10/29/2003: What have I been doing?

For the last week or so, i’ve been trying to familiarize myself with some of the processes and materials I’ll need to use to transform all the small rusty parts of this car into attractive ones.

To start with, I bought a small “mix pack” of POR15 paint and their “Chassis Coat Black” topcoat paint. POR15 paint is fairly famous in this hobby. It can be painted directly over rust, and it absorbs moisture, which makes it stronger. It’s reputed to be nearly indestructable, flexible, and it can be just brushed on. It self-levels quite well, so no brushmarks are visible in the finished product.

However, POR15 paint will discolor if exposed to a lot of UV light, so they recommend topcoating it wherever it will see light. It’s also very shiny stuff, so it doesn’t look quite original in some applications. The POR15 “Chassis Coat Black” paint is designed to be applied on top of the regular POR15 basecoat. It’s nice, because unlike normal paint, it doesn’t have be applied over a wet basecoat. And it’s less shiny, so the overall appearance is pretty good.

To try this stuff out, I wire brushed the loose rust off of the two covers that go over the fuel and brake lines underneath the car. I then straightened out some of the bent areas and painted it with two coats of POR15, followed by a coat or two of the topcoat (just out the outside visible side of it). The results were pretty good. The metal was extensively pitted, and some of that is still visible. But, considering these parts are black and underneath the floor, the results were fine.

I also tried it out on two interior pieces- the trim ring around the shifter boot and the pedal base cover.

The trim ring was in good shape to begin with- i just wire wheeled off the old paint, then painted it with POR15. However, I put it on too thick, and got a few drips, so I wasn’t happy with how it looks. I ended up sandblasing it off and repainting with primer and Eastwood’s “under-hood black”.

This looked better, but I found that the sandblaster left the metal’s surface a bit rough, and the paint didn’t really look right. So, i’m going to sand it again, this time with a fine sandpaper, then repaint a third time. I figure spending the time now to learn how to properly prepare and paint these parts will save me time in the long run. It’s trickier than it looks to get the surface adequately prepared and to get good, thin, even coats of paint out of a spray can.

I also wasn’t happy with the results on the pedal base cover. The problem there was that the metal was quite heavily pitted, and this showed through the paint and didn’t look very attractive. I took a grinder and a 36 grit flap wheel and smoothed out some of the pitting. I had to be careful not to take off too much, or the metal might get too thin. Since I couldn’t get all of the pits out this way, I ordered some epoxy putty from the POR15 guys, which they claim is good for this kind of thing.

That arrived yesterday, so today I took a 150 grit sanding disc and sanded out some of the sanding marks from the rough flap wheel, then polished some of THOSE sanding marks out with a finer sanding disc. I re-painted the part with one coat of POR15 again, just to seal in any rust and establish a good base for the epoxy.

Once that dries I plan to apply the putty, let it dry, sand things down as smooth as I can get them, and re-topcoat with another coat of POR15, then topcoat that with the eastwood paint while it’s still tacky. (just to see how that combination works)

Again, this is not going to be a hugely visible part, so i’m sure the results will be OK- this is more about learning the processes than about these particular parts. Hopefully what I learn from these parts will make it easier to do a good job with more important ones later.

The parts I dropped off at the media blaster (including the subframe from #40912) are still there, nearly two weeks later. I’ve called twice now and have been told that “Craig isn’t answering his pages”, or “Craig is out of the office”. Apparently they can’t do anything around there without Craig. I’m not in a huge rush to get these parts back or anything, but I do want to know that they haven’t been lost! I’ll call again tomorrow if he doesn’t call me first and see what’s up.

So far i’m witholding judgement on this place. I have appropriately low expectations for customer service when it comes to a the car service industry. ;-)

I certainly hope that when I find a shop to do the body work, they will be a lot better in that regard. On that front, I haven’t called anyone yet, but I plan to start shortly. At this point I could have the engine and transmission out of the car in a day, and that’s really the main thing I was waiting for.

Along with all this paint experimentation, i’ve also been playing around with my cheapie sandblasting cabinet. The main problem i’ve had with it since day one is that the pickup tube was so lame. It’s basically just a metal pipe you’re supposed to jam into the sand. It never stay put, and was constantly coming out of the sand and just sucking air.

With my compressor being kind of small for the job to start with, wasting air isn’t something I want to do. I decided to go to tptools.com and replace the crappy pickup tube with one intended for one of their (much higher quality) cabinets. This turned out to be part #6442-17, and it worked great.

This pickup has two tubes instead of one, and is designed to mix air with the media as it picks it up. I also picked up a flexible hose from them which connects this pickup to the blasting gun. This turned out to be a good thing, because the pickup is a larger diameter than my old one and the old hose wouldn’t have worked. But the new hose fits right over the old hose on the gun end, so everything’s a perfect fit. I also had to cut an opening in the screen that sits at the bottom of the blasting cabinet (above the media) to allow the pickup hose to go through. This was easy though, it’s just a thin metal screen.

I’ve only quickly tested the new blasting setup, but it seems much improved, delivering a most consistent stream of media to the gun, with less wasted air (I hope).

I’ll test it a little more once some of the painted items i’m working on have dried to the point where i’m not worried about dust.