With the body prep process well under way, I have already logged many hours sanding, scraping, prying, and cleaning various areas of the body.
Overall this has been the most difficult, discouraging part of the restoration process. The body had many more stress cracks than I initially thought – most of them in really tough areas like the front and rear hatch drainage channels and the door sills. Essentially every area where something could be “slammed” closed (doors, rear hatch, front hood) had spider webbing everywhere and needed fiberglass repairs. Due to the contours of these areas, re-glassing and re-shaping took a long time. To fix the issue permanently, I added new layers of glass behind the visible surfaces to make them stronger.
Another issue is that the soda blasting was harsh enough to expose a lot of the underlying defects in the gelcoat. This revealed hundreds of small pinholes or imperfections that needed to be re-filled. Lesson learned that it was probably a bad idea to have the body media blasted.
Focusing on the underside of the car and the wheel wells, it had a fine layer of undercoat which I’m halfway through removing (I’d like to have the underside refinished), and the chassis tunnel had thick foam bonded to it, which I’ve have the pleasure of scraping off, usually straight into my face and eyes as I work upside down!
I opted to remove the rocker panels to make sure the underlying seat belt mounts weren’t rusted away (bad if I ever had an accident), but my panels were bonded which meant that I had to pry them away from the body. It wasn’t an easy job and I actually did more damage than good (my seatbelt mounts were perfect, no rust!!), so I ended up cracking the fiberglass in several areas of the rocker panels for no good reason. Both panels needed to be re-glassed in a few areas but that didn’t cost me too much time.
At this point of the update, my doors are fully prepped along with the rear hatch, front hood, rear valance, rocker panels, and headlight pods. I still have a lot of work to do on the main body but most of the hard repairs are done. Now it’s just a matter of doing more block sanding and filling pinholes. I’m getting there, but I can’t wait until this stage is done – I’m over it!