Lil Red - SJ restoration - Panel work progressing
Winchfield Engineering have sent over this update showing the progress on the panels.
The process is the same on all the panels.
They are inspected for corrosion and any corrosion spots are sandblasted clean to remove all the rust.
Here, on the tail gate, you can see where the corrosion has been cleaned away from the mounting holes where a small amount of surface rust existed.
The panel is then coated with a leveling filler.
We were offered a choice of "as manufactured" or "absolutely flat". The "as manufactured" means that the spot welds and natural ripples in the panel created by the spot welds would remain visible. "Absolutely flat" means these welds and panel imperfections are removed to create a perfectly smooth finish, ie. better that Suzuki originally made.
We had a debate on this because the SJ was a cheap build in the factory and therefore its imperfections could be considered to be part of its character.
However, James also loves a shine and perfection, so he elected for a full flattening finish.
As you can see on the right, the filler shows where the panel was not flat!
Moving on to the doors, a similar process was carried out.
Here you can see an almost innocuous area of "surface rust" at the bottom corner (see picture on the right)
Running a sander over the rust area revealled it went much deeper.
The sandblaster then cleaned it up and revealed the actual holes in the panel. They are going to repeat this process over the entire car to find and clear all the rust.
The doors are then level filled and sanded. This door (the passenger side) has a low area in the centre of the main panel. As mentioned above this is more likely to be just a natural low area formed in the manufacturing as it was only just visible when the door was highly polished.
As per our "absolutely flat" request, this low area has been removed by filling.
Whilst the work appears to be progressing well, we are still some weeks from the end. Therefore it is not a good idea to keep panels with bare metal surfaces lying around.
Therefore Winchfield have coated them with an epoxy coat. This is a hard, non-porous coat that seals the surface to provide protection.