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Old 07-10-2012, 09:34 AM
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Fender repair using hammer & dolly

Figured I better stop and ask for some advice before I get what feels like further and further into this project. Fender from a 64' Merc Comet that was munched in the front. I stripped off all the quarter inch thick bondo and have been trying to straighten the panel out using a hammer and dolly. I've never attempted anything of this sort before and have been reading some awesome threads here in the forum using the search feature and have picked up some excellent tips. It feels like I'm approaching the point of how far a hammer and dolly will take you. Thought I better turn to the pros before continuing and possibly making things worse.

I don't want to jam up the post with a bunch of pics but I will post some to show the progression and what I mean. I've beat the front portion below the mid line back to pretty flat from where it was but you can see that it's now all high, if I try to bring it back down to meet the rest of the fender it wants to buckle and that whole section concaves back into a dent. It's stretched and I need to shrink it is what I have been thinking. Problem: I don't have a shrinking disc, only your average shop tools. The picture shows the front section I'm talking about. How can I shrink that section back down without a disc? What's neat is that last year in my crawlspace while doing some insulating, I found some small leaf springs amoung other old items from the 40's and 50's. The look like baby buggy springs so anyway after reading about the slapper I decided to clean one of them up and try it (since I don't have a real slapper)..believe it or not it works pretty great!

Next thing in my mind was how to remove all the hammer and dolly marks without an English wheel. Is there an old shop trick that anybody would be willing to share? The fender metal looks like lines in the sand from where it's been reworked. There is a lot of geometry in the fender with the styling lines. Advice on what to do next please?
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Old 07-10-2012, 09:48 AM
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it looks like the front of your wheel crown rolled inwards. Pretty typical. You can clamp two pieces of wood in the inside and out and roll it back out. Generally, when a section is really messed up and appears stretched it might not be stretched after all but the tension in other areas is leaving certain areas loose, which may tighten back up when it's properly metal worked. Shrinking is always done last after all metal work is done. You can cheat it if you don't want to do all the metalwork and use a stud gun to shrink or a torch. If you work it out completely than a shrinking disk is perfect. Shrinking with a shrinking disk is more or less shrinking that's a part of the metal work. Very minor shrinking thru a process that usually needs to be repeated, but can have adverse affects when attempted on metal that's not completely metal worked beforehand. It also tends to take too long on oil cans unless it's metal worked perfectly. So when you think of a shrinking disk to shrink you should probably think of it as metal working and not shrinking. Shrinking with a stud gun or heat is more ideal when it's not metal worked perfectly and you just want to tighten an area up. You might want to consider metal conditioning that fender. It doesn't look like the cleanest metal at this point.
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Old 07-10-2012, 10:51 AM
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Yep the wheel crown is rolled inward which is the design but it's a little too far rolled at this point. It was totally rolled in the front of the crown but I have managed to bring it back so far. A big art of that is because I removed the inner support piece that runs inside the front. Drilled the spot welds and took it out so I could get access all the way up to the front of the fender. It pulls back pretty easily. There is a front fender extension that bolts on and I've got the fender lines in front matched up good. I've been using a contour gauge based off the other fender curves to match the wheel well lip up. It's coming but very slowly with a lot of measuring.

What leads me to believe that front part is stretched is that the area above the wheel is still straight metal and wasn't messed up so I've been use that as my reference. Where it comes to the front of the fender it rolls up where I've been working it. You can see the dark vertical line, that's my sharpee which is what the mess on the fender is. I can see and feel it, while it's much straighter now it's sitting high and needs to be brought back to even with the rest of the fender.

Thanks for the help I was thinking about hitting it with the torch but wasn't sure. I have this crazy idea that if I only had an English wheel I could roll this thought and it would be nice and flat, lol.

What do you mean by metal conditioning the fender?
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:45 AM
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if you're using a sharpy as guide coat your metal is probably straighter than I thought. I'm sure you also used your contour gauge to check the other side to realize the high spot is not supposed to be there. Yeah, it sounds like a shrinking disk is what's needed. Is it high due to it being loose? If not you can also use a slapper or hammer off dolly technique, or of course a shrinking disk. If it's loose than I'd say try to metal work it more in the surrounding areas and/or use a stud gun.
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:49 AM
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Just to set your mind at ease on the English Wheel. It shapes metal by displacing it under pressure. If indeed the area needs to be shrunk it will not help. It may "iron" some of the waves out but you will be left with a high crown that still needs to be shrunk. I know this doesn't help you but thought you might at least like a little insight into what the English wheel can or can't do.

John L
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Old 07-10-2012, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tech69 View Post
if you're using a sharpy as guide coat your metal is probably straighter than I thought. I'm sure you also used your contour gauge to check the other side to realize the high spot is not supposed to be there. Yeah, it sounds like a shrinking disk is what's needed. Is it high due to it being loose? If not you can also use a slapper or hammer off dolly technique, or of course a shrinking disk. If it's loose than I'd say try to metal work it more in the surrounding areas and/or use a stud gun.
It seems tight all the way through. I've been trying to use my homemade slapper to bring the mound back down but it's wanting to go concave on me in the center when I do that. If I smack it hard enough it dents the mound in. I lightly tap the dent from inside and it pops right back to being a mound again. It either wants to be in or out, just not flat! The metal is pretty well straightened out of major dents in the front I just don't want to continue working towards the back and bottom areas without getting the mound out first. Torch it you say that seems about my options at this point.

John, thanks for the info, would the wheel take out the small "mars" caused where the dolly contacts the surface? It's like little smudges all over the place. That's what I was thinking, I'd like a way to smooth up all those marks. To this point I can't think of another way of doing that without getting down and dirty and taking a bunch of metal off
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Old 07-10-2012, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coolball View Post

John, thanks for the info, would the wheel take out the small "mars" caused where the dolly contacts the surface? It's like little smudges all over the place. That's what I was thinking, I'd like a way to smooth up all those marks. To this point I can't think of another way of doing that without getting down and dirty and taking a bunch of metal off
It would probably some, BUT, if you ran enough pressure to really make it smooth, you would probably end up with the panel stretched all over again. I believe you will be ahead to metal work the panel as needed. Actually I think you may have made the best suggestion yourself. This may be the perfect time to justify investing in a shrinking disk. I have never owned one but this seems like the perfect application for one.

John L
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Coolball View Post
It seems tight all the way through. I've been trying to use my homemade slapper to bring the mound back down but it's wanting to go concave on me in the center when I do that. If I smack it hard enough it dents the mound in. I lightly tap the dent from inside and it pops right back to being a mound again. It either wants to be in or out, just not flat! The metal is pretty well straightened out of major dents in the front I just don't want to continue working towards the back and bottom areas without getting the mound out first. Torch it you say that seems about my options at this point.

John, thanks for the info, would the wheel take out the small "mars" caused where the dolly contacts the surface? It's like little smudges all over the place. That's what I was thinking, I'd like a way to smooth up all those marks. To this point I can't think of another way of doing that without getting down and dirty and taking a bunch of metal off
yeah, it's stretched. It sounds like you're doing quality metal work so shrinking it with a shrinking disk would tighten it up nice. Other methods create high amounts of heat localized in small areas where it just gets too hot and can distort and undo what you have done, but that is easily fixed with a hammer and dolly and sort of restretching it back out. I have found great success with a palm nailer and home made bits with a shot bag on the backside in conjuction with a shrinking disk. The palm nailer serves as a poor man's planisher. It works really good but will wear your shoulders out within minutes.

Try John Kelly (VW guy) on the web and watch some of his youtube videos. If you type John Kelly/shrinking disk it may lead you to one of his videos on the subject. I got a disk from him and it came with a cool DVD on techniques.
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:39 PM
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Progress! If only I had one of those discs handy I could have been off and done by now and onto the next project I actually took a break and did another little side project while I was waiting to meet a guy about some wheels after work. Started working out a dent in one of the Merc's headlight bezels. Came out pretty sweet but I had to shape it a little with the DA and it took off the anodizing....maybe I'll try and polish it...oh but anyway back on topic.

I started working the high spot in the front using the torch and after doing so noticed the metal relaxed quite a bit and was easier to work with the hammer and dolly. It's almost down to where it needs to be then of course two other issues pop up. At the back of the high spot where it runs out onto the main area of the fender, it started to oil can. I pulled on the front wheel crown and what happened was it tweaked the high spot to right where it needs to be but created the oil can. So I started working that out. Got to thinking about it a bit and I think I found the real issue. The styling for the bumper line in the bottom corner is mucked up and it's throwing the whole flow of the fender off! The metal is so tight there though, I heated it and quenched with a rag and it didn't budge at all. But it's keeping the fender rolled so I have to fix it. I tested this theory by giving a little push/pull, pushing on the high spot and pulling on the front wheel crown and it put somewhat of a crease just about even with that styling line.

I noticed about the torch is true the heat is very localized and hard to control in such tiny areas. I got on a roll for a while there and started trying different techniques and definitely saw different results with each one. I found too much heat left high spots but if I worked around them in a star pattern it pulled the high spots out. I found that heating just until cherry and quenching with a wet rag right away worked the best for shrinking things in. Funny story the guy I bought the torch from was telling me about how an old timer showed him once how to heat up a dent and quench it to remove it and he was using that same technique on a 49' Ford PU he's been building for 15 years...I've wanted to try that since then at least I can cross it off the list and I feel alright about how the fender is coming along

Thanks for the great info I'll check out the suggested videos and will be outfitting with some new tools when the pocketbook affords them.
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