1929 Ford Model A Tudor Restoration

Note: Each photo below can be clicked for a larger view

Chapter VI - Touch Up, Clean Up, Finish Up

I'll start this chapter off with a happy note. Ye olde Model A made its first trip outside the shop property, under its own power since the 2006 fire. Yes, there was that earlier run around the parking lot with just the chassis and no body. But this one was out on the street and around the block, body and all. Well, it was supposed to be "around the block" but Dick got a little ambitious and decided on two blocks. Dan went along just for the ride. I being the more cautious one decided to stay in the shop and keep my phone on the ready. Good thing too as they "ran out of gas" about half way. I delivered the last remaining pint of fuel which was enough to get them within 100 yards of home before running out again. This time we determined for sure that it was a plugged fuel line from some crud in the bottom of the tank blocking the mesh screen in the sediment bowl. We hope to find it was old rust in the lines rather than new rust in the tank. Here we are, leaving the shop then leaving the parking lot and finally 100 yards from the shop and ready to be towed back home.

Leaving the shop Leaving the lot Ready for tow

Now for the not so happy part. Reassembling the car and installing the interior and top did cause a significant amount of damage, especially to the paint. I thought I had photos of most of this before starting repairs but apparently I do not. The first was from installing the fabric top. The chicken wire layer managed to pretty badly scratch the upper right rear corner and the right rear fender. I thought these might sand out but was uncertain. Then sometime during installing the headliner, a nail was driven through from the inside punching a hump on the upper left rear corner. Next a hammer blow when installing the rain gutters chipped the paint over the right back seat window clear to bare metal. Then sometime in the last stages of working around the engine area, it looks like a heavy screw driver or something else with a pointy end was dropped on the left front fender chipping the paint well into the primers on the sloped part about half way between the top and the running board. All of these would need major repairs. That left rear corner may still have to be sanded down, filled and repainted. In addition, there were numerous other fairly minor scratches that would likely polish out. These were probably to be expected considering the amount of handling the car had to endure.

Dick managed to polish out those scratches caused by the chicken wire, mostly by hand. He also removed the tape residue with Goo Gone. There was a fist-size blob of weather strip cement on the side below the right back seat window. He removed that also with Goo Gone but it had to soak overnight to do it. That involved a piece of saturated paper towel covered with masking tape to prevent drying out. Below are interim photos of the Back corner and side damaged areas with unsanded, brushed on repair and the fender sanded down to primer. The fender repair had been painted by brush then sanded a little too far, showing a little primer, then again ready for more touch up. The black spot in the center is where the screw driver hit and is still a little low. The patch over the window sanded and polished out all right. The back corner exposed a couple spots of primer and will have to be touched up again. Look carefully at the enlarged photo above and you can just detect the spots of white primer. It still may be necessary to sand down, fill and repaint that section.

Back corner Side window Fender

Well, the hammer chip above the side window came out pretty well. The big chip and dent in the front fender is not as good. There is an actual dent remaining; the main chip is still a little low and the ghost image of the touch up paint can be seen if the light hits it right. Considering the effort required to repaint the whole fender (the ultimate right solution) it is probably acceptable as is. The upper rear corner is another matter. The paint covered all right but the fist-sized ghost image is quite visible even from a distance. Also, it doesn't seem to be quite flat so some filler would be desirable. Eventually I think Dick will want to repaint that section. That is not as major a job as it sounds. The biggest part of it will be masking the rest of the car to prevent any overspray. Time will tell, of course.

At home Dick decided to have Thanksgiving at his home for the whole family. As you might guess, everyone wanted a ride in the Model A they all remember. We removed all the "clutter" and gave it a quick "spit bath" and light polish so he could take it home. I followed just in case it had the fuel starvation problem again. That's when I got this photo of the proud owner and his almost finished classic. We had thoroughly flushed the tank and lines and felt fairly confident it would be all right. Apparently it was as he reported it performed admirably for all. After a few days, he brought it back to the shop to repair yet one more problem. A small fuel leak was enough to smell up the garage over the weekend. He accidently left the cut off valve at the tank open and the standard needle valve did not close tight enough so the carburetor overfilled and dripped a little, just enough to be a nuisance. Remember, this is a gravity feed fuel system with an updraft carb. He ordered a replacement viton tipped valve which should have eliminated the problem but did not quite do it. Rather than continue with a losing battle, he opted to just always remember to close the valve at the tank. That still did not work. Apparently that valve had a small leak too so he ordered a new one. That seemed to solve the problem. He did report that ford always recommended that one close that valve when not driving the car. Maybe they were right.

As of now, however, we are calling the paint job finished? The only remaining part of detailing is the pin striping. Most of it is pretty straight forward although there are a few more complicated bits. The problem is, none of use have ever done such a thing and all want this to be right. There are folks who can do it but it is difficult to determine who really has sufficient skill, and it is expensive. After finding some YouTube videos that "made it look easy", Dick purchased a Beugler Pin Striping Tool to see if we can manage to do it ourselves. Well, the videos do make it look easy but at least some of them also caution that it does take some practice. We have found that at least the latter part of that is true. So far, Dick has not been satisfied with his results. I have only tried a little but certainly not ready to commit mayhem on the Model A's paint. Again, time will tell.

Well, he finally decided it was best to repaint that upper rear corner where the touch up didn't look as good as it should. We sanded it down to 600 grit then carefully masked the belt line and body seam surrounding it. Then we moved the car into the paint booth and covered everything with plastic sheet and other masking to guard against any overspray. I shot 3 or 4 good coats on but made the mistake of using the touchup gun, thinking it was a small area. The result was more texture than it should have had. Hard to get a wet coat with the little gun, especially on dark paint with not quite adequate lighting. The light in the booth was fine for all the light colors I put on my Sprite but not so much for this car.

Although the repaint polished all right and looked good in the shop, when it got out in the full sun it was covered in what seemed like almost microscopic white dots. After a lot of thought and study, our only guess was remaining texture resulting from the touchup gun probably trapping tiny bits of the polish. The proper solution was to sand it all the way back to epoxy then repaint properly from there. So, we carefully masked the whole car yet again and applied epoxy primer. That was followed by three or four more coats of the black then all the same cut and polish of the original. Also, we didn't have enough of the black left to cover the section and our vendor had meanwhile changed brands on the black paint so he had to custom mix a pint for this job. That seemingly small mishap with the headliner nail caused a lot of extra work and all the hours necessary to accomplish it.