Heli Fire update 3: The long bloody road of panel repairs
No updates for a little while as I am well aware, if it isn't one thing with little jobs, holiday season and family stuff, favours helping mates move or massive freakin natural disasters definitely set the timelines back for poor old Heli Fire compared to where I wanted to be at the moment.
At last checkin, yes, the front of the cab looked ok although I still was nowhere near happy with the quality of the finish for the front panels. They got a minor sand on the speaker panel recently, which will get touch ups during the final coat.
This leads us now to the RHS side panel! the most mangled part of the cab. As it was the worst I wanted to get into that side first and try to get back to its former glory. Below pre works, after a small amount of bog, and a light sand to check for the most visible imperfections on the panel.
At that point I still hadn't ventured into the unknown of trying to repair so many tiny imperfections in this old gem of a cab, tbh I was pretty sh*t scared of getting stuck in because I very well knew what i was getting myself into, but at the same time i also knew i wasn't going to go into my garage one day and find it had magically completed itself...
And yes this part of the job is akin to crossing the Hay plains if you've done it.
You would remember that when the cab was picked up that it was a horrible mess. there was so much damage it would have been easier to tear the gelcoat off the sides and start again. Didn't want to because I really wanted to keep as much of the original cab intact even if it was under a coat of paint. Call me old fashioned but whatever, it's a 40 year old cab so old fashioned works just fine for me here 😄
To refresh your memory without having to scroll and find the before pics
The green terror as it came home - you can see my Donkey Kong PCB connected up in it lol😄
After the strip back using some Diggers metho based vanilla cleaner and magic erasers
You can see that the damage on the bottom was really bad hey
Using metho cleaners on the bottom also made the top layer of ply dry and curl which wasn't the greatest plan in hindsight. Note to self: glue first next time before stripping back paint.
As you would remember once again we applied a tiny bit of bog to some of the base there, which is where the long road began
So began a couple of months off and on of bogging, sanding priming, rinse and repeat.
Masked up for the whole thing because as it turns out bog is nasty sh*t and isn't great in the long run. nothing like a schweddy P2 mask in the middle of a wet humid QLD summer. ayyyy
But yes, being this around summertime it was important to keep myself hydrated in the garage as you do. This the first of many bog applications before an initial prime where i learned quite a few lessons about the intake of paint / primer into Bog and the importance of priming...
After a wipedown of the side panel, I went around the cab with a critical eye and (quickly as I had a mix of wet bog) patched a ton of imperfections that I could clearly see on the surface.
I went over this side panel and went over to find every scratch, mark, dent, crack, chip, split, gouge, scrape which turned out to be half the bloody cab!!
With the above lightly sanded back (badly, yes, for those of you who are looking at that above picture of those patch ups on the bottom of the panel saying "nup" 😄 ) well yes, you're right - sanding to the edges like that without covering the overlap did a really crap job... There was still timber exposed also which along with the bog sucked in all that primer, and you see the result:
Before I went any further (and after my experiences with the top layer of ply and stripping that green paint off), I had a tap around all of the base and side edges with the handle of a screwdriver to listen if there were any sections of ply that seemed like they had separated.
Most sections were easy to see like below.
I used a flat head screwdriver to gently separate those ply layers that already cracked, and used a razor blade with a generous dollop of glue on top to push that wood glue right into the joint, so when it got clamped it would be 100% solid again once dried.
So yes, with that out the way and learning from where i went wrong with my bog application on the base the first time, I then went and continued to apply primer and bog. Once again, I repeated the process as above, and went over the panel.
I marked every single thing I could find, no matter how insignificant and circled it so it would get patched
Then filled em with bog again!
This time I applied the bog pretty bloody liberally, which I was a bit worried about looking at it drying and setting because i thought i went overboard, but in the long run it was the best way to go with the level of damage it had.
taking no chances and wanting this to be the best possible outcome - lots and lots of sanding, by hand or block, with either 220 or 400 wet and dry
And yeah again, summer in Brisbane... Hot, humid as hell and masked up as we all know and love by now
I rate this as more of a bastard of a job than stripping off the paint with magic erasers. One of the rubber bands even snapped off the disposable masks!!
I went around the cab and sanded up every little patch as best as i possibly could.
Until it was as ready as it would ever be to get a second hit with some primer
From there, I had a process of bog, sand, prime, bog sand prime, repeat repeat repeat until I was happy with everything.
It was a long and arduous process which i'd prefer not to go into more, but i used about 8 cans of Primer on that one side. Suffice it to say I was very keen to see the side as close to perfect as I could get it.
After deciding that i couldn't wait any longer and that this was the best that I was going to get this side of the cab, I gave it a BAM with our Spice Weazel!!
And boy oh boy, do I have a story to tell you all about painting this too... FFS, it was agonising. Have a look at the following pic and read on anyway
As you can see, for a first coat it is ok - if you squint.
For the first 2 panels (coin door panel and speaker panel) i used a bloody Bunning special Wagner W180P paint gun to paint everything. It did an ok job the first two panels, but this time - naturally trying to paint one of the most visible panels on the cab - all hell broke loose.
The paint gun (although meticulously cleaned and tested on another piece of plywood prior to) - started to spatter big globs of paint onto the surface of the cab half way through the painting... Not only did this create HUGE globs which would not settle, but it also applied the paint way too thick overall despite my attempts to tune the air pressure, nozzle and paint output. After all that prep seeing what a s*it job it did (well, I did), i was absolutely spewing... I actually decided to take a long 300mm plaster scraper and carefully glide it over the larger globs left by the gun to smooth it all over, that's how bad it went.
I was left with a few lap marks which i knew i wouldn't get away with, but they will be easily fixed on the next couple of coats compared to what the paint gun left.
To add insult to injury, as I just finished tidying up the god awful mess that Wagner paint gun made and stood up to take a photo, a bug flew onto the side of the cab and decided to take a little trek through the paint. 😡
You can see that he didn't get very far.
He had a mate below that didn't go as far either. They will be sanded over and become permanent additions to the cab.
With that anyhow I left the paint to set because every time i looked at it i wanted to stuff with it even more. I decided the best COA (course of action) was to take a step back, let it set, and I can then deal with the imperfections during the second coat (when I will use a decent paint gun and air compressor this time!!!)
The bottom edge i did not touch with a plaster scraper to try and flatten it out - I had already tried to stuff with the paint too much, and so I just left it to set. You can see the marks toward the top of the cab in the photo below, where i tried to settle the paint with reasonable success.
I left that enamel to set for a week, then stood the cab up. Overall it looks mint compared to how it looked originally.
This being how it was originally
This is where we're at now. Is progress!
NOTE: A week on, that super duper vibrant red really settles as the paint sets, and something I noticed about the first 2 panels is that their real super bright tones have settled down also. They are very much in line with the original Panel on the LHS of the cab now.
Another week on from this - the floods hit and the garage got washed through by that super monsoonal rain we had.
And yes, that is all moving water - a lot of it. So Helifire went on blocks, and there it stays until maybe this week and I will try to scrape the cash together for an air compressor, hoses, gun, and some more paint.
I will update this as I progress with the paint folks, so watch this space - its a test of patience to get it really good but I guarantee i will get it there.