All done!

June 9th, 2013

I took off the muffler, cleaned it up in the bead-blasting cabinet, and sprayed it with a can of silver high-temperature paint from the hardware store. The next morning I put it back on the car, and now the paint job is absolutely, completely, 100% done!

Now I can go back to working on my 1931 Ford, which has been neglected for the last year or so…

Even closer to the end

June 5th, 2013

I installed the stainless steel windshield trim.  I used a trick described by another Spitfire owner on his web site, and it went more smoothly than I expected.  I also finished applying sealant between the rubber seal and the glass.

The new “QQ” Historical license plates arrived, so now the car is 100% legal.  The old “Collector Car” registration had expired at the end of May, and the car was no longer eligible for it. Of course it doesn’t have anything to do wit the paint job- it just happened at the same time that the car was ready to drive again, after being painted.

Very very close to the end

May 27th, 2013

Strictly speaking, the paint job is done- I just have to finish putting the car back together. I found the stainless steel windshield trim, and got it all clean and shiny with my buffing wheel. I need to put some sealing compound around the rubber windshield seal, and as soon as it is dry, I can re-install the trim.
I also fixed an orange-peely area on the front part of the bonnet (i.e. hood). I wet-sanded the top surface of the hood with 2000-grit sandpaper, and then used a rotary buffer and polishing compound to get it shiny again.

Replaced the windshield

May 24th, 2013

I visited a nearby place that restores and sells parts for British sports cars, and I picked up a used Spitfire windshield for $75. I took it home and cleaned it up, removing all the old grime and sealant around the edge. Then I cut away the gasket to remove the original windshield, which I had managed to bust after I had successfully re-installed it after painting the car. By now I’ve gotten pretty good at installing these windshields, and I got the new one in place in about 30 minutes.
Once the windshield was installed, I visited the Motor Vehicles office to get a replacement Collector Car inspection sticker (the old one was of course on the old windshield, and was about to expire anyway). But they told me that my car was no longer eligible for the “Collector Car” program, and I would have to apply for the standard “QQ” historical license plates. So I went home, filled out the correct form, and sent it (with a couple of photos of the car and a check) to Trenton.

Did the headlight trim rings

May 20th, 2013

I bead-blasted the cast aluminum headlight trim rings. Then I gave them the standard treatment of a couple of coats of epoxy primer and several coats of filler-surfacer. The next day I sanded them and sprayed the color coats. It was an easy paint job- I only had to mix a couple of ounces of each paint. As soon as the paint was dry, I bolted them in place.
The last remaining task is to replace the windshield. I ordered a new rubber seal- I busted the existing windshield by trying to remove it without damaging the seal, so I will probably not try that again, and just cut out the old seal.

Re-installed stuff in the interior

May 10th, 2013

Last winter I bought new door panels, since the originals were crumbling.  I took the mounting clips from the old panels, attached them to the new panels, and mounted the panels to the insides of the doors.  Then I was able to re-install the window crank handles and some door latch trim.  The new panels look nice and fit properly.  I also put the front floorwell carpet pieces back where they belong.  Now the interior is 100% re-assembled, and better-looking than before!

Bolted on more stuff

May 8th, 2013

I cleaned up the front bumper (which was in my attic for the last year), touched up the silver paint on the un-chromed inside surface, and bolted it back on the car. I also re-attached the black plastic grille, the front license place holder, and the plastic bumper overriders. Then I re-attached the convertible top and its folding frame. So now the only things that still need to be installed are the windshield wipers and those headlight trim pieces, which I still need to paint. And of course the windshield still needs replacing…

Getting close to the end!

May 3rd, 2013

The front valences are all done!  I applied the filler, sanded them, and painted them just like I did the rest of the body: a couple of coats of epoxy primer, three coats of filler-surfacer, some wet-sanding, and finally the finish coats. As soon as the paint was dry, I mounted them on the body and attached the front turn signal lights. Then I hooked up their wiring, and the electrical system was 100% complete! Now that the turn signals are working, the car is road-worthy.
The only disappointment is that I still need to paint the headlight trim rings. They will need some bead-blasting and sanding, and then the same primer, filler, sealer, finish coat paint job as everything else. Each coat will need about an ounce of paint and 30 seconds of spraying, but I will still have to mix it and clean up everything for each coat. But before I start on that, I will re-attach the front bumper and the grille.

An electrical job

April 20th, 2013

I did a repair on the front marker lights, and re-installed them. A couple of the mounting studs had gotten rusty, and they broke off when I removed the lamps last year. So I pressed out the remaining stubs of the studs, and soldered some small bolts in the holes to replace them. Then I mounted the lamps in the front fenders and hooked up the wiring. Except for the rusty studs, the lamps were in excellent condition, and just needed to be cleaned.

Fixing the front valences

April 16th, 2013

I repaired the rusted-out spots on the front corner valences (BTW, the valences attach to the front corners of the frame, just below the front bumper). Each one had a rusted-out spot about 1 by 2 inches. I cut away the rusted metal, cut patches from sheet metal to fit the openings, and welded the patches in place. I ended up using my MIG welder, so I never actually used the nice foot pedal I had made for the TIG welder. I also fixed a couple of small bends and dents in the corner valences and the center valence (which bolts on below the grille, between the corner valences).

The next step is to apply a bit of body filler to the remaining dings and irregularities on the valences, and start priming and painting them, like I did with the rest of the car body.   Since they are tiny compared to the entire car body, it should be quick, and not too messy.  I also need to bead-blast the headlight surrounds, and paint them along with the valences.


A side project

February 26th, 2013

I soaked the rusted portions of the front valences in “Evapo-Rust” rust remover solution for a couple of days. It seemed to remove quite a bit of the rust. I also cut away some of the rusted metal.
Then I spent some time on a side project: a foot switch power control for my TIG welder, so I can adjust the power while welding. I had designed and bought the parts for this about a year ago, but never had a pressing need to actually do it, until now.  I drilled a couple of holes in the welder’s front panel, added a toggle switch and a connector, and wired them up to the welder’s power control circuit. The fool pedal is actually meant for electronic musical instruments. I had to attach a longer shielded cable to it, and add the correct plug to fit the socket I added to the welder.
Now, when I get around to welding patches to the valences, I’ll be able to do a better job.

A bit more work

January 27th, 2013

It’s been freezing cold recently. I did manage to get the other window seal installed. I also got the front valence assemblies down from the attic and removed the turn signal lamps and some grille trim from them. A few of the screws were too rusted to unscrew, so I had to drill them out. The valences each have a spot where there was some rust-thru. They will be a bit tricky to repair, since they have a two-layer construction with a gap between the two pieces of sheet metal, and the low spot rusted out from the inside, It is a funny place to rust out, since it was not exposed to much splay or road spray, but the inside surfaces of the metal apparently never got any paint or rust protection at the factory.

Lots of Distractions

January 18th, 2013

Lots of other things to do, with the holidays, travel, and various end-of-year obligations.
I decided to use one of the two pairs of side window seals that I had bought. I have to carefully trim the ends, since they were made about 1/2″ too long. I got one installed so far (they are a pain to install), and it looks OK.  I also installed a new rear-view mirror on the driver’s door.  Unlike the old one, it is the same style as the original dealer-installed mirrors, and it doesn’t wobble around.
The replacement door interior panels arrived, and they look good. As soon as the other window seal is installed, I can put the panels on.

After that, I really need to deal with the broken windshield.

Bolting on more stuff

December 11th, 2012

I installed a few more bits, like the last of the rear trim and badges.  The portion of the car behind the passenger compartment is essentially finished.  I want to install the side window seals, but I’ve gotten two different sets from different vendors, and none of them were right.  I may end up putting the old ones back.  (They are only about 8 years old, and in fairly good shape.)



December 7th, 2012

I managed to bust the windshield.

I was not happy with how well I had fitted it into the frame. The new gasket was not seating nicely against the glass all the way around. So I decided to remove it and re-install it. When I originally removed the windshield I simply cut away the rotted old gasket, but this time I wanted to save and re-use the new gasket. So I tried pressing the windshield forward and hoping the gasket would pop free of the opening in the frame. I had it almost there, and I suddenly heard a “pop”, and the glass had cracks all over it. So now I need a another windshield, either new or used. It’s not a total tragedy- the old glass had a lot of pits, and a small bulls-eye right in front of the driver.

More stuff bolted on

December 2nd, 2012

I installed the rear quarter lights, most of the trim pieces around the rear valence, and the rear bumper. It took a bit of fiddling to get the bumper to line up, since it was being attached to the rear body panel that I had replaced.  I also bead-blasted and spray-painted the little metal fuel expansion tank that goes inside the trunk.
I was all set to replace the rubber seals that run along the tops of the doors, against the window class, but the replacements turned out to be the wrong size. I’ll have to call the vendor tomorrow and see what the deal is.


Continuing reassembly

November 23rd, 2012

I had to buff out some of the paint on the rear fenders and rear deck.  I had painted the hood a day after the body, and I had not completely covered the body to protect it from overspray.  So all the horizontal surfaces on the rear of the body got a very light mist of overspray, which dried as hard as a rock.  I thought it would buff out in an instant, but it actually took quite a while.

I painted the inside of the trunk, where I had replaced rear valence panel.  I just used a brush and some enamel paint I had bought years ago when I had repaired some damage to the trunk.  Then I re-installed the taillights and the muffler.  I also cleaned off and re-installed the front headlight assemblies, using new rubber gaskets.

Beginning the reassembly

November 16th, 2012

After the doors and trunk lid had dried for a couple of days, I bolted them back on to the body. Now I can begin re-attaching all the other pieces I had removed.  I never got a chance to paint the headlight surrounds and the front valences that go underneath the front bumper.  Those will have to wait until next spring.  I’m burned out on painting for the time being, and I have taken down and put away the painting tent and my painting supplies.

Doors painted!

November 11th, 2012

Yesterday I wet-sanded the doors and trunk lid, and today I painted them. They came out pretty good, except that some tiny flies were attracted to the wet paint, and got stuck in it. This is the first time I’ve had this problem.  The weather was quite warm today, and it will also be warm tomorrow, so by tomorrow evening I should be able to re-attach the doors and trunk lid to the car.

Sanded the doors and trunk lid

November 9th, 2012

After another brief interruption due to a snowstorm, I dry sanded the doors and trunk lid.  I discovered several small low spots, which I took care of with a bit of polyester finishing putty.  Since there were several spots of putty, and I had also sanded all the way into the epoxy primer in a few places, I decided to give everything one more coat of filler-surfacer, thinned a bit so it would lay down extra-smooth.

Tomorrow I will wet-sand them, and the day after that I will hopefully be able to do the color coats.  Fortunately they are predicting good, warm weather.