Since the car was now officially running, it began to feel like a mad dash to get the car somewhat road legal and safe. From the last post, I had completed the rear of the car and was looking to keep the momentum up by moving to the front of the car. At the front, I decided to tackle the headlights first. With the parts car and our disassembled car, we had a ton of parts to pick and choose from. We had a few new parts but most of what we had were tired rusty parts. Some parts were simply rusty and had bad paint but some were physically damaged and couldn’t be used. In my opinion, having a donor parts car streamlines moving a project forward and is a worthy investment.
It was at this stage of the build when I decided I wanted to do something about the large quantity of tired and slightly rusty parts waiting to be installed on the car. At the time I was watching Ronald Finger’s YouTube channel where he was tackling a Fiero restoration and noticed a sandblast cabinet he was using from Eastwood. Talk about great marketing, because I immediately started thinking if he can do it, why the hell can’t I? Soon after a couple of days of research and deliberation, the cabinet showed up with some media and the sandblast journey had begun. I quickly started learning about moisture in the lines and what media to use. It wasn’t without its mistakes.
I realized the air compressor I was using wasn’t even going to come close to the CFM required to run the sandblast cabinet. Luckily, I’ve got great friends who had a portable 90 CFM air compressor I could use. It just needed a new carburetor and some new vacuum hoses and it was good as new. I was officially in the sandblasting business and business was booming. First up were the headlight bezels.
The Sunbeam Alpine headlight bezels are a three-part system with works with a couple of springs and screws. The first part is the base, which is shown in the upper left. I had around four to choose from with the parts car. I chose the best two and threw those into the blast cabinet. A couple of minutes later and the part was paint and rust-free. This was amazing. I soon moved on to the next part which was a galvanized light cradle that held the actual light bulb in place. This part was held in with screws and springs from a kit purchased from Sunbeam Specialties which carries all of these parts. Next comes the exterior bezel which encapsulates the light and completes the installation. All of these parts were sand blasted and prepared for paint.
I was just learning about primer and all of the different types available. I was a complete novice and decided to only purchase bare metal primer for this paint job. As time goes on, we all get smarter and wiser and about a year later I learned about self etching primer which bonds much better to the paint. Next time I am installing these bezels when the car is finally ready for reinstallation, I plan to use self etching primer. Live and learn. However, the paint primer and paint went on and looked beautiful. After a few days of painting and priming, the parts were ready to be installed on the car.
The sequence of the light installation followed the pictures above. The kit from Sunbeam Specialties came with a rubber gasket that fits between the first bezel and the body. I ended up installing one side with the rubber gasket and one without to get a better idea of the look of the installation. The first bezel was attached with rivets and I ended ou liking the installation without the rubber. I had a better look without the visible gasket around the bezel.
Next up came galvanized light bracket which the bulb actually mounted too. There are springs and screws which help attach the bracket to the first bezel and allow for the light to be adjusted. Next comes the light which gets attached with a chrome ring to the galvanized bracket. Then finally, is the exterior cover which is surprisingly only attached with one screw on the underside of the whole assembly. The installation went on without a problem and lessons were learned during the installation which will be used later down the line during the final installation. Further bodywork was also going to be needed in order for the cover to align with the bodywork. This was the case because the covers weren’t installed when the bodywork was completed.
After the success with the front headlights, I decided to install the horns. These horns are attached with a two-part bracket. The first part gets bolted to the chassis and the second bracket gets attached to the chassis bracket. After a quick sandblast, prime, paint, and a trip to the hardware store, the horns were installed onto the car. I was beginning to enjoy the restoration process and began looking for other things I could restore properly.
I soon landed on restoring the window hardware and brackets. The door hardware consisted of a lock mechanism, window crank, two window guides, a door opening arm, and a quarter window. The guides are technically the only part I could restore. The lock mechanism, window cranks, and door opening arm were all galvanized and didn’t need to be restored and only needed to be lubricated.
I ended up sandblasting the guides and primed and painted both sets of each door. This was rewarding since fuctioning doors were something that needed to be completed before the car could be driven on the road. The sandblast cabinet had been a successful purchase and made the restoration feel legitimate. I always felt like we were just amateurs slapping new parts n the car and calling it restored, but the experience with the sandblasting cabinet made the restoration feel more real. Taking tired parts and taking them down to bare metal and giving them a second life was intensely satisfying. The cabinet not only helped with the installation of freshened parts, it started a snowball effect of beginning to assemble the car which will be covered in the next post. Motor on.