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What to do if bondo found in car?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by robkmac, May 14, 2010.

  1. robkmac
    Joined: Apr 19, 2010
    Posts: 23


    I'm starting to look closer at the 1952 Chevy Sedan that I recently bought, and I'm starting to see areas where bondo has been used in the front fender and rear quarters. It's an amateur job because its wavy.

    The hood has a ton of bondo and they even tried to peak it using bondo.

    My question is, what should I do about this? Replace the panels altogether or cut the bondo out? Grind it down and redo it?

    Any thoughts appreciated......
  2. Rehpotsirhcj
    Joined: May 7, 2006
    Posts: 1,384

    1. Northwest HAMBers

    I'd get it the hell out of there and see what you really have.
  3. bondo can be used for good or's hard to say which you have without seeing in person.
  4. robkmac
    Joined: Apr 19, 2010
    Posts: 23


    It seems to be small areas, but just done poorly. The car is solid, no rust, and I figured all cars this old are going to have some bondo.

  5. robkmac
    Joined: Apr 19, 2010
    Posts: 23


    You mean cut out that area or just sand / grind it out?
  6. trad27
    Joined: Apr 22, 2009
    Posts: 1,139


    wire wheel it off to see what you really have. sometimes bondo isnt that bad, I would rather have a hood someone peeked using bondo then some bubble gum welds and thin metal to fix.
  7. Rehpotsirhcj
    Joined: May 7, 2006
    Posts: 1,384

    1. Northwest HAMBers

    36 is right that it could be fine if done correctly, but if its thick and/or looks like a rushed job, just wheel one area out to see what you have. If it might consider pulling out a couple more :)
  8. buy a better hood and fenders then hire a good bodyman.
  9. RJP
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 2,163


    Sounds like you have a complete resto ahead of you. If there was bondo used, who knows about the build on the rest of the car. Better take it down to bare frame, and start replacing everything with new NOS.
  10. airmentbob
    Joined: Sep 25, 2009
    Posts: 75

    from san diego

    that's about how i started on my 55 two door. my pops was laughing at me the whole time i was stripping the car down. he used to say, are you sure that isn't a volkswagen under there. i stripped it and down and have been fixing every piece of cancer i find. i'd say well worth it, cuz i'm keeping this car. but to you, i'd say it depends on, if you want to keep this car or flip it one day. if you want to keep it, fix it from the metal up. but if you plan on selling,...does it matter any more after that?
  11. Stick Shift
    Joined: Oct 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,558

    Stick Shift
    from LENA IL

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha;)

    If it a California car I would just sell it to some one from IL.
  12. Dr Goggles
    Joined: Sep 27, 2007
    Posts: 154

    Dr Goggles

    Don't go hacking it out until you have a plan on how you are going to fix/deal/replace it........ don't let the bondo fundamentalists talk you into doing something dumb. They'll tell you your going to hell for even having a car with bondo in it, tell 'em to come over and fix it then. A bare metal job is the realm of a skilled tradesman, you might be able to develop those skills, BUT what you don't want is a half finished car taking up space while you do learn what is an art that may evade you.....

    now, that's sounds like good advice but you mightn't be able to afford the bits you need, let alone the tradesman.....if you can , and it's important to then you read no further.

    unless you're loaded and you're building a show car, forget it. Attack small areas at a time, or leave it unmolested and ask around for the bodyshop in your area that you can't afford , then go there for a quote and ask them for a full assessment, they might want to charge you for their time.....they'll tell you.Then you'll know what you've got and you won't have had to hack into it.....

    my tip? drive the fucker...those guys hassling you about bondo are the same ones who used to rag you about having last years wheels on your skateboard........
  13. carcrazyjohn
    Joined: Apr 16, 2008
    Posts: 4,844

    from trevose pa

    Id start longboarding the panels and filling with more bondo .If its small enough glazing putty
  14. If you have no idea what you're doing, I'd leave it the hell alone rather than maybe make it worse.

    I certainly wouldn't go out buying replacement panels until I knew why they used filler on the ones I have now. It should be easy to look inside the hood on one of these and be able to see if it's been dented - the only place I've ever seen one rot was at the rear just ahead of the hinges, down the side of the hood - on only a couple of salt belt cars out of hundreds.
  15. madgrinder
    Joined: Feb 5, 2005
    Posts: 323


    say it with me...

    "Bondo is NOT the Devil"

    Fillers are an excellent surface-prep for blocking and getting a car perfectly straight. Without fillers, mere mortals could not have Hot Rods or Kustoms. Metalwork is an art.

    Ask the Barris Bro's how much lead is in those old Kustoms... I bet some weigh 150lbs more than the stock versions.
  16. Automotive Stud
    Joined: Sep 26, 2004
    Posts: 4,190

    Automotive Stud

    Just because there's some bondo in the car doesn't make it junk. It sounds like it took you a while to realize it was there, I take it the car is presentable as is. Unless you really want to dive into it full bore leave it be and enjoy it as is.
  17. unkledaddy
    Joined: Jul 21, 2006
    Posts: 2,865


    It must look pretty good or you wouldn't have bought it (?)
    Baby-steps! Do a small area at a time, you know like we used to when we were kids.
    Fool around with an area that can be put back in primer by Friday night!
    There's a lot more Bondo at the LARS than folks realize, and it doesn't rust.
  18. chubbie
    Joined: Jan 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,318


    all cars have bondo! It's how it was used is the question
  19. Captain Freedom
    Joined: May 6, 2009
    Posts: 262

    Captain Freedom
    from Upstate SC

    This is what you need to do:
    Like somone said above, take a wirebrush on a drill to an area and see whats under it. If the body filler wasn't put on 2" thick, over rust/paint/primer, then its probably OK, but when you get down to the bare metal look for scratches made from a grinder w/40grit. If thats not there, take it all off and do it right. Filler must be applied over bare metal that has been scrathed up so it will have something to adhere to. Another reason to remove it would be if it has been exposed to moisture for a long time.
    What some people do is cover every square inch of a car in a thin coat of filler and block it down to get it lazer straight....and thats OK to do!
  20. Rich Wright
    Joined: Jan 9, 2008
    Posts: 3,922

    Rich Wright

    The above is the best advise you're going to get, But I'd add this to it...

    Just because the bondo wasn't blocked to perfection doesn't mean it was installed improperly. One doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the other.

    Any idea how long ago it was applied and the car painted??
    Are there any symptoms of adhesion failure??? ie: bubbling, cracks/peeling over the repaired ares??

    If it's been there for a while and adhered to the metal/NOT in failure mode, why dig it out???
    Look behind the panels at the repaired areas, if possible, and ascertain the condition of the damaged metal and how thick the mud was applied.

    If it's not failing and your concerns are based on how straight it is, then just block it, prep it for paint and be done with it. (NOTE... If you aren't proficient at blocking bondo and primer, you're no where near prepared to strip it and then metal finish everything...)

    Rule of thumb here... "If it aint broke..don't fix it"
  21. chevyshack
    Joined: Dec 28, 2008
    Posts: 950


    Bondo can be your friend if used correctly. My great uncle when he died had a whole paint cabinet full of it. He must of had stocks in it or something. He was an excellent body man but very broke. Not sure if he used it correctly but he lived in Texas. Not a whole lotta rust there.
  22. drive the shit out of it!
  23. cvstl
    Joined: Apr 15, 2009
    Posts: 1,479

    from StL MO
    1. H.A.M.B. Chapel

    Rich's post, added to the one that he quoted was the most complete and best advice yet...... leave it alone if you don't know what to do. Try fixing some bad work on a junk car or fender before hacking into yours.
  24. 39 All Ford
    Joined: Sep 15, 2008
    Posts: 1,531

    39 All Ford
    from Benton AR

    There is only one thing you can do....


    A wire wheel works great, it won't get the metal as hot as a flap wheel, grinder, etc, and is a lot faster than sandpaper.

    A while back I was taking some bondo out of my door, went in to take a phone call. When I came back out my brother in law had helped me by getting it all out for me with a grinder.

    While the door was not in a fire, it LOOKED like it had been in a fire, he warped the shit out of that door... I was not gracious, and he never helped me again, not once... :D
    Last edited: May 15, 2010
  25. fleetside66
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 2,813


    John's not so crazy..he has a good point. In this particular situation (very key here), if there is no rust bleeding out arounds the edges of the areas of concern, longboarding a glaze might be the ticket. Then drive it & enjoy it.
  26. Strange Agent
    Joined: Sep 29, 2008
    Posts: 2,879

    Strange Agent
    from Ponder, TX

    Can we see pictures of the car?
  27. 39 All Ford
    Joined: Sep 15, 2008
    Posts: 1,531

    39 All Ford
    from Benton AR

    That is what I am planning to do on a certain 1950 Plymouth I have in my shop... It is a little "wavy", but not rusty, just needs some help.

    I think the guy who did the work thought that ONLY a D/A was to be used for all bodywork.
  28. Depends.

    The driver's side rear quarter of my 1951 Mercury had a lot of thick bondo, that panel had been pushed in a bit in an old accident. Bondo had been applied like a skim coast of plaster. We removed it.



  29. robkmac
    Joined: Apr 19, 2010
    Posts: 23


    Thanks for the advice. It's really not that much and only in small areas, but just maybe not sanded or finished. Behind the panels doesn't look bad either. The hood is another story, probably going to need a new hood. It's a mess.

    I'm going to be posting pic's soon to start a build thread.....
  30. Steelsmith
    Joined: Feb 5, 2007
    Posts: 581


    Captain Freedom is really showing his age with that recommendation! The bondo of the 70's did have some adhesion issues! Then it was very common to install extra 'worm holes' to work the bondo through the panel so it held on real good! We didn't realize that holes through the panels for the bondo to squeeze out of on the backside, allowed moisture to wick through those same holes using the bondo as a path. This allowed rust to form beneath the bondo against the outer surface of the metal panel. Things were rusting beneath the bondo. As the rust matures the adhesion is further compromised and if you are in a climate that experiences freezing weather, any moisture that gets behind bondo and freezes acts as a lever, prying the bondo further off of the panel where more water can freeze and repeat!

    Starting in the mid 80's body filler had improved drastically. You can still purchase cheap junk filler, with poor adhesion qualities. Most auto parts stores carry a cheapo brand for the weekend warrior type. If you use a quality filler from a bodyshop supply house, like 'Rage' or any of the stuff used by quality pro-shops adhesion is no longer an issue. Body shop supply houses do carry a cheapo line of filler too. It's not much better than the stuff from the auto parts store. That's not the stuff to use.

    Since the work on your car is wavey, it would make me suspicious of the filler used. Go ahead and wire brush out one of the so called repairs. As you get to the underlying panel observe how well it sticks to it. If it sticks well, it doesn't matter if it was applied over the paint. The factory paint was baked on and has better adhesion than most fillers. Roughing up a factory paint job with 80-150# sand scratches will be a better rust barrier than bare metal under filler.
    The newest standard calls for 'straightened' metal to be sprayed with epoxy-primer which is allowed to cure before applying filler over the epoxy primer. Currently there is even debate as to whether roughing up the surface of the epoxy with more than a 'red' Scotchbrite is needed before quality filler is applied. Most manfacturers say no.

    If you don't have an adhesion problem, and there aren't the 70's 'wormholes' for adhesion, purchase a hand held longboard. Not an air board! You don't have the skills to use that, without creating more work. The manual long board sander should be outfitted with 100-120# paper and the areas in question smoothed out. Stop when you first see any metal showing. If there are areas where the sanding has not touched they are low and require filling for a wave-free surface. It's up to you as to whether this car becomes a yard ornament or not. If you take on one panel at a time and reseal with a waterproof primer it can be a work in progress that continues to improve over time. If you do opt for the ground up restoration, I hope you have at a minimum of $10,000 and a couple of years of you own time to spend. If you don't, go the other route and straighten the surface as best you can prime it and drive it!

    Cars are to be enjoyed! Don't make it into an impossible project/something you wind up hating.

    Dan Stevens
    dba, Steelsmith

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