One of the most costly aspects of building your dream hot rod is going to be the body and paint portion. Each year, thousands of guys jump head first into sheetmetal work because they don’t want to be held hostage by the high price of body restoration. For a lot of guys, bodywork marks the final adventure in the DIY frontier, and with a company like Eastwood, regular guys can afford to get more involved both to save money and to have fun.
Older cars like our 1968 Chevy Nova project car have a nasty habit of picking up dozens or even hundreds of dents in their lifetime. These can range from improperly repaired collisions, to simple shopping cart dings. If your aim is to restore your ride to like-new condition (or better), you’ll have to address these dents well before body filler, primer, or paint gets near those flanks. In the past few issues, we’ve shown you how to replace a doorskin that was beyond repair, we’ve illustrated the proper technique for making small patch panels to fix rust areas, and we’ve even taken on the monumental task of replacing an entire quarter-panel. All those are useful skills, but perhaps the most common (and easy) sheemetal job you’ll run into is repairing the common small dent.
We’re going to concentrate...
We’re going to concentrate on removing this single dent just above the fender lip on the driver-side quarter-panel. At a leisurely pace, total time spent on something like this will be between one and two hours.
While you may be tempted to just mud over those many door dings, lay on the filler primer thick, and blast everything flat with a D/A sander, bitter disappointment will overwhelm you as you put the final buff on the clearcoat. Your pride and joy will have enough waves on its surface to make you seasick. To avoid this, it’s imperative that you make the right moves at the right time during the restoration process.
During the course of our Nova’s restoration at Outlaw Motorsports in Riverside, California, we’ve documented those moves for you with the help of Outlaw’s proprietor, Ron Aschtgen. This month, we’ll explore the use of a stud welder and slide hammer kit from Eastwood, as well as a seven-piece hammer and dolly set, also from Eastwood. Tools like these are absolutely essential for a proper resto, and together are used for the lion’s share of metalworking tasks in any ground-up body and paint project.
Prior to starting, Outlaw...
Prior to starting, Outlaw Motorsports removed all the paint, much of it with a grinder. This was done to get a true picture of what shape the underlying metal was in. Throughout the Nova, we found many dents and dings that had been mudded over and needed fixing. This dent was too deep for hammer and dolly work alone, so it was prepped for the spot welder with a grinder and a 36-grit abrasive disc.
So how’d it all turn out? After seeing the Nova’s body undergo a transformation over the last several months, the curiosity has got to be killing you. As this is written, we are putting the final touches on our Eastwood paintjob, and let us tell you this: All the hard work of leveling the body has resulted in a perfectly flat, wave-free finish. This proves that using the right tools and techniques does pay off, and at a fraction of the cost of having a body shop hold your car hostage!
Check out the Eastwood Uni-Spotter Deluxe 9000 kit in action at Outlaw Motorsports! We shot and edited a very cool video showing the Eastwood stud welder, slide hammer, and grinder being used on Project Nova. Just go to www.PopularHotRodding.com and click on the “More Videos” section!