Pushing up on a year since the passing of Tim and we have had a bit of a hold up on the build of the little Civic. This was due to a few things, primarily being a car accident it was involved in which saw us looking at the car possibly being written off and sent to the scrap yard. A few weeks of back and forth between insurance companies and smash repairers plus some additional begging to the insurance company and we were allowed to keep the vehicle. Contrary to what you believe and may have experienced, some of those unfortunate enough to work in the insurance industry do have a heart. After explaining the situation surrounding the history and the build of this car the insurance assessor who was appointed our case allowed the vehicle to not be deemed a write off.
A cash pay out saw our apprentice land himself some much needed tools (his super cheap auto get up just wasn’t making the cut) and the remainder went back into completing the build.
With some recent changes in our business that we’be blogged about in the past, we were standing at a cross roads as to what we should do with this car in the way of paint and body work. The budget did not allow for a full respray as initially planned and the alternatives were on par with the rubbish backyard builds we have seen come into our shop over the years. (No matter your skill, rattle can black or DIY Plasti-dip always looks rubbish)
The solution landed in our laps. A long term friend of ours had an excessive amount of vinyl wrap left over after a recent shipment of the stuff from China. Nic a former I.T guru has been unemployed for the past six months (more out of personal preference rather than an inability to get a job). In those six months Nic has frequented our shop to use all our MIG gas, exhaust our cable tie supply, break our intercooler pipe beading tool and buy us lunch. Whilst he was often with us when discussing the issues surrounding the build,
Nic suggested the vinyl idea and in exchange for a ratty Recaro seat that looked like the Grinch had owned it. Nic gave us a massive roll of black sparkle vinyl his assistance did not stop there as Nic had some experience in wrapping cars so one evening Pizza was ordered and we asked Nic to join us in the workshop for a pants on Vinyl wrap exercise. Nic agreed and came down and after arguing with us about why his car would not pass a blue slip inspection he gave us a crash course in vinyl wrapping.
Vinyl wrapping is effectively using a material very similar to book contact. It has the colour component on one side and on the other is an adhesive, you remove the backing plastic and stick the vinyl down. It sounds very easy but when doing large surface areas avoiding bubbles and creases is a real challenge. The art of it is primarily patience and the use of a heat gun to knead out bubbles and creases and to stretch the vinyl when required. After getting involved in this project some research showed that the better quality vinyls produced by the company 3M are far easier to work with but cost a fair bit. We didn’t have the pleasure of working with the good quality stuff so we had to put our skills to the test.
Granted our alternative of vinyl wrapping is considered by many as a rubbish alternative to paint but we have seen a few cars that when executed correctly do look the part. We started with some large flat panels to get the hang of of it and then moved onto the more difficult of the body panels. Note; bumper bars and wings are far more difficult to wrap than bonnets and doors.
Much cursing was to be had as the vinyl often rips when stretched too much and that always happens on the last bend of a panel. After spending a good few hours on any panel if it rips we have to sta
rt again, all those hours lost.
The beauty of the colour and texture of the vinyl we’re using is it doesn’t obviously show up lines where multiple pieces were used. The bumpers were done using three separate sheets, this was required to cover the curves and bends in the bumpers which in some cases require the vinyl to be pulled in three or four different directions. The job of wrapping any one individual panel takes at best two hours and in some cases up to six hours. To sum up the whole car in vinyl will take anywhere up to 48 hours of work. (If you do this with the good quality stuff it shouldn’t take anywhere near this long).
Our plan of attack was to wrap all the panels we had in the shop that are currently not fitted to the car. The complete series two face lift which includes the bonnet, front guards and bumpers was done first, and the replacement rear bumper could not be found new, so a second hand bar that required some repairs first was used. We did the repairs and wrapped it along with the new tailgate and rear lip.
The front bar had to have some major modifications made to allow the cool yellow fog lights to fit and from there we put it to the Facebook audience to ask if we wrap the front lip or not. Not wrapping the front lip will match the fog light surrounds and the grill and the consensus was to leave it.
At the time of publishing, the car is about to come into the shop for an extended stay where we’ll be strip down the rear end, repair the damage made with the rear end collision, and then wrap the remainder of the car and fit all the facelift items we have ready to go. At that point the vehicle will be deemed completed. Huzzah!