Sunday, December 2, 2012

Restoring an alternator and starter

My alternator and starter were really crusty looking, but they both still worked great when I bench tested them at the parts store.  There was no need to replace them since they are both perfectly fine, so I just restored their appearances to new for aesthetic purposes.

I apparently did really poor photodocumentation throughout this entire process as I appear to have very few photos.  This is the starter as it started out.  I cleaned and degreased it well, removed the solenoid cover and blasted that down, then sprayed it with an aluminum paint.  I also sprayed the strap with aluminum paint.  I sprayed the body of the starter with Eastwood's Black Rust Encapsulator because it was matte black.
Now the starter is slightly improved.

This is the alternator as it started.  It is only 60 amps so I may still end up needing a new one.  This will at least get my engine started for the initial fire up, at least.

This is the magical aluminum paint I use to refinish all my aluminum parts.  This is what I sprayed the transmission with too.  It looks exactly like real aluminum finish.

This is how the alternator ended up.  To do this I removed the pulley and fan and sandblasted them, then etch primed and painted.  For the alternator itself, I scraped any crud off then sprayed down with brake parts cleaner.  I then wire wheeled to get shiny aluminum, primed, and painted.  The final result looks like it came straight off the parts store shelf.  I took some liberties with the color of the fan and pulley colors just for the sake of more color contrast.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Driveshaft restoration

In the last two months, I have learned it is ludicrously easy to bring a driveshaft back to life, make it look brand new, and so nice you don't even want to install it.  I initiated this pursuit as it's my goal for the underside of the car to look almost as nice as the...topside.

I wish I had a 'before' picture, but the driveshaft was crusty, crusty black.  I started by taking my scraper and scraped all the junk off it.  After this I took to it with brake cleaner which took everything off right down to the rusty metal.

On my rolling shop table, I made a convenient driveshaft workstation by resting it on jackstands.

After it had been cleaned with brake cleaner, I started sanding the rust off with a DA which quickly brought the metal back to looking brand new.

These are the original factory-applied stripes (white, green, red), used for color coding the driveshaft .  As the car moves down the line it is accompanied by a build sheet.  The line worker would grab the driveshaft dictated by the color code on the build sheet.  Or so goes the lore that I have read.  I took measurements for each of the strips so I could repaint them.  Closer to the end of the shaft were two gray lines.

The driveshaft is completely sanded, looking brand new.  Next I treated it with several coats of zinc phosphate to protect against corrosion and condition the metal.

...then remeasured out the stripes and taped them off.

All the stripes are taped off.

I repainted the stripes with regular old enamel model paint...basically because it was the only thing I had where I'd have all the colors, and figured it would have *some* durability.  Two gray stripes at the end, then the three middle stripes.  After the stripes were painted I clear coated the whole thing with several coats of cheapie rattle can Duplicolor Clear.

And the finished the product up close.  I wasn't striving for perfection on the stripes since the originals were very sloppy.  I also wasn't striving for exact color matching.  As the final leg of the driveshaft restoration, I took it to my transmission rebuilder where he put a new yolk and u-joint on it, so I could have a fresh new yolk to slide into the freshly rebuilt transmission.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Transmission rebuild and reinstallation

Once it got too cold in September to do much more body work (too cold to spray epoxy) I shifted gears to the engine.  My goal and projects for the winter are to get the engine fired up for the first time ever...and actually have a running car.

I had no idea as to the condition of the C4 that came mated to the blown 289 that came with the car, but I had it rebuilt figuring it was probably pretty tired.  I took it to a local old school transmission rebuilder who has been rebuilding transmissions before the C4 ever existed--L&S Transmission in Delton, MI.  Needless to say, Lane has rebuilt a lot of C4's.  The transmission ended up being shot inside as Lane found some broken gears so my gamble to rebuild was a wise one.  He added a shift kit and new torque converter from Precision of New Hampton (fellow Iowa boys) with a stall of 400-500 over stock.

Since I had put the engine and transmission back in the car to move the car from Iowa to Michigan, my wonderful wife, Rosemary, helped me with the removal.  Though she tries to avoid anything Mustang she did admit it was kind of fun pulling the engine out and it didn't take us more than 30 minutes.  Which is probably why it was fun for her.

This is the transmission as I got it back from the rebuilder.

New torque converter from Precision of New Hampton (Iowa).

The transmission was cleaned with paint prep wax and grease remover (even though it was cleaned at the rebuilder's) and primed with engine primer.

Then repainted with Rebuilder's Aluminum finish to give it a fresh new aluminum look.

Before putting it back in I took advantage of its absence and cleaned and prepped the undercarriage.  This is the original Ford Red Oxide on the undercarriage in NEAR PERFECT condition!  To preserve this rare bit of history, I only spot primed areas where I sanded through or had bare metal with Eastwood's Rust Encapsulator (Red), which ended up being a very close match for Ford Red Oxide.

Next spacer plate is attached to the back of the engine via mounting pegs and then the flexplate is bolted to the crank.  DO NOT FORGET TO INSTALL THE SPACER PLATE FIRST or you will be sorry!  I sanded my spacer plate down well with DA to remove rust then treated it with zinc phosphate to give it a nice new looking finish and some rust protection.  Even though they appear to be symmetrical, the holes on the flexplate only line up to the crank in a single orientation, so there is only one correct way to install the flexplate.  Install the retainer ring next and rotate until the holes line up.  Place high temp oil-resistant thread sealant on the bolts and tighten down to spec using alternating tightening sequence.  A buddy will need to keep the crank from moving by placing a socket and breaker bar over the front crank bolt.

Install the torque converter.  Gently push it into place and slowly rotate while still pushing.  It will seat about 4 times.  For the final seat it will seat in completely.  Rotate several more times to make sure it is completely on, otherwise you can damage the pump if you try to install it and it's not completely seated.  Place a straight edge across the bellhousing and measure the distance from the edge of this to the snout in the middle of the TC.  It should be 1/8 of an inch. 

Orient the drain plugs so they are straight up and down, then place a 7/16" deep well socket over the bottom drain plug as an alignment aid when mating to the engine.  Orient the flexplate on the engine block so the holes for the drain plugs are straight up and down.  With the engine block hanging from the hoist by a leveler, level the engine so it is exactly at the same pitch of the transmission then push it together.  The socket should come right through the hole in the flexplate to know the alignment is correct.  The pegs in the engine block should fully seat in their respective bosses in the transmission bellhousing.  DO NOT PULL TRANSMISSION AND ENGINE TOGETHER BY TIGHTENING BELLHOUSING BOLTS.  They should come together smoothly.  Bolt bellhousing to the block.  The studs on the converter should also be sticking through the holes of the flexplate.  Rotate the crank with a breaker bar to rotate studs to the bottom so they can be accessed to install nuts.  Tighten all nuts down to torque.

The engine and transmission mated together.

Reinstallation (with starter bolted on)

Undercarriage.  I have a body plug kit and installed new plugs.

With transmission crossmember reinstalled and torqued to spec.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Seam sealer

It's been about 4 months since my last post.  However my absence on here is by far no indication of actual progress on the car as I've had the transmission rebuilt, reinstalled with motor, undercarriage cleaned and touched up, drive shaft restored, and slowly getting the motor externals hooked up.  I all  but was forced to give up on body work in September as I was running out of warm enough days.  I don't like to block if I can't shoot epoxy soon after.  It is annoying and aggravating when a sand-through spot to metal flash rusts if I don't epoxy soon enough.  And truth be told I'm utterly sick of bodywork.

First off, here's how that quarter skin ended up after the Slick Sand application.  The picture I don't have included is after it was blocked.  To my surprise it was incredibly straight and there were very few low spots.

And this was the current status of the car with a panel mock up.  I took the fenders and hood back off so I can do other work.

Seam Sealer

First thing's first, and before you do any seam sealer work, read this.  I employed these techniques for this round of seam sealing, though I did not on previous rounds and am left wishing I did.  Going back to some of the very earliest postings in this blog, I described sealing seams with 3M Fast n Firm (they really need a better name for that), and 3M Brushable seam sealer.  I'm here today to tell you they are garbage now, and that sealer is now cracking.  

The way to go is with a quality non-hardening (it hardens but not to the point it's like brittle concrete) 2k seam sealer for lasting seams.  There are a number of reputable brands making good 2k material such as SEM, 3M,  PlioGrip, and others which escape me.   After doing my research I ended up with Valvoline's PlioGrip as it is OE material for cars made today.  The downsides is the expense.  The cartridges are expensive in themselves, but you also have to buy a specific applicator gun for the brand of sealer you are buying.  And the guns are not cheap...mine was around $60-70 if I remember right.  PlioGrip makes 3M's gun, only the PlioGrip gun is cheaper than the identical 3M gun.  So if you buy the less expensive PlioGrip gun you can not only use PlioGrip seam sealers in it but the entire line of 3M 2k sealers as well.  All in all, walking out of the store with my gun, 2 cartridges of seam sealer, and a bag of extra tips, I was looking at $120.

I went with the #6 non-sag sealer to do everything, including gutters.  It sets up relatively have around 3-6 minutes to work it before it starts to set up.  The glorious thing about it is it has no VOC's and is virtually odor-free.  I did not need to wear a respirator to apply this, but the 3M sealers I was adding several years ago about knock you out if you didn't have a respirator.

I have the factory body and seam sealer assembly manual so I could see where all the seam sealer went, how it was to be applied, and what type of sealer was  being used.  The easiest way to summarize is basically ANY seam created by one panel of metal joined to another panel is sealed on the entire car.  This includes where the tail light panel comes together with the quarter on the outside rear as well as the insides in the trunk.  Don't forget under the drip rails of the windows either.  I add sealer and then smooth with my finger.  

I'm using the double-masking method Brian describes in his article I linked above.  Here is the door when sealing the seam of the skin and door shell.

Sealing passenger side door jamb.  The thin channel in between the tape is where the seam being sealed is located.

It takes some time and tape in preparation, but masking off both sides of the seam ultimately makes the process of adding and smoothing the sealer go faster because you don't have to be neat about it.  And once the tape is removed it leaves a very clean edge.  I removed the tape just as it was starting to set up, otherwise there was a tendency for the edge of the sealer to pull up a bit.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quarter panel filler work

I continued to use my forward momentum to blow through the next step of the quarter skin repair, completing in a week what I used to drag out for months (literally, sometimes).

The first step over a new weld is fiberglass filler.  I also ran tape along the very top of the body line, so when filler squished over the top I could rip it off when I pulled the tape off.  The tape will keep the filler even on the top lip of the quarter.  I also skimmed the B pillar/sail panel with polyester filler as it was extremely wavy.

This is my helper, Junebug, our 7 mo. old Golden Retriever.

After fiberglass, I ran two skim coats of polyester filler (Marson Platinum), with each single skim running the entire length of the panel.  The skim extends down far enough that I can feather it in to the rest of the panel to create a smooth transition.  This was the second attempt at skimming this; my first attempt resulted in one of my skims not having enough hardener and I could scratch it off with my finger.  I was on to this by the rough edges; they should be very smooth and feathered.  So I took it all off and skimmed again.  As it was, it worked out much better for me because my redo skim coats were perfect and near flawless...much better than the initial first two.  It was hot; about 90 degrees when I was skimming, and the filler was kicking quick.  I was using slightly less hardener than I normally do to try and keep ahead of it, but we all know how that turned out...

I also had to do quite a bit of building work on this quarter end cap.  I had to build the top side up about an 1/8", and build the side out about 1/8" as well as it had collision damage and did not set flush with the quarter extension when bolted on.  I use fiberglass filler for situations where I'm asking the filler to work hard, then skimming it with polyester.

Finally, as the last step before shooting Slick Sand, I shoot one coat of epoxy to sandwich the filler between epoxy.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Botched quarter panel skin repair

I made good work of everything detailed in this entry, completing it all in three days after manning up and taking the heat in the shop for long days.  In an earlier entry I wrote about replacing a quarter skin.  The repair went well except for major warpage I encountered along the weld, and it was due to a new method I was trying.  Countless (or so it seemed) hours of on-dolly hammering to stretch was to no avail but with the warpage as pronounced as it was, there was absolutely no way it would be able to stay in this form if I wanted a straight side.

The Problem
The problem was due to how I made the welds.  I would make single spaced out tacks and let it cool naturally.  However, for the next round of tacks, I then placed the next tack directly next to the old one rather than splitting the difference between two old tacks (this latter method is how I've done all my welds up to this time).  This new method is pictured in the original entry I linked above.  It made a nice pretty weld but really affected the way the metal was pulled with each new tack. 

The Fix
By cutting the weld back open, I should be able to relax the metal and do some additional stretching.  Then reweld back shut, but splitting the difference in distance between tacks rather than laying the new tack next to the old as I did before.  Second, constantly stretching the weld area after each round of tacks should help me keep ahead of any extreme shrinkage and distortion.

I first experimented with making a ~6 inch opening of the old weld.  I found it works best to open longer sections at a time because weird stuff happens at each end of the cut.

Putting the welds back in show the best way to tack it back shut, splitting the distance between welds, as opposed to spacing tack welds out initially, then putting all new tacks next to the original tacks instead of between them.

The fix was a great success and the horrible warpage I had before is now gone.  The difference between the side of the panel is night and day.  It's puckered in giving me room to fill.  This will be a nice panel to work now.

While I was at it, I had this original corner bracket in the rear.  It was bugging me because it was all chewed up and didn't look good.  I had an extra new one so I decided to just replace it.

So I cut the old one out, carefully removing the spot welds...

And got the new one welded in place.

After grinding down the welds and cleaning it up, this is the final repair.

I prepped the panel and shot it with SPI epoxy.  I prefer to do my filler work over epoxy for maximum corrosion protection.  Filler work will begin the next day...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Slick Sand: Sprayable polyester surfacer/primer

Today I'm going to start detailing the beginnings of my final blocking, for which I enlisted the help of Evercoat Slick Sand.  But first, everything begins with finishing up the hood scoop from where I most recently left off...

I decided I did not want the turn signal indicators in the hood scoop so...

I roughed up the edges of the fiberglass with 180

Then laid down fiberglass cloth with fiberglass resin, using a simple Bondo fiberglass patch kit that can be had anywhere (even Wal*Mart) for $20.  It's cheaper than buying the components on their own and having a lot of material left over in the end.

This is with the cured cloth/resin.

I then skimmed the opening with Evercoat fiberglass filler.

And skimmed that with Evercoat EZ Sand 2k glazing putty for a smooth finish.

The next step was to spray with Epoxy, then Slick Sand.  I bought this gun from TCP Global for about $45...with a 2.5 mm tip it's nothing short of a cannon.  It is fantastic quality and shoots the Slick Sand unreduced perfectly.

After the fiberglass had UV cured by sitting outside for 5 days, I shot it with Epoxy.

And there is no trace of a hole ever being present in the turn signal openings.  Any tiny imperfections will get covered up by the Slick Sand.

I then shot the scoop with 2-3 coats of Ever Coat Slick Sand, an extremely high build primer/surfacer.  It's actually sprayable polyester filler.  The hoodscoop was very wavy since it is a fiberglass part, and I wanted to do an experiment to see if I could completely block out the waves using only Slick Sand and no skim coat of filler.  Truth be told, I didn't think it would happen.

Tape along the center ridge line and block up to this; it will keep the center ridge straight and sharp, and prevent reshaping of the ridge line.  The Slick Sand dries quite hard and is difficult to initially block.  In the end I have found that starting with 120 works great to cut, then 220 to remove the 120 scratches.  To my surprise, after blocking the scoop down, and then shooting with another 2 coats, the entire scoop blocked completely flat without the use of any skim coating filler.
Along with the hood scoop, I also shot the roof, driver's side door, and top of the trunk with several coats of Slick Sand, usually shooting 2 at a time, blocking, then shooting more.  Here are some tips I have either read or learned on my own:

  1.  Buy a cheap gun to shoot Slick Sand.  That way if it sets up in your gun, you're not out your good gun.
  2. Buy a gun with a large enough tip.  It seems somewhat defeating the point if you buy a high build product, only to be thinned out so it doesn't build as well.   I think Ever Coat recommends at least a 2.0 mm tip.  My 2.5 mm tip was plenty sufficient.
  3. Do not leave the Slick Sand in your gun for more than 30 minutes or it risks setting up.  I did not mix more than I could shoot in 30 minutes.  At the moment I added the hardener, I started the timer, which would include mixing, spraying, and flash times.
  4. Do not use an in-gun strainer, or even filter the product as it pours into the gun.  The gun I bought had an internal strainer and the Slick Sand basically spit and sprayed poorly.  I removed that and was back in business.  I eventually even stopped filtering it as I poured it into the gun because it would take so long to drain through my filter.  Even unfiltered I had no hitches when spraying.
  5. Start cutting with 120, then move to 180 or 220 for final blocking.  Once the initial layer is off, it sands very nicely.  It will spray on with lots of peel so the initial blocking seems to bounce right over the top.
  6. A lot does not go a very long way.  I mix up half a quart at a time.  I pour out 16 ounces, and then add half a tube of hardener (11 ml, to be exact) to the 16 ounces.  The tube of hardener has graduations on the side so you can see how much to add.  One gallon comes with four tubes of hardener; one tube per quart.  Mix well (it greatly thickens upon adding the hardener) then spray, allowing for adequate flash.  Half a quart basically allowed me to shoot one coat on my hood scoop, door, roof, and trunk lid before it was all gone.  I then poured some lacquer thinner in the cup, swished around, and sprayed the lacquer thinner out to get everything out of the gun's system, then mixed up  more and sprayed a second round.  In  doing this I never end up wasting any and I don't risk it setting around too long and setting up in my gun.
  7. Spray when it's cool outside to keep it from setting up too fast.  I sprayed early on when it was 60's and 70's out.  It's been over 100 consistently for the last week or two (108F yesterday) and I'm glad I got most of it out of the way.
  8. Mask off anything you don't want overspray on WELL.  This is definitely overspray you don't want to have to remove.  Additionally, it makes the floor sticky so I laid a blue tarp on the floor and painted over this.  I had read about this ahead of time so did not have to end up with a sticky garage floor.
All in all, I have used 3/4 gallon between the roof, trunk, one quarter, one door, hood, and hood scoop.  The hood is final blocked, as is the door, roof, and trunk.  The quarter is close but will probably require another coat or two.  The moral of the story is it will probably require 2 gallons to do an entire car.  I still have another quarter to do.  I may have to end up getting another quart.

Final thoughs on Slick Sand:  Amazing build and sands great once you've cut off the top layer.  You can keep blocking and blocking and blocking before you see signs of breaking through.  The advantage of this is you can keep blocking until the last of that guide coat is gone and still have room to shoot another layer of guide coat and block it again.  It did amazing things with my quarter that definitely had a few spots my hand could feel after my metal working (and filler work), which was probably sub par at best, I admit.  I was counting on the Slick Sand to be my crutch and it really was.