Monday, August 1, 2011

The Red Coupe - Details, Details, Details Pt. 6

Have you ever been working on your car and got a big wiff of deja vu? Well this weekend sure delivered that aroma for me. I was replacing my front apron for the second time in two years; I really hope I don't have to go through this again. There is good news though, my experience from last time has put me on a new level of speed for performing the job. Last time around the work spread over two days. This time around I wrapped it up from kidney grill removal to reinstalling front wheels in about 4.5hrs...with breaks as the summer sun was strong.

I had been on vacation for a few weeks, but before I left I'd gotten my resprayed front apron, spare front bumper and new IS lip from my bodyguy Jason. He'd removed the texture from the replacement front apron you saw in this post, and painted everything zinnobar. This time the mix came out a bit darker than my last painted apron, which actually was a closer match to my original paint (waxed ha). Any of you who have mixed paint before know that matching red is a bitch. Learning from my previous lessons, I removed all clips and grommets prior to getting the apron painted which helped a great deal this time around.

I started off putting all the lip clips on the new apron and cleaning my spare turn signal housings; going forward I plan on using this new bumper for summer duty and my existing front bump to manage the annual grind. As such I have new turn signal lenses, new us-spec front trim and tow hook hole (I have euro trim in a box, but i like the US trim...mmm trim) for this bumper as well as new front side markers to round out the refresh. Unfortunately due to a mix up I didn't get an order of front lip clips, but those will arrive this week sometime. I had 4 stashed from last year so I put them into the areas hardest to get to once the apron is installed.

One thing I did forget was getting green grommets for the ducts and oil cooler vent, but I found out again for the first time that you can gently remove them and get more than one use out of them. The same goes for the push tabs that the foglights screw into. I had my original apron in the garage so I salvaged that for some parts and the rest I got from my current apron after removal. Spares are a wonderful thing, if you have the room. Learning from last year, I did all my apron work inside the house in lovely air conditioning. I also put the turn signals and lenses, fully assembled, on the bumper from the inside (doing it from the outside leads to...paint scratching) and after those were on installed the bumper trim. I learned something about this new bumper right after buying it; it was true as an arrow. This made the trim installation happen without a rubber mallet like last time.

Once the apron and front bumper were as complete as they could be (the ducts would have to come off for the lower two attachment points), I got the car up on some handy car jacks and got to work. After the inner wheel well duct panels are removed, there are 14 screws and some clips that keep a harness bundle from swinging into the auxiliary fan...that's it.

When installing everything I learned that I need a new kidney grill, because the impact of the raccoon at 70mph not only broke the filaments in both foglight bulbs and bent the inner apron mounting framework like a cheap spoon, but it also broke the lower clip fingers on the kidney grill. I remedied this development with a zip tie until I get my next order of parts in. The second interesting thing I learned was that the contour of this new apron is slightly off on the driver side, by about a centimeter or so, so attaching the new inner driver-side brake duct panel took some improvisation. All in all, the new aprons fitment visually is better than the last time around. It's times like this when I consider garaging the car.

I threw a coat of matte black paint on my spare oil cooler vent and installed it after the pic above. Now all I need is the lip clips...and a new bulb socket for my driver-side sidemarker, because I currently have to wiggle the bulb just right to get it to light up. In the meantime no lip means I can pull onto my driveway without wood planks as long as I take a good angle. After a two hour break watching X-Games, I spent the night washing the last two months of grime off both this and the grey hatch. Next on the list of to-do's is the odometer that took a crap a few weeks back.

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