Daily Archives: August 3, 2012

Up on the roof

In among the other projects going on today, we put in some time on the El Camino. While we have the hood, fenders and doors all but ready to paint, the body … well, let’s just say it still needs some work. Today we focused on the roof.

The first photo shows me pounding one of the many dents out of the roof. This poor car looks like someone beat on the roof with a stick. Or a hammer. Either way, it has a lot of shallow dents that are going to have to be smoothed up before the body work will support the High Performance Finish that is going on this truck … car … truck … whatever. Especially a black High Performance Finish.

You can only do so much with a hammer, so the second photo shows me slathering on body filler, which works really, really well for jobs like this. Body filler is designed to smooth and fill shallow dents, and that is what I am using it for. In the second photo I am using it to blend the shaved rain gutters into the sail panel, but I also used it to fill all the dents on the roof of the … uh … truck.

The third photo shows the filler in place and drying. It is an ugly, globby mess in the photo, but after sanding it will be smoothed and blended into the metal so perfectly that after painting you will never know that any had been done to the … car. Or truck. What is this thing anyway? Is it a car or a truck?

Never mind. Anyway, the fourth photo shows Chris doing what he does best … sanding. We had to repeat this fill, sand, fill process several times before we got the sections perfectly smooth, but that is the nature of body work … put stuff on then sand it off. It is dull, tedious, laborious work, but it is worth it when the paint goes on because bodywork is the single biggest factor that makes or breaks a paint job.

The last two photos, numbers five and six, show what we got done today. Overall we got the right side sail panel, along with most of the roof finish. Further, we got the left side sail panel the remainder of the roof nearly finished. Overall I would say that we’re about 80% done up on the roof.

Oh great … now I’m going to have that song stuck in my head the rest of the day.

Pull it out, pull it out, pull it waaaay out

While Chris sanded on the El Camino, I spent my time fixing the dent in this Altima. The first picture show me welding studs to the dent, while the second picture has me using the slide hammer to bang the dent out.

A slide hammer works like a reverse hammer. A bit of copper, the stud, is welded to the sheet metal of the car. That is what the big yellow thing is doing in the first picture. After the stud is welded to the car, the slide hammer is attached and using the slide, which you can see in my left hand in the second photo, the dent is banged out. The slide is slid along the rail, which goes through the center of the slide, until it strikes the anvil. The anvil is the bit just below my right hand. When the slide strikes the anvil, the force of the impact is transferred down the slide hammer to the stud, pulling the stud in the direction of the blow. By varying the force of the impact the metal can be moved a little, or a lot. And if you ever decide to try this on your own, let me give you a little advice … don’t get your finger between the anvil and the slide. It hurts … a lot. Ask me how I know.

After the metal is banged, more or less, into position, picture three shows where body filler is used to finish the smoothing process. Body filler has received a bad reputation over the years but it is very nearly a miracle product. When used properly, body filler will last the life of the car and by spreading a thin coating over the repaired dent I can smooth away the repair, making it undetectable, for a lot less money that it would take to replace the trunk lid.

The last two pictures, numbers four and five, show me sanding the body filler, smoothing up the repair and restoring the body lines of the car. You can tell by the photos that the way it works is you sand a while, then feel to see if it is smooth, and if it isn’t, you sand some more. You continue doing this until you get shape and smoothness you need.

This dent was in a nasty place, right on the edge, and that makes for a difficult and time consuming repair. But with little skill, a lot of patience, and some beating and banging, we have pounded this dent into submission.

Just a trim please

On this site you see lot of photos of cars, or car parts, being painted. What you don’t see very often is the process of trimming out. Trimming out is painting, but it is painting the parts of, well, parts, that are difficult or impossible to paint once they are installed on a car.

Take this fender and hood for example. The first two photos show the the parts with the black factory applied rust preventative, but the car they are going on is silver. If these parts weren’t trimmed out, I would have to make sure to get the paint into the area between the fender and the door, the inside lip of the wheel well and the underside of the hood. Difficult, and it would require more disassembly and masking of the car than just painting the car would require.

The second set of photos, numbers three and four, show me painting the edges of the fender along with the underside of the hood. A lot easier to do here in the paint booth, and it avoids the hassle of having to tape up and mask the engine and wheel wells when the car is painted.

The last two photos, numbers five and six, show the parts after they have been fully trimmed out. If you are wondering why I didn’t just go ahead and paint the entire fender before installing it on the car, it is because the paint will have to be blended into the adjacent panels. And that requires the panels to be installed on the car first.

I will go more into blending when the car is painted, but basically blending is a technique for matching new paint to old paint when painting a car … and it can’t be done beforehand.

If you want to know more painter lingo, check out our glossary of terms. A little light reading for when you are having trouble falling asleep …

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