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1955 Ford Part 27: Buffing Clear Coat and Installing Door Seals

Updated: Dec 27, 2019

Buffing Clear Coat and Installing Door Seals

Time moves pretty quickly. It has been almost a month since my last post – I have been very busy here at the church ministry I work in but the results of the meetings have been very rewarding. Concerning the car, I am very quickly discovering why professional painters use a sealed paint booth! Because of the space limitations on the ceiling of my PVC and plastic sheeting booth, I had to go outdoors in the open to spray the clear coat on the roof of the car. This was after the red was allowed to cure for a few days, and then after the surface was de-nibbed and scuffed to prepare to shoot the clear. Taping for this session was not that much of a deal because both the white and the red tutone would be shot with clear at one time.

You can follow along the in the photos below to see the prep work and what the different spots on the car looked like after 1 coat of clear, 2 coats of clear, and so on. It was very disheartening to watch different species of flying creatures land on the fresh clear and do a jig in the paint before flying off, or before being picked off when I discovered their presence. Sigh…

The good thing was for this session of shooting clear I sprayed 3 coats and had no runs anywhere. However, in addition to the bugs there were some places that had just a little bit of dust or a small speck of debris. After these coats cured, I went back a few days later and started roughing out every place where there was a problem. Some of these places went down to the original paint color. How that was possible I am not sure – I must have not been paying attention when I was rubbing out those particular areas. After these spots were sanded with 800 grit sandpaper I prepped the body and materials to use my touch-up gun, spraying 3 more coats of clear again. By the time I got through that process I had pretty much given in to the idea that this car will end up being a 5-10 footer, meaning that from a distance she will appear perfect (don’t those photos look good!) but when you come up close you will be able to see a place here or there. Maybe next summer or at another time the weather clears I could do some more spot work, but since this car will end up being a driver I am not so sure. As long as things look decent and the metal surfaces are protected we will probably just run with it.

During these sessions of cutting down the surfaces I have discovered that I have made a small investment in the 3M company what with the purchase of quality automotive masking tape (there is a difference!) and what with the purchase of various grades and sheets of sandpaper. It seems like I have just about every grade from 60 to 3000, (yep – 3000 grit paper) in increased units of 100 at a time. I have most of these in an 8.5x11 expandable folder where the grades are all listed on the tabs. The preparations of the final surfaces are always done with wet sandpaper. I use a bucket of water, soak the paper, use a squeegee, and a spray bottle for this work. Take it from me if you have never done this before – it is labor intensive and time consuming!

After both of the doors were buffed, it was time to install the seals that are glued all the way around the edges of the door so that it seals against the body. Unfortunately the garage was getting way too cold to do this procedure: 1. The 3M weather strip glue needs a mild temperature and 2. Rubber seals are always more pliable when they are warm. You can tell from the photos below that the doors were brought indoors and placed in the DINING ROOM – with mama’s knowledge and OK! The same procedure that we used for the trunk seal was followed for the door seals. Prep the edges with a degreaser so that the surfaces are ready for adhesive and will bond well to the seals.

I actually laid the seals out in the sunlight to warm them up a bit and then put each in position on the doors and used masking tape to hold them where they were to be glued down. Of course on the 55-56 Fords there is a sheet metal lip that helps to retain the seal at the bottom of the door. You may have to use a screwdriver or some other tool to pry the lip back a bit before placing the seal in position but this was pretty straightforward. From there it was basically just gluing a strip of 12-18” of the seal at a time, working along the path of what the instructions showed on the diagrams. The tape was kept in place for overnight for a full cure.

Once the weather stripping was secured, it was time for the doors to be hung in position. You may recall that we had put 3/16” holes in both hinge plates on the passenger side so that we could put the bit back in the same holes to line up the door correctly, but we had failed to do that on the driver’s side. We did mount the driver’s side but it took about 45 minutes to get it where the gaps and the closing of the door was what they all needed to be. The re-installation of the door latches meant that each one had to be cleaned and lubed, making sure that they were functioning properly. The door lock rods were also put into the glass bead cabinet to remove rust and then they were painted. I figured it would be much easier to make sure that the mechanisms were working properly BEFORE installation than to go back and try to correct errors. I was very happy with the results.

The passenger side door did not take near as long because we were on the money. My son and I did use a floor jack with a 2x4 underneath to help raise/lower the door as needed. The door slid in/out without too much difficulty with this arrangement as well. You can check out some of the pictures and resulting videos below:

After all this it was time to do some “cutting” and buffing to the clear coat. I started on the passenger side. For some reason (and most probably because of my lack of experience) the paint work always takes more time than what I think I will need, but I was very happy with the results once the buffer was through. In the sunlight, the car almost looked to be glowing! I did get the tail panel finished so I installed the gas tank filler neck seal. The photos showing the tape on the doors around the window opening are indicators of where the holes for the fasteners in the window channel go. For all practical purposes, these “pop in” at each hole, keeping the channel secured to the door. There is a metal bar that runs by the latch and is secured by one small bolt at the bottom of the channel – these keeps the window channel secure at the rear of the window.

The roof of the car has quite a bit of orange peel, so I guess I will be cutting that down pretty good – hopefully I will not go through the clear down to the SSU anywhere. I begin with 800, go to 1500, then 2000, and then 3000 before buffing. This seems to give the best results.

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