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Hi,

I had a '76 El Camino that needed a decent amount of body work, but I didn't know how to do anything and ended up getting rid of it for a newer sebring. Man I wish I would've kept it though, now I have a '81 that is starting to show some rust. Now, I know pretty much more about cars then before, but hardly anything about body work, and I definately want to hang onto this one I don't see finding a different one any time soo. From what I've picked up, you have to cut away the rust and either use bondo or sheet metal to fill the holes. Now my question is, what do you use to cut away the rust? Then once I get rid of the rust, how much bondo should be used? I definately don't have enough money to take it to a shop, so it's gotta be me. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I'm sorry if I'm asking redundant questions. :cool:

Jon
 

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The best method is to removed the affected spots and re-weld in a panel. Smooth it to surface so that the welds are not going to be great big lumps, generally with an offset grinder. Keep in mind that stressed steel has a tendency to warp when heated too much. So be careful with the length of time you grind on the welds.

Once it is smoothed down, sand the complete area (180 Grit) and apply a sealer primer, self etching is good here. Then after that dries, sand again lightly with 180 but don't cut down to the metal surface this time you just want a rough surface not so much smooth. apply your Bondo and work the area as smooth as possible. Keep in mind you apply Bondo in small amounts and don't build up any more than you actually need to make the contours and surfaces you need. This will be the rough "Draft" lets call it.

Work the contours with a body rasp to remove the peaks and roughly shape the surface, again be careful not to cut in so far you go to the metal surface. Once you have a rough contour that you are moderately satisfied with, using a body file and 180 fine tune the contours and surfaces so that they are flat as possible. Use the edge ( hold file at ~30 degrees) don't expect the body file to be flat enough across the flat surface to not leave wavy. Also use a criss cross motion when using the body file.

Once you've got the surface where you think it is flat and at the correct contours apply Sandable Primer. Let dry and check your work. If it looks goofy or un even the do more sanding or fill in the necessary low spots with more Bondo, thin layers now and a good clean spatula. Once you've done that and everything is to your satisfaction primer again and you're ready to paint.

No Primer is not a barrier for moisture. Meaning if you get the truck in bad weather or wash it and all that before you paint it then you could really mess up the work you've just done. Bondo will absorb moisture and hold on to it. It will swell and shrink. Some Automotive finishes require that the primer be as fresh as 24 hrs or less when you start painting.

I hope this helped
 

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Oh yeah.

Wear a respirator! Do the work in a ventilated area and don't work in direct sunlight. Besides being generally bad for you, it causes the reaction time and flash times to change and the bondo will set too quickly.

Read the instruction on the can of filler. There is a product called Ultra Smooth. It is a fine body filler for covering any tiny air holes that get into the filler as you work it. You can avoid this by only mixing small amounts of bondo at a time, keeping the spatula clean and free of debris, using even firm pressure across the surface keeping the spatula at about 30 to 40 degree angle. Once the filler starts to set quit working and remove any left on the spatula.
Keep the mixing pad clean also, cleaning in-between mixing amounts. Its Epoxy so don't get any of the hardener in the filler can. It will be a rock in no time. I mean any.

Use the Ultra Smooth as a final finished surface if you need to cover minor surface holes and flaws. It lays down really smooth and fine like a fine chalk dust.

Body work is a learned skill. It takes time and effort. For flat surfaces you can lay a large straight edge down to check your surface. Like a large framing square. For contours that are tricky, you can go to the other side and make a pattern out of cardboard. Then when you think you've got the contour correct you can use the cardboard mold to check.

Once you lay down the paint, the truth comes out. If it is wavy, lumpy or still dinged then man that stands out like a sore pecker at an orgy. :cry:
 
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