Our VN’s panels are in pretty good condition however they have not been immune to the usual shopping trolley dents and with the passengers rear door being the worst we thought we would start there.
I find it easier to remove the panel from the vehicle if possible, having a damaged spine makes it almost impossible for me to work on vertical panels but you may find it easier with the panels left on the car.
Ok, so our door is all over the shop and would look pretty ordinary once the top coat went on but instead of trying to repair every dent individually we are going to use the speed file to identify each dodgy area and then put a thin layer of filler over the area. Once sanded down with the speed file we should, in theory, have a nice straight panel. Once the primer/filler has been applied we will be doing a light guide coat and sanding the primer to ensure we have all problem areas covered. More on that a little later.
The first thing to do is to strip the door handles, trim pieces etc so we have a nice flat surface to work with. Then we take out the speed file and start the hard work. After about twenty minutes of sanding this what we end up with, a true indication of where the high and low areas of the panel are. The pictures aren’t the best I know and silver is not a good colour to illustrate this but on this panel there are many areas where the sandpaper has not touched (low areas that need to be filled) and areas where all the paint has been removed (high areas that need to be tapped down).
After a little bit of hammer and dolly work on the high spots we then start to apply the filler to the low areas.
And after an hour or so with the speed file this is the result. All things being equal we should now have a nice straight door ready to undercoat. I used 80 grit paper on the speed file and 120 grit with a sanding block to finish it off. We are using a high-fill primer/spray putty as our undercoat but if you plan on using just primer/surfacer I suggest going to a finer grade paper to finish the panel. Primer/surfacer is not very good at covering sanding marks so they all need to be removed before applying it. High-fill primer is a little more forgiving.
A quick note when using a speed file – when sanding down the filler you might be tempted to sand across the panel to flatten out any ‘ridges’. Usually if there are areas of filler that are not sanding down flat while sanding with the lines of the panel (see directional arrows on pic) those areas will need more filler. A thin coat over these areas will smooth things out and keep the lines of the panel straight.
In Part Five we will cover apply the primer – finally!