The plan was to buy a car, and try not to do anything with it apart from drive it for a month, and then sell it again...
Well that was the plan, and it wasn't going according to plan. Buying the first car was great, and actually the first couple of days of motoring in it was going great too. But the problem was that every time I looked out of the window at BelongaClint to admire my new Frontera, all I could see was this...
The leading edge of the bonnet obviously had rust, and someone at some point had tried to bodge a repair. I kept looking at it, and trying to ignore it, but in the end, I thought I had to do something with it. The big problem was that whoever had attempted a repair had, by the looks of things, just scraped the rust blisters off, and wiped filler over the holes as best they could, before a quick going over with some pretty coarse sandpaper and a coat of primer. it wasn't great, even my poor efforts at bodywork would look better than this. I figured that I had to have a go. So, out with the knotted wire wheel on my grinder, and dig out all the rust on the front of the bonnet. Now, if you've never used one of these knotted wire wheels on your grinder before its an experience all of its own. Sure enough it makes pretty short work of rust blisters, but the problem is that the wire bristles fly off as you use it, and embed themselves about 5mm into my podgy belly! Anyway, I carried on regardless and before long I was looking at a pretty rust free leading edge of my bonnet, and a pretty sore belly. I treated it (the bonnet, not the belly!) with some Rustins Rust Converter, and once that was dry I fibreglassed the back, and then loaded the front with filler. After a bit of a brew I sanded it all down, before putting more filler in, then the sanding, and filling routine went on for quite a while until I thought it must be good enough. Rather than try to match the metallic green, I decided to paint the leading edge matt black, so it looked like it had a car-bra on. I'll be honest, once it was dry it looked hideous! Not just because of the hard edge to my matt black paint, but also because with the paint on you could see just how rough my filler was! I knew that really there was only one way to fix this, go and see my resident body man, M.R.
M.R. looked at it and said that it was pretty rough even for me. He was right, but I still think it was better than what was there before. After a little while M.R. said that it could be fixed, and if I could help him with his van that night, then he could help me with mine at the same time. That sounded fair, and so we made a plan to meet at midnight outside the back door of the factory he worked at. Then, while I was masking up his van for him to paint, he would fix my filler work on the front of my bonnet. Then while he was painting his van I would mask up the Frontera, and get ready for him to paint the bonnet. As I headed home to get something to eat before our night of painting M.R. reminded me that I was going to need my respirator.
Midnight, and we were insde the back of the factory where M.R. worked. While I busied myself masking up various parts of M.Rs Mercedes Vito van he was busy removing most of my filler, and putting his own back in. Before long he was done filling my bonnet, and I was done masking his Mercedes Vito, and then it dawned on me, M.R. likes to paint things Orange, he was going to paint his Vito Orange, was he going to paint my bonnet Orange? Because thats not going to go with Green at all! I asked him, and he chuckled and wandered off to the stock room. Before long he was back with a box of twelve 500ml cans of Pro-Cote Satin Black. We'll need all of these for your bonnet he said. Then he said, have you got your respirator? I said yes, why? He handed me two filters, and said put these in, the stuff I'm painting my van with is some pretty nasty stuff. Knowing M.R. like I do, if he says it's nasty, then it's probably far nastier than he's letting on. I put my respirator on, and pretty soon the two of us looked like we were ready to go for a walk through down town Chernobyl. M.R. fired up his DeVilbiss, and once again I broke out the masking paper and tape.
A short while later the Frontera was looking like a half wrapped Christmas present, and while M.R. was busy with his van I thought I'd try to dust on a coat or two of Satin Black. M.R. inspected my work before telling me that it would probably be better if I left it to him. He suggested that instead of trying to paint, it might be better if I removed the spare wheel, and scuffed it up, before masking it up so that he could paint that too! Wearing my respirator was a bit restricting, but M.R. had told me that under no circumstances was I to remove it. Not that I wanted to, I've smelled a lot of things through my respirator before, and quite a lot of different paints, but not like this. Just getting close to M.Rs cloud of Orange paint vapour that surrounded his Mercedes and even though the two filters of my respirator the air seemed to smell of bitter Almonds. No idea what M.R. was spraying, but as I had my suspicions, and I wasn't sure I wanted them confirmed, and so I hung back, letting M.R. get on with it, while I stayed quite close to the open door. I figured he knew what he was doing, he used this sort of stuff every day, but I wasn't sure I wanted to be involved with it.
M.R. alternated between laying down coats of (apparently) an industrial floor coating that was Orange on his Vito, and the Satin Black on my bonnet. Before long all twelve aerosol cans of Satin Black had been used up, and it was time to unwrap the Frontera.
It was 02:00hrs, and M.R. wanted to lay down one more coat of paint on his van. While he was doing that I continued to un-wrap the Frontera, and with that done I started to tidy all the rubbish away. I've got to admit I was pretty pleased with how it looked, and even happier that it hadn't cost me anything other than time helping my friend out. With the final coat of Orange laid down on M.Rs van he said that he would just clean his gun out, then we'd go and get a coffee. While M.R. was cleaning his gun, I carefully removed the masking from his van. I've got to say that considering it was an industrial floor coating, it looked pretty damn good on his van!
I popped the plates back on, and we headed for a coffee, still trapped insde our respirators! As we sat there in the factory canteen, I was glad to finally be able to take my respirator off. I looked at the filters, Orange, and not just a little bit, they were really Orange! M.R. said that we needed to give it half an hour or so before we could go home, just to give his floor coating a chance to go off a bit. I think by now we were both pretty tired, after all, it was getting on for 03:30hrs on a school night! It's probably a good thing that Mrs M.R. and Mrs Clint knew what kind of antics we got up to, as otherwise there was going to be questions when we both got home. With our coffees finished we headed back to our vehicles, I was pretty glad not to be doing my Darth Vader impression as we walked back through the factory.
I had a little bit of fine Orange dust on the bodywork of the Frontera, but M.R. said that would just wash off the next time I washed it. He said that any paint that had blown onto my car from his would've been dry before it got there. To be honest I wasn't too worried, I'm not the biggest matt black bonnet fan, but I thought it looked a million times better than when I had pulled in just four hours previously! We backed out into the cold night air, turned the lights in the factory out, and closed the back doors before heading off to our homes for what remained of the night. I was pretty tired, but pretty chuffed to have it all done. I now had less than three hours to sleep before getting up to do the school run before heading for work. Twenty years ago this would've been a piece of cake, but now, I was struggling a little, or atleast, I figured I would be by the end of the day. Once back at BelongaClint I crept in, and grabbed a shower before slipping into bed. I snuggled up to the warmth of Mrs Clint who mumbled "How was your girlfriend?" Oh, she was alright I said, but her Husband came home so I had to make a run for it, still, atleast I managed to get my strides on this time! She chuckled and congratulated me on a job well done before going back to snoring like a freight train, and I nodded off not too long after her, happy in the knowledge that my Frontera now looked just that little bit better. Which would hopefully mean that it would be just that little bit easier to sell in a week or so.