DarrylD's Porsche 912 Project Page - Phase 2: Left Side Filler & Block Sanding Work

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Entry: 12/2/06 - Today's big task was turning the car around on the 4-post lift to work on the left side. Since rolling the car outside is necessary to accomplish this task, I had to wait until the weather cooperated with clear skies and no rain. It is very cold though, just above freezing today so having the shop open left all my heat out and it's just too uncomfortable to work, I'll get the shop warmed back up to the usual 55 F, which is quite comfortable when I'm doing physical work like hand sanding. I'm still planning on pulling off the right front fender to strip it, clean and undercoat the inside and fix any small rust areas I encounter. I'm also planning on cleaning and undercoating the right cowl area too, as well as re-do the undercoating on the clip graft area of the nose, using my now perfected "faux factory undercoating" technique. The silver colored zinc primer on the left fender, door and rockerpanel will need to be stripped and reprimed with the red-oxide colored metal etching primer I used on the right side. Not a big deal, just a little additional mess since it comes right off with any generic aerosol carburetor cleaner, paper towels and a wire brush... as it turnes out, it's actually easier to remove the zinc primer than remove flash rust had I left it bare steel! Now that I'm back in practice doing filler / block sanding work, this side should go much faster than the right side did.

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Entry: 12/4/06 - Finally, the frigid clear weather has given way to our usual warmer, cloudy weather so I could finally use the hose and let the water run down the driveway without fear of creating a bobsled run when it froze! Stripping all the silver colored zinc primer on the left doorframe, inner door and rockerpanel went fairly quickly using generic carburetor cleaner and paper towels. Once that task was done, it was time to remove that left door and strip the paint in preparation for filling and block sanding. I used the usual aircraft-style automotive paint stripper and once all the paint was gone and a thorough hose-down with hot soapy water to remove all traces of the chemical stripper, it was time to stabilize the bare steel on the door and rockerpanel using Eastwood Company's Metal Wash which etches the surface and prevents flash rusting for up to 3 weeks. Tonight the door sits over my electric heater and the rockerpanel is getting the dual 500-watt halogen light heat to dry out all traces of the water. Next task will be filling and block sanding the inner door frame... it's like a mirror-image deja-vu!

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Entry: 12/5/06 - Prepping the left inner door frame for paint was todays objective. One of the screw holes for mounting the vinyl-covered door panel appeared damaged. I thought I should verify its location by setting the door panel on the door and sure enough it was a good catch to find this problem now before paint. It was also quite enlightening to see the amount of door paint that will show when the panel is installed and how much attention I should pay to my work in that area. I also figured-out that the "bungee cord" that holds the door pocket up should actually hook into two of the clip-sized holes in the inner door frame.

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So in photo "A:" you can see the door panel screw hole has been stripped, looking even closer I saw there is a very fine 1" long crack running straight down out of about the 7 o-clock positon of the large hole along where the latch reinforcement plate meets the sheet of steel the screw hole is in. A little MIG welding, grinding and drilling later and you have photo "B:" where the screw hole has been welded-up and re-drilled, the crack welded-up and the small rust hole above the large hole has been filled. Photo "C:" shows the repair after filling the grinder marks and priming. Now the door panel will stay put!

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Once the welder was put away, it was time to fill and block sand all the dressed welds I had done to fix the rust. I filled the grinder marks with Evercoat Rage Xtreme lightweight filler and block sanded it with 80-grit sandpaper. Once that was smooth, I filled the sandpaper marks with Evercoat Polyester Glazing Putty and block sanded that with 180-grit sandpaper. After a couple interations with the glazing putty, it was time for a thick coat of Spies Hecker Priomat Primer 3255 self-etching primer and as the following photo shows, tonight the door sits by the heater drying. Next step is filling and block sanding of the door skin! I'll come back to fix the remaining blemishes on the inner door frame with red-oxide colored spot putty once the door is hung on the car.

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Entry: 12/6/06 - Today started with scuffing the bare metal surface with a 50-grit sanding disk on my 4" angle grinder to create the random pattern seen in the following photo. The autobody manuals I've studied advise this as the best approach to prep the surface to give the filler coat the best possible mechanical and chemical bond with the surface.

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I got a pretty good start on filling and block sanding the entire outer door skin. I'm done using the Evercoat Rage Xtreme lightweight filler and 80-grit paper on my sanding board and can see the metal starting to "ghost" through in many points indicating a very thin coverage of filler. Next I'll start with the glazing putty and 180-grit paper to fill the sanding marks in preparation for high-build filler primer later. Now that I'm back in practice I was able to get things finished with fewer iterations... faster but still no where near the pros speed at doing this stuff!

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Entry: 12/7/06 - Finishing up the left door was today's objective. I did a little bit more block sanding of the filler using 80-grit sandpaper before breaking out the Evercoat Polyester Glazing Putty to fill the low spots and sanding marks by block sanding it out with 180-grit sandpaper. As you can see in the following photo, much of the door shows "ghosting" of the underlying sheetmetal, where the filler is so thin, it's turning from light blue to white and is almost transparent after final block sanding. I've been asked why would anybody want to cover the entire door with filler? Well, this technique was taught to me by the professional bodyman who painted my 914 years ago. Over the years, the filler material shrinks slightly and shows through the paint as sink marks, where the "feathering" lines between filler and metal form rings that look like a topographical map under certain light conditions. By spreading a thin layer of filler over the entire panel and avoiding sanding through it to the bare metal, there is no distinct feathering line so when the filler shrinks, no sink marks will ever be visible. I didn't realize this is now standard practice at professional bodyshops on old cars taken down to "bare metal" for repaint jobs. I must say, after 12 years, my 914's doors still maintain a perfect mirror reflection, something I'd like to achieve with this 912's paint job too.

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I tried something different today, I instead of laying the door flat to prime it, I hung it from the 4-post lift so I could spray horizontally and achieve more uniform coverage with less overspray. I primed the entire door with a thick coat of Spies Hecker Priomat Primer 3255 self-etching primer and will let it hanging overnight to dry. Next I will work on the A-pillar and fender mounting bulkhead, which need to be stripped, filled and primed. The lockpost will also need to be filled and block sanded as I work my way towards the quarterpanel.

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Entry: 1/11/07 - I dove into the left rear quarter panel and rocker panel filling and block sanding today. First task was using aircraft type paint stripper to remove the paint on the rear quarterpanel to a point above any dents that will need filling. After washing all the traces of stripper off with soap and water, followed by a spray down with Eastwood Company's Metal Wash to keep the steel from flash rusting, I used the pneumatic random orbital palm sander and 320 grit paper to feather the paint edge. A quick scuffing the bare metal surface where filler will be used with a 50-grit sanding disk on my 4" angle grinder to create the random pattern seen in the following photo. The autobody manuals I've studied advise this as the best approach to prep the surface to give the filler coat the best possible mechanical and chemical bond with the surface.

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Finally it was time to apply Evercoat Rage Xtreme lightweight filler and shape it using 80-grit paper on my pneumatic sanding board. As it sits tonight, I'm just about done with the filler and ready to start with the glazing putty. The door gap is looking great and I was able to create a nice sharp edge on the bottom of the door opening with a minimal amount of filler. I have no reason to doubt that this side will turn out as good, if not better than the other side of the car. You can see that there is still quite a bit of filler dust in the air, caught by the flash in the following photo.

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Entry: 1/19/07 - Today is the first day in over a week the outside temperature has risen above 40F which has kept the temperature in my shop well below the minimum 65F required for the Evercoat Rage Xtreme lightweight filler to cure properly to avoid adhesion problems. I've been doing some panel adjusting, using wood block and big hammers, to further fit the gaps of the front fenders to the surrounding panels and will pick-up with filler and block sanding as the weather warms up over the weekend and into next week. One outstanding development was the acquisition of honest-to-God new Porsche OEM rockerpanel deco strips! The original ones were somewhat dented and scraped and would have been difficult to restore, how do I get so lucky to get the last two new ones that Stoddards had on hand for $74.70 each! Looks like my goal of no repro deco strips on my car is going to be a little easier to achieve than I thought! Now if I could just find new OEM ones for my front and rear bumpers, the Porsche gods would really be smiling on this project!

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Entry: 1/20/07 - It was finally warm enough in the shop to do filler and block sanding work today! The first task on my list was straightening the collision damaged front hood latch mechanism and test fitting it. I used my shop press to straighten out the base of the portion of the latch mechanism that bolts to the hood, the other half that bolts to the body was not damaged. A little filing of the bolt holes so it would center on the latch and adjusting the depth and soon I had a working latch again. It's a little bent but it is the original lighter '901' part number prefix latch so I wanted to preserve it until a better one comes along. I have a later '911' prefix latch but it is much heavier and obviously a later design.

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I've been staring at the drivers door for the last week, not quite happy with the gaps. The rear gap matched the right side of the car at 3 mm but the front gap was 5 mm . The factory repair manual shows 4 mm as the desired front gap and no matter how I worked it, the fender would not come any further back to make up the 1 mm. Well, I cut down a piece of oak as shown in the factory manual and used it and a sledge hammer to beat the door hinge "eyes" forward until the front gap was at 4 mm and the door hung perfectly squarely in the opening.

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Problem was now I had a 4 mm gap at the back which was 1 mm bigger than the gap on the right side. The door opening has quite a bit of body solder on it so I figured adding a 1 mm thick bit of Evercoat Rage Xtreme lightweight filler is a reasonable approach to closing the gap. Tonight the gap is filled and roughed-in to exactly 3 mm. This is a small quality compromise (a.k.a. "kludge") to use filler instead of body solder but I think it's going to be fine once all feathered in with a thin coat of filler on the outside edge of the rear quarter panel. It will look perfectly factory spec once painted, which is the goal of this project. I was also able to get the front edge of the door to line up perfectly with the lip on the front edge of the rockerpanel where it meets the trailing edge of the fender, which is really an important detail to get right in passing the 15' visual inspection, no clues to indicate the rockerpanel has been replaced.

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Got a pleasant surprise in the mail today, a 100% NOS, made in Germany Messko tire gauge in PSI and for a Schrader type automotive (not bicycle) tire valve stem. This is the correct brand and type tire gauge that came with the factory toolkit on my '66 912, except it's a higher pressure model, the correct one should stop at 50 PSI.

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Here's what the correct 50 PSI version looks like sitting next to the type I have, just the scale is different. I'm happy to have a good "toolkit filler" for now and perhaps someday I'll run across a well-worn correct one and can swap its "guts" into my NOS 140 PSI one!

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Entry: 1/21/07 - Filler and block sanding work on the left door sill, lockpost and rear quarter panel continued today. I started the day by welding up a couple tiny rust-thru pin holes I had missed on the lockpost and then filling the area to hide the welds. A very thin skim-coat of filler was added to the quarter panel to fill small door dings and further blend the edge of the filler used to cover the weld repairs to the lower area. The door gap is finally perfect so all that remains is the inner lockpost and door sill area. Every effort is being taken to make this side's gaps and sill width perfectly mirror the passenger side so they look totally uniform... so far, so good.

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My last trip to the autobody supply jobber discovered a new tool that I had read about in my "how to" books but never seen or used, metal filler spreaders. The difference over the typical plastic spreaders is amazing, especially when applying extremely thin "skim coats" across the face of a panel. The steel has the perfect amount of spring to force the filler into the surface yet maintain control to keep from scraping through to the underlying surface. I'm able to apply much less filler, therefore not having to sand as much off to get to the point where the filler layer gets so thin it starts to "ghost" the color of the underlying metal through it.

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Entry: 1/24/07 - Now that the filler and block sanding work on the outside of the left rocker and rear quarter panels is ready for glazing putty, it is time to finish the door sill and lockpost. Removing the door and finishing the small remaining door sill edge where the door blocked access was the first task. Once that was done, I started filling and block sanding the inner edges. Not much change is visible in the photo but I'm actually done with the entire inner door sill and working on the outer seam area at the edge of the lockpost. The funny thing about the iterative refinement process is you just keep working on it until at some point you declare it done. I'm hoping to have it ready for primer by the end of the week. I'm also planning on starting the filler and block sanding work on the lower front fender patch where it meets the rockerpanel while I have the door off.

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Entry: 1/25/07 - Today I continued the filler and block standing work on the left lockpost and once I was happy with the results I turned my attention to high spots on the rear quarter panel. Any areas where sanding broke through to bare metal were handled in one of two ways; hammer with lead shot bag supporting from behind or grind with Dremmel tool cutting disc. One particular area at the point where the new lower lockpost pressing was welded in produced a very pronounced high spot due to the welding done behind it. I decided to use my Dremmel grinder to knock it down so it could be filled flush to the surrounding filler. I thought is would be worthwhile to photograph to document exactly how much filler was added to the door edge (exactly 1 mm according to the ruler) before I sand the door opening corner/edge to round it down to match the factory look.

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Once all the high spots had been beaten or grinded, filled and block sanded, I proceeded to the next step, applying Evercoat Polyester Glazing Putty and block sanding the entire rocker and rear quarter panels. The final task for the day was lifting the car so I could do the final finishing work on the lowest areas of the rocker panel, focusing efforts on the seam area just above the jack tube. I started filling and block sanding the patch area at the rear bottom of the front fender and have it nearly ready for glazing putty as well. I'm trying to be patient and not rush to primer too soon as it will only mean more work and wasted primer if I don't get as many of the surface defects fixed at this stage while it's still easy to do.

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Entry: 1/26/07 - Finished with the application of Evercoat Polyester Glazing Putty and block sanding, masked the edges and cleaned the surface with PrepSol solvent and then applied a thick coat of Spies Hecker Priomat Primer 3255 self-etching primer.

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I'm really pleased with how the extensive patch made to the lower front fender area blended in. The rolled edge and pinch seam are totally invisible from the end as well as the weld seam on the outer skin! I really couldn't ask for a better outcome than this!

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I was able to preserve the look of the factory lap weld seam where the lockpost meets the rear quarter panel by carefully masking and filling each surface separately with its own 1 mm thick layer of filler. I will need to shim the latch with a thicker shim, available from Stoddards for just such a circumstance. Once it all cures overnight I'll re-hang the door and test install the latches and door check straps on both sides just to make sure everything works like it should, now while it's easy to fix the problems.

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Entry: 1/27/07 - This afternoon the primer has finally cured hard enough to install the left door. I did need to spot fill and re-prime the bottom corner of the door after having done some beating on the lip to close the gap with the door sill a few days back. Today's efforts required a little adjustment of the rear edge of the fender about even with the bottom of the fuel filler door. While the door was off, I had pulled out a small indentation at that point along the fender edge using the 5 lb. slide hammer, today I beat it back in a little using a wood block and dead-blow hammer to align it perfectly with the door. All in all I'm very pleased with the final outcome. There's a little variation on the bottom edge of the door that needs a little attention with a file but nothing major. So here it is, 4 mm gap between the leading edge of the door and the front fender, 3 mm everywhere else. An exact match of the gaps I was able to achieve on the passenger side. I figured that matching gaps from side to side was the goal since the car had been hit on the right front corner.

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Here's a repair section that took some effort and I'm particularly proud of the outcome. The leading edge of the door lines up with the lip at the front of the rockerpanel and the door gap is uniform all the way along it, even with the new section of sheetmetal added to the bottom 8" of the fender's trailing edge... YEAH BABY!!!

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I'm also happy with how the graft of the bottom 2" of the door skin meshed into the new rockerpanel / quarter panel patch. There is a little filler here to fill the lap-weld seam depression but less than 3 mm thick and anchored to brand new sheetmetal. This area was originally about the same thickness of lead solder from the factory so I don't feel sleazy for resorting to filler here... you gotta do what you gotta do.

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