Stripping Body Panels, Day 2

Today I continued the work of stripping down the body panels, including finishing the chemical stripping of the trunk lid and hood, as well as the front fenders. I also spent some time mechanically stripping the paint that the chemical stripper wouldn’t remove.

I decided to give the trunk lid another coat of chemical stripper. I put down some plastic wrap over the paste in an effort to prevent it from evaporating so the stripper could penetrate the finish for a longer period of time.

Then I began to work on the right front fender. I applied a thick coat of stripper using an old paintbrush.

I gave the stripper half an hour to work on the fender, and spent some time cleaning up the dent repair area on the right door. I used a wire wheel on my drill, which was fairly effective at removing the body filler.

The chemical stripper raised a lot of the paint off the surface, which I scraped off using a plastic paint scraper.

However, the paint I removed must have been an outer layer, because there was still red paint covering the metal after the first stripping.

I applied a second coat of stripper to the right fender and then went back to work on the right door, which had plenty of paint remaining on it. To mechanically remove the paint I used a 3M Clean & Strip wheel on my drill. It was pretty effective at removing the stubborn paint and cleaning the bare steel. I bought the 3M Clean & Strip wheels from Fastenal for around $10 each. I bought three to start with.

After second and third coats of stripper, some of the paint was coming off the right fender.

As I was discovering that mechanically stripping paint takes considerably more effort (though less time) than chemically stripping it, I gave the hood an trunk lid another coat of chemical stripper.

Here is the front right fender after three iterations of chemical stripping. I washed the fender with soap and water to remove any leftover stripper and allowed it to dry in the sun. On the front by the headlight opening there were clearly some body filler repairs. All the evidence points toward a minor collision at some point on the front right of the car.

I began a routine where I would apply stripper and then spend 30 minutes (while it worked on the paint) with the drill and wheel removing paint between coats. I started with the trunk lid.

I held the wheel to the surface with light pressure, moving it in a back-and-forth or small circular motion across the paint. It took the panel down to bare metal quickly.

After working on the trunk lid I went back to apply chemical stripper to the left fender.

And I went back to work on the right fender while the chemical stripper worked on the left.

I removed most of the paint from the lower portion of the fender. I left the paint on the very lower edge, as the rust down there is going to require a patch of some sort anyway.

After 30 minutes the chemical stripper had begun to remove much of the paint from the left fender.

I scraped off as much loose paint as I could and applied a second coat.

Then I went back and worked on mechanically stripping the right fender. I used the Clean & Strip disk to remove the paint along the top edge of the fender.

Then I moved on to the front of the fender. The headlight area had a lot of body filler. I started on the outside of the headlight, using a wirewheel to remove the filler.

The filler came out after several minutes.

The arch on the inside of the headlight had a thicker application of filler. One reason I am removing the filler is there could potentially be rust underneath it, as there was in this area.

The depth of the filler was 3/8″ to 1/2″ in some areas, as I could see by penetrating down to the underlying metal. Additionally, there were several holes underneath which had been used to reverse the dent (pull the metal forward) but were never patched over. These holes could allow water to infiltrate the filler from the inside and cause corrosion in the metal.

After getting down to bare metal I was able to pop off some of the filler in larger chunks, using a screwdriver and a mallet from behind.

I pried off much of the remaining filler, which was faster and lust dusty than using the wire wheel.

There was even filler patched into the gap between the fender and the headlight bezel, which I removed.

The last thing I did was to mechanically remove the remaining paint from the left door.

I washed up the hood and left fender with soap and water to remove the chemical stripper and called it a day. After the panels had dried outside for a few ours I moved everything into the garage and ran the dehumidifier to discourage any moisture from causing rust on the bare sheet metal. I still need to mechanically strip the other (left) fender and hood.

The sheet metal is in fairly good condition with a couple of exceptions. I will need to address the rust at the bottom of the fenders, probably with patch panels. I will need to do some minor repairs on the hood, drunk lid, and left door and fender. And I will need to undertake more substantial repairs on the right door and fender as well. Other than that, everything seems pretty solid.

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