Without making any excuses, the fact is that my day job is very demanding. I don’t talk about my job very much, here or on social media, and I don’t plan on mixing business and personal now, but I will say that in over 30 years of employment in the private sector, I have never had as stressful and intense six months as I just finished. I’m up to it, forged in the furnace of submarine life and challenges, but at times something has to give, and my available time to work in the shop is that something. Luckily, I anticipated how challenging things were going to be and I didn’t set any unrealistic goals or expectations.
When you have a project before you like I have with the Alfa, there is plenty to do. Disassembly which began in May continues. The deeper I get into the bones of this car, the more I am encouraged that the car isn’t too far gone, while also sober to the fact that there is significant metal fabrication and replacement that has to take place. The more I strip away the dash and cowl area the more I stand by my belief that the repairs required here will be the most challenging and time consuming. Some of the following pictures will explain why I feel that way.
I’ll work backwards from the picture above. The Windshield came out to finally reveal how rotted this area fully is. The A-Pillars are rotted out badly, the lip the windshield and seal is glued to is rotted out badly, and the roof line, as expected is rotted out.
Positives? It’s all there. The shape is there, the dimensions are there, and the cost to fix all of the rust in dollars is almost nothing while the cost in time is very high. As I’m not building the car to be a show car, the roofline doesn’t concern me. There will be a substantial custom roof rack and a light bar that will be right there at the transition from windshield to roof, so I’ll be able to take some liberties and I strengthen and rebuild this area.
This picture gives you a good feel for the rot and the work ahead. You can look through the missing cowl and see what is the cabin wall that the dash is mounted to.
Leading up this point, the cockpit, steering wheel, dash, wiring harness and windshield needed to come out. The dash and center counsel are going to be restored and modified before going back in, but they will go back in to tie the resto-car back to its stock configuration.
There is little holding the dash in place. Two thumbscrews in the center of the dash are accessed through those air vents at the top of the dash.
On either end of the dash are u-shaped brackets that slip over a stud on the inside of the A- Pillar. I found that the car’s dash had been modified, I think when the after market air conditioning was added. The passenger side of the dash had a crude bracket attached to it holding the dash in place and level.
From there, it was just a matter of disconnected a few more wires and cables before the dash could be removed.
The transmission shifter and parking brake came out as well.
There really wasn’t much holding the glass in. The rust was stuck to what was left of the glued in seal. Most of the seal outside of the chrome trim rotted away.
Finding front glass domestically may be challenging. I was able to keep this glass in one piece to use as a shape checker as I rebuild the frame. I’ll find glass, I just have to be patient. If any readers know of a source, feel free to send me a note.
Next steps is to finish more of the wiring disassembly and to clean up the cabin/dash of stray sound proofing and insulation. While the engine and transmission need to come out, my primary focus is going to be on stripping back the paint and finding where the bad metal stops and good metal exists in the cowl/A-pillar/roofline. I’m going to concurrently continue disassembly while beginning fabrication of this area.
I’m going to continue to avoid setting unrealistic timelines when it comes to the Alfa as the year at work will rival 2021 in terms of volume and stress. The shop is my getaway from stress, and setting deadlines that only add stress to me is counterintuitive. I enjoy the challenges that the Alfa offers and when I’m sitting here next New Year’s Day writing up my shop update I hope to be able to show some tangible progress no matter how modest.