Monthly Archives: May 2012

Nice bottom

This morning, bright and early, I arrived at the Murphy Rod & Custom shop to determine what needed to be done to get the bottom of the El Camino finished up. On Thursday we sanded the heck out of it, and today I wanted to try to get it undercoated.

The first photo shows the El Camino in the background. Kelly had pushed the car to the loading door for better light and ventilation while we finished preparing the bottom of the car. But mostly, I just used this shot as an excuse to take a picture of my truck.

The second photo caught Kelly and I discussing the best way to accomplish all the things that needed to be done today. I’m the one standing on the right in the gray t-shirt.

The next three photos, numbers 3, 4 & 5, show me cleaning and preparing the bottom of the car for the application of the epoxy primer. In picture number three I am blowing all the sanding dust off the car with compressed air. This is the best way I know to get all the loose dust and debris off the car.

The fourth photo has me digging in the corners with a screwdriver, digging out old sealer and gunk that wouldn’t sand off. It is important to get the car as clean as possible prior to priming so the primer will stick.

The fifth photo has me wiping everything down with a strong cleaning agent to make sure all the dust and oils have been removed. The metal might look clean, but I turned several wiping cloths black before I was satisfied that the surface was truly clean.

The sixth photo shows the bottom of the car after the application of the epoxy primer. The epoxy primer is, more or less, a sprayable glue that dries to a super-hard surface that seals and protects the metal from the elements. It is the epoxy primer that binds to the metal and forms the foundation upon which all the other layers are built.

After the primer had dried, I went over all the welds and seams with a seam sealer that prevents water from working its way into the seams and starting rust. Rust never sleeps and anything that we can do on these types of builds to prevent the rust from getting a toe-hold, we do. You can see some of the seams protected thus in the eighth photograph.

The last two photos, numbers 9 & 10, show the car after the Raptor Liner has been applied. The Raptor Liner is a light duty bed liner that works great as an undercoating, provideing another layer of protection to the bottom of the car. It works as yet another sealer against the elements and provides a super tough barrier to rock chips and other damage. And it looks fantastic at the same time.

Now that the bottom of the car has been protected as much as possible, Murphy Rod & Custom will put the chassis and body back together and begin to fit the rest of the sheet metal on the car.

Then I can start work on making the top as nice as the bottom.

This ain’t the Dukes of Hazzard

On the television show Dukes of Hazzard, Bo and Luke Duke charged (no pun intended) around Hazzard county in a 1969 Dodge Charger. This car is white instead of orange and there isn’t a rebel flag to be found on it. But the most important difference between real life and television … when someone hits your car, the car gets damaged … unlike the Charger on the television show.

You can see in these photos that the Charger took a pretty good whack in the back end, scuffing up the bumper pretty good. Fortunately the car isn’t seriously damaged and we will be able to fix it up so no one would ever know anything had happened to it.

The Duke’s Charger survived all manner of abuse with nary a scratch, but this Charger gets roughed up by a comparatively minor dust up. Dodge sure doesn’t build them like they used to.

Civic pride

Now that the bashed in door has been replace and painted, this little Civic coupe looks a lot better. Enough so that the owner can once again take pride in their ride.

That is what everyone wants to have isn’t it … Civic pride?

Mr. Sandman

Today Jordan and I payed a visit to Murphy Rod & Custom to do a little work on Terry’s 1969 El Camino. Before Kelly joins the chassis and body together I wanted to get the bottom undercoated. Today was all about the preparation for that task.

The first two photos show yours truly sanding away on the bottom of the car with a power sander. This roughs up the metal and the anti-rust coating applied at the factory so the epoxy primer, which we will spray on in a couple of days, will have something to get its teeth into for good adhesion. This was the easy part.

The third and fourth photo shows Jordan and I working on the not so easy part. Where the power sander is great for the big open spaces, it doesn’t work at all in the little nooks and crannies, which also have to be sanded. The only way to sand all those spaces the sander won’t go is to sand it by hand. Because of the all the bracing on bed floor, this car … or truck … whatever … had a lot of those types of places. We spent the first 30 to 45 minutes buzzing down 90% of the bottom, then spent the next two hours sanding the last 10%.

The last photo, number five, shows the bottom of the car sanded and ready to be cleaned and painted. I want to put a shout out to Kelly Murphy over at Murphy Rod & Custom for letting us work in his shop. Kelly is going to let us use his rotisserie to do the bottom of the car … and that has made the job sooooo much easier.

I get a lot of enjoyment my job. I take a lot of satisfaction from taking an ugly duckling of a car and turning it into a beautiful swan. But I have to be honest, sanding the bottom of this car … I didn’t enjoy that part very much.

A better bimmer

Now that all the bent pieces on this BMW have been massaged into shape, it is time to paint.

The first photo was taken at the end of the day yesterday. It shows a bit of the car in primer, but because we had to wait for the primer to dry we weren’t able to start painting until today.

The second and third photos have the car and bumper in the booth and sprayed with sealer. The sealer seals all the primers and body fillers use before and prepares the surface for paint. It also provide a consistent base color, selected from one of seven shades of gray and determined by the paint color, so that the paint will match from section to section.

The fourth photo shows the car after the base coat has been applied. The base coat is the part of the automotive finish that actually provides the color to the finish. The base coat dries to a near flat finish which is why the paint looks so dull and lifeless in the photograph.

The remainder of the photographs, numbers 5 & 6, show the car after the clear coat has been applied. Clear coat is a tough, thick, coating sprayed over the base coat to provide protection and gloss to the finish. As you can see the clear coat makes a huge difference in how the paint appears, brightening and adding some zing to the previously dull finish.

Now that the car is painted we will let the paint dry thoroughly overnight and we will begin putting it back together tomorrow. Then this bimmer, better than ever, will be ready to go home with its owner.

Pull it out … pull it out … pull it waaaay out

The door for this Civic, damaged in a parking lot mix-up, is a total write-off, but the fender is a different matter. That we can save with the application of a little brute force.

The technique we use, demonstrated in these photographs, is typically called pulling the dent. In the first photo you can see that a stud, the little metal barb that looks like a nail, is welded to the car body where the dent is to be pulled out. The slide hammer, the device seen in the hand, is attached. The ram, which you can see cupped in the right hand, is slid along the length of the shaft until it strikes the anvil. The force of the blow is transferred to the attached stud, pulling the metal out.

By varying the force of the blow and the location and direction of the stud, a body man can tease the sheet metal of a car back into position … or close enough that the final smoothing can be done with body filler. The second photo shows the dent after it has been removed.

The last photo shows me first cutting off, then grinding smooth, the attached stud.

Now that the dent has been pulled we can smooth over any slight deformations left in the bodywork so the damage is completely hidden.

Badda boom

It only takes a second of inattention. Everything is going fine then boom! you’ve backed into another car. Just such an occurrence has happened to this Honda Civic.

As you can see, the right front door is a bit … bent. Fortunately, this isn’t a major repair. We will replace the door, give it a splash of paint, and badda boom, badda bing, the car is good as new.

One bite at a time

We still have a ways to go before this Sentra is ready to be turned over to its owners, but we are making progress. Late last week we painted the inside and underside of the car and trimmed it out. Today we painted the outside.

The first two pictures show the car after the base coat has been applied. The base coat is what gives the car its color. The finish isn’t very attractive right now because the base coat has almost no luster to it at all, drying to the this chalkboard like dullness.

The last two pictures show the different a little clear coat makes. Not only does the clear coat protect the base coat underneath it, it also give the paint more depth and provides the sparkle to the finish.

This car was really messed up when it arrived at the shop and was quite an large undertaking to repair. But as the old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant?”

“One bite at a time.”

We have just taken another bite out of this elephant.

JMC AutoworX will be closed

JMC AutoworX will be closed Monday, May 28th in observance of Memorial Day. We will reopen Tuesday, May 29th to serve you.

Work begins

Remember this Sentra? No? I’m not surprised … this poor little car was hammered and it has taken this long to put it right on the frame machine. But we have it back now with all the straightening work complete, so work begins on cosmetic portion of the repair.

The first picture shows Jordan grinding smooth all the welds made while putting the structure of the car back together. The welds are perfectly serviceable as they are, but grinding them smooth makes them look a bit better, more like they were when the car was built.

In the second photo I am spraying the new panels with sealer in preparation for painting. Sealer comes in seven shades of gray and each paint color specifies one of these shades. This gives the paint an evenly colored base so the paint doesn’t appear mottled from the different colors of metal. It also give the paint something to grab onto for good adhesion.

After the sealer is sprayed, I trimmed out the car. Trimming out a car is painting in all the nooks and crannies that you can’t reach once the car is put together. I wasn’t painting the entire car at this time so that is why you still see the black of the new panels in places. Later, after more of the car is assembled, these black areas will be sealed and painted … which is why the over-spray you see doesn’t matter … the panels are going to be painted that color later anyway.

Pictures four and five show some body filler in places where welds need to be smoothed away and hidden. The filler was still a bit green when these pictures were taken so it hasn’t been sanded smooth yet. We will get to that tomorrow.

Picture six shows the inside of the trunk area. This floor was completely mangled in the crash and a new one has been installed. We painted it the same color as the original floor so that after the repair it would look the same as it did before the crash.

Picture seven shows the painting process underway. This car was seriously messed up in the collision, so we are having to take extra pains to protect the interior while we paint the inside of the car. It would have been easier just to have left the factory rust preventive on the replacement panels inside the car, after all, they would be covered by the interior trim, but that isn’t how we do things at JMC AutoworX. When we repair a car we return it as near as possible to its pre-crash condition.

Picture eight shows that we also painted the underside of the car in the same factory color so that just like the inside, the repair looks as near factory as we can possibly make it.

This little car was just about as messed up as any wrecked vehicle I have repaired. But with today’s precision frame alignment machines a car can be brought back to like new operational condition. Then it is up to the paint and body men to make it look as good as it works.

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