Sunday, March 29, 2015

Body preparation continues!  

I removed the reinforcement strips from the top of my fenders.  I'm going to recreate these somehow, but the stock ones were too ugly.

I spent a good amount of time removing all of the factory wax sealant, rust preventative stuff, crud, and undercoating from the inside of the fenders.  I plan on painting the inside of the fenders, which will require more prep later, but for now they just needed to be cleaned up!

The left front fender I bought had an antenna hole.  I saved a donor piece from an old fender for this exact purpose - to have an exact match to the thickness and contour for future patch panel use.

I stripped the paint and scribed out exactly the shape required to fill the hole.

I tried to get the fit perfect to make the welding easier.  I was pretty happy with it, there were almost no gaps all the way around.


For TIG welding thin sheet with tight gaps, it is ideal to use as little heat as possible.  Because of this, using thicker filler wire requires more heat than is really required to weld the joint.  I use .023" MIG wire, which is only a little thinner than the .030" panel.  I set the MIG to "steal some wire" settings:

Then I welded it up!  I used 30 amps with a 1/16" Tungsten, moving pretty fast, and only a little bit of filler.

It's not the most beautiful or consistent weld, but it works for this purpose.

The back.  Decent penetration all around.

I slowly started hammering the weld back to flat and grinding away the bead.   I'm using bluing to mark the high and low spots with a sanding block.

After a few hours of hammering, it's done!  It isn't 100% perfect, but will hardly require any filler.

There was one big dented area on my donor fender, and I'm trying some new dent removal techniques.  This spot didn't go quite as well!

Since the sun was shining today, I decided it was a good day to remove all of the paint from both fenders.  Neither one was in the best shape, so it's best just to start fresh.

Aircraft remover is wicked stuff!

I'm going to continue on with fender work this week.  I also have to build mounts for the lower corner since I changed how they mount.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I received the last body panel I have been waiting for - the left front fender.  This came from a local junkyard, it isn't perfect, but it should work.

I continued on with mounting suspension under the car so I can get moving on bodywork.  Kage helped, mainly by sitting on my mat every time I stood up to grab another tool.

I wanted to mount the steering wheel, so I had to whip up a "loop" for my steering rack.  This will prevent the oil and grease inside my steering rack from spilling all over the floor, and will prevent contamination from entering the rack as I steer during the bodywork process.

I mounted up the dash crossmember and steering column.

I connected the column to the rack and tested it out.

Next I have to rig up something to keep the wheel bearings tight without the axles.  The axle bolts preload the wheel bearing, and without an axle in place they will fall apart.  I can't mount axles at the moment, so I have to fabricate something.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Belize 2015

It's been a while since my last update, I went with a group of friends to Belize!  I met up with a group of my college friends - Jimmy, Jason, Rochelle, and I flew from Pittsburgh, and Billy, Nicole, and Neel flew from Los Angeles.  

We picked a good time to leave!  We actually stayed in Placencia, which is a little south of Belize City, but Placencia doesn't have its own weather station!

The boarding passes for Tropic Air are a little different than you find in the US!

The plane was about the size of a minivan... but with wings!

I was a little nervous about the turbo prop plane flight, but the sky was perfectly clear and the pilot nailed the landing.  We were only flying at about 4500 feet, so the view was amazing!

We stayed at the Cozy Corner in Placencia, Belize.  If you ever find yourself there, I recommend it!

The view from our balcony was pretty nice!

The local beer is Belikin, and it wasn't too bad!  

The morning after we arrived, we explored the town.  Placencia is a small beach town at the end of a long peninsula, the pace was pretty relaxed and it wasn't overrun by tourists.

Osha must not visit too often.  Notice the sticks.

We ran into this father and daughter adventure team from Belgium.  They were 6 months into their journey from Uruguay to Alaska!  We were attracted to their badass Defender, and then we learned about their journey.  They have a blog documenting their trip,

There were a lot of other cool vehicles that we don't get in the US.  Most of them are Toyota, they have the developing world vehicle market on lock!  This was a Toyota Hiace, a popular choice among tour guides!

We booked a tour of the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich with Doyle Gardiner of Dtours.  It was excellent!  I highly recommend his services

On the 2 hour journey from Placencia to the ruins, we passed a lot of sketchy stuff on the road!  The chains on this logging truck were a little bit too short for the last log!

The group - Jason, Rochelle, Neel, Jimmy, Afazz, Billy, and Nicole.

At this site, visitors are allowed to climb to the top. 

It took 9 attempts to get a photo of me smiling at the top.  I'm terrified of heights.  

The border between Belize and Guatemala is only a few miles away, some of these farms are in Guatemala.

After the ruins at Xumantunich, we stopped at the Fresh Water Blue Hole in the jungle.  It's part of an underground river that surfaces into a small pool before flowing back into a cave and underground.

On the way back, we stopped for some Tamales at a roadside food stand.  Looks legit?

They were amazing!

I think this is a Mahogany tree.

It wasn't uncommon to see farm tractors on the road. 

We saw this truck carrying an enormous amount of oranges...

... then one of its wheels blew off!  I was able to ninja-snap a picture of it rolling off into the jungle. 

There were a ton of chill ass beach dogs cruising around.  They all had owners and were well kept, but they just roamed around the town all day.  We enjoyed their company!

Beach dog.

Beach dog. 

 Beach dog!

The view kinda sucked.  We probably shouldn't go back.

We went snorkeling around Salt Caye, a tiny island about 20 miles from the Placencia pier. I didn't take a camera, but I lifted this picture from Google Images.  It was awesome.

We found a coconut and happened upon a Machete.  Of course we opened it and shared some fresh coconut on the beach!

We originally wanted to rent dual sport bikes, but none of the rental places had enough for our group.  So we settled for scooters!

Cop Jimmy, patrolling the streets.

And of course we broke them (twice) and Jason fixed them (twice) on the side of the road using MacGuyver tactics.

We narrowly avoided a blazing inferno when the fuel line split, but Jason patched it back up!

Stopped for a stroll on the beach.  Neel in deep thought.

On our ride, we found a bowling alley!  So we stopped in for a game.

How does this even happen?

Paper scoring!

On our last night, we walked down to the Placencia pier to catch a boat to Tranquilo, an island bar and restaurant.   The island overlooks the east coast of the Placencia peninsula, making for a beautiful view of the sunset!

We arrived at the destination just as the sun was setting!

They had a few rafts tethered, so Billy and I jumped in!

Things got a little wild later in the evening, we made it to their facebook page!

The next morning we flew out of Placencia.  

We passed Cuba on our second leg of the journey, from Belize City to Miami on a proper jet.

Then we landed back in reality!

New tools!  Snap-on PTS1000 air saw (with some 'free' blades), and a Snap-on long torx bit socket set.  I already have the T45, so I traded it for an 11mm hex bit socket (which I don't have).

It was busy out at the shop this weekend, Woody has been making good progress on his C10!

Keiser helped.

My next project is going to be bodywork and paint, so I stared prepping the doors I will be using.  I used two different donor cars for parts, so everything had to be stripped so I can paint it.

I had the original doors media blasted, and they all warped pretty bad.  Here I am comparing the original 1994 door to the 1997 donor door.

I started sanding off the original finish, only to determine if there are any prior body repairs in these doors before I commit to using them.

I also started bolting in the suspension components.  I plan on doing all of the bodywork while the car is supported on its wheels, that way any sag in the body will be accounted for when I set the door gaps.

I rounded up some scrap old struts to hold the car up.

Isn't it beautiful!?