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Body filler snobbery rant
#1
This thread on TheLincolnForum.net (only readable if you are a member) spurred on a bit of body filler contemplation.

One of the forum members there had the unfortunate incident of having his '64 Continental's quarter panel dented by a motorhome parked next to him. In the process of the repair, there were commentaries about the (apparently shocking) "2mm of body filler" found from an older repair over some rust, which was cut out by the body shop:

[Image: IMG_8651.JPG]

So be it. Then the bodyshop hacks lapped a pair of patches directly over the existing steel - welding it to boot, instead of gluing it (why warp the original steel if you're going to put panels over panels? Might as well glue it and save yourself the warpage):

[Image: IMG_8717.JPG]

[Image: IMG_8719.JPG]

[Image: IMG_8720.JPG]

...and once the body filler was on, nobody seemed to mind, nor care - notice that there is a lot more than 2mm of filler on it now. The wheel arch definition line absolutely disappears as it works its way down the quarter panel:

[Image: 2rett1j.jpg]

But the lousy patch repair isn't my rant. Lousy patches have been around for ages. It's the attitude towards filler; new vs. old. For sake of brevity, I'm copy/pasting from my post at the Lincoln forum:

2mm is not that much filler for an older, run-of-the-mill repair that has survived for the last 20 years. I dare say the shop that did the Lincoln NOW must have put that much and more to smooth those overlapping patches. There must be at least 3-4mm of filler on the car now just to blend the overlap of the patch vs. the original panel. The wheelwell edge suggests that there may be much more filler than that too.

I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade here, but I've found it all too prevalent for those of us in our hobby to believe that a good looking - yet filler-heavy - repair of today is somehow superior to filler-heavy bodywork repairs of yesteryear.

Neither are superior, nor are either necessarily bad - if it holds up and you don't see it (and if you're not paranoid about all-steel repairs), then it'll probably be fine for the average daily-driver resto/refresh.
I'm not discounting metalworking skills here, mind you - by all means, if you can hammer and dolly like a god, do it! - but not all of us are metalworking geniuses...and even the geniuses use skim coats.

Fact is, there is this unrealistic and delusional attitude throughout a good portion of the classic automobile community* that plastic filler done in the present is somehow superior to plastic filler removed off the car from when someone was there last. It isn't. It's the same thing (provided it isn't a quarter inch of filler over steel that looks like the Cascade mountain range, or falling off the car due to bad prep).

Just remember this: Someday, someone will remove YOUR body filler and remark "What were they thinking?!" - just like we do now over older repairs.

-Kurt

*By that, I don't mean the Pebble Beach crowd, but those of us who tinker with simple, mass-produced cars. Still, I'd bet that there are some fun secrets hiding under more than one of those award-winning paint jobs.

[Image: satellite-valiant-mustang-license-tags-signature.png]
How to buy a '71-73 Mustang:
Rule #1: Assume all classic car sellers are guilty until proven innocent.
Rule #2: No classic car dealer is ever innocent; thus, they are all guilty.
Rule #3: Buy from trustworthy people: Fellow forum members. Visit 7173Mustang's For Sale forum.
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#2
It's NOT Snobbery" it's your Pride & Craftsmanship being Repulsed by sub standard, armaturest attempts at body work.

NEVER lower your standards, as the "Cream Always Rises to the Top".

I for one APPLAUD your commitments to Quality!!!...Mark
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#3
Hardly - in this case, I'm taking the anti-stance in favor of fillers (not that I particularly care for them if I can avoid it, but read on).

Snobbery is believing that any filler (done right) found on a car from a previous owner is somehow vastly inferior to the same stuff that you'll wind up having to slather on the car yourself.

Point is, I can accept that not everything in the land of bodywork may be ideal, and that even above-average cars will have some sort of filler on them.

With exception to lousy bodywork with more weight in filler than car (over panels that nobody even tried to straighten - example: My '71s left-rear quarter), filler over a good or fairly good job is sometimes inevitable - but it WILL be interpreted as "the worst hack ever" if the filler is ever removed down the line.

Yet, we seem to think it's great when we see it done from the top.

-Kurt

[Image: satellite-valiant-mustang-license-tags-signature.png]
How to buy a '71-73 Mustang:
Rule #1: Assume all classic car sellers are guilty until proven innocent.
Rule #2: No classic car dealer is ever innocent; thus, they are all guilty.
Rule #3: Buy from trustworthy people: Fellow forum members. Visit 7173Mustang's For Sale forum.
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#4
I ain't gonna lie - my quarters have some filler in them, right along the seams where the new panels meet the original sheet metal. The body guy did a great job and used quality products (thanks to QCode351Mach's sage advice - I actually bought the right stuff and took it to him). But again, "driver quality" will pretty much sum-up my car - and I'm OK with that.

IMHO, complete replacement panels are the way to go, IF they can be had. If you can afford a body/sheet metal master, then go to them.

You're right, Kurt - even the high-end builders are going to use 'some' filler getting everything 'perfect.' It's inevitable... but if done properly, the filler will be minimized, not shrink up, and remain invisible (until the next repair event, anyway).

But sculpting a new car out of Bondo is very undesireable.

Eric

[Image: mach1sig2.gif]
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#5
It takes all kinds.. I once unbolted a chunk of bondo from the door of a '54 Chevy truck. Someone had filled a ginormous piercing dent with so much Bondo it had fell out at some point and the next guy just bolted it back in and reBondo'd over it. ReBondo'd... is that even a word? Any way, it was so deep the bolts were 4 1/2" X 3/8" holding it. Smile
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#6
1972MustangSVH;186175 Wrote:It takes all kinds.. I once unbolted a chunk of bondo from the door of a '54 Chevy truck. Someone had filled a ginormous piercing dent with so much Bondo it had fell out at some point and the next guy just bolted it back in and reBondo'd over it. ReBondo'd... is that even a word? Any way, it was so deep the bolts were 4 1/2" X 3/8" holding it. Smile

Now that would be a great pic to have.
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#7
Sometmes poor body work is the result of limited skill but there are other reasons. I attended Gene Winfield’s metal shaping class a few years back. Whether using lead or plastic there are a few things that dictate the depth of imperfections that are covered. While there I saw some damage repair and custom work that was near perfect. Like my dad told me years ago, “ A real body man just needs a couple coats of primer to fill the flaws in his metalwork.” At Gene’s shop I also saw some examples of thick plastic. I asked Gene about the guidelines for filler thickness. It boiled down to spend more to get less. How much the customer is willing to pay dictates the thickness in many cases.

My wife bought a truck with some history. It has custom bodywork by Bill Hines and paint by Larry Watson (I had a chance to talk with Larry about the truck and also custom paint in general, we lost a great guy when he died). The previous owner had a small fender bender before he sold it. Let’s just say that although the shapes were perfect the work underneath was not overly impressive. Before buying it I asked about the seller about the custom work and was told that Bill was willing to do the job for less than others who also had the skills.
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#8
sicndhed;186568 Wrote:How much the customer is willing to pay dictates the thickness in many cases.

Indirectly.

How much the customer is willing to pay dictates the amount of time spent massaging the metal, and therefore the amount of filler.

Time is money.

-Kurt

[Image: satellite-valiant-mustang-license-tags-signature.png]
How to buy a '71-73 Mustang:
Rule #1: Assume all classic car sellers are guilty until proven innocent.
Rule #2: No classic car dealer is ever innocent; thus, they are all guilty.
Rule #3: Buy from trustworthy people: Fellow forum members. Visit 7173Mustang's For Sale forum.
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#9
My theory proved itself again today - not to my benefit, but that's beside the point.

You see this quarter panel? Looks pretty factory-ordinary, except for 9 years of sitting out in the Florida sun.

[Image: 6idv2r.jpg]

[Image: 25in6vs.jpg]

Well, it isn't that ordinary.

[Image: dzoch.jpg]

Go figure.

-Kurt

[Image: satellite-valiant-mustang-license-tags-signature.png]
How to buy a '71-73 Mustang:
Rule #1: Assume all classic car sellers are guilty until proven innocent.
Rule #2: No classic car dealer is ever innocent; thus, they are all guilty.
Rule #3: Buy from trustworthy people: Fellow forum members. Visit 7173Mustang's For Sale forum.
  Reply
#10
My car was done by a Bondo Master in the past, I never knew how much was there until I started ripping into it, I must have removed 20+ lbs of Bondo if not more, some areas were almost 1" thick.

and I used minimum amount of bondo when I re did the car.

below are some example pictures.
before and after shots


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[Image: 2zem9nk.jpg]
Iyman
1972 Mustang convertible run_horse  
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