Repairing a wrecked car can be either easy or difficult, depending entirely upon how stubborn the mechanic wants to be. He can think it through first, considering the point of impact, direction of force, method of repair, etc. — and he will save many hours of hard labor. Or he can leap into the repair on a purely mechanical scale, letting one foot follow the other — and he will spin his wheels unnecessarily. Learning to think about the job is just as important as learning the skills involved. While this site is not intended as a step-by-step experience in body straightening procedure, we will cover enough of the material to give the automotive enthusiast a good grounding in fundamentals.
To the junior body man, whether he plans on making a simple repair or an extensive modification, the question of just how big a job to tackle invariably crops up in the light of reality after the initial glow of enthusiasm subsides. It is one thing to dream of building a radical custom or restoring a damaged car, and quite another to actually do the work successfully. Still, because body work is a step-by-step proposition, whether straightening a fender or making a custom grille, the average enthusiast can expect to achieve at least acceptable results if he plans well and takes time with the work. Unlike building a high-performance engine, the hot-rodder chopping a top can see immediate results as he progresses.
There is much that can be learned about a damaged panel during the initial inspection, and the following hints will apply to all types of collision damage. First, locate the point, or points, of initial impact. Then decide if there are two or more points of impact. It so, are they equal or is there a significant major impact point with others secondary? How are the secondary areas of impact related to each other, and will repair of any area be related to the others. Should any specific area be repaired first? When looking at a collision damage, categorize the type of damage involved (buckles, displaced metal, etc. and then decide how each will be best repaired.
The next step is to decide what tools and equipment is needed. Will you sub-contract some of the work. When it comes to frame work and painting, it is usually a good idea to let the pro’s handle that end of it.You might be able to handle some frame horn damage or light spot paint repairs. The heavier work takes more advanced equipment the home hobbyist wouldn’t have. I will try to give you an idea what materials and techniques are in the trade