Lost and Found

In my previous posting, I mentioned that the chrome shop might have, uh, "misplaced" three chrome strips. As I wrote then, they indeed were not in the inventory of chromed pieces I had brought back home over the last several months. 


Last Thursday, I again went by the chromer's and this time they had the two stainless strips that attach to the sides of the running boards. However, Jamie, the owner, told me they could not repair or chrome them afterall. The passenger side trim piece has seen some extensive abuse, was very banged up and even had two screw holes in it to keep it on the board. The driver's side trim was in better shape, but, it also had creases and dents. For these two stainless steel trim moldings, I am now searching for another repair shop or facility that might fabricate new ones. have a couple of feelers out seeking assistance with this.

The best news of all on the (almost missing) pieces is that the chrome strip that runs down the center of the hood and is also the hinge for the two sided hood, was found. By the looks of the sealed, clear plastic wrap containing the part, it had to have been done for quite some time. The package was dirty with grit, so, was most likely placed on a shelf awhile back and lay in waiting all this time. (According to my receipt, I took these pieces to the shop on Dec. 30). That one part, if it had vanished, would have presented a very serious problem because of it's integrity to the hood assembly.

With the hood hinge in hand I drove to 1st Class Collision and had a couple of the guys help me put the two hood halves back together. This proved to be a  frustrating endeavor, and required three of us to finally find how it would slip on without binding. Initially we tried to slip the hinge on with the hood halves in their closed position. Even sanding down the primer on the hood in the affected areas provided no easy way for it to be easily attached. After much consternation and head scratching, I had to reach far back into my memory banks to try to remember how this was done several years ago when I also had that strip/hinge off for chroming. 

With some closer study of the situation and faded memory coming back into focus, we simply folded the hood halves together, as they would be in the open position, and then slipped the strip, first over one side, then slipped the other hood half onto the strip. Hindsight being 50/50, it then made sense, since, when the hood is in closed position, the tension is greatest to hold the halves most securely in place. In the open position, tension is at it's least, as the halves are released and movable upward.

That done, next challenge was to adjust the hood alignment to the radiator cowl in front and to the firewall in back. This proved to be even more aggravating. Two bars run from the firewall to the radiator cowl/shell with threaded ends and nuts by which one can draw up the gaps and align the edges, both to the radiator shell and the firewall.  I knew from the times we have had the hood off with several engine rebuilds that this alignment procedure would seem counter intuitive in practice, since drawing up (or loosening) one side actually affects alignment of the opposite side. Even armed with this knowledge, I still struggled, and struggled and struggled to make it happen. One of the younger guys there, Kevin stuck with me, and finally Kevin discovered the hood was not pushed entirely into it's slots on the firewall end, moved the whole of it back some fractions of an inch, and then, FINALLY, my adjustments started to produce the desired results. After 4 hours of operating on Phiona's hood, I stopped, being satisfied that, for now, the adjustments are good for them to line block the hood and get it primed. Once the car is totally reassembled, I can then further fine tune the adjustments for the best clearances and fit.

Steve and I chatted more about the priming and painting, verifying where the colors will be applied, that the door jambs will be painted in the dark blue, as will the rest of the upper body. Having completed the line blocking on the doors, he has primed them in dark gray. Now they will be able to tackle the hood, are working on the trunk and will also start prepping all those small parts that I had soda blasted clean last week. He suggested I have the interior upholstery done before they reassemble the fenders, hood, radiator cowl and running boards. This should assure less likelihood of scratches to the paint. 

Speaking of upholstery, Chavel had me come by and pick up the completed rear seat cushions earlier that day also. They too look good. 

I can see that I will need to be more in attendance when they get to reassembling the car. Salo has left and is working with former employee Andy in Andy's new shop - the one right by my house where Phiona started this restoration. Salo did most of the body work over these past months and took things apart, so I will now need to oversee how we put it all back together.

I've begun to fear, somewhat, that it might be very challenging, trying to remember where bolts, screws, nuts, washers, and various other parts are supposed to go in the re-assembly. But, I had labeled most of the things I helped tear down, being in cans, jars or baggies with locations marked for all. I looked at the assorted parts containers last week, and (thankfully for the several teardowns we have done on Phiona's front end) I think, with some patience and persistence, I will figure it out and put her back together (hopefully without spare parts left over).

At the conclusion of that day's work, I was very tired. And that was only 4 hours or so of work. I should have been drinking more water, I know, and think I might have been a bit dehydrated. For the rest of the day and evening, I rested.


Monday, June 11, 2012

This morning, Morrie Shaw, who is a Horseless Carriage Car Club member, came over at my invitation to give me some advice on wood replacement in Phiona and places that might fabricate the two running board trim moldings. We went up the the body shop and Morrie gave me several options, plus other suggestions to finish off the interior prior to upholstering. We both talked to Steve who gave me some ideas about fabicating the running board moldings including a shop just up the street. That shop is Auto Core Kustoms, but Kurt the owner was not available.

I returned home, got some tools and went back to the shop and cut out the rotted wood pieces around the rear window. Morrie volunteered to make the replacement wood pieces, which we hope to do Tuesday afternoon.

I was very pleased to see that most of the small parts that were soda blasted just last Monday, are already in primer. A photo of some of those parts is above, as well as one of the rear doors, also in primer. 


This is the rear window, showing the wood cut out from either side under the window opening. The rest of the wood in the car is, amazingly enough, in very good shape. For those who do not know, up through 1934, cars were still based on carriage construction, with wood skeletons as the "bones" of a vehicle. The metal "skin" was then attached over the wood framing. Many vintage vehicles have considerable wood rot which requires extensive reconstruction, but Phiona, with her low mileage and light use survived that fate. They used hardwoods which seem to have been coated also, so this car was pretty well protected from moisture and water damages.

I've also contacted Crin Dema in Illinois, who is doing the woodgraining on the dashboard and window garnish moldings. His website: shows that he is able to do a vast variety of automotive services, and more, so I inquired if he might be able to fabricate the molding pieces. Crin wrote back that he will look at the pictures I sent and measurements and give me a quote in the next few days. I have a few other options for making these parts also, including another locally that might have the equipment to the job. But, I decided to check with several sources, local and out of state to determine which might be my best choice, at a reasonable cost.

Earlier last week I had started to get a bit concerned about what seemed to be slow progress on this restoration. Phiona seemed to have become a low priority and after weeks of hardly any attention being paid to her, I started to get concerned. That several guys had also been let go or had quit, further started to make me nervous. But as I have written last time, Steve told me he planned to start working much more on the Pontiac and that I would start to see more progress each week. Seeing those soda blasted parts in primer made me feel much better.

A big part of my personality has been impatience. I'm consciously working on that. Often, I have the tendency to want something done right NOW or as soon as possible. Thus when something breaks or needs to be fixed, for example, I start to remedy the situations very quickly, doing it myself when I can or finding a source to do the work, again as soon as possible. I guess I just prefer to have my world running like a well oiled machine that must be maintained in top condition all the time. This whole restoration, has prompted me to practice more patience with others, but mostly with myself. Every morning I try to do some meditations sitting on the patio and reminding myself to be calm and patient, asking for guidance to achieve that goal. It is not just this restoration process that has prompted me to chill out more, but with the several times I've had troubles with Phiona, I certainly have had to step back and let the universe intercede. With all humility, I can say, things do work out (sometimes at considerable expense), but, in the end, all is well and the world still turns with or without my stressing out about things. Perhaps this is a matter of getting older and wiser. Perhaps I'm learning from my missteps and errors. 

Additionally, I am becoming better at not attempting to do get things done quickly or all at once. Again, with this restoration, many aspects are just not in my realm of expertise, and I must rely on others to do what they do best, in their time frames. This all got me to thinking today about expressions we use to remind us to knock it down a notch or two and try to help ourselves make our lives simpler.

 Here are some of those that I could recall:                                                                                                                                                                 Rome wasn't built in a day.                                                                                                                                                                                              “How do we eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” .                                                                                                                                                   Haste makes waste.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Take time to smell the roses.                                                                                                                                                                                                My grandma used to say "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get". (I always have liked that one). 

Your turn, what do you do to remind yourself to better appreciate life and keep it simple?

Heating up...

After a perfect weather Memorial Day weekend here in the Arizona desert with temps in the low 80's, the temps are now rising sharply. After a 109° day Thursday, Friday, June 1, 2012  was 111°. Hardly need to say, I stayed indoors most of the day. Beginning Saturday the temperatures dropped again, down to 90° by mid week, but mostly in the low 100's. I know for some of you these temperatures are unbelievable and intolerable, but, like many things in life, one can adapt (sort of). Getting out of the direct sun is best, but covering up is a good idea if you have to be outdoors. 

 Concours Plating called Thursday to tell me a few more chromed pieces were ready to be picked up. When I got there, we reviewed the parts that I have not yet received, the two hood side vents (which were on the shelf, but not yet started), and a chrome strip/hinge, down the center of the hood, and two running board side strip pieces. They thought I had already taken the last three strip pieces, but I assured them they are still somewhere in that shop. After getting home and checking my parts, I called to verify that they still have the last three pieces. I sure do hope they search more thouroughly and locate them, otherwise, I will be a very unhappy camper.

After the chrome shop, I did stop at 1st Class Collision to check the status of work on Phiona. Steve the painter gave me a lot of information about why things have not been proceeding more quickly on Phiona. Short story is this car, despite all the work that has been put into it, has a lot of corrections that must be made to bring it up to his standards before he applies any paint. Two fellows were there to begin line blocking the uneven areas on the car, particularly the doors. This will require another week or so before Steve is satisfied that the body is smooth and ready to proceed with primer. He will not give a timeline, but says that I will now start to see more progress each week, as they correct past errors and proceed with proper preparation. I have not seen Salo at the shop for the past week or so, but found out he is temporarily laid off since their work load has dropped off.

After a call to the Soda Blaster, I went back to the body shop and retrieved the small parts that I want to get stripped of the old laquer. Smoky, owner of Wat-A-Blast, came to my place Monday morning, 6/4 and cleaned those parts at the back of the driveway. 

Two small pieces have proven to be problematic. These are the two small portal doors under the headlights behind which aiming adjustments are made. There are three horizontal chrome strips on both. Concours Plating could not chrome just those stripes, and so, chromed the whole pieces. A trip to my powder coating shop proved fruitless as they could not separate the painted part from the chrome areas in that process. But they gave me some idea of how to to this myself, by roughing up the area that is to be painted, and taping off the chromed areas. Then apply black paint, peel off the tape, and it should be like original. Good thought, but more difficult in the undertaking. I started by brushing on a tough undercoating paint, POR-15, which dries hard as nails. This effort proved to be less than spectacular, and after a couple of coats, I decided to start over. 

Using paint stripper, I removed all the POR-15 paint, did some more smoothing of the areas to be painted, cleaned it with a marine cleaning product and rinsed them in warm water.

Next, I taped off the chrome strips with some pinstripe tape. Instead of using the POR-15 on this attempt, I opted to spray paint them using a rattle can of gloss black paint. 


The headlight adjustment portal/door, just below the headlight, with the three chrome stripes. The original chrome was very pitted.

The two adjustment access doors showing the shiny chromed strips and the remainder roughed up.


Applying the pinstripe tape over the chromed bars.


All the shiny chrome bars covered with the pinstripe tape.


Both headlamp adjustment doors taped and ready for paint.

First application of glossy black paint.

Peeling off the tape, uncovering the chrome stripes.


After several coats of paint, some wet sanding in between, more paint, sanding, and final coat of paint, I completed my task.  

Pretty spiffy eh?



Three photos of some of the 22 parts that I had soda blasted clean of the old paint.

1st is one headlight stanchion and support arm. The opening is the headlight adjusment protal.

2nd is of the two teardrop headlight buckets.

3rd is of the spare tire cover.


 The old laquer paint easily stripping off - like peeling a hard boiled egg.

The company is Wat-A-Blast Soda Blasting, Smokey Crosman, owner, came to my place and had the 22 small parts stripped within one hour.

Refilling the blaster with more baking soda.

Some of the newly stripped parts, down to bare metal. 

Side note: these metal parts got VERY hot sitting in the sun for a short time after being blasted. I nearly dropped a few pieces when I picked them up to move them inside. YEOW- HOT, HOT, HOT!

Thursday, May 31, the dashboard and window garnish moldings arrived at Under Cover Upholstery and Paint in St. Jacob, IL. Crin Dima the owner confirmed delivery and has started a web page on his website detailing the woodgraining process on my parts. You may check that out at this link:

While you are looking at my project on Crim's website (1934 Pontiac Woodgraining), investigate the other projects and services he does, including his own '36 Packard (with 100's of photos).He will have my parts done in two weeks, then another week to ship and, I should have it all back here toward the end of June. That, I'm hoping will coincide with a closer completion of the body work and painting of Phiona.  

Before putting the dash and window garnish moldings in, however, the upholsterer will need to complete the interior installlation. Final step should then be hooking up the gauges, switches, choke, throttle, etc and other woodgrained pieces. 

Stopping by the body shop on Monday afternoon, I found that they actually were doing work on Phiona. Steve had told me last week that I could expect to see more activity on the car this week forward. I was pleased to see it was true. But there were some "issues" that have arisen as they are trying to move ahead with Phiona's restoration.

I will save those for my next story.