Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 11:12:12 -0500
From: Mark Litherland <email@example.com>
Subject: bodywork questions
It's time to begin prepping my car for paint. I'll be doing this in stages since, quite frankly, it's easier to afford that way and I want to get some things ironed out ahead of time. First off, does anyone have a recommendation for a good body shop in Atlanta, one familiar with 928s?
I'll need them to do a couple things first. I have a fair-sized dent in the front left fender that needs to be straightened. It looks like a former owner swiped something since the paint is scraped and the dent has a horizontal crease. The crease is 8-10" long with the dent ~ 6" high, looks like it's been pushed in about 1". Is that cheaper to repair or should I just replace it with a good fender?
I also want to remove the door guards. I know this is a pain but I really prefer the look without them and if I'm going to the trouble to paint, then I want them off and the holes repaired.
I don't mind driving a car around with primer spots since my car is already several different colors. Any idea how much those two jobs should cost? This is without finish paint, just repair work and primer. If I get those two things done I can get the rest of the body prep done myself.
Dave? Bueller? Anyone?
The front fender is aluminum (actually I think it is an alloy). Some shops
will not want to straighten aluminum parts - mainly because they do not know
what they are doing. You should be able to repair the fender without too
much trouble, but you are probably going to have to use a little heat.
Unless you do body work on a regular basis you might be better off leaving this one to a professional.
The fenders come of pretty easily. There are the bolts you can see along
the top inside the engine well, a couple on the bottom front and three
buried in undercoating up under the fender behind the cruise control unit.
I have found a wire brush on an electric drill the best way to clean these ones off so a wrench will fit. There is one bolt in the middle top part of the fender by the cross brace that is different from the rest. Put that one aside for reassembly. There is some glue under the top part of the fender by the windshield that will give way with a little force. You will also have to disconnect the fender from the bumper cover - there are some small 8 MM nuts that hold the cover to the fender. These are best removed using an 8 MM deep quarter drive socket with some very long extensions. Taking off the headlight bucket - just the bucket - will give you better access to the bumper cover nuts.
The entire front sheet metal can be removed from the car in a couple of hours. There is no reason you could not have the metal painted off the car and reassemble it later.
Now it depends if you plan on keeping the car or selling it. If you want a
job that will last a long time the best thing to do is have the car
stripped. There are firms that do media blasting and can remove the paint
for very little money. Some on the list will suggest this is a bad idea
since the body is galvanized. However the media used for stripping plastic,
aluminum and galvanized steel is soft and will not damage the parts. You
just have to find a company that does plastic media blasting. The place I
use is American Stripping in Sacramento, CA. For under $1000 you can have
the entire car masked, stripped and primed. Stripping the car will reduce
the cost of prep by the cost of the stripping so it is really a free step.
The only danger is you might uncover previous body work, but that is easy to take care of if the metal work was done right and the filler was not put on over paint. If the older body work was done over paint then you will never be able to seal it well enough to eliminate see through repairs and over time the new paint job will start to look bad.
At minimum I would remove the bumper covers and have them stripped. It is very difficult to keep a second of third coat of paint on the covers fromcracking at even the slightest bump. Stripping the old paint also insures you will not get paint reactions either while painting the car or later after it has been in the sun for a while. On the covers be sure to use flexible primer - I use SEM plastic primer and add flex agent to the paint. Many places will not add flex agent to the final coat - I think this is a mistake.
The trim on most of the car is easy to remove except the trim around the
door windows. I have been able to get the trim off before and put it back
on, but it never really looks right. My preference is to mask the door
window trim. The trim around the windshield is a bit tricky to get off too,
so it is also a candidate for masking, unless you plan on replacing the
windshield. The windshield trim if stock is not so bad to remove if you
follow the directions, but too often people before you have glued the trim
on. Thus when you remove it the trim gets destroyed. The trim around the rear hatch window comes off easily and is held on with clips and small screws in the inside of the hatch. The rear spoiler is easy to remove and the quarter windows should be removed and resealed both with the gasket to the body and gasket to the glass. This is a common place for rust to develop.
SEM makes a great trim paint. The OEM Black is the best match. The trim does not have to be primed and a mild touch up with some wet or dry will get a nice surface to paint.
As far as the holes for the door guards these can either be welded at the
body shop or you can use Alumina Weld. Someone here suggested fiberglass,
but I would stay away from that solution. The 928 already contains enough
dissimilar materials so introducing another one is a potential source of
future problems. The pattern of fiber class can find its way on up through
a paint job if it not properly prepped. Welding can be a problem if it is done with contaminants in the area of the weld. Another reason to have the paint stripped. Often body shops will hire professional welders for this kind of work. The welded spots on the body should be primed with a metal etch and some spray cold galvanizing. The back part of the weld should also
be treated with primer and then coated with an under coat. I use a German band that matches the original - UPOL.
The best paint I have found is the Dupont Croma system. For solid colors use the single stage for metallics use the two stage with the clear. With the two stage be sure the paint shop lays on a flat coat of the color before they clear coat it. I would insist on an inspection of the base coat before the clear is done. This way they can fix up any imperfections in the base coat before applying the clear. Often the shop will want to sand and buff out the final coat. For the best in longevity color sanding and buffing should not be done immediately. It is something you can do to get a mirror shine on the car yourself. Groit's Garage sells a great buffer and polishing compounds that can help get a premium job.
Most of the materials can be found at body shop supply houses. Hope this helps.
Dan the Pod Guy