Frame-Off Restorations Process (Part 2a – Bodywork)

Bodywork Process Part 2a

With the vehicle disassembled, your next process is bodywork.  The first thing we do during the bodywork process is to strip all the old paint off of the vehicle with aviation stripper until it is in bare metal. Once the vehicle is in bare metal, the next stage will be to media blast or dip in an acid bath which helps eliminate rust.  After the blasting and/or acid bath dipping stage, the vehicle will then be wiped down with a metal prep solution to keep it from rusting while doing any metal fabrication, woodwork, or leadwork on the vehicle.  The metalwork and leadwork stages are normally the longest processes for the vehicle.  During the metalwork stage, you will have to work the metal to get it back to the original shape it was in.  Sometimes a piece may have to be cut off and remade. While remaking a metal piece, this may involve a lot of cutting, grinding, shaping, lining up of the piece correctly and welding.  In some cases, such as the 1939 Packard, you will have woodwork.  If woodwork is present you will then have to take a lot of guess measurements because more than likely, the wood is rotten.  When dealing with rotten wood, you have to do a lot measuring, cutting, trimming, sanding, and pre-fitting to get it as it should be.  This process normally takes about 3 to 5 months, depending on how much wood is in the vehicle or in how bad a condition the wood is.

Once the metalwork and woodwork are done, you then begin adding lead to the car. The purpose of the leading is to fill in small dented areas that are hard to get out with metalwork or shaping and also to reinforce around any edges or seams.  The leadwork process is a labor-intensive job because as you are melting the lead, you also have to spread the lead out into the area you are wanting to apply it to.  Once all the lead has been applied, you then have to start filing and sanding it to make it smooth. After all the lead has been applied and smoothed, the exposed metal will again be wiped down with a metal prep solution. 

Check back about September 25 for the second part of bodywork – Painting.

Rachel Richardson and the GYR gang