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Rear valance mesh

Neil Potter

750 views

April 2014

The mesh at the rear of the car has always bugged me. It's nice, woven steel mesh rather than the cutout alloy stuff. Sadly though, it's not stainless and after 26 years on the car, looks pretty rusty. Originally it was painted a satin black I understand. There are two pieces - one large and one small, either side of the exhaust, though my smaller piece was missing. Both are held in with alloy pop rivets.

Last year I had a go with a wire brush followed by some brush-on Hammerite, which improved matters only slightly and I knew I'd have to revisit it if it was ever to look vaguely smart again.

[i]Sourcing the mesh[/i]

I got the mesh from here: [url="http://www.themeshcompany.com"]http://www.themeshcompany.com[/url]. They have a massive selection of mesh in different metals and with different gauges/apertures etc. I'ver lost the receipt, but I'm pretty sure I went for stainless mesh with 3.33mm aperture and 0.9mm wire diameter. Cost about £50 for the smallest available quantity, and as you only need about a fifth of that it's worth a group buy. I still have some left if anyone wants some and doesn't mind picking it up from Oxford!

[i]Shaping the mesh[/i]

I removed the old mesh by drilling out the pop rivets using and a right-angled stubby drill bit. I managed to get the rivets to spin before they fell apart, creating scratches around the old hole and leading to me using bigger pop rivets to fit the new mesh.

Use the old mesh to cut and shape the new mesh. It needs two bends, one a right angle and the other about 45 degrees. I used a spare plank to clamp the cut mesh to a workmate, and a mallet to bash the bends into it.

The smaller bit requires the same bends, but from looking at original parts has a curve cut into it to accommodate the exhaust pipe gap, which is then edged with some kind of rubber. I simply cut a straight edge, and it looks OK.

Try fitting the parts to the car before painting; you'll probably have to bend things around a bit more, especially on the smaller piece.

[i]Paint it black...[/i]

I looked into a few options for making the mesh the required satin black. I'm aware that it's not particularly easy to paint stainless steel. Tempting as it was to leave it unpainted, it would be quite striking, not quite in keeping with the subtle look of the car and not as Hethel intended.

I looked at chemical blacking, but wasn't sure that the finish would be satin rather than glossy. I didn't go for powder coating in the end, simply for the inconvenience of taking an awkward, sharp bit of mesh to get treated. I thought I'd try etch priming and a spray can of satin black enamel, and see what happened:

[attachment=26984:IMG_5729small.JPG]
[attachment=26986:IMG_5728small.JPG]
The results, after several coats of the primer and several coats of paint, were quite good, here's my test mesh:

[attachment=26982:IMG_5725small.JPG]

After a month on the car, I haven't noticed any chips as yet.

[i]Rivets![/i]

This was my introduction to pop riveting. You will need 4.8mm alloy rivets with a much longer shank than you think - the best ones I found were 12mm I think. I went for large flanged ones to hide some of the scratches on the valance, with the result that I have large silver discs to paint over at some point, but actually they don't look too bad.

The most difficult bits are all the lower rivets, as they don't have the outward-facing angle which allows you to get the rivet tool in. It's doable, but only just.

Here's the end result, much smarter if you can ignore my wonky-looking exhaust:

[attachment=26985:IMG_5732small.JPG]


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