Sunday, December 27, 2015

Restoring the Wiper Bay Area — Part 1

It is obvious that assembly line workers back in the 1970s care very little about quality. All you have to do is look inside the wiper bay area, or wiper trough as some call it, and you'll see globs and globs of body seam sealer all over everything.

Some owners choose to hide this mess by installing an aftermarket wiper bay cover. And while it does the job and looks nice, it only masks what lies underneath.

Instead I chose to take the time to remove all wiper system components, including the wiper arms, washer hoses and motor, so I could detail this area properly.

Since like most do-it-yourselfers I can only work so many hours a day and on weekends, this project took me almost two weeks, but it was well worth the effort and skinned knuckles. Yes, space in that area is at a premium.

Here are some photos as well as commentary as to what I did.

As these photos show, the seam sealer was everywhere. And believe it or not, from photos I've seen online, mine was not as bad as some.








Since using a putty knife can only accomplish only so much when it comes to hardened seam sealer, I also had to use a hammer and a small chisel in order to remove some of the excess seam sealer. In addition to that mess, the panel fit (between the firewall and the hood surround) was horrible, so that necessitated the use of saws in order for the parts to look nice.

Once the bulk of the excess seam sealer and other gunk is vacuumed out of the wiper bay, things start to look up.

Also notice the poor fit of the firewall and hood surround lip. And by the way, all those cuts into the fiberglass were courtesy of someone at Corvette assembly plant. Guess he was in a rush.









These photos show my work as I started to saw away some of the excess fiberglass. Doing this has no effect on strength but it makes a gigantic difference as far as how the finished product looks.

A good assortment of hand saws is a must for this job. Needless to say sanding blocks and paper of different grits are also required.





I removed the wiper posts and cleaned them to the best of my ability. Having access to a blasting cabinet would certainly make this job a lot easier. But since I do not have one, I did the best I could.

After the posts were clean, I painted them silver. Another option is to spray them with cast paint and I've also seen them painted gold, which looks really nice. I chose to stay close to the factory look in this case. And yet another option is to spray them with clear after media blasting. I think that would look great also.



The base plates I chose to clean and leave them in place. The nuts that secure them in place are in an area that is only accessible if you remove the instrument panel, and I was not ready to get that involved with this project.

Sometimes you have to pick the battles you're willing to fight.









Once the wiper posts were painted, I also detailed all the associated hardware by sanding and painting it with Eastwood's Underhood Black paint. This product has the factory sheen for these types of components.



This photo shows how I reshaped the fiberglass surround lip where it meets the wiper bay. A huge improvement over what Chevrolet originally delivered in 1976.



I also decided to use some Bondo and glazing putty in a few areas that, otherwise, would've stuck out like a sore thumb after the bay was painted.

Since I've had excellent results with Dupli-Color Truck Bed texture spray paint in the past, I decided to use that product in order to give the area a nice finish that would also help conceal a few imperfections. Having said that, there's only so much the bedliner spray will hide, hence the need to use body filler to smooth a few things out.



Stay tuned for Part Two of this project.