When taking on the full build of any car, it's the details that make your final product stand out from the rest. With Orange Krate, our 1971 Chevy Camaro project moving into the final build stage, it was paramount to pay attention to these details as we move ever so close to laying down the final vibe. Peter Newell and his team at Competition Specialties in Walpole, Massachusetts, have brought Orange Krate from its humble beginnings through a complete metamorphosis, infusing plenty of cutting-edge performance along the way. With the body still on the rotisserie, it afforded us the perfect opportunity to make final evaluations as to which details would make the biggest differences.
Since Newell had replaced both rear quarter-panels during the build, he had options as to how to fill the seam where the upper quarter-panel met the roof skin. One would have been to use modern plastic body filler, while the other would follow the more traditional route using body solder. Since the original factory seam was done in lead, Newell chose to return the area back to its original factory state. Eastwood (eastwood.com) offers both traditional lead as well as lead-free body solder kits in various forms, from Basic to Standard, all the way up to Deluxe kits. Even if you have never tackled soldering panel seams before, all kits include a well-detailed DVD that takes you through all the steps so you can take on the job with confidence. Practice makes perfect once you get the hang of it. Our seams came out bitchin, and look just as good—if not better—than the originals.
Nothing fits like factory hardware, so if you have them, it's always better to clean them up and reuse them. A trip to the blasting cabinet and blowing them clean afterwards has them ready for a fresh coat of paint to give them a clean look. This is another area where Eastwood can help out since they offer myriad OEM-style sprays including such popular shades as Aluma Blast, Spray Gray, Brake Gray, and Detail Gray—all designed to bring your parts back to life. Some parts require additional care such as door lock mechanisms, which need to be soaked in degreaser to clean them up, whereas blasting them could adversely affect their function. For them, once cleaned, can be scuffed, blown clean, and treated to a fresh coat of color.
Rounding the final turn, it was time to make the last pass over the body to get it ready for its gloss. With this being the final attention paid to surface preparation, it's imperative to take your time and correct any issues you find—no matter how minor. The better the surface preparation the better the paintjob–one you'll be proud of for years to come. It's a case in point where time invested equals the quality of the final product.
While still able to rotate Orange Krate on the rotisserie to get to all the tight nooks and crannies, Newell assembled a grouping of 3M sanding products including both wet and dry sandpapers ranging from 40- to 600-grit for working his way across the body surface.
Eastwood's basic body solder kit (PN 11165) comes with everything you'll need to get started, including 2 pounds of solder, flat and half-round paddles, file holder and flat body file, 1 pound each of tallow and tinning butter, five acid brushes, and instructional DVD.
Preparing the rear quarter-to-roof panel seam for lead-based body solder, Peter Newell of Competition Specialties used a handheld grinder with 50- and 80-grit discs to bring the area to bare metal.
It's important to expand your tinning area adjacent to the region receiving the body solder to allow for additional holding power in case you need to extend the soldering.
A die grinder was used to gain access to tight areas like the rear glass channel to assist in removing any final debris, filler, or window sealer.
The area was then gently warmed with a handheld torch, carefully moving along the seam so as not to warp the metal. It's important to wear a respirator through the upcoming stages.
Using an acid brush, the tinning butter was applied to the seam and outer areas. Note that the heat allows an even flow of the product over the surface.
The tinning butter is then wiped into the panel using a copper wool pad.
After the treated area was cooled, it was wiped clean using a clean cloth and lacquer thinner to remove any oil debris possibly left on the surface.
The final step in preparation of the surface is to wash the area with a mixture of water and baking soda to neutralize the acid in the tinning butter.
The panel area was then warmed again with the torch, followed by heating the 30/70 lead solder stick until it began to slowly flow onto the panel seam. This step can be a bit tricky till you get the hang of it.
Once you have filled the seam area with lead, take one of the paddles and coat its base with the tallow. This will allow the paddle to move freely and not stick to the lead as it works across the application area.
Using the torch to carefully melt the lead, use the paddle to work the lead into its desired area across the panel surface.
Once you have sufficiently filled the seam, use the Vixen file to carefully shave the lead to its desired contours. If you shave too much off, it's easy to reapply more lead to the area.
The completed area looks factory fresh and will be as durable and long lasting as it was when it left the factory.
For final bodywork and block-sanding, Newell ran a 3/4-inch tape line just below the mid-body line continuing rearward across the wheel opening reveal to the end of the quarter-panel.
As marked, he will sand completely above the tape line then revise the line to sand below it. This will ensure the mid-body line remains crisp and razor sharp.
As we move into the final bodywork stages, plenty of 3M products will be used, including wet and dry sandpaper grits from 40 through 600 as well as sanding discs and their cool ergonomic sanding block.
Using various sanding blocks, Newell moved across the body starting with 80-grit and moving onto 220-grit paper in a left-to-right motion while crisscrossing his strokes.
For the delicate curves at the top front of the door skins, Newell used a small, flexible foam block to capture the correct contour while sanding the area.
While blocking the door for straightness, he located a low spot above the door handle area indicating a slight ding to the sheetmetal.
To correct the problem, Eastwood's Contour Premium Body Filler (PN 13520 ZP) was used thoroughly mixed to the recommended specifications of filler to crème hardener.
A skim coat was applied to the low spot to fill the area.
Once hardened, the area was block-sanded using 180-grit paper till smooth.
Eastwood's Concours high-end 3-gun kit (PN 12252) includes everything you see here including two full-size and one mini-detail gun designed to be powered by your home air compressor for both solvent and waterborne paints.
The area was then blown clean and spot-primed using the full-size Eastwood Concours paint gun.
The final repair came out perfect. This procedure can be repeated to correct any low spots encountered while block sanding the body.
A tip from Pete is that nothing fits like original hardware, so it's always better to retain factory parts like these, including the trunk and hood latches and door strikers.
To clean them up, a simple trip to the blasting cabinet removed decades of grime and old paint.
The original door latch mechanisms worked OK but were greasy and filthy, which impeded their performance.
The latch mechanisms were soaked in a degreasing solvent.
They were then worked over with a simple acid brush to remove all of the debris.
A gray scuff pad was then used to add additional bite to the surface. Then the assembly was blown clean of dust and debris.
Here you can see a number of related parts prepped and ready for final paint.
Eastwood offers a number of spray paints for the restorer, which duplicate the original factory finishes. For the door latch mechanisms, their Detail Gray (PN 10036Z) was used.
To make the hood latch look factory fresh, the unit was hung in the spray booth and treated to a coating of Eastwood's Spray Gray (PN 10032Z).
Here you can see the differences in the color tones of the Eastwood spray colors as they pertain to their individual applications. Next time you see us, Orange Krate will be in the spray booth!