Those of you who are on my Facebook page (Sheila Landry Designs Scroll Saw Art) or personal friends of mine, know that this has been a really crazy week. Besides finishing up my "Scary-Go-Round" Haunted Carousel project (which is now available for pre-order),
I have been running (or rather, driving) back and forth to get my 2003 Mustang completely renovated and restored. This has taken a LOT of my time and has been a lot of work, but I think I am in the home stretch.
I tell you all of this because I know many of you have come to expect daily posts from me. While I miss a day here and there, I usually make up for it with an array of projects following, or present the projects that Keith has been working on in the mean time. But between the long term (three week) process of developing the carousel and dragging Keith with me to drive me to drop off, pick up or get estimates for my car, we have both not been as productive in the creative department these past few weeks and I wanted to let you all know why.
Sometimes life gets in the way.
I wanted to share the process of the rebuild of my car because when I posted it on Facebook the other night, there seemed to be lots of interest. Those of you who know me know how much I have always loved cars (Mustangs in particular) and for the past 11 years, I have been driving my own 'dream car' of a 2003 Mustang GT convertible. I purchased it back in 2003 after an incredibly successful year selling my "Forest Leaf" series of scroll saw patterns. It took me six years to pay it off, and during that time I went through many hardships in my life. Throughout it all, I never missed a payment by even a day, and I look upon it as a representation of overcoming some of the most challenging times in my life.
I have kept the car pretty nice. Even though I had an accident with it just a few days before the last payment, I had it repaired and the interior is near mint. It has low miles (85K) for its age and engine and runs beautifully. I hope to keep it for many years to come.
But time has done a job on its exterior. I haven't always had the money to put it in storage in the winter, and as you can imagine, every year it has gone through some very brutal weather. This year was by far the worse to date. Even though I don't drive it from December until April, it suffered greatly.
The roof had began to leak a bit. I understand after 11 years, that is typical. The stretching and contraction of the vinyl over and over with the heat and cold extremes naturally wears the seams. Since I wanted to keep the car in good shape, I knew that I had no choice but to replace it as soon as possible.
Then there was the paint issue. The clear coat began blistering last year, and I had the header over the front windshield painted, but after another winter, there were many spots that a great amount of blistering was occuring. While the visible rust was only very minor, I realized that the salty ocean air had taken its toll and it was time to either paint the car or give up on it and get another.
I weighed the decision heavily, and decided on the repairs. Although they wouldn't be cheap, they would certainly be better than starting from scratch with another car. I cannot afford a new Mustang or any type of car so nice, and what I would wind up getting – even if I sold my car – would be a cheap, new(er) car that I wouldn't be happy with. So repar it was.
Finding reliable people to do the work was a huge challenge. I had gone to Ford in the autumn and tried to get an estimate to have them do the work. After spending over an hour having their people look it over, I was promised a full estimate over the winter so I could start work as soon as the snow melted.
They failed to contact me and I found myself calling repeatedly to try to get the estimate. To this day, I still don't have it.
I did find a gentleman who replaced tops and did upholsterer work. He had 25 years experience and from the time he called me, he was reliable and spot on with his work. He showed up when he said he would, followed up the next day, and gave a fair estimate. He explained everything in a way that we understood what we needed without being condescending. I had a good feeling about him and went with him and gave him the job.
I took the car over there on Wednesday which ate up half our day. He lived in the middle of the province, through roads I will call "less traveled". I was nervous, but when we got there, he was again professional and explained everything.
I picked up the car on Thursday and was thrilled with the result. The top looked beautiful and just like new:
For the first time in months, I was really encouraged at the outcome. I finally felt like I was doing the right thing. Phase 1 of the "Mustang Project" was complete!
In the mean time, I had lined up a shop in Halifax who would do the restoration. This as well was not an easy task and took a great deal of time. I looked at many, many ads from shops all over the province, but for one reason or another, they were ticked off the list.
Finally I found the website of a shop near the airport. It was called "Curtis Customs" and one thing that got my attention was they they offered shop tours one day a week. After reading through their site (which I understand is outdated a bit) and seeing their work, I decided to give them a call about a tour.
I talked to Curtis himself who answered the phone on a whim. His usual person was not there he said, and he picked it up as he walked by. I told him what I needed and he was professional, attentive and invited us to come and see what they did.
Long story short – last Saturday Keith and I took the ride out to take the shop tour and get the estimate. I was really impressed with not only the quality of the work, but the care and thoroughness that the team had. You could tell that these guys all LOVED what they were doing. Curtis told us that he doesn't even have his employees punch in, as they come and go as they feel fit and most of them are there many more hours than required. Some of them worked on their own cars on Saturdays or after hours. I have learned that people who love what they do tend to do a better job.
Their shop had many accolades under their belt. They had worked on cars of people such as Keifer Southerland, Jay Leno and ZZ Top. They won awards at car shows, too. I even heard that The Discrovery Channel is going to be filming a 16 part show on Curtis and his shop. When they explained the processes they they would follow when painting my car and showed the cars that they were working on, I was really impressed.
They offered what I consider a fair estimate and Curtis told me that if they found any 'surprises' (hidden rust, problems, etc.) it would be on them. Curtis did all his fabrication by hand, using a hammer and anvil. Seeing his craftsmanship was a thrill. These guys were old school and took pride in their work.
So I booked time with them and we agreed on the makeover. The car will look like new when it is done.
I have some 'before' photos of the paint issues:
While as you can see in the full body photos, the car still looks nice, when looking at the paint, you can see all the blistering. If unattended, it wouldn't be long before it would be filled with rust.
The trip to Halifax last week was certainly worth it. It takes us about three hours each way to travel, and eats up the entire day. But having someone who I feel will do quality work is certainly worth my time.
We left early yesterday and didn't get home until nearly 9pm. This time we needed to drive both cars there so we could leave the Mustang for the repairs. Curtis told me that they may not start for a week, but if they would as soon as they finished up a couple of jobs (wait time for major customizing is over 3 years now at his shop – "Simple" paint jobs such as mine with minor work is much quicker). It seems as if all things were aligned just right with this entire process.
Curtis told me he would be taking photos and sending them as they work. He wants me to see the process, and how thorough they are. I like that a lot. I am nervous, but now more excited than anything.
I hope you don't mind me sharing this in my blog. In a way, it is about being creative, as Keith and I have been planning the graphics and colors that we will be having on the car. I pretty much knew the look I wanted, but as always, I appreciate Keith's input a great deal. I think it is going to be amazing!
I will continue to update you all if you are interested. Just let me know if you enjoy seeing this kind of thing. I know not everyone will like or appreciate it, but some of you will, and those that aren't interested can just take a 'day off' from reading. :) I mentioned in the beginning when I started this blog that it would not only be about painting and woodworking, but also somewhat about my personal life. Sometimes in the past, those are the posts that I receive the most response from.
It is another sunny day here in Nova Scotia, albeit cool. I plan to get busy again with my carousel pattern writing as well as other projects that I am working on (YES – More are in the works!) I hope you are all enjoying some nice weather and I wish you all a lovely weekend. Happy Mother's Day to the moms out there! I will see you all on Monday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"