Fiberglass Body Repair on 1927 T Street Rod Project
Before we jump right into some fairly major street rod fiberglass body repair it’s best to take a quick look at what Bob Hamilton had to start with. A ’27 T body that someone had cut the back third of out of for an unfinished drag roadster project. Most would walk away from a body in this condition. But we’re going to show you how, by using the information in our Fiberglass Body Modifications 3-DVD set, you can do it yourself with just about no investment in tools (as in the case of a steel body), save yourself a lot of money and have a great looking result. The pride of accomplishment and being able to do it yourself without frustration are just bonuses.
To fill in the void between the passenger compartment and trunk of the T bob made a long fiberglass panel in two separate pieces. He didn’t take a picture of how he made each piece, but this is how he did it. He took a piece of aluminum siding about 4 feet long and bent it using a brake at about a forty degree angle. He got that angle by checking the angle of the top side of the body with a piece of welding rod or heavy wire, and matched that angle. After that was done, he laid and taped wax paper over the top and then put three layers of one oz. fiberglass mat over the wax paper. The lower piece that is held with the clamps was made using a 2 x 4 to get the 90 degree angle. Wax paper was wrapped and taped, three layers of 1 oz. mat laid up. When both were set, they were cut and sanded so that there was about 5/8 ths to ¾ inch overlap on the body.
Fiberglass bondo was used to attach the lip (overhang) and when set, sanded and smoothed. FYI fiberglass reinforced body filler, or fiberglass bondo, is perfectly compatible with a fiberglass body. Then, two layers of 1 oz. mat were applied over the new piece to the body from the top and three layers from underneath – joining the part to the body. The angle piece was attached using the fiberglass bondo as a glue to the two surfaces, clamped, and the excess wiped off. When set, two layers of mat were run across the top and three layers on the bottom or underside.
Clamps removed, you’ll notice the space between the new panel and the body. This was filled with some rigid fiberglass panels cut from some scrap Bob had left over from another project. To make these panels, take a flat piece of plywood or masonite, cover it with wax paper, and lay up three or four layers of the 1 oz. mat. When set, remove, measure, cut, sand, and fit. Glass from the top and bottom. You could even use a 2 x 6 for the mold and this would give you the angle on one end. Smear the angled end with fiberglass bondo and clamp together leaving one inch to bond to the underside of the back part of the body. When set, lay 2 layers of mat to the top and three on the bottom tying the body to the part.
This shows the fruits of your fiberglass body repair labor. This procedure puts the strength back into the body so that the floor, back divider, and the firewall can be added to square up and strengthen the body so that the frame and components can be built. With this kind of pre-work done – some block sanding and a little bondo work is all that is necessary and the body is back to better than new.
This is just another angle showing the work done. The opening is the same as a stock one. Bob sort of cheated on this one, though. He has a stock metal ’27 T roadster body that he took the measurement from.
Here is a rear shot. Bob actually made the whole assembly even more rigid by adding two more layers of 1 oz. mat over the entire repair. The body ridge on both sides will be added later using several 1 inch strips glassed to the body, sanded, and shaped. A thin layer of regular bondo will be used to put the finishing touches on that and the rest of the fiberglass body repair.
While a handful of photos may not be the best way to show how this fiberglass body repair was accomplished, you’ll see how to do this kind of work in actual detail in the StreetRod 101 Fiberglass Body Modifications 3-DVD set.
To give you an idea of the depth of knowledge you’ll gain from these DVDs, we’ve listed just some of the topics Bob covers. There’s much more than fiberglass body repair, but we want to leave some surprises for you!
- How to extend the roadster pickup cab by 4+ inches
- How to add a third door with hidden hinges
- How to remove a recessed firewall and replace it with flat fiberglass to gain 4 inches more driver room
- The best way to guide your body cuts
- Personal protection: clothing, gloves, respirators
- Choosing a respirator
- Choosing the correct blades for cutting thin fiberglass smoothly
- Preparing cut edges for fiberglass bonding
- How to align body panels for fiberglass bonding
- The best way to fill in large gaps in panels and fiberglass body repair
- How to maintain body contour and follow curve of body
- The two types of fiberglass you’ll use: Choosing fiberglass matte and cloth and when to use each
- The weight of matte that conforms most easily
- Why you shouldn’t use sheet metal screws in aligning body panels
- How to make an economic palette for fiberglass preparation and to add resin into matte and cloth
- Choosing brushes for resin application
- Get the most life from your respirator
- How and where to buy resin and catalyst
- Understanding how to use and adjust amount of catalyst, depending on weather
- Building up layers of fiberglass to suite your particular needs
- The many uses for paint sticks in your fiberglassing
- How to fill holes in the body
- How wax paper and masking tape will be your friends
- Proper technique for saturating matte and cloth with resin
- Lacquer thinner vs acetone for cleanup
- Tip on building your own fiberglass roller to remove air pockets
- Why you shouldn’t work outside in the sun with resin
- Choosing economic, reusable mixing containers
- Working out air bubbles in matte with a brush
- Filling gaps and holes with fiberglass bondo
- Why you shouldn’t use cardboard for your resin palette
- Bending hardware store aluminum to fit body contours
- Techniques to avoid cracking fiberglass when working with body
- How to use angle iron in a vice as a low cost sheet metal brake substitute
- Using pop cans as a source for budget aluminum
- Using a bead roller or just a vice and flat bar if you don’t have one
- How to prep holes for most secure filling and bonding
- How to get the proper “mushroom effect” for best fiberglass body repair hole filling every time
- Which to use: short or long strand fiberglass bondo
- Mixing bondo and catalyst
- How to correct imperfections at bottom of body (lower valence)
- Cutting body with jigsaw or sawzall
- Fabricating large, flat fiberglass pieces for firewall, etc.
- How to maintain body contours
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