Yay! Both fenders painted!

I got the second fender painted. Since it is a new repro, it needed less sanding and prep than the other one. I had applied the primer-surfacer last fall, and I needed to apply only a little bit more near the front edge, where I had earlier modified the shape.

The next step of course is to attach them to the car. But first I need to do a bit of tweaking and adjustment on the fender support braces, so that the fenders will be nicely aligned on both sides of the car. I had sandblasted and painted the braces several years ago, but since then I noticed that they do not exactly match each other, especially since they have had some cracks and damage repaired many years ago by welding.

One fender completely painted!

With the summer already half over, I finally got the driver’s side fender completely painted. First, I did a lot of sanding of the sprayable polyester filler I had put on last fall. Sanding that stuff is a very dusty job, and both the top and bottom needed to be done. I probably sanded off 75% of it, but I had to add a bit more filler in a couple of places. Then I sprayed on three coats of acrylic urethane filler-surfacer, and block-sanded it. Once section of the fender needed a couple more coats and a bit more sanding. The last prep step was to wet-sand the entire fender, top and bottom.
Then I applied the same sort of finish coat that the rest of the car has gotten: a coat of epoxy sealer and three coats of (black) acrylic-urethane enamel (two coats on the underside). I also painted the four carriage bolts that hold the headlamp mounting bracket to the fenders.
The next task is of course to paint the other fender. That will be a lot less work, since it already has its coat of acrylic-urethane filler, and it just needs to be lightly block-sanded and wet-sanded, before getting its finish coat.

Another little job

I bead-blasted and parkerized the original front fender mounting hardware: about 16 bolts, and the matching nuts and washers. Surprisingly, these original nuts and bolts are in quite good shape, and they can definitely be re-used.

Over the winter: rear shocks

It was especially cold this winter, and there were very few times when I even wanted to do anything in the (unheated) garage.

I did get a pair of brand-new reproduction shocks from Bill Stipe. They were expensive, but very well-made. In March, as soon as the garage was consistently above freezing, I painted them, and bead-blasted and painted the original rear shock arms. Then I installed everything on the rear of the car, using the original nuts and bolts that I had refinished a couple of years ago when I did the front shocks.

So now the car has good working shocks on all four wheels!

Spring is finally here, and it is slowly getting warmer, so I should be able to resume work on the front fenders in a week or two.

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…

One fender ready for painting!

After almost a year, the repro fender is ready for painting. Fortunately I did not have to lengthen the rear of the fender. When it is bolted in place, things manage to stretch and bend until it mates up with the running board. But I did notice that the inside front edge was about 3/4″ further forward than on the original fender, and it was visibly different than the original fender on the driver’s side. So I had to unwrap the beaded edge, cut off the excess metal, and re-form the beaded edge around the wire that runs inside it.

After that, I just had to adjust some of the mounting holes and spot-weld the little reinforcing bracket to the outside edge, where the fender is bolted to the end of the main support bracket.

The next step is to get the other (driver’s side) fender ready for painting. This fender, which I also bought at Hershey last October, appears to be original and is in very good shape, crack-free, with just a few random dents and a couple of mashed-up mounting holes. Unlike the repro, it fits perfectly. However, it is painted in brown primer, and I will have to sand or strip it off to see what lies beneath.

I did a bit more work on my fender jig to hold this fender (which is of course a mirror-image of the repro fender). The next step is to start sanding or stripping the primer coat. If I am lucky, I may get both fenders completely painted before it gets too cold, but I may only get as far as the primer and filler, leaving the final coats until next spring.

Yes, I’m still here

Months have passed since my last post.  During most of that time, I would walk by the reproduction fender mounted on the jig, and dread the work it would take to make it fit the car.  But I have actually made some progress since last winter.  Most importantly, I was able to use my metal stretcher to properly shape the lip that butts up against the splash shield.  To help guide my work, I used a bunch of filler putty to make a cast of the same area of the original fender.  By putting the cast against the repro fender, I could tell where I needed to re-shape it.

Once I got that lip close to the proper shape, I did several rounds of mounting the fender on the car, checking the fit to the splash shield, putting it back on the jig, and doing a bit more bending, stretching, etc. Once the fit was OK, I marked the correct location of the mounting bolt holes, and drilled them.  They are actually oval-shaped slots, so some filing and grinding was also required.

The next issue to be dealt with is the fit of the rear edge of the fender to the running board.  The rear edge of the fender is not parallel to the front edge of the running board: they almost touch on the inside, but there is about a 1/4″ gap on the outside. I will probably have to completely re-form the rear edge of the fender, or cut it and weld in a long, skinny wedge-shaped piece of sheet metal.

At this point, given how much trouble the repro fender has been, I wish I had first tried to repair the damaged portion of the original fender, before spending the $$$ on the repro.  I already have a junk fender that would have served as a source of a patch, so it would have cost very little money, and possibly no more time that I have already spend trying to get the repro to fit.

Some actual progress

Lots of other things to do for the last couple of months (and it has been freezing), but last week I built a special frame or jig to hold fenders while working on them. It is built from scrap angle iron, and it matches the shape of the car’s frame rails where the front fenders attach. When a fender is bolted to the jig, it is held in the exact same alignment it will have when installed on the car. The jig is attached to my engine stand, which allows the jig and attached fender to be rotated so the top or bottom can be worked on.
Now it is sitting in my garage with the new repro fender mounted on it, waiting for me to start work.

Staring at fenders

I started working on the repro front fender that I bought at Hershey. The first step was to trim down the flange or lip where the fender bolts to the splash shield. They made it a good deal wider than on the original fenders. The next step is to see how much I can stretch the curved part of that lip to get it to the correct contour. If it won’t stretch enough, I’ll have to cut darts in it and weld in little triangles of sheet metal.