Menu

Shop

Garage

Cart

Account

Products to Compare (max of 3)
X
Compare These Parts

Learn How To Do Classic Car Body Work - Restoration

9/14/2016

A lot of times, we prefer to do our own work on our classics. Not out of a deep-seated distrust of our body guys, but more of a reflection of the fact that we want to be able to say, “I did that.” With that in mind, I went back in time a few years(or so) to when I was a young pup working in a body shop. Now I get to share with you a few tips and tricks I learned from the old hats that had spent so much time behind a sanding block they had their own layers of filler.

Dents: Set up a light to reflect down the body panel you want to check. The light will help to identify dings and dents. Your hands will also work well for this. Go slow, close your eyes and your hands will feel most small dents before you can see them. Pick up a set of hammers and dollies, like this Performance Tool set that Speedway Motors offers. These are a must for every beginner, as well as the experienced body workers. Don’t get worried if you get a little overzealous with the sandpaper either, remember; you’ll be painting the area anyway. Watch how much filler you put on also, you’ll never want more than 1/8 inch of filler on a repair.

Guide Coats: These are absolutely the cat’s meow. The two main styles of guide coats are a powder and just a standard light mist coat of paint. Guide coats work by depositing a thin layer of either dust or paint across the surface of the primer. Essentially what they do is help you identify low spots as you sand down to a smooth, even, primer coat. This makes a perfect paint job come that much closer. I used guide coats in conjunction with wet sanding, as the constant flow of water kept the panel clean, and kept my paper from piling up with sanding residue. Most powder guide coats are waterproof, and well, so is the mist coat of paint.

Sanding: Simple. Never, ever, ever, use a bare hand to sand. Always use a sanding block, sponge, or something to support your sandpaper. Sanding with a bare hand will create shallow groves from your fingers pressing harder than your palm. Let’s face it, no hand is flat. A sanding block will ensure that your job goes smoothly (pun intended). Also, a light touch is all that is needed. The sandpaper will do the job without your full weight behind it.

Straight Edge: Great tool to have on hand when you are roughing in some body work with a dolly and hammer. I have found that a 2 foot strip of steel or aluminum with a straight edge is the favored tool in my garage. When you are working down a wide dent, the straight edge allows you to spot lows easily. Hint: run some masking tape the length of the edge to protect against scratches in the paint outside the working area.

DIY Welding Clamp: Also known as a sheet metal screw. You won’t believe it until you try it, but this is the best tool I have found for panel replacement. Get your panel in place, drill a pilot hole and run a screw through. It will hold the panels in place while you weld them in, and once you are done a small spot weld is all that is needed to fill that hole in.

Buffing/Polishing trim: Use some spare pieces of wood to hold the small trim pieces. You can use the factory mount holes and screw the trim to the wood. Gives you a big handle to hold on to, and helps combat the potential warping due to the heat generating by buffing/polishing.

Remember: There is no substitute for real experience. However, $20 for a dinged up fender from your local salvage yard and some patience will go a long way towards getting you comfortable. Speedway Motors also offers several books that are a fantastic resource for the beginner, as well as the expert.

Products Featured in this Article

Related Articles

Micro Sprint Billet Wing Actuator Adapter
by Alex Owen - Posted in Tech
2/13/2018
The benefits of the Micro Sprint Billet Wing Actuator Adapter and how to install it on your car.
Speedway Tech Talk - MD3 Modified Aero Valance Kit & Rocker Panels
1/23/2017
Expert techs Austin and Pat talk about some of the race car body parts we have to offer and the aerodynamic benefits they can add to your modified.
Suicide Doors on '41 GMC
by John Wulbern - Posted in Tech
11/2/2016
In this Tech Tip, John talks about what can be expected when converting to suicide doors.
How To Replace Door Hinge Pins and Bushings
by Steve Lewis - Posted in Tech
10/21/2016
Learn how to replace the hinges on your vehicle. Follow along as our expert replaces the hinge pins and bushings on his 1976 Chevrolet Laguna S3 with a kit.
T-Bucket Windshield Tips
by Speedway Tech Team - Posted in Tech
6/20/2017
This article can help you assemble your T bucket windshield with less hassle.
Trunk Latches and Door Handles on a 1932 Ford
by John Wulbern - Posted in Tech
3/7/2017
In this Tech Tip, a customer asked about a discreet style trunk latch for his 1932 Ford.
Speedway Tech Talk - Model A Roadster Windshield Post Options
by Tim Matthews - Posted in Videos
1/31/2017
Part 1 of Model A roadster windshield parts. Learn how we created posts from Tim's own roadster.
Speedway Tech Talk - '32 Ford Grille Shell & Insert Options
by Tim Matthews - Posted in Videos
10/4/2016
Tim talks about the grille shells & inserts we have to offer.
Novelty Plaque Mount Bracket
by Jeff Karls - Posted in Tech
2/12/2018
How to make a plaque mount bracket and mount an aluminum novelty plaque on a '46 Ford Sedan.
Speedway Tech Talk - Keeping it Classy with Motor Meters
by Pat Orth - Posted in Tech
8/16/2017
Speedway Motors employee Pat joins us once again. This time Pat is talking to the Model A and Model T owners, specifically in regards to Moto-Meters and accessories.
Error
X
Note
X
Ok