Do It Your Self Body Repairs - Keep Your Body In Shape - Tech
The mere mention of bodywork, Bondo, fiberglass repair, buffing, or panel replacement sends many hot rodders into outer space. Dealing with overly optimistic body-shop owners, who start on a project and take five times longer than planned, causes most to avoid bodywork altogether. Mounting costs are often the stumbling block on the road to building a cool-looking ride.
Then there are the hidden surprises you're guaranteed to find along the way. Maybe your car is suffering from rust, dented panels, dings, poorly performed panel mods, or simply paint that's beginning to lose its luster. Obviously, these basic body issues need to be addressed before any serious paintwork can be done.
To perform any bodywork, though, you need a plan. Begin by writing down what you want to do, your budget, and what materials and tools you'll need to make the repairs. Most reproduction companies offer many of the needed body panels as well as the supplies required to make the body repairs. In some cases, rusted panels can even be repaired while still on the car.
Before we began, we talked with several shops that specialize in metalwork for their insight and tips. In the end, we learned just how trouble-free these repairs can be by performing many of the repairs ourselves. With bodywork goals set in place-and a formidable plan-the repairs are not only easy to do, but they also pay big dividends with shining results.
Fender Lip Replacement
Fiberglass Repair
Body Filler
Ding Repair
Color Canding
Color-sanding, buffing, or waxing your car requires convention and improvisation. To remove small imperfections with traditional wet-dry 1,000-grit sandpaper over unique body shapes, we used a small section of pipe insulation from a local hardware store. A finer, 2,000-grit paper, rubbing compound, or polishing compound may be used for lighter scratches. The foam insulation allows the shape to continuously configure to the lower contour around the C pillar on this '67 Chevelle. The pipe insulation (wrapped with a polishing cloth) may also be used to apply wax or cleaner. If you're unsure exactly what your car's finish needs, try buffing an area that is not easily seen first, such as a doorjamb or inner trunk area.
Hard-to-find or custom shapes can often be manufactured from standard sheetmetal. This small panel is being formed to fit an early exotic by using a custom-made English wheel by Ellery Engel Restoration. One of the tricks to shaping metal with a hammer is to form it (move the grain) with hundreds of very light hits. Don't try to make large amounts of progress from just a few hits.
Emblem Placement
Rust Repair

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