Thursday, August 31, 2006


BOY Howdy has it been a long summer!

Hey, Luther here. I can not speak for Cletus but I know I hve been covered up with work so that is why there is not been to much done here at the Car Corner. BUT we do have a nice letter that has come to us from a Mrs. J. Gore of Vidalia, Louisiana, who askes us this--

Okay, fellas.

How do you paint a bumper again? Mine has a bruise where I rubbed against another car.

The car is a '97 Ford Escort, silver color, silver bumper.

Best regards,

Janis Gore

Paint and bodywork is not one of my specalties but I have never let that stop me from handing out free advice.

Mrs. Gore has a car with a plastic bumper and they can be difficult to fix exactly right, but you can get them to looking better than having a big ugly scratch on them.

First step is to see how much of the other cars' paint you can wipe off. Sometimes it looks worse than it is and until you get off the other paint, you really don't know. After you've rubbed with a rag, then take something like mineral spirits and see if you can get anything else off, again with the idea of not having to paint any more than you need to.

After you have gotten as much of the other paint off, see how bad the scuff or scrape really is. If it left some deep scratches, you might want to consider using a bit of body filler to even it out some. If it's more or less smooth, the thing to do is start your prep work.

First, call your local Ford dealer and get a spray can of bumper paint to match your car's color. Silver is a bear to try to get to looking right because it just is, so your best bet starting off is to find something as close a match as you possible can. The car parts places sell bumper paint, too, but it never turns out being the exact color and you wind up with something that lookes like a hammered turd. Pardon my languge. If you can't get Ford matching paint, you will have to make do with what you can find at the parts place, but start with the dealer first.

NEXT, after you have run all over town finding some silver paint made for plastic bumpers, it is time to do a bit of sanding. Take some very fine grit sandpaper--no corser than 400 grit, and wrap it around a small block of wood or plastic to make a sanding block. This will help keep you from making gouges int he bumper. Lightly scuff the area right at the bad place on the bumper until you have a nice smooth finish that sort of feathers off into the good paint. Do not go wild and try to get too much paint off. Expecially again with clearcoat silver paint, the more you mess with it, the worse off you are. just do the least amount of sanding you can do.

Mask off an area around where you've been sanding that will allow you to spray the scratch and a bit of the area around it. Make sure you cover up the headlights and other stuff you don't want paint on.

Wipe down the unmasked area with some good quality degreaser and wax remover that you can get at the parts store. This is important because anything like polish or fingreprints or dirt or anything like that can cause the paint not to stick. Again, with silver, it's easy to make a mess.

Make sure the car is in a shady area, that the humidity is not too high, that you are not near a nest full of gnats, that no one is cutting grass,and that no wind is blowing for the next step, because if any of that mess is going on, you will have a spray paint spot on your bumper full of gnats and grass and weird swrily marks and paint bubbles and pinprick holes and a mess.

Shake the can up for all your worth and apply it to the bumper as it says to on the instructions on the label on the can. Do not slather on a big wet coat of paint--do a very fine thin layer and let it dry before hitting it again, and once more, do not paint way too far out beyond the original scratch--you just want the paint to fade out to the undamaged part of the paint so you won't ahve a noticable line between the new and the old paint.

After you have about four or so very thin coats, you should be able to tell if the repair is going to look right. If it's making a mess, you can always go back after it's really dry and sand a bit more on it to get out the mistake. But try not to do that more than about once. Otherwise it'll look like a mess.

On that last coat of color, if everything looks okay, you can do a bit of very fine sanding with some 800 grit (or 1000 even) paper using only the lightest touch, and then if you have some, apply a final coat of clear over it all. Again, not a lot, just enough to seal in the color coat you've put on.

Now, this is for a spot repair of something that's not deep or bent or anything else, and even then, you might still be able to spot the work you've done. Silver is hard to match and new paint and old paint EVEN IF THEY"RE THE SAME PAINT COLOR NUMBER can look different due to the fact that the old paint may have faded. If you want a completely invisible repair, the only way to do that is to make sure you have the entire bumper refinished, which is obviously real expensive. If you don't mind a slight imperfection, you can do a serviceable job yourself, but remember to do as much preperation work ahead of time to get the best out of it.

Now then, I wonder if Cletus or Tie-Rod has anything to add to all that?

UPDATED: Mrs. Gore sends along a photgraph of her bumper for us to review--

After actual looking at it, I think we're on the right track with our advice. There is not no dent in the plastic--sometimes they'l dent in and you can't get them pushed back out right, or they will split. So, that's good.

The next thing is that there is a wider area that looks to have gotten scuffed up. Some of those light marks might actually buff out with some polishing compound. I would see if that worked before starting in on sanding it. Use a good quality product and a new cloth and see how much will come out.

The big dark marks, though, are the ones that will take some work. Try to get as much off with mineral spirits first.

The only difference in sanding I think would be to use a soft block instead of a hard one since you'r working on an outside curving surface. A foam block would be easier to use and would not come as close as a hard one of leaving flat spots.

Let us know how it turns out Msr. Gore!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Magic Beans

Hey--Luther here. I have been noticing that just like the flowers that come up in the cow pies, the recent hikes in gas prices has meant that people selling magical cures for poor gas milage are popping up all over the place.

Just a word of advice from an old mechanic--don't waste your money. There is all kinds of pills, potions, doodads, add-ons, cheaters and egg beaters that people will sell to you with big promises of high milage. In almost every single instance, this mess is just a bunch of junk to hoodwink you into parting with your hard-earned dollars. And even for the stuff that might actually work, the effects on your gas bill are not going to be big, and sometimes won't even be big enough to offset the price you add for whatever you've gone and bought.

Easiest way to save gas? Slow down some. Even if the speed limit is 70, you don't HAVE to drive quite so fast. Next big thing is to make sure your tires is aired up to the right amount, and that they are aired up equal on all sides. Next, take out any extra weight you're carrying around. Some Yankees carry a bag of sand with them for if they get stuck in snow--if you are through with wintertime where you live, go ahead and take that fifty pound of sand out of your trunk and leave it in the garage. Likewise with anything else you might be toting around that you don't really need. If you do these three littel FREE things, you can reduce your consumption a lot--in some cases up to 10%.

For stuff that costes money, the best thing to do is take your car in for a good tune up--make sure the plugs are clean, make sure the feul injecters or your carburator are clean, make sure the plug wires are good. A poor running engine can eat up gas, so make sure yours is running right.

Other things to consider--since it is getting to be the hot season, some folks want to know about running the air conditioning. this is a hot topic around here at the garage (so to speak), and the fact is that this really depends on the type of car you drive. Some older cars can do slightly better using teh ol reliable 460 airconditioning--that is rolling all four windows down and driving 60 mile an hour. But for most new cars, they are designed in wind tunnels and rolling down the windows can make them spend more gas overcoming wind resistance than they might use if you just kept the windows up and used the air conditioner. This is one you have to experiment a bit with to see what works bests for you.

In case you don't want to take the advise of someone like me (because your stuck up or snooty or something), you can always check out the United States Government's Federal Trade Commission web site that has all the tips above, plus even more information about the types of garbage they've tested that don't work, and some stuff that works a little bit.

So there you go, and remember, Caveat Emptor, which is Latin for "don't get suckered."

Monday, March 13, 2006


We ain't dead!

Hey, Luther here.

It is just been the busy season what with all the hunters getting there trucks fixed for hunting and fishing and such like, so we have been some what quite of late. HOWEVER, we do have a question that came through the question e-mail system of ours, and since Cletus did not see it, I grabbed it first and will answer it.
Dear Cletus,

My 86-year-old father-in-law treated himself to a brand new loaded Buick LeSabre and bequeathed to us his 1988 gold Buick Park Avenue.

The old car only has 70,000 miles on it and runs like a top. The body is in excellent condition for its age, but, sir, the paint job is just as faded and miscolored as you can imagine.

The local body shop will paint it for about $1000, but that seems high for the value of the car, which we intend to keep.

Do you have suggestions for an alternative?

Thank you.

Janis Gore
I will ignor the slight that only Cletus is the one who got named in the e-mail, agian, since I was the first one to get it. That's what he gets for being so slow. Any way, that is a very good question.

What Mrs. Gore and her husband has found out is that it does not matter how much a car is worth when you go to paint it. You might not want to put a lot of money into it, but painting requires preparation and work and that stuff cost money no matter if the car is 20 years old or brand new.

If you intend to keep the car, it is worth it to go ahead and put some money into paint. I know not everyone beleives that, but I think of it as maintananance just like anything else--if you change the oil regularly, it adds up to a bunch after a while. Paint you only change once, and it might seem to be a big hit all of the sudden, if you figure out how long you have had it, and avrage it out, it's really not so bad. And it just looks better to have it painted.

The only question is how to get it painted. Some of the high volume shops charge a lot, but they don't do a very good job of prepparation and the paint never really looks nice. YOu can waste a lot of money in an hurry with the spray-and-pray shops, and still wind up with and inferior paint job.

A local company who is been in business for a long time is a good bet--ask around and see who does good work in your area. If it still seems just too much to pay, check with your local vocational school's auto repair program. Many schools will allow there students to do work for customers to learn how. The only drawback is that it might look like high schoolers did it, but if the price is right and all you need is a nice glossy paint, it's probably about as good as letting some high-flow place do it.

As for color, gold is real hard to keep nice because it fades so easy. I would go ahead and pay extra for clear coat or better yet, integral clear coat. It helps the color last a bit longer. And GM cars of this year don't have great paint to start with--if I recall right, it was a water-born paint that didn't hold up well and tended to pull off in big sheets (General MOtors had a big recall on this, and there are still some class-action law suits ongoing that might be worth looking into--there might still be be some time to do something about it)--but anyway be sure whoever does it makes sure the surface is sanded and sealed proper for the new paint, or it could have problems later on.

HOpe this helps.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Braindead and Other Oddities

I tried to log on to post and discovered that I couldn't remember the name or password I use. I had to call Luther and ask him. I'll never hear the last of that. I can just hear the comments about getting old and forgetful.

The reason for the post is I checked our email aand we have arrived in the larger Internet world. We received a letter from Nigeria offering us millions in misplaced funds. I read the missive carefully just in case there was an automotive or philosophy related question not wanting to miss the chance to help out a Nigerian as much as I could. Alas, there were no such questions.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Leaking Carb

I got a pretty interesting question this morning from one of the rocket scientists. Seems the carburetor on his 1962 Falcon is leaking and someone told him to use epoxy to fix it. I told him that fixing it was a right good idea, but I wasn't sure about epoxy.

He is restoring the Falcon and is up to about $7000 so far and from what I remember, Falcons had a bad habit of catching on fire from gas leaks. I would either fix the leak or get a new carb.

$7000 on a Falcon?

Luther here--I seem to recall a certain person who had a brand new Falcon and the door come off of it. Anyway, what I dont understand is why people spend so much moeny on stuff like this old Falcon, and then bawk at buying something to fix it thats not all tore up. Why try to glue the carb when you can just go get one--if he's spent that much, he could get a brand new old stock carb and not really be out that much more. Or get something from a junk yard that ain't cracked. People are strange.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Merry Christmas

Luther here--I just wanted to say to all of you church people who drop by to have you a merry Christmas, and for the Jewish folks to have a merry Hannikah. To Mr. Riperty, I am sorry, but the main bering set we ordered for your Fiat is the wrong one and we'll have to get them to send us another one so it should only be another couple of months. To Ricky at the county maintinennce department, I wish yall would fix this hole out in front of the shop. To Miss Inez, thank you for the friut cake it is very good. To Tie Rod, I hope you have a merry Christmas, and a happy new Year, too, and I wuouldn't let that place on your hand where you hit it with the plyers get infected. To Cletus, thank you for letting me dispinse car advise on here with you and have a MErry Chrismas and I hope you like the friut cake I got you and I'am sorry there is a peice missing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I Come From Alabama With a Banjo Housing on my Knee

Luther here--it looks like our newfangeled e-mail question line is working now. We got this question a coupel of days back and now that we got rid of that problem with that Puegot we had in here, we have some time to answer back. Here goes:
Hey Luther either..... I have a old studebaker that has a crack in the banjo head rear end, and it won't hold much grease at a time. I drive it about ten miles, it seizes up and I stop and fill the rear end again. I have tried to find another one to replace it (rear end not the car) an I can't find one any where. I have tried silver solder... black tar and even chewin gum but when the stuff gets hot it falls out. What can I plug that thing with. I have thought about shootin' it but it ain't a horse. I wish it was so I could. Mason D
I guess everyone has a blog now.

Anyways, I think if your loosing that much oil out of the rear end, you have got a bigger problem than any crack. You might be seeing a crack and filling it up with stuff, but if you loose a whole diff's worth of fluid every few miles, youv'e got a bigger leak somewhere else that you CAIN'T see.

Second part of the problem is that you have to reweld any cracks you find, and not with JB Weld, but with real welding. It is never a good idea to fix any sort of driveline or suspension cracks yourself--take it to a reputable axel shop and let them do it right.

Finaly, I will despute with you about not being able to find the right rear end for it. We don't make no money from advertising for E-Bay Motors, but I tell you right now, it is just about the best place to find obsilete car parts, right after Hemmings. If you search on Studebaker, you get a lot of results, and even if someone doesn't have an axle right off, it pays to check every so often until you find one, or find a parts car. Also, be sure to check your Hollander book--there are probaly several differant housings that could interchange with yours, and junkyards have gotten all high tech to day too and can get stuff pretty quick.

Finally, remember that there are allways all kinds of people who specielize in old car parts--one good place for Studabeker parts is Studebaker International, and another is Stephen Allen's Studebaker place, which does have several different varietys of chunks for you to look at. (And again, thay haven't payed us to give their names.)

So to rap up--don't drive it until you get it fixed or replaced, and don't give up on finding a replacment housing.

Cletus here: Luther got that one pretty good. As far as philosophy goes, I think this fall is the category of doing what is necessary to fix it even if it means using a Chevy rearend. I know that is practically Satan worship but you gotta do what you gotta do.

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