Tag Archives: filling

  • Tech Tip- How to easily fill body seams with TIG Rod and a MIG Welder

    One thing I like about building a true custom (not just bolting on shiny wheels and putting stickers on the windows) is that there are no rules. It's all about what looks good and what fits your vision of the final product that is YOUR project. One theme that I have with Project Pile House is to make the body less "busy" and give it a smoother overall appearance. These trucks were meant to be utility vehicles, so there wasn't much thought put into styling. Definitely not like their passenger car counterparts. All that anyone really cared about was that it was reliable, could haul a lot in the bed, and that the hood, doors, and tailgate closed and latched. So this means I need to fill and smooth a lot of body seams or body lines that are all over the cab and front end.

    These seams need to be filled with metal, and should not be filled with body filler, no matter how tempting it is to just run a bead of filler along them. Occasionally you can get away with filling a seam by slowly stitch welding it shut, but this could require a few passes to completely fill the seam and it puts unnecessary heat into the panels around it. I've found that these seams can be easily filled by using TIG filler rod and a MIG welder. This tech tip should help you fill body seams quickly.

    You want to start by removing any paint or rust around the seam, and then run a wire wheel in the groove to remove anything tucked into tight crevices. I found an angle grinder with a flap disc takes care of most of the process, but a thin wire wheel cleans out any remaining debris. If you're the overly cautious type you can spray some Self Etching Weld Thru Primer in the seam to help seal the area.

    After you're down to clean metal, you'll want to find a TIG filler rod that will fill the seam and sit flush, or just below, the surface. You then want to set your MIG welder to a higher voltage or heat setting than normal for the metal you're welding. The idea is to produce a quick, hot spot weld that melts the filler rod into the seam and leaves a fairly flat weld on top of the panel. The flatter the final weld is, the less grinding will be required.

    After you have a few spot welds holding the filler rod in place, you can then stitch weld the rod into the seam. Always remember to alternate your spot welds and allow the panel too cool in between welds. The seam should look something like below after it's completely welded.

    With the seam filled, you can take a flap disc or low grit sanding disc and knock the "proud" welds down until they blend into the surrounding metal. You should be left with a seam that's filled with metal (and not filler!) and will require little bodywork when it comes time for paint.

    -Matt/EW

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  • How to Fill and Shave Unused Holes in Your Project

    When building a custom, or resto-mod vehicle one of the most common modifications you can do is to "shave" or fill unused holes in the body of the vehicle. While I was waiting on metal to finish the Custom Running Board Build on Project Pile House, I decided to start shaving some of the unused holes in the bed of the truck. Since this truck was used as a farm truck most of its life, it's had countless brackets, hooks, and other do-dads added that left holes when I removed them. Even though the truck looks pretty rough in its current state, I have pipe dreams of this thing being a nice, solid truck someday, so shaving these unused holes is still progress!

    There are a few ways to fill unused holes in the body of your car or truck. The techniques really vary on the size of the holes. The key tip is to make sure you take the time to setup your welder for nice flat spot welds and leave time for the metal to cool between each weld.

    The easiest holes to fill are small holes about the diameter of a pen or smaller. For these types of holes I start by cleaning the area around the hole with an Angle Grinder and Flap Disc. Sheet metal on the body of cars and trucks is pretty thin (usually 18-22 gauge). So you won't have much forgiveness if you try to pile weld in the hole and you can end up with a bigger hole than you started with! For this reason I always like to use Copper Backers and Welders Helpers to back up and quickly fill the hole. MIG wire doesn't stick to the copper backer directing the weld to the edges of the hole and quickly filling small holes. Be sure to hit the trigger of the welder for a few seconds at a time. Properly adjusted MIG welders should make filling small holes only take a few seconds. A trick I use while the metal is still hot, is to take a Hammer and Dolly and flatten out the spot welds while they're still hot and soft. This will save you time and unneeded heat into the panel when you finish grind the panel with a flap disc.

    Shaving larger holes and openings in the body takes a little more time and care, but can be done with minimal tools. I again started by cleaning the area with a flap disc and angle grinder, then I took some metal from our Patch Panel Kit and traced the opening I was filling from behind.

    Once I had the basic shape, I roughly cut it out with Tin Snips. A grinder or power metal shears would work as well if desired(I've found for small pieces that tin snips work best). With the shape rough cut, I took the small piece to a Belt Sander or Grinder and carefully sanded the metal until it was just smaller than the opening I was filling (leave a small gap for the weld to bridge across).

    Once the patch panel is a good fit, I used a Magnetic Welding Jig to hold the metal in place for the first couple tack welds. Once the patch panel is lightly tacked, I removed the magnet and again use a copper backer or welders helper while spot welding around the hole. When welding these larger holes you need to make sure you jump around and weld in an "X" pattern allowing the panel to cool in between welds. Like the smaller holes, I like to hammer the welds with a hammer and dolly to flatten them out as much as possible.

    Once the hole has been filled and all of the gaps are closed, I took a flap disc and blended the weld into the surrounding metal, again stopping along the way to allow the metal to cool and avoid panel warpage.

    With some practice you can shave and fill holes on the body of your project and leave no trace of your work. Below you can see how the repair area is almost invisible and would only take a little more sanding and a small swipe of body filler to have the panel ready for primer and paint.

    Now that I have a few holes shaved on the bed of Pile House, I have officially caught the "smooth" bug and I'm already looking for other unneeded holes to fill and clean up the overall look of this project. Stay tuned for more updates as we keep working on turning this farm truck into a head turner!

    -Matt/EW

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