1973 Dodge Charger SE work log 2006

Work Log 2006


Started investigating the bubbling paint on the passenger side lower door panel.  Since a door skin does not seem to be available, I am going to have to fix the rust spot.  I still have some paint left over from when I painted the mirrors and I will have to have some more mixed up.  I removed the paint and found a great deal of Bondo.  I cut out the rust spot and started tack welding in some new metal.  There is also a large rust spot on the driver side rocker panel just behind the door.  I pulled the rusting pieces and Bondo that were coming off already.  I will have to cut the rest out and make a new patch panel for that area.  The rockers are available for the 73 Charger...however, I may have extensive body work done on the car so I am just doing some temporary metal work at the moment.


Cut the rust out of the lower spot on the passenger side door. I cut a piece of sheet metal and fitted it into the spot on the door.  I welded the patch in place and sprayed on some primer to keep it from flash rusting before I can work some more on the patch.  Hopefully the weather will get a little warmer and I will be able to finish this spot and move on to the other side.


Went to Gervics (Local auto paint store).  Ordered 3 spray cans of a color they had made for me last year.  They can put the paint (I am using BC/CC - Base Coat / Clear Coat) in an aerosol can which makes it much easier for working on the small patch areas that I am working with.  They did a great job of matching the color on the last batch that I got from them last year.  I picked up 3 cans of a "High Solids" spray clear coat (the high solids put more paint on the surface than some of the less expensive types), auto body "Icing".


I picked up paint I had ordered from Gervics.  I also bought a Makita polisher.  I have been looking at then for awhile now and decided that I was going to need one soon when it comes to polishing out the area that I am working on fixing. I also bought some masking paper, masking tape, and a few grades of sandpaper, plastic spreaders, along with some polishing compounds.  I have 3M Finesse-It, but I needed something a little less aggressive. I bought a small bottle of Maguire's swirl remover to see how well it worked as a lighter compound/polish.  Started using the Icing on the patch that I had welded in place.

Started wet sanding areas of the car that needed some attention.  I started with 1000 and went to 1500 grit wet paper and found that I may not have needed to work with the 1000 so on the next panel I used the 1500 and went to 2000 then the Finesse-It and Perfect-It.  I have to get a couple new bulbs for my utility light so the lighting was a little poor, but I could still see a BIG difference in the finish. 


I sanded and applied a few more coats of "Icing" to the repair spot.  Taped / masked off area on the lower passenger side door and primed.  While that was drying, I took the opportunity to change the fuel pressure gauge and found the pressure was still very high.  Attempted to adjust the pressure (this is a Mallory fuel pressure regulator) and found that the regulator was giving me a problem, the pressure would not adjust down.  This is not the first time I have had this problem with this regulator.  I am VERY disappointed with the quality and design of this unit...especially since it cost me $80.00.  I had 'generic' pressure regulators that worked better than this.  So, I will be going to get another one from Behrents speed shop in Florida, NY.


I spent a couple hours wet sanding the passenger side door and side of the front passenger side fender.  This is very time consuming, but I am taking my time and working the paint with 2000 grit wet paper.  I do not want to be too aggressive with the sanding but I do want to get as much of the 'texture' out of the clear coat that I can.  There are waves in the panels and they will have to be addressed when the whole car is stripped and painted.  But, for now, the wet sanding, polishing and other repairs will suffice.


I spent a couple more hours wet sanding the passenger side door and rear quarter panel with 2000 wet sandpaper.  Roughed up the area to be painted with 220 on a random orbital sander.  Since this spot is so low on the car, it makes it hard to sand this area.  I taped off the area and sprayed 3 coats of color on the lower section of the passenger side.  I waited 15 minutes between coats.  I re-masked about 1/2" to 1" above the color line, (above the lower panel and door crease) and started spraying clear.  I sprayed 3 coats of clear with 20 minutes to 1/2 hour between coats (since it is only about 65 degrees outside).  Now I just have to let the paint dry completely and wet sand and polish...on to the other side.  I took a few "Before" pictures from the driver (left) side.  Those pictures are now in the 2006 pics area


I spent a couple more hours wet sanding the passenger side door and rear quarter panel with 2000 wet sandpaper.  Are you getting the idea that there is an awful lot of wet sanding going on?  My arms are well aware of it.  I sanded off the clear line that was left over after taking off the masking tape.  This is just going to happen so I expected it.  I was surprised that the paint was actually ready to be sanded.  I was not sure of the drying time on this paint and I could not find anything on the manufacturer's web site regarding drying time, so I used the thumbnail test.  I figured if it was too soft, I could always recoat the clear.

Today I got a great deal done.  I started work on the driver side (left).  I took out the grinder and started exposing the metal under the rust spots to see just how far they went.  They were pretty bad and I took pictures of the ground down areas and the cut out spots.  I did not take pictures of the metal patches or the welding I did, just call me "sesame seed" because I was on a roll!  I wanted to get as much done as possible since I was moving along so well, I did not stop to get the camera until after I had the second coat of Icing on the repair areas.

4/19/06 - 4/22/06

I finished Icing and sanding on the driver side.  Primed and painted (3 coats of color and 4 coats of clear).  I also fixed a large blister on the passenger side just under the vinyl top line.  This had been getting very bad and I decided to fix it while I was working on some of the other spots.

I installed the new fuel pressure regulator.  I had to do some creative plumbing since the new regulator was a different size than the old one.  Luckily, I had a few AN -06 fittings left over from the original plumbing job.  I had to change a few things around but I made it work.  I was able to adjust the pressure with the new regulator (I was not able to get an adjustment from the old one). 

I also started doing a little work on the interior.  I ran a power line for the third brake light (I had the unit in place but never had it working).  I pulled power from the switch on the brake pedal and ran the line directly to the light.  This allowed me to get the light working properly.  I had attempted to get the light working years ago, but since the car uses the same line to operate the turn signals, it blinked.  I tried one of those electronic units that you wire in if you have this kind of set-up.  Unfortunately, it did not work.  While I was redoing the brakes last year, thought about running the wire directly.  I checked to see if there was power going through the switch and indeed, there was. 

I adjusted the trunk lid while I was in that area of the car to hook up the third brake light.  I was able to get the spacing a little better on the sides.  One side had always been too close to the fender and the other side was too far away.  This does leave a little difference between the rear fender extender and the trunk lid but, I may change the lid since I do have another one that will just need to have an edge replaced and general priming and painting.

4/22/06 - 5/4/06

More sanding and more sanding...  Did I mention more sanding? ;-)

I started removing trim from some areas of the car that need to be sanded, mainly the rear window trim.  I know that the trim always had paint on it from previous owner body work.  I was surprised to find out there was even GREEN on the trim.  The car was originally green, then bright red, then burgundy.  So, basically, it tells you that some folks were just too lazy to remove the trim and paint the areas properly.  I have some aircraft stripper (Warning this is STRONG stuff!) and used that to remove the paint from the aluminum trim work.  Some pieces near the vinyl top have to be painted but only half of the trim gets painted.  The trim is textured in such a way as to make it look like it is material.  I picked out a color called Championship White and even though it is a Honda paint color...it seem to match fairly well.  I even did some testing on the lower molded door panels and found that this color will work well on them.  So, I will be repainting the molded panels of the interior of the car.  I can get new ones, but at this stage I will save the $800.00 until I am ready for a full interior.

I ordered the passenger side floor pan from Jim's Auto Parts on Friday April 28th.  Hopefully they will arrive soon.  I also ordered the door hinge pin rebuild kits and the weather stripping for the upper part of the doors. Until then I will be working on a few other projects...mainly the interior panels and the trim.

5/5/06 - 5/6/06

Fixed the passenger side seat belt.  The seat belt was not working properly.  After many years the spring had gotten weak and was not pulling the belt in all the way.  This was causing the belt to not release out of the holder.  I opened the unit and was able to wrap the spring around 3 more times with the belt reel in the same position.  This tightened the spring enough to pull the belt into the holder enough to trip the locking mechanism and the belt would now release properly.

Still working on removing the residue on the back window near the bottom of the window.  The problem with the design is there are no drains in this area and since the panel is slightly above the window, there is a channel that water can collect in at the bottom of the window.  I do not know what this residue is, but I can tell you that it is hard.  I have been slowly scraping it off with many razor blades.  So far I have not found anything that would soften this residue.  So, removing it is a very slow process.  I know that the glass is not etched since I can remove the residue and there is nice shiny glass underneath. 

Removed the trim on the hood along with the hood ornament.  I buffed and polished a bunch of trim, most of it is anodized aluminum and the anodizing has started to come off in spots.  Buffing the anodized coating off is a very time consuming process but the trim will shine up nicely.  I will use regular aluminum wax (same as for the wheels) on the trim.  That should keep them in good shape for awhile.  At least they will be much easier to polish in the future.

The hood ornament has a base that was a different issue.  It was chromed pot metal and the chrome was becoming pitted.  I removed the chrome and buffed the pot metal piece up.  I clear coated it and baked the paint on in a small toaster oven for an hour @ 170 degrees.  The part is not show quality, but it is fine for a driver and MUCH better than it was before.

*** Update *** 7/18/06

This is an update to the work on my Charger to date:

The new floor pan had been installed on the passenger side.  The lower interior panels have been painted and clear coated with a semi gloss paint.  The panels have been reinstalled.  The sanding on the paint is done.  The paint has been buffed and polished.  The trim has been polished.  I removed the front window trim and polished it.  Luckily it was stainless steel and polished up very nicely.  I got a replacement front bumper for the from (Tri-City Plating).  This was a warranty replacement.  After a few years of not having a garage, the bumper started rusting under the grill where the grill rested on the bumper.  They replaced it...no problem.  I also bought a rear bumper from them since they have a lifetime warranty.  That meant removing the rear bumper as a core.  I called Tri-City Plating and had them bring the front replacement and rear bumpers to Chrysler at Carlisle in Carlisle PA.  I planned on going this year to pick up the bumpers and to see if I could find any other parts that I was looking for. I really did not find too much else there that was reasonably priced.  The asking price of most of the parts was much more than I was willing to pay for them.  But, that is another story.

I replaced the upper door seals. and ordered material (off-white Premium Perforated) for the sail panels.  The material that was on them was not put on well and was falling off.  The material was also the wrong material for the year of the car.  I finally found a place to order the material from and it was lost by UPS the first time.  So, the company sent a second shipment.  I only ordered 2 yards of material which was more than I needed for the sail panels.  I bought some 3M spray adhesive and put the new material on the old sail panel boards.

I wire brushed and painted the bumper frames.  Reinstalled the bumpers and also painted the light housings.  I had a spare rear bumper and used the light housings from that bumper since they were in better shape than the ones I took out.  I replaced the light bulbs (since I had the whole thing apart anyway).  I decided not to put the 'bumperettes' back on the car since they were not in great shape and I did not want to put them on the new chrome.  They would have looked even worse against the new bumpers.  I had to remove the rear splash pan and fill in the slots for the lower bumperette mounts.  I made some small patch pieces, welded them in place, smoothed out the entire pan, primed, painted, clear coated, polished the pan and reinstalled it on the car.

I replaced the shifter handle since the one that I had was cracked and broken from the time I got the car.  It was making the car hard to shift properly.  I cleaned the console and lubricated the shifter mechanism. I painted the carpet with carpet paint in the places where the carpet was fading to red from sun exposure over the years.  I was very surprised that the carpet paint seems to work well and has not rubbed off.  I modified a hood ornament that I had gotten years ago to fit into the base that I had buffed and clear coated.  I replaced the antenna nut and trim ring.  I replaced all of the screws for the wheel opening molding and polished all the molding. I polished all of the wheels and cleaned and treated the tires.

I used lacquer thinner and a razor blade to clean up the bumper reveal molding and painted the molding with vinyl paint.  I also cleaned up the headlight surrounds using the same method.  I have polished up one of the aluminum door sill plates.  One more to go.