In this update work focuses on removing the existing tail light panel from our donor rear deck. As shown in the photo below the tail lamp panel that came with the donor rear deck is pretty beat up and will be replaced.
Interestingly, since the last update I learned a great technique for separating bonded fiberglass panels – using heat.
The easiest way to apply the heat is by using a heat gun. Now for those who haven’t heard of a heat gun, it’s basically a high powered hair dryer that puts out much higher temperatures. To try out this new tip I decided to purchase a cheap $25 heat gun similar to the one show below. I soon found out it was money well spent. When heated the bonding compound softens considerably and takes on a consistency similar to that of partially cured Bondo. Once softened the bonded seam can be easily separated with a putty knife.
So, using my new favorite tool, I started heating the seam between the tail light panel and the bonding strip. To make starting the separation easiest, and to reduce the risk of damaging the fiberglass, it’s best to start at an edge as shown below. Holding the heat gun about 2 inches from the fiberglass I heated the fiberglass to about 250 degrees, or hot enough that you can’t comfortably hold your hand against the surface for more than a half second or so.
Once heated I used a 5-in-1 tool to start separating the bonding strip from the tail lamp panel. The rigid blade and unique angles of the 5-in-1 tool make it especially well adapted to this task. If heated properly the panels will separate through simple hand pressure, the use of a hammer or rubber mallet shouldn’t be needed.
Once the edge is separated work progressed down and around the corner…
…the tail light panel can be partially separated. As you can see the separation is fairly clean. From here the separation will continue across the middle of the rear deck.
Similar to at side and corner of the tail light panel, the center is also separated using heat and a 5-in-1 tool with hand pressure.
The photo below shows the blade of the 5-in-1 too coming through the bonded seam. In this case I’m trying to only separate the bonding strip from the tail light panel, not from the rear deck. Therefore while separating the panels I was aware to ‘guide’ the 5-in-1 tool so that the blade would pass through the seam and leave the bonding strip attached to the rear deck.
And, once all the way across the rear deck, the tail lamp panel is easily separated from the rear deck. From here the bonding strips will be cleaned up and prepared to receive the new tail lamp panel.
That’s all for this update. Coming next will be removal of the old rear deck from the rear deck. The heat gun will definitely be put through it’s paces with this task!