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· Big Sky Builder
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Even though there are a couple of really good threads about body work, I thought it couldn't hurt to add one more, in case it gives a little different perspective. I'm already updating my build site pretty extensively, so this is just an excerpt of that. I hope this will be helpful to someone.

See also my post about my sanding/paint booth here.

The last several weeks have been a blur of activity, all surrounding the body work adventure. When I first thought about doing my own paint and body work, I was pretty scared about it, hearing all of the 100′s of hours required to do it and how difficult it was. Now that I’m neck deep (literally) in the process, however, I’ve found that it’s not any worse than any other part of the build, and actually just as enjoyable. I'm about 30 hours in at this point.

I didn’t find more than just a couple of spots where the gelcoat was deep enough into the seam to require that much come out. In general, I ended up grinding down the seems and taking 3/16-1/4″ deep from the level of the rest of the body.

The nice thing about the seams not being in bad shape is that it meant that I could skip a step that was necessary on previous bodies: applying HSRF to each one before doing to filler. I was a little nervous about skipping it, but after all of the horror stories with sanding HSRF, I was glad that I didn’t have to deal with it.

So, the next step was to begin filling the seams with Rage Gold. After reading other informative posts about doing body work, I used one of the tricks I found there, using a hacksaw blade to screed the body at the seams. The advantage is that you can pull the blade across the seam while bending it to the exact contour of the body. This makes for a surprisingly smooth sanding surface, rather than having to sand a very bumpy surface. I found that you can only really use this method on the tops of the fenders, but as this is a big part of the seams process, it’s a huge help.

It took 3 coats of filler to get the seams to a point where I was satisfied with them. I used my Dewalt palm sander (1/4 sheet size,) to do all of the sanding on the first two coats, which made it go pretty fast. I did the 3rd coat by hand, mostly with a small foam sanding pad. This coat left a few pin holes and low spots, so I'm currently working on touching up those areas. I've run out of Rage for now, so I have to wait for that to show up before continuing.

The other thing I’ve started on is getting the doors evened out with the body. I spent a few hours working on the door alignment, adjusting them to the point where they were in the “best fit” position. On both doors, the fitting at the cowl and at the bulkhead ends were the worst, and required a lot of building up. The end result is, of course, having the doors and the body line up perfectly all the way around. I’m on the first coat of filler on both doors.

One “tool” that really makes doing the filler easier is a “mixing pad.” It’s basically a clip board with a handle on the bottom, and a pad full of non-porous sheets (like wax paper) that tear off one at a time. You mix the filler a little at a time, then tear off to a clean sheet for the next set of filler. I found that even in my shop where it’s about 60 degrees or less, I could only do about a 4×4 inch by 1″ thick amount of filler before it started to set up. Once it sets up, you can’t spread it any more, it just doesn’t flow well enough.

I also found that you don’t have to be afraid of running out of hardener. I was worried about that as I mixed each batch, but when the can was empty, I still have quite a bit left over (probably 5+ batches worth.) I did make a mistake on one of my batches and didn’t get enough hardener. It’s not evident until you go to sand, at which point, the filler will ball up like crazy and gum up your sand paper. I was glad it wasn’t very much, I went through way too much paper, and it was a pain.

Another tool is a sand paper cleaning “stick.” You can get them on most wood working websites, and even amazon.

I’m finding that most of the body work is just easier to do with the body on the chassis, since a lot of what needs to be done centers around the door, hood, and trunk alignment. All of those parts are tied into the chassis, so you really have no choice but to leave it on. The pro painters have enough experience to not need this, but most builders don’t, including myself. The downside is it makes an absolute mess of the chassis, so I’ll have hours and hours of clean up work to do.

One other thing I’m working on is getting the “bend” of the hood corrected. It’s too flat where it meets the cowl area. So, I’m taking a page out of Scott’s book and using a ratcheting tie down to bend it. If it were summer, I’d leave it out in the sun, but I’m using a small space heater instead, which is far slower, but so far it’s working quite well.

Pics:











 

· 1st RFM/FFR Legacy Winner
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28,715 Posts
Kevin,
You are having way too much fun. I'm envious.

Greg
 

· Big Sky Builder
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2,619 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Kevin,
You are having way too much fun. I'm envious.

Greg
Well, if you really miss it, you're welcome to come up here and help. :001_tongue:
 

· 1st RFM/FFR Legacy Winner
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28,715 Posts
Well, if you really miss it, you're welcome to come up here and help. :001_tongue:
If you still haven't finished it before I retire in a few years you have a deal.

Greg
 

· Registered
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1,150 Posts
If that's a felt pen you are using to mark the filler I suggest you throw it away and use a lead pencil. If you don't get rid of all traces the ink may bleed through and be seen in the primer and possibly the top coat.
 

· Big Sky Builder
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2,619 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If that's a felt pen you are using to mark the filler I suggest you throw it away and use a lead pencil. If you don't get rid of all traces the ink may bleed through and be seen in the primer and possibly the top coat.
Thanks man, didn't even think of that. It's written in the dust, and I'm covering it all with filler, that's what I'm marking, but I'll take your advice, sand it off and switch to pencil. Good tip!
 

· Big Sky Builder
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2,619 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
After Months of Sanding and Filling...

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done an update, mainly because there really hasn’t been a lot of activity in the build. Over the last several months, I’ve started a new business, a detailing company, so things have been pretty busy for me, leaving far less time to work on the car.

But, in the last few weeks, I’ve found the bug and the time to get back to the car and get busy on the body work.

Rather than chronicle what I’ve been doing week by week or month by month, it’s probably better to just highlight some stuff and bring things up to speed for where the car sits right now.

Current Status:


As of today, the body is back on the chassis, doors, trunk, and hood are hung, and I’m doing the final fitting and filling to get all of the gaps correct, lines aligned, and panels smooth. I have some more work to do on the rolled cockpit edges, and the rolled door edges, specifically where the doors meet the bulkhead and the dash. The rest of the body is sanded to a point where a small skim coat should get us ready to shoot featherfill and block sand before primer. The doors and trunk are probably the parts that need the most work.

Hidden Body Mounts:

I went back and forth on my hidden body mount systems, and in the end, I think I have basically abandoned all of my hidden body mount plans. I made side and rear hidden body mounts and bonded them to the body using the standard HSRF. This turns out to be a pretty epic fail as all of the side mounts and 2 of the rear mounts literally popped off when we put the body on. After closer inspection, it turns out that it was more of a procedural issue than a materials one. I think if I were to redo it, I would drill through the body on all of them with a few rivets to hold them in place by going from the inside of the body to the outside, then trimming the back end of the rivet and filling over the holes. I’d probably also throw some fiberglass on top of it for extra security.

That all being said, I am now only going to do side hidden body mounts. I’m going to either go back to Quick Jacks in the rear, or possibly button heads.

Hood Vents and Rivet on Hood Scoop and Extension:


These hood vents are a lot of work, no doubt about it. I essentially cut 2 huge holes in my hood, and I’m trying to make it look like the vents are supposed to be there. Not surprisingly, that’s not easy, and requires some creativity and sculpting with body filler. So far, it’s going well, and with a little more loving care, the hood will look awesome, and unique as there aren’t a lot of cars running these.

Trunk Lid with Hidden Hinges:


I love the Breeze hidden trunk hinges! As with the hood vents, to make them work, it requires some sculpting so they all look right. I really like how they turned out, and they look like they came that way. I need to do a little more tweaking to get the gaps correct, but it looks great!

Photos:






 

· Plodding Along
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2,976 Posts
Kevin,

Very nice work and lots of details... I love the hood vents! Keep us posted on your progress, too.
 

· Big Sky Builder
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2,619 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Kevin,

Very nice work and lots of details... I love the hood vents! Keep us posted on your progress, too.
Thanks Chris! Working on my doors tonight, and it went very well, I'm stoked about how the rolled edges met up.

The vents will look great. In all honesty, they are a huge pain, the underside especially, just because there was no easy line to pick from, so I have to make my own. Almost there, but had to take a break on those, they were giving me ulcers. ;->

Following your progress too!
 

· Registered
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Nice work. The hood vents will be a nice custom touch. Every time I read a pre MK4 bodywork thread I realize how spoiled I am.

Keep the posts/pics coming.

-Steve
 

· Big Sky Builder
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2,619 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A quick update on my progress. These doors have been an absolute pain. The profiles were completely off, and then thanks to me overtrimming the door edges, and then doing the rolled edges, it was a trifecta of difficult body work.

BUT...I'm finally done with them, at least until slick sand. On an MK3.1, you're basically doing sculpture, as I've said before, so lots of rage gold build up, fiberglass work, and sanding, and then sculpting all of the profiles.

I still need to take the body back off, and at that time, I'll build up the rolled edges a bit more where the door and dash meet. There's probably an 1/8" difference in thickness, and I'd like that to match. So, I'll have to do a gradual build out into the door.

On my rolled edges where the doors and dash meet, I was a little concerned with the strength, despite my best effort to break them off with a mallet (testing to see how they were), so I ended up adding a layer of glass in there to give it a little more rigidity. From others that have done it, it seems like it'll last pretty well.

I ended up buying some of the cheap harbor freight car dollies, and they work very well, considering the price. It's still a 2200lb car, but easier to move it around the the shop now.

Photos:








 

· Big Sky Builder
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2,619 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It has been a pretty fruitful last week. The body is now back off the chassis, and upside down on my body buck. That will allow me to get to the underside in order to clean up the wheel well lips, add the hidden body mounts, and get the side louver mounts in. I will eventually also do the undercoating (rhino liner), but the plan is to wait for that until after I shoot slick sand and get it ready for primer.

Final Body Seams, etc.:

I finally have all of my seams, the nose, and the trunk lid ready for slick sand. There were some high places and bumps here and there that I was able to remove with some Rage to that everything glides right into everything else, no huge high spots, etc. The nose and trunk lids both had big high spots, but after 4-5 times with a little fill and sand, they are gone. I'm sure I'll find some highs and lows after slick sand, but that's not a big deal, and easy to rectify. I'm really happy with how everything is coming out.

The last things on the body are the rolled cockpit edges, just cleaning them up and building a bit where the dash and doors meet, as well as the hood, especially the vents. When I cut the hood up (for the vents and scoop), then bonded the scoop extension and vents in, it created a bit more wave in the hood, so I ended up doing a skim coat over the entire top side. Some major hand/finger sanding is in store for the vents, but the rest is coming along quite well and should sand perfectly.











Hidden Side Mounts:

I put in another post that I was NOT doing any hidden mounts. I lied. I just don't like the side mount bolts. I am going back to the rear Quick Jacks instead of hidden mounts, but came up with a way to do the side mounts that I think will be easier and less likely to break. When I did my mounts as just L brackets of aluminum, as soon as I put the body on, I literally broke ALL 4 of them off. Not good. So, I needed a way to keep the mounts out of the way (I have extended footboxes on both sides, so this is key.)

I decided what I needed as a hinge, so I found some smallish V shaped hinges to use. That will allow 100% clearance, but will then allow me to attach them to the frame with a lot of flexibility. I need to bend them into shape once I put the body back on, but that won't be a big deal.

I've come to the conclusion that HSRF sucks for bonding metal to the body. I know a lot of folks have done it, but every time I do, it fails. So, for the hinges, I wanted something better. I actually drilled and riveted the hinges to the body, then covered them with fiberglass to hold them in. I'll sand out and fill the outer body side, and it'll be invisible. I had to fill the holes again anyway, so that won't be a big deal.

At first glance, the hinges look a little hokey, but after they are painted body color and in place, you won't even see them. I mounted them in such a way that the hinge itself is hidden behind the body. Plus, the sidepipes obscure the view anyway. With any luck, the plan will work. I plan on getting everything remounted, then I'll drill and tap bolts into the 2x2 frame under the car.



Side Louvers:

I'm using the sweet Finishline side louvers. I have no doubt that I'll have to take them out at some point, so I need a mounting system that would allow me to do that. I grabbed 2 fence-post L brackets I had laying around, cut them to size, and drilled the holes in the louvers. I'm using M4 screws, which should be more than adequate. After figuring out where I wanted them, I tried again using HSRF (see above, this failed) to put the mounts in. I decided to use some 3M adhesive instead, this is the stuff Greg_M suggested I use to hold my vinyl to the tranny tunnel, and I figured it would work for this purpose too. It DID NOT. So, I went back and added fiberglass, which I should have just done in the first place. The way it needs to be done is HRSF to hold it in place and give it the base, then glass over the top of it. These louvers don't need a lot of hold strength, so once the glass cures, it'll work as I had hoped the other methods.









Next up...hood vents, final hood sanding, drilling out my hidden trunk hinges for a bit more side to side adjustment, and filling in the well lips (waiting for Amazon to send me more Rage.)
 

· Plodding Along
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Looking good man... I can't wait until I get that far along - you gotta be having visions of a painter car soon!
 

· Big Sky Builder
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Looking good man... I can't wait until I get that far along - you gotta be having visions of a painter car soon!
I can't wait to even shoot slick sand so it's all one color again! It's a strange process, every time I think I'm just about there, I remember a bunch of stuff I still need to do.

My shop is all heated, and I already built my temporary booth, so I might end up shooting color this Fall. I'm going to pick up a second car (a minor burn victim) that will need some body work and paint this weekend. I may end up shooting both of them close so I can use the setup without having to take it down...
 
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