard multiple spot weld technique. I won't bore you with more pics of that.

Then I spent a couple of hours removing all the layers of paint off the rest of the front/top of the fender. I followed this up by shrinking some metal on the lower part of the fender--in the process of welding the patch panels in the wider areas, some of the metal expanded from the heat and stretched. This not only made the surface wavy, it left some areas flexible.

So out came the propane torch, a bucket of water and an old rag. I didn't take any pictures as my hands were full, but the process is simple: heat the metal till it is hot, then shrink it by putting the damp, cool rag on it. It is fun, and the end result (after a bit of hammering) was a much flatter fender.
It is almost ready for finishing now.

Lookin' good (at least to my eyes.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fender patching (Left front fender, Part 2)

During my free time this week and several hours this weekend I continued my work patching the driver's side front fender. I realize that such a slow pace would get me fired at any body shop silly enough to hire me but, then again, I'm not a professional so I'm going slow and trying to avoid as many mistakes as possible.

First up, remove the rusted area over the brace:

The upper part of the exposed brace only has surface rust, but the bottom portion is shot.

Then I cut away the rusted portion of the brace:

Sorry it is blurry, my phone focused on the small bit of grass growing in the crack in my driveway.
Now for the hard part--since I couldn'd find a replacement brace, I had to form the patched area out of sheet metal myself. Fortunately, it will be completely hidden from view!
I just so happened to have a thick chunk of steel with a groove in it. Sweet!
Adding just the right amount of curve.

I then cut down the patch to size and welded it in place:

After filling in between the spot welds and grinding them flush, I then coated the area with a rust converting/primer/paint.

And then I cut the fender skin square and cut the patch to match, fit it, then spot welded it into place. There was a lot of hammering and filing to get it to match up.

starting to look like a fender again
You know the drill by now: I then filled in between the spot welds and ground them fairly flat.

That was my stopping point for the day. Next up is the rusted area on the top of the fender. Once that is done, I get to see how straight I can get everything with a hammer and dolly.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Must've been a helluva salesman

If you're new to the blog, you may not realize that my car spent the majority of its life basking in the warm California sun--more specifically, the hilly desert region around San Diego. An ideal, bone dry climate (at least if you're a car.)

But I'm getting ahead of myself. This morning, after allowing an adequate amount of time for the neighbors to get out of bed, I headed out to the garage with a task in mind: I'm going to finish off the patching on the left front fender. And first off, I need to get rid of all that undercoating on the back side of the fender--this is something I needed to do anyway as the media blasting won't touch it and, well, I'm a little cheap: I don't mind applying a little elbow grease rather than paying someone else a lot of money to scrape black crud off a fender.

Now inside the car is a sound deadening material that was likely the same thing Studebaker used back in the day for undercoating--a slightly hard asphalt mixture that is reminds me of roofing tar. A little heat and it softens up enough to readily scrape it off with a putty knife. Although it was time consuming, removing this from the floor of the car was an easy task.

I think you can see where this is going.

4.5 hours in. . .2 more to go.
I did get it removed. There are those who say soaking it in Automatic Transmission Fluid overnight will soften it right up and make it easy to remove. It doesn't. And after putting half a quart of ATF all over it, I didn't feel like mixing that particular chemical with the oven cleaner option. And flammable options like gasoline? I'm not feeling that lucky.

So I used one of the two recommended tools, a scraper blade on a multi-tool (the other tool is a needle scaler--the end result is pretty much the same.) Six and a half hours of labor (my hands are still tingling from the vibration of the tool) and I'm done.

Oh, and the undercoating? Well, it appears to be PVC-based--a hard plastic. I'm pretty sure that's not original; in fact, the first car that I'm familiar with who used a PVC-based undercoating was the early Porsche 911 over a decade later than the Stude. And that was a disaster--oh, it worked excellent, until it cracked or was otherwise damaged--and then that impenetrable mass held in moisture just as well as it kept it out. This does appear to be a bit improved over that--so I'm guessing that it was applied sometime in the 70's or 80's (but before the last repaint since there is over spray all over it.)

Sound deadening properties aside, who in the world who lived in the desert be convinced of the need for rust proofing? And how could that salesman sleep at night?

Not sure I'll sleep tonight. I'm going to have to go through this on the other front fender, both rear fenders, under the hood (!) and a little bit on the body shell. Just the thought of all that scraping. . .

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Left Front Fender, part 1: vent surround

The patch panels came in this week, so I started the process of repairing the left front fender. First step--I needed to make sure that the new vent opening was in the same location as the old one--so I laid out some guide holes.

The green oval is a rough outline of the back of the vent area.

Then it was a matter of cutting out the area to match the patch. Man, that's a big hole!

And offering up the patch, filing down a few areas to it fits, then tacking it in place. . .

Don't worry, I checked to make sure the front of the vent was equidistant from the front edge of the fender.
Then filling in between the welds. . .

And then grinding them down. . .

With such a large area in the middle of a panel, there was a little bit of warping of the panel from the heat of the welding--so I didn't grind the welds down completely as I need to do a bit of hammer and dolly work to get it back in shape, which I'll do once I get the rest of the welding done.

At this point, I took a break and built me a pair of saw horses so I don't have to work off the floor for the rest of this little project. My back and my knees will thank me for that later.