Monthly Archives: April 2012

On the straight and narrow

On April 11th this Camry arrived at the shop with some front end damage. After some disassembly we could see that it was, well the technical terms is messed up, behind the bumper. I sent it out to my frame guy so he could push and pull the car straight. It is back in the shop now, straight as it ever was. Now we have to repair the cosmetic damage.

The first picture shows a spot on the hood where we are straightening out a small bent place. Body filler has been applied and sanded, mostly, smooth.

Body filler has gotten a bad reputation over the years, caused by people using it for jobs it was never intended to do. Body filler is best used to fill and smooth shallow dents, not to pile on thick to fill deep dents and creases. Body filler, when used properly, can save a customer a significant amount of money by allow a shop to repair a small dent instead of replacing an entire panel.

After the dent is filled and blocked smooth, it will be primed to seal the filler and provide protection to the repair. The primer also provides a surface for the paint that follows to stick too so the repair will last the life of the car. In the second picture, the repaired area is masked off so only the area that needs it will be covered in primer.

When the replacement parts arrive this repair will be ready for paint as well. Then it is just a matter of shooting the paint and putting the car back together to make this Camry look as good as it did before the collision.

Snow white

Thursday we got the mighty Ford into the booth to get some paint on it. We finished up the painting and got most of the truck back together Friday.

The first picture shows what we started with. The gray splotches are primer covering chips and nicks in the paint. The paint was already quite dull from years wear, but after we sanded it, to give the new paint something to stick to, it was even duller.

The second photo is of yours truly painting the top of the cab. When I paint the top of tall vehicles, SUV and crossover type vehicles, I have developed my own way to reach the top. I stand on a metal five-gallon bucket. Hey, it works! I don’t care if I get paint on it, if it gets damaged I just throw it out and get another, and it puts me up high enough to do the job. But trucks are even better. They have this handy platform in the back that is just right for standing on to paint the top.

The third photo is Mike painting the sides and lower portions of the truck. He’s young and it is easier for him to bend over and paint the bottom edges than it is for an old fat guy like me.

The fourth photo shows the truck after Mike and I finished spraying on the base coat. A lot of white cars are still painted with single stage paint … paint that doesn’t use a base coat/clear coat system. Single stage paint dries shiny, but because it doesn’t have the protection provided by the clear coat, it requires a lot more maintenance to keep it looking nice. The owner of this truck stepped up to the two stage paint, a finish that is a little more expensive but will last longer with considerably less maintenance. Because this is a two stage paint the base coat dries flat, as you can see here.

Photos five and six show the truck after the application of the clear coat. As you can see, the clear coat makes all the difference in the world in how the paint looks. The clear coat adds a lot of depth and shine to the paint, in addition to the protection it provides.

Because the truck was so big it took the entire booth. We had to let the truck dry overnight so we could move it out of the booth to make room for the hood and tail gate.

The hood was in rough shape with a lot of failing paint. Mother nature had certainly taken its toll. We completely stripped the hood and painted it as a separate step. In the seventh photo you can see Mike etching the metal of the hood. The etching primer binds tightly to the bare metal of the hood, protecting the metal from rust and corrosion. The etching primer also providing a surface that allows the epoxy primer that follows a surface that it can get its teeth into for good adhesion.

Pictures eight and nine show the hood and tailgate after being painted. They are still wet in these pictures and need to dry before we can install them on the truck.

While the hood and tailgate dried in the booth we started putting the truck, painted Thursday, back together. We installed a new chrome front bumper and reinstalled the lights, mirrors and grille.

Pictures ten and eleven show the truck reassembled with the exception of the hood and tailgate, which were still a little too tacky to install.

Allowing the hood and tailgate to dry over the weekend will make sure they are good and dry and ready to install Monday morning. A few minutes to mount them up and this truck will be ready to go.

No longer a lump head

A little metal work, a bit of body filler, some sanding and finally a dab of paint, and this Versa is ready to go home. The dents in the roof are repaired, invisible to even the most critical eye.

Unlike like a bump on a person’s head, the bump on this car’s “head” didn’t repair itself. But no matter, so long as it is repaired, how it gets repaired doesn’t really matter.


The roof dinged Versa was in the paint booth today and we fixed up the rather rough treatment it received so it looks as good as new.

The first photo shows the repaired area after the primer had been sanded smooth. The primer covers the body filler and seals everything up nice and tight, protecting the repair from damage from the elements.

The second photo is of the car after the base coat had been applied. It appears flat because the base coat, the color part of the cars finish, dries nearly flat.

The last picture is of the car after the application of the clear coat. As you can clearly see, no pun intended, the paint gains a lot of depth, clarity and luster from the application of the clear coat. That is the magic of the two stage paint process … the clear coat provides not only the protection from the elements, but also the sizzle of the finish.

The paint will dry overnight and then this car will be ready to return to its owners.

Roll tape

It doesn’t matter how Ford tough this Ford is, if it isn’t masked off before being painted it is going to look like poo after it is painted.

The idea behind masking is simplicity itself. Cover the areas that you don’t want painted so you don’t have to clean it off later. Getting paint off glass, for example, isn’t that hard. But it’s a lot harder than preventing it from getting on there in the first place.

Today the paint booth was occupied so we masked. Tomorrow we paint.

Oh! My head!

This Nissan Versa is in the shop to have its roof repaired. It is hard to see in the first couple of picture, but there are four nice dents running across the width of the car … like something fell on or crashed into the roof. You can see the worst of the four dents in the first photo. The second photo is of one of the smaller dents on the other side, opposite the dent in the first picture. There are two other dents that can be clearly seen in person, but that don’t show up in a picture, between the two dents in the photos.

The third photos shows the dents repaired. Three of the dents we were able to repair with thin skim of body filler, but the worst one required a little slide hammer magic.

A slide hammer works like a hammer to pull the dent out. Small metal studs are welded to the metal in the dent. The slide hammer is then attached and a heavy metal weight is slid along the length of the slide hammer. When the weight strikes the stop of the slide hammer, the force of the blow is transferred to the metal of the car, pulling the sheet metal in the direction of the blow. By varying the force, and direction, of the blows, a body man can tease the metal into position.

After the dent is mostly removed, body filler is applied to further smooth the surface. Body filler, commonly known as Bondo, has received a bad reputation by people to didn’t understand its proper use or were taking short cuts. Body filler is ideally suited for filling and repairing shallow dents like on this Versa. Properly used, as in this application, the repair is undetectable and will last the life of the car.

After the body filler dried, it was blocked smooth to blend into the lines of the car. Blocking is a technique of sanding using a plastic block shaped to fit comfortably in the hand. The block holds the sandpaper even so that the block removes material only from areas that are higher than the surrounding area. Blocking allows the repaired area to be sanded dead smooth and even and to be seamlessly blended into the surrounding area so that after the area is painted, the repair completely disappears.

The last photo shows the repaired areas after the filler has been blocked smooth and sprayed with primer. The primer covers the filler and protects the repair from the elements. It also provides a surface to promote good adhesion for the paint that follows.

After the primer dries overnight we will give it a quick sand using the sanding block, to smooth out any rough areas, before it goes into the booth for paint. Then this car will no longer be a subject for Phrenological study.

Here spot!

This ’93 Ford is in the shop for a face lift. In great shape considering its age, the owner wanted to have a new coat of paint sprayed on … just to freshen it up.

Yesterday we started sanding on a few spots where the paint had broken down. Today we finished that task and then spot primed the areas to protect them from rust and to provide a surface for the paint to sink its teeth into for good adhesion.

It looks like a bad camouflage paint scheme now, but when we lay down the new white paint with a coat of clear for protection, the worn, semi-gloss white paint the truck sports now will be gone, replaced with a brilliant white that will nearly fry your retinas in the sun.

Then this 20 year old beauty will be ready for the next 20 …

The purple Dart

I know it sounds like something from a bad serials in the ’50’s … The Adventures of the Purple Dart  but what else can you say. This is a 1963 purple Dodge Dart. A color that is Plum Krazy. No really, that’s the name of the color … Plum Krazy

The car arrived at the shop Friday ready to spray. So today we did. Because the car is completely gutted masking it off was easy. A little plastic around the firewall and front frame so they would stay black, and call it done. Everything else is going to be covered by the interior anyway.

With most cars like this the owners go for the whole enchilada, the High Performance Finish, but this customer just wanted our standard, work-a-day paint finish to keep the costs down. The owner didn’t care if there was a little spray around the edges and on the tires … so in this case, I guess I didn’t either. Not masking it off saved the customer a little money in time and materials, and he was happy with that.

We’ll let the paint dry in the booth overnight and the owner can come and get it tomorrow. In and out in one day. That’s crazy quick. Plum Krazy.

A future classic?

I know it is hard to think of a 1993 Ford pickup as a classic, but stop and think about it for a minute.

This truck is almost 20 years old and it is in fantastic shape. No rust and just a very few minor dents. All it needs is a little bit of paint. If the owner continues to take care of this truck in the same manner it will still be very clean in 20 or 30 more years.

Now, think back to 1990 when 1970 trucks were 20 years old and people didn’t think they were worth anything. You could buy a ’69 or ’70 Ford or Chevy truck for next to nothing. But 30 years beyond that and look at their values now.

Uh-huh … I think this guy has a keeper.

Not getting older … getting better

This Roush Mustang, in the shop for a Touch Up Grande, is ready to go out and strut it’s stuff. All the little dings, the road rash if you will, has been touched up and it looks good. Especially considering it is 10 years old.

But like wine and cheese … some things just improve with age.

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