If youve been following this 51 Packard Mayfair 2 dr hardtop series, you know we are in the final stages of a long on/off restoration/preservation. If you are new to the magazine, you can see what has been done by checking out the Archives section of www.southernwheels.com.
FINAL DETAILS: The trunk on these cars has a nice rolling shape with a center Packardcrest in silver for 51 (they were usually gold). Cloisonne emblems ended in 1950 except for hubcap hexagons on the 51-400 top of the line series. The round trunk badging became plastic in 51with the Packard crest embossed into the back side, then painted inside the emblem with red translucent paint in the circle around the crest. When viewed from the front side, it looks very much like cloisonne, especially from a few feet away. Our crest had long lost its paint, but the plastic was like newno clouding, and only minute cracking. The chrome bezel around it was near-perfect and just needed polishing, and the P-A-C-K-A-R-D block letters to be painted in. I have seen the letters painted either black or red. The black was usually used on the Patrician 400s. Our Mayfair started mid-51 as a Junior series car, but was quickly bumped up to the Senior series. But since it is a sporty 2-door hard top and is cream with a maroon top, the red letters worked best for me. The chrome badge was cleaned and polished, then, using frisket masking paper, I cut out the letters with an X-acto knife and sprayed them in with light gray lacquer primer, then several coats of red. The cars top is Matador Maroon, so I used a dark red for the letters so they would work in harmony with the rest of the car without blaring out.
The plastic crest took a little more work. The question is: How do you remove the remnants of the 65-year-old paint without deforming the plastic? Fortunately, I had another one that was not as nice, and I could experiment on it. What I came up with is a process that an old friend of mine used to strip metal parts, hinges, door knobs, etc., in her antique business. Get a bowl of water and put in about a half cup of Tide powder detergent and let the emblem soak. This took two weeks, then I went over the backside with a toothbrush, getting into all of the crevices, and all of the paint came off without scratching the plastic.
To repaint, I used a small artists brush for oil based paint and painted in the silver first. Silver paint doesnt have enough metallic, so I found a Metallic Silver Shimmering brush on paint #A070 in the DecoArt brand. This made the silver shine more like the real thing. I re-coated it to help prevent bleed through when I sprayed the background red. I used tail light red for this by NHT Nite Shade Red#SP888. Its best to just spray 2 or 3 coats. The more you spray, the less translucent it becomes. There is a drain hole at the bottom of the chrome housing. This lets a little backlight in, giving the crests red a little bit of a glow. When on the car, I felt that it looked really well. I have found these new reproduction online for $250.
The trunk lock that we had in our bagged and tagged parts turned out to be the wrong one! It was for a 48-50 Packard. Trying to identify this was done by comparing 48-51 trunk photos, showing that the 48-50 locks had a rain cover that swivels on a pin, covering the lock, and the 51s dont. Also, the 48-50 shaft that goes into the trunk lock mechanism is longer and is 4-sided. The 51 is 5-sided, so it will only fit into the mechanism one way. Packard keys were round for the ignition and square for the glove box, doors and trunk, and with all of them the key goes in upside down (cut teeth to the top) and turns clockwise to open. This sounds straight ahead, but heres what happened: I needed a 51 lock (there are no part numbers on them), to to be safe, I found a NOS one with no key. I took this to the locksmith and he used my door key, pushed it into the lock, then ground the tumblers down flat. This keysthe key to that specific lock. He removed the tumblers and put in the 5-sided bar, then put the tumblers back into the cylinder. When I tried to install it into the trunk, it would only go in upside down. To figure this out, I removed the lock and locking mechanism, took the complete assembly to the locksmith, who discovered that the 5-sided shaft was 180 degrees out. The tumblers were removed, the shaft came out and was flipped, and everything was copacetic. When I put it back in the trunk, it pushed in and was ready for the lock. The clip goes inside the trunk, fitting into a groove in the cylinder with the clip fitting tightly against the trunk to keep it in place. On the 51s, the space to install the clip is very tight, so I tied a piece of dental floss around the clip so it wouldnt be able to fall down into the trunk lid, then, using our color inspection camera, we put the camera probe in and looked down into the trunk to guide the clip in. Once I could see that the clip was in place, Woody used two fingers to push down from the top to lock it in place.
You can test the lock with the trunk open by closing the mechanisms teeth with your hand, then turn the key and they will open. After testing this two or three times, I closed the trunk. It locked readily and the key opened it easily. The trunk was finished!
Another detail was the front vent windows. The glass was gone, and since all of the other glass in the car was original, I wanted the vents to be OEM too. The vent frames have a pivot top hinge attached by a single #8 fine thread phillips oval. To get the hinge pivot, I had to buy a complete vent window assembly. (Dont lose your parts!) This extra vent assembly worked out well, however, because it had a good Solex tinted glass with a 52 date code (close enough). PPG introduced Solex in the 1930s, tinted with heat absorbing characteristics. Solex was also used in Chrysler Corporation cars, as well as several others, and was available as an option in Packards of the early 50s.
I took the frame with the Solex, along with a piece of 1950s, slightly green-tinted glass to our buddy Pat at 2-A Glass. Pat carefully removed the Solex and cut two more vent panes from the 1950s glass. I used the Solex on the drivers side, so I could see the logo, and a newly-cut one on the passenger side and had one for a spare. I had already put in new vent rubber. This was done by using soapy water and a body putty spreader. The rubber pushes into the vent frame and with the spreader, it is burnished into place. Glass-setting tape is used to install the glass into the frame. Many glass installers dont use it nowadays. They use epoxy, so once the glass is in and set,it must be broken to get it out. For me, old style glass setting works best, because the glass can be removed if necessary. Glass setting tape is easy to get. Many of your specific car make vendors have it and if you give them the year and model, they usually know what you need. With Packard, you need to figure it for yourself. Using a caliper, measure the thickness of the glass, then the width of the track channel. Subtract the width of the glass from the width of the channel and divide the result by two. That is the size of glass setting tape you need. It is available in several sizes: 1/32 3/64 1 1/16are the most popular. Our formula was: Glass width .375subtracted from Channel width .4375 equals .0625divided by 2 = .03125which is 1/32 so the size of my glass setting tape needed to be 1/32 It comes in a 20-foot roll and is easy to install. It is rubber and should be slightly warmed to get it to conform to curved glass. I set the roll in the sun for about ten minutes, then pulled off a length about 2longer than I needed to wrap around the edge of the vent glass. It is not adhesive, so I sprayed a thin coat of upholstery adhesive on the tape, then centered it on the glassedge, pressing it down all the way around the glass and gently stretched it around the corners, ending on the bottom edge (just the part of the glass that goes in the frame gets the tape). I burnished it down with my fingers, put a couple of drops of glue in the channel just to be safe and slid the glass in. It went right in and didnt require any tapping with a rubber hammer. I read that if you want a tight fit, you get the next size up of tape and tap the window in. With this old glass, I didnt want to do that, so I used the formula size. Once the glass was in, there was an excess of tape around the frame that I cut off with an X-acto knife, then I cleaned up the residue with Windex. Looked great!
The engine compartment had already been detailed, but I saved the hood insulation for last. The correct insulation for the 51-56 Packards, black 4-section vinyl, is being re-made to factory specs. I ordered it and it fits perfectly. Before installing it, the engine was covered with plastic, as was the windshield and the entire front of the car. We painted the bottom side of the hood, getting down into the edge crevices with multiple coats of semi-flat enamel. They keep changing the OEM look in spray cans, and I do have some factory GM under hood paint, but I have to set up the sprayer, and for this, it seemed unnecessary. The semi-flat that has the 1940-60s OEM deep black look that I use is Krylon semi-flat Rust Tough Enamel, 12 ounce can, Part #RTA 9203. It looks right.
Before installing the insulation, it was laid flat, face down and sprayed on the back side with Polymat Hi-Temp 797 heavy duty trim adhesive. This is the best, most adhesive spray Ive found. Its for high heat applications and is great for upholstery, too. Ive tried several different ones and this is it for me. Woody held the passenger side and I held the drivers side. We pushed up in the middle and worked out to the sides with white gloves on. We didnt get any adhesive on the vinyl surface, but I had previously tested it and found that PPG Acryliclean (wax remover) would take the glue off. We installed the insulation at the end of the day, then put rolled up movers blankets on top of the engine before bringing the hood down, to put pressure on the insulation while it dried. The next day we opened and closed the hood several times and the insulation was stuckno sags, with all corners tight.
Keep em driving!