Monday, April 19, 2010

Doe, a deer, a female deer. Ray, a drop of golden sun, shining off of my radiator....

His point of view

Wow......I mean WOW!!!!! I can't believe it's been almost a year since I have updated....scratch that, been able to update the blog. Work and weather have pretty much limited my availability to Nil. But the weather is warming up and work has somewhat stabilized into the kaos that it is. Fact is, its going to be non-stop from here on out. Kaos becomes the norm.

I have pretty much completed the tear down, with the exception of the body and drive train. Everything is parted out and in its respective box occupying its rightful place in my garage. The last time we crossed paths, I was contemplating the radiator. What a big ugly black beast it is. I have always had a fancy for the polished radiators from the 30's and 40's. How could I incorporate one of those into my build? As I sat there staring at it, I noticed a small spot on top of the core where the rubber hose had worn off the coating. It appeared to be slightly oxidized with a green gritty substance. Could that be, can it possibly be, just maybe... YES, it can be. It was brass! I didn't even stop to think about the material that made up the top and bottom of the radiator, but it appeared to be brass coated. Is it possible that it could be polished? The radiator looked like it was covered in a black powder coat. I figured with enough caustic material, abrasive substances and a little elbow grease, it would eventually give in to my will.

I finally decided to take the plunge and see what would happen. Out came the die grinder and some scuffing pads. After a few tense moments, it appeared that it might work. It became pretty obvious that the dg would work just fine for some of the larger areas, but the valleys and crevices will need some special attention. I borrowed a rotary tool from a friend, it eventually became the answers to my prayers, albeit a some what expensive answer. Those rotary tools can go through those bits in a matter of seconds if your not careful. Like wise, they can do a lot of damage if your not careful. I almost ground a hole on more than one occasion trying to get that last little bit of powder coating from that one seemingly inaccessible nook. I eventually got pretty good at getting to about 98% of what I wanted. There are still some areas where I just couldn't get to everything. But turns out, I think it will be OK. After practicing on the bottom half, I proceeded to the top half.

After working on it for several hours, I was somewhat surprised but not completely satisfied with the results. I was glad to see brass, I was disappointed that I could not see a mirror like reflection. I wanted it to shine. So I did a little research into polishing metal, specifically brass. Looks like the best method is to go with a polishing wheel and some compound. I don't know about you, but I'm not picking this radiator up and spinning it around like a circus performer. I had to find a better solution. It was at about this time that weather and work stepped in to intervene on my schedule. After 6 + months, enter steel wool.

Starting with a pretty course grade of wool, I started rubbing metal on metal. Not entirely unlike the method used to create glass lenses for telescopes, but I digress. Starting with a coarse grade crisscrossing patterns, I moved to a finer grade of '0000' wool and commenced to rubbing. After 2+ hours on each grade, I was very pleased with the results. Is it a mirror like finish? NO. Not really sure I want to maintain a mirror finish anyway. Imagine a kitchen window, into your engine compartment? no thanks. But a bright reflective finish would be desirable. Multiple tool marks are still visable, and I like them. It lets everyone know that this has been labored on by hands and not mass produced by some heartless machine with out a soul. How can I hope for some soul, if I'm not willing to give it a bit of my own soul. That's deep...... I'm verklempt, talk amongst yourselves.....

I'm very happy with the results:

The finish is very reflective. I didn't get to EVERY nook and cranny, but I managed to get to 98% of what I wanted to get to. Those areas/corners that I couldn't get to will be covered up with hoses and caps anyway.

I plan to finish up with some brass-o polish or ammonia and then coat it with a metal clear coat. From there it goes to the radiator shop for a cleaning and boil to make sure all the crap is removed.

NEXT project: IFS....this could get interesting.