Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Swerve....

When I first started this blog, I said, "Although my little Florida bungalow will be the primary focus of this blog, I'll no doubt often swerve into related areas -- decor, architecture, the 50s, the 60s, vintage fashion, and great memories...  Come along with me, if you'd like. It'll be fun!"

I had no idea one swerve would take me into auto repair.

We have a 1998 Chevy Blazer. We got it used about 12 years ago or so. As you might expect with a vehicle that old, some misfortunes have occurred, including catastrophic clear coat failure on the hood.  This wasn't such a big deal when my husband just drove the vehicle back and forth to work. But now he has a pickup truck for work, I've inherited the Blazer, and I'm embarrassed to be seen in it.

Until and unless I become a best-selling author making beaucoup money, there's not a new car purchase, or even a used one, in the foreseeable future. And frankly, I'd just as soon not spend my retirement on an auto paint job.

So I've been reading up online about DIY clear coat repair and auto painting, and I decided on a plan of action. Beneath the clear coat -- where it has peeled and some places where it is intact, the paint has oxidized. I wondered if, beneath the oxidation, the color was still there. Back in the old days, before clear coat, when auto paint oxidized, it could be buffed out.

After Googling and reading, I concluded buffing wouldn't do the job. I needed to remove the clear coat and sand the paint to get rid of the oxidized areas. Once the whole hood was more or less the same color, I could reapply clear coat.
The Project Begins

I don't have a lot of time to spend on the project -- just parts of each day. But I've been at it -- sanding -- for two days, and there has been some progress. Today, I remembered reading online about somebody who had scraped off their failing clear coat with a razor scraper. I found one I had stashed away for house fix up, and I tried it. It removed a lot more clear coat than sanding.  I have just a little more to go, and then I'll go back to sanding to remove more oxidation and smooth out the color.

There are a couple of areas where the finish is completely gone, and I will have to prime and paint them. And I may yet end up painting the whole hood before clear coating. That is a laborious process, from what I've read -- paint, let dry, sand. Paint, let dry, sand. Over and over. This is to remove something called "orange peel," which I assume is a pitted textured surface caused by tiny bubbles... but I don't know for sure. Then the routine is clear coat, let dry, sand. Clear coat, let dry, sand, over and over... Sigh...

Thank goodness for my little Black and Decker palm sander!

In any case, even if I just prime and paint the two (so far) small problem areas, I'm not fooling myself into believing the thing can look like it did new.

Here's how it looks on day two of the project. The red-circled areas are those places where the paint is gone; will have to be primed and painted. But before that, the rest of the hood will have to be sanded until the oxidation is gone. And it is getting there.The areas of oxidation, lighter than the original paint color, have darkened considerably with sanding. In the photo above, I swabbed the hood with a wet cloth to simulate clear coat, and some of what you see is reflection; but there is still considerable discoloration.

Obviously, I've still got work to do, but I think it will turn out okay.

In any case, can't possibly look any worse than it did when I started. Will post an update when the project is finished.

* * *

There are two other car projects. One day a few weeks ago, the dash lights didn't come on, and I thought there might be a short or something, so I banged on the dash to see if that would help -- and knocked a hole in it. The broken part tumbled down inside.  I have since found out from e-bay that the broken piece is called a bezel. Hubs knows how to remove it, so I want to rescue the broken pieces and glue or fiberglass them back on, fill and sand the cracks and spray-paint the repair. I also want to order a dash grill -- only about $10 on Amazon -- and if its the wrong color, I'll spray it, too!

Lastly, I need to repair the  handle on the interior side of the driver's door, and repair the door panel, which has defied all my efforts to fix it.  I can't used the arm-rest to close the door -- it just pulls the door panel away from the door. This means I have to start the car, roll the window down a little and grab the door itself to close it. Cumbersome, and it makes me feel vulnerable, being unable to close the door immediately after getting behind the wheel....

I recently watched a YouTube video on how to remove and reinstall a door panel for my model SUV, and what a revelation! It's all one piece! I thought that above the arm-rest was one section, and below it another -- and on mine, the front part of the lower section was still attached to the door. Wrong. It's still attached to its top half!

So, I bought a fiberglass repair kit and I'm gonna fiberglass the sucker back together, then reinstall. There are a couple of bolts hidden beneath the arm-rest, but the part of the door panel they bolt through is gone, so I will have to fabricate some kind of little tab and drill a hole to reattach the bolts.

My last project for the foreseeable future (and this can wait, it's not that important) is to replace the fabric of the sun visors and remove the lighted mirrors. They are covered by a hinged "door" that turns off the two lights on each side of the mirror when they are closed -- and both have dropped off and are in the glove box. I'm not going to hunt for mirror replacement with little doors intact -- I never understood the purpose of lights that close to a mirror, anyway. It's the same principle with a lighted makeup mirror. All they do is shine in your eyes and prevent you from seeing your reflection!

Will post the resolution of these other projects when they are completed, too.

UPDATE!  Well, the door panel is repaired, but now my driver's side door handle doesn't work (the interior one) and the lock won't work. It's electrical and I think it's draining the battery!

Stay tuned as the drama continues!

* * *
Videos and websites I found helpful:

How To Install Replace Door Panel Chevy S-10 Blazer 4 Door 95-05
   This was most helpful....

Fix/Repair Peeling,Flaking or Burnt Clear Coat For $15
   This is what saved me lots of time by suggesting clear coat removal by scraping with a razor blade.

The $50 Paint Job
    Thought this was fascinating -- roller painting a car?!? -- but I don't know whether I could find Rustoleum that would match my vehicle's paint. Spray paints in rattle cans at auto parts stores will be a likelier match.

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