Sometimes projects can become overwhelming. I often find myself standing in the garage surrounded by a clutter of mustang debris wondering what to do next. There just seems to be SO much to do. Even though this is a very simple car there are still very many parts – and most of them rusted.
Each time I start out to do one little section I end up with a colossal mess and a big box of small parts that need to be restored and panels that need to be stripped, de-rusted, and fabricated. last week I started on the fender and ended up with a huge hole in and under the cowl. So at this point I have a mostly stripped fender, a huge hole in the cowl area, and a big box of parts that need restoring. (And I thought the front end was going to be easier than the back.)
I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and my back decided to go out this week so while I was lying around wasting my life away I decided to watch something on TV that might give me some inspiration. I watched a couple of History shows that did the trick. Have you ever seen the show about the building of the Panama Canal or the Empire State Building? Now that Panama Canal was one overwhelming project. The French just gave up and walked away from it. The Americans took it on and eventually it was built. It was an engineering marvel and the human cost was just unbelievable. Watching that gave me a little perspective and I’m thinking my project isn’t so big after all. In fact I think that later on (next year maybe) I’ll pull out that old C4 automatic and put in a T5 transmission. I might even rebuild one myself. I think the 289 with a 5 speed manual transmission would be much more fun to drive than an automatic.
But for now let’s get back to the project at hand. You’ve already seen the big hole in the cowl and since my back is in no condition to be crawling around under there I’ll save that project for later. Lets get back to the fender.
This is the fender in the first stage of chemical stripping. It takes two steps with the stripper. You put it on real heavy and let it sit for a half hour or so and then scrape that off. On this car that removes the two top paint layers. Then another coat is applied and after that sits awhile I take a big wire brush to it. That usually cuts right down through the factory paint and sealer. I let it sit for a while longer and then scrub it with coarse steel wool and that gets it down to bare metal. Of course it’s incredibly messy and you have to be well protected from the chemicals but it gets the job done.
As you can see here there are some rust holes on the top. That whole area will have to be cut out and new metal bonded in with 3M Panel Bond. The fender also has had a lower panel patch that was welded on years ago and I’m going to have to look at that area and make sure the body line is right. At this point it’s still covered with bondo.
I decided to do some resto work on some of the smaller parts so I set up my little electrolysis tub and started the process. It works pretty good but I wanted something a little easier and less messy. I heard about using apple cider vinegar as a simple soak for rusty parts so I got a couple of gallons to try it out. I put some very rusty headlight buckets in it and let it soak for two days. When I pulled them out and washed them off they looked fantastic! They were completely de-rusted. They are pitted but they’re clean.
This what they look like now after primer and paint. Pictured too is the cable and bracket for the fresh air vent which were also really rusty. Sorry I forgot to get before and after pics but don’t worry – there’s a thousand more rusty parts yet to be soaked. So it looks like the apple cider vinegar is a real winner for rust removal. Too bad I couldn’t just drive the car into a pit full of it.