Another Milestone!

November 8, 2012

Radiator cowl prior to assembling the grill 

Can you believe it?

I can actually show some progress as Phoina nears the end of the body work, painting, wet sanding, polishing and ultimately the release from her rehab. 

Many weeks ago my brother Tom and sister in law Cathy told me they planned to come out to Phoenix for a visit. I jokingly suggested that they might help me put Phiona back together while they visited. Little did I know then that work at the body shop would drag on and on, thus making it possible for Tom and Cathy to actually lend me the much needed and appreciated help in reassembling at least a part of the car. The front clip of the car is what I had hoped to have had done weeks ago, but that did not transpire on schedule. So, once Tom and Cathy arrived we visited the shop and then, magically, everyone seemed to snap to attention and realize that my talk to them about my family visiting was not a myth. I must be just TOO nice so that they don't take me seriously, because our visit seemed to light a fire under their behinds and they much more quickly picked up the pace. It was not like Tom was snapping a bullwhip while Cathy brandished a rolling pin, but they did start to scurry and make promises that while T & C were here, they would complete the two front fenders, the radiator cowl, headlights, stands and connecting pieces.  Those are the parts that comprise the front clip, which I planned to put back together in my garage. 

On Monday, 11/5 they promised to have the radiator cowl done by 3 p.m., whereupon, we went down to retrieve it. As Keith placed the cowl in the back of my Santa Fe, I noticed a couple of imperfections in the paint. I was not pleased (nor was I amused) to see such obvious defects. Having brought it out into the sunlight is what revealed those spots, but Mike, the other paint finish guy said it was an easy fix that they would do post haste. So while we watched Keith and Mike re-wet sanded the rough spots, then polished them out to a bright shine. Now, pleased once again, we drove home and began to reattach the re-chromed grill. 

If only life went according to a written script…


Within several minutes it became apparent that the grill work was not lining up exactly to the previously aligned screw holes. In the process of repairing the damaged grill, some tweaking and distortion occurred which caused us some tense times tugging, pulling, pushing and using small screwdrivers and small nails to realign the holes. After much consternation and seeing gaps that should not have been there, and then getting late, I called for a time out. Time to walk away from it all and come back to it another day. Since I do volunteer work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, that "recess" lasted until this morning, Thursday. A major part of the problem was that a support piece that holds all those parallel chrome strips in place had been welded to the strips, which did not allow for any flex as we tried to line up the screw holes. There was a ¼ inch gap at the upper left corner and another at the left bottom which ultimately attaches to the front left fender. I figured the lower gap may get drawn up and close once we attached the fender to the grill/cowl assembly, but the upper gap was just another story since all the other holes had been aligned and fastened in place. 

Awaking with the misaligned grill on my mind, I was up around 5 a.m. and fearing the chrome shop had not realized the support piece was free standings, and that it was an alignment piece ONLY for the vertical strip I got up and found photos I had taken of the separate pieces, which I then planned to take to the chrome shop and let them know how it was SUPPOSED to have been done. 

So, early this morning we went to the chrome shop, with the, so far, assembled grill so that I could show it to the owner. He came out to see our dilemma. We decided to see what the lower gap would do once we attached the left front fender, thinking that just maybe it would close up once we tightened the parts together. Jaime, the owner, said if the chrome cracked, to bring it back and he would re-do the grill. The upper left corner gap situation was not resolved, but as I looked at it, I could see the edge might be able to be gently bent up and drawn up tighter to the cowl and then held in place with a newly drilled screw hole and metal screw. Using a vise grips, the gap did indeed draw up and close. Then carefully drilling a small hole, we screwed in another small metal screw and, behold, the problem was fixed.  The moral of the story,"put some space and time between the problem and yourself and a solution may more easily dawn upon you as a remedy".

NEW redone radiator cowl & grill

This afternoon, Thursday, we are to return to the body shop and retrieve the front fenders. There are some rubber strips I need to rivet  on them first, then attach the headlight assemblies, under fender braces, wiring for the lights, parking lights etc. That will take another day of work before we attach all together, radiator/grill to the two front fenders. With luck and perseverance, I hope to have this part of the work done while I have the help.

On another note, Crin Dema, in Illinois, called to tell me the redone woodgraining on the dash and window garnish pieces are on their way back to me. He sent a photo of the (now lighter colored) dash.

So, stay tuned for the next stage of the "Phiona Project". © Donald E. Kline 2012                                         Disqus Comments