As some of you already know, around this time last year I stripped the stock Mark III graphics off my van and began the very slow process of getting the body back in shape. (For those who missed it, you can read all the gritty details here.)
I didn’t get much else done last year. Blame it on the psychological trauma of last year’s Lost run… or maybe the fact that I spent half a year (and most of my money) making a crazy movie instead. Not to mention that, thanks to a particularly relentless winter here in New York City, my van spent several months buried under two feet of plowed snow.
In any case, once the warm weather kicked back in this year, I decided it was time to finally address some of the van’s more glaring problems. Chief among them were the holes in the fiberglass hood.
A brief history of fiberglass: Originally invented as a skin-torture device during World War II, it later gained acceptance in the world of aircraft and boats. In the automotive world, its first large-scale use was in a worthless and largely forgotten project called the Chevrolet Corvette.
Since then, fiberglass has become a mainstay in the world of radical custom auto bodies. And, apparently, in the hoods of not-so-radical ’90s conversion vans.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of working with this miracle substance, here’s a beginner’s guide to performing your own on-the-street fiberglass repairs.
What You’ll Need:
1 Can of Fiberglass Resin, with liquid hardener.
1 Sheet of Fiberglass Matting
1 Box of latex gloves
A bunch of plastic cups
A bunch of stirrers, for mixing (I used plastic knives)
A bunch of disposable paintbrushes
1. Mix the resin and hardener together in a cup.
2. Using a throwaway paintbrush, smear the resulting goop all over the area to be repaired.
3. Quickly rush to mop up the extra goop, which is now running like pancake syrup down the front of your vehicle and threatening to solidify forever in little droplets all over your prized chrome grille.
4. Cut small sheets of fiberglass matting and layer them over the damaged area, being careful to brush the resin into the glass until the whole thing is a nasty, sticky, prickly mess.
5. Once the initial mess has hardened (You’ll know because your fingers will start sticking to each other, and that paintbrush that you left in the cup will now be standing straight up for all time), add another nasty, sticky, prickly layer.
5. Oh yeah: Unless you enjoy spending the rest of the year scratching at yourself, you should have put on the gloves first.
6. Did I mention you should have worn long sleeves too?
7. Also: The resin is super-toxic, so you probably should have put on the respirator too, unless you want to end up… what was I talking about?
After a few layers, and lots of fast-paced emergency wiping, the result was a very ugly-looking—but rock-hard—repair where the holes used to be.
Next time I’ll remember to mask the surrounding areas before I start pouring resin, and try to go a little thinner with the matting. But otherwise it’s a solid patch.
Now, it just needs a whole lotta sanding…