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Preparing Your Car

Preparing car bodyshells for mounting on the body tilting frame.

To strip complete bodyshells, we put them onto a rollover frame by mounting the shell on a giant meccano kit, secured to the strength points of the body / shell / chassis, such as the bumper mounting points, rear spring mountings, front suspension or engine mountings etc.

This is a time consuming operation, from our point of view, because we cannot assume to attach anything to the shell, chassis or body by other than existing holes or fixings. What we need are a couple of bars sticking out at the front and back of the car, at bumper level. We have made mounting jigs for some cars but they are expensive and we cannot possibly hold mountings for all the cars we clean, and in any case there is very often not enough strength left in the general bodywork holes to support the weight of the shell. Some cars have dumb iron mounting points for the bumper just inside the front and rear panels of the body, like the Porsche 356 and the Mk II Jaguar for example, they are really useful, but sometimes even these have rot problems or stripped threads as a result of corrosion problems.

Therefore it greatly assists us, and saves customer's money, if, prior to bringing the shell to us, customers attach two metal bars that can support the shell's weight, to the front and the back of the shell, at bumper level. These bars need to stick out 8”-10" clear of the furthest point of the car so that we can bolt or weld our rolling frame attachment to them. These bars need to be quite robust as when the body is turned through 90 degrees or more, on the frame, the forces on the bars become quite different to those exerted if you were just lifting the car off the ground. The bars can be a piece of flat mild steel about 6 mm thick and 30-40mm wide, or angle iron of 30mm x 30mm and 4mm thick. ( Not many cars could accommodate the angle irons through the original holes in the front valance.) We can then weld or bolt these to our iron work.

The main reason why it is better done by you than by us, apart from saving you possibly £100 or so, is that if you are happy to weld the bars onto the bodyshell or chassis, you can make that decision, we can't. But we understand that not everyone has the facilities or ability to do this extra preparation, so we have to rely on the bolts and holes available to us. If you can leave the bolts in the obvious holes we might use to mount the bodyshell, then that is helpful too.

Removing Underseal

There is no easy way of removing the rubbery type of underseal, or sound deadening pads. These materials do not respond to blasting since blasting relies on a ‘chipping’ action to remove residues. The later schutz type of under body protection is designed to deflect stones etc. so not surprisingly it is difficult to remove by blasting. The fiddly bits can be blasted but the big areas are better scraped off with hot air guns and a scraper, or similar. For us to remove all the Schutz from, say, a Porsche 911 can add anything up to around £500. With these really good protective materials we do urge you to consider whether they really need to be removed as part of your restoration. If the material is basically sound and the metal clean underneath then why remove it, you will only need to re-apply it at the end of the restoration. Obviously, the areas where welding and other repairs are needed will have to be cleaned off, but by blasting over the material fairly vigorously the media will find weak areas and those can be dealt with. The remainder may well be perfectly sound, and you save some money.

The old type underseals generally are either dry and crispy or black and gooey. The dry underseal can usually be scraped fairly easily, the gooey stuff is slower and messy, but blasting the gooey underseal only tends to soften these materials making them even more resilient and the abrasive sticks in it, a soft gooey mess. Therefore a good deal of hand scraping needs to be done before we blast off the residue to finish. We will happily do it, but it is not really cost effective for our skilled operatives to do hand scraping, so we always encourage customers, where possible, to remove the bulk of underseal themselves. In monetary terms, if we do it, this process usually incurs around £200-£300 extra – (in the case of a particularly bad Mercedes, the cost of removing the underseal alone was nearer £800!!). After hand scraping (by whoever) we blast off the remainder to finish.