How I Replaced the Rusted Floor Pans in My 1962 Chevrolet Chevy II Nova

I bought my 1962 Chevy II Nova in 1988 from a friend I was serving with in the National Guard. The car was rather sound. There were really no problems and I was able to drive it home, in fact, I did no work to the car for a number of years. I would drive it to work a couple of times a week and again take it out weekends. I was really happy with the car. Three years ago, I decided to repaint it. I know I could have taken it to a body shop, but I wanted to do it myself. I wanted this to be a project my son and I could work on together. I began stripping the car down and this is the beginning of my story.

I figure I will be learning a lot during the process of restoring my Nova back to its original beauty, so I thought I would document the processes I will go through and post them online with plenty of pictures with the intent of maybe helping someone else with their project. So lets’ get started!

I have removed everything that I can remove from the body of the car. I did mount an ignition switch on the firewall so I could start the car and move it around but when the actual painting process begins I will be removing the motor and transmission. I started with the floor pans. There was a descent amount of rust in the front and just a little in the rear. The transmission hump and driveshaft tunnel were fine.

I wanted to buy the entire floor pan and replace it all but it was more expensive than I wanted and I wasn’t sure if I could handle a job quite that big. I wasn’t sure if I had the capability to cut out the entire floor and replace it without possibly twisting or contorting the car (it is a convertible). I decided to buy the left and right floor pan. This covered from the front all the way to the back. After receiving the floor pans, I spent a lot of time thinking and rethinking and strategizing about the best way to go about cutting out the old and welding in the new. Since the entire floor pan was not rusted out, I decided to cut out just the rusted part and cut out what I needed from the new replacement floor pans and weld that into place. I am very happy with this decision. By cutting out just the rusted pieces and replacing with new metal, I was able to avoid any twisting or contorting of the car and probably saved me a lot of time.

I was able to cut out the rusted areas in a couple of hours. I used pneumatic shears that worked very well. Before buying the shears, I tried several other methods such as a pneumatic saw, tin snips and aviation cutters. Trust me when I say that a cheap pair of pneumatic shears will be a lifesaver. I did use the aviation cutters for fine cutting and making small adjustment cuts.

Next I separated the front and back of my new floor pans by cutting them in half. I cut out the front part of the floor pan about 2 inches bigger than what I needed. I then placed this into the front for a test fit. When I had the replacement pan in place, I made it conform to the existing floor pan with a rubber mallet. I then used a can of white spray paint and sprayed around the perimeter of the new pan. By painting around the perimeter, I was able to see where the new pan fit after removing it from the car. I repeated this procedure for the other front side and then both rear areas. This took me about a day to complete.

The next part required welding, please be sure to observe all safety practices when welding to avoid any life altering injuries!

I was now ready to weld the replacement sheet metal into place. This is where my brother was a BIG help! He has a MIG welder. We inserted the new pans and while I held them in place, my brother spot welded each one. After each pan was tacked into place, we stepped back and studied their positions and made sure everything was exactly the way I wanted. My brother then completed the welding process until all four replacement pieces was securely welded into place. I don’t know a lot about welding, but I believe my brother had to spend additional time and take extra precautions since the sheet metal is rather thin. After the replacement floor pan pieces were securely in place, I proceeded to cover the seams with Bondo filler and then I painted the entire floor pan with a rust preventive primer. My brother and I were able to complete the welding on Saturday morning and I took the rest of the afternoon to finish the Bondo. I put several coats of paint on the floor pan over the next several days.

From the pictures on my website, you can tell that it might not be a perfectly smooth floor pan with no flaws, but I can assure you that it is a solid installation that will last many years, even longer if garaged, and will look even better once it is covered with a sound dampening material and new carpet. This worked well for my 1962 Chevy II Nova and I am sure it will work for you and your special project.

Dash Repair – How to Fix a Cracked Padded Dash

Weather change is here and the cracked padded dashes are rolling in. With every weather change I get the phone calls. “My dash is cracked and what can be done to fix it.”

Due to the exposer to old mother nature, these materials become dried out and crack over time leaving you with a crack in your dash. Left unattended this small crack can and will get larger.

There are measures that can be taken to prevent the dash from getting cracked in the first place. Now I know your dash is already cracked and your wanting to know how to fix it, but this will prevent further cracks and keep your car cooler and looking nicer, and well…. for further reference.

One way to prevent this is to use a sunshade. This will not only protect your automotive dash from the sun but also keep your vehicle cooler keeping the plastic pieces cooler and less likely to warp and then crack.

Another way to prevent the materials from drying on your dash is to condition them with a good vinyl conditioner-protectant. Now I know I’ve always said to not put the slimy stuff on your interior pieces and parts … But if your vehicle is exposed to the sun on a constant basis, then I would recommend you use a vinyl conditioner. Now I’m not going to say that any old vinyl conditioner will work, because it won’t. Tire shine is not vinyl conditioner! This is probably one of the biggest mistakes made, and I do a lot of repair because of it. Tire shine contains solvents, which as you know from previous articles, it doesn’t mix well with the water based dyes being used on today’s cars. What it does is lifts the dye from the surface, causing it to peel. So no tire shine…What I recommend to my customers is a product made from a leather conditioning producer that I feel from some of the research I’ve done is safe and should work very well, it’s made by Lexol and it’s called Vinylex. Designed by the guys that really know their stuff when it comes to interior conditioning and protecting.

The last and final tip to keeping your automotive interior, including your dash, looking it’s best and lasting longer is window tint. Now in some states you need to be careful with the tinting laws to make sure you don’t get it too dark, plus you need to think of your safety too. I have tint on our family Tahoe and I kinda wish I would have gone a little lighter, at night it’s really hard to see, my Tahoe stays nice and cool, but it’s a pain in the butt at night. I have to roll the window down sometimes just to see. So keep it light and you will be impressed with the results, plus it looks cool.

Now on with the fix for that crack in your dash.

Depending on where the crack is and how big it is will depend on how to fix it and how expensive the repair will be. If the crack is bigger then 2″-3″ and curled up on the edges, the repair will probably not look that great. There is a limit to the size of crack that can be repaired, too big and it probably won’t hold and will look like crap. If the crack is too big, replace the dash pad, don’t try to fix it. Another thing is location, if the crack is up close to the windshield then it’s almost impossible to do a repair without removing the windshield, which can be costly. So with that said you be the judge.

The first thing I do before I start any repair is to mix my color, this insures that at least the color will be right.

Next I inspect the crack in the dash, if the edges are curled up then you will need to trim that off with a razor blade or Xacto knife. The goal here is to get the area as level as you can. Now when doing so cut at a 45 degree angle and don’t bring the ends to a point, what I mean by this is trim all the way around the crack rounding off the ends of the crack, this will insure that the crack will stop and not crack further after your repair.

Of course your next step is prepping the repair area, use your prep solution with a scotch brite pad and clean the area thoroughly. You might need to clean the entire dash depending on where and how large the crack is.

Now it’s time to determine what fix you going to use.

If the crack is smaller then an 1/2″ I usually grab the super glue and do a super glue repair. I do this by spreading the glue in the crack then sanding it smooth with a 240 grit sandpaper, texture with your water based spray grain, then dye.

But there are times when your vinyl repair compound will need to be used, after all this is vinyl. The low cure usually works best because high heat tends to warp the repair area. This is where your patience comes in when doing your repairs. Thin layers of compound work best, curing and dying between coats until the area is level and smooth. You can texture while layering your compound with your grain pads. One little trick I use to help level the repair when using a grain pad is a little rubber squeegee about 3″x5″, it’s what body shops use to squeegee the water off the painted surface when they wet sand. This little thing works great, when you use your hand to imprint your grain into your repair, your hand kinda molds around the area and doesn’t leave a level area but with the rubber squeegee it gives you a little more backing when you go to imprint. Now graining your repair can be tricky, the low cure compound doesn’t grain that well, but if all else fails make sure the repair is level, this is your best hide. If that is achieved then texture with your spray grain.

One last trick up my sleeve is the use of a great product from Urethane Supply Co. This is a two part epoxy like substance that is specifically designed for padded dashes and the name says it all, Padded Dash Filler.

This stuff is the bomb, when it comes to dash repair. Mixes like Bondo and is even applied like bondo, but its flexible. It’s just what the doctor ordered when it comes to dash repair. If the crack is larger then 1″ this is the stuff to use.

Now this product will require you to trim the area and then sand around the area about 1″ to 2″ out with a heavier grit sandpaper like a 180 grit, this gives it something to bite too. Trim down into the foam a little to, so that you make like a little groove for the compound to lay in.

Mix your compound on a small piece of tile, I like using small tile pieces, they clean up easily and are easier to hold when mixing and applying. Now when you get the product they send you the red catalyst, try the blue, it seems to set up a little quicker. The blue you can get at any automotive parts shop. But the red works just as good just takes it a little longer, time is money in my business.

Apply your compound liberally over the repair area, don’t worry about getting your first coat really smooth, all you need is to get it covered, you’ll be sanding it smooth later. Let it set up for a while, depending on the weather will depend on how long this stuff takes. You can speed it up a little with a heat gun but don’t melt it just give it a little boost.

Once hardened start sanding, I usually start with a 180 grit to knock off the big chunks then progressively move my way up to a finer grit like 240 and then to 400.

One coat won’t be sufficient, I promise, this is another layer thing. Sanding between coats. Each coat you apply you will need to make smoother. Again what your trying to achieve is a smooth level repair.

After all is smooth and level, grain with a spray grain then dye.

As far as texture goes, I use two types of spray grain. One is a water based spray grain and the other is Sems Texture Coat. In fact the Sems Texture Coat almost matches the some of the Pontiac dashes to a tee. Now the Sems Texture coat is a solvent based, but I haven’t had a problem with it peeling up against the water based dyes on the dash, so kudos to Sems.

One other trick I have found with the the Sems Texture Coat is after sprayed if you let it flash out a little but not dry completely, you can take your grain pad and imprint your grain into the texture coat, pretty cool huh.

Dash repair is an art and a craft, just like all automotive interior repairs. If the steps are followed right and patience is used in your repairs you success will be good.

Hope this helps in your dash repair adventure. One thing to always keep in mind is to keep your repair as level as possible, this is your best hide.

Car and SUV Winterization

Protecting your pride and joy and one of your largest investments this winter. The automobile has become an extension of its owners personality as well as representing a huge chunk of our hard earned income. Lets face it, as Americans we love our cars. We want them to look good, cruise smoothly and last a long time. Then of course there is the weather. Man is constantly adapting to his environment and adjusting to his climate. We put stuff on the roads so we can drive in any weather without fear of becoming the next human driven hockey puck.

During the Winter Months different agencies apply different things to the roads to keep them drivable like salt, sand and chemicals such as de-icing chemicals, which are environmentally friendly but can destroy a regular wax job. Magnesium Sulfate works great to keep cars from sliding into the guardrails and ditches, but it plays hell on an automobiles finish. With rust and corrosion threatening to destroy your investment and reduce the value of your car by thousands of dollars the stakes become high. We may not be able to control the weather quite yet, but we can give you the tips from years of experience and industry knowledge to help you minimize your risk, fight back against jack frost and work with mother nature to co-exist and cruise successfully through winter. How can you win the war on winter?

Winter is coming and will soon be in full swing. Roads will be packed with vacationers and outdoor sports aficionados. You and your car need to be ready. We know from experience that bare metal will rust when exposed to moisture and harsh elements. Take a look around your car, are there paint chips? Even small chips can allow moisture to get underneath your cars finish and work its way all the way through the metal. Holes in your car needless to say will not improve your chances for good resale value. And if your car is on a lease they will be hitting you hard on its return. There are several things you can do to take care of these chips now. To find a chip repair person go to Paint Bull’s website and find one of their 500 mobile chip repair dealers. If you have a fiberglass body or a primarily plastic car such as a Saturn it may not be as critical if you have a chip or two.

Every car that drives through harsh winter climates needs some type of undercoating. There are many options. You can go down to your local auto parts store, buy a can of undercoating and spray it on yourself or you can go to any auto detailing company and have it done for about $80-100. There are a few detailing companies who have a number of stores throughout the country as well as mobile units, which can provide this undercoating for you. You can also go ziebart’s website, they have 216 stores Nationwide. They have been closing stores at a fast rate of about 30 per year. They charge about $200-300 and will touch up the undercoating job free each year. They use this as a gimmick to get you in their store next year to sell you more stuff. Their guarantee is of questionable value since if the store closes then who will do the guarantee wok. Another problem with the lifetime guarantee is that most people do not own their cars for their entire life.

If you own a truck or a cargo van you may consider a lining. There are a few different types of linings. Rhino Lining at Rhino Lining Wesbite has a rubber like lining. An average bed runs about $300. There is Line X, which is a harder liner at Line-X website and Permatech which has a really good liner that is between the hard Line X liner and the softer a Rhino Lining. All these brands have hundreds of franchisees and dealers. You can conveniently search their websites to find a location near you. The going rate is around $300 for an 8 ft bed and you can negotiate a little with your local dealer.

What can you do to protect your cars paint? Several things. It is important to understand the different types of wax and how they perform against salt spray tests. Carnauba the most popular wax name amongst consumers, will not hold up well under harsh salt conditions, de-icing wetted areas or on magnesium chloride soaked roads. It does however work well against roads, which have been covered, with sand. Teflon and silicone waxes do not work well in any of these conditions or in colder climates.

So what is the best modern wax for these Winter environments? Polymers work best, but are usually put on in a liquid form and therefore goes on in thinner coats. It may take several coats to insure that the protection last longer than three months. It is best to put on several coats and then re-apply in three months. If you do not feel that you want to do this yourself you can call several companies that provide onsite service at home or office. National Detail Systems has over 300 dealers.

Ask for polymer wax and ask for a multiple coat discount. Expect to pay $65-90 plus $15-25 for each additional coat from National Detail Dealers. It will vary significantly from dealer to dealer. The Car Wash Guys have standard pricing and charge $35 for an exterior polymer coat and charge $10 for additional coats. Many car washes also have express detailing service starting at anywhere from $35-55. To get a listing of car washes and the new J.D. Powers Car Club website. This site is quite helpful. The website will give you a map to the nearest carwash based on the zip code you put in. You can print it out and drive down and get your car waxed. Fixed site carwashes vary so much from operator to operator it is hard to say what additional coats might cost, it may even depend on the day of the week you go, which manager is working and how busy they are that day. You should try to go on a Tuesday.

You may wish to put a protective coating on your cars carpets. The very popular product ScotchGuard was taken off the market this year due to environmental problems in manufacturing and is no longer available. Blue Coral does make a similar aerosol product although not as good as the former 3M leading brand. With new genetic woven splicing of nylon into cotton plants we are seeing a new breed of interior carpeting in vehicles. It is more durable easier to clean and holds up well under multiple steam cleaning passes. Perhaps a simple plastic cover over the carpets might be your best bet. Most modern day min-vans come standard with plastic covers and if yours did not, you can buy plastic covers for next to nothing at any auto parts store.

There are also some very high tech solutions to automotive protection. For window glass there is a hydrophobic treatment called Diamon Fusion. It prevents chips in the window and allows you to drive in heavy rain without use of wipers. A simple solution may be RainX, which can be purchased at any auto parts store for about $5. All of the companies listed in this article can also put on RainX for you. Be sure to ask them to apply it to the interior windows also because it prevents unnecessary fogging when you do not have your defroster set exactly right. The coating industry has evolved and out of the NASA Space Program came a glass coating used on the tiles on the bottom of the Space Shuttle, which can be put on at room temperature. It is put on 2 to 4 milimeters thick. Glass of course is impervious to moisture.

This new revolution in ceramic technology is also being perfected by the Japanese. PP&G, the leading automotive paint company, is also on the cutting edge of this new field and we may soon have a new and more advanced clear coat for cars for the 21st century. That is the good news. We may see a new clear coat for cars coming out which will make waxes obsolete in the next few years. The bad news is that for now there is no substitute for waxes, coatings and undercoating. You can pay now or pay later. You really should consider protecting your investment. If you neglect to take this opportunity to plan your winterizing strategy, Mother Nature already has a plan of her own and she is coming soon.

Many people are only going to keep their car for two years on a lease and then trade it in for a new model. So if there are no chips in the paint, you may only need a single coat of polymer wax and new windshield wiper blades before Winter. If you are going to keep your car for many years however protect your investment against the inevitable Winter. Please realize that most manufacturers warranties on bodies and paint do not cover salt or environmental damage. If you pay attention to these simple things you can cruise through winter with no problems providing your tires dont get recalled and you can still afford the gas.

How to Clean Your Windows Like a Pro

In a thorough search of the web, I have come across a lot of articles advising people to clean their windows with vinegar and crumpled up newspaper, or Windex and a rag, or other ineffective methods. Many of these techniques will give you poor results and are quite laborious and frustrating as well. Even though I am a professional window cleaner, I freely share how to clean windows because I know that there are still plenty of people who don’t have the time and energy to do it themselves. But if you want to do it yourself (whether it is a monetary consideration or you like to do things yourself) here are a few pointers.

Firstly, you need the right equipment. This will entail a squeegee, a strip washer (also called a scrubber), window cleaning solution, a 5 gallon bucket, a couple of lint free cloths i.e. microfibers, and possibly an extension pole. Your squeegee is one of your most important tools, so it is important that you purchase a high quality one with replaceable rubber- avoid the automotive squeegees with the wooden handles (found at gas stations). For your squeegee, you will probably want a 12 to 18 inch one for most windows. You can usually find a decent squeegee (ettore or unger) and a scrubber at most home improvement stores such as Home Depot or Lowes. For you window washing solution you can use a professional detergent made by ettore, unger etc. or you can use liquid dish soap. There is really no need for ammonia, which is unhealthy for humans and can damage a window’s tint.

Once you have all of you equipment, fill up your bucket with water and add a couple of squirts of dish soap; next dip your scrubber in the soapy solution and then squeeze off the excess water back into the bucket. Scrub the entire window with your scrubber; next take your cloth and wipe away the left and top edge of your window. Then, pull your squeegee horizontally across the window – left to right, top to bottom. After each pull wipe the excess moisture from your squeegee rubber (called the blade) For most inside windows horizontal pulling is the easiest.

Then to finish off the window, wipe the right and bottom edges of the window (reverse of the initial wiping).

Something to consider is that cleaning the interior windows will be much easier than the exterior windows for reasons of accessibility and level of debris. Many times the exterior windows will have baked-on bugs and other crusty hard-to-clean-off debris on it’s surface. Professional window cleaners use special razor blades (scrapers) and white scouring pads to get this stuff off. For the home do-it-your-self person, I would recommend that you only use the white scouring pads (available online at windows 101, or at janitorial supply stores) to avoid damaging your windows. Do not under any circumstances use green or brown scouring pads as they will damage your windows.

To use the white scouring pads on a pole, you will need a “doodle-bug” which is a swiveling holder foe these pads. Cleaning second-story outside windows can be somewhat challenging because of accessibility. Some window cleaners use a pole, some cleaners use ladders and some, like myself, use both. If you are using a pole, it is crucial that you get the right angle. For second story windows, you need to stand the right distance away from the window in order to get the right angle. A common mistake is to stand too close to the house.

Also getting a zero-degree squeegee such as Unger’s zero degree swivel lock (a standard squeegee has a forty degree angle) is very helpful because it allows you to stand far enough back from the window without having too much angle on the glass. It should be noted that second story windows, being cleaned with a pole, need to be cleaned top to bottom not horizontally. The Unger zero degree squeegee will be your best friend if you are using a pole. Alternately, you could use a ladder to clean the exterior windows. If you choose this method you may want to duct tape rags to your ladder ends if they are going to rest on glass or maybe ladder a ladder wingspan.

Now what if you have cleaned an exterior window yet it is still cloudy and possibly spotty like a water glass can get after washing it in the dishwasher? Then, you may have hard water deposits. These can form slowly over time if you have hard water (from sprinklers or hosing off your windows). In this case you need to get hard water remover. Winsol makes a product Crystal Clear 550 which will, in most cases, completely remove these deposits. You can get Crystal Clear online and at many janitorial supply stores.

One final word of advice, if you must clean your windows with a spray, use “sprayaway” glass cleaner (It is rubbing alcohol- based not ammonia-based) and a waffle weave microfiber cloth or a leather chamois. Not all microfiber is created equal, many of them shed tiny particles. But whatever you do, do not use crumpled newspaper. If wet newsprint will leave black ink on your hands, what do you think it will do to your windows? I hope this article has helped you, and at the least has given you some starting points.