Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dino Hell: The fiberglass panel restoration

If ever there was a hell in the world of Dino restoration it comes in the fiberglass panels that make up much of the inner structure of the car. In order to do a proper and comprehensive restoration, it is not enough to strip the car down to the bare shell, the fiberglass panels that act as the structure for the floor, firewall, front bulkhead, inner wheel arches and front and rear trunks need to be removed. This gains access to all of the frame tubes to assess their condition and subsequent restoration. These panels are held in with a combination of glue and hundreds of pop rivets which need to be drilled out one by one.

Once out the panels reveal 40 years of dirt, oil, undercoating, and paint that needs to be stripped off so that you can start fresh. Media blasting does not work well on these soft surfaces so the only approach is to use more of our trusty Goudey's paint stripper, scrapers, brushes and just plain hard graft. It is awful work that is messy and not in the least bit self-improving.

Now that the panels are clean any damage or rot needs to be repaired with fiberglass cloth and resin taking supreme care to match the strand orientation on the original layup. This way you can be assured of seamless joins when the parts are installed and painted. In addition, the panels are littered with threaded steel plates that are riveted in. Over the years these plates have had their holes stripped many times over so all new plates were fabricated and installed. We can now be sure that all the threads are perfect and new.

With the job now done we can take solace in the fact that had we given this work to someone else the labor bill would have easily paid for a new compact car. This makes us feel good until we remember that once installed all of this fiberglass is all but invisible. Lunacy knows no bounds.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Into the heads and the horrors continue

It has been a while since our last update. Time has been spent sourcing obscure parts and examining the internals of the engine. Just when we thought that the faults of the previous re-build were found we delved into the heads where there was a whole new batch of surprises. Most notable were the water jacket plugs where it was discovered that SAE steel plugs were used in lieu of the metric aluminum ones that should have been in there. Furthermore the 'FRESH' valve job had lash specs all over the place resulting in inconsistent wear patterns. Like all things before it, everything is being taken apart and being made perfect.