It has been a little while since the last time I worked on my 500. I’d like to blame that on my graduation internship that needed my full attention, but the non-stop sanding took away some of the excitement as well. My graduation internship period has ended and it was therefore time to continue working on the little Fiat.
“That only took this soon-to-be engineer half an hour to discover.”
Even though I had a saturday off and was looking forward to doing something after weeks of not even seeing the car, I didn’t feel like sanding. Those days happen. Good thing there were a couple more jobs on the list. That is why I started with fixing all of the mirror holes in the driver’s side door and removing the engine. Those jobs were added to the list a couple weeks into the project, oh how surprising classic cars can be.
I originally planned on leaving in the engine and driving the car for a while first. That plan changed when I found rust where the firewall meets the floor, just above the gearbox. You can actually see the rust on the photo. It then made more sense to take out the engine and fix the rust before respraying the car.
Removing the engine was actually fairly simple. I was well prepared; I had already removed the engine out of a Beetle once, I had seen that one episode of Wheeler Dealers twice and I had a manual by my side. There were only a handful of wires, cables and hoses connected to the engine and then the pulling began. I had strategically placed a moving dolly below the engine and gently tugged until a gap in between the engine and the bellhousing appeared. Funny thing is that the manual forgets to mention a little plate that is bolted to the underside of the bellhousing and goes around and behind the flywheel. That only took this soon-to-be engineer half an hour to discover. The engine came right out after removing that plate.
That was one job done, the other one was fixing up my driver’s side door. I understood that Fiat 500s originally came without external mirrors and that there is no such thing as an “original mirror” because of that. All I know for sure is that this car had a mirror mounted with one bolt at one point and another model with two bolts after that. The single bolt hole still contained the remainder of the bolt that was used and broke off when removed. The other mirror was on the car when I bought it, but I will mount one of those clamping mirrors instead. So that meant that I had three holes to weld up.
I am in no way an experienced welder and I was therefore very happy with that all the welding needed to be done on somewhat hidden locations on the car. Not this welding though, it is right there, for everyone to see. I simply welded up the holes and ground down the weld until it was some sort of flush with the rest of the door. When feeling from top to bottom, it ended up nicely curved, flat and nicely curved again. Guess who made that flat section in there. Not really a problem though as a tiny bit of filler will do to fill up my inadequate skills.
The next time I will remove the rear seat and fix the rust I mentioned before. That might take a lot longer than it should as there is no replacement panel that can be bought. After that I am quite confident that I tackled all tasks that needed to be done before respraying the car. I bought a little sandblasting gun that I intend to use on annoying sections such as the drip rails. The plan for respraying the car is to sandblast some sections, sand the rest of the car, clean out all of the dust from literally everywhere and then respray the car. All that in a couple of consecutive days. We’ll see.