Sunday, November 22, 2009

Commenced work on the 63 Comet wagon

So the first thing I knew I needed to do was fix a big leak from the cooling system - I was able to limp the car home over a frontage road and back streets, but it leaked coolant badly (after some troubleshooting and examination, I replaced the water pump, flushed the radiator and put on new hoses, rebuilt the heater box and replaced the heater core and heater hoses), and the exhaust manifold leaked so badly I was getting sick over that short drive from the exhaust fumes.  The fumes were getting in through the back because the original tailgate was toast, it had the common rust out at the bottom, and there wasn't enough sheet metal there to simply patch it, so I searched and finally found really solid inner and outer tailgate panels from a guy in California who has turned out to be a pretty good parts source for this car.

Since March, I've smoothed out the body, removed all the trim and front fenders and hood, and painted the car with rustoleum using a roller brush.  You can read more about this technique all over the web, Hot Rod magazine even did a cover story on the process a couple years ago.  Here's a forum with some good info on how to do it.

Here are a couple of AFTER photos:

I wanted to keep the four lug wheel setup, but managed to find a great deal on 14-inch wheels with whitewall tires in nice shape.  I cleaned, prepped and painted the wheels, and found some great comet wheel covers from what I think was either a 64 or 64 Comet.  I've found a lot of good driver-quality ornaments to replace the badly pitted stuff that was on the car.  Progress has been steady, but I'm still struggling with getting the tailgate put together and operating.  New bumpers from my California source really dressed up the front end, and I added a little flair by changing the three black vertical strips in the center of the grille to red.  I like how they tie in with the wheels and the red interior.  For the interior, I decided to go with a nice bright red rustoleum.  I did a lot of the prep and interior painting before I rolled the white on the exterior, to minimize overspray.  Overall, the rolled on job was time consuming  but I learned a lot about the process and I'll do it again.

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