Home again, home again, jiggity, jig...

November 23, 2012



Phiona is back home again!

I can truly say that today I was excited. Excited to FINALLY know that Phiona was coming home. 

Yesterday, Friday, I went to the shop and had help riveting welting on one running board, and then today went back early this morning to complete the other board and attach it to the car. With that, I was ready to have my car delivered back home, so Mike called a tow company for a flatbed truck to come pick her up. Once the truck and driver arrived and we rolled the car out, and then started to load the car on the truck did I start to get excited to have the old girl back in my possession. It's about 2 miles from the shop, so it was an easy jaunt up Cave Creek Road to my house. 

Mike agreed to send up 3 guys to help me reattach the front clip, and they arrived shortly after the car was unloaded in the drive. It did not take long to maneuver the front end in place, attach a few bolts to the running boards to keep the fenders up and aligned, then just two bolts under the radiator attaching the front assembly to the cross member frame, and, there it was, starting to look like a real automobile once again. I was pleasantly surprised that the front end went on so smoothly, but then again, this was the third time I've been through this procedure, so I should be getting it down to a science by now.

Two of the guys got called back to the shop while young Keith stayed behind to help me complete bolting the front fenders to the running boards, and then to reattach the right rear fender to the car. After about 4 hours of work, Phiona began looking even more complete. And I was relieved that this start of the reassembly went rather smoothly. I imagine not all of the rest of the project will always be so uneventful, but I'm now prepared to just  take my time and keep my wits about me as the car is put back together.

There are many little things that need to be done before the big picture is revealed. With some help along the way, and methodically tackling the project, I hope to keep the stress low, while aiming for Phiona's grand debut.

Photos are attached showing today's progress:


Family visit, help, progress and delays

November 18, 2012


Doors going back on car.

For almost the past 3 weeks, my brother Tom and sister in law Cathy have been here visiting, but mostly helping me with what reconstruction on Phiona that we could do while the car was still in the shop. The help Tom and Cathy provided really helped me out tremendously. Tom, being very mechanical, and being a farmer, has seen and done a whole lot of repairs in his life that has really eased handling the mechanical breakdowns and repairs that I've encountered over the years. I know I'd not be this far along with Phiona if not for both of their patience and help. I'm very grateful for all they have done to help me muddle through. Thank you!

Tom and Cathy installing a door hinge.

Over the course of several weeks, Tom, Cathy and I have completed reassembling the front clip of the car, including the headlights, parking lights and associated wiring and have done most of the work reattaching the doors down at the shop. None of those activities went perfectly smoothly, but, they are completed. That is progress. Thank goodness.


Mike and I attaching one of the doors.

This morning Tom and Cathy headed out on their return drive to Gibsonburg, Ohio so that they can arrive before Thanksgiving. It was sad for me to see them go (Cathy would have been very happy to have stayed a while longer). With their help I feel I'm  now over a huge hurdle and can manage to tackle the remainder of this project.

What's life without disappointments, eh?

This fine Sunday morning in Arizona, found me feeling a lot of disappointment. In the past week, I've encountered unsettling situations on my car, including a botched installation of the rear window, lost door bolts and screws, delays on completing parts of the work and more. To top it off, yesterday, Saturday, Phiona was SUPPOSED to be delivered back to me via a flat bed truck. That was to have happened around 1 p.m.. Well, 1 o'clock came and went, as did 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,…p.m. and no car. No call. Nothing. 

So, by this morning I was discouraged, again, that the shop did not follow through as they promised. By the time I met up with my car buddies at The Good Egg, disappointment was tinged with a good helping of anger. But, talking about it was also a bit cathartic, whereupon, I, again, just accepted that I needed to look at the "good" side of this event. When I left after breakfast with my friends, I still couldn't figure what the "UP" side of this was, but I was receptive to discovering it.

I installed the re-chromed door handles - myself.

Adds a nice touch.

As I passed the shop driving home, I saw that someone was there, so I swung around and stopped. Mike Fish, the one I most talk and interact with was there. Mike also is the one who is in charge of finish work on the paint. He explained that yesterday, he got left at the shop alone, and the boss left, so no arrangements were made to haul the car to my place. BUT, Mike did complete the finish work on the paint job, cleaned the engine (it was looking nasty after all these months exposed to dirt, dust, grime from body work, etc). As we talked he explained that in the morning, Monday, he will have Z, the body man, straighten the front bumper bracket while that part of the car is exposed. 

And then the "UP" side of the car not being delivered occurred to me. 

If Tom, Cathy and I had managed to reattached the front clip on the car, then the front frame would have been covered, making it very difficult to have free access to attach the bracket to the now exposed frame and get it reshaped to the curvature of the bumper.. With the front clip off of the car, the bracket straightening will guarantee no damages to the front fenders, radiator cowl or grill. As has happened on countless occasions, the good of a disappointing situation was revealed, in it's own good time.

So, for now I'm content. As I've written previously, the car will be done - when it's done. I can't put an end date on it, but now it's looking a lot more likely that Christmas time would be an estimated time for Phiona to make her debut.

Photos from the past several weeks:


Radiator cowl, grill and right fender


Under wraps


Front clip nearly reassembled.


What a day! I deserve this beer.


Completed assembly of the front clip.

Those headlights and associated parts caused us fits, but we managed to get them put back together.

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".