December 2001- January 2002
Now that I have finished with the restoration of the small exterior trim items, it's time to start on the big stuff.  First on the list are the headlight bezels.  Luckily they looked much worse than they were.   The first thing I did was give them a good washing with Dawn dish detergent. After they dried I went to work on the outsides with 0000 Steel.  Wow, what a difference.  The outsides of the bezels looked almost brand new -- no rust, no pitting, no scratches.  

The inside of the bezels weren't quite as pristine.  They weren't bad, but there was some surface rust and I didn't want it to continue, so I decided to give them a coat of paint.   After they dried I masked them off to keep paint off of the outside.  Masking them off took a little patience, especially the headlight holes.  As I discovered when masking the emblems, the easiest way to mash off these odd areas is to just apply masking tape over the areas, then trim off the tape with a sharp utility knife.  You can see in the photo above how I trimmed around the headlight holes. 

I originally tried to mask off the screw holes by just placing a piece of tape over the holes on the outside.  The problem was the holes are deeply recessed and I couldn't get the tape to cover good enough to keep from painting part of the hole on the outside.  I solved the problem by inserting short pieces of dowel rod in the four screw holes from the inside.  The dowel rod was slightly larger than the holes so I tapered the ends with a pencil sharpener. 

 After masking, I wiped the bezels down with lacquer thinner, then I applied two coats of rust- preventative primer and two coats of a silver colored enamel - both from rattle cans. After the paint dried I polished the outsides with Autosol.  

The fender eyebrows were next.  Sometimes when I'm on a roll, I get so wrapped up in what I'm doing I forget to take photos.  That's what happened when I was restoring the eyebrows.  I don't have photos of the restoration process, but mainly I used the same procedure I used on the headlight bezels.  First, a good washing, then buff out the chrome with 0000 steel wool.  The insides of the fender eyebrows where badly rusted, so I painted them with the same rattle can primer and silver enamel paint I used on the insides of the headlight bezels.   The eyebrows also have a section that is painted black to match up with the black sections of the grill.   

Before masking off the black areas, I sanded the old paint with 400 grit sandpaper to feather the chipped paint and rough it up.   Then I masked them off and applied two coats of primer and two coats of a satin black enamel from rattle cans.  A couple of days later, I applied Autosol metal polish to the chrome areas for protection. 

Well, I have been putting off restoring the grill, but I am now out of excuses.   I have been putting it off for a couple of reasons -- it looked to be a fairly large job and, more impor- tantly, I was afraid to see what kind of condition it was in.  It looked pretty good when I removed it, but you never really know until you start restoring an item what kind of shape it's in.  I hoped it was okay because reproduction grills are very scarce (they just began making them this year) and they cost around $500.00.  Even getting one chromed can run $400.00 to $600.00.  And forget about getting a good used one, they're just not available.

Like with the other trim items, the first thing I did was attack the grill with 0000 steel wool.  Since I discovered the wonders of 0000 steel wood, I've even give up on washing the item first.  It works wonders on bug guts, road tar, mud, what-have-you.  I was pleased to discover that the chrome portions of the grill were in relatively good condition.  There was a little surface rust that was easily removed with the steel wool, but there was no pitting and no large dings or dents.  There was a small area on the center bar that had been scuffed and a small area on the top rail where the chrome was slightly discolored.  I could live with both of these flaws.  The scuffed area was not very noticeable and the discoloration would not be seen when the hood was closed.

The inside of the grill was fairly rusted, so that meant I needed to do the paint routine, like I had done on the other trim items. After I was finished with the steel wool I washed the grill with Dawn dish detergent to cut any oil or grease residue and then I proceeded to mask off the inside in prepara- tion for painting.  To say that masking off the inside was a pain in the ass would be an understatement -- lots of area and all of it is curved and odd shaped.  After I had it masked off (about 2 hours), I wiped it down with lacquer thinner and applied two coats of primer and two coats of silver enamel.

Now I was ready to paint the black detail on the outside of the grill.  Before masking off the areas to be painted, I dry sanded the old painted areas with 400 grit sandpaper.  I didn't try to sand off all the old paint, just feather out the chips and rough up the paint.  I figured if the paint was still sticking after 30 years, it was best to leave it on.  After sanding, I started masking off.  If I thought masking off the inside was a pain, it paled in comparison to masking off the outside.  It not only had the same curves and odd shapes, but I had to be more particular in applying the tape because the paint lines of the detail areas would show for all the world to see.  

It took a couple of hours to get it masked off, after which I wiped it down with lacquer thinner and applied two coats of primer and two coats of satin black enamel.  After the paint was dry I took off the masking tape and applied Autosol to the chromed areas. 



Copyright 2001-2006 by Johnny M. Patterson
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