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A Challenging Endeavour - Pg 2

The guys who sold me the car had also included a fibreglass replacement for the left fender, which had extensive rust damage. After a call to a local MOPAR aficionado, himself in the midst of his own project, I learned that if I was going to do it properly – and for it to pay proper homage to my Dad and the long-departed Valiant – I would have to take the time to properly reconstruct the original part. We agreed that even if one put 100 hours into an original fender, at least you would know it was going to fit. That and never having to explain why your car is no longer a complete original example is worth the extra time required.

 

That ‘glass fender was also my first foray onto EBay Motors, which has become an incredible repository for vintage parts of all manners. After selling it to a racer in Quebec I later sourced the Edelbrock Performer manifold, Thermoquad carb and several other parts needed to complete my car.

After that first winter, crammed up against a wall on one side, the Galaxie on the other and my tools strewn all over, my beautiful wife suggested I build my dream shop out back. By the middle of that next summer I was able to pull the newly quartered Challenger into my 100 square foot ‘drive-though’ facility, where it would get the proper surroundings for the finish I had in mind.

The next two winters went down as the best in recent memory. Weekends where spent cutting, welding, grinding and sanding, but now my two boys and I had a huge area in which to play and create. Many a Saturday was spent making progress, as well as showing my young sons how much fun a shop hobby can be – especially when it boasts room for a TV, the Tree House Channel and a recliner! While still a little young to learn many of the skills, I knew from my own experiences this would make up some of their fondest memories.


Last Christmas, Year One was having an on-line sale that, added to their volume discounts, netted 25% discount on most everything I would need to bring the Challenger to it’s former glory. From the 2 1/2inch exhaust set up,interior screw sets, I was able to find nearly everything needed. In addition, I ordered a decal kit from Phoenix Graphics, which includes all the decals needed to bring a resto to show-like condition, including new-car pamphlets, glove box information, trunk lid and underhood decals. 

With the entire interior, exhaust and engine parts in a variety of boxes stacked around the shop, I endeavoured to do the entire build myself, learning what I needed along the way.
After the new metal was shaped and welded, seam-sealed and sanded smooth, I put down 3 layers of high-build primer over an etch base, spending many more weekends block sanding each application with a variety of tools and grits.

The next two winters went down as the best in recent memory. Weekends where spent cutting, welding, grinding and sanding, but now my two boys and I had a huge area in which to play and create. Many a Saturday was spent making progress, as well as showing my young sons how much fun a shop hobby can be – especially when it boasts room for a TV, the Tree House Channel and a recliner! While still a little young to learn many of the skills, I knew from my own experiences this would make up some of their fondest memories.

Last Christmas, Year One was having an on-line sale that, added to their volume discounts, netted 25% discount on most everything I would need to bring the Challenger to it’s former glory. From the 2 1/2inch exhaust set up,interior screw sets, I was able to find nearly everything needed. In addition, I ordered a decal kit from Phoenix Graphics, which includes all the decals needed to bring a resto to show-like condition, including new-car pamphlets, glove box information, trunk lid and underhood decals.

With the entire interior, exhaust and engine parts in a variety of boxes stacked around the shop, I endeavoured to do the entire build myself, learning what I needed along the way.

After the new metal was shaped and welded, seam-sealed and sanded smooth, I put down 3 layers of high-build primer over an etch base, spending many more weekends block sanding each application with a variety of tools and grits.


For applying the primers, I constructed a make-shift booth by hanging 6mil plastic around a 10x10 area, with a wall fan on one end and a a furnace filter fitted to the window at the other end. As I got more comfortable with the set up, I decided to apply the base-clear to the inners. Prepping and masking the doors, jambs, engine bay and trunk took another two weekends. Another was spent applying the white base paint along with 3 coats of clear. Other than a few fish-eyes on one rocker, the paint went on reasonably well. With growing confidence, I was beginning to think I could paint the entire car myself.

With past projects, once I had the inners sprayed I would get a shop to spray the exterior for a few hundred dollars. I would strongly suggest this method to anyone, owing to the expense, inherent dangers and margin of error present in doing this at home.

 

Once again I draped the plastic sheets, taping them together to form a booth. I assembled all the supplies required, including the sealer, paint, clear, hardeners and solvents, filters, tack cloths and mixing supplies.

As luck would have it, the sealer coat went down without a hitch, as did the 3 coats of base and two coats of clear. Unfortunately, on the last coat of clear – a full 4 hours into the process – things started to get hazy. Due partly to the fatigue of spraying all morning and also to the trigger nut loosening off allowing air to bypass the needle. And dry the clear as it exited the gun. When the fog finally cleared, I found that the last coat of clear had layed down like sand – instead of glass. Oh well I thought – isn’t glass made of sand? Maybe there was a way out of this after all.