Paint On... Paint Off...

Unfortunately for aficionados of thrills and excitement, the past couple of days have been spent mostly… wait for it… yes, you got it; ‘scrubbing and painting’.

Just before retiring to the pavilion on Tuesday [yesterday] I took off Herman’s grill and headlamp surrounds and - after sanding the odd bit of rust I found lurking underneath - I painted his fizzer for him. Again, using the slightly diluted hammerite seems a lot better than the fully gloopy stuff out of the tin and the finish was a lot less treacle-esque.

Beginning. The front of the roof
Beginning. The front of the roof
Various bits of 'face furniture' removed, ready for painting
Various bits of 'face furniture' removed, ready for painting
Low light stopped play
Low light stopped play

Fast forward to today [Wednesday] and I leapt eagerly from my fart sack at the crack of 07:45, ready for another day’s painting and decorating. Unfortunately, sometime over the past few days, word has obviously leaked back to God that I’m off work this week and itching to get tore into Herman, for I opened the curtains on one of those special Manchester mornings where the ground is damp, the sky is grey and - although it isn’t actually raining at the minute - it looks like it has just finished doing so and is merely waiting for you to have the temerity to stick your nose out of doors, before it starts again.

I ventured out anyway and spent about half an hour refitting all Herman’s frontals, that I’d taken off to paint his fizzer; indicators, number-plate, bumper, headlamp surrounds, grill. With everything back in place, he was looking quite cool from certain angles and with each additional brush-stroke, it’s getting easier to see what he’s going to look like when he’s all finished.

Refitting the bits I took off the front yesterday
Refitting the bits I took off the front yesterday
I forgot to take a pic when I'd put the bumper and number-plate back on.  This is his front, nearly finished
I forgot to take a pic when I'd put the bumper and number-plate back on. This is his front, nearly finished

Since it was too wet to embark on any new painting; I decided I’d tidy up a couple of wee jobs in the intervening time. Before re-attaching the grill, I repacked with fresh grease the various joints on the gear linkage that I’d had in bits when solving the mystery of the recalcitrant gearchange. Then, I switched my attention to Herman’s pert rear and re-attached number-plate and rubber door-stops, which were still languishing in the back of the van from when we painted the back doors.

Then while I had the back doors open, I tackled the minor-but-annoying problem of the fact that you cannae open the back doors from inside; the handle just turns round without doing anything. Closer inspection revealed that the central square-sectioned metal core in the handle [which goes over the spindle in the lock] was just spinning round inside the handle. So I drilled a small hole through the side of the handle into this metal core and screwed a wee ‘grub screw’ into it, to stop the core swivelling inside the handle. Not the prettiest repair job in the world - but it works!

Inner back door handle.  Now with subtle 'grub screw'
Inner back door handle. Now with subtle 'grub screw'

While hoking about inside the panelling of the back door, I also came across what, at first glance, I thought was an old poker, lying down inside the door. When I extracted it, I realised it was actually the long bar that descends vertically from the lock through the bottom of the door and latches into a catch in the floor of the van, when the doors are closed. It had come detached from the bracket on the bottom of the lock it connects to and had fallen down inside the door. As luck would have it, the screw which holds it in place was also lying amongst the dirt, dust and assorted crap inside the door. So it was a quick ten-minute job to reconnect the bar again and Herman’s back doors now open from the inside and also lock more securely.

Who's left a poker inside my door?
Who's left a poker inside my door?
I cannae believe I actually found the screw as well!
I cannae believe I actually found the screw as well!
Nice of those kind designers at VW to leave an access hole so you can screw the lever back into the lock again
Nice of those kind designers at VW to leave an access hole so you can screw the lever back into the lock again

At this point, I was still thumb-twiddling a bit, waiting for the day to decide whether it was going to dry out or not. So, for want of something more constructive to do, I thought I’d see how much air had got into Herman’s fuel system again in the two days since I’d last started him up. To my surprise and delectation, he started first turn of the key. However, I did see a couple of bubbles sneaking up the pipe from the fuel filter to the diesel pump, so the leak’s still there. Maybe my tightening of all pipes and joints in and around the fuel filter and injector pump has helped a bit tho’, coz he’s started first turn of the key the last two times I’ve tried. If I get some nice dry ground to lie on, I’ll have a crawl around underneath one of these days and check out the sections of fuel pipe leading from the tank to the engine bay and back to see if anything seems cracked or in need of tightening there.

then, things took one of their habitual ‘one step forward - two steps back’ down-turns. I thought I might sand down some of the horrible drips on the side of Herman’s roof where the hammerite had run really badly, ready for repainting. As I started rubbing at one of the drips with a bit of sandpaper, I noticed the paint around it peel slightly, so I stuck my nail in, picked at a corner of paint and pulled… and a big piece of paint about 3 inches wide and four inches long just peeled of the roof like a sheet of black plastic. Further pickage revealed that the story was the same all over the roof.

Whoops! -not exactly what you'd call a durable finish
Whoops! -not exactly what you'd call a durable finish

Before painting the roof, I did actually check on Hammerite’s website that it was suitable for using on fibreglass and their site said it was. So I dunno whether they were talking bollox, the rollable hammerite is different, the paint already on the roof is Hammerite-repellent or there was damp in the air which stopped it sticking properly but - whatever the reason - the roof is going to have to be stripped down and repainted; probably with a non-hammerite paint next time.

So I spent a desultory hour armed with paint-scraper and fingernails, alternately scraping and picking away at Herman’s roof, trying to remove the paint so we could try again. The one silver lining in this cloud of tedium is that, I have been leaving most of the roof painting until I can beg, steal or borrow a ladder from somewhere. So I’d only painted one side and the front. I’ve not tried scraping the front yet, as it was only done yesterday, so I want to leave it to dry properly and see whether [being diluted] the Hammerite will dry and adhere better there.

This is as far as I got in stripping down the roof again, before 'rain stopped play'
This is as far as I got in stripping down the roof again, before 'rain stopped play'

As I scraped away at the roof with a face that would have turned milk sour, God decided that, having me down, it was an opportune moment to strap his steel toecaps on and take a hefty swing at my knackers - and I felt the first drips of rain begin to fall, trickling down the side of Herman and making a nice sticky mess with all the paint scrapings that were clinging to his side. I scraped on stubbornly for another ten minutes or so and then decided to call it a day. So I brushed up all the loose paint scrapings I could, chucked them in the bin and then once more retired to the pavilion to wait and see what the morrow would bring.

Meta TAGS: doorpaintinglockroofrepair
ORIGINAL PUBLICATION DATE: 18 Feb 2009
AUTHOR: stíobhart matulevicz