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Old 12-22-2005, 12:23 AM
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Brian Martin,Freelance adviser
 
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Metal Finishing, to quote the great philosopher NIKE, “Just do it”.

With all the talk about metal finishing and tossing the “bondo” in the garbage around here I started working on it. I had some experience in metal finishing, mostly small stuff, repairing mouldings and stuff like that. I only had limited experience in larger dents and didn’t use my shrinking disc much being I was doing late model collision repair these days. We just don’t do that many larger dents and with the limited access from behind I just didn’t try. I did my best and covered it with plastic filler (“bondo”).

Well, a few weeks ago I started looking at every dent, ding, or weld seam as a chance for practicing this art. I would start each one with the intention of metal finishing it, most of the time I had to give up in the middle and finish it in plastic filler. Between just running out of time (this is a full-blown collision shop remember) and just plain giving up because I wasn’t pulling it off I had to apply the filler. But even on the larger dents I found myself using MUCH less filler, so there was an advantage, even if I sometimes “failed” in the metal finishing.

But again, it is largely a state of mind; I just STARTED every one with the intention of metal finishing. Soon into my change of attitude I began actually doing more and more. We are talking small dings on new parts in the beginning. Even these little dings as the other guys in the shop, I would just spread a little putty being I am doing some somewhere else anyway. Well, I fought the urge and pushed forward with metal finishing every single one, at least TRYING. I have found myself doing some pretty big stuff all of a sudden. The guys who were mocking me and laughing are now noticeably silent. The production manager who was on my back when I was “wasting time” with the shrinking disc is now coming to me to bail them out of damage. You see, if you metal finish something leaving it in 180 DA scratches, you don’t need to prime it. Just seal and paint is all the paint shop needs to do. So old Brian is being called on to fix dings that were missed when the car is ready to paint. I have even done a few with cars that were already painted and saved them from repainting them! This is all within just a few weeks, a few weeks of an attitude adjustment. I watched a tape on PDR and tried but gave up a few years ago, no I find myself “kinda” getting the hang of it. Yesterday I did a new fender that literally had the tip folded over, kinked real bad. In just minutes it was shiny 180 “ground” metal.

Yesterday I did the most I have ever done and I am JAZZED. I did a “two hour” dent, about 8x8inch with stretched metal on the rear of a Honda front fender. I put a new door skin on, and repaired a number of dings on the rear quarter without so much as a drop of filler! Using a technique that is sort of a mixture of the shrinking disc and PDR (paintless dent repair) I end up with shiny painted metal that is almost perfectly flat. I then strip the paint and using my DA “shrink” it and cut it flat.

Last week I was super excited doing something I have never even came close to doing, metal finishing a weld seam with NO access from behind! In hanging a quarter panel you typically will splice the roof piller, this is a standard of the industry. Well, for a number of reasons I have done this for years with a “Butt weld with backing” putting a sleeve behind the seam. Leaving the seam with a gap of an eighth inch or so and welding THRU to the sleeve welding both the new panel, the old and the sleeve all at once. The problem is, with the gap you get a LOT of shrinkage. I never thought about this until reading an article I bought from Ron Covell by Kent Caveny called “Smarter than Metal”. It is a VERY good article on controling metal movement and Kent points out with documented test photos how the larger the gap the more shrinkage.

Well, on this 2001 Ford Expedition I hung the quarter on, I decided not to sleeve it, but butt weld it. I trimmed it to a near perfect fit. Tacked it every inch or so, then welded between the tacks with a little bead. I did this of course with time between each weld so it didn’t get too hot. After welding I ground the weld smooth and “ground” it with my mini shrinking disc, my DA on grinder mode! The darn thing was VERY close to metal finished, and that is with NO ACCESS from behind! Just one shot, weld and grind, I almost pulled it off, I was very jazzed.

Now, what you need to do if you want to venture out into the world of metal finishing is get that video that Barry talked about in the thread “taking my wife to the movies” a few weeks ago. It will give you the concepts needed. You can get a shrinking disc from Wray who makes the video or from John at Ghiaspecialties. Or, you can start out by using a DA like I have been doing on the small stuff.

Back when I learned how to metal finish mouldings I was shown to do the final “cut” with a DA put in the grinder mode and a 120 or 180 grit disc on it. The guy who taught me said it “relieved” the metal and would sink down a minor high spot. I now know, that this was actually a mini shrinking disc! I do it all the time, run the DA over it, then cool the metal with water. It is amazing how much you can do with this. Now, remember, I am working on 22 gauge Hondas and Toyotas, it really isn’t removing much metal at all. The metal is solid as can be after I am done, it is not thinned.

Get the video and TUNE IN to the part about MARKING the work to find high and low spots, THAT is the key to it.


Brian
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Old 12-22-2005, 06:28 AM
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Very cool Brian! When I made my first shrinking disc and started using it, I was so excited to be actually doing what I had wanted to do for so long...really grasping the balance between stretching, shrinking and smoothing of sheet metal... suddenly learning something pivotal that allows a leap of understanding. Like playing a musical instrument and struggling until something clicks and you take another big step.

Marking the panel with a magnum marker ( a Wray trick) is like using a guide coat in primer. You can also simply let the disc mark the panel to reveal low spots. The part that is at the proper surface level will be burnished, and the low spots will remain unmarked. Having your lighting set up to shine obliquely so you can see the surface details can help as well. But the way I most often do it is feel the panel while it is still wet from quenching...works for me.

John
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Old 12-22-2005, 06:53 AM
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MARTINSR,

Thanks for sharing your experiences / progress regarding metal finishing. You bring out the points that Randy has been stressing. Though I am not a body man, he has raised my awareness (and standards) of what can be done.

Gotta be tough hanging in there in a production body shop with the other guys snickering. Looks like it is paying off now.

Doug
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Old 12-22-2005, 07:02 AM
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Wow. Now you've got ME stoked to start on another body...just to see if I can do one without any filler. Thanks for the inspiration.

Dewey
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Old 12-22-2005, 07:03 AM
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Brian,
Make them buy THEIR OWN video!! Just because they laughed!

Wray is making another about welding in patch panels.
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Old 12-22-2005, 07:27 AM
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Congratulations, I am happy to see that this is working for you..

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Old 12-22-2005, 08:06 AM
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From a low time bodyman,- I have worked with sheetmetal for years and what we did had to look good but not to the level required to properly finish body panels so a while back I said I would try to finish the next body panel job I did to as close to perfect as I could. Now ,67 Mustang Q-panels(partial skins)-I managed to get one side to the point of finishing with Evercoat G2(and not a lot of that!) and I have to say I am really proud of what I managed to accomplish here, I would have never believed it just a year ago. I read everything I could find on this before I started, made myself a shrinking disk as described here and got a good hammer-dolly set then set to it determined to make it work. It took a long time to get it right,far too long, and the guy I was helping with this thing would not wait to do the other side but I think it would have been worth it. I already have a lot of respect for Randy and all the others who do this and I am determined to get this down to the point where it will not take so much time. I guess what I am trying to say is that it DOES WORK it just takes a lot of time the first time so don't give up, you CAN do it and it is worth it! Although I have only a small amount of filler in my 65 Mustang it really grips me to know that with just a little more effort I could have had NO filler and I can't wait to try it again.

It works!
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Old 12-22-2005, 08:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beenaway2long
Brian,
Make them buy THEIR OWN video!! Just because they laughed!

Wray is making another about welding in patch panels.
LOL, I have been saying for a long time to "Buy my book" when I turn around and they are watching me. They are so cynical, about everything. it pisses me off. I didn't start out this way, it has just built up inside, if you simply SUGGEST that they could do it better another way, you are a jerk for saying it.

I can see someone doing something interesting and walk up and tell them "I just learned something, that is great". I can (like yesterday) have one of them walk up and say "I know a better way,let me show you" and they save me work, I love it, and tell them so, "THANKS". But God forbid if I should walk up and tell them "I know a better way, let me show you", I am a bastard, know it all if I do that!

John, yeah, I was taught to look at the marks of the DA. Of course, along with a Vixen file. But I hardly use that anymore. No matter how careful you are you end up with a grove or two inadvertently cut into the metal with the files edge. I just can't believe how flat you can get something with the DAQ in grinder mode. I hate calling it a "DA" because I never use it as one. This old DAQ is NEVER used as a "DA" in the normal sense with it on orbital. I have a DynaBrade orbital for all feather edging and filler work. By the way, you can get filler damn flat using an orbital properly. This DAQ, is a "block" for my metal work. I was taught this 25 years ago and it works quite well. Using one half (actually a little less than half, about one third) of the disc works just like as if you were running a rubber block over the surface if used properly. My discs and blocks by the way are treated with the UPMOST respect and are NEVER set down on an angle. The orbital sanders like a ND 900 or my Dynabrade 6" are well ballanced and can be set down on the pad without any damage. But the DAQ if set down on the pad would propably result in a bent pad if left for any period of time. I ALWAYS set it on it's back with the pad/disc up in the air so it doesn't get damaged. My sanding blocks are the same way, always making sure they are set down so they are "Happy" and not getting a dent in them from laying on something.

So with a perfectly flat disc on the DAQ spun up as fast as it will go with NICE NEW, SHARP, QUALITY paper on it, it works just like a "block".


By the way John, I thought I would try this "shrinking disc" procedure with the DAQ and use 400 instead of the 120 thinking that the 120 IS cutting "some" and the 400 would simply create heat. But it just doesn't seem to do a darn thing. I switched back to the 120, wham, one shot I was there.

And by the way guys, I did this Ford without a sleeve. I didn't check the Ford guide lines on welding that post, they may have wanted me to put one there. I did however check the ICAR recommendations and they said sleeve the "A" and "B" pillars. This being the "C" and "D", I figured that was good to go. I do know that Toyota and Mercedes both DO NOT want you to use a sleeve. So, it isn't like it is an industry wide requirement to sleeve or not. As far as I am concerned the sleeve is a "CYA" thing with a LOT of it simply being easier to weld a butt with sleeve and the company feels most welds done this way will be strong. Personally, if it is welded, it is welded. If I weld it PROPERLY and don't grind the metal thin and get good penatration, it is WELDED. It is ONE piece just as before. But I respect the companies requests to do it a certain way, when I know them. In this case, as with the 8 other guys in the shop and 99% of the techs out there, we have been putting sleeves in EVERYTHING because ICAR says so (though they do have a disclaimer "refer to manufacturers recommendations"). SOOOOOOOO, every single Toyota or Mercedes that you sleeve is WRONG. Let's face it, if you do a good job and the panel doesn't fail in the future it is all a moot point. Toyota and Mercedes both have a concern for corrosion forming under that sleeve.

I am actually getting to feel a little guilty for not following the manufacturers recommendations on a number of other things like weld thru primers (some DO NOT want it used) and other things. Geeeeeeee, guys.....now you got me thinking. I have to go and see if I can get more of those recommendations so I CAN follow them.

Brian
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Old 12-22-2005, 08:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldred
I already have a lot of respect for Randy and all the others who do this and I am determined to get this down to the point where it will not take so much time.
Without a doubt it can be done just as fast in most cases. I did that "two hour" dent on the Honda in about a half an hour. For those who may not get the "two hour" part, it is refering to what the general autobody community would say it takes to do it. Sort of like the flat rate book does for swaping parts.

The little ones, I am doing in minute, just A minute or two, wham, done.

I did a bed side with some LARGE damage. I had to stop with the shrinking disc because of all the *****ing from the production manager. But even at that I used a FRACTION of the filler I would have. I KNOW I beat the time some of the other guys would have slinging filler, sanding it onto the floor, then slinging more, then sanding it to the floor then slinging more.......you get the idea.

Brian
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Old 12-22-2005, 09:00 AM
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I am sure doing dents would go a lot faster than working a weld and it would probably be a good idea to work some small dents and get the hang of it before tackling a large welded panel. In my case I seldom do body work other than welding panels for other people so I just jumped in on this one and learned as I went. I believe the next time will go a lot faster and I also believe that the only reason this is not done more often is because, as was in my case, most people have the wrong idea about it and think that it is an art that can be performed only by a talented few or, as I would have a few years ago, would laugh at the very idea of welding in and finishing a panel without using filler.

Last edited by oldred; 12-22-2005 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 12-22-2005, 11:36 AM
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I'm not a body man but where I work we stamp and assemble auto panels. The BMW panels that we do have to be near perfection. If the defect is very big it is just scrapped. We worked on small defects fixing them to perfection. We mainly used files, DA's, grinders, picks, small torches and sometimes a stud welder. The grinders (not da's converted to grind) really worked smooth. I'm not doing metalfinish there anymore but I would have loved using a shrinking disc on some of those fixes. I believe the time could have been cut way down. One other thing I haven't saw mentioned here is stones. Instead of using markers we used stones about 1/2" square and about 5" long to mark the high and low spots. They may work well on small fixes only. I intend on making me a shrinking disc and trying it out on my car that I am working on now. It is an art I would like to take beyond what I can do now.

Danny
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Old 12-22-2005, 02:30 PM
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Martin, I bet you find it MUCH faster now too. Once in the groove filler becomes one of those "oh *****" things. I also recieved much scoffing and juvinile jokes about metal finishing on the last big project. Well now that the car is straighter and "crisper" in appearence I secretly grin to myself. While bondo is a necessary(sp) evil it's not supposed to be an industry standard.

A big slice of raisin pie for you bro. Keep on it. Next you gotta get to some hammer welding. Picture it as single weld beads stacked one over the other, every 2nd to 3rd one hammered just enough to reverse the bead shrinking (you're stretching the weld) and abating warpage of the parent panels. Way easier with a helper but not impossible solo. Talk about a smooth metal repair. I did 5 good sized metal patches this way recently on a Shelby conv. The shop leader was scoffing about the filler needed because all he saw was weld. Once ground, all the metal repairs were "filled" in less than one hour requiring only a whisp of metal glaze on 2 out of 5.

Last thing...Nat'l Detroit makes an arbor that will turn your DA into a straight grinder. Last time I bought one (scary how long ago) it was like $12...today maybe $20. If you have a supplier willing to look it up I think it's still available. I got mine from a PPG store. It was real handy to put a 400 disc on and finish stainless with it.

I'm happy for you man Keep doin it
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Old 12-23-2005, 09:05 AM
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its funny how things work over your way , over here if you do any metal finishing you are respected a great deal and are classed as a good tradesman ,i do however notice some tradesman get the sh1t`s when you give them your ideas they seem to take it the wrong way thinking you are putting them down

maybe there **********ing at you because there gelous of what you can do and cant do it them selves
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Old 12-23-2005, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
maybe there **********ing at you because there gelous of what you can do and cant do it them selves
That is ALWAYS the case. I get joked at all the time by my friends about how long it takes for me to paint something but the funny thing is,


They always want ME to do THEIR work.


Brian,As always, THANKS for your advice and insite.

Mike.
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Old 12-23-2005, 10:07 AM
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Congratulations, on doing it Justly!

To all you guys who can b proud to be called craftsmen not bondomen,
I have absolutely no body work experience and have been an engine guy all my life, but I am ready to try, which is the tape or book by wray that you are talking about? I am going to pick this Christmas gift myself!!
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