One Busted-Knuckle Further

This post originally appeared in Tinkernation, see it here.

My 1960 Ford Falcon project began when my classic commuter car decided it didn’t want to go anymore. Having been parked longer then I’d like to admit, I’m finally getting close to my goal of swapping its engine and giving “Davey” a little makeover.

After disconnecting all necessary parts and pulling the engine out, I saw what a mess the engine bay was. I couldn’t just leave it like that… I’d sure opened a can of worms.

I decided I would give it a quick sanding and spray a couple layers of paint over both the inside engine bay as well as the hood. Planning to paint both with a suede metallic light blue to pull in the coloring of the car’s interior. I ordered the necessary supplies and thought I’d have the job done in no time.

As soon as the sanding began, I became nearly addicted to getting all the way to the metal. There was absolutely no way I was just going to leave it at a light sanding. So sheets and sheets of sandpaper later – the engine bay is finally ready. I used 80 grit the first time, 220 the next, and 320 the last time through. Of course, when the paint goes on, I’ll have some finer sanding to do. For most of it, I used an air-powered Chicago Pneumatic’s 6″ orbital sander – world’s faster than an old-fashioned block. The pneumatic sander provided quite a bit of flexibility in hard-to-reach areas by leaning it on it’s edge. There are still obviously some unreached places, which I think would be really difficult to get at without taking it to be sandblasted – but for my purposes I think this will end up looking great.

During the sanding process, the front grille area of the Falcon kept bothering me. The grille was misshapen in spots and could use some restoring and the body panel which sits beneath the front bumper looked munched-up.

They had to come off, but of course they didn’t want to – but nothing that Liquid Wrench and a little elbow grease couldn’t overcome! Six stubborn bolts held the lower bumper panel in place and in true garage-fashion the last one gave me the hardest time.

The last blot was a knuckle-buster and drew some blood after my hand slipped. Every job requires a little sacrifice, so a sliced finger was a small price to pay. Or of course, you could always choose to wear gloves, but what’s the fun in that!

One useful trick my handy husband showed me during this job was using a set of vice-grips for a stubborn stripped fastener. Adjust the vice grips as tightly as possible around the bolt/screw/etc and see if you can get it to start turning. If more force is needed, a second pair of vice grips can attach around the first to act as a handle of sorts for leverage.

The next day I purchased a small kit of body hammers and dollies and set off on my first attempt doing body work. I hammered away until I thought the metal was in its right place, and then I hammered on it some more. By the time this job was finished, I was impressed with my work and what a transformation it had made. This small body job was a good opportunity to see if I’d like to do something larger…and I look forward to the opportunity!

I also began working on the grille and got distracted by shining the chrome of Falcon’s horn button with a little 0000 steel wool and Never Dull polisher. (After seeing how great this worked, I also had to pretty-up my  Studebaker’s gauge cluster). Every additional thing I decide to do on my Falcon project delay’s my completion – but the added tasks are also enabling me to learn, have fun, and in the end produce a better result.

I’m now very near to laying down the paint and dropping in a “new” engine (another straight-six). In fact, I’ve entered the Falcon into a car show next month… because sometimes deadlines are necessary! Keep up with my progress by following me at GreaseGirl and don’t forget… there’s always an adventure in store when you open a can of worms (or an engine bay in my case)!

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