Finally: paint on the fenders!

After 13 months of work, I was able to start painting the front fenders.  First, I had to set up my in-garage painting tent, since outside there are leaves all over the place. The last time I had used the tent was about a year ago, when I painted my other car, the Triumph Spitfire.  Then I added some bits of threaded rod and random scrap metal to my fender jig, so that the fenders would be held in place several inches above it.  This made it possible to reach the entire bottom surface with the spray gun.

I started with the freshly-sandblasted driver’s side fender.  First it got a couple of coats of epoxy primer.  Then I applied several coats of sprayable polyester filler to the top, where there were remnants of the dents and scratches that I had mostly worked out, and to parts of the bottom, where there was some rust pitting.

The other fender was a new reproduction which was almost dent-free, but it had gotten some patches of light surface rust during the year I had been working on it.  I cleaned and degreased it very thoroughly, sanded it all over to get rid of the rust and make a better surface for the paint, and finally applied a phosphoric acid treatment.  Once it was dry, it got a couple of coats of epoxy primer, followed by a few coats of filler-surfacer on the top.

I finished all of this on what will probably be the last reasonably warm week of the year.  The finders are now hung up on my garage wall for the winter.  Next spring, the repro fender will just need to be block-sanded before getting its finish coat.  The old fender will need a bit more work: the polyester filler on the top and bottom will need a lot of sanding, and the top will need a couple of coats of the filler-surfacer, followed by block-sanding.

The other fender made ready for painting!

The driver’s side fender is a used original that I bought at Hershey last year. It had no serious rust or damage, but it did have some dents, and it was painted in primer.

I started by stripping off most of the primer, and found some filler underneath it. So I sanded off most of the filler and soda-blasted off the remainder of the primer and filler. It turned out that the upper surface had gotten rather beaten up once upon a time, and it had been somewhat roughly beaten back into shape.  The top appeared smooth due to the filler, but the underside was pretty bumpy.

I decided to buy an air-powered planishing hammer from Harbor Freight, and I used it (along with a shrinking disk on my grinder) to get the upper surface smooth again. I was quite pleased with how well this tool worked. I also used it to get rid of some deformation along the outer edge and around the headlight bar mounting area.

The two mounting holes on the front inner surface of the fender are supposed to have a raised dimple around them, to make a nice fit to the oval-headed mounting screws.  These commonly get damaged on old fenders, and the ones on this fender were smashed flat.  Fortunately vendors sell special dished washers that can be used to restore the mounting holes.  I got some of these, and brazed them into place over each hole.

Finally, I sandblasted the entire fender with extra-fine Black Beauty compound to remove all traces of paint and rust. After sandblasting, I noticed one small crack just inside the front edge, parallel to it. Repairing this was a fairly easy welding job. (Interestingly, both of the car’s original fenders had cracks in the exact same location.)

Now both fenders are ready for painting, but it is already mid-fall, and the weather is getting colder…