People have been asking...

so Don, what's the latest on Phiona? What's the progress on the car? Is she almost done?

The short answer would be, not much has been happening over the past several weeks. However, I can report that I expect things to start picking up speed over the next several weeks.

First off, I would like to relay a story to you relating to a friend, Kevin, his Bentley, my Pontiac (Phiona), and 1st Class Collision (where Phiona is undergoing her restoration). A couple of weeks ago I saw Kevin at the 5 & Diner where our group goes for Friday night dinner. As I sat down at his table, I could see he seemed rather subdued and asked how things were going for him. His reply was "that his Bentley and my Phiona shared something in common". This puzzled me, until he then told me a tale of misfortune, to which Kevin knew I could relate and thus he began to explain.    

A few weeks ago he attended a pool party out southwest of Phoenix near Laveen/Avondale. While there, a couple of younger punks, stole his car keys from his pants pocket and then stole his Bentley. They did not go very far but in a short distance they ran down a neighbor's fence, then, hit a pole or tree which threw the car into a canal. The car ended up four wheels on the canal bottom. With only about 1 foot of water, no water damages resulted. 

Now, the comment that my car and his had something in common, made sense, not just that they were now "roommates", but that his vehicle theft had similarities to mine. While I had been in to check progress on Phiona earlier that friday, I had not noticed Kevin's Bentley, mainly because I wasn't expecting to see it. But the following Monday, I did visit the shop and, sure enough, there was Kevin's beloved Bentley, sans the two front fenders. Surprisingly, the grill and hood were mostly unscathed. With both front fenders removed, the car did not look so terribly bad - to me. I expected to see the whole front end smashed. To Kevin who saw the damages first hand, I can relate to how he must have felt with crumpled fenders, broken headlights, etc. That had to have been heartbreaking, just as it was in my incidence. From what I gather, since then and talking with the shop owner, Mike, I believe they are proceeding with repairs to his car.

Certainly empathizing with Kevin, these situations can be so very upsetting, unsettling in that some jerks have no consideration for other's property and such heartbreak for something in which an owner had great pride. It is difficult to make any sense of such senseless acts, and I know, that in time, Kevin will rebound and once again have his beautiful Bentley back. In the meantime, Phiona, being a veteran of several battles, might be a comfort to the Bentley as it too undergoes it's own nips and tucks.

Coming back to Phiona, starting before July 4, on two occasions, I had gone to visit Phiona in the shop and was seeing next to nothing being accomplished. Since I am going to be away for the month of August, camping and exploring the wilderness in Northern AZ and Southern Utah (Grand Canyon North Rim, Toroweep {also N. Rim - western end - but VERY remote}, and possibly Bryce and Zion National Parks in Utah) I felt it necessary to let them know I would be out of touch. Also, if they finally got moving more steadily while I am away, I was afraid that my absence would only stall work on Phiona until I came back to Phoenix. Trying to avoid putting work on hold, I let them know, that IF any final work was to begin on Phiona that it would be best while I was still available this month of July. Friday, after July 4, I again went in to the shop but found most of the employees and Mike were on vacation. I saw that the lift under Phiona was not properly positioned so that part of the car was resting on the actual body, ie, the running board and front fender. To me, this could lead to damages to the car that would only further delay the work to be done. Being upset with the car's positioning on the lift, but finding no one to whom to complain, my feelings began a slow boil. I pray for more patience in my life daily (a decidedly good endeavor, considering all the extended delays and setbacks during this restoration) but was feeling really stressed that I could not remedy nor get help to remedy this situation. Since I was headed to the gym for a workout anyway, the physical exertion, sweating and refocusing of my attention, significantly subsided my worries. As the day went on and over the weekend, I reminded myself that further obsessing about how I felt would be pointless. More deep breaths, calming the negative energies, and focusing on the positives helped lead me to a peaceful place. On Monday this week, I again went to the shop and, once again, reminded them (for the third time) that I would be away and out of touch for all of August. Both Steve, the painter, and Mike, the owner, acknowledged that they had heard my plans and were preparing to tackle the last line blocking and prep work prior to the primer being applied. They assured me that when I came back later this week that I would see progress.

This morning, Thursday 7/12, once more I stopped in to visit Phiona (not really expecting much had changed). Surprisingly, I saw that Phiona had been removed from the bay where she had been for several weeks. In that space was Kevin's Bentley. As I started looking in other bays, Mike called out to me and, with a big smile on his face, told me Phiona was in the back of the shop and work was nearing completion for the car to get primer applied. Actual painting would, then, be soon thereafter. We walked to the back area and there she was, sans the right front fender and apparently, sanded and smoothed out. I talked with Zeke, one who did line blocking and sanding and let him know that when the fenders and other detachable parts were ready for re-assembly, that I had the other parts to assemble the front end clip. Mike told Zeke that it is necessary for me to help re-assemble the car and that I would be there to help. 

As I left, I felt good that, this time, I am going to see some major changes over the next several weeks and told Mike that I was relieved and felt good about their efforts to complete work on Phiona. I guess that must have relieved Mike also, as he reached out to shake my hand, he drew me in and gave me a big bear hug. (Mike is a pretty big fella)! 

And as to the parts that were sent to Crin Dima, in Illinois for woodgraining, I can report that those 11 pieces are finished. Thursday, July 5, Crin emailed me to let me know the woodgraining is done and posted photos to his webpage*. (Check out his website, Undercover Upholstery and Paint, click on the link below).

*http://www.ucuap.com/1934PontiacWoodgraining.html 

IMG_2564



Here are the original dashboard,  gauge cluster panel and glove box door. 


Woodgraining 1934_Pontiac_1_WG_0033

I think the "new" parts look very good. The parts may look a bit lighter shade than the originals, but that is due to the camera and lighting used. Crin has the original woodgrain patterns and colors, so he was able to reproduce the restored parts just as they would have been in 1934.


And, here are the newly re-woodgrained dashboard, glove box door, gauge panel and left front window garnish molding.

Gauge panel 1934_Pontiac_1_WG_0034 Window garnish moulding 1934_Pontiac_1_WG_0026







Additionally, he has nearly completed the two running board stainless trim pieces, which he and a friend remanufactured based on the one good one that I sent to him a few weeks ago. 

Photos follow of the one of the original trim moldings on the running board and the new moldings nearing completion. They will be polished to a nice shiny appearance.









With work seemingly picking up speed now, I've got a little nagging feeling that most of the painting and finishing work will be closer to the end of July. Conceivably, this could mean, come early August, that my vacation and escape from the intense Phoenix heat might be delayed, even cancelled. Mentally, I am preparing myself for this possibility, and, while I'd rather not be stuck in the heat putting Phiona back together, if it comes to be, then so be it. I will adapt and be happy to be getting Phiona's re-hab completed.