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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I thought I'd post my first try at leading since there are often inquiries about filling small holes etc.

I bought body solder, tallow, tinning butter and a paddle. After cleaning and sanding a my sheet metal that had a patch panel recently welded in, I put a light coating of tinning butter on and heated the area gently with a regular propane torch. Not a lot of heat is required. The tinning butter eventually melts and fuzes a tin coating to the metal. A quick wipe with a clean rag improves the tin finish and wipes away any residue. Simply reheating the metal and applying a rod of body solder gave me excellent results. Super adheasion. After building the area up I ground it flush and level with a body sander.

The 2 skills you'll have to master are proper cleaning and tinning and working against gravity. Areas that cannot be cleaned and/or tinned will not accept solder, although you can possibly bridge the area if it is small. To deal with gravity, if it's a vertical surface, do not over heat the solder. Heat it to a "slush" consistancy and move it with the paddle just licking the area with heat from time to time. Too hot and it will simply run off.

There are very few things that I've been 100% pleased with the results the first time I tried it. This is the exception. Other than the solder being a slightly different shade of gray, you can't see the repair. A skill anyone can learn.

Keith
 

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Great job!!!
Most bodymen today don't have a clue as this is a lost art.

On a vertical surface what I will do is apply a blob about the size of a quarter in two or three places, than it is easy to control the flow with heat and move with a paddle. With lead, whatever works best for you. And stay with a 70/30 grade of lead if you can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Barry,

A technique I also used was to first deposit body solder(70/30)
OVER the section I wanted to fill, knowing that gravity will drop it a bit. Then after I have enough "stuff" stored above the section I want to fill, I re-heat it and drag it down with the paddle(coated with tallow).

Weather co-operating, I'll try to push my cab/chassis out of the garage where I can take a picture. I already have "before" photos. Maybe we can do a before and after.

The point here is not my success/luck with doing this for the first time. The point I'm really trying to make is practically anyone can learn this if they follow the steps. Like many othere things;
It's the prep! Have patience in the prep stage...and the actual "leading" will be relatively eazy.

Keith
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Adtkart

I can only speak for myself. Yes I'm reasonably well read on the hazards. Nothing to take lightly.

There are many products and procedures that are potentially hazardous to your health related to autobody work. Dust, chemicals, solvents, isocyanides,,,,etc. If you want to take the absolute safest route: Don't get involved with autobody. My personal outlook on the subject is don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Read, learn, respect the hazards and act responsibly for your own good. You can do autobody work safely.
Thanks for the reminder.

Keith
 

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Slickriffs,


Slickriffs said:
A quick wipe with a clean rag improves the tin finish and wipes away any residue. Simply reheating the metal and applying a rod of body solder gave me excellent results. Super adheasion. After building the area up I ground it flush and level with a body sander.
Two points you make here trouble me just a little. I have done quite a bit of lead work rebuilding my '36 and I always carefully wash down any tinning butter work with a solution of baking soda and water, then flush with plenty of clear water in order to neutralize any acidity which can cause you grief after painting, maybe you do this and just left this step out of your post.
Also, it is usually not recommended that lead be ground or sanded. Not a good idea to have lead particulates floating around the shop. Generally, lead should only be worked with lead files.
 

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I've been wanting to learn lead work since I saw the old man working on the Tequila Sunrise car on Monster Garage.

When I was working on the driprails on my car, I ran into some lead with my mig welder. It looked like a cool green color through the mask. I also sanded some of it flat with a DA sander. I think it's original lead to smooth the body panels between the windshield frame and the sides of the car because it looks the same on both sides. Any ideas what I should do to fix this spot?





-Shane
www.RustToRod.com
 

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Rustorod,

I had similar rusted out places on my car. I would not try to fix anything like in your photos with lead without first grinding away the rusted out area till I hit good solid material. Then fabricate a patch panel and (flush) weld it in place. Grind away any high welds. Then go to work with the lead.

BTW, for anyone interested in working with lead, one of the area's I cleaned up very nicely with lead on my car was the door seams. When I first mounted the doors and aligned the rear seam nice and straight with the proper gap, the front seams didn't look good at all... waayyy to wide at the bottom. I worked out a procedure using lead to get the front seams nearly perfect.
Be happy to share how I did it if anyone is interested...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
36

Just rough fitted california doors on my 55 chevy truck. They will be on and off many times in the coming year but I can tell the rear gap is inconsistant. I've been thinking that body solder is the way to go..figured I'd make a .180 gage(factory door gap ) and work from that.

So...ya I'm interested in how you went about it..

Thanks,

Keith
 

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Keith,

I just went out and took the 3 following pics...

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/bikeopellidave/album?.dir=/2d89&.src=ph

(1) The required tools, a flat lead file, a coupla old grinding pads with 3 sides cut flat, a paddle, and a short piece of aluminum angle with drilled ears on each end.
(2) Close up of aluminum angle.
(3) Aluminum angle sorta-kinda in place. (Doors are off for the moment (LOL at your comment, Gawd, I think my doors have been off/on a thousand times in the last five years.)

Anyway, to begin with I mounted a door and aligned the rear seam (sounds like you are going to align the front one and fix the rear). Then I scribed a line (about) where I wanted to build up the front seam. Removed the door and leaded up the inside of the seam. Didn't worry about getting it perfect here, just close.
Remounted the door. Noted areas that are too high. Removed the door. Filed down high areas. Remounted the door. When there were no more particularly high areas, I mounted the door, and starting at the top I inserted the angle into the seam and held it in place by attaching a bungee to each ear and 'something else' aft of there, effectively wedging it in place. Fired up the torch and using those 'vertical lead' skills, began build up the outside corner by stuffing lead into the gap and of course. building it up a little higher than the vertical surface. Once that process was complete from top to bottom, I used the lead file to true up the (vertical surface) lead. Now I used those cut up grinding pads to clean up the gap by inserting one into the gap and carefully truing up the lead. Then I removed the door and carefully dialed the appropriate radius into the outside corner with the lead file. OK, I admit it, I did some sanding here too!
When all that was completed I used a small soft wire wheel on the end of a hand drill to clean up the lead, and used bondo to fill in any imperfections. I used this same basic procedure to get the rumble seat (trunk) seam true also, but it was a little easier since it was not a vertical repair.

Hope this helps,

Dave
 

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Before I came over here to do a search in the forums on 'body solder' I did a search in Google and I found this article on using it:

http://www.carcraft.com/howto/3065/

Anyway, just thought I'd share the info..

They also have a good tip about using aluminum body tape behind holes to keep it from running out the back side - at least it makes sense to me - I've never done any body soldering before myself.

Anyway, more info. is a good thing, right?

-W
 

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I got a lead question. Why do the original lead seams on old cars like tri year chevs(55 56 57) always bust out with bubbling paint if the lead is not removed? Is this because of the flux used in old time lead work? And also you guys using lead does the new lead require flux?
 

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BodymanDave,
I can only guess at the answer to your first question but I can give you the specific answer to your second one.

That old lead itself in the tri-5 Chevys you ask about is not the problem. Its more likely that some of the lead has separated from the body and chemicals or moisture is trapped between them. I found on my '36 that in some cases the lead/steel bond looked OK but if I started getting into the lead I could see rust underneath. I removed almost all the old lead and applied new.

On your question about 'flux'... you don't want to think of it that way. What is generally used is a product called 'tinning butter'. I got mine from Eastwood. If you get their 'starter kit' you will receive everything you need including a pretty good 'how to' video. Basically, you get the metal nice and bright, paint the tinning butter (zinc, tin, & lead) on, then get it nice and toasty (I use a propane torch, one with a flex line going to a pistol grip with a lighter). Once the butter has adhered to the metal you let it cool, then wash with a solution of baking soda and water, then rinse with water. The metal should be completely coated. Then you can apply lead all day long using no other product.
 

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36cc,

With the tinning butter - once yous tart heating it, how do you know it has adhered? Then you wipe it off? Then rinse with baking soda + water solution ?

I've read about washing the lead with baking soda and water, then water... but how much baking soda in how much water?

then heat and lead?

Thanks.

-W
 

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Woogeroo,

Like any other process you want to learn how to do, be sure and practice on some scrap before you attempt the real thing.
Both tin and lead melt around 450 degrees Fahrenheit so you need nothing more than a soft flame. The tinning butter is a grey paste. You just 'paint' it on the prepared surface, then apply the heat. The solids will melt onto the surface and spread out, pretty much like flux core solder will do when you solder a wire. Sometimes you may have a trouble spot and it may require you to kind of 'scrub' the area with your brush until it is covered. You will find that flux will turn a kind of root beer brown when properly heated. Too little heat, nothing happens, too much and the butter will not adhere.

None of this is an exact science, including mixing of the baking soda and water... use too much baking soda and it simply wont suspend in the water. I usually apply it with a scrub pad as often times a small percentage of the left over flux can be a little stubborn. You will know its doing its work as when it comes in contact with the flux it kinda boils and bubbles.

After you dry it off, it will have a dull grey, slightly rough finish, and yes, at this point you just apply the lead.
Of course, applying the lead is almost an art form in itself, particularly once the surface is not horizontal, as the lead will flow almost like water when heated to its melting point. This is why body lead is 70/30. (The stuff you may find at your local hardware store is usually 50/50 or 60/40) I actually use the hardware stuff sometimes, if I am doing horizontal work, or if I can move the part so the area I am actually working can be made to be horizontal. 70/30 simply gives you more time (measured in parts of seconds) to work the lead after it has been heated up to the consistency of soft butter (the kind you put on bread) with a wooden paddle coated with tallow. The window to work the lead is pretty small... too cool, its hard, too hot, its like water.

Always apply more lead than you actually need, just like you do with bondo, then work it down. Because you don't want lead dust floating around your shop you should always use a lead file, and not sand, or grind lead.
 
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