Sunday, February 22, 2009

Endless sanding

Last week I stuck on some Epoxy Filler to fill in some gaps and low spots. I spent a lot of time today sanding it smooth, thinking all the while that I had put on too much. At the of the day it turned out I still had some low spots. The day ended the same as last time, a coat of POR-15 on the fiberglass patches and Epoxy Filler on the low spots. Obviously more sanding next week.

The star tool of the day was my long block sander. Loaded with #80 paper it cut through the epoxy rather well. Slow, perhaps, because the stuff is so hard, but that makes it harder to make a mistake.

The challenge is to create a continuous curve between successive high spots. In the places I've been working those high spots are along the edges of flat sheet metal patches. Even using a block sander it is possible to create a wonderfully smooth surface between those high spots and removing too much in the middle to produce a smooth, continuous curve.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Still more filler

Last week I thought I used a lot of Epoxy Filler, but today I set a new record. For starters I was moving a little slow, having partaken of a large amount of beer at Gordon Bierch the night before. The occasion was Valentine's Day. My wife and I like Gordon Bierch, but last night, even though the place was not packed, service was slow. Stranger still there was no parking. Even the valet parking was full. After a lot of wandering around we ended up across the street, where for a flat five bucks we had a covered stall in an almost empty lot. So all in all it was a good time, but it would have been much better without so many hassles.

The first thing to do was to grind down the high spots from last week's filler. One key area was along the top of the patch, where there is a height change in the panel, and where I was unable to weld due to the absence of sound metal underneath. After some initial work with the pneumatic grinder I switched to a long block sander and #80 paper. As the line came into focus I could see that I would need to raise the surface around the bottom and sides of the patch, because to get down to bare metal I had to grind my way through a thick layer of filler and primer.

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The other thing I wanted to accomplish was to fill some small holes with fiberglass and POR-15. For that I used a rotary file in a die grinder to clean up the edges. The last step before getting messy was to sand the entire area with my pneumatic sander. After that it was time for rubber gloves and lots of sticky stuff.

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Next week I plan on attacking the right tail light.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lots of Filler today

Today began with a Hawaii Bicycling League ride, the John Kelly Couples Ride. Beautiful day, good people. Since it was only twenty miles there was still time to work on the E9, even with a stop in Hawaii-kai for lunch.

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Most HBL rides have a lot in common with old car gatherings. The hardware in beautiful but expensive, and most of the participants are, how to put it tactfully, old.

Today's work on the E9 began with grinding down the welds from two weeks ago. In the process a couple fell out, so I had to get out the welder and do some touch-ups.

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The next task was to apply filler in the holes and around the edges. To preparew for that I removed the Weld-Thru primer around the edges and did the usual POR-15 prep. After that came lots of POR-15 Epoxy Filler.

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While working on this area I noticed I had never gotten around to finishing the patch welded on under the LH tail light. It needed the same treatement as what I had already done once today, so I did it all again.

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Last week my friend Tom helped me replace all of my junky tires. Today the front right tire was flat. Maybe next Sunday we will try that one again.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Rubber

As I mentioned last week, today was new tire day. For most people is was Super Bowl Sunday, but I had no interest in the outcome or in watching yet another hopelessly lopsided game, so I planned on working on the E9. By the way, based on the yelling I heard on my way home the game was close. Still haven't seen the score.

On Friday I took our trusty Toyota Camry in for a safety check was surprised to learn that the reverse lights did not come on. Both of them. Last spring the car went through a difficult phase of not wanting to crank, which could be overcome by vigorous juggling of the transmission shifter. I purchased a new interlock switch, for the fabulous price of $250, but before I could install it the problem faded away. Not entirely, but it did not fail enough to justify tearing it apart. I decided that the reverse light problem was in the same switch, so today's shop time was diverted to replacing the switch and passing the inspection.

Before changing the switch I decided to do the simple thing and replace the bulbs. They worked. But the old bulbs did not look burned out. It had to be the switch, failing intermittently just as it had for the starter circuit.

The only hard part about changing the switch was removing the electrical connector. I have not had much experience with these modern style plastic connectors, so I enlisted some help from the shop mechanics. Mario ended up getting the switch off. If I had tried it I probably would have broken it, turning a small job into a really big one. The last step was to rotate the switch housing until the car started in park and neutral and the reverse lights came on in reverse. I got it on the second try.

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I must say that everything about this Camry speaks to good design. The switch is large and rugged enough to last 120K miles, and when it failed it did so slowly enough so that the failure could be detected before the car stopped running. Access was excellent given today's cramped engine compartments (although this is a four banger), and the job didn't take all day.

After lunch my friend Tom helped me mount new tires on the E9. Well, they aren't exactly new, just good enough to hold air. Getting the old tires off the rims was a fight, they have been on the car for at least ten years. While the wheels were off I took a look at the condition of the suspension, and it is obvious that before the car is done I'm going to have to do some refinishing there, too.

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