3M Perfect-It II rubbing compound...
3M Perfect-It II rubbing compound removes the scratches left by wet sanding, and gives the paint the luster we were after. If you let the pad go dry when buffing, you can damage the surface of the paint, so keep a healthy application of this compound on the paint where you're working.
During the cut and buff, the idea is to gradually bring the rough texture of the finish gradually flatter. One thing you are definitely not doing during cutting is surface leveling-that should've been accomplished long before this step. Skipping, or rushing grit stages will result in grooves or scratches that cannot be eliminated in subsequent stages. At odds with this is the finite amount of material built-up during the basecoat (for single stage) or clearcoat (dual-stage) application. If care isn't taken, it's easy to burn through these layers, especially at corners, points, or convex areas. The idea is to smooth the material with your media just enough to remove the fine scratches from the previous media grit.
As with block sanding large, flat areas at the primer stage, the cutting stage is done similarly, with flexible rubber blocks, or cawls. This is accomplished with water (wet sanding) during the cutting stage. This provides waste material a way out, preventing the media from loading up, and burning the finish.
This was the fun part. After hours of banging on panels, sanding filler, priming, sanding, priming again, painting, cutting, and buffing, we finally got to assemble the car. So much of what we've been doing has been in the body shop and covered with dust that the finished product was hard to imagine. Now that it was time to get it back together, we were finally getting the gratification.
After the paint was polished...
After the paint was polished it was ready for the pinstripe. Henry Segura, automotive graphic instructor at Oxnard College, volunteered to help us out with our project. He's got over 60 years of experience and together we choose this custom apple green he mixed himself. The pinstripe down each side and a couple small bits like our gas cap would run about $150.
Though we were thorough to...
Though we were thorough to bag and label every bolt that came off the Mustang, it was nice to have this master body hardware set from NPD. Many of the original bolts had several paintjobs worth of overspray, and would make the job look cheap if we were to reuse them. This kit put us back $199, but it was well worth it.
Before the front and rear glass went back in to make the car look complete, the headliner needed to be installed first, since the headliner tucks under the glass. We had a brand-new headliner in the box of parts we got from the previous owner, but a new one goes for about $20 through NPD. Getting the headliner in isn't too difficult, but we had some help with that. We'll explain further in a later story when we dive into our interior overhaul.
We also had Henry stripe over...
We also had Henry stripe over the red that was originally on our new gas cap. We tossed the cheap pot metal cap chosen by the factory for this black anodized piece from NPD for $91.50. It matches the look of the black powdercoated taillight bezels we did months ago.
Auto City Glass, just down...
Auto City Glass, just down the street in Oxnard, came to install our front and back glass. Unlike Chevy ponycars, the glass has to be out in order for the headliner to be installed, so this is the time to replace the glass. Our glass guy had a trick that proved to be very helpful when setting the glass. Mustangs use a channeled weatherstrip to seal: Our glass guy put a rope around the whole thing in the deep part of the weatherstrip. When the glass was sitting on the car, he pulled the rope out from the inside, pulling the weatherstrip over the threshold, sucking the glass into place. Without this method, we would have been spending a long time prying the weatherstrip over the lip.
Bodywork isn't easy, and there are many difficult steps to take. Problems come up and surprises are to be expected. It's one of the only modifications to a car you can do that doesn't come with a part number or guarantee. A combination of time, effort, hard work, and quality materials are responsible for the final product. And as we've shown, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get great results from Summit's paint system.
If you can reuse the original sheetmetal without spending a ridiculous amount of time and money to save them, you should. It's no secret that reproductions often don't fit the same way the factory panels do. We took every panel that unbolted from the car and sent them to Pacific Coast Powder Coating in Palmdale, California, to have the paint stripped from the front and back of each piece. Along with surface rust, the media blasting took off the many repairs made over the years. We also got to see exactly how much damage there was. The media blasting gave us a fresh start with bare metal so that there would be no mysteries, and we could do the repairs right. If the car wasn't already fitted with new front and rear suspension as well as drivetrain, we would've had the entire shell stripped as well. Pacific Coast charged $550 to blast the panels, and if we had taken the entire shell with the panels, we'd be looking at around $1,000. If you've got the car stripped, we would recommend doing the whole thing.
No old car project is complete without some rust repair. We were pretty lucky that there was no structural damage, just some small window frame and driprail rot. The correct way to repair a rusty area is to completely remove it. Just like cancer (as it's also called) it spreads, and if it's not completely removed it will show up again.
Here's what we found after...
Here's what we found after the back glass came out. We cut the infected metal out and welded a new piece in its place. For all of the small patch panels, we used a magnet to hold it in place for tacking.
Another place we found damage...
Another place we found damage was the driprail. One option is to completely remove it for a smoother look. Because the rest of it was in such good shape, we decided to cut the rusty area out and patch it up.