Entry: 2/8/07 - Today I rounded-up all the correct sized stainless steel fasteners for the front bumper and installed it with the freshly blasted and repainted bumper brackets. Overall I'm delighted with how it fits as in there were no surprises or changes from since the last test fitting prior to reworking the fender flanges. As you can see in the following photo, the front bumper appears to have been salvaged from two separate bumpers, welded together in the middle. There was a good bit of BONDO on the bumper when I blasted it so I have a good bit of work ahead of me to get it looking undamaged again. I'm planning on welding up all the front license bracket holes, since I only need to mount a rear license plate on a Washington State "Collector Vehicle" licensed car (a fantastic deal by the way, $35 one-time fee to license with a 2,500 mile limit on annual miles but it qualifies the car for "collector" type car insurance that runs about $100/year for "agreed-value" replacment value and adequate liability coverage).
As you can see in the following photo, my suspicion about the right side of the car (that being the replacment fender from the '68) is true, it has a 12mm upward cant. The bumper runs perfectly horizontal and the left side is perfect, so I was able to precisely measure how much I need to pull that right outboard fender edge down. There I quite a bit of flex there already as I can almost move it 12mm simply by pulling on it by hand. There are several attachment points between the bumper, headlight conduit tube and fender at this point so anchoring it once the correct flex has been achieved will be easy. My main worry is getting the horizontal louvers in the horn grills to mirror each other, which looks quite achievable but it will take a bit of creative chain and jack work. With all the bare metal primed, I was finally able to hose the accumulated sanding dust off the 4-post lift and out of the garage. A clean shop does a lot for raising my morale on these gloomy Seattle winter days.
Entry: 2/9/07 - Today's objective was to make the front bumper align perfectly with the right fender without screwing up any of my existing hood and door gaps! I made a pulling plate out of angle iron to clamp to the bottom edge of the fender and hook the chain to. Then I made a movement gauge out of strap iron to bolt to the bumper mounting plate to measure how far down I had pulled the fender edge. You can see where I chained and positioned the jack on the torsion bar mount in the following photo, using the runner of the 4-post lift as my anchor point for the chain. A few turns of the jack and the fender quickly made-up that 12 mm excess gap! I really had to pull and push on the wheel arch to pull out a small bow that formed, but it did smooth out and my adjustment did work!
Next I reinstalled the bumper, using an old piece of the correct rubber seal that goes between the fender and bumper to judge the fit and alignment. As you can see in the following photo, PERFECTO!!! Better yet, no change to the door or hood gap, so I didn't screw anything up! Now that's a good way to end a week of working on this section of the car!
Entry: 2/10/07 - Ok, everything on the front end aligns and looks good so I'm ready for a break from fenders and bumpers for a bit. I still will have to fill and block sand the front bumper but that can wait. I want to start on the hood next and come back to the front bumper. A couple of my local Porsche buddies, James and Jeremy, I met thru the Pelican Parts BBS, stopped by with their 911s to get my opinions on some bodywork issues they're facing. I thought I should clean up the 912 and temporarily mount the grills, turnsignals and headlights just to help my buddies picture how it will all look finished. Having that hood and cowl ahead of the windshield repaired and primed to match the fenders is going to really make it look like I'm getting close to paint. Ahhhh, the motivational power of a little chrome on fresh primer, I just had try and capture it on camera to share!
Entry: 2/11/07 - Removing the front hood by myself is a bit of a challenge but without the gas tank in the car and a 4-post lift, I could do most of the work from inside the closed trunk! First step was removing the two struts that hold the hood open and using a long stick to hold the hood open while I removed the two rear hinge bolts that can't be accessed from inside the trunk. I closed the hood and crawled under the car and in through the gas tank hole to remove the two forward hinge bolts from inside the trunk. I crawled out from under the car and lifted the hood off from the outside and placed it on the workstand to strip it with aircraft type paint stripper. While waiting for the paint to peel off, I installed the rockerpanel deco trim strip on the left side by drilling holes and test fitting it. After 10 to 12 iterations of paint stripper, I finally had the hood down to bare metal. A thorough wash with Ajax dish soap and a scrub brush to remove any traces of paint stripper was followed by a spray down with Eastwood Company's Metal Wash to keep the steel from flash rusting. There was a bit of BONDO on the nose section but the underlying damage is minimal and I have an excuse to play with my stud weld dent puller to work the surface so the thickness of the skim-coat of filler I apply can be minimized.
Entry: 2/14/07 - Things are progressing very well with the hood and cowl work. Over the last couple days I've spot blasted all the surface rust spots and pits caused by rock chips on the hood and have fixed a bit too wide of hood gap at the left rear corner by welding a little new steel to the edge of the hood. The first coat of Evercoat Rage Xtreme lightweight filler has been applied to cover the dressed welds. I've also stripped the paint off the cowl area ahead of the windshield and will be working on fixing surface rust that I've found in and around the weatherstrip channel. I will also start the filling and block sanding of the previously repaired dents in the forward edge of the hood next.
Entry: 2/16/07 - Over the limited time I've had to work on the project over the last couple days, I've focused on the trunk area. First task was removing all the extra wiring "cobbed-on" to the factory wiring harness that a previous owner had done for adding accessories like driving lights. Once cleaned-up, I removed the factory wiring harness from the back side of the dashboard and cleaned all the grime and dust from the black undercoated surfaces with mineral spirits and a stiff bristle brush. Once everything was cleaned, I freshened up the black surfaces with a thin coat of semi-gloss aerosol enamel. I applied a bead of 3M seam sealer to the inside edge of the fender flanges down to the tops of the horn grills on both sides to cover the black 3M strip caulk placed between the fender flange and cowl. The seam sealer was spread out to cover a good bit of the weatherstrip lip to seal that surface from moisture that accumulates under the foam rubber. The seam sealer was kept well away from the primed edge of the fender though some of it will be painted but hidden under the weatherstrip. I'll seam seal the area next to the horn grills after I finish detail work and priming of the hood latch sill. The last task was to cover the car with a plastic drop cloth and mask off the cowl area in front of the windshield for some more aggressive spot blasting along the lip at the top of the weatherstrip channel. There are some pretty big rust pits in the bottom of the weatherstrip channel which I sealed using SEM Rust Seal and will cover with a coat of Lab-metal once it arrives in an order from Eastwoods. My goal is to get the majority of the bare steel on the cowl area primed and then finish up with the weatherstrip channel once the Lab-Metal arrives.
Entry: 2/17/07 - Today there was filler dust in the air as I used both Evercoat Rage Xtreme lightweight filler followed by Evercoat Polyester Glazing Putty as I filled and block sanded the hood and cowl area. I've given the leading quarter of the hood a thin skim coat to cover the dents and any rust pits and figure a couple more hours of work before it's ready for primer. The cowl work was completed and I gave it a nice thick coat of Spies Hecker Priomat Primer 3255 self-etching primer. I'm very pleased with how it's all turning out and have a hard time not rushing to see how the hood gaps look when I get it all back together!
Entry: 2/19/07 - A couple more iterations with the Evercoat Polyester Glazing Putty and block sanding and the hood was ready for a thick coat of Spies Hecker Priomat Primer 3255 self-etching primer.
I am very happy with how this turned out and will be able to mount it once I get done repairing the weatherstrip lip at the back edge of the trunk once the Lab-metal arrives from Eastwoods. Removal of the front bumper and doing the remaining filler and block sanding work should keep me plenty busy while I'm waiting.
Entry: 2/23/07 - My Lab-metal order arrived from Eastwoods today so I was finally able to proceed on repairing the rust-pitted weatherstrip channel at the back of the front hood. I'm very impressed with the product, I was able to thin it using the Lab-metal solvent to the point I could use a flat, ½" wide oil painting brush with short, stiff bristles (called a "bright" at art supply stores) to apply it to the surface. I also sanded down the front latch sill and gave it a thick coat of Spies Hecker Priomat Primer 3255 self-etching primer and have in curing under the the dual 500-watt halogen lamps.
Once the Lab-metal hardened a couple hours, I was able to smooth it by wetting the "bright" with the solvent and "scrubbing" it gently across the surface to knock-down the high spots. Once satisfied with the results, I masked-off the area and gave it a couple coats of primer. As you can see in the following photograph, everything is ready for test mounting the hood and assessing the gap improvements. You can also see the results of all my detailing efforts in that front trunk area. BTW: I got lots of feedback on my loose steering shaft problem postings. A total non-issue if using the correct stock steering wheel with a spring-loaded cup that fits into the bearing. I had swapped the stock 912 steering wheel for a stripped-down 914 one for the trip to the frame shop over a year ago and forgot... been breathing too many fumes perhaps?
Entry: 2/24/07 - Today's task was to perform the test fit of the hood now that I've added a little extra steel to that left rear edge to make the gap uniform all the way across the cowl and answer the nagging question, "Just how precise of job did I do with my measuring and welding?" Before I could get that answer, I had to find some suitable pins for the hood struts and replace the M6 bolts I had been using. A thorough search of my nearby hardware store turned up empty so I was forced to buy some long partially threaded M6 bolts and "turn" them into some pins using my "vertical lathe" (a.k.a. drillpress) by making them as close to the factory design as I could. The perfect activity for a rainy and cold Saturday morning and here's how they "turned" out:
Once the hood struts were reinstalled I talked my neighbor into helping me bolt the hood back on. Amazingly it positioned almost perfectly on the first try with just a little sideways adjustment I could take care of myself. So take a close look at that gap across the trailing edge of the hood, I think I nailed it first try... PERFECTO!!! YEAH BABY!!! I know purists probably wince at the idea of welding material on the back of the hood to get the gap correct but the car was wrecked, rusted, rotten, junk that was destined to the scrap heap and rebuilt by hand, sometimes you just gotta do whatever it takes to make it perfect and get over it. The important thing is the wheel alignment is perfect and the car will track straight, any little cosmetic issues are like building a car by hand and even Bentleys are not perfectly identical from side to side.
So here's the front shot, hood gaps are looking great from this angle too. One thing I'm not totally satisfied with is the left horn grill, which has the slightest cant. Funny thing is you only really see it when you take low level photos, just looking at from my normal eye height, it isn't really all that pronounced. I'm going to test fit the bumperettes when I finish with the front bumper filler and block sanding work and decide then, what additional work should be done to it. Yet another thing that makes me regret the decision to save that damaged and rotten original fender when I had the chance to buy both of the fenders off that '68 donor car.