By Mike Peake
Oh my good gods what have I done?
OK, I’ll back up a bit. As regular readers will know, I’ve been struggling with Poppy’s ageing, fading paintwork for a number of years. For the last 3 years I’ve learned to machine polish really quite well and been very impressed with the results (and I still can’t believe the cost of polish!).
However, it would only last a matter of weeks before it would return to what has become Poppy’s natural colour of “Signal Pink” and you can only machine polish so many times before you start to run out of paint. (yes, from personal experience) There are also a couple “battle scars” that are in need of attention.
So, I’ve made a monumental decision! I’m going to do a full re-spray! Don’t pull that face! I know you’re doing it! And before you ask, like everyone else does. Yes, I’m doing it myself and no I’ve not done it before. I said, stop pulling that face! Why does everyone pull that face? Come on. What’s the worst that can happen? (you don’t have to answer that. Poppy is nervous enough as it is.)
Due to the incredible generosity of fellow group members, I am now the proud owner of a large super duper compressor that only cost me two award winning lemon drizzle cakes and a pub lunch. I have also been supplied with all the required primer, paint and consumables, to crack on with the job. I won’t name these lovely generous chaps here as they like to project the image of tough, hard bitten cynical men and I don’t want to reveal their true “fluffy teddy bear” natures to the world, but you know who you are and thank you very, very much.
As my rented council lockup doesn’t have power and there is not enough room for a fatbloke to squeeze between the walls and the car, working up there was ruled out almost instantly. However, I had the bright idea of erecting a 6m x 3m garden gazebo on my drive and bought one for £60 off the great bay of flea.
It was PANTS! The poles were rather flimsy and already dented in several places before we got it out of the box. There were also several unstitched seams to contend with, but this was “fixed” with Gaffer Tape and we pressed on with the erection. (I won’t continue until your minds are out of the gutter! Finished now? Pathetic!)
Anyway, having roped in the entire Peake household, we had nearly completed the task when disaster struck! A pigeon, in a neighbour’s tree, passed wind and the whole useless structure collapsed. To be fair to the manufacturers, they clearly state “not to be used in high winds”, but as pigeon flatulence doesn’t usually register on the Beaufort Scale, I was a little annoyed. I telephoned the purveyor of useless gazebos and told them the tale. They asked me how far up the tree the pigeon was? I said it was about 6 meters up. They said “Well that’s pretty high and we clearly state ….” (Sorry. No more of those, I promise)
The next day, my in-laws were visiting their cousin somewhere in the East and whilst they were regaling him with this tale of woe and no doubt laughing their socks off, said cousin remembered that he had a “portable garage” that was really quite sturdy and had survived a year pitched outside his house and was now all boxed back up in his loft. It was soon pitched on my drive and provides a much more robust and suitable workspace so Poppy was soon snuggled into her temporary home.
The following weekend was the weekend of the Brecons tour. I’d already said I wouldn’t go because I wanted to work on the car and the weather was horrible. However, It wasn’t so bad when I woke up Saturday morning, so I went. I had a great time despite the odd text from Mrs FB saying Storm Hannah had hit and she was spending the day hanging onto tent poles.
I made up for it on Sunday though with a full 8 hours working on Poppy and by the end of it had her stripped down ready for washing and rubbing down. I also tackled one of my long term niggles. Some years ago, in a bout of bumbling incompetence, I backed the car onto some ramps. I went too far and fell off denting the back of the offside sill. As these aren’t available at the moment, I borrowed a set of hammers and dollys from local fellow enthusiast Jason Wright and attacked the sill with a will. It’s better than it was... honest.
Mrs FB? Still traumatised and not talking to me.
Best of all though, like all “proper” car restorers, I now have a couple of “you should have seen what the last bloke did!” stories. He’d only gone and riveted the window weather strips to the door caps instead of using the proper clips AND used spire washers to hold the “TRIUMPH” letters on the bonnet instead of the plastic doobries.
Needless to say new weather strips, clips, letters and doobries are now on order along with numerous other screws and gaskets that aren’t good enough to go back on the car. I have also ordered a bottle of rust converter due to some unfortunate discoveries. So again like a proper car restorer, It’s already turning into a bigger job than I thought and become a “light restoration and re-spray”!
I just read that back. I sound really quite heroic don’t I? Well that won’t do will it? I know no one will believe me if I elevate myself from bumbling incompetent fool all the way to resto hero in one mighty bound. So, here is what actually happened.
As part of the strip down, I decided to remove the original rubber boot mat which proved a bit problematic as it was completely perished. If it hadn’t disintegrated, it had stuck like glue to the boot floor and I had to resort to a wallpaper scraper to get it all out. Once this was all removed, the dreaded rust was revealed and I’m not ashamed to admit that I screamed like a girl and cried for a bit.
Once I calmed down, I investigated a bit further and decided that it was just surface rust after all. After a once over (ok, maybe a thrice over) with my wire brush drill attachment - OK my Father-in-Law’s wire brush drill attachment - and a liberal dousing with rust converter, all is now good with the boot. Except now I have to re-spray the inside of the boot too. I hope Tosh told me to buy enough paint!
My other “discovery” was a bit of paint bubbling on the offside rear wheel arch. However after a bit of rubbing down it didn’t look so bad. I thought a bit of rust converter and a tiny bit of filler and all would be good. Then, I made a terrible rooky error. Yes, I poked it and picked at it. When I’d finished poking, I was left with a 30mm gap in the folded under bit of the wheel arch.
So, out with the angle grinder to cut out any remaining rusty bits. A piece of sheet metal was then carefully shaped, offered up and neatly welded into place. You’re secretly impressed aren’t you? I can tell. Well don’t be so stupid! That’s what I should have done, but as I have never welded anything ever and don’t even own a welder, I resorted to aluminium mesh and body filler.
I’ve never done this before either, but it seemed a more viable option and it was only a very small hole anyway. Looking on the bright side at least it will give the next restorer something to moan about. Before this though I spent a lot of hours with the first rub down with 80 grit paper in my sander.
When Mrs FB heard what I was going to do with the filler, she decided that, as it would be “just like royal icing a cake”, she would be far more qualified to undertake this task and I didn’t argue.
Anita didn’t stop with the wheel arch though and she soon had all the rest of the dinks, dents and gouges filled, including the two dents in the boot lid that I didn’t spot when I did it last year. Once all the filling was done, I spent the rest of the day on the final rubdown with 180 grit paper on my sander and by hand. The car was incredibly dusty by this point as were all the floor coverings, so I reconnected the fuel tank and drove round the block to blow the dust off and shook the dust off the tent floor coverings.
It was Sunday evening and I was now ready to go over the car with tack cloths and panel wipes and spray the primer on the bank holiday Monday - or so I thought. At this point, Anita came out to do a surprise inspection of my work so far and proceeded to point out all the bits I hadn’t rubbed down properly. I have to admit that I found this incredibly irritating. Even more so because, of course, she was perfectly correct.
So, instead of applying the primer in my usual gung-ho manner on the bank holiday Monday, we - yes WE - spent the day completely rubbing Poppy down again until she met Anita’s exacting standards. We then went over the whole car with tack clothes before masking off the bits where I don’t want paint to go. Well, I say “we” but really it was Anita who took over the masking after suffering complete frustration at my ham-fisted attempts.
So, after spending last Saturday holding onto tent poles to stop storm Hannah blowing it away and then spending her entire bank holiday Monday rubbing down the car, Anita seems to be under the impression that I owe her a weekend in Rome.
OH MY GOOD GODS, WHAT HAVE I DONE???
To be continued …
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