Preparing the vehicle

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Preparing the vehicle

Post by Matt on December 11th 2007, 12:16 pm

I had a bit of bodywork to complete on my Ranger before paint. I had a few dents and deep scratches from over the years. In good light, I went over the whole truck and marked with a colored pencil all of the areas that would need repair. Luckily for me I didn't have any major issues. For the scratches I used an orbital sander with a 400 grit disc. I went in a circular motion overlapping the scratch about 8" to keep the area level. I sanded the entire area until the scratch disappeared. If you only sand where the scratch is, it will more than likely show up as an unlevel spot in your final results. For the small dents, deep scratches, and imperfections (not large enough to need pulling) I took the surface down to bare metal. Then I mixed up a batch of filler and used a wide flexible putty knife to slide the filler over the problem area keeping it level with the rest of the panel. It doesnt take a lot of filler, just enough to fill in the imperfection. I prefer to keep the thickness of the filler about 1/32" - 1/16" before sanding. I then went over that section with the orbital sander the same way I did the scratch. After all of the body work was finished I knocked the rest of the truck down with 400 grit also going back over the spots I repaired to make it level with the rest of the truck. I wiped everything down with mineral spirits on a lint free cloth and then I was ready for my first coat of paint. If you have a nasty dent or crease in a panel don't consider just filling it with bondo and smoothing it out. That won't last. You will have to use a slide hammer, or hammer and dolly to form the panel back to its original shape. A contour gage works great to compare how uniform the area is in conjunction to the rest of the panel. I repaired a dent in the quarter panel of my Jeep about a month ago. Luckily the dent was accessible from the back so i used a hammer and dolly to get the dent out as close as possible to the original shape. Leaving about 1/32" gap according to the contour gage, I then used filler to smooth it out with the rest of the panel.


Last edited by on January 7th 2008, 5:27 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Preparing the vehicle

Post by dumkopf on December 16th 2007, 5:46 pm

Matt, what do you think of completely stripping the paint? All the way down to the metal. It would take a lot of the work out of it. I'm sure though it would put just as much into it. I'm not entirely sure. Your thoughts?
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Re: Preparing the vehicle

Post by Matt on December 17th 2007, 8:42 am

Well this is my first time ever painting a vehicle so I don't really have a solid answer for your question. I took it down to bare metal on the places where I used filler just because it's recommended and the filler adheres better. As far as the whole car, you would have to go back over it with a etching or high build primer for protection and to give the paint something to stick to. Don't quote me on this as I am just going from what I've heard in the past about painting cars. Even though the paint is made to be coated over bare metal I would still consider using a primer first. Just my cents

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Re: Preparing the vehicle

Post by tzyoung on December 17th 2007, 10:12 pm

Hello,
I have a little experience with body work from doing the roller job on my brother's Camaro, but I have also been working on stripping the paint from my Bel-Air that will receive a new bc/cc finish. If you are in a hurry to have a painted car, do not attempt to strip the whole thing. If you have a DA sander and plenty of paper and don't mind taking the whole car apart then go for it. But I will warn you that it is a lot of work, and you will come closer to sticking with this paint job if you don't create unnecessary work for yourself.

Depending on the condition of your original finish, you would probably be better off to just sand the existing paint and block it smooth; however if you have a car that has been repainted several times and has a lot of paint thickness you might see some benefits to removing the paint. Things to look for to tip you off would be spider web cracks on the majority of the car. I don't know the condition of your project, but in my experience, the best way to deal with it would be to sand to bare metal only in the areas that need it. All the advice that Matt gave in the earlier post is spot on, and as he said keep the body filler thin. I will be starting the bodywork on my accord in a couple of days and I will post some pictures on how to deal with the dents, dings and scratches that you will likely encounter on a project like this.

Good luck,
Trent
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Re: Preparing the vehicle

Post by Matt on December 17th 2007, 10:29 pm

Great advice Trent. Pictures would be a really good addition so the guys learning can put a visual to what we're telling them.

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Re: Preparing the vehicle

Post by 67_6cyl on January 6th 2008, 8:35 pm

I've read that if there are a lot of old coats on the car, it's best to take it off - it'll make the fresh paint last longer and more chip resistant AND you'll know what's really underneath. I stripped my old Ford down to bare metal (67 Mustang) just to confirm what was underneath - I found one rusted through panel that I didn't know existed and one thick bondo patch that I straightened out as best I could then redid with a high quality, professional body filler. The rusted through panel I cut out using an angle grinder and tack welded in a new one and filled/smoothed the seam with the same product.
I used a product called "aircraft stripper" to strip the old paint - it's available at AutoQuest and most other box autoparts stores. It's nasty stuff (wear goggles and gloves) but eats right through the old paint - it's a lot faster than sanding it all down and is ultimately better for the metal since you're not scratching.
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Re: Preparing the vehicle

Post by mazdawg78 on January 6th 2008, 8:53 pm

yeah strippin paint down to bare metal is pointless unless you are building a concourse or pretty pretty show car. the only time you really need to go to bare metal is for filler or welding. otherwise scuff with 400 and be on your way. filler gets a bad rap because people cake it on. it shrinks and cracks your paint. its not made to fill in holes or replace that rotted 1/4 or fender bottom. if your filler is more than a 1/4" thick get your hammer and dollies back out.
i garauntee every show car on the circuit has filler in it. hell the big guys like troy trepanier and boyd cover a car in filler and sand 99% of it off. thats why their cars are soooo expensive. the time and money they spend on body work. its not bad just been used in bad ways.

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