Body Assembly Frustration

Body Assembly Frustration

August 2015 – Body Assembly Frustration

I’ve been dealing with body assembly, and it’s been a frustrating journey.  Bill painted the car, but it’s up to me to put the front valance on, fit the stone guard, put in the splash panels, add the headlight buckets, etc.  Of course, he fit many of those things before he painted them, but because I have some wiring and other assembly to do as well, some of those pieces needed to wait.

Over the past several days I’ve tried to tackle as much of the body assembly as possible.  Every piece has been a nightmare so far.  The front bumper brackets, which are made by the same people who make the bumper, don’t fit.  They don’t fit where they attach to the bumper itself, and they don’t fit where they attach to the car.  With some filing and Dremel-ing, though, I finally got them on.

Then, I went to put on the front valance, and I found out I didn’t have all the screws and nuts.  I found myself muttering some pretty hefty obscenities at that realization because at one point I HAD those screws and nuts.  Knowing full well that the car had sat outside for eons, I had purchased a complete concours-correct AMK body hardware kit to help simplify the restoration.  On top of that, I had bagged and cataloged every piece of hardware I’d pulled off the car, so I should, in theory, have two sets of everything.

When I delivered the car to Bill, I gave him a box with individually labeled bags of the old hardware and a separate box with the new hardware in it.  My thinking was that he could use the old stuff to temporarily mount the panels while he painted or when he needed to test fit, and then he could use the shiny, clean, new stuff for final assembly.  Having taken the time to individually bag and organize everything, you can imagine how frustrated I was that the boxes I received back were just a jumbled mix of nuts and screws.

Some bags he didn’t use at all, so I pulled those out, but in general, having a bucket of bolts is not ideal.  For a good solid day I cursed Bill’s name.  And then I finally decided I’d just have to go through everything and find out what was missing.  You know what?  Everything was there.  I found the valance hardware, the stone guard hardware, and I was able to account for every bag and screw from the new kit.  It took maybe 20 minutes to sort, and I was back to loving Bill again.

On the other hand, my hatred for the Taiwanese metal workers who make a lot of these repro parts has only grown stronger.  While the front bumper brackets were only mildly frustrating to work with, the reproduction rear brackets weren’t even close.  Again, the brackets and the bumpers are made by the same folks, so there’s no reason they shouldn’t fit.  In my frustration, I walked behind the garage, pulled off the old rear brackets and dropped them in as a test.  Guess what?  They fit perfectly.  After a good soak in the rust removal bath and some paint, they’ll be going on the car.  This just serves to reinforce something I’ve said several times before: reproduction parts are hit-and-miss, so if you can save the original, use it.