Top: The hole inside before adding a fiberglass patch. Bottom: Patched up hole with fiberglass after sitting for two weeks.
I wasn't sure if I was going to work on the car today. This was a really crazy weekend for me. I had spent the morning crafting, assembling a gift a friend requested me to make for her husband. In between that, I was trying to clean the house and at some point this weekend, I also have to do some programming homework, take a quiz, prepare for my programming midterm on Tuesday and prepare to get my stuff ready for my trip to Savannah with my sister on Tuesday night. Just a tad bit crazy. Naturally, I decided to just take on one section on the car today.
My morning started out with a trip to the Advance Auto Parts down the street from us to get some engine paint. I figured I'd tackle painting the firewall today. As I browsed through the paints in search of a low gloss black, I was surrounded by nothing but glossy. Dammit. I wanted the Chrylser Black, and of course, they didn't have any. I thought, "Damn MOPAR people..." (Yeah, I know, I'm totally one of them, looking for the same shade of black!) I asked the guy at the counter if he could check the inventory to see if he had any in back and he said, "No, but the Manchester store has 6 in stock." He reminded me of where that location was at. Before I left to go across town, I made a point of picking up a body repair kit with the hammers and blocks for fixing dents. I know I'll have a few that I'll need to deal with in the future. I also told the guy, "My luck, I'd go to the other store and they'll have the paint, but not the body repair kit." He laughed.
A small jaunt to the other side of town later, I found what I needed and got three cans of Chrysler Black engine paint, a container of acetone, and proceeded to the checkout. The kid at the register said, "These are buy one get one half off. Do you wanna get another?"
"You only had three cans out," I grumbled, but then got an idea and exclaimed, "OH SHIT! WAIT!" I ran off and came back a split second later, dumping a can of Hemi Orange Engine Paint on the counter.
The kid chuckled. I'm not sure it was because of my profanity-laced epiphany or my DAMN I'M GOOD shirt, or a combination of both, but something about that moment was amusing. I figured I'd need the orange in the future. I don't even know if I'm even going to use the orange or if I'm going to go the Chrysler Turquoise (and honestly, the more I think about it, I have a sneaky suspicion I'm going to do the turquoise), but I figured it was BOGO engine paint and I couldn't not take advantage of that kind of deal.
Of course, assuming I was totally prepared to do my work for the day was asking for too much. I got home, unpacked my new purchases, brought out the tools, turned on Pandora to the Black Flag station and proceeded to enjoy a productive morning of good weather and tunes. After uncovering the car, removing the hood, and the fenders, I hopped inside to assess the fiberglass hot-mess I left behind two weeks ago. It was significantly uglier than I remembered. I couldn't hit it completely with the sander as it was blocked partially, so it became a job for the angle grinder! This was my first time ever using an angle grinder and I was really happy that I was able to set it up and use it without failing. However, I needed a much lighter sander to do what I needed to do, so I went to put on the 80 grit sanding disc, and much to my dismay, it was the wrong size. I needed a 4 1/2" diameter and accidentally grabbed a 5". I looked at my other discs and saw those were the right size, so it meant time for a trip to Home Depot to do a return.
I packed up the gear and hopped in the Focus to Home Depot. It was pretty quick and uneventful. Run in, hit up the return desk, go to the power tools and look for the correct size. Of course, they didn't have the size I needed, so I wound up getting a 50 grit and a different type of disc that was in 80 grit that I wasn't completely sold on, but got anyway just in case. After Home Depot, I picked up some lunch and proceeded back to the house.
When I got out this time, I was now 100% certain I was ready to unpack everything and get down to business, interruption free. WRONG.
OK, so I did get some stuff done. I used the angle grinder. It was awesome. Got what I could sand from the fiberglass patch sanded down in the firewall with that, then used the random orbit sander on any areas that were within sanding range. The rest had to be done manually. When I say manually, I don't mean on the sanding block and scrubbing, I mean holding paper in my hand and scrubbing. It was a royal pain. And even though it is located at the very bottom and won't even be noticeable once the engine is in, I know it's there and I wanted it to look good. So I hit it again with a finer grain paper to get it smoothed out as best as I could.
Before I could paint the firewall, I had to prime a few more areas in addition to priming the fiberglass patched area. This meant more sanding and remember how I said my day was no longer interruption free? Well, it turns out the previous owners made a point of sandblasting the body to remove rust before they primed the entire car, but they didn't do anything about removing the buildup of grease under the hood. Jesse said from the looks of things, it must have had a major valve cover gasket leak at one point.
But how was this amazing discovery of crud found, you ask? That's where it gets amusing! There's a hose that was on there and I'm not sure what it's connected to or where it goes, but apparently, it leaks. It's like a ghost leak or something because there's nowhere for it to leak from! Anyway, while sanding one spot, I noticed an area of primer that was starting to bubble up and peel off. It was really weird the way it was peeling like there was an oily substance under it and sure enough, there was! So the hose leak discovery was made. Jesse took the hose off and that solved that problem. But with the pile of gunk now destroying a perfectly good primed area, that meant needing to remove the primer from that area and re-priming it.
During the process of removing the primer, I struck oil, or shall I say, grime. I took a flat headed screwdriver and scraped the area, following it as long as the soft goo would get pushed up. It continued further and further along until I just lifted the screw driver and started poking a bunch of random areas nearby to discover all of it was nothing but greasy areas covered in primer! I know, totally sloppy! I had felt the same level of disgust upon discovering shoddy work of the past that I feel whenever ant season comes around and I follow the ants to their holes and find the massive colonies hiding under a rock or something. It just made me cringe and feel disgusted and determined to get rid of the problem now before it gets bigger and to pretend it never existed once it's taken care of.
By this point, my friend Crystal, had come over and was helping with the scraping process. It was a tedious mess and having company made it a lot easier both in terms of work load, but also in the sense of having someone to chat with while working. Eventually, Jesse suggested we get some brake cleaner to get rid of the grime. So came our final interruption for the day: one more trip to Advance Auto Parts.
Upon staring at the cleaning fluid section, I had become over stimulated. My brain turned to mush. "You know when you see something all the time, and you know what the packaging looks like, and you know what it's called, but then when you're presented with a bunch of similar items, you draw a blank?" I asked Crystal. "That's where my brain is at now." I glazed over the various cans before finding the one closest in my memory to what Jesse always buys. Then, I saw a can of PB Blaster. I vaguely remembered a pre-episode of Roadkill on the Hot Rod Magazine channel where David Freiburger held up a can and said something about it being the "best..on Earth, bar none" (8:08). (Much to my dismay, when looking for the clip to link it out just now, I realized he said for penetrating rust.)
I thought I'd buy Jesse's product recommendation and Freiburger's shameless endorsement and put them up to a test against each other. The guy at the counter, who remembered me from earlier in the day, also said the PB Blaster was great stuff, but had an awful smell. I assured him I was fine as I have no sense of smell. We also chatted about pugs as he used to have a fawn pug and seeing the picture of Lulu on my bank card reminded him of his old pug. After that, it was back home and time to do the test!
At home, I was certain Freiburger's product would work better, not just because Freiburger recommended it, but because the clerk also attested to it. Sadly, I was rooting for the wrong man. We pitted the two products up against each other on similar grime, side by side. The brake cleaner worked instantly, the PB Blast, not so much. In fact, it was pretty nasty till I wiped it off, and even then, it wasn't great.
My heart sank. Freiburger failed me. I wanted so badly to be right because I learned it from Freiburger, my hero/man crush, but alas, he was wrong! Jesse said his famous line of, "See? I told you, you should have listened to your husband." Har har. And had my memory been better, I would have known that Freiburger didn't fail me, but that I was misusing his product (as mentioned earlier for rust. Rust! Dammit!) Still, I joked with Jesse, "But, Freiburger said it, so it has to be true. Plus, it was on the internet, so it's double-true."
Enough of that, though.
We wound up creating a giant disaster area of grime and staining our beautiful new driveway. I figure it would just get messed up eventually, so I don't really care. I did care, however, that chunks of the grime got stuck in my Vans and I managed to bring it into the house when my friend came by to pick up the gift she had me make her. I noticed this while I was giving her a tour of the house, but managed to get my shoes off before walking on the carpet. After she got her gift, we went back outside where I returned to Crystal and Jesse to finish up for the day with painting.
Each of us took turns painting the firewall. I did the sides, Jesse did the part by the body, and Crystal did the part by the grill. Thanks to an overabundance of fumes, exhaustion, frustration, and just being done with the day, there were a slew of really bad jokes made about the rattle cans from Shake-Weight references to sexual innuendos of sorts.
At the end of the day, despite interruptions, we accomplished the task I hoped to finish for today. As for that hot-mess of fiberglass that sat dormant for two weeks? See for yourself.
Sadly, I don't have pictures of the car after we put the fenders on to pack it up for the day (as it is supposed to rain tomorrow), but I was so elated to see the fenders with the inside painted black. I told Jesse, "It's looking like a real car!" Then, I thought, "This must be how Mike Finnegan felt when he got the chassis set up on his '55 Chevy!" Indeed. Nothing can beat the feeling of seeing your pile of junk turn into something.