Usually, progress up the car-building ladder is driven by necessity. It starts by just keeping that old beater on the road-learning to handle the simple maintenance and repairs that otherwise would have that old iron squeezing the wallet harder than a new car payment. Next comes tuning and tweaking, and hey, you're getting pretty good at this. With time we get into more ambitious projects, bolting together that killer mill or chassis. Finally, we become invincible. Every trashed-out hulk is seen as potential street machine fodder. That cast-away Nova in line at the crusher can be next year's show stopper. At this stage of the game, you're limited only by your imagination and skill...and, oh, yeah, those ever-scarce greenbacks. Little in the car builder's arsenal can advance a project's possibilities more than some know-how in panel and paint work. The flip side is that metal mastery is hard earned. Look, learn, listen, and read all you can-but finally you must do. Years ago, the tools of the trade required a serious investment and the materials were awkward to work with, but today, jumping into the fray with some of the basics will pay off immediately. Once the craft is mastered, you'll never look at a derelict street machine the same way. Enough to send even the most faithful spouse to divorce court, we actually fired up this four-speed 'Cuda from its resting place at the local wrecker's and drove it home. The mangled metal in the quarter is cleverly camouflaged by a random pattern of surface rust and age-old primer. Enough to send even the most faithful spouse to divorce court, we actually fired up this f Flexing an aluminum tube over the contour of the rear quarter showed the major dent over the wheelhouse to be nearly 2 inches deep, but we decided to repair the quarter rather than replace it. Flexing an aluminum tube over the contour of the rear quarter showed the major dent over t The first step was stripping the area to the bare metal. An angle grinder with a 36-grit disc made short work of the job. We kept the grinder moving to avoid overheating and further distortion of the metal. Use caution at the edges and creases-these grinders eat metal. The first step was stripping the area to the bare metal. An angle grinder with a 36-grit d The area was then buffed with a 3M Clean and Strip fiber disc to further scour the metal surface of paint and rust, again taking care not to burn the metal. The area was then buffed with a 3M Clean and Strip fiber disc to further scour the metal s Our unprotected quarter showed some deep surface rust and resultant pitting. Although nearly all traces of rust were stripped off, the surface was treated with an acid-based rust converter to deep-clean the pores. The rust converter was allowed to set up overnight, after which the surface was thoroughly sanded with 80-grit paper and a D/A sander. Paint, primer, or plastic filler will not adhere well if the treated surface is not re-sanded. Our unprotected quarter showed some deep surface rust and resultant pitting. Although near Beginning bodyman's basics: You can go a long way with a hammer and dolly kit such as this low-buck set from Harbor Freight Tools (about $20). The challenge is getting a feel for working metal, and there's no shortcut for practice. On the left is the dreaded slide hammer dent puller, used only as a last resort. Beginning bodyman's basics: You can go a long way with a hammer and dolly kit such as this Had our dent been in an easily accessible part of the trunk, it would have been a simple hammer-and-dolly job. With more than two-thirds of the dent behind the wheelhouse, we had to get creative. The cop-out would have been to dust off the slide hammer and start drilling holes. Starting at the deepest point, we levered the dent outward with a prybar while simultaneously hammering the adjacent metal surrounding the prypoint. This lets the area take a set at the pried-out level. Had our dent been in an easily accessible part of the trunk, it would have been a simple h Various bars up to 3 feet in length were used to work out the dent, as well as combinations of bars with dollies as shown here, all the while confining most hammer work to the outside of the quarter. Had the dent been easily accessible, the dolly would have been used to back-up the dented area from the outside while the dent was hammered out from inside. Tricky jobs like this mean coming up with innovative solutions and tools for getting the job done. Experience goes a long way here. Various bars up to 3 feet in length were used to work out the dent, as well as combination As the area got closer to its final shape, a quick hand sanding with 40-grit in a block revealed high and low spots as light and dark areas respectively, helping to guide our work. Again, you can use a long, straight tube for checking the overall contour. For the average production bodywork job, the lid on the plastic filler would have already been popped by this stage. As the area got closer to its final shape, a quick hand sanding with 40-grit in a block re 1 | 2 | » | View Full Article By Steve Dulcich Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!