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Body Shop Tips & Tricks

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    Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 2:14am

I asked viewers in my project thread if there was any interest in tips/instruction for body/paint topics. There were a few responses to my question, so I may attempt this to see how it goes. I am a former body/paint technician who worked in collision shops for a number of years and although not employed in this field any longer (thank god!), this knowledge shouldn’t go to waste and could potentially help someone save some time and/or money or more importantly aggravation. 

Purpose: not to turn anyone into a body/paint professional, just some helpful advice/problem solving assistance.

What I’m envisioning is a forum discussion where we could discuss/debate/argue tools & equipment, techniques, products, procedures, etc., as much as you like. I’ve seen a lot of sketchy practices on the internet and have shouted “what the %#*& are you doing that for?!” at the screen more than once.


Is there an interest in this?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote General Eisenhower Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 2:24am
I have an interest sure. I dont have many metal shaping tools, so most things I contact out, to people that know metal and welding.

I have a panel above the rear fender that should be straight, and it kinda isnt, so I'm trying to figure that out 
I Like Ike!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TateC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 3:24am
I would also be interested, especially in metal shrinking and dent removal. 
Tate Christensen
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Michaeltru Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 4:12am
Definitely interested.  Thanks
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JeepFever Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 4:16am
Interested
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 5:15am
+1
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JohnB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 6:18am
Always looking for help to achieve a better job and not spend any more than necessary to get there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nofender Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 10:13am
interested for sure! what I have done up to this point has come out ok. But I'm certain there are things I don't know that could give me even better results. This is handy as I'm about to paint my CJ5 project! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WKWillys Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 11:04am
Interested, absolutely!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote willyt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 3:31pm
Yes sir! I would be interested in learning very basic body repair. How about how to finish body putty without wavy lines? Basic tools and technique.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dasvis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 8:57pm
IN.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Buckeye Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 9:33pm
+1
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drm101 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb. 2021 at 11:09pm
+1 here! 
I painted mine, and it turned out ok but I have a lot to learn, including patience. I spent a bunch of time at the body shop down my street watching them straighten out my Nova and then paint it. I learned mainly that body work is an art, processes are critical, and getting a car straight enough to paint is time consuming.  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote otto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb. 2021 at 12:26am
Originally posted by drm101 drm101 wrote:

+1 here! 
 I learned mainly that body work is an art, processes are critical, and getting a car straight enough to paint is time consuming.  

All true. 

OK then, I will put some stuff together and post it up. Hopefully it will be helpful.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote otto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb. 2021 at 3:36am

It might be good to start with a discussion of the “tools of the trade” and a tour through my toolbox, feel free to chime in.


Let’s start with these. Most people have two already and are the most valuable tools you can get. In addition to obviously handling tools, hands can help “see” a panel by detecting where the highs and lows are.


Use the whole hand on the panel flat; don’t just feel with your fingers. Some struggle with this but it can be learned, some folks find it easier using a rag between the panel and their hand or maybe gloves. You can confirm what you’re feeling by using a file or guide coat until you master this.


Hammers- my collection: a mix of Proto and Snap-On hammers, from left to right:

SO BF 617, SO BF 608, Proto 1427, Proto 1426, SO BF 611 and a 3 lb sledge.



Proto hammers aren’t made anymore which is a shame; they’re excellent, Snap-On hammers are very good also. Both have an octagonal shaped handle and superb balance; important for accuracy or if you’re swinging one for hours. I have tried other brands of hammers but found these to be the best for my use. The SO BF 617 is marketed as a “shrinking” hammer which I think is a gimmick, it really doesn’t shrink anything, it may be more of an anti- stretching hammer because of the waffle face. I don’t really reach for it much and don’t use it for shrinking metal. 



The two that I use the most are the SO BF 608 and the Proto 1427 followed by the SO BF 611. The Proto 1426 has its uses, mostly for door skins and because of its longer head you can reach inside panels better. I broke the handle on this one right after I got it and it wore tape around the handle for years. A genuine Proto handle is hard to find nowadays so a few years ago I modified another handle to fit. Snap-On handles are still available and could be modified for a Proto. I did break the handle on the BF 608 trying to use it like a claw hammer (stupid!) and broke its handle, so I just shortened it. 

All these hammers have a crown or curvature on their faces, none of these have a flat face which will create dents (smiles) if the hammer is not swung perfectly. I don’t recommend flat faced hammers at all- if you have one, grind or sand the face to put a crown into it.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote otto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb. 2021 at 3:41am

Dollies: just two. There are many sizes and shapes of dollies out there, but I got by with these two. I remember buying them but don’t even remember what brand these were, they may be both Stream Lines. I also have a steel block that has 90 degree corners, it’s useful for flat things and corners/flanges.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mullen46cj2a Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb. 2021 at 3:42pm
Looking forward to the next installment.
Bruce Mullen   Harrisville, WV       

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote otto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Feb. 2021 at 12:58am



(left) Body File: used for doing real metal work, known as metal finishing (working the metal to remove dents without filler) or pick & filing. This file is flat & straight although there are curved and adjustable versions. Jeeps have thick enough metal to perform metal finishing so if you can successfully do this, you can consider yourself a true craftsman. The instructors I had in trade school were older guys in their 60s back in the early 1980s and were old school metal men who taught us this black art and it took a while to get the hang of it. But it paid off later when I would get new panels that had shipping dents in them and it was faster to fix them this way than using filler. 


(center) This is a slapping file; it has a knurled surface much like a file and  will “grab” metal when striking a panel. The file surface also acts like the shrinking hammer’s face in that it is less likely to stretch the metal when struck. It works best with a dolly, and it’s broader surface spreads the impact out over a larger area. The file is useful for ironing out folded up metal quickly, but not generally used for finish work.


(right) A “spoon” is similar to a slapping file but is smooth and is struck with a hammer. It is useful for spreading out the impact of the hammer blows without leaving marks from the hammer- think a roof where someone sat or stood on it and it left a ridge. You can work the ridges down quite nicely and minimize the amount of work to straighten the panel.





No discussion of body shop tools would be complete without talking about pneumatic tools, so here are some common body shop ones. Starting with one of my favorites; the panel cutter or air chisel. This is Snap-on’s long barrel model and it kicks ass!  When replacing panels in a flat-rate situation, we would cut off as much metal as possible as fast as possible-this tool got it done. It does other things too, like cause tinnitus.




Let’s talk sanders. (left) Air board or straight-line sander: self explanatory; used for flat panels or panels curved on one axis. Keep this tool moving or it will plug up the sandpaper and/or dig a ditch (like sanding hardwood floors).  (left center) 8” gear driven sander, sometimes called a “mud hog”; works in an oscillating fashion in one direction only. Works awesome for knocking down large areas of filler; does not work in a dual action manner. This is a National Detroit model 900, made in the USA- super high quality.

 

(right) Next are DAs (dual action); both National Detroits also- the red one is a DAQ (for quiet) and the other is the old-school DA model. DAs are feather edging tools and not sanders! The collar on the tool’s shaft is machined so there is a not-quite 90 degree relationship between the pad and the air motor’s shaft. The pad wobbles while it turns on a bearing in either direction, hence the name “dual action”. Sanders will have the pad at 90 degrees to the tools shaft. Using a DA as a sander will result in less than stellar results. 

Be careful how much you oil air tools when doing body work; just a few drops so they don’t spray oil all over your project.



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