Happy Holidays from 356RESTORE. With the bright light from the MIG welder and shooting sparks from the grinders, it looks like Christmas every day in the shop. We even have a small Christmas tree (artificial, for safety). Ryan and I will be working over the holidays so if you are off work, give us a call and drop on by. We may even let you create your own bright light and shooting sparks.
We fabricated that Pre-A left front fender for Tom’s ’54 Cabriolet. Actually, Ryan took on the challenge and did an excellent job. He spent three hours just carefully hammering the metal over the wire to create the perfect 16 inch wheel opening. He also had to ensure that the rear of the fender had the proper lip to match the front of the door. Ryan even created the roll-under that you find on Pre-A rocker panels. It turned out great and we saved Tom a few hundred buck.
While Ron and Marcia’s ’64 Coupe was at Blast Tech, we took the opportunity to paint the shop floor with 2 part epoxy paint. I had some good coaching from Tom in Fort Collins who is the specialty paint business (we will be doing a ’53 Coupe for him in a few months). Two part epoxy floor paint will attach any paint, grease, water or residue on your floor and cause lifting. Exactly the same thing will happen on your 356 if you don’t use the proper cleaners. Anyhow, after a day with a floor sander (dust everywhere!) and a day of cleaning and etching with acid we finally got the paint down. We even spread some fine silica sand over the wet paint to create a safe surface. If you want a durable finish for your garage or shop floor, I would recommend the two part epoxy paint (about $50 for 800 sq. ft.).
Once the floor was painted we took the time to really clean the shop and then picked up Ron and Marcia’s 356 from the blasters. Checking out a 356 after it has been blasted is like Christmas. Sometimes you get coal in your stocking, sometimes you make out like a bandit. For Ron and Marcia’s 356, it was a very Merry Christmas. No rust in the floor pan and no major structural damage. Lots of repair on every panel though and some major work on the hood and doors. We got an estimate off to Ron and got the go-ahead. We have already repaired the left door which needed significant work in the hinge area, and removed the rusted left rocker to get to the longitudinal. The back third of the longitudinal including the jack spur will have to be replaced due to rust and jacking damage. The reason we started with the door is once we get this fit perfect, it is our reference for proper repair to the threshold and positioning of the new rocker panel. But before we do the threshold/rocker we can get to the longitudinal with them removed.
There is a tip here in case you missed it. You always start your 356 metal restoration with the doors. They must be repaired and fit with perfect seams. Perfect seams is about the width of a paint stick. So don’t throw your door latches and strikers in with the other parts. Hold them out, clean them and along with the hinges and pins, make sure everything works smoothly. I have estimated the doors come off and on a hundred time during a major restoration. One of these days I’ll count, but the point is if your hinge pins go in and out easily and the door latches are flush with perfect seams everything will go a lot smoother and quicker. A properly fit door will be your reference not only for the threshold/rocker but also for the metal repairs in front of and behind the door.
The string trick is excellent for determining panel fit. You just hold a string along the length of the 356 and with two people moving it up and down you can check for high and low spots with chalk and work them with a dolly. When you are getting close you can check the contour with a cotton glove on your hand and your fingers spread apart.
When doing multiple repairs in one area ie. Door, rocker, rear of front fender, top of fender you may want to just tack your repair pieces before checking for fit.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
356RESTORE expects a great 1994. We hope you have a great one too.