"Repairing Body Rust"
We have spent much of the month organizing the shop and sorting through parts for various restorations in progress. Our '49 Buick Roadmaster Sedanet is in primer, and has all parts restored, ready to go back together. While sorting through these parts, I discovered the top and bottom interior windshield moulding center clips were missing. They're in a plastic bag somewhere, and will probably turn up, but I decided to get two more anyway. The Roadmaster's are chrome and the Super's are painted. The ones I found were painted. We sandblasted, sanded and prepared them for chrome. We have the electroplating system available from Eastwood Company (800-345-1178), and have had good results with small pieces, so we plated them with this system. Each piece was done separately by washing it in soapy water, then hooking it to a wore from the negative side of a 1 1/2 volt hobby battery, and placing it in a jar with an anode bar with a lead from the positive side of the battery. The electrolyte solution becomes charged, and plates the piece. The time differs, depending on size and thickness of plating desired. We left each piece in about an hour and a half, then washed it and brushed off the silver chalky covering, then buffed it using a medium compound followed by a fine compound, finally finishing by hand using Simichrome. The pieces looked excellent and fit right in with the Buick's existing dash chrome.
Another project was the replacement of the thermostat on our '37 Packard Super 8. This is the siphon-type thermostat that at 160 degrees opens, and will open and close the grill shutters to regulate air to the radiator. Replacing this thermostat is a fairly simple process, unless the small 10-32 screws break or the heads twist. Then you have a problem, as we did with our '36 last year! On the '37, the screws were also stuck, so we used an impact hammer, which successfully removed the screws. We then sandblasted, primed and painted all parts, and put it all back together, using a new gasket with silicone to fill in pitting in the radiator collar, and, instead of the old slot-head screws, we used allen-head 10-32's, available from our local hardware store. Although the look is not original, it's a good look, and they will come out easily when we have to replace this thermostat. But yes, we saved the old screws for show! With the thermostat in, the shutters work, no leaks and it looks good!
Now, on to our '58 Buick Hardtop Special. There are a few rust bubbles popping up on various parts of the car (not enough to justify a complete repaint). We decided to fix the trunk lid, which was the most troubled area. WE stripped the trunk lid to the metal using an 8"DA, carefully removing the paint to assess the damage, then ground out the rust. When all paint was removed, we took a spot sand blaster, available from Tip (800-3221-9260). These guns are great because you fill them with abrasive and push them right up against the piece to be blasted. It blasts one spot (about the size of a quarter) at a time, giving you clean white metal to repair. As we blasted, our small holes became big holes...making us glad we decided to correctly repair this problem. After the rust had been removed, restored Charles Butts MIG welded all the holes, keeping the heat down so as not to blow away the thin metal along the trunk's bottom edge. With these MIGs, it is important to have a good ground to the car, otherwise you will not have a good arc, which results in the rod's sticking, creating a bad weld.
Next month, we will finish this project by completing body and paint work. Until then, enjoy your cars! Keep 'em driving!