After reading the following tech story, it would be great if everyone, no matter what their skill level or experience, could tackle the most difficult of dents on their truck, but unfortunately, it's not that easy. So why are we bothering to start our series on auto body sheetmetal repair at the advanced end of the spectrum? The answer is quite simple, actually-with the advent of extremely low-priced auto body tools flooding our shores from China, we've noticed that everyone and their dog seems to be taking a shot at tackling dent repairs on their truck and destroying it in the process. We're not going to get into whether or not the Chinese-made tools are any good, but we'll just say we believe it's always been good practice to buy the best tools a person can lay their hands on.

Enough said. Traditionally, the tool responsible for wreaking the most amount of body damage in the hands of an amateur is the slide-hammer. It's a simple device that attaches to the sheetmetal by drilling a hole into the body, screwing the tip into it, and slamming a heavy circular weight up the shaft away from the dent. In the clutches of a novice, these are real good for stretching the metal until the screw rips out and leaves a peak reminiscent of the Grand Teton national monument.

To demonstrate the Spitzenagel (more commonly known as an auto-body stud welder), the tool that superceded the slide-hammer, we enlisted the help of Jerry Sievers and Mike Gaucher at Paint 'N' Place in Placentia, California. If you are in the market for one of the best custom or restoration paint jobs around, give Jerry a call. On the other hand, if you would just like to ask Jerry a question about how to do bodywork, we suggest enrolling in the autobody course he instructs at Riverside Community College (or a school in your area).

After Jerry explained the basics of removing a major dent such as the one in our '86 Dodge's bedside, he transferred our Mopar project truck into the capable hands of Mike Gaucher to perform the actual work. As he was beginning to start on our Dodge, Mike reiterated what Jerry explained to us: "The first step is to identify the point of impact on the dent, then determine where to begin the reversal process."

Next, Mike pointed out that the first mistake amateurs usually make is to start with a dent puller such as the slide-hammer or Spitzenagel instead of attempting to access the dent from behind and cautiously (as in gently) push the dent out. Mike removed the taillight, and luckily it gave him full access to push the dent out in stages with a Porta-Power on the inside while gently tapping on the crown of the dents on the outside. With the dents almost completely removed, there were still creases in the bedside's sheetmetal. This is where the Spitzenagel came into play. Mike spot-welded the copper nails directly into the creases at 1 inch intervals across the entire length of each dent. Then, based on experience, he determined from which end to "walk" the tension out of the dent to release the sheetmetal panel's memory, allowing it to resume its original shape.

In next month's Custom Classic Trucks, based on what we were taught by the crew at Paint 'N' Place, we will reveal to our valued readers how anyone with half an idea of what they are doing can use a Spitzenagel to successfully pop out parking lot dents-don't miss it!

SOURCE
Paint 'N' Place
847 S. Kraemer Blvd. Dept. CT
Placentia
CA  92870
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