Monthly Archives: September 2012

Rest in peace

You can’t save them all. Take this nearly new Fiat 500. The owner ran off the road into a ditch, augured the nose in, and flipped the car end over end, landing on it’s roof. The air bags didn’t deploy and the owner walked away with just a few bruises. I’m very glad the owner wasn’t injured. A car can be replaced but a life cannot.

This car has actually been sitting at the shop for a while. It didn’t take much looking at the car to realize that the car was probably totaled. Before I crawled out onto that limb and declared the car totaled, I wanted  to wait for the official word from the insurance adjuster. It would be embarrassing to write that the car was totaled only to find out later we were going to fix it.

Well, we know now because a roll-back showed up this week and hauled it away. It’s too bad too. It’s a cute little car and I would have liked to have fixed it. The problem was that the only undamaged panels on the car were the rear hatch and rear bumper. Every other body panel would have to be replaced. Compounding the problem was the fact the car landed upside down and all the oil drained out of the engine. If the engine were still running while it were upside down … you could write that off as well.

It’s always a shame to see such a nice car totaled but it is what it is. It’s probably best for the owner that it was totaled … but I relish a good challenge, and this would have been one.

FIAT actually stands for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili do Torino, or in English, Italian Automotive factory of Turin. But in this case I think it stands for, Figured … It Actually Totaled.

Making dust

Last Friday the crew and I spent the entire day sanding the El Camino before pushing it into the booth for priming. We enjoyed the experience so much that we decided to do it again today.

The first picture is of Chris blocking away on the roof. Blocking is a technique to remove imperfections by wrapping a piece of sandpaper around a semi-flexible plastic block. The block allows the sandpaper to quickly remove material, primer in this case, from high areas until the surface is smooth and level. It is a dusty, tiring job, but it is the only way to get the perfectly smooth surface that the High Performance Finish requires.

If you read last week’s post about this car you may recall that I noticed a problem in the belt line on the car. Pictures two and three are of me working to correct that issue. Picture two is of me applying additional body filler and picture three is of me sanding it off, reshaping the body. It looks easy in these photos, but I did that apply and remove process four times until I got the line positioned on the car like I wanted it.

In picture four you can see Chris using the DA (Dual Action) sander on the less critical parts of the car. The areas that are not going to come under such close scrutiny and don’t have to have the mirror like High Performance Finish, like the cowl area, we finish with power tools to speed the process.

Picture five is Chris, once again, sanding, but this time in all the corners and crevices that the block can’t reach. Sanding in these areas requires strong fingers and soft hands … strong fingers to stand up to all the abuse from sanding … soft hands so as not put any ripples or other imperfections in the car from sanding without a block. But Chris can handle it because he is a sanding machine!

Picture six shows what happens after a lot of sanding occurs … you get a lot of sanding dust. The dust you see in this picture is the primer we sanded off today. This is the second time today the car has been blown clean with high pressure air … so you can imagine the amount of sanding dust we made today. In case you are wondering … it was a lot. So much we had to clean out the shop afterwards to get all the dust out.

The seventh and last photo shows the car after we finished blocking. We need to do a little bit of touch up sanding here and there, but the car is basically ready to paint in this photo.

I’m glad to finally see the car at this stage … and I suspect the owner is as well.

It’s a tough job …

Yesterday we finished painting the convertible top lid so today, after the paint had a chance to thoroughly dry, we sent the car to Auto Trim Design to have the paint protecting plastic put on the car. The plastic covers the lid to protect the paint from abrasion when the top is in the up position. There are no pictures of it because it is completely clear and very nearly invisible.

The first photo is of the car after the it has been cleaned up … the second photo is of me leaving to return the car to the owner.

Driving a 370Z convertible on a nice late summer day … it’s a tough job but someone has to do it … and I have never asked my people to do a job I wasn’t willing to do myself.

Consoling the owner

Several weeks ago the owner of the blood red 1965 Chevelle we painted dropped this console of to be modified and painted. We have been working on it, off and on, since. Today we finally got around to priming it.

The first two photos show me applying the etching epoxy primer. This is sprayed on bare metal so all the subsequent layers will adhere.

The next two photos, numbers three and four, are after the application of the high solids primer. This primer is used to fill any imperfections in the surface. We will block sand most of this material off to smooth and refine the surface.

Blocking is a technique where sandpaper is attached to a semi-ridged plastic block so that the sandpaper cuts hard into high spots while gliding lightly over low spots. This removes material from the high areas until the surface is dead smooth and even. This is the same material and technique we use to produce our High Performance Finish, but we won’t finish the console to the same high luster finish.

JMC AutoworX is primarily a paint and body shop … but doing some interior work is a nice change of pace.

Back again

Near the end of August this 370Z convertible was in the shop to have the hood and trunk painted. Something had happened to the paint that made it look … well … to not put to fine a point on it, made it looked rough.

I guess the owner decided that this little section that covers the roof when it is stowed, a bit we didn’t repaint the first time, bothered him, so the car is back in the shop to have this piece repainted also.

The first picture is the panel in the booth after the base coat has been applied but before the clear coat, which explains its dull appearance. The second picture is of the car after the panel has been installed.

I liked the color on this car a lot when it was here the first time … and I haven’t changed my mind at all.

Before and after

A lot of people complain about how “cheaply” cars are made these days … and their may be some merit to that argument. But as someone who does body work on both old iron and new, I can tell you that simple bumper repairs are a lot easier on new cars.

Take this bumper from a Hyundai. The owner owner provided the part and just wanted us to paint it. He is going to install it himself. A few clips, a couple smacks with the hand and dozen screws and the bumper will be on the car. Old Detroit iron … I wish it were as easy.

Here are the before and after shots. The first picture is the bumper as I received it, the second as I gave it back.

A quick fix

We take a lot of pride in our work here at JMC AutoworX; we pride ourselves on the fact that when we do a job, we do it right. Sometimes, however, the customer just wants a quick fix. Depending on the job, we will sometimes take the work, other times not. This time, we did.

The owner of this Ford truck just wanted the bumper pushed out enough to get the valance panel back on. OK … we can do that.

We first hooked the PortaPower up and pushed the bumper out. A PortaPower is a hydraulic ram designed to apply massive amounts of force, 10,000 pounds of force in this case, to move and straighten structural parts of a car.

After we pushed the bumper out we used a BFH (Big Fat Hammer) to pound the bumper, more or less, straight.

After we spent a few minutes pushing and pounding, the customer left happy with the repair. And in the end, another satisfied customer is what it is all about.

I sneer at pain

This Nissan Altima is in the shop to have it’s nose fixed. You can see in the first picture that is sneering at the damage, even though it looks like it took a pretty good pop.

The second picture is the one that really tells the tail. If you look carefully at the brace just in front of the radiator there is a slight curve to it. It’s not suppose to do that, that brace is should be straight.

Oh well, nothing a few days in the JMC AutoworX shop can’t straighten out.

A for effort

It has been a crazy week around the shop. I was out for class Monday, Chase is out for class yesterday and today. That’s my excuse for not doing a better job getting pictures … and I’m sticking to it.

Take this Civic for example. It came into the shop Monday with some damage on the rear bumper along with some light damage to the trunk. The driver following swerved to avoid colliding with the rear of the Civic … and he almost made it too, so “A” for effort to him, but the car was still damaged.

The first picture is of the car fresh out of the paint booth. The paint is still so soft when this picture was taken we couldn’t even unmask it yet less we run the risk of pulling the paint off.

The last two pictures are of the car after the masking is removed and the new bumper installed.

The car had only slight cosmetic damage when it arrived, but it still looks better now that we have given it some professional grade TLC.

Old dog … meet new tricks

Though I’m sure a lot was accomplished in the shop today, I wasn’t there to get pictures. Today I spent my entire day in Asheboro renewing my PPG certification. This is something I do every two years.

The PPG certification program is designed to make sure that certified technicians (that’s me!) are up-to-date with advancements in products, application procedures, equipment, and environmental, health and safety issues. In other words, the technician is trained by PPG in the proper use of their paints and equipment to ensure that you receive the highest quality repair possible.

By being able to display the PPG Certification, it is tangible evidence that you are receiving the finest in auto body repair.

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