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1955 Chevy 210 Body Work - Dust Is A Must
It's Messy And It's Time Consuming, But Bodywork Can Be Done On A Budget.
Tommy Lee Byrd
Jan 2, 2010
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1955 Chevy 210 Body Work - Dust Is A Must
Here's our subject-a '55 Chevy 210 two-door post. After several people worked on the body, it was in sad shape,...
...so the task at hand was to straighten the panels in preparation for paint. We had two weeks to get it ready and the budget is tight.
Our tool list is rather short for this project, as most of the blocking will be done by hand. Various blocks and sandpaper will be needed, and a body hammer is a key tool for an old car. Keep an air gun handy anytime you're performing bodywork.
We started with the driver-side up front and applied finishing putty over a rough area. Here, we're cutting it with 80-grit on the round block, which matches the contour of the rolled edge. Once it feels pretty good, we'll go back over it with 180-grit.
As we worked our way around the car, we noticed a crack in the body filler on the driver's-side quarter-panel. The only way to repair this is to grind it down to the metal and find the problem. As it turns out, a few welds broke loose from one of the patch panels.
After grinding out the crack and the old welds, we started over in this area. With a small MIG welder, we spotted the crack until it was welded solid. Then, it was time to grind it down and give it a fresh coat of body filler.
Moving rearward, we blocked the quarter-panel with 80-grit on the long board until it met our approval. The area around the gas filler lid is especially hard to straighten, but the key to making it right is lengthy strokes with the long board.
Around the taillight, someone got in a hurry and blasted on a coat of primer before smoothing out the 40-grit scratches. Here's the result, which is not acceptable. We'll use a thin coat of finishing putty to fill in the scratches and grinding marks.
These contoured areas cannot be blocked like the other flat panels, so you have to get a feel for the shape and learn how to make it all round. It's easy to create flat spots, so the simplest solution is a piece of DA paper folded in half.
The decklid was in primer when we started, so we applied a guide coat to show off any imperfections. Judging by all the black spots left over, we'll have lots of time invested in this panel. This portion of the decklid will receive a slick coat of putty.
With the rear portion of the decklid ready for primer, we had a few areas of concern on the topside. More finishing putty is used to smooth out the lumps and bumps, and we used a DA to make quick work of it. Then we used the long board to finish it off.
If you're afraid of Bondo, look away. Apparently, this quarter-panel was a little rough, but the goal is to repair the existing panels. Normally, this entire quarter-panel would be replaced, but we'll straighten the filler, and make it work.
Moving to the passenger door, we used 180-grit on the long board to strip down the primer. We found more filler, but it wasn't quite right, so we blocked it thoroughly and used finishing putty to smooth out a few ripples and waves.
After working our way around the entire car, we used an air gun to blow off all the dust. Surprisingly, the top was in great shape, with only one ding, so we swiped it with putty and blocked it off with 180-grit.
With the car roughed in, we can give it a few coats of primer to see where we stand. We used Martin Senior 2K urethane primer, as it builds well and sands easily. It will take every bit of the gallon to apply three generous coats to the entire car.
The body was allowed to cure for the weekend, and it looked much better than before...
...We use cheap flat black spray paint for a guide coat. Some people like the true guide coat paint, offered by SEM, but the cheap stuff will do.
Using the long board and 180-grit sandpaper, we block the entire car and find a few flaws. At this point, filler shouldn't be used, so we coat the problem areas in finishing putty and block it out.
After applying the final coat of primer to the main body, we started on the hood, which proved to be the roughest panel on the car. The center had a huge sag in it, so we hammered it out, and straightened out the ripples with filler and putty.
The Martin Senior paint we're using calls for 320-grit final sanding, so we bought 10 sheets of sandpaper and went to work. For final sanding, we use water to keep the paper from clogging, and it cuts down on dust.
We removed the front fenders when it came time for paint, as they would need to be trimmed out and reinstalled later. Before rolling it into the spray booth, we washed it inside and out, to make sure all the dust was gone.
Danny Parton handles all the painting at Specialty Collision Center, so he applied the Martin Senior materials. Harvest Gold is the color of choice, and three coats of base are applied before the car is soaked in clearcoat.
While the car was in the booth, we painted the door and trunk jambs so it's ready to roll out. Now, the hood and front fenders can receive the same treatment before it's time for reassembly.
Using 1,500-grit paper, we blocked the '55 just like we had with the coarser grits before. We then used 3M rubbing compound and an electric buffer fit with a foam pad to bring back the shine. The results are awesome considering this car's rough start.
These wheels were used as rollers, and they certainly offer a unique look against the Harvest Gold paint. The important part is the straight and slick body, which was a product of two weeks of hard work and around $1,000 worth of materials.
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