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Restoration Journal

September 1, 2002

Went over to Bear's and we set the idle mixture using a vacuum gauge. I've got 12 inches of vacuum at idle, which seems about right.

September 2, 2002

Broke out the buffing wheels and compound that I bought from Eastwood over a year ago. Time to start restoring the trim for the windshield and rear window.

I started with the piece that's in front of the vent window. I was happy with the results; after about 15 minutes, it looked nice and shiny. Not mirror quality, but very nice. I'm sure if I spent more time buffing, I could get close to perfection.

I was then ready to start on the windshield pieces. Unfortunately, I spent the next hour trying to remove the waterproofing gunk from the bottom trim piece that was used to seal the windshield. What a PITA. So I didn't actually start buffing that piece.

In the evening, I was gonna install the security panel. When I started, though, I realized that I have the hinge installed upside-down. I really didn't feel like taking it off (getting the bolts that hold the hinge to the bracket was a royal PITA), so I called it a night without really accomplishing anything.

September 3, 2002

Didn't feel like spending the night in the garage, so down to the basement I went, and started working on the rear seat back.

I removed the stainless trim and cleaned it up. Just a quick once-over with steel wool and WD40. I'm not worried about making it perfect, as it won't be easily seen anyway.

Next I removed the hinges and the fish piece (the part at the top center of the seat back). I cleaned up the fish piece, which is in very good shape. The paint is a bit worn on the top, but the chrome is still excellent.

Next I removed the old carpeting and cardboard underneath. Shouldn't be much left to do: just install the new carpeting, clean up the hinges, and re-assemble.

September 4, 2002

Continued work on rear seat back. Wiped down the vinyl with a cleaning solution. Glued the new carpeting to the back of the seat. Used weight plates to hold it nice and flat while it dries.

And cleaned up all the various hinge parts. Also put a coat of POR15 on the cast iron pieces that bolt to the floor of the car. All the parts are refurbished; next step is to just re-assemble and lubricate moving parts.

September 5, 2002

Re-assembled the rear seat back, which consisted of screwing the stainless trim on and bolting on the hinges. Then I scrubbed down the vinyl and applied some Armor All. Looks like new.

Then I moved onto the rear seat bottom. The vinyl looks great (one small rip), but the underside is pretty grim. This was one of the main hideouts for the mice all those years. It's smelly, the springs are rusty, and there was stuffing to be removed that the mice had used for bedding.

I derusted as well as I could, using sandpaper, and vacuumed all the crap out. Then I sprayed it down with Lysol.

September 6, 2002

Started to install new carpeting, but after Dawn and I removed the front seat, I realized one pair of wire protectors (the long, rectangular tin piece that runslong the interior by the sills) still needed a coat of paint. So, we installed the security panel instead. I had to remove the hinge first (I had installed it upside down), but with Dawn helping, it wasn't too bad. Then we just bolted the security panel to the hinge:

Last activity for the night was putting a coat of POR15 on the frame of the rear seat cusion and springs. Without taking the seat apart, I could only get about 75% of the surface areas, but that's better than nothing. That metal under there had rusted quite badly, mainly due to the mice.

September 8, 2002

Began installing carpeting. First thing to do is install the wire protectors. They were originally welded to the floor pan, but the tabs were all either cut or rusted away, so I had to improvise.

Then I laid down the sound deadener I had bought 18 months ago. It doesn't fit very well, as it's a kit designed for A, B and E bodies. I had to trim it a bit. It was at this point I took a few pix of the bare floor pan, as I'll never (hopefully) see it again:

Next, I laid down the rear section of carpeting. It fit suprisingly well, although it does require trimming. They give you extra width, so I had to trim beneath the quarter windows. It wasn't too hard, surprisingly. I used some bricks we had lying around to keep the carpeting in place and tucked neatly into the corners while I trimmed. I was also pleased to find out I didn't need to use any glue; the molded carpeting conformed very nicely to the floor pan.

Next, Dawn and I installed the rear seat bottom (the goal for the night was to have a completed rear interior). Here's a shot of things at that point:

Finally, Dawn and I bolted in the rear seat back. I should've taken a couple pix of it folded down. Oh well, maybe some other time. I now have a rear seat for the first time in about 20 months!

September 9, 2002

Spent the entire night installing the front section of carpeting, with Dawn helping. This piece didn't fit quite as well as the rear piece, and there is more trimming to do, especially around the pedals and steering column. Trying to cut carpet under the pedals, up on the firewall with the steering wheel digging into my hip wasn't much fun. And some of the trimming on this piece needs to go through the jute padding, which is much toughter to cut through than just the carpeting.

But by the end of the night we had all trimming done except for the left kick panel and the dimmer switch.

September 10, 2002

With Dawn's help, got quite a bit accomplished tonight on the front carpet section. We cut a hole for the dimmer switch, did a little more trimming around the steering column, trimmed by the left kick panel, installed the shifter boot and trim ring, got the seat belts bolted back in, and replaced the seat! Whew!

Except for the sill plates the carpeting is done! It looks very good. It's not perfect; it's a little loose around the hump and one other spot, but only a professional would probably notice. It's very cool to have an interior again, instead of sitting in a metal shell.

September 11, 2002

Drove the car to work. Boy, is it more quiet now with a rear seat and carpeting! Makes the car feel more solid too, now that little squeaks and groans aren't audible. Unfortunately the rear end noise is still present. It's muffled, but quite noticeable. Looks like it will be getting rebuilt this winter.

September 14, 2002

Started buffing the stainless windshield trim. Takes quite a bit of time, but the results are worth it. I got 2 of the 5 pieces done.

I've decided to not use the cutting (roughest of the 3 from Eastwood) wheel. It seems easier/quicker to use sandpaper for removing scratches.

September 15, 2002

Spent several hours finishing the windshield trim buffing. The pieces aren't absolutely perfect, but they are very nice. I get a good reflection off them.

Next step was to install them, which was easier and quicker than anticipated. They look really nice! Once I had them on, I could then install the windshield wiper arms. The view of the front of the car now looks finished!

September 16, 2002

Installed the new door sill plates. Took longer than anticipated, but it wasn't too horrible. They look really nice and the carpeting now looks "finished".

September 17, 2002

Starting cleaning up the hub caps in anticipation of the steel wheels coming home from Scott (they are painted and ready to be balanced). Cleaning them up will take more time than I thought; I need to sand/buff out any scratches (and there are plenty around the edges from them getting pried off the wheels) and repaint them. Painting the center involves quite a bit of masking, and the outer black rings will need to be done by hand with a brush.

I did get one done before the night was over, and it looks really good.

September 18, 2002

Restified another hub cap.

September 19, 2002

Back to trim buffing. I got the two top pieces for the rear window done. I started using the coarse wheel again, so the process currently is: scrape off paint (bad taping top when car was painted in early 70's), medium sand paper, find sand paper, steel wool, coarse wheel, medium wheel, fine wheel.

That gives good results.

September 22, 2002

Started restifying one of the large rear window stainless trim pieces. There are two pieces that run from the corner of the window to the center of the trunk, and they are quite long, with a curve in them. Makes them somewhat difficult to work with.

I had a dent in this piece that required some pounding and heavy sanding. As a result, I didn't finish the piece in one night.

September 23, 2002

Finally finished the trim piece from the previous night, but it took a couple more hours. Lots of time with various fine grades of sandpaper and the coarse buffing wheel. Even now it's not perfect, but it looks pretty good.

Before the night was over I had scraped off the paint from the remaining rear window piece and done some light sanding.

September 24, 2002

Finished the remaining piece of rear window trim. After I completed the buffing, I installed all the rear window pieces. It looks sweet!

Made a discovery while working on this piece: wet sanding is the key. Using dry 600 grit sandpaper wasn't having much effect, apparently because it was getting clogged. Spraying a little WD40 on the paper made a world of difference. Doing that before starting with the coarse wheel make this piece much easier to restore than the previous one.

September 25, 2002

Picked up the freshly painted steelies from Scott's. They look great - it will be fun to see them on the car. While I was there he also buffed a couple small spots in the finish that had a milky appearance. I'm still not clear on what caused that exactly.

When I got home I saw that the car has gotten its first stone chip. In the header panel, where they usually occur. I was surprisingly calm. I guess I knew it was gonna happen sometime. I put a coat of green on the chip. I'll put another coat on tomorrow and then some clear. After my experience with the hole in the door, I'm confident I can do a decent job of concealing it.

September 26, 2002

Put another layer of paint on the rock chip. I used a toothpick this time instead of a brush, and that worked much better.

Also started painting the black rings on the 2 hubcaps that I've cleaned up. Has to be done by hand; it will look so-so. If you get your face up close, it's easy to see it was painted by hand.

September 27, 2002

Got the steelies balanced. They told me one of them is slightly bent, but I already knew that.

Finished fixing the rock chip in the header panel. It looks ok. Easily noticeable when you get your face near it, but just about invisible from a few feet away.

Also installed the hood-to-cowl seal. That will keep water off the firewall for the inaugural washing tomorrow...

September 28, 2002

Took off the Cragars and installed the steelies. They look nice, but I don't have the hub caps ready to install, so the complete effect isn't there. I also drained the radiator and put in 2 gallons of anti-freeze. Freezing weather is just around the corner.

The entire afternoon was spent washing and waxing the car. I was beat when it was done, but it looks great. It's never been this clean, really. Not even the day it came home from the body shop.

September 29, 2002

Rinsed off the car cover. It had gotten fairly dusty over the last year, and since the car is spotless now, I figured I should give the cover a spray before putting it back on.

This brings to an end the primary restoration effort. I've got 5 or 10 things that still need to be done to the car, but since the Wisonsin winter is approaching, I've got 6 or 7 months to get them done.

After 21 months of working on the car 5 or 6 nights a week, it's time to take a break. I don't plan on working on the car at all until after Christmas.

I anticipate some pix of the car completely and officially restored will appear in April or May. Until then, thanks for reading!