Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tail Light Recovery

Finally got back around to those tail lights buckets that I managed to mangle last month in a fit of impatience. I'm blaming it on cabin-fever and the need to see sunshine again :/ Anyway, during the cooling off period, I went ahead and purchased a set of the satin-finished tail light bezels from Scott Drake.I would have rather de-chromed the originals and powder coated a matte-silver - but de-chroming stuff is such an environmental disaster if you do it at home - and expensive if you send it out. The Drake option seemed the best choice as I was looking for a little less chrome to start with. 

Once the bezels arrived, I used them as the color template for picking a powder that would match them. The intent being to strip the chrome trim that attaches to the rear 1/4 caps and deck lid and powder coat in a color to match the bezels. I've read that these pieces are stainless but I'm pretty sure they are just anodized aluminum. Being such, I decided to try the oven-cleaner trick to remove the anodizing prior to powder coating. Surprisingly, it worked fairly efficiently. I placed them in a shallow tray and just kept them 'wet' with the cleaner for approximately an evening of shop time. You could literally see the anodizing sloughing off the pieces. Once I got the anodizing off, I took them to the weld table and VERY carefully tapped  a few nicks/bumps out of them using a small hammer and various small round pieces of scrap metal. A quick trip to the blast cabinet and they were ready for powder coating. I ended up sending to Prismatic Powders for 5 different color samples, and the one that seemed the closest was Silver Satin. So I ordered a pound of that and a pound of Casper Clear (Sven recommended) to topcoat with.

While waiting for the powder to arrive, I sucked it up and went after the buckets. First step was chemically stripping as much of the damaged powder coat off as I could. Took three applications to finally get to a point where I could finish them in the blast cabinet. Even then, it was a long hour for each one. That powder coat is TOUGH stuff!!! I took my time this go-around - did the proper surface prep - set the oven for 400 deg and let 'er rip. Happily there were no surprises when I popped the oven door this time. Beautiful, mirrored surface like I was looking for the first time. Lesson learned...

Tail Light Bucket - Satin Silver Powder Coat

Tail Light Assembly

Monday, March 3, 2014

Front Fenders and a Quiz

Got a rare window of above 40 deg temps on Saturday in this 'Winter That Will Never Quit'. Took advantage of the 'warm' sunshine and dragged the front fenders outside for final prep of the inner surfaces. Another glamourless job that no one will ever appreciate save for the few of us crazy enough to do it. Used my standard protocol for jobs like this:

1. Scrape old undercoating off with putty knife

2. Remove residue with solvent

3. Scour with SOS pads. (I like using them for this as you get the combination of soap and steel wool. Leaves a nice clean, smooth surface.)

4. Treat with TSP, rinse with water, let air dry in warm sunshine

5. Coat with Rustoleum's trusty, rusty metal primer

6. Top coat with Rustoleum's Truck Bed Liner

Got the second fender top coated just as the sun ducked behind the hilltops and the temps dropped 10 deg. Nice to get that job done outside as the bed liner contains Xylene which is some really nasty stuff for working with indoors. 

Once I get the inner splash shields in place, I should be ready to mount the fenders. At that point she should start looking like a car again rather than a 20 year long high school science project.

 So for the quiz. Anyone wants to guess why there isn't an antenna hole in the top of the passenger fender? You'll be surprised by the answer. And no, I didn't weld it shut.

Mystery Fender