It's probably human nature but our projects seem to bog down ever so slightly (OK, maybe even quite a bit) when we get to the chores that aren't our favorites-that's where we are with RamRodder. It was time to start bodywork and that meant stripping off all the old paint and undercoating and then finding and fixing any rust. It's a dirty, tedious job, and if not done properly lousy surface preparation will come back and haunt you about the time the last coat of paint dries.

There are a variety of methods to strip the finish off an old car, sandpaper and elbow grease are the time-honored ingredients to getting the job done, but we were looking for a method that was faster and more effective. About the time we were going to start thumbing through the phonebook looking for sand blasters we met Jon Mannila of MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration in Eugene, Oregon. Mannila and his crew had a selection of cars on display at a local car show and to describe the quality of the body and paintwork as outstanding would be a gross understatement. After visiting his shop it was obvious that most of the cars being built from the ground up had been acid dipped, a service MetalWorks offers and something Mannila believes is the best way to remove the paint and rust before beginning a restoration.

One of the common fears about acid dipping is that the chemicals will somehow come out of seam or crevice later on and damage new paint-it's a concern that Mannila tells us results in the most frequently asked questions. However once he explains the process, those fears are gone and the advantages are clear. When a body is dipped, every surface is getting cleaned because it is completely submerged in the solutions. With media blasting, the only surfaces that can be cleaned are those the gun can be pointed at as there is with sand blasting. Another advantage of acid dipping is there is no chance for warping large body panels.

The stripping process is done in three steps. The first is paint removal; this procedure removes paint, dirt, oils, and most undercoating. After this step the body is power washed and thoroughly rinsed. The second step is acid dipping-this neutralizes the paint removal chemicals so it can't cause problems later on and removes any rust even in those places you can't see-the result is metal that looks like new. After this step the body is again power washed and rinsed. The final step is the application of an organic, water-based, rust inhibitor that protects the bare metal during transportation and storage prior to being painted.

Preparing a body to be dipped means stripping it completely-glass, trim, handles, everything comes off until a bare shell remains. Aluminum and pot metal parts must be removed, including identification tags. Springs, such as those found in trunk hinges have to be taken off as well, as the process will weaken them. Finally, be prepared to remove any lead from the seams afterward, as the chemicals will change its composition.

After hot tubbing RamRodder we couldn't be happier with the results. All the original paint, seam sealer, and sound deadener were gone. Although there were a few new rust holes that were now exposed and would have to be dealt with, the acid bath took care of any other corroded spots we couldn't see and will prevent any further damage. And while the floor was gone the body didn't have a ding anywhere and showed no signs of ever being damaged. Suddenly doing bodywork doesn't seem to be the daunting task it once was.

SOURCE
MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration
541-341-3372
www.metaldipping.com
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