Eastwood Chatter

  • Shaved Fender Vents on 08-10 Super Duty

    Shaved Fender Vents on 08-10 Super Duty

    Version 2

    The fastest way to make your vehicle stand out is with exterior modifications, but in order for them to look good it must be done the proper way.  Adding new pieces such as wheels, tires, bumpers, etc. is one method but it can easily be over done and just look tacky.  How many times have you seen a car with parts that just don't belong? I've seen way too many.  The other, and sometimes more difficult method is to remove parts that were originally there.  Not only does it make the vehicle look more seamless it also separates it from all the others.  From the factory this 2009 Ford F-350 Super Duty came with chrome plastic fender vents that stick out more than 3/4" from the panel.  Some may like this look but it ruins the body lines of the truck.  Just like Hot Rod guys shave door handles you'll see step by step how to remove these vents and make it look like they were never there in the first place.



    These are the vents I'm talking about, yeah they are flashy and catch your eyes but they don't do much for the over all look of the truck.  With these removed the side of the truck is stream line all the way to the tail lights.



    Using a plastic trim tool to pry off the vent, the recessed area underneath is revealed.  Having a recessed area the exact shape of the vent provides a great starting point because it will be much easier later on when I weld the new piece in.  As you can see in the above picture the fender is slightly curved so not only will the patch piece have to be the correct size it will also need the bend to be exactly the same to appear seamless.



    I started by making a templet with a piece of poster board, to do this I cut a rectangular piece slightly bigger than what I needed and with masking tape attached it to the fender so the the vent area was fully covered.  Then using a marker and my finger I pressed on the edges of the recessed area and drew "+", one in like with the edge and one perpendicular to the edge.  I did this along the whole outer edge of the vent area and using a ruler connected all of the intersecting points.  Note that I did not once use a tape measure, on most patch panel fabrication an exact measurement it pretty much necessary but for a small piece like this the method I just described takes a lot of the guess work out because you are using the actual panel to get the shape.  Using a ruler and an exacto knife I cut out the shape using the marks I made earlier.



    The template was was a perfect fit,  I want the panel to sit as close to flush as I can, this will reduce the amount of filler and body work later on.



    Next using a piece of 18 GA steel I carefully traced the shape on to the metal. For the first side I wanted to use my Versa 40 Plasma Cutter to cut out the shape.


    Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 3.41.38 PM

    The plasma gives me the ability to cut the curves of the piece near exactly but for extra assurance I used two pieces of 1/4" Bar as a guide to make the the cuts perfectly straight.



    Using a  60 grit flap disc attached to a 4.5" Grinder I removed the burrs, beveled the edges, and removed the surface rust.  when making patch panels like this its very important to bevel the edges, this gives the allows for a cleaner weld that will lay much more flush with the panel.


    Version 2

    Next to get the patch piece to match the slight curve of the factory panel I used my Bench Top English Wheel  to gently curve the panel.  Be very careful to only apply forward and backward pressure on the panel in line with the wheel.  Putting too much side pressure on the panel will give it a dome and not match the contour of the fender.  One way to eliminate giving the panel a domed effect is to put a rubber band over the upper wheel.  This reduces the side to side stretching of the metal because the band stretches instead of the metal.



    You can see the difference in the two panels with the one on the right being the one that I ran through the wheel and the one on the left has not been touched.  Even though the curvature in the fender is very little, the extra time rolling it through the english wheel will save a lot of time later on when it comes time to apply filler.



    Before prepping the fender for welding I used a magnet to hold the patch piece in place and look at the fitment and gaps from multiple angles to make sure no corners were too high or out of place.  After taking it off to grind a few areas down I was satisfied with the fitment and sprayed the back with Self Etching Weld Thru Primer to prevent rusting from the inside.



    To prep the panel for welding I used a flap disc on a 4.5 ANGLE GRINDER and removed the paint down to metal all the way around the areas where I would be welding.



    Starting with the top edge I used my MIG 175 on a very low setting to tack weld the panel in to place, making sure the panel was seated in the right place before tacking in.



    If you find that after your first tacks the panel is no longer sitting flush with the opening there is a way to save the welds without having to cut the piece out.  To do this use a wide flat blade screw driver putting half of the blade on the new piece and half on the original.  Press the panel so it sits just below flush with the opening then place a tack weld right above the blade.  In the event that the panel sits too low in the opening you can use a very fine flat blade screw driver to pry the panel up to the desired depth.



    The first step in the filling process I started by using Contour Short Strand Fiberglass Filler.  This filler is infused with fiberglass which makes it much much stronger than ordinary filler allowing it to be applied much heavier to fill larger gaps and depressions. Before application I wiped down the fender with PRE Painting Prep to remove and contaminants that would affect the adhesion of filler.  I applied the Short strand on all of the weld seams as well as the top section of the patch which were the lowest areas that needed the most support.



    While some say this material is hard to work with because it gets too hard too quick making it more difficult to sand.  I've found that the ideal time to sand is about 10-15 min after application using 40-60 Grit to knock down the high spots then 80 grit PSA to level the rest.  Be aware that this is a very tough material and will harden very quickly so make sure you get all of the sanding



    After the Short strand is leveled I applied and block sanded Contour Glazing Putty to finish off the panel.  I would have only needed one pass of Putty but I went too light with the short strand in the lower corner. To knock down the high spots I use 80 grit PSA  on a  11" x 1 3/8" Durablock, this block is great for smaller areas like this because it is easy to hold and is long enough to be able to slightly bend so all areas of the block are in contact with the panel at all times.



    Now that the filler is blocked down flush it is time to apply primer to seal the area.  First I again wiped down the with PRE then used 2K Urethane Primer Surfacer using the Evolution Paint gun with a 2.0 tip.  This primer will not only seal the panel but also build up enough that I can come back with 320-400 Grit on a block and do a final blocking in case there are still any imperfections.  The best way to apply this primer is to start from the outside and work your way in, as you can see in the picture I taped off the area about 5 inches off the filler edge this will prevent primer overspray from getting on other parts of the panel that do not need it.  I am not using the tape to create a hard edge and will never have to primer in direct contact with the tape edge.



    The final step before paint is to block the whole fender with 400 grit to remove and sanding scratches and scuff the existing paint so the base coat will stick.  Additionally I scuffed the whole fender with a red scuff pad to create a uniform painting surface.  Wipe off the panel with PRE and then with a tack rag to remove any dirt or lint from the painting surface. You MUST use a blow gun and move as much dust and dirt away from the area surrounding the panels.  Even dust on the floor nearby can get kicked up by the paint gun and get trapped in the paint.



    I sprayed the base with the Concours Pro HVLP Gun with a 1.3 tip. The color I used is a Ford color code UD which was mixed at a local automotive commercial supply store.  Although these stores supply to collision shops most will mix as little as a quart of color matched paint at a reasonable price. I was lucky enough that this Ford UD Ebony color was a very common mix and a quart was just under $25.  Depending on the color code and the additives that go in prices can go as high as $200 just for a quart.  After three coats of base with about 15 min flash time and a wipe down with a tack rag between each its time for clear.



    I applied 3 wet coats of 2:1 European Urethane Clear also using the Concours Pro HVLP Gun with a 1.3 Tip. I mixed the clear 2:1:1/2, the 1/2 being urethane reducer. This helps the clear flow a lot better and lay on the panel much nicer.  I applied 2 coats allowing about 15 min flash time between coats, because it was about 85 degrees the flash time was greatly reduced.






    The fenders still need to be buffed to remove some small dirt specs but other than that there is no reason a job like this cant be done at home as long as all the preparation is done properly.  Post a comment about what you think, or any questions about the project!

    - James R. / EW


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  • Step up your Hammer Game! Using Intermediate Body hammers and Dollies

    Back when cars were made of heavy metal and had lots of beautiful curves guys took the time to repair a fender rather than just replace it. Any good metal worker will tell you that you need to match the hammer and dolly as close as possible with the shape of your panel you're working on. When you're working on a curvy car like something from the late 1930's through the 1950's you will be hard pressed to find a flat panel on the vehicle. This means that you will need to use tools to match. Back in those days the selection of specialty hammers were vast, some being specifically used for one type of car or type of repair!  Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Build a chassis/fixture Table on a budget

    In a effort to make my life easier I decided I would build a table that I could build and modify chassis on in the future. I only had a few simple rules; it needed to be mobile, I needed to be able to easily level it, and it needed to be AFFORDABLE. If you haven't checked, the metal required to build a heavy fabrication or chassis table new is big bucks. I'd rather save that cash for my project cars and repurpose some metal from my local scrap metal yard.   Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Project Pile House- Shaving the Door handles

    Since guys have been customizing cars, shaving the door handles has been one of the most common modifications to make the car look as smooth as possible. This process can be a pretty simple process, but there are a few things that can make it go smoothly. I decided to show the process on Project Pile House.   Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Wire Mesh Grill On A Budget


    A lot can be said about a car just from the look of the front end. If you’re looking to ditch those boring vertical or horizontal plastic slats for something that really stands out, there is an easy way to get that sporty wire mesh look without having to shell out the cash to buy a full grill. Here is a solution that will look amazing but not break the bank.  I was able to achieve this by using a piece of rain gutter guard for keeping leaves and sticks out of gutters.  It measures 7" Tall X 36" Wide, making it plenty large enough for most grills but for larger grills a different material will be needed.  I found the gutter guard I used at a local home improvement store for about $3, it was already coated so rust wont be an issue.

    Project time: 3-4 hours

    Results: Priceless

    What you’ll need
    Under $25
    • Wire mesh rain gutter guard $ 3
    (Local home improvement store)
    • Contour Glazing putty $ 13
    • 2 Part Epoxy
    (Any will do, I used Gorilla Glue 2 Part Epoxy $4)
    • 4 inch black zip ties >$2

    • Eastwood Straight Cut Tin Snips
    • Flush cut, wire cutters
    (Heavy duty scissors may work)
    Sand Paper
    o 100-150 Grit
    o 220-280 Grit
    Pneumatic die grinder or dremel
    Burring bit
    Cut off wheel
    • Razor knife or exacto knife with fresh blade
    • Aerosol Spray Paint of Choice (Eastwood 2K Aero)
    • Flat blade screw driver
    • Needle nose pliers
    • Soldering Iron may be needed depending on specific grill*
    • For a more professional job Eastwood Hot Stapler Plastic Repair Kit



    The first step is to remove any trim or emblems you will be reusing and do not want to get damaged.  For this grill I removed the center emblem using a flat blade screw driver to release the clips holding it in, I also removed the outside trim which was attached the same way as the emblem. Next I used a cut off wheel and tin snips to completely cut out the center section of the grill.  I made sure to not remove too much material and damage the plastic inside of the grill, it could have caused more problems later.  By doing this I just wanted to remove the bulk of the plastic, this isn’t the final cut so you do not need to go crazy with being exact.



    This particular grill had its own set of challenges because the areas where the horizontal cross pieces where is now hollow which will need to be filled later.



    To remove the remaining pieces of the horizontal slats I used a pair of fine flush wire cutters, these can be purchased at your local hardware store.  I use these because the cutting jaws are very sharp and are great for precision work like this.  be careful though because the blades chip easily so plastic and thin copper wire are about all these can be used for.  try to cut as close as you can while using the wire cutters, it will save time later when sanding.



    Using a pneumatic grinder or dremel with a carbide bit or a grinding stone, remove any remaining plastic.  You want to take it down slightly below the surface, this will allow you to achieve a smooth finished surface once you fill the areas.



    To deal with the openings left from the hollow cross pieces I used my Eastwood straight cut snips to remove a flat piece from the old plastic to be cut into triangle shapes to fill the openings.



    To attach them to the grill frame I first put a piece of masking tape on the inside, the tape will hold the pieces in place.  I used a soldering iron to melt the plastic back together, this way there is only one material in use.  Using some form of an epoxy is always an option but you run the risk of the glue not having the ability to be sanded if it were to run on to the clean side.



    With both sides now melted together the inside of the grill frame must be addressed.  I tried to cut the filler pieces as close as I could to minimize the amount of filler needed.  I chose to use Eastwood Contour Glazing Putty, although some of the crevasses were a little deep the structure behind them was strong enough that I didn't have to worry about the filler cracking.  When applying filler to plastic make sure to roughen up and thoroughly clean the area, the filler needs something to attach to or else it will flake off.  Something to watch out for when using the Contour Putty is that you can easily put too much hardener in since so little material is used.



    Once the filler is on it only takes a few minutes for it to harden enough to start sanding. Using 120 Grit sand paper slowly remove the filler until it closely matches the original shape of the grill frame. I then used 280 grit paper to level off the filler to exactly match the shape of the grill.  I was able to achieve this with only one pass of filler but in some cases another layer of filler and a second round of sanding will be needed to get the finish you want.





    To make the wire mesh easier to work with I laid it over top of the grill and using my snips I roughly cut the shape of the grill. Doing this allows you to visualize what the grill will look like.




    After trimming off the excess mesh I used the zip ties on the top and bottom to temporarily mount the mesh into position. Before using the zip ties I reinstalled the grill trim to make sure everything was set in position, in my case the grill frame did twist slightly.  If I had mounted the mesh without putting the trim back on the final alignment would have most likely been off and the grill may not have fit correctly.



    On the top side of the grill drilled small holes along the top edge and used the zip ties to mount the top permanently to the grill frame.  Although some may say it looks tacky to have exposed zip ties the location these are in relation to where it will be on the car makes them nearly impossible to see without looking up on the grill from the ground.  The zip ties also give the mesh two different types of adhesion to the grill frame, chemical with the epoxy and mechanical with the zip ties.



    It's close to completion, only a few more steps!  Now that the grill is held in place on the top and bottom the sides can be bent in to lock in the position of the mesh.  To do this I cut the over hanging mesh into 2" wide sections, this helps to bend it around any complex curves the back side of your grill may have.  Depending on your specific grill smaller increments maybe needed to form around the frame.



    With the mesh bent around the grill frame it is time to attach the sides,  a general purpose 2 part epoxy will work in this situation since it will not be the only way the mesh is attached. Along the bottom edge I put a drop of epoxy every couple inches to attach the mesh.  The construction of this grill made the bottom edge difficult to work with but the epoxy is more than strong enough to keep it in place.  The epoxy set time was only 5 minutes but I let it cure for about 20 minutes before removing the lower zip ties.



    In order to paint the grill trim needed to be removed as well as the outside edge needed to be taped to cover the trim mounting holes.  After two coats of matte black spray paint and about 2 hours dry time the trim can be put back on and your sporty wire mesh grill is complete!  Its up to you if you want to put the emblem back on, but if you like that clean de-badged look it's done.




    before grill pic1




    A project like this does take a good amount of time but in the end it is all worth it.  Aftermarket grills can cost several hundred dollars and most of the time they are made of inferior materials. Doing it yourself not only saves a ton of money, it also allows you to make your grill the way you want to and not have to settle for a generic design.


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