How to do basic bodywork on your classic truck. Or, we crash it, we fix it.

Posted: April 24, 2013 in Antique trucks, Diamond T truck, Tin Can Tourists, travel
Tags: , , , , ,

DSC04462 (1024x768)You’ll recall our last episode, where we left the Diamond T crumpled and bruised after the Lokar shifter’s neutral safety switch was found to be not so safe after all.  The truck started in gear while repairing the gas gauge, when I leaned in and turned the key, thinking it was off, to do final check on the gauge before buttoning everything back up, when the key was really “ON”, and the shift lever was in “Drive”.  The truck shot ahead in the garage, and, fortunately hit a steel post set in concrete instead of my ’48 Pontiac convertible.  The damage was pretty much confined to the right front fender, with minor damage to the left where the bumper bracket was pulled over into it, a small chip where the door swung open, past the stop, and chipped the paint, some chips on the hood, cowl and grill shell where those panels flexed into each other.

The fender, as shown was shoved against the tire, buckled way out in the center, buckled down at the headlight, pulling the grill shell over with it and crushed in where the bumper end was pushed into it.

When I removed the bumper, the fender came out off the tire, and I simply pulled it off by hand so as to be able to drive the truck to the muffler shop on Saturday morning to get the exhaust done.  I didn’t “fix” anything, as the insurance adjuster had to examine it yesterday and prepare an estimate to submit to Hagarty insurance.  He seemed sympathetic, as a car of his had done the same thing,  and actually totaled it.


DSC04472 (1024x768)I started by grinding the paint of the damaged area of the fender, and lower grill shell.  The headlight, mangled bumper bracket and fender trim piece the bracket passes through were removed first.  Then, a little work with the Port-O-Power stretched the fender back roughly into shape, and with hammer and dollies I worked out the creases where the fender had buckled under the headlight.  I left the fender on the truck, figuring the frame, cab, grill shell and running board made a sturdy jig to hold it while straightening it out.  It worked well.





The buckle in the side over the wheel came out with a little DSC04473 (1024x768)press from the inside with the Port-O-Power while a couple of carefully placed whacks with a rubber mallet moved the high spots.  The crushed area at the lower crown of the fender was easy to smooth out with hammer and dollies, and I was happy to remember I’d bought a nice  new set of body hammers and dollies at  Nats North a couple of years ago.  Glad I remembered they were in the tool cabinet.

I used the torch to shrink a couple of bad bulges that wouldn’t work out, and raise a section right under the headlight mount that was bowed in.  I also took the opportunity to shrink a bulge that was in the seam where I widened the fenders, so it’s actually going to be a little better now than it was.


DSC04474 (1024x768)With the damage much improved, I turned to the small tear in the fender lip at the bottom edge.  A little heat and wire brush removed the paint,  hammer and dolly evened up both sides of the break, and the wire welder made it one again.  When that was done, another gentle push with the Port-O-Power straightened everything up nicely, and I worked the rest of the fender bead over the wheel where it’d been kinked when the fender buckled outwards.  Fortunately, the bead didn’t tear in the center of the wheel arch, or it’d have a much more difficult fix.






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So, I’m happy with todays work.  Tomorrow, we sling some mud and smooth out the wrinkles.  Then, hopefully next week will be warm enough to get it primed, blocked out and ready for color again.

  1. says:

    Sorry about the disheartening disaster. Good to see that it’s repairable even though it’s a bunch of work. Here’s hoping you can get it done in time for your planned debut.


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