Jun 21, 2014

Project 180: Front Bumper Work pt. 1

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I was lucky enough to find a kouki 180SX, so that I didn't have to hunt down a kouki bumper. The car isn't a Type-X, so I didn't get the optional aero, but for a 1000$ car, you can't beat it for coming with the digital climate control, Kouki Bumper, Kouki Seats, Type-X Wing, and Type-X Tails.... I mean really.

So the good thing is, I got a Kouki bumper in the deal... the bad thing is that like the B-Pillars, the bumper looked like it had seen better days. That's a nice way of saying that it looked like hammered shit. Just look at these pictures below:

 The paint had been completely scraped off of this one corner...

 ...and then repainted in badly mismatching silver that was brushed on.

 The driver's side was mostly OK, but you can seen how bad the sun had ripped up the top center of the bumper, as well as the area around the headlights.

Maybe it's a little hard to tell from these pictures, but the bumper was pitted so bad, I knew I would have to relive the nightmare of sanding deep with very coarse paper... I was not looking forward to it, and a little worried that the bumper wouldn't make it.

As shown in the video, the first thing I did was pop the Nissan emblem. I didn't use nylon string or anything gentle like that. The bumper was so bad, that I figured I didn't need to worry about using a flat head screwdriver to just pop the emblem. You know what? I thought right.

 After that, I kinda started sanding in random areas that looked damaged. I know this seems counter productive, but every area looked like it was a different challenge, so I was just trying to feel out the project. I wanted to have a good overview of everything before I lost time going in depth on a lost cause.

Above you can see Holt's bumper putty. I like most Holt's products, but I can't recommend this one. It's kind of rubbery, so that it can fill the damage, but still flex with the bumper. I mixed it following the package, and then after not having much success, tried to mix the hardener are different ratios... it never came out right, so I have to tell people to pass on this product.
 The areas that were sanded to the black were a major pain. When you get to the black area, you are sanding past the nice smooth finish that the factory gives the urethane before paint. It gets really ragged, for lack of a better description. As those little frizzy pieces come off, they get stuck in your paper and make little fine scratches. It's like a never ending process.
 Sanding, sanding, and more sanding....

 I was thankful to see areas like the one below, which were in pretty good shape, so I just needed to scuff them up with some wet 400 grit. Thank God for small miracles.

At the end of the day, I ended up filling in some of the small scratches and then primered over them. But on the top where the finish was rough, this just looked like a ragged bad primer job, but then if I went over that lightly with 400 again, some of the roughness went away.  

 Then I would primer again... then sand... then primer. That upper middle section of the bumper you see there was almost a whole can of primer. The can primer just doesn't fill like the spray gun filler primer. Working on this thing in the parking lot of my apartment is going to be a majorly slow and painful project. Shit.

On the upside, that part of the bumper is super smooth and ready for paint, so the bumper isn't a total loss.  
  Too bad I can't say the same for the rest of the bumper.

Look below for more pictures from the project. I'll be back next week to talk more about the wing. I'm working on it mainly because I can take it in the house and work on it at night. Then I can primer it during the day time.

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