Minimising the body filler

The process of removing a large dent in the rocker panel started a long while back. I bought a sliding hammer and welded loops of wire onto the panel, which didn’t work. Then I bought large washers that I welded onto the panel and that did work. As this was my first time doing any sort of body work, it still didn’t look great. The surface was much less smooth as I had hoped it would turn out and it was definitely not unnoticeable.

“Golfball of the one and a pea of the other, mix it up and apply generously.”

My goal with this task was to minimise the dent in order to also minimise the amount of body filler I would need to smoothen out the panel. I think I succeeded after a lot of pulling, hammering and caressing the metal. The panel was still very bumpy, but all the metal was close to where it was supposed to be and the dent was much shallower.

I had already ordered a can of body filler and watched a couple of youtube videos as preparation. Which is enough, really. I guess it’d be more efficient to get the amount right the first time and spread it out smoother than I did. All I cared about is that I could some sort of smooth out the panel and if that meant sanding through a hump of filler that I created earlier, so be it. Golfball of the one and a pea of the other, mix it up and apply generously.

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1970 Fiat 500 – Rocker panel dent removal

While that dried up, I started sanding the car. Which is definitely not high up the list of things I enjoy doing. Sanding takes a lot of time. I started with sanding paper, but ended up taking off all the paint with a scotch-brite disk on my angle grinder. I wanted to sand down the little Fiat to bare metal for two reasons. First, I wanted to know if there were any hidden issues that I’d want to know of. Second, I wanted a good base for my paint job.

Most of the car turned out pretty straight and in good shape. There was some filler here and there, but no rust. Until I got to the passenger’s side door. I guess I asked for it. A dent very similar to that in the rocker panel ran along almost the entire length of the door. This was filled up with a thick layer of body filler and painted in the correct colour. All done very well, but not really how I’d do it.

1970 Fiat 500 – Passenger side rocker panel

This photo was taken during the painting of the car and shows that the rocker panel turned out pretty well. It is still possible to feel some sort of a wave along the length of the panel, but it is very difficult to see. So I’d say this part has been concluded successful. The body filler shows through a thin layer of primer, but not through the entire coat of primer. I am confident that it will not show through the paint in the end.

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