Patch Panel or Hammer/Dolly?
Been working on my 66SS restoration project for awhile now (6 years) and am finally starting to evaluate and start working on the outside body work. I have a nasty looking piece on the lower right quarter panel. Photos below:
When I got the body stripped, I found that this piece had been seriously leaded in. I melted it all out and tried to pull as much as I could with a stud welder. I now have a wrinkled mess and am wondering what to do next.
I got a lower patch panel for it, the one for just the lower side, maybe 8" up. I keep going back and forth on whether to hammer/dolly it back straight or cut it and patch it. I'm worried about the body line mostly.
Corey, as long as that metal isn't rusty (really thin or rust holes) then its best to work with the metal you have. Can you get a dolly in the backside area of that damage ? (inside the trunk). That area really doesn't look that bad to me. Obviously it needs some shrinking and hammer/dollying but compared to some it looks pretty good to me. At least you have something to work with. Its a good idea to avoid patch panels unless they are absolutely necessary (original metal so rotted that it has to be replaced).
John from Ghia Specialties who is a regular poster on this site is really good at working sheet metal, he could be of valuable assistance to you in this project.
Phil is right, work with the metal you have. Since you already have a stud welder you can use it to shrink the metal to help get it back into shape. Remove the tip that installs the studs and replace it with the tip below.
Len, That is interesting, I've never seen anything like that before. Is it as easy as hitting the area and the metal shinks?
Phil, I can get to most of it from behind with the dolly. The body line is what I'm really worried about reproducing. I don't have a lot of experience with doing that and that was the reason for the patch panel. Is there a technique to it?
Thanks much for the replies
People will tell you that "bondo" should never be thicker than 1/8" and its nice if everything works out and the filler is that thick or less. But in real life there will be spots where the "mud" is going to be thicker than 1/8". Why I bring that up is because the odds of getting that bodyline almost perfect by just working the metal is slim to none, especially for someone of limited skills working metal. Thankfully all cars have two sides, so if you wonder exactly what that bodyline should look like then just look at the good left quarter panel. Then match the right qtr. bodyline to be the same as the left qtr bodyline. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a reasonable amount of bondo/mud in a car metal panel as long as that filler was applied correctly. It is a myth that bondo will crack if applied to thick. If it is applied correctly it will outlast the owner of the car and in reality will outlast several owners of that car. There are only two things that make bondo crack. The main reason is a serious impact from the front side or the backside of the repaired panel. The other reason that filler will crack is from rust between the metal and the bondo. Other than that bondo will outlast the metal its attached to.
Hint - keep a straight edge handy for reproducing that bodyline. I really enjoy doing repairs like the one you're doing on that quarter panel. I enjoy that more than any other aspect of autobody and paint work (even after 35 years of doing it for a living). If you have any more questions feel free to ask away.
After reading my last post I could see where someone might get the idea that I'm advocating applying bondo/mud thick. I'm not advocating having a build up of thick bondo on any panel. I was just trying to make a realistic point from a professional bodymans perspective.
Yes, you press it against the panel and pull the trigger for a little longer than you would when welding a pin to the surface. We use it several times in one area by moving it each time about 1/2" in a widening circle. No hammering or water needed just zap it several times and you're done. I usually hold the tip against the metal until the metal cools a little, maybe about 5 seconds after I let go of the trigger.
Originally Posted by chopperroxie
Thanks much Phil and Len. I'm going to start working on this next week and I appreciate all the help. I post back with my results and I'm sure I'll had plenty of other questions.
You would be best doing some reading on working with metal first.
You have a panel that has been beat on and then you put the studs on it creating a bunch of shrink spots. While you have not made it worse, unless you start to understand stretched vs shrink metal you will be just beat aimlessly.
First off you probably do not have a lot of shrinking to do with conventional methods. You will probably find a shinking disk is going to be the best tool for the job. Dont let the shrinking part confuse you. You first have to get the metal into shape. This will help you to level the metal. Keep in mind all the little bends in your metal are like creases in a crumpled up sheet of paper. If you put a crumpled up piece of paper flat on top of an untouched piece of paper you will see the crumpled paper is smaller because of the creases.
You can not reasonably attack damage like this until you understand how to move the metal and when you are looking at stretched and shrunk metal. I attempted some repairs like this before I started to learn and found I did not get very far and relied on bondo to level. More recently I have done some work on stainless and applied all I have learned and did ok.
I hesitate recommending putting patches in because in many cases they are as much work as fixing what you have as you have to make stuff fit to them anyway.
I recommend looking at what people have done a some metal working websites
You may want to watch a few videos on sheet metal working
I have a book on Autobody Sheet Metal repair from the early 1970's that was used as a text book for an autobody votech class. It has a good discussion on the hows and why of metal moving. You might find a good old book at your library. I must have read the book, played with metal and then re-read the book at least 3 times. There is also a book call 'The Key to Metal Bumping' that Eastwood sell, I do not know of Len sells it- check here first. It is a subset of the Autobody book and would be worth reading.
Once you start to understand how metal moves and when it is shrunk and when it is stretched you start seeing solutions to your metalworking problems like you have never seen before.
One word of warning!
Shrinking sheetmetal can cause more problems than you might ever imagine. Do so with caution. Always let the metal fully cool before you decide to do more shrinking.
Hope this helps.