Sunday, July 29, 2012

My first noise complaint

Removing the undercoating is a noisy affair. The large metal panels vibrate with the tools. So while I hoped the noise wouldn't carry far, I did have a complaint from one of my neighbors who was walking past; it was friendly in nature--the neighbors have been supportive of my efforts. And I want them to remain that way. Fortunately, I was nearly done--so I quickly finished the piece (it only took two minutes.)

I had two pieces left, the trunk lid and the hood. The trunk was a piece of cake--it had a tar-based coating so it was easy to scrape off using a heat gun.

But the hood worried me. For some reason, it had been coated underneath with the same PVC-based undercoating that was used on the rest of the car. And that had required the down-sized equivalent of a jack hammer to get rid of it. What was I going to do?

Fortunately, all the fluids leaking out of the car, and the constant heat cycles, had broken down the undercoating. In certain areas, like the area over the battery, it peeled off in big flakes. And in other areas, although it was fairly solid, it was much softer than what I'd dealt with before; by keeping a flexible putty knife sharp with a small file, I was able to get it off relatively fast--and quiet.

Now it is just a matter of waiting for a place to open up for me at the blaster.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hmmm, a box!

I like pulling in my driveway after work and seeing a box waiting for me.

The yellow tape says "Heavy"

Ah, I know what it is:

For my gear head friends, that is a Tremec (Borg Warner) Ford Racing T-5 (Z series) transmission. The regular T5 that comes in the 5.0 L Mustang does not have a high enough torque rating for my little 4.7 L V-8, so I had to go with a beefier model. Plus the racing series has a 2.95:1 first gear, which will be a better match to the rest of my drive train.

Now I'll have to get rid of that shifter on my steering column. Part of me is sad to see it go--but this is a much better solution for a daily driver.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Will the undercoating ever end?

Getting everything ready to go to the media blaster next week. Unfortunately, all that undercoating needs to come off. So I went and got the rear fenders, the hood and the front cowling and got to work.
All gone!

Alternating between a oscillating multi-tool with a flexible scraper attachment and a pneumatic needle scaler, I'm getting pretty fast at this (well, the rear fender took about 3.5 hours.)  I managed to wear out my multi-tool (it was a cheap, poor quality tool) by the time I got to the second piece, the front cowling, but I was far enough along that I could finish up with the needle scaler.

To be honest, I'd just use the needle scaler, but it is a little louder and while my air compressor is a nice size for a hobbiest, the 15 gallon tank doesn't last very long powering this particular tool.  I think I'll buy a better quality multi-tool (that is much cheaper than a larger compressor!)

And speaking of spending, I also bought a couple of objects this weekend on the internet. I'll keep those as a surprise until they arrive.

Friday, July 20, 2012


This morning I loaded up the chrome and took it to the platers.

The chrome doesn't mind the hair and muddy footprints in the back of our "dog car"
I'll get it back in 2 months. And my pocket will be lighter by about $2k. But that includes straigtening the front bumper, removing dents from the back, removing a small dent from one of the pot-metal gril surrounds (a difficult task) and a lot of pocks that will need to be dealt with. And the result will be show quality. (There's a bunch more little bits in the bottom of the box that you can't see, by the way--dash parts, tail lights, door handles, window cranks. . .)

Oh, and finally my first choice in media blasting is finally back from vacation. I'm hauling the car across the river to his shop towards the end of next week.

So for now, my job is shifting from being a laborer to being a general contractor.  I think, in some ways, I preferred being a laborer: it was fun (most of the time) and easier on the bank account. But there are some things I just can't do (chrome plating) and other things I know that I wouldn't be happy with the results if I did do it myself (painting). Now here's hoping that the painting is done before the chrome is!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hurry up and wait

You think it would simply be a matter of looking up the numbers of a few local businesses that do media blasting, give them a call and arrange to have all the paint and crud stripped off your old Studebaker.

I'm sure this would be the case if I lived in a major metropolitan area.

But here in my small-town corner of Oregon, there are only 2 media blasters. One--the one I'd prefer to do my car, hasn't returned my calls for the last 2 weeks.  The other, who I finally called since the other wasn't responding, told me that he only blasted the edges--he wouldn't do the flat areas of the large panels because he was afraid of the heat warping it.

This was not reassuring.

So this weekend I ignored my car. I worked on other projects around the house and pondered. What to do?

Then, this afternoon, I remembered reading in the Studebaker Driver's Club forums about how Avanti owners would use a razor blade scraper to remove paint, since the fiberglass their cars were made of required special care. And I thought what the hell; anything is worth a try. So I rolled the car out of the garage, managed to find my razor blade scraper without much effort--and even a couple of blades.

It was amazing.

I stripped 3/4 of the roof down to primer in about 30 minutes. I only stopped because I'd managed to break both of my blades.

It would've taken me at least twice as long to remove it with a rotary tool and abrasive
I'll pick up more razor blades so I can finish the top, then try a couple of the bigger panels. If things go as well as the roof, I'll at least save money on the media blasting. I'll also explore to see if there are ways to get into all the nooks and crannies--maybe I won't need to media blast at all?

Sunday, July 8, 2012


In a fit of "you know, that would look better if, " I decided to complete the removal of the tar-like soundproofing on the sides of the trunk.

If you'll recall, this involves warming it with a heat gun and scraping it off with a putty knife.  While a bit tedious, this wasn't that bad of a job in the winter. But summer finally arrived here in the Northwest, and temperatures in the upper 80's added a whole different feel to it.

Tools of the trade--the removed bits are already brittle, waiting for the shop vac.
This said, it didn't take very long, and now it is ready for media blasting.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

A day off, some primer, some talk. . .

Summer is well at hand, and my stud-e-project seems to have come to a crawl. I need to get things moving at a better pace or this thing is going to take years.

Okay, I know it is going to take years. But I want that to be, say, a couple, not closer to a decade.

To get things back on track, I took the day off and decided to go talk to a body shop that's only about 3 blocks from my house. This particular shop was recommended by a neighbor who has a classic car he restored a couple of years ago.

Long story short, I had a great conversation with the manager, got to see more of their work and got a very reasonable quote. I would've towed the car down there today but they don't do media blasting (which I need done to remove all those layers of paint.) However, he recommended a couple of local businesses who do; I've got calls in for estimates.

So we're moving along again--at least I feel that way.

Oh, and just to make myself feel better, I shot some metal-etching primer over the repairs I'd done to the fender. As I suspected, there are a couple of small places that I need to touch up--things that aren't noticeable until it gets some paint on it--but overall I'm pleased.

Hey, that sort of looks like a fender again!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Okay, okay. It isn't that bad.

I'll let you be the judge. Here's my freshly applied (and poorly done) filler:

I thought the two blobs of filler on either side of the picture were a nice touch.
And after a bit of sanding:

Note that overall, the filler is less than 1/16th of an inch thick.
Now if you look in the upper left hand corner of that last picture, you'll see an area that looks a bit like a tree. This is a high spot; I need to deal with this. The rest of the fender is looking very nice (I realize it looks a little ugly here, but it is quite smooth and level to the touch.) So a bit more work yet, but I'm seeing progress.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the vent opening is square to the side of the fender. That's just the result of a weird camera angle.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Confession time

Ok, I admit it.

I suck at applying body filler.

To be honest this is something that just didn't occur to me suddenly--I've known this for years. And when I was first beginning to work on cars this caused a greater set of problems then it does for me now because I have more experience dealing with my lack of skill.

Now I know that filler isn't a magical substance--that it is only created to cover minor imperfections. So I spent the better part of a day on Saturday with a hammer and dolly (and a small grinding wheel on my dremel tool) carefully going over the areas that I patched on the left front fender to make sure that the thickness of filler required would be minimal.

Starting with a specialty filler that works well over welded seams, I skim-coated over all of my repairs, then sanded this down smooth, lightly tapping down any high spots that showed up during my sanding. Then I switched to a standard lightweight body filler for the rest of work.

Why no pictures? Because I'm a little embarrassed by the quality (or lack thereof) of my work. A good body person will apply a thin, almost perfectly smooth coat of filler that requires only a modicum of sanding. Not me. I leave ridges and low areas and, in general apply too much filler. So it looks like crap--at least until I sand it down.

When I do sand it down, I'm using the longest sanding blocks I have; the goal is to eliminate any "waves" in the finish. I nearly sand off all of the coat before adding another, slowly building up miniscule layers to achieve that smooth finish. Again, the professionals would likely be able to do this in a single pass--but for me, a little elbow grease serves to remind me just how skilled a craftsmen a good body person is.

I'll post pics once it gets into primer. Well, maybe.