Body Panels, Prep for Bodywork

Today I spent some time preparing the body panels that I removed from the tub. This involved mechanically removing any remaining spots of paint as well as any adhesive or other remaining surface rust, then sanding the remaining paint smooth and washing each panel one final time to remove any paint stripper residue. Finally, I stabilized the metal so it will not immediately begin to rust.

I started with the trunk lid. The top was fairly well stripped, but the underside had a full coat of paint as well as some glue residue around the edges of the lid where the trunk seal-gasket had been glued. Originally on the roadsters the rubber trunk gasket was mounted on the lid itself rather than on the body. Here are shots of the top and underside of the trunk lid after stripping:

Here is a close-up of the glue on the lid. I took the lid outside and removed the glue with a wirewheel mounted in my drill. I also hit any rusty spots or other areas where necessary.

On the inside of body panels I intend to leave the existing paint and just paint over it. However, I needed to sand the paint to give it some “tooth” as well as remove any remaining junk on the surface of the paint. I hand-sanded using 100-grit paper.

Then I just washed down both side of the panel using the hose, applying some Simple Green and giving a good scrub with a scouring pad. Then I applied more Simple Green and gave the entire panel a final thorough rinse. Here is the cleaned trunk lid.

Next I moved on to the driver’s side door. The passenger side will have to wait because it has a big dent on it that will require further attention. On the driver’s side I used the wirewheel on the outside to remove any remaining small spots of paint.

Then I did the same on the inside, removing any rust or adhesive and doing a sanding on the paint. I washed the door completely as with the trunk lid.

And I followed the same procedure to clean up the hood.

In general stripping a car to bare metal is risky because bare steel is apt to begin rusting immediately upon being exposed to water, or even to any humidity in the air. Invisible surface rust can begin forming and then fester underneath a new paint job, eventually leading to bubbles and even structural damage. To try to prevent this I am treating the bare sheetmetal with a Metal Prep product. This kind of product is an acid-etch that chemically removes rust and leaves a thin protective coating on the metal that temporarily discourages rust. The etch also has the additional benefit of providing some “tooth” to the bare metal which will help paint adhere. I bought a gallon of Metal Prep from Halon Marketing in Pennsylvania for around $28. I apply the stuff from a spray bottom which I clearly labeled (the liquid is green, so I wouldn’t want to confuse it with Simple Green) and I always wear gloves and safety glasses when I work with this stuff because it is acid after all!

On the truck lid, I first sprayed the surface, then agitated it with a scouring pad to remove any surface rust. When the Metal Prep does interact with rust it can create fumes so I always make sure there is plenty of ventilation when using it.

Then I applied another light spray to the surface, and wiped all of the liquid away using a shop towel. I’ve found less is better provided I cover the metal, because over-applying the metal prep can create runs that need to be removed later.

I followed the same procedure on the door and then the hood. Spray and then scour…

Then spray again and wipe off the excess.

Here are a couple of pictures of the hood after it was treated.

I repeated the process on any bare metal exposed on the inside of the trunk lid, door, and hood.

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