Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Front Bumper (part 1)

In my last post, I celebrated returning Flash to drive-able Hapy to daily-driver status.  With one extra car than I need, I immediately returned Hapy to the garage to start improving his looks.  Today, I'll cover what I'm getting into, but none of this changes my re-set expectations.  I'll have some or all of the front bumper back on the bus in the next 2 weeks or I'll drive him to the mountain without it.

Bigger Plan
front bumper in pieces
I have visions of a new (albeit amateur applied) paint job.  I thought about getting a nice one, but this isn't a car-show vehicle.  I take him camping... where branches scrape the sides... and state parks put short unexpected tree-colored posts around camping spots that dent bumpers.  I plan to take him into the snow where skis, poles, boots and boards will bang against the sides, doors and floor.  In the end, a nice paint job would just get destroyed.  So, I'm at the other end of the spectrum; the $50 paint job end.  Okay, not really $50, but pretty close.  I bought a can of white Rustoleum at Home Depot for $20 and I painted the poptop with it 2 years ago.  I intend to bring that bright white down to the belt line as well as paint the bumpers and camping outlets.  For the rest of the body, I'm looking at Neptune Blue (thanks Wolfsburg West for the color image) or something in a darker blue.  I haven't decided on whether I'll paint with colored Rustoleum or use a truck-bed paint without the non-slip agent.  The bed paint would withstand more punishment, but would probably look worse and would definitely cost more.

Front is First
rubber step: what lies beneath
I started down this path on Sunday after adjusting the shifter.  I set aside the afternoon, and it took me about 15 minutes.  So, I grabbed the plain wood panels I had cut for the rear driver's side window and quickly painted them with the white Rustoleum.  I'll get into that plan another day.  Regardless, I had now stepped into make-it-look-nice mode, which is nothing but trouble.  I found some sandpaper and cleaned up the windshield wiper arms.  "They need paint," I thought and then I looked down at the haggard front bumper.  Dented and scratched, it still had a political bumper sticker from the Bush-era.  So, I grabbed my ratchets and removed it.  4 13mm nuts hold cap-bolts to the bumper mounts.  4 15mm bolts hold the bumper mounts to the body.  On the ends, 2 pairs of 13mm bolts hold the steps to the body.  Last, 2 pairs of 13mm nuts mate the steps to the front bar.  The license plate is held on with square nuts backing bladed-screws.  Lastly, on the passenger side there is a tow hook bolted to the body with the same bolts as the bumper mount.

Banging Around
smashed tow hook
Once separated, I looked at the rubber bits.  They're all original, so 40 years old.  The steps were hiding 40 years of water seepage and the seam-rubber had hardened to stiff plastic.  Once the steel was exposed, I could start getting a sense for how much work there is.  There's a bunch.  I focused on the dents.  Even the small ones were easy to find: there was a corresponding rust mark on the inside of the bumper.  Someone with skills or access to good tools will probably cringe at this, but I grabbed by framing hammer and started backing out the dents.  With one hand behind the dent to feel for progress, I slowly moved the steel back to around where it was supposed to be.  I'm not going to make it sound like I got it all perfect, but in a couple of hours my bumper went from moonscape to dimpled.  I'm not done yet, though.  There's one more big dent and the lower lip near the driver's mount still needs wrangling.  Overall, though, it should look a lot better.  Next, I'll grind out the rust, prime and paint it.

Parting Thoughts
My tow-hook was completely flattened (see picture).  I have feelers out for a viable replacement, but I think its pretty common for them to get smashed.  When I removed the driver-side bumper bracket, I broke-off one of the bolts.  Overall, some part of every nut-washer-bolt combination was rusty.  In some cases, the entire bit was heavily rusted.  I chose to order a full bolt-set from Wolfsburg West for $21 as well as the new rubber steps and seam-seals.

In my last post, I said that I'd upload pictures of the parts we removed.  Well... Boo was very helpful and got rid of all those parts before I could photograph them.  So, you'll have to take my word for it that the coolant pump had all this sealant all over it and the rollers looked heavily worn.  That's it for today.  Thanks, as always, for following along.

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