More unexpected nice weather. It's cutting into my Christmas shopping time, but if I wasn't doing that at the last minute, it might not feel like Christmas to me.
I put the fender on a carpet scrap on the driveway. I used the grinder to clean off the ugly, burred metal at the old dent-puller holes. I then used the hammer and dolly to work the area a little bit, bring up the low spots. I had a hard time getting it to do what I wanted, so I tried a smaller, rounded head hammer. I discovered, at least in this case, that it was better to pound the lows out a little too far, then switch to the regular pick hammer and dolly. The control at that point was awesome, and I was easily able to work it very close to where I wanted it.
The original dent was right on the crown, and the careless dent puller work and huge holes left this area pretty mangled. It split about a half inch along the crown. It wasn't a big deal because I had to MIG weld the holes closed anyway. I cleaned out the the holes with the carbide deburring tool, but still had a hard time welding them. For some reason, no matter how low I set the voltage, they kept burning through. The split area and hole along the crown ended up being a gigantic 3/4" hole that I melted a ton of wire into.
But it all ended well. I ground everything flat, worked it a little more with both hammers and the dolly, and it came out nearly perfect. After these photos, one light skim coat of filler fixed it real nice.
With the temperature in the upper 40s today, I worked on the car for a short time. Friendly Neighbor Bill helped me lift the hood off.
I then removed both front fenders in preparation for metalwork to be done on those. The right fender is a bit of a mess down low as shown in the second photo, and the driver side has its own problems as mentioned in the last entry.
I spent just a couple of minutes sanding on the lower right rear quarter, just to kind of quickly get an idea of where I'm at with it.
The next step will be to remove the emblems and other trim from the fenders, grind the remaining paint away, then cut for the patches, which I can weld in later. Then the metalwork will be done for this car. I want to get it in primer as soon as I can.
Unforseen disasters are all part of the process, at least that's my experience. Some are my fault, like grinding too hard and slightly warping the hood next to the vent in the first photo. This was no big deal, and I fixed it shown in the previous entry.
Other unforseen minor disasters are like this left front fender. I knew the front had been repainted and blended long ago, just like the passenger side. But this was clearly done at a different time. The older work on the right side was carefully done, and still looked good. But this side is a classic example of why the old work should always be taken off and done over! This fender was obviously not done by whoever fixed the passenger side, but by someone else with far less pride in his work. It received no careful hammer and dolly work and the Bonnie and Clyde look is from holes drilled for some mindless crashing blows from a huge dent puller. I ground off over a half inch of filler here. My standards for this particular car are not super-high, but I would never cover up a mess like this. I will take the fender off, weld the holes closed and work the area properly.
(continued) I always stop to check the work by feeling it with my hand. I cannot 'see' if it's straight, but I can easily 'feel' it if it has a wave. Sometimes it is easier to feel the wave by rubbing with a single layer of a clean cloth laid flat.
The second photo shows the area finished.
The "hard" part about doing body work is learning that that there is more to it than filling an area and sanding it smooth. The whole process involves thinking and observing, not just sanding. More often than not, I have to stop and figure out what is wrong with an area where I feel a 'wave'. Is part of it too high, or a different part of it too low? Or is it just a filler or paint edge not quite finished?
If metal shows through the filler too early, long before the rest is smooth, the spot is high, and needs to be tapped down gently with a pick or flat hammer. Low spots are a little more obvious, and it is time consuming to stop, put more filler in them, let it cure, basically almost start over. But this is the only way.
Sometimes after much sanding, I'll realize the whole area is wrong, and have to rough the surface up, coat the whole thing again with a skim coat of filler and start sanding all over.
This is what it looks like after a few minutes of sanding with the large 8 inch block. I try and work the whole thing at once, not just one edge. This takes just a few minutes, even doing it completely by hand.
A few minutes later, it is a little closer to being smooth.
In the third photo I've moved to the top of the fender. The car has a gentle contour in the body line here, and I use the paint stick and some sandpaper. Sand with short strokes one direction, and then from the opposite direction, in effect an 'X' pattern. Keep it moving, again working the whole area, and not just one part.
Some people prefer to use a short section of rubber hose, either a heater hose or a radiator hose, depending on the size of the contour needed, but I generally use the paint stick instead.