Sunday, March 16, 2014

Front Bumper (part 4)

As much as I wanted to run a full test of prep and paint on the bumper, I simply ran out of patience.  Today, I'll wrap-up the bumper through install.  I may return to it while on-bus, or even pull it to finish later, but I gotta get behind the wheel and drive it again.  There's a zen or inner calm that comes with steering an old bus that just isn't reproducible in anything else.  It's been too long.  On the shortened completion.

Final Wet-Sand
assembly supplies for 1 step
The paint was finally ready for wet-sanding after a full week of drying.  The $50 paint job guy talked about how thinning the paint would shorten the dry-time, but the articles I read didn't call out the more obvious: if its really cold, no degree of thinning will help Rustoleum cure faster.  I think the curing really took the warmer weather (low's above 40*F, high's above 50*F) to settle in and be present for a week.  Like the prior wet-sanding adventures, I used a bucket of soapy water and worn 600-grit sandpaper.  Unlike the primer, though, the thinned paint didn't dust as much.  The 600 grit took out most of the brush marks pretty quickly.

Final Paint
I decided that I over-thinned by going 1/2 and 1/2 paint and mineral spirits the first coat, so I thinned 2/3 paint to 1/3 mineral spirits for the second coat.  I also heated the garage with a recirculating oil heater before I started.  Just be bringing the ambient temp (and the surfaces to be painted) up to closer to 70*F made a very big difference.  The paint didn't run nearly as much, covered a little better, but the thinning held the brush marks at bay.
If you do this, remember two key points: first, always keep a wet edge.  If you try to cover such a broad area that you find yourself applying paint into paint that has become tacky, your paint will not cover right.  Always apply into wet paint.  Second, if you're using a brush, draw your paint-loaded brush from the unpainted area into the already applied wet paint.
While still drawing the brush horizontally across the surface, pull the brush off.  This will minimize brush marks from forming in the first place.
seal held w/blue tape

The paint was hard and dry in a few days, but I chose to not color sand.  Rather, I decided that I'd been without the bus long enough.  At some point, I'll do the wet-sanding, and polishing.  In fact, I bought all the needed supplies (1000, 1500 grit paper, polishing bonnet, polish) and a cheap polisher at Harbor Freight for when that day comes.  I figure I'll practice on the bumpers before I try it on the main body.

Bumper Assembly
The early / low-light bay has a 3-part bumper: the main bar plus a step that wraps around to each of the front doors.  The step bolts to the bar with 3 bolts, and a simple seal runs in-between.  The seal fits around the end of the bar with the long edge running behind (rear-side).  When I removed the old seal, it was clearly held firm by the bolts.  Re-assembly is tricky with a single pair of hands, though possible.  I held the seal in place with blue painter's tape while I set it in place with the bolts.  I strongly suggest getting the replacement bolt set from Wolfsburg West.  It made reassembly much easier and the finished product look much better.  Unfortunately, the 1972 bumper steps are held to the body by 2 bolts a-piece and the bolt kit only provided enough for one bolt each.  I will be buying 2 bolts at the local hardware store, but otherwise, it was just what was needed.
rubber step button and tab
The rubber steps go on in the reverse of how they came off.  If you're like me, you probably didn't exactly remember how that went.  First, slide the 4 square tabs that run along the outer edge into their corresponding slots.  From the inside, pull them all the way in with a pair of needle-nose pliers.  Then, wrap the step over the step and press the round buttons into the corresponding holes.  But don't do the one closest to the rear yet.  Next, pull the front edge of the inner lip over the inner edge of the step.  By sliding your finger along the inner edge of the lip, the rest of the lip will seat, until you get to the rear point.  There, you will need to pull that corner out and around the inner lip as well as the corner where it meets the outer edge of the step.  Once you've gotten that around, press that last button through the hole.  It looks sweet, eh?
Once the steps are bolted to the bar with the seals and rubber step in place, we add the frame mounts.  I mentioned in the last post about the appearance of rust where the mounts met the bar.  To reduce the probability of that happening again, I dug into my plumbing supplies and grabbed 4 orange sink washers.  I put the washers around the bolts, between the bumper bar and the frame mounts.  Once the nuts were torqued down, it had no impact on the location of the final mounting or the find-ability of the bolts-to-holes.
sink washers between
frame and bumper

Bumper Install
I would recommend finding a friend to help for this part, if you haven't been able to sucker anyone into helping you yet.  My kids were all playing on their skateboards, and Boo was sleeping off an early morning shift, so I was on my own with my radio.  I set plastic tubs under the spots where the steps mount to the bus frame and carried the bumper assembly over.  I placed the bumper against my quads, squatted down while holding the frame mounts so it wouldn't bounce off the deck nor the front of the bus.  Fun.  I set the steps on the plastic tubs and slid the bumper into the general location.  Then, it was a matter of holding the bumper in the air with one hand while lying on my side and fingering-in bolts.  It was important to get the bolts in just far enough to hold the bumper up so I could make sure it aligned properly.  I then moved to the step-bolts, and threaded them in part-way.  With a tape-measure, I confirmed that the bumper wasn't crooked and tightened the bolts down.

Last, install your license plate, and you're done.  I will be getting new license plat
e hardware so it matches the rest of the new stuff.  The old rusty nuts, washers and ugly bolts just seem out of place with the rest of the bumper.  Truth-be-told, the rest of the bus looks a little out of place with the nice bumper.  Or, maybe, the bumper looks too nice to be on that bus.  There's clearly something not quite aligned.  Anyway,  I still have to solve for the smashed tow-hook (I kinda forgot about it), and finish the 100%-ing of the bumper anyway.  I can say, though, that I can now see every blemish on the front of the bus.  Great.... :)
That's it for today.  I intend to ride the bike or drive the bus to work tomorrow, weather depending.  It seems wrong to hope for rain, here where the rain seems like a constant, but I'd really like to get the bus into the daylight.  Thanks, as always, for following along.
mounted and ready to go

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