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charliekwin

Project Boondoggle (or, so I went and bought a Z!)

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Better results today doing the panel I should have started with yesterday.  The rear panel on the driver's side is curved, but only in one direction, so it's basically a flat piece.  30 minutes for this one, and it came out quite nice.  The toughest part is getting the sheet down flat so it doesn't wrinkle, but it's workable if you go slowly.

Did a little practice with some scraps on the tougher shapes, because I'm out of easy bits to wrap now! :) 

Panel looks good installed, except for the part that got nicked up on the hatch support.  Another entry in the What Did You Think Was Gonna Happen!? file.

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Edited by charliekwin
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Yeah... I think maybe I'll wait till you nail down the process and then send my panels to you.

Or, maybe that rear taillight panel is, in fact, the most difficult and the rest of them will be a breeze by comparison? Top of my priority list would be the dash, so I'm anxious to hear your results there.

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That's a pretty solid plan, Cap.  Only flaw I see is sending the panels to me! LOL

None of the panels left look like they'll be especially easy.  The one that covers the vent tank has a lot of complex curves, the seat belt covers are convex and the window trim has tight inside corners to deal with.

I'm with you on the dash...this stuff would look great as a dashboard cover.  I want to take that project on as soon as I can.

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So have you thought about using multiple pieces to cover a part and overlapping the edges a little for a lap joint?

That test piece you did on the corner of the taillight bulb access panel makes it look like the material you're working with is thin enough that you might be able to do a pretty good job of hiding seams like that. And on some of the parts (like that bulb access panel) you could even put the seams on the underside where they would be hidden in use. Unfortunately, I doubt that technique would work on the dash though as I don't know where you would hide seams.

What we really need is a large vacuum table, one of those big radiant heaters and an adhesive backed thermoplastic sheet.  B)

 

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Out of nowhere, there's been a nasty grinding noise whenever I start the car.  Sounds like the pinion gear on the starter isn't retracting.  The starter's pretty new: the old one died at the shop when the mechanic (a local Datsun guy with a good rep) was giving the car a once-over after I purchased it, so I had him replace it then.  I pulled it off tonight to inspect it and promptly had the pinion gear/clutch assembly fall right out onto the ground and saw this:

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The three screws that are supposed to hold that housing in place were nowhere to be found and the housing is a bit torn up as well.  I'm assuming the housing got caught on the pinion gear and shoved into the flywheel ring gear.  Should be an easy fix once I can get some screws, but I'm none too thrilled with the mechanic's work right now.

Brake lights aren't working either.  The fun never stops! :)

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Is the starter a "reman"? That may not be on the mechanic if the starter didn't have the screws to begin with...

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55 minutes ago, Patcon said:

Is the starter a "reman"? That may not be on the mechanic if the starter didn't have the screws to begin with...

 Wouldn't the "local Datsun guy with a good rep" have noticed that and done SOMETHING about it at the time? Seems like it would have been obvious.

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It's a remanned unit, but I would hope it would've been noticed and addressed.  Mistakes happen, and maybe I just have bad luck with shops, but darn if that kind of stuff doesn't seem to happen more often than I'd like.  At least it's an easy fix.  Bless those 1970's engine compartments that let you see all the way to the ground.

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If I pulled a starter out of a box, I don't know that I would have looked it over or shone a light down past the drive gear to look for missing screws. I would have worked on the premise that all the screws were in it. I suspect they are hard to see around that gear when properly assembled.

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 I don't think those missing screws were hidden. It's possible they fell out because they were never tightened properly.

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I'll never know what happened to them, but I'm 99% sure they weren't there when the starter went on the car.  It's all been degreased, tidied up, regreased, and put back together now (with screws this time!), so that's over and done with.

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And since I took the day off work, it seemed like as good a time as any to finally take the car out.  First time it's gone farther than just around town.  Has some rough spots, but it's kind of fun to drive! ;)

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Slow progress this weekend.  As soon as I started working on the quarter window trim bits, I get a call from my wife: "my car won't start."  So a good chunk of Saturday afternoon was spent waiting for a tow, then removing the starter from a Ford Escape, and Sunday morning spent putting it back in.  Ford engineers, BTW, really found a difficult place to mount those things.  I don't know what I did to deserve all these starter problems :confused:

So, window trim.  First step was eliminating the speaker holes, since I'm not going to put speakers there and it won't look good with the vinyl.  Some masking tape on the back side and a bit of body filler.  To give it a little extra support, I tried something new on the back: put a light coat of ABS cement down, then a piece of fiberglass mat.  Wetted that out with more ABS cement.  Worked great.

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On to wrapping, which was beastly.  I've done a similar inset like this before, so I knew it was gonna be tough.  The hard part is having enough material in the middle to get into the recesses and not have it bunch up on the flat surfaces.

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 I tried valiantly, but couldn't get it to sit right, and eventually cut a seam in one of the corners.  Everything got repositioned a bit; the excess material is on the bottom left.

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By this point, it was not going well -- the vinyl wasn't laying well, had a lot of wrinkles, and was lifting in the corners -- and I could feel myself getting frustrated with it and was getting ready to throw in the towel.

So, gym break.

Back at it after a couple hours, and things started going a little better. As expected, the corners lifted, so I shot some superglue in there which should keep it in place (that trick's worked for me before, so here's hoping).  The seamed corner isn't great and there are a couple wrinkles here and there, but the end result is acceptable.  And the other one...I'll wait for tomorrow.

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1 hour ago, charliekwin said:

 Ford engineers, BTW, really found a difficult place to mount those things. 

Toyota put the starter for their V8 Tundra engines under the intake manifold.  And gave them poor copper contacts in the solenoid.  A friend of mine has starting dread every day now, but doesn't want to spend the money to have it fixed and isn't a car guy.  I offered to help him fix it but he's just going to live with it until he gets stuck somewhere.  

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Sweet baby Jesus, when you said "under" you weren't kidding!

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I mean...how...why...who...?  I'm kinda pissed off about that and I don't even own one!

The Escape starter is a comparative piece of cake, even including the stuff I had to cut off to get the replacement one to fit (thanks to you too, TYC).

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charliekwin, I think it looks just fine. Seam doesn't bother me. If I bought you a plane ticket and had supplies on hand, you could fly to PA to do mine? Beer? All the spray adhesive you can sniff? What is your pleasure? Knock you around a little with a pair of flat tops?

And that Tundra... I'm pissed with ya and I don't own one either!

 

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Honestly Cap, at 1:30 this afternoon I was beginning to curse myself for not buying a few cans of SEM paint and was *this close* to coming online and telling everyone that the vinyl was a stupid idea that no one else should try. That may still be true -- there's a lot left to do! -- but in this case at least, persistence paid off.  A whole case full of fancy gin might not be enough to get me to do it again, though.

Once dash time comes around, I'll do a more thorough job of documenting the whole process in case others want to try it themselves.  I'd shoot a video of one of the smaller pieces, but even those are taking about 2 hours!.

Funny you mention a vacuum table, because that's exactly what I was originally planning on doing.  Someone else had the same thought a couple years ago: 

 

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Right! Something like that! I've got a vacuum pump already. I could build that.

I sure wish they had kept the camera rolling longer so you could see what happened when they pulled that thing out of the frame. Seems silly that they did a video of the process, but stopped without showing the finished product.

I'm suspecting that a lot of the problems of working with that material is because of uneven stretching. I think a vacuum forming process would do a better job of applying even pressure where it's needed without the pinching and bunching that you're seeing doing it by hand. I bet the original plastic shell (before the foam) was made with a vacuum forming process. Either that. or it was sprayed into a mold before the foam.

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Yeah, curious to know how it came out (not curious enough to register on the Celica site, though).  I did a lot of Googling and that's the only DIY attempt at vacuum forming a dash that I could find.  Just Dashes has a good video that shows their entire process as well:

One of the primary reasons I've backed off the vacuum forming idea is that I don't know what to cover it with.  It looks like Just Dashes uses a thermoformed plastic, and I have neither a source nor capability of working with something like that.  I was thinking about 4-way stretch vinyl that's used for upholstery, but I'm not sure how well that works with contact cement and vacuum forming.  The Hexis would probably work well with vacuum forming initially, but I'd be concerned with over-stretching and subsequent lifting.

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Finished the one I was dreading the most: the vent tank cover.  The PO started breaking it in the past, and I finished the job when I removed it last year, so did more of the ABS cement and fiberglass to repair it, and patched up a few other holes and cracks at the same time.

Since it's getting wrapped and I'm not too concerned about what the panel looks like, I also wanted to test a restoration option: acetone.  It brought back the shine and color to the shock tower trim, and did the same on the backs of some plastic panels.  I did a fast, light wipe of the panel with a paper towel that was soaked with acetone.  The results were surprisingly good.  I don't know if it'll hold up over time, but for anyone looking for a super fast, easy fix, it's something that might be worth considering.

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Wrapping was a tough job.  4+ hours for the whole thing.  I ended up cutting 3 seams into it but tried to keep them in areas that aren't easy to see; someone who's better at this could probably do it without cutting.  There's also some wrinkles that I wasn't able to get out but those too should be in hard-to-see places.  The face of the panel looks pretty good, though!  Hopefully I can get it back in the car easier than it came out.

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You're too hard on yourself, those look awesome, there is a real depth to the look of the vinyl covered panels compared to uncovered panels, it's almost a soft look. Besides you have them out in the light and fully exposed, once they are mounted back in the car you would have to look pretty hard to see those flaws.

I'm kinda wishing I hadn't ordered the SEM paint now.

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Thanks for the reality check...I know they won't be seen much, but damn if those wrinkles don't bug me every time I walk past that thing sitting on top of the bar :)  These pieces do make for good practice, but I'm really thinking hard about trying to farm out the dashboard to one of the vinyl guys here in the LA area.  I'm pretty sure I'd end up with one of those creases right in the middle of the dash, taunting me forever.

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It's in!  First a few Raammat tiles on the tank cover and a little foam to prevent any rattling.  Smartly protected the edges with masking tape after learning that lesson the hard way on the other side.  If there's any way to get that piece of plastic back in place without cursing and snapping it in two, I couldn't figure it out.  Since something was gonna have to bend, I picked the hatch strut support.  I've also been using plastic christmas tree clips instead of the old expanding rivets to hold all these things in place.  They're cheap, and I like the look of these better than the original ones.  They're not perfect, but I tried a number of alternatives and they're the best ones I've found so far.  Looks decent!

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do want a vacuum table!  I still have a few pieces left to do, including the shock tower caps.  That might be a good one to do a proof-of-concept test on.  We'll see...

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Took an unplanned detour this last week, which started with trying to make a rear deck.  I started on that, then realized I needed to re-install the taillight panel first.  But before that could go in, the old weatherstripping had to come off, then the hatch came off...it all ended up being a bigger project than I expected.  If you give a mouse a cookie...

The old weatherstripping came off easily enough -- albeit in about a thousand pieces -- but there was a ton of stubborn, old adhesive left behind.  It took a combination of heat, chemicals and brute force with screwdrivers and putty knives to get it off, but it's clean now.  A lot of the paint and old sealer went with it, so I masked it off and my plan is to shoot some black rust converting paint and call it good for now.  As long as it doesn't get any worse in the next few years when I can finally do (or pay for) proper body work and paint, I'm fine with it.  

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