Vintage 1954 Frigidaire Kegerator Build

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schmidty65

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OK, I found this 1954 Frigidaire Imperial Cyclamatic (gotta love the name) on Craigslist for $100. It followed me home. As you can see from the pics, it's in great shape, with only a few missing interior items, which has had me feeling guilty for about a week for considering cutting holes in it. But I think I'm over that now, and I'm ready (?) to start making this into my first kegerator.
I've slowly found and followed several other threads on peoples' vintage builds, and have found them helpful and inspiring. So now I open it up to my fellow homebrewers for thoughts and a few questions specifically:

1) I'm wanting to capture the feel of the era with the paint and chrome, like the cars of the time. Repaint entirely or just the accents as shown (little insets of envisioned final looks in the first pic)? The exterior is in pretty good shape, with some discoloration but overall really nice.

2) CO2 tank inside or out? THis may wind up being a moot question, but it looks like I can fit 2 kegs and possibly the tank inside. If I go outside, what's the best way to pass the line through--a flange, shank, etc.?

3) If you've pulled all the chrome off for a total re-paint, what's the best way to get it off without damaging it (especially the lettering)?

4) As you can see from the inside pics, there'a a lot of cool stuff in the door; I'd like to be able to keep as much as possible intace, but I think the location of my taps will necessitate the removal of the warmed butter compartment. I suppose taking the whole interior shell off initially would be the best way to go? Then make whatever mods are necessary before putting them back on?

5) Drip tray--drain or not? Where would I run it and still have the 'sleek' look?

I will start posting pics of my progress once I finally get the guts to start pulling things apart. Maybe this weekend. Thanks for any input!

Fridge options.jpg


IMG_0587.jpg


IMG_0592.jpg


IMG_0593.jpg
 

kerber

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That's a great starting point! I really like those inset paint accents. You could get a really great period feel without going through all the hassle I had to.

1)...Repaint entirely or just the accents as shown...
It depends on the quality of the existing paint. My fridge's paint had a lot of discoloration that was really set into the paint. I went to down with a few different cleaners, but didn't have much luck. Also, it had a few scratches, so I just said "oh well" and painted the whole thing.

If you can get by without the base coat, just do accenting. Painting from scratch was a huge pain.

2) CO2 tank inside or out? ... If I go outside, what's the best way to pass the line through...
Depending on how the condensor is set up on back, you might be stuck with inside (unless you want a tank sticking out the side).

I've toyed with the idea of finding some 50's style standing bar to put next to the thing. As long as it's close enough, I could hide the CO2 tank in it and run a high pressure flexible hose to the fridge and through the back.

3) ... what's the best way to get it off without damaging it...?
If you remove the inside facing part of the door and move the insulation to the side, there should be some kind of clips that hold the chrome on. Remove these and the chrome should come right off.

4) As you can see from the inside pics, there'a a lot of cool stuff in the door; I'd like to be able to keep as much as possible intace, but I think the location of my taps will necessitate the removal of the warmed butter compartment. I suppose taking the whole interior shell off initially would be the best way to go? Then make whatever mods are necessary before putting them back on?
I agree that taking it off might give you the best idea. On my fridge, the internal components (evaporator coils) really played a large part in deciding where my taps were going to go.

5) Drip tray--drain or not? Where would I run it and still have the 'sleek' look?
I wouldn't do a drain on it initially. If you were going to, you could run the drain back into the fridge and have it collect in a bottle sitting in the bottom door shelf.

As is, I still can't find a tray I like the look of. They are all so... square. I might end up having to cut a stainless mixing bowl in half to fabricate a drip tray. If you have any luck finding something that looks good, please share!
 
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schmidty65

schmidty65

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Thanks; great thoughts to get me started. I've been thinking the same thing on the drip tray--something chrome and curved; I'm going to keep looking at motorcycle/car accessories to maybe find something that might work, then modify it. As for the canister, I'm thinking if I do go outside, I may paint it to match! :)
(as a side note, how do you get your links to just show up as the title and not the whole hyperlink?)
 

PapaO

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Thanks; great thoughts to get me started. I've been thinking the same thing on the drip tray--something chrome and curved; I'm going to keep looking at motorcycle/car accessories to maybe find something that might work, then modify it. As for the canister, I'm thinking if I do go outside, I may paint it to match! :)
(as a side note, how do you get your links to just show up as the title and not the whole hyperlink?)

Can you use the drawer or butter and cheese door to fab something?
 

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Hi

I would tear it down as far as you practically can. It looks to be in fine shape, but you never know what may be going on inside. A little fix here or there might be the difference between it running for another 50 years and it rusting out later this summer.

I also would check into a new gasket. I'm not saying *buy* one, just be sure you know how to get one and what it costs. They can be crazy expensive or dirt cheap. It all depends on what you find and who you talk to...

Bob
 

scubasteve03

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If the lettering is attached with double sided tape you can use a heat gun (or hair dryer) and dental floss to remove. Heat it up and slide the floss under it.
 
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schmidty65

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And it begins. (I'm also going to test whether I'm doing this right to insert images between text).
First, the bottom panel inside the door:
IMG_05964.JPG


After many screws, the inner panel is off!:
IMG_0598.JPG


Here's the front of the inner panel (intact!!):
IMG_0599.JPG


And the back of the inner panel with wire to butter conditioner still attached:
IMG_06011.JPG


I think the cleanup should be pretty quick with this panel; the butter conditioner is held in by some screws; now it's not:
IMG_06022.JPG


This should now give me pretty easy access where the shanks need to pass through the door. I think I can replace the metal screws with some small bolts and re-install the butter door once everything's in place. Unless I take off that whole 'protruberance' from the door panel; it would give me an additional couple of inches; maybe enough to fit the full 20# CO2 tank I have in there...

Here's the insulation as it was removed from the door:
IMG_06031.JPG


Overall in good shape, but I did notice a little wetness on the top piece, the part by the freezer. I'm considering alternatives to this stuff. Maybe that pink foamboard insulation with spray foam to fill in the gaps? the outer parts are thicker than the two center pieces; that's where the door panel inset is. Thoughts on substitutes?

Here's part of the reason; clearly, there's been condensation run-off that's occurred inside the door in the past. This is the only bad section of the door. This is the bottom part of the interior of the door. It's not the physical bottom of the door, but it IS the boundary between the cooled space and the outside air; the bottom gasket attaches to the outer edge of this piece. You can see where it's then dripped a little down to the actual bottom of the door.
IMG_06041.JPG


I went at it with the shop vac a bit and pulled some good sized rust chunks out. I can also see pinholes of light through it. I have some rust neutralizer that I'll coat it up with, but I'm wondering how hard to go with any brushing, etc. If I just do that to dislodge any remaining chunks, then neutralize the rust, then add a new surface to that? I'm thinking cut something out of some metal sheeting that would fit in on top of that, bond it to the existing plate, prime and rubberize it? Thoughts?

As you can see, the rest of the door looks pretty much in factory-fresh condition:
IMG_06063.JPG


And finally, in this pic you can see some rubbery stuff as well. Looks like a sealer of some sort that they put behind the places where screws and pins penetrate the outer door. The one mid-door is where the 'Frigidaire' logo is. Think I could pull those out and get the lettering off, then reuse them and spray some new rubberized stuff (like on the bottom area) back over it?
Here's a close-up of the back of the logo area:
IMG_06052.JPG


Well, that's it so far for this morning. While you're contemplating my rust questions, I'll hit some cleanup on the back of the door insert and maybe throw the whole gasket in some degreaser; it's in good shape, but looks like some old weatherstripping stuck inside it turned to goo all over it. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
 
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schmidty65

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Well, another 12 hours, several trips to Home Depot and Lowe's to stare at things and ask 'What would McGyver do?' after my last post, and I have the door masked and ready for the aqua accents.
But first...
Managed to get the nameplate off! Don't know why I was afraid of breaking it; this sucker is solid metal with white paint on it; not white plastic with a little chrome on top. it was held by those little flat metal P.I.T.A's that took a while to pry off. But I have it all cleaned up now:
IMG_06193.JPG


That rusty bottome lip of the door is now bondo'd:
IMG_06202.JPG


And sprayed with rubberized undercoating (along with the two new holes for the shafts!):
IMG_06223.JPG


Had to take a peek at what it'll look like with a tap on it:
IMG_06214.JPG


Don't worry: two perlicks with 6" chrome handles and stainless flanges are scheduled to arrive on Wednesday (6/13).

And to complete the day, the door; masked and ready for prep, primer, and the aqua accent paint. Hopefully in the morning. ZZzzzzzz....
IMG_06251.JPG
 
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schmidty65

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Well, Sunday morning and I got right to painting. Well, first I needed to set up a paint booth. Props to Kerber for his Weekend Paint Booth plans (https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/weekend-paint-booth-280957/ )
Mine isn't as nice, but I have a double wide garage door, so I decided to just use my tailgating awning frame for the structure:
IMG_06261.JPG


Then taped plastic in roughly the same way Kerber describes; I also used the fan with a filter, etc.
IMG_06271.JPG


It's a tight fit with the door on sawhorses and the fridge free-standing, but I managed. Here's the door after priming, painting, and 2 coats of clear:
IMG_06283.JPG


I masked the remaining chrome and the part with will be off-white (I've opted to go ahead and paint the whole thing rather than just the accents, since I was able to get the logo off the door; it'll also cover the discoloration and give it a more uniform look (I hope).
Here's the fridge body. I just went with a stripe along the back side, going all the way over the top and down the other side. I think that'll balance the one on the edge of the door nicely when it's closed.
IMG_06294.JPG
 

carlisle_bob

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Hi

Looking very good so far. Any raw metal inside the door that didn't get the undercoating - hit it with some primer.

Bob
 
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schmidty65

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Yeah, that's a good call, Bob.
Well, before I went to strike the set for the current show I built, I got impatient and pulled the masking off the door. Yep; it pulled a little of the paint with it in a spot or two. :mad: Luckily, it's along the seam which I plan to run the self-adhesive chrome auto trim strips over anyway. But: I'm considering just touching up that area, too. Should I just leave well enough alone? I'm a little concerned about the masking tape pulling up more when I flip to masking the aqua and painting the off-white. Thoughts on this??? :confused:

Also: Do you guys mount the taps directly to the door? Meaning, use just the thickness of the metal in the door between the flange on one side and the collar on the other, or do you reinforce it with wood or anything else?

Also also: Time for me to start thinking about replacing the insulation. What have you guys out there used? I was thinking about encasing new fiberglass inside pillows of plastic, like the vapor barriers in a house; then it could fill the space, yet be protected from any moisture that may find its way back into the door. Any reason that wouldn't work?

Would love to hear what some of you who've been there/done that have to say on these items.
 

kerber

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I'm a little concerned about the masking tape pulling up more when I flip to masking the aqua and painting the off-white. Thoughts on this???
Run an exacto blade lightly along the paint line before you pull it up. That should help release it.

Also: Do you guys mount the taps directly to the door? Meaning, use just the thickness of the metal in the door between the flange on one side and the collar on the other, or do you reinforce it with wood or anything else?
I'm reinforcing with 2x1 on the inside of the door, and a nut to tighten that against the metal. Then, my shank will continue through the insulation and pass through the door interior wall and get another shank nut tightening it to that.
That way, if a drunken guest were to grab the tap accidently, it should have enough reinforcements not to bend the door metal.

What have you guys out there used?
I'm using R19 pink insulation for the entire fridge. I'm not too worried about condensation, as I picked up a silica dehumidifier to put inside it.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000H0XFD2/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20
 
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Schumed

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Nice build...

I completed scored a 1954 Philco "V" turned into a kegerator last night on craigslist...$50 included 20lb CO2 tank and a complete kegerator conversion kit with an unopen dip tray.

I just discovered this model is consider the holy grail of antique fridges...wishing now someone didn't drill a hole in mine.

kegerator.jpg
 
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schmidty65

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Nice build...

I completed scored a 1954 Philco "V" turned into a kegerator last night on craigslist...$50 included 20lb CO2 tank and a complete kegerator conversion kit with an unopen dip tray.

I just discovered this model is consider the holy grail of antique fridges...wishing now someone didn't drill a hole in mine.

That's a nice one, Schumed. Looks like we're 'neighbors'. When did you get that fridge? I've been scouring the KC craigslist for the past several weeks, looking for another one (back when I was feeling guilty about considering cutting holes in mine). Never saw this one, but I stopped looking on Saturday morning when I went ahead and started on this one.
 
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schmidty65

schmidty65

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Great idea on the dehumidifier, kerber; I think I'll pick one of those up.
I assume you're using the unfaced R-19 pink...
I like the idea of reinforcement; once I saw how relatively thin the door was, I figured that would be a good idea. I may go with a 1x4, just to get a little more surface area; I'll probably have to sand it down a little to shape it to the slight curve of the door; or I'll do two squares and treat them like big wooden washers...
Thanks for the tips!
:mug:
 

Schumed

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That's a nice one, Schumed. Looks like we're 'neighbors'. When did you get that fridge? I've been scouring the KC craigslist for the past several weeks, looking for another one (back when I was feeling guilty about considering cutting holes in mine). Never saw this one, but I stopped looking on Saturday morning when I went ahead and started on this one.

Showed up around 2pm yesterday....got lucky.....I already have a 4 tap kegerator...thinking of using this as my fermentation chamber.

You involved in any of the brew clubs? Been trying to get one going in the Northland...Northland Brew Crew....going to my first Bier Meisters meeting this week.....also doing the Kc Nanobrew fest this Saturday...going to be serving some beer....you?
 

carlisle_bob

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Hi

I'd use a good grade of plywood to reinforce the door. Baltic birch comes to mind, there are other options.

When you insulate the door consider that you can / might / may trap condensation. Solid insulation is great stuff, the silly glass wool breathes. No best answer there, but somethig to think about.

Bob
 
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schmidty65

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OK--two days later and it's time (finally) to finish the painting!
First, here's the door with the aqua accent. A bit blurry--I think the same fumes that had me thinking it was a good idea to take off the masking so fast also affected my shot...
IMG_06303.JPG


Now, time to mask over the aqua and get ready to paint the off-white:
IMG_06324.JPG


And of course, mask the opening of the fridge. I decided to paint the edge of the frame right up to where the plastic interior starts; that's where I masked.
IMG_06334.JPG


Here are the door and fridge body after painting (also nearing the end of Dexter's kill room--the neighbors will be relieved...)...
IMG_06362.JPG


...and here's the painter (paintee?). Man, this build is aging me! :D
IMG_06341.JPG


That's it for tonight. Im cleaned up, hair is brown again, and I think some food and a homebrew are in store for me. I'm NOT going to be tempted to remove the masking until morning (but I may be late for work because I do it first thing...). :ban:
 

carlisle_bob

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Hi

Before you do anything more, get some good light and take a close look at the results. Check it from a couple of angles.
Do not be bashful. If you see something you don't like - start over. The pros do it all the time.

Bob
 
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schmidty65

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Well, crap. Looks like the Frog Tape (the green stuff I thought would be better than the blue, from its commercials) reacted with the aqua I masked over. Reading the fine print (guess I'm going to have to start taking my readers to Home Depot with me), it says the green tape is meant for latex, and that solvent-based paints may affect its properties. Yeah, I guess so! Here's the post-unmasking this morning:
IMG_06372.JPG


The concept at least is going to look good when it's done, but looks like I'll be re-doing the aqua. Here's a close-up of what the tape did:
IMG_06384.JPG


First I thought it just left residue of its adhesive, but I'm not sure whether it's that or that I didn't wait long enough on the regular paint. I waited two days. The appliance epoxy enamel already feels harder and more 'solid' than the aqua did. I'm thinking I should have started with that, THEN masked that and done the regular spray. Or else the blue tape may have been the way I should have gone. Also, I may be able to just give it a very light sanding over that area then hit it with another coat or two of clear--the color doesn't seem to be the issue.

But I'm going to wait til after work, get it out into the sunlight and really look at it first (like Bob said); if the color looks OK, I'll hit it with clear. Otherwise I'll re-paint the aqua as well.
Any recommendations on masking tape that worked? This was my first go-round with the green.

EDIT: Looking online, I see that 3M makes an orange line of their 'blue tape' that's supposed to be for delicate work--smooth and freshly-painted (>24 hrs) surfaces. Supposedly, Lowe's and Walmart have it, so I may look into using that this time around.
 

carlisle_bob

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Hi

The good news is that now you have the perefect excuse to wet sand the surface. Do that properly with some very fine grit paper and you'll have a much better surface (flatter) for the paint to go down on next time.

Bob
 

perkins98

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STOP.... Get automotive tape. I was just going to tell you to get some different tape.. you need some automotive tape from a paint store. that frog stuff is probably way to sticky and especially on fresh paint. You basically just sprayed that with some expensive primer. it may be salvageable with some wetsanding with 600 grit or something. your best bet is to probably lightly scuff all the affected blue and then get at the tape marks with 320 or 400 and respray in your blue and coat it all with more clearcoat.
 
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schmidty65

schmidty65

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Thanks, bob and perkins98. Funny enough, I had arrived at the same conclusion about the tape after doing some more investigating online. I was going to edit my edit once I get home and take a look at the door in the sunlight. I'm going to grab some Automotive masking tape from the O'Reilly store near my house.

perkins98: you think clearcoating over the appliance epoxy paint (the off-white part) is necessary? I was going to do that with the blue, but thought I'd leave the other alone; its coat is quite nice by itself. I'm not worried about the seams where the colors change, because I'm running chrome strips over those anyway, like the old cars had. My past experience with the appliance epoxy (interior of my lagering freezer) is that it cures up really nice and is durable.
 

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I agree.. I don't think clear coating over the Appliance paint is necc. I'm sure it's a fine topcoat. I'd just cover all the blue again.
 

carlisle_bob

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Hi

Been down this road before. Made the exact same "to much work" decision multiple times. It's go darn good looking to do a less than 100% job. Sand it down and re-spray it...

Do as I say, not as I do.:D

Bob
 
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schmidty65

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Lol, Bob!
Actually, by the time you wrote that, I already had the door wet sanded and was running to the stores to get new stuff. When I pulled it out after work, it was a no-brainer that I would be re-doing the blue. There were some thin spots and some drips (in those tight areas of the paint booth).
SO:...
Fridge door with the aqua wet sanded and ready to try again:
IMG_06392.JPG


Re-masked the door and main fridge using automotive masking tape this time. I also covered the entire fridge this time, as drift from the aqua lingered in the air and landed on the uncovered part of the fridge last time (and since I have no intention or need to repaint the appliance epoxy off-white portion, I'm covering everything:
IMG_0641.JPG

IMG_0642.JPG


But look what else arrived while I was at the store getting automotive tape, new aqua paint, and clear coat:
IMG_06401.JPG


With everything ready, I'll paint tomorrow after work!
 
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schmidty65

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OK, maybe before work...
(are you starting to understand my impatient nature?)
Here's the door, repainted. It's blurry, but so's my vision this early and after 2 coats of aqua and 3 coats of clear.
IMG_0644.JPG


But on the plus side, I won't be tempted to remove the masking too early this time; I'll have to wait til after work. :)
 

perkins98

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The trick to pulling tape doesn't have much to do with wet or dry paint, it really is about patience. I un-taped complete cars wet and dry and sometimes **** happens. Your best bet may be to cut the edge with a razor before you pull the tape, and make sure to pull away from the blue. Nicely done with the green 3M btw. It's pricey stuff but good. Lookin good.
 
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schmidty65

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True, perkins98; I scored the edge when I pulled the masking off from the off-white part and everything was fine. Though I also waited longer than 45 minutes that time... ;-)
All the same, I hope work goes by fast (I hope that even when there's nothing waiting for me at home, though...).
 
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schmidty65

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OK, I removed all the masking, and here she is:
IMG_06451.JPG


One problem: there was still a little bit of issue with the taped portion. Much less than on the blue, but I'm done playing this ping-pong game. I think this is faint enough that some 1500 grit wet sanding or scratch remover-grit creme followed by buffing/polishing will take it out enough that it won't show by the time the chrome is on. Now, the off-white area is just the appliance epoxy, no clear. Will that affect my little scheme to buff out the light tape marks?
 

carlisle_bob

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Hi

A lot depends on exactly what the boundary looks like. Ultimately you will want clear coat over the whole thing.

How about a nice hand done pinstripe at the boundary?

Bob
 

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carlisle_bob said:
Hi

A lot depends on exactly what the boundary looks like. Ultimately you will want clear coat over the whole thing.

How about a nice hand done pinstripe at the boundary?

Bob

Nice choice on the pin stripe! That looks awesome.
 
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schmidty65

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Well, I currently have chrome strips on order for the boundary. for such a long run, I don't think I could get a good straight pinstripe line. Plus, I'm going with the cars of that era: chrome separating colors, and then some more chrome... :)
 
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