Daily Archives: September 11, 2012

Smoothing it over

Today I worked on this Nissan, smoothing over the damage so the car will look as smooth and graceful after the repair as it did before the dust-up.

In the first picture you can see me using a slide hammer to work the metal back into position. The way it works is by attaching the slide hammer, the gizmo I am holding in my hands, to the studs, the porcupine looking things on the car, and using striking force to pull the metal into position. It is a clever device that works like a hammer, but it pulls instead pushes.

After welding the stud(s) to the car, the slide hammer is attached to the stud. A heavy metal weight is slid along a bar until it strikes the anvil at the back. The force of that impact is transferred down the tool and into the stud, moving the metal in the direction of the blow. By varying the force of the impact and the direction of the blow, I can tease the metal of the car back into alignment, or close enough to finish the job with body filler.

After the metal was hammered back into position, body filler was applied to finish the smoothing and shaping of the body. You can see the filler on the car, but not yet sanded smooth, in the second picture.

Body filler, commonly called Bondo, has received a bad reputation from people using it improperly. Used properly, as I am doing here, the body filler will save the customer considerable money and will last the life of the car. Body filler isn’t designed to fill large, deep dents, like these were before I pulled them. Rather it is designed to be used to smooth repaired areas and fill small imperfections. By using the slide hammer and knocking the dents out until the metal was, mostly, in its proper place, I could just skim over the repair with a thin layer of body filler for final smoothing. Yes, eventually, someone could work the metal into shape using a hammer and dolly and avoid using hardly any body filler, but what I can do in an hour with filler would take days with the hammer and dolly.

After years of technological advances body filler has come a long way and is far superior to the product it was when it was first introduced … and to body solder that was used for years in the factory filling seams and in the collision industry for body repair.

Sand isn’t just for the beach

The Olds doesn’t look that much different in these pictures, taken today, than it did in the pictures that were taken yesterday. The only differences are that the right fender has been put on and the door handles and mirrors have been taken off … and the entire car has been sanded.

Sanding roughs the paint so when the new paint is applied it has a surface that it can sink its teeth into for good adhesion. The paint appears to be dull and lifeless because it is dull and lifeless. Sanding removes every bit of the shine the paint has, but that is all part of the process.

What shine we take off today, we will more than put back when we paint the car.

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