Body Work

body

The first question I am asked is “was it a kit”? The second question “is it “fiberglass or steel”? The third question “what has been modified”? If that’s all you want to know, here are the answers. (No, Yes, Everything).

I wish it was a kit, that would have made everything a lot easier because someone else would have done all the engineering and testing in advance, No it is not a kit. Everything but the bonnet (one piece front end) is steel, the bonnet is fiberglass. There isn’t an inch of the body that hasn’t been modified, it has been widened, lengthened and lowered.

Rear

Starting at the back, the turn signal lights have been removed (the tail lights now do double duty). The rear bumpers have been removed. The rear pan and hanging gas tank have been replaced with a Jaz foam filled fuel cell and new sheet metal pan. The rear wheel wells have been cut and flared, the rear fenders have been winded, the fuel filler has been relocated with a custom unit from a Harley and all the seams have been welded and smoothed.

Undercarrage

100% of the chassis and sheet metal from the firewall forward has been replaced and is totally custom, new floor pans have been installed and a new transmission tunnel fabricated.

Front

The one-piece front end is hinged in the front by four-rod ends attached to the frame and secured in the back by quarter turn Dzus fasteners. a steel reinforced rectangular center section revels the blower. The turn signal lights have been removed, turn signal lamps integrated with the headlight now replace them. Steel is used to reinforce the entire band around the rear of the bonnet while adding 2 inches to the cars length and wheel base. Fender flares have been added to widen the front end and gas struts are used to slowly and completely raise and lower it.

Process

The process started with the removal of several layers of paint applied over a 40 year period. I removed the paint the old fashioned way with paint remover and a scraper followed by DA sanding. I removed all the old body filler because I didn’t know how old it was or the quality of the work and than straightened the sheet metal, again the old fashioned way with a hammer and dolly. New filler was added sparingly, actually, it didn’t need much.

Paint Tips and Tricks

In 2007 the car was painted by Geans Custom Paint in San Bruno California. 10 years earlier, I painted the car in my garage, and the following is based on my experience.

Have patients, body work goes slower than everything else. I can’t tell you the number of times A neighbor said “are you still sanding”?

Have you ever wondered why professionally built cars look so great compared to those built by a hobbyist? Well there are two primary reasons and neither of them have anything to do with applying the paint. It is all about the preparation before the paint is applied and the detail after the paint has been applied. To get that deep smooth finish, the body “must” be perfectly straight. How do we accomplish that? Assuming you have done neat bodywork, it is all about primer, and block sanding. Apply several coats of high quality primer (yes, paint quality counts) than block sand, do it again and again until the body is as straight as a sheet of glass. Between each process spray a mist of contrasting primer, this will allow you to see the low spots, your long board will not sand off the contrasting color and bingo…there is your low spot. In some areas, you may need to repeat this three or four times to get it right, don’t cheat, because I guarantee you will see every low or high spot after you have applied the paint.

Once every square inch of your body in primer is perfectly flat, you are ready for paint, I won’t get into paint techniques. There are books on the subject, but I can tell you that it is possible to achieve a high quality job in your garage without a spray booth. Once you have painted many coats of color and clear, are you done? Nooooo

Your paint job is going to have some orange peal, and will look more like a $99.95 job than a show finish when you are done painting. What you do next will make your job look like a show car. It is time to put sandpaper to it once more. You have applied enough clear (at least 4 coats) that you can sand without ever touching the sandpaper to the color coat. Starting with 1000 grit paper and working to 1500 you will wet sand until there is no orange peel. This is time consuming and a delicate process, be very careful on corners where the paint always is thinner and be on the look out for color, any time you see color being sanded stop in that area immediately, you have already gone to far. Once done with this phase your paint will have a semi gloss finish but look extremely smooth.

It is now time to give it that shine. Starting with polishing compound and an electric polisher carefully polish that semi gloss finish to a brilliant shinny finish. Polishing compound is very abrasive and can easily burn through the clear especially on edges, if you are not careful. I suggest polishing sharp edges by hand to avoid this. When you are done with this phase, your new paint job will have a deep shiny appearance but it is not protected yet. Based on the paint manufactures recommendations, you may have to wait a few weeks to apply wax for protection.

So there you go, it isn’t about how well you spray the paint on (although that is important) it is about what you do before and after that really makes the difference.



   © Copyright 2007. kenvoss.com Last update July 2009