Learning to do Body work

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by Ana Bluebird, Jul 1, 2006.

  1. Ana Bluebird

    Ana Bluebird Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've been offered this really cool old VW van, nice on the inside---done up like for camping, nice motor, nice interior, but the exterior is pretty rough---cancer, rust, bad paint, broken windows. I wouldn't be able to afford to pay someone to do body work on it, so I'm wondering how hard is it to learn to do the necessary work to put it in decent shape---not professional, but okay. What you think? Can I do it?
     
  2. suitcase_sally

    suitcase_sally Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What skills do you have? Can you weld sheet metal? What tools do you have? Do you have access to a junk yard?
     

  3. ninny

    ninny Well-Known Member

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    There are actually videos that you can buy online that show the basics of body working. You need some basic tools also. You might even be able to check out a video at your local library or maybe they can get you one.
    It's not as easy as it looks so be prepared to spend some time.
     
  4. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Good body work is an art that relies on touch and sight as much as knowledge.
     
  5. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Of all the trades that I have attempted doing, body work has been the most challenging. I have salvaged a number of "totaled" vehicles but I have never been very proud of the sheet metal repairs. I have installed rear clips and I have replaced door and roof skins. I have never satisfactorily, to me, reworked a quarter panel or a roof. My best cosmetic results are when I replace the panel as compared to reworking same. Ripples and dings in quarter panels are darn difficult to remove. If you are going to do a lot of body filler repairs use the filler for boats, it is water proof and minimizes the rusting and subsequent failing out typical of Bondo that was applied under questionable conditions.
     
  6. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Can you do it? Well yeah even just pop riveting on sheet metal and slopping on Bondo is fairly easy. Real question is "should you do it" and I'd have someone who knows vehicles well check the body carefullu. It is a unibody design so it needs enough there to act as the frame. I'd almost rather have a good stripped out van (body wise) and add on the camper stuff, engine, tranny, etc. I've done a body off rebuild on a Jeep J20 and various minor to pretty major body repairs. They work well, but its still a pain.
     
  7. danb98577

    danb98577 Well-Known Member

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    Next time you get by the grocery or bookstore pick up a copy of a magazine called Hot VWs and Dune Buggies. Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous, but the parts ads are well worth the price of admission-lots of sheet metal replacement parts, trim, etc. Some of the suppliers are well priced too. Makes for good "daydream" reading. Good luck with the bus!!
     
  8. kmaproperties

    kmaproperties Well-Known Member

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    there are places on line and bodyshop supply houses that sell pieces like wheel well edges which you can pop rivet on and blend in with fillers. almost any part that normally rust out is available in a repair version. Cheaper than replacing a whole fender or quarter panel.
     
  9. Ana Bluebird

    Ana Bluebird Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks so much for all the ideas---you folks are great. I think we're much better at mechanics than we'd be at bodywork, so maybe I'll pass on this unless I want to spend the winter working in the garage, huch? Maybe some day I'll want to take on a project like this, but just too busy now. Thanks again!