Frugal RVing In South States - Ebooks

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Body Work on Mack

For those who follow my meandering through this blog, you may recall that earlier this spring I decided to dive in with both feet and do a fiberglass repair on the Ark. At that time I eluded to the dent of Mack being next on the list.

I finally found that rare moment where weather, location, timing, and supplies (not to mention just plain gumption) aligned, and with ring and watch removed this time (forgotten last time, but with a little scrubbing they were back to shiny), and appropriate grubbies donned - I took the plunge and into the bondo I went.

As a backgrounder, on the maiden journey of the Ark - that would be the towing of it from the dealership (not even saved for the first active usage) we cornered too tightly in what looked like an amply large turning space in the driveway. Fortune was with us however, and the rear window (with electric slide and UV tinting just for added cost factor) was spared the agony of partaking in the dent created when 5th wheel met the rear of the truck cab.

We were on the ball enough to clear off the fractured paint bits, sand it down, spray it with primer, and a lovely matching coat of paint for rust protection. We then put further repairs on the "To Do" list somewhere near the bottom.

A recent eye opening commentary from a Dodge representative discussing the eventual lease return brought us to the conclusion that further correction of the matter was due for proper consideration, and it got bumped to the top of the said "To Do" list. (figures of $2800 for the dent alone was enough to take anyone's breath away in a very non-complimentary way - the rest, common scratches in the truck bed topped it to around $4000 in body work that would be expected to be done before we could walk away at the end of the lease term one year from now....!!)

We "misrepresented ourselves" according to said rep because we said the truck was in excellent condition. I noted that we didn't say "new", but that at 56,000 km, highway driven, babied, almost nothing to be seen for interior disfigurement or discolouration, and normal wear on the paint in the box area, everyone we have consulted with concurs. Did I mention it is a 3500 Ram 4X4, so could be assumed to be bought for more than just garage decoration affect??!!! (Apparently you spend this kind of money monthly for a really nice lawn /driveway ornament, but shouldn't really use it according to the expectations of the salesperson??!??) But I digress.....

So on Thursday, I tackled the project. Rather than just jotting words, I photo - documented the process. See what you think.

I still want to take it one step further. Currently, I would call it a good home job. However, unless we can sell it before the lease is up, and pay it out, it won't be good enough for the dealership.

So here is what I did:

First, a shot of the temporary paint on the dent.

The right shot is the prep to protect the surrounding area

On the left, I used a palm sander to remove the majority of the paint & primer.

On the right, I got the deeper pits using a Dremel sanding head ( actually, it was apparently a honer as it was a fine grit conical grinding head.)

On the left, I extended the guarded area and sanded just beyond the dent for blending space. I then vacuumed the residue.

The right is the first layer of Bondo. It needs to be mixed in very small batches as it sets very quickly, and even covering unused mix won't prevent hardening. 5 minutes, and it is set!! I was careful not to overfill the dent in one go. That would make the setting of the layers less even, and create weakness in the repair.

The left side is the second layer of Bondo, and by amazing coincidence, the right is the third (Who could have guessed!!???)

Note, in the first and second layers, I wasn't fussy about smoothness, as long as no air pockets formed. The roughness I used as an enhancer of the link between layers.

The third layer I was more careful about texture, however, as long as it isn't so rough that it tears sandpaper, don't fret it too much.

On the left, I sanded the third layer and determined that there was small pitting in the layer, so I vacuumed the dust from the sanding, and applied a very thin forth layer almost in the fashion of a wood filler as seen on the right.

The forth layer was sanded smooth, and vacuumed.

At this point, I freshened the guarding taping and papering, and expanded its coverage one more time. As I was using spray primer and paint, and there was a slight breeze, I wanted to be sure only targeted areas were painted.

The primer has been applied on the right photo.

These two shots are of the repair alone, and a comparative of the two sides.

Before and After

It isn't the $2800 job that the dealership would like, but it is no longer concave. I will likely tweak it further another day, but if we had an offer on it today, I wouldn't sweat the imperfections.

One important thing to note is that both Bondo and primer are absorbent, so when planning this kind of project, you need good weather, and either a waterproof storage place for the vehicle, or enough time to do it in one swoop.

I see by the clock that it is time to set up breakfast, so I will bid you,


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