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Off Topic - seeking some vintage car restoration advice

 
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Old Black



Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 1977
Location: Minneapolis

PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:12 am    Post subject: Off Topic - seeking some vintage car restoration advice Reply with quote

I know some on the forum also do classic car restoration/modding of various kinds (I guess there is a connection with guitars there). Anyway, we've had my wife's '65 Pontiac Catalina in the garage for the last 22 years, collecting dust and sinking to the rims. It was her grandparent's car, then her dad's then her car. She has mucho sentimental attachment to it.

My 16-year old has been pestering me for a couple of years to get it running and "restored". Last month, we finally took the piles off stuff off it and wiped away 20 years of sawdust etc.

It is in remarkably good shape. My wife had the interior completely restored before we were married and body work from a classic car shop (they cut all of the skirt body metal off and welded new metal before repainting.) My son wiped off the back dust off the back window and the first words out of his mouth were, "Look at the size of that back seat!" (no kidding).

So, we've been working on it off and on for a month. We siphoned the old gas out of the tank, changed the plugs, changed the oil and got it started. Engine seams fine (I had to replace the thermostat) but it will eventually need a rebuild.

The brakes (all drums) were rusty as hell so we rebuilt them all and put on new wheel cylinders (but kept the drums). I forgot what a pain it is to work on drum brakes. I'm also waiting on a rag joint for the steering (it had rotted away).

So, here's the questions. If it were a 2x2 or convertible, I would be inclined to make it a new hobby but it's a 4-door hard top and, as such, has little collector value (but great sentimental value).

1. Can a car be painted at home? I'm thinking of doing the body work (minimal needed - just some small rust through). I could tarp off my garage and use my HVLP sprayer that I use for guitars (???).

2. Is there an option for restoring chrome that doesn't involve plating? I've read about a product called "motostorm chrome" that is supposed to have reflectivity close to chrome plating.

3. What other things should I be paying attention to on the drive train and chassis (keeping in mind that this is a Sunday joy riding car and not an every day runner).

My son is doing most of the work, with my supervision - that's the motivation for me - to let him work on a car where you can't crack an aluminum casing or over-torque a bolt in plastic.

My wife is supportive (so far) but I've spent $400 on brakes, shop manual, bondo, etc. and I'm starting to get "that look" from her. I think if we can keep it under $1,000 and have a nice Sunday runner, we'll be okay. But I don't want to get into something I can't get out of.
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RandyM



Joined: 10 May 2008
Posts: 6716
Location: Austin Texas

PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a former motorhead I just have to say that you are going down a VERY deep rabbit hole. It can be a great project, especially with the kids. Prepare to spend a lot, and be very frustrated at times. You can paint at home, but it's going to suck.
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rickrob



Joined: 19 Oct 2011
Posts: 1083
Location: Massachusetts

PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any pics?

I'd check the motor mounts, ball joints, tie rod ends and U-joints on the driveshaft. That's probably a 389 V-8 in there, nice engine... If I remember correctly, all Pontiac V-8's were big blocks from late 50's up to 81' .
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WildIowa



Joined: 06 Mar 2004
Posts: 490
Location: Henderson IA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With your experience you can probably do a much better job on your first try than Earl Scheib. That said, the reason I kind of got out of painting old cars is the amount of work and time ...and space it takes.

You have to decide whether or not you want to take out the windows chrome etc, or just tape and sand/paint up to the mouldings and whatever...on one hand, removing stuff takes time time time..on the other, you may not be satisfied with the way your paint meets the chrome and moulding, and be careful taking off the tape so you don't pull off the paint too. Also, the sanding on a car is ENDLESS. So much surface, and you need it perfect as you know from guitar work. Then you have to use that final red putty stuff for teeny dents and imperfections....then shoot a prime coat, and sand and do it all again. Then, finally paint.

You will need a large space to paint so you can step back and take the whole thing in as you go, and can back up and shoot comfortably if you have to, bend over, drag hose etc. You will need a ton of lights, and NO CONTAMINATION as best you can control....that's tough. Dust, floaters, hair all kinds of stuff are hanging around. The typical garage is not that clean....you can hang plastic etc. but what a pain.....and a place to mix your paint, measure etc.

There are some really good new single color formulations out that you can shoot and do not require a clear coat but again, that may not satisfy you....and you MUST wear protective breathing gear when spraying that new stuff I guess one time breathing it in and your lungs are screwed.

Guitars are so much smaller, and easier to do. I thought I would flip out about halfway through sanding a car and having so much more to do but I had to keep going until it was done. What a project! But for an old classic that's been in the family, what the heck. Give it a shot but realize what's ahead. Keep us posted on whether or not you try it. Good luck.
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Old Black



Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 1977
Location: Minneapolis

PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rickrob wrote:
Any pics?

I'd check the motor mounts, ball joints, tie rod ends and U-joints on the driveshaft. That's probably a 389 V-8 in there, nice engine... If I remember correctly, all Pontiac V-8's were big blocks from late 50's up to 81' .


I'll shoot some pics. It's got ugly snow tires on the back.

When I had the front end up on jack stands this weekend and the drums off I checked the ball joints and tie rod ends. Very little play. I think my wife must have had the front end done just before we got married (she can't remember for sure). The front shocks look brand new. The back shocks are almost new (and air shocks, to boot). My son and I replaced the rear coil springs, which were sagging a bit. No play in the U-joint (but if replacing needle bearings is the hardest thing I have to do, I would be very happy). Maybe some minor oil leaking at the differential. It has a new water pump (I remember replacing that when we were dating 28 years ago).

She used to have the car taken every year to a garage in town that specializes in older cars and they would give it the once over (I remember they welded a new transmission cross member on it a week before we got married). The frame is in great shape. In fact, the whole undercarriage looks better than most 3 year old cars. I went at it with a drill and wire brush and it cleaned up easily.

389 two-barrel, Bendix power brakes, original AC (low on my list but I will eventually put in new seals and dryer - compressor is fine and condensor looks okay). Even with a two-barrel, it used to throw the driver back in the seat when you hit the gas. 117,000 miles.

I do love old Pontiacs - especially when it's Sunday evening and I don't have to have it back on the road in 10 hours.

I've certainly heard that sanding (and resanding, and resanding) is a big pain, as is masking/back masking. Painting it ourselves would likely save us the most money but if I could pay someone else to do a good job, I might spring for it. I like the mechanical work. I like mig welding but I don't like Bondo.
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marksound



Joined: 15 Aug 2005
Posts: 16672
Location: OKUSA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My dad painted these in a two car garage. Jump in with both feet. Cool




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jaybones



Joined: 22 Mar 2014
Posts: 429

PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that a paint job can be done in a garage! Like you already know, the prep is what will make or break this project.

When I was in high school, I had a buddy whose cousin painted a split bumper Z28 (4 speed, original 302 V8!) in his garage. Used plastic sheets on everything and ran a couple box fans with HVAC square filters stuck to them for a couple days to pull as many contaminates as he could out of the air.

He stupidly put in a 350 SBC and autotragic in it (350 turbohydramatic) since he didn't want to drive stick. Also, since he didn't know that in 1970 1/2 a Chevy Z28 came with a 302, for homologation to the brand new Trans American racing series' limit of 5 liter engines. 305 was a hair too big.

And speaking of Earl Schieb, another guy I knew in high school took his late 70's Thunderbird there for a $99 paint special. Didn't pay for extras, just the paint.

And paint it they did. Didn't tape or mask anything, just shot the paint across the entire car. When the guy showed up and complained, the manager showed him the contract he'd signed.

Then handed him a razor blade to he could scrape the windows to drive it home.
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Old Black



Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 1977
Location: Minneapolis

PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is what we have to work with


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rickrob



Joined: 19 Oct 2011
Posts: 1083
Location: Massachusetts

PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Old Black wrote:


I do love old Pontiacs - especially when it's Sunday evening and I don't have to have it back on the road in 10 hours.



Same here-- I had a bunch in high school and just after. 67 & 68 Tempest, 66 Lemans and my last was a 66 GTO.

That Catalina looks pretty solid from what I can see...

I wonder if you can still get the skirts for the back wheels. My grandparents drove Pontiac Bonnevilles and Buick Electra 225's and they always had the skirts.
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Old Black



Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 1977
Location: Minneapolis

PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Catalinas did not come factory-equipped with Skirts - Bonneville did. You can get them (and lots of other old Pontiac parts) at Ames Performance out of NH.

BTW rickrob, two motor mounts needed replacing - good call!

I'm rediscovering the "joys" of vacuum switches.
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Les



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 1961
Location: Kansas City

PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've painted quite a few cars in a garage. In my experience, the biggest problems were dust, bugs, and orange peel. How to avoid them? Luck!

If you decide to paint in the garage, get a few box fans and point them all away from the car (to try to minimize dust & bugs from getting into you new, wet paint). A few times, I even flowed a thin layer of water on the garage floor (to try to keep the dust down). Not sure if it did a bit of good, and it was a mess (not to mention a bit of a slip hazard).

Maaco (and Earl Scheib) have the reputations they have for a reason, but if you prep the car - remove all chrome (and other things you don't want painted), sand it properly - and then go to Maaco (maybe ask if you can help mask it) and have them give you the "deluxe" paint job (or what ever they call it) - the more (most?) expensive paint job they offer - you'll be surprised how good it can look. I know, it sounds crazy, but I've seen some really good results come out of Maaco...

It's just like painting a guitar (or even a room in your house): The trick is - as you know - preparation! If you prep the car properly, you have a good chance of getting a good-looking car with the new paint. Of course, the opposite is certainly true: If there is no prep, or poor prep, it will look like crapola when it's done.

Other than that - I would certainly replace all the belts and hoses on that old beauty.
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