November 2001
The first exterior trim items I worked on were those on the doors.  I had removed these items (mirrors, door handles, and door locks) when I was working on the door interior, so they were just sitting in a box waiting for me to get around to them.

The first items to tackle were the door mirrors.  The metal potions of the mirrors were in good shape.  The mirror arms are chrome and all they needed to restore them to like-new condition was buffing with 0000 steel wool and polishing with Autosol .  The metal part of the mirror heads are stainless steel and there was a small amount of rust around the rivets that attach the ball swivel to the head.  The rust was easily removed with 0000 steel wool.   However, even though 0000 steel wool will not  scratch chrome, it does tend to leave very fine scratch marks when used on stainless steel.  I removed the scratches by buffing the stainless steel with 3M's super duty rubbing compound.  After removing the majority of scratches with the rubbing compound, I buffed them with 3M's Finesse-it™ II Machine Polish 

I applied both of these 3M products using the Final Finish System buffing wheel from The Eastwood Company.   The 3" buffing wheel is made of foam rubber topped with Velcro for attaching buffing pads.  It is designed to be used in a hand drill, as shown in the photo above.  I have used this little wheel extensively and it does and good job and holds up well.  It's just the right size for buffing small items like trim.  The Finesse-it™ II Machine Polish does not contain any wax or other protectants, so I applied a coat of Autosol metal polish for protection.

The metal portion of the mirrors looked great after I finished.  Unfortunately, the mirror glass was in pretty bad shape.  The glass was badly scratched and the silvering was worn off in several places.  I looked around on the net and through my parts catalogs but no one sold replacements glass for these mirrors.  They only sold the entire mirror (and for big bucks, I might add).  I recently saw an NOS set of these mirrors on ebay that went for over $102.00.

I told a friend about not being able to buy replacement glass for these mirrors and he said he had new glass installed in his mirrors at a local auto glass shop.  Duh, why hadn't I thought of that!   I took the mirrors to an auto glass shop across from my work and they quoted me a price of $15.00 each to replace the glass.  That seemed kind of high, but considering they have to custom cut and grind the glass, I guess that price is not too unreasonable.  I left the mirrors and they said I could pick them up that evening when I got off work.  

After work I stopped by the auto glass shop to pick up my mirrors and they said they weren't quite finished but I could pick them up the next day.  The next day I went over at lunch to see if they were ready.  The lady behind the counter said they wanted to do a really nice job, so they were waiting for the manager to do them himself and that they should be ready by 5:00 o'clock.  This was starting to sound a little fishy.  I was starting to get worried that maybe they had messed up the metal or something and were just afraid to tell me.

After work I went again to the auto glass shop and I spotted my mirrors sitting on the counter.  They were sitting face down, so I couldn't see the glass, but the metal looked as good as it did when I brought them in, so I was relieved about that.  The manager was behind the counter.  I told him I was there to pick up the mirrors.  He sort of chuckled when he told me the total was $30.00 plus tax.  I ask him about the chuckle and he said he was laughing to keep from crying.   

It seems the reason for the delay had been that he originally gave the mirrors to one of his young employees to work on.  By the end of the first day, the employee had cut up nearly 2 square feet of glass and still didn't have two glasses that fit properly in the mirrors.  That's when the manager took over.   I don't know if the kid is still working there or not.  I paid the $30.00 and left before he decided to charge me for the employee's mistakes.

The mirror glass looks pretty good.  The fit and finish are not as good as original and, of course, they don't have the mirror codes like the originals.  But, even though they won't pass for factory, they definitely look better than they did before. 

The other mirror items that needed some attention were the mirror reinforcement brackets.  These are the brackets that are on the inside of the door that the mirrors screw into.  These will never be seen, but they were very rusty and would only get worse if not protected.  

I wire brushed off all of the rust.  I used a wire wheel on the bench grinder where I could and followed up with the Dremmel to get to the nooks and crannies I couldn't reach with wire wheel.  I then washed them with soap an water and wiped them down with lacquer thinner before spraying with two coats of a rust- preventative primer and two coats of a silver enamel.  

Now that the mirrors were finished, I turned my attention to the door handles and door locks.  The chrome on the door handles was in good shape and only needed buffing with 0000 steel wool and polishing with Autosol.   I should have stopped at that point but the inside of the push buttons and the springs were coated with grease and grim, probably from someone using WD-40 or some such product.  I couldn't resist taking them apart to give them a good cleaning.  The push buttons are held in place by a metal plate that is fastened to the handles by metal tabs.  Unfortunately,  these metal tabs are molded into the handles and are made of the same type of pot metal as the rest of the handles.  Pot metal is  not designed for repeated bending, so one of the tabs snapped off when I straightened it out to remove the metal plate.  Fortunately, only one broke.  I will need to be very careful when I bend the taps to re-install the metal plate.

While I was cleaning all of the grease and grim from the buttons and springs, I must have wire brushed a little to vigorously on the metal rods that keep the button from falling out through the front of the handle .  When I re-installed the buttons, the button on the passenger handle simply fell out of the front of the handle.  It seems, when first manufactured, the metal rod that is attached to the button is put through the hole in the metal plate and then the rod is crimped (if that's the right word) at the end to keep the rod from sliding back through the metal plate.  While cleaning, I smoothed these crimps enough that they no longer prevented the rod from sliding out.  I thought about just re-crimping it with a punch or something, but I was afraid I might break the rod.  I finally decided to drill a hole through the rod and insert a cotter pin.  As you can see in the photo, this worked well.  In fact, I liked it so much I did the same thing to the other handle.  Now there is no danger of the button falling out while I'm out cruising around.  After this little modification, I managed to get the handles back together without breaking any more tabs.  They now look and work much better than before.

Not much to do on the door locks.  I didn't dare try to take them apart for fear I'd never get them back together (I'm no locksmith).  I soaked them in lacquer thinner to remove any oil or grease that someone might have used on the inside.  I inserted the key and turned it several times while it was in the thinner to loosen any caked-on grim.  I also inserted and removed the key several times, wiping the key off each time before re-inserting it.  I did this until no dirt or grim showed on the paper towel when I wiped off the key. I then brushed the outsides with a brass wire brush (a golf club cleaning brush) and put a drop or two of machine oil on the outside moving parts (non on the inside).  The cleaning must have helped because the keys now slide in real easy and they turn without any effort.  I finished by applying a coat of Autosol to the stainless steel bezels.  I didn't try to remove all of the scratches from the bezels because they would just get scratched again the next time I missed the key slot while trying to insert the key in the dark.  

Just when I thought I was done, I found the antenna, the antenna bezel and the bezel retaining nut I had removed at the same time I removed the door hardware.  A little work with 0000 steel wool and Autosol and these parts looked like new also.

The next episode will detail the removal of the remainder of the exterior trim.  I hadn't removed any other trim (except the antenna hardware) at the time I restored the door trim because I was waiting until I found someone to do the paint and body work.

 

 

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