Tag Archives: PRE

  • Vinyl Wrapping Old Interior Trim

    As vehicles age interior trim pieces can become faded, scratched and sometimes if they are coated, start to peel.  Over the past couple years a trend has been growing and a new way to transform that old interior has emerged.

    It utilizes a form of adhesive backed vinyl that becomes flexible when heated.  Major companies such as 3M have developed their own vinyl that is now known to be the go to product.  That being said there are other brands that offer a similar quality product at a cheaper price.  There are tons of color and texture options ranging from a simple matte black to purple carbon fiber.  If done correctly its hard to tell if the vinyl was even added, it looks that good.


    P1020574 copy



    This 2000 BMW E39 M5 came from the factory with silver brushed aluminum trim pieces but as youll see it needs an update.   After 15 years of use the trim has started to fade, become scratched, and in some spots peel up.


    P1020572 copy



    The vinyl I chose looks very similar to the original, it even has a texture which mimics the real thing.  If you didn't know already, which one is the original trim?


    Photo Oct 01, 10 58 10 AM

    To start the process I removed all of the trim pieces, it is possible to apply the wrap in the car but for an ideal finish they should be completely removed.  BMW M5 trim is very easy to remove but it will not be like this in every vehicle.  Before you start go online and look up the proper way to remove the trim for your specific car, it will save time and reduce the risk of something breaking.


    All of the pieces follow the same steps so I'll walk through the vinyl application on the center dash piece which surrounds the radio controls and center display.



    1. Clean the trim first using 400-600 Grit Sandpaper.  This will remove any dirt trapped on the surface.  Then spray a rag with PRE Painting Prep to remove any remaining contaminants.  Make sure to clean the edges and the under side of the piece because this is where the edge of the vinyl will stick.



    2. Lay the piece face down and cut out a piece of vinyl with about 1/2"-1" extra on all sides.  If the if the piece is rounded leave some extra material so it can wrap around the edges.

    3. Lay the vinyl on a clean table with the adhesive side up and carefully remove the backing.  Set your piece down on top of the vinyl on the flattest side.  Make sure the grain is going the correct direction and is square.



    4. After the flat side is pressed on lift the piece up and hold it in the air while trying to keep off of the adhesive side.  Use a Heat Gun on one edge at a time, get the edge hot and set the heat gun down, pull on the outer edge and form the vinyl around the outer curves.  Even after removing the heat the vinyl will stay soft for a few seconds, allowing you to pull it into place.



    To speed up the process I utilized the Eastwood Heat Gun's flat back plate with allows you to set it upright on a table while it is still on.  I could then use both of my hands to hold and form the vinyl.



    5.  After the the vinyl is formed around the outer edge, trim off the excess and repeat the same process on the back side.  Wrap the vinyl around the back, sticking it to the under side of the piece, doing this will prevent the vinyl from peeling up.



    6. To deal with the openings, run the Heat Gun along the edges of each while pressing downward.  Doing so will create a slight recess along the outside of the opening.



    7. Next cut an "X" in the center of each opening with a sharp razor blade leaving about 1/2" from each corner.  Heat and pull the center of each flap to form around the inner edges.  Trim and wrap around the back side like the earlier step.



    8. Repeat this with the other openings to create your finished product.



    With the rest of the trim completed it looks brand new and refreshed.  All this was done for about $20 worth of materials and the results pay for them self.

    Combine this with Eastwood Plastic Resurfacer and your interior will look as if it just rolled out of the factory.


    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW

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  • How to Quickly Clean stubborn Dirty Whitewall Tires

    Nothing can make a car look better than a nice set of wheels and tires. Wide whitewall tires are the kings of cool when it comes to old cars and they really make your ride standout. But nothing can be a bigger bummer than when they get stained from a dirt, grease, or road grime. I've heard numerous methods for cleaning whitewalls but I've learned a few tips that will easily make your whitewalls shine again.   Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Shaved Fender Vents on 08-10 Super Duty

    Shaved Fender Vents on 08-10 Super Duty

    Version 2

    The fastest way to make your vehicle stand out is with exterior modifications, but in order for them to look good it must be done the proper way.  Adding new pieces such as wheels, tires, bumpers, etc. is one method but it can easily be over done and just look tacky.  How many times have you seen a car with parts that just don't belong? I've seen way too many.  The other, and sometimes more difficult method is to remove parts that were originally there.  Not only does it make the vehicle look more seamless it also separates it from all the others.  From the factory this 2009 Ford F-350 Super Duty came with chrome plastic fender vents that stick out more than 3/4" from the panel.  Some may like this look but it ruins the body lines of the truck.  Just like Hot Rod guys shave door handles you'll see step by step how to remove these vents and make it look like they were never there in the first place.



    These are the vents I'm talking about, yeah they are flashy and catch your eyes but they don't do much for the over all look of the truck.  With these removed the side of the truck is stream line all the way to the tail lights.



    Using a plastic trim tool to pry off the vent, the recessed area underneath is revealed.  Having a recessed area the exact shape of the vent provides a great starting point because it will be much easier later on when I weld the new piece in.  As you can see in the above picture the fender is slightly curved so not only will the patch piece have to be the correct size it will also need the bend to be exactly the same to appear seamless.



    I started by making a templet with a piece of poster board, to do this I cut a rectangular piece slightly bigger than what I needed and with masking tape attached it to the fender so the the vent area was fully covered.  Then using a marker and my finger I pressed on the edges of the recessed area and drew "+", one in like with the edge and one perpendicular to the edge.  I did this along the whole outer edge of the vent area and using a ruler connected all of the intersecting points.  Note that I did not once use a tape measure, on most patch panel fabrication an exact measurement it pretty much necessary but for a small piece like this the method I just described takes a lot of the guess work out because you are using the actual panel to get the shape.  Using a ruler and an exacto knife I cut out the shape using the marks I made earlier.



    The template was was a perfect fit,  I want the panel to sit as close to flush as I can, this will reduce the amount of filler and body work later on.



    Next using a piece of 18 GA steel I carefully traced the shape on to the metal. For the first side I wanted to use my Versa 40 Plasma Cutter to cut out the shape.


    Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 3.41.38 PM

    The plasma gives me the ability to cut the curves of the piece near exactly but for extra assurance I used two pieces of 1/4" Bar as a guide to make the the cuts perfectly straight.



    Using a  60 grit flap disc attached to a 4.5" Grinder I removed the burrs, beveled the edges, and removed the surface rust.  when making patch panels like this its very important to bevel the edges, this gives the allows for a cleaner weld that will lay much more flush with the panel.


    Version 2

    Next to get the patch piece to match the slight curve of the factory panel I used my Bench Top English Wheel  to gently curve the panel.  Be very careful to only apply forward and backward pressure on the panel in line with the wheel.  Putting too much side pressure on the panel will give it a dome and not match the contour of the fender.  One way to eliminate giving the panel a domed effect is to put a rubber band over the upper wheel.  This reduces the side to side stretching of the metal because the band stretches instead of the metal.



    You can see the difference in the two panels with the one on the right being the one that I ran through the wheel and the one on the left has not been touched.  Even though the curvature in the fender is very little, the extra time rolling it through the english wheel will save a lot of time later on when it comes time to apply filler.



    Before prepping the fender for welding I used a magnet to hold the patch piece in place and look at the fitment and gaps from multiple angles to make sure no corners were too high or out of place.  After taking it off to grind a few areas down I was satisfied with the fitment and sprayed the back with Self Etching Weld Thru Primer to prevent rusting from the inside.



    To prep the panel for welding I used a flap disc on a 4.5 ANGLE GRINDER and removed the paint down to metal all the way around the areas where I would be welding.



    Starting with the top edge I used my MIG 175 on a very low setting to tack weld the panel in to place, making sure the panel was seated in the right place before tacking in.



    If you find that after your first tacks the panel is no longer sitting flush with the opening there is a way to save the welds without having to cut the piece out.  To do this use a wide flat blade screw driver putting half of the blade on the new piece and half on the original.  Press the panel so it sits just below flush with the opening then place a tack weld right above the blade.  In the event that the panel sits too low in the opening you can use a very fine flat blade screw driver to pry the panel up to the desired depth.



    The first step in the filling process I started by using Contour Short Strand Fiberglass Filler.  This filler is infused with fiberglass which makes it much much stronger than ordinary filler allowing it to be applied much heavier to fill larger gaps and depressions. Before application I wiped down the fender with PRE Painting Prep to remove and contaminants that would affect the adhesion of filler.  I applied the Short strand on all of the weld seams as well as the top section of the patch which were the lowest areas that needed the most support.



    While some say this material is hard to work with because it gets too hard too quick making it more difficult to sand.  I've found that the ideal time to sand is about 10-15 min after application using 40-60 Grit to knock down the high spots then 80 grit PSA to level the rest.  Be aware that this is a very tough material and will harden very quickly so make sure you get all of the sanding



    After the Short strand is leveled I applied and block sanded Contour Glazing Putty to finish off the panel.  I would have only needed one pass of Putty but I went too light with the short strand in the lower corner. To knock down the high spots I use 80 grit PSA  on a  11" x 1 3/8" Durablock, this block is great for smaller areas like this because it is easy to hold and is long enough to be able to slightly bend so all areas of the block are in contact with the panel at all times.



    Now that the filler is blocked down flush it is time to apply primer to seal the area.  First I again wiped down the with PRE then used 2K Urethane Primer Surfacer using the Evolution Paint gun with a 2.0 tip.  This primer will not only seal the panel but also build up enough that I can come back with 320-400 Grit on a block and do a final blocking in case there are still any imperfections.  The best way to apply this primer is to start from the outside and work your way in, as you can see in the picture I taped off the area about 5 inches off the filler edge this will prevent primer overspray from getting on other parts of the panel that do not need it.  I am not using the tape to create a hard edge and will never have to primer in direct contact with the tape edge.



    The final step before paint is to block the whole fender with 400 grit to remove and sanding scratches and scuff the existing paint so the base coat will stick.  Additionally I scuffed the whole fender with a red scuff pad to create a uniform painting surface.  Wipe off the panel with PRE and then with a tack rag to remove any dirt or lint from the painting surface. You MUST use a blow gun and move as much dust and dirt away from the area surrounding the panels.  Even dust on the floor nearby can get kicked up by the paint gun and get trapped in the paint.



    I sprayed the base with the Concours Pro HVLP Gun with a 1.3 tip. The color I used is a Ford color code UD which was mixed at a local automotive commercial supply store.  Although these stores supply to collision shops most will mix as little as a quart of color matched paint at a reasonable price. I was lucky enough that this Ford UD Ebony color was a very common mix and a quart was just under $25.  Depending on the color code and the additives that go in prices can go as high as $200 just for a quart.  After three coats of base with about 15 min flash time and a wipe down with a tack rag between each its time for clear.



    I applied 3 wet coats of 2:1 European Urethane Clear also using the Concours Pro HVLP Gun with a 1.3 Tip. I mixed the clear 2:1:1/2, the 1/2 being urethane reducer. This helps the clear flow a lot better and lay on the panel much nicer.  I applied 2 coats allowing about 15 min flash time between coats, because it was about 85 degrees the flash time was greatly reduced.






    The fenders still need to be buffed to remove some small dirt specs but other than that there is no reason a job like this cant be done at home as long as all the preparation is done properly.  Post a comment about what you think, or any questions about the project!

    - James R. / EW


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  • Welding Supplies- Items Every Welder Needs

    Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out in the field of welding and fabricating, there are a few essential tools and supplies that you’ll need commonly. We decided to survey a group of welders (all of different skill levels) and see what welding supplies they commonly reach for when melting metal.  Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Vintage Modular Race Wheel Restoration

    For some people, the parts that are actually “on” a car are what really make it stand out from the crowd. It could be that rare OEM accessory, those unique mag wheels, or a shiny after market valve cover. Whatever it is, you wanted it because you knew  the guy parked next to you at the show will most definitely NOT have it on his car. For some of us, it is necessary, that is unless you have some sort of ultra-rare low numbers car that speaks for itself all original... Otherwise, the rest of us tend to search the local classifieds, online auto forums, Ebay, flea markets, yard sales, craigslist, etc. for that “killer deal” on that perfect part to finish off your project. There are many different options when it comes to the restoration and modification of your vehicle. For myself, personally, I am a nut for old vintage aftermarket parts for the European vehicles that I tinker with. Anything from old race parts, to retro steering wheels, to literature, I am constantly seeking out rare old pieces of history from these cars.

    Possibly my biggest obsession is vintage after market alloys or “rims”. I think the correct wheel on a modified car can REALLY make a car stand out (in both good and bad ways!). Sometimes, I even feel this can make or break the overall “feel” of a vehicle. For instance, think of a guy at a show that has a classic older 60’s-70’s car, and he threw on some cheap, borderline tacky chrome wheels he picked up at the local auto parts chain… it makes you almost cringe as he rolls into the show and parks next to the 100 point restoration car.. This is why, often times, picking out a set of “summer wheels” for my cars, (yes I change them every summer.. see my “in deep” blog post for supporting info) I spend a lot of time searching for, and deciding on the “right” set of wheels for my car. So when I went out and began looking for a set of alloys for my daily driver 1984 Mercedes Benz 190e, I spent considerable time deciding on the “right” wheel. I mean come on, I will have to look at it every day in the parking lot at work! Not to mention, I can’t be the laughing stock, rolling into work with tacky chrome wheels from the local auto parts store.. I’d never live it down!

    After a tip from a friend and a horrible Ebay experience, I acquired a set of wheels that most of the European car community lusts for. These wheels were made by Ronal as a race-spec option to their common one piece "Turbo" wheel. These wheels are a three piece construction and have magnesium centers (these suckers are light!). With these wheels, you basically custom ordered the wheels specifically for the car you wanted to put them on, you could pick any offset/backspacing, bolt pattern, width, etc. Ronal would simply assemble the wheels to your specs using different width lips and barrels. Since these wheels were quite expensive, and made specifically for dedicated race cars, making a set of these wheels fit a street car takes a bit of fiddling (and luck!). Before any of that, I had to work on restoring these wheels, they were off of a 70's Porsche road-race car, and had been sitting for sometime. I was lucky that the original finish on the Magnesium centers had protected the wheels a bit, and they hadn't begun to deteriorate like many old Magnesium wheels tend to. You can see in the pictures below, these wheels needed some work!

    There are a few different types of fasteners used to hold multi piece race wheels together. Back in the 70's-80's it varied by company, companies like BBS used bolts with 12 point heads, while other companies used inverted 12 point bolts. Luckily Ronal used a simple socket head allen bolt to attach the wheels together. First you want to make sure you clean out the openings in the allen head bolts, as they have a tendency to strip the allen key opening out if the key isn't seated fully! Once all of the bolts have been removed from the wheel, depending on your luck, the type of wheel, and if it has ever been apart before, the wheel should come apart into 2-3 pieces. Some multi-piece wheels used a very strong adhesive to seal the wheels and require the wheels to be pressed apart. Luckily these wheels originally used a metal seal with a rubber ring to seal them. This was nice because only a light tap with a rubber mallet was necessary to split the three pieces. In the pics below you can see how the center of the wheel was stuck in the outer lip of the wheel. A couple taps of the mallet quickly separated the parts.

    After splitting the wheels, I took some measurements, inspected them for any damage or major issues. Luckily they were all in satisfactory condition. It was evident that the wheels were definitely used for some time as dedicated race wheels. I concluded at that point I would need to fully blast the centers of the wheels, as the coating over the magnesium was not in the best of shape and there was minor deterioration beginning at the edges of the centers. Unfortunately these were a little too big for my own personal counter top blaster, so I used our large blaster in R&D here at Eastwood. In hindsight, I would advise if you are in the market for a blast cabinet, that you go with one that is a size larger than what you "think" you will need. This is a perfect example.. when I first bought a cabinet, I was only blasting and powder coating small engine and chassis parts, now years later I am powdercoating entire rear axles and wheel sets!

    Once split, the wheels sat in my office at home for a few weeks while my indecisiveness over what color powder to cover them in passed. I finally got the time to bring the centers into work and make them look great again. I began by choosing Aluminum Oxide blasting media. Because the wheel centers are made of a fairly "soft" metal, I chose Aluminum Oxide over a traditional course-grit sand. While blasting, I made sure to hold the tip of the blaster about 12 to 14 inches from the surface of the wheel center, as to avoid any major pitting or further deterioration of the metal. This process did take a bit longer than if I was blasting a steel wheel with straight sand, but when working with softer metals, it is necessary. Another tip when blasting, is to sift the media and reuse it. With the cabinet in our shop, it all falls down into the center of the cabinet, and is sucked back up with the gun. Occasionally I've found that you may need to drain the media and sift it to separate all the dirt, grime, paint flakes etc. This is a good precaution to save from having the gun clog up on you and cause headaches. In the pictures below, you can see these came out pretty nice with the necessary time and effort put into blasting them clean. Take note of the difference between a blasted center and a non blasted center, cleanest they have been in probably 20+ years!

    Once I was sure all of the old paint, grime, etc. was blasted from the centers, I went on to clean the surface of each center, first with Chassis Kleen, followed by Pre before beginning the process of powder coating. The chassis kleen gets any major grease, dirt and film from the media off the surface, while PRE removes any last bit of residue from the blast media as well as oils from my hands. At this point I normally begin to wear rubber gloves to avoid any oils or grease from my hands to get on the wheels. I can not stress enough that the key to getting a nice finish on anything you powder coat is to clean, clean, clean and clean again! You'd be surprised what a little bit of oil or grease from your hands can do to powder once it is curing. Most times that is the main cause of "fisheyes" and other common issues in cured powder.

    I've found with vintage alloy wheels, that because they see so much road debris, the metal tends to really hold onto that dirt and grime. This often times gets baked into the wheels from the heating and cooling of the metal when under normal driving conditions. I found it is a best precautionary step to preheat the parts before spraying them with powder. Magnesium is known to be a very porous metal, so I was taking no chances of having any contaminants "outgas" when baking the powder. I've found that baking the parts to 350 degrees for 20 minutes takes care of most of those issues.

    This part is a little tricky to do on your own, but if you prepare your workspace ahead of time, it can be the key to a nice finish on the wheels. Immediately after removing the parts from the oven, you want to begin dusting them with powder. With the parts being nice and hot, you will find the powder sticks very well to the part, and may even begin to flow out before you put it in the oven. I settled on our Hot Coat Bronze Metallic powder. When powder coating wheels, I like to lay the powder nice and thick, as these will see a bit of abuse from road debris. You can even see in the pics below that the centers I had sprayed first (in the foreground) have begun to flow-out. It is cool when you see this, because you get a hint of what the finished product will look like!

    After baking the parts for 25-30 minutes,  I quickly pulled them out of the oven to inspect. At this point I was happy with the coverage of the color and  also assured there were no major "fisheyes", or that any out-gassing had occurred. I then put the wheels immediately back into the spray booth and laid another nice thick coat (actually I was a little too zealous in my "nice thick coat", more on this another time) of our Super High Gloss Clear powder. Again, I baked the centers for the appropriate time, and removed them to cool. The clear is necessary on most of our metallic powders, especially if it is something that will see a lot of direct sunlight (as these wheels will). I actually think the clear powder really made the metallic in the bronze powder "pop", and left it with a nice smooth "wet" finish.

    After getting the centers all nice and shiny again, I turned to polishing the outer lips of the wheels. Often times these old multi piece wheels came with polished aluminum lips, but if you didn't keep up with constantly cleaning the metal, they would get stained and the finish became dull. Most  racers aren't worried about how clean their wheels are, so these lips were no exception. They even had some old brake dust baked onto them. I decided to wet sand the lips with 2000 grit paper to get the staining and brake dust removed. I then followed up with a set of our buff wheels and compounds on one of our table top buffers to get the surface of the wheel extremely shiny again. You can see the major difference just in the little bit of time I spent on this one lip! Once the wheels are assembled and complete, I usually go back and do one final polish with rubbing compound (more on that later).

    Once all of the major cleaning and polishing of the barrels and lips was done (some may choose to powdercoat the barrels, but mine were in good shape), I began reassembling the wheels. As mentioned earlier, these wheels used socket head allen bolts. I usually install all of the bolts with a dab of thread locking sealant (I prefer the "lighter duty" stuff) and tighten each bolt down a few threads by hand first. Once all of the nuts and bolts are mounted, you want to go around the wheel in a "X" or criss-cross pattern until all of the bolts are snug. For the final rotation, you then want to go around the wheels with a torque wrench and torque all of the bolts to the proper torque. I've found a good torque for most three piece wheels is 22-27 pounds. A lot of two piece wheels actually have the barrels drilled and tapped, which actually results in the wheels requiring a torque setting at the lower end of those numbers. Once the wheels were all bolted together, I begin running a bead of silicone around the center of the wheel where all of the pieces of the wheel meet. This is a "must" on wheels that came originally bonded together. The silicone is what actually makes the wheel airtight. Even though these wheels were not bonded originally from Ronal, I chose to apply sealer for piece of mind. I've found the original rubber seals on these wheels can tend to get dry and crack, allowing the wheel to leak air. I choose to use Permatex brand sealant. Particularly I use their high temperature sealant that is black in color. I've found that it holds up quite well to the conditions inside a tire, not to mention it is easily available at any major auto parts store. I've found that one "caulk" tube will be enough to do 1-2 sets of wheels. The idea with sealing the wheel is to get a nice smooth bead with little to no pinholes (any pinholes in the sealant can allow air to leak by). I usually start with a thin bead around the entire center valley in the wheel. After laying the first bead, I run my finger around the center of the wheel creating a smooth, flat, even bead of sealant. From here, you want to allow the sealant to cure for 24 hours. After it has fully dried, you can now lay a second similar coat of sealant, again trying to make the bead as smooth and even as possible with your finger. This bead you want to try and make sure any possible pinholes are covered and smoothed over. Again let dry for 24 hours, and then you are ready to mount a set of tires!

    Once I have mounted the tires, I like to let the wheels sit for a day or two (sometimes up to a week), and check the tire pressure periodically. Not much is worse than mounting a set of multi-piece wheels, and finding that one of your "seal jobs" was bad and you have to remove the wheel off your car and reseal it! For the final step, I like to do a final polish of the lips, and seal the finish to avoid any tarnishing occurring from exposure to the elements. As you can see in the first picture below, those shiny lips are going to still have a slight haze to them after buffing, along with fingerprints and other grease that can make its way onto the wheels from reassembling them. I like to use two shop rags (one for application and one for wiping the surface clean), and AutoSol for rubbing out the lips to a final mirror-like finish. You can apply/rub in the polish and then wipe clean numerous times, until you get the desired shine. Hard to mess this step up (other than just making a plain mess everywhere!) Autosol really brings out the shine in polished metal, and finally makes all that sanding, buffing, etc. worthwhile!


    Once you wipe all of the remaining Autosol off, you need to prep the surface with Pre to get the lip ready for a sealer. Recently we came out with a product designed to save you the need to repolish the shiny bits on your ride so often. I wanted to give it a try, as I absolutely loathe the process of repolishing my wheels every time it rains, or after a long drive! Our new product Metal Protect uses the newest nano-barrier technology to coat and seal polished metal, all while being nearly undetectable once dried. I was a bit skeptical as it comes in a aerosol can, and I just pictured myself spraying it on and it looking like bad "clear coat". Luckily the Metal Protect was designed to self-level. This means that it smooths out as the Metal Protect dries. The key to applying I found, was to spray on two light "dust coats". You can see how in the first two pictures it seems like it is going to dry very textured, but by the end, it smoothed out quite nicely. I will admit I did lay it on a little thick in spots, and I can see some minor orange peel up close, in retrospect my second coat could have been much lighter. After I got the wheels polished and sealed, I took my car to a local car show. The show was held in a large grass field in which I had to drive through a muddy, stone road to get to the show field (the heavy downpour the night before didn't help!), so the Metal Protect was immediately put through it's paces. I am happy to report that after the weekend show, I came home and washed the car like normal, wiped the wheels down with a microfiber, and they still look great! No water stains or hazing that I would normally have to polish out after a heavy storm! The jury is still out on how long it will hold up on my daily driver, but I am sure this would work GREAT on parts in your engine bay and trim on the exterior of the car that don't generally see as bad of conditions as a set of wheels would!

    I hope this gave everyone a small insight into the procedure for restoring old alloy wheels. If you have any questions about a part of the procedure that I missed, or you want clarification on something, feel free to post a comment! Below are a couple pictures of the wheels finished and on the car from the show I mentioned above. Thanks for reading, and keep scouring those flea markets and swap meets for parts!


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