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View Full Version : WHY do People "Fix" Old Cars With Bondo?


ralph124c
06-03-2006, 07:05 PM
Bondo (for those of you who don't know) is a fast hardening filler plastic, that people use to make slapdash repairs to rusted areas of car bodies. The problem is: unless you remove every molecule of corrosion, the rusting continues under the bondo, and the bondo eventually falls off. So now you have the same damage, only worse. Ahyway, I have tried using the stuff, and it never seems to solve anything. Maybe it works OK in dry climates? Anyway, why butcher a nice car this way? Do the job right. :smack:

elfkin477
06-03-2006, 07:10 PM
As far as I can tell, people who use bondo are primiarily hoping to get the car to pass this year's inspection. Rust holes --> failed inspection. Since the cars are old, anyway, usually, why spend much time planning on the long term? Something else will probably fail on them before the further rust issue becomes a problem.

Besides, some people do spend the time to get rid of the rust first, anyway. I know my parents did when they used it a couple decades ago, and the bondo never fell off during the 2-3 years after that they kept the car.

Declan
06-03-2006, 07:14 PM
Bondo (for those of you who don't know) is a fast hardening filler plastic, that people use to make slapdash repairs to rusted areas of car bodies. The problem is: unless you remove every molecule of corrosion, the rusting continues under the bondo, and the bondo eventually falls off. So now you have the same damage, only worse. Ahyway, I have tried using the stuff, and it never seems to solve anything. Maybe it works OK in dry climates? Anyway, why butcher a nice car this way? Do the job right. :smack:

A couple of bucks in Canadian tire and you have a bondo buggie that passes the ministry safety. Couple of months later , toss the winter beater.

Vastly cheaper than a visit to the Bodyshop

Declan

engineer_comp_geek
06-03-2006, 07:39 PM
I used to have an old truck which one of my co-workers called the "bondo bandit". The first few times I put bondo on the truck, it was for two reasons: (1) To stop the rust holes from getting worse and (2) to pass inspection. The first couple of times, I went to the bother of sanding everything down smooth and painting it up nice so you couldn't even tell there had ever been a problem. Later on in the truck's life, I didn't bother putting so much effort into it. I figured it's an old beater truck, why even try to make it look pretty.

The truck had close to 250k miles on it when I did finally get rid of it. Only two of the many bondo patches started to rust back through, and neither one of them rusted completely through to the point where I would have had to patch them again to make them pass inspection. If I had kept the truck for another 100k miles though I probably would have had to re-patch a couple of spots.

I think people who have problems with the same areas rusting over and over again are just being lazy and aren't sanding down to bare metal.

I live in southern PA, by the way, which is not what I would call a "dry" area.

Tuckerfan
06-03-2006, 08:17 PM
The alternatives to using bondo are as follows:[list]
Patch panels
Replacement part
Lead
[/ist]

If there's no patch panels commercially available, you have to have them custom made which can be expensive, and it's often difficult to find someone who can do the job properly. Replacement parts from a scrap yard are a possibility, but could be expensive, and if the rust is in an area that always rusts out on a particular car, it can be well neigh impossible to find a part without rust. Lead is increasingly difficult to find (thanks to EPA regulations) and is kind of dangerous to work with, so it's not commonly used any more.

kunilou
06-03-2006, 09:51 PM
My ex-wife's father (an extrmely skilled body and fender specialist) always said "Bondo is the easy way."

I think that pretty much answers the question.

Johnny L.A.
06-03-2006, 10:07 PM
The alternatives to using bondo are as follows:
Patch panels
Replacement part
Lead


If there's no patch panels commercially available, you have to have them custom made which can be expensive, and it's often difficult to find someone who can do the job properly. Replacement parts from a scrap yard are a possibility, but could be expensive, and if the rust is in an area that always rusts out on a particular car, it can be well neigh impossible to find a part without rust. Lead is increasingly difficult to find (thanks to EPA regulations) and is kind of dangerous to work with, so it's not commonly used any more.
(Fixed coding.) If I had settled for Bondo, I'd be driving my car by now. But except for hiring a lazy bum body guy, I had it done right. Fortunately the British Motor Heritage Trust sells OEM sheet metal. Full panels, partial panels, and lead filler has been expensive, but the body looks great. Now if only I could get the hobbyist who's working on it to put the car back together...

I see a lot of mid-'70s-to-late-'80s Trans Ams and Cameros in various states of disrepair. These cars in particular seem to be driven by people who like them (for whatever reason -- but that's just my opinion) but do not have the means to do a proper restoration. In my opinion if the car is running then the chassis and body should be the first to be restored. Others may disagree with me, but I think a good restoration starts with a good foundation and the mechanical bits can wait. But it seems that many or most people would rather get the meanest engine and the best brakes and the shiniest wheels and the fattest tires. I guess there's not enough left in the budget for a full-on restoration of the structure.

So I think that a lot of people use Bondo for one of two reasons: Either as a 'temporary' fix with the intention of doing it right later as funds become available, or because they don't understand the limitations of Bondo and it's a lot cheaper.

YMMV.

Magiver
06-03-2006, 10:36 PM
People do it because it's easy and cheap. Unless you're me and it's too expensive. I used foam insulation on an old Maverick to push out a rusty qarter panel. It really held it in place.

True story. I was driving down the highway in a 1978 green 4-door rust bucket Maverick when a car pulls up and starts pacing me. I look over to see another green 4-door rust bucket Maverick and the driver is giving me the thumbs up. Almost drove off the road laughing.

Tuckerfan
06-03-2006, 11:14 PM
Say, Johnny, I spotted a late model MG convertable driving around not too long ago. Any ideas how it might have got to the States? I thought they quit exporting them to the US back in the 80s.

sturmhauke
06-03-2006, 11:18 PM
What's this inspection business? The only inspectionlike thing I have to do is a smog check every few years.

Johnny L.A.
06-03-2006, 11:29 PM
Say, Johnny, I spotted a late model MG convertable driving around not too long ago. Any ideas how it might have got to the States? I thought they quit exporting them to the US back in the 80s.
The last B imported to the U.S. was a 1980 year-model. Half a million Bs were imported over their 18-year run, making it (at the time) the first- or second-most popular roadster to that time. Many 'rubber bumper' MGBs have been restored and have had their black urethane bumpers painted to match the body, making them look very contemporary.

The MG TF (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_F) was made from 2002 - 2005, but was not exported to the U.S. If it's one of those that you saw, I'd assume it was a grey-market vehicle that someone shipped over.

Caffeine.addict
06-03-2006, 11:56 PM
So I think that a lot of people use Bondo for one of two reasons: Either as a 'temporary' fix with the intention of doing it right later as funds become available, or because they don't understand the limitations of Bondo and it's a lot cheaper.

YMMV.

Or as stated above the car isn't worth fixing properly. I've never had that kind of situation come up but I've had cars that were only worth $1000.00 and if the a proper fix cost more, it wasn't worth it.

Tuckerfan
06-03-2006, 11:58 PM
The last B imported to the U.S. was a 1980 year-model. Half a million Bs were imported over their 18-year run, making it (at the time) the first- or second-most popular roadster to that time. Many 'rubber bumper' MGBs have been restored and have had their black urethane bumpers painted to match the body, making them look very contemporary.

The MG TF (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_F) was made from 2002 - 2005, but was not exported to the U.S. If it's one of those that you saw, I'd assume it was a grey-market vehicle that someone shipped over.
Hmm. It must have been a mid-90s model or had a custom front end. It certainly looked brand new, but the front end had a slightly different shape than the 80 MGB.

Johnny L.A.
06-04-2006, 12:01 AM
Hmm. It must have been a mid-90s model or had a custom front end. It certainly looked brand new, but the front end had a slightly different shape than the 80 MGB.
The rubber bumber ones with painted bumpers might pass for a '90s model. They do look pretty sharp. (I'll still go for the chrome, though.) They did make a limited-edition V8 MGB in the '80s or '90s (Wiki says 1992; I'd have to check my books to be sure) that had an MGB with flairs at both ends. AFAIK, those were not imported here either.

Johnny L.A.
06-04-2006, 12:06 AM
MG RV8 photo (http://www.mgcars.org.uk/pics/silver10.jpg)

MG RV8 page (http://www.v8register.net/subpages/profileMGRV8.htm)

Tuckerfan
06-04-2006, 12:13 AM
MG RV8 photo (http://www.mgcars.org.uk/pics/silver10.jpg)

MG RV8 page (http://www.v8register.net/subpages/profileMGRV8.htm)
Ding! We have a winnuh! It had been converted to left hand drive, BTW.

Telemark
06-04-2006, 01:04 AM
What's this inspection business? The only inspectionlike thing I have to do is a smog check every few years.
Some states (like Massachusetts and NH) have safety inspections as well. One thing that will cause your car to fail inspection is outer body rust-through.

Finagle
06-04-2006, 09:29 AM
Anyway, why butcher a nice car this way? Do the job right. :smack:

Nice car? By the time a car starts rusting out to the Bondo point, it's simply a method of getting from point A to point B. The Bondo stops stuff from falling out of the car on the way.

You can do moderately decent repairs with Bondo and/or fiberglass. But why would anyone in their right mind spend thousands of dollars of bodywork on, say, a 10 year old Subaru station wagon with rusted out wheel wells when you can spend 30 dollars on Bondo, sandpaper, and spray paint and get a few more years out if?

MizGrand
06-05-2006, 10:07 AM
My DH has just gone through about four cans of the nasty stuff. He recently picked up a '67 VW Bug to play with that had a few dings/dents. You simply can't just tromp on down to Pick-n-Pull and get parts for that year Bug. The '67 is unique in that some larger body parts (deck lid, front hood) aren't interchangeable with other years.

When that was pointed out to me, I'm thinking "well, wasn't that stupid, go and buy a car that there's no parts for". Turns out that was the point. He wanted the "rare" year and is very proud of it. He did, however, take it to get painted and had the body shop do a couple of repairs.

Can anybody think of a "girlie" name that could be a species of bug or beetle? Car needs a name - according to him.

Here's "her" photos HERE (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rsschen)

MizGrand
06-05-2006, 10:09 AM
Shit! Free-for-all!

Can somebody fix that for me please? Pretty please? I really don't want my account plastered about. I see the error of my ways.

Kalhoun
06-05-2006, 01:10 PM
Most restorations I know of only use Bondo if they're nothin' special to begin with. Our Mustang will never see a bit of Bondo.

engineer_comp_geek
06-05-2006, 01:44 PM
What's this inspection business? The only inspectionlike thing I have to do is a smog check every few years.

Pennsylvania has an emissions check and a safety inspection every year. Some of the things in the safety inspection are good ideas, like checking to make sure there aren't any rust holes so that exhaust doesn't end up inside the passenger compartment. Some of the rules are just stupid and nit-picky though. The dome light (the little light above your head) has to work. The little marker lights for decoration on the car have to work.

Most restorations I know of only use Bondo if they're nothin' special to begin with. Our Mustang will never see a bit of Bondo.

Actually, I was just watching a TV show about a car being restored the other day. What surprised me is after they repaired the body, they covered the entire body in bondo and sanded it down. According to the guy doing the work, this was so that they could get sharper lines out of the car. They didn't just fill holes with bondo, though. They actually repaired the body properly, then applied bondo and sanded it. This was for a "show car" quality car, so you can't say it was nothin' special.

Enright3
06-05-2006, 05:07 PM
Shows what I know. I always thought Bondo was a perfectly acceptable and standard way of doing body repair. What is it that body repair shops use then when the fix a dent and have to apply putty, and sand it out? That putty isn't bondo?

Dolores Reborn
06-05-2006, 05:24 PM
My DH has just gone through about four cans of the nasty stuff. He recently picked up a '67 VW Bug to play with that had a few dings/dents. You simply can't just tromp on down to Pick-n-Pull and get parts for that year Bug. The '67 is unique in that some larger body parts (deck lid, front hood) aren't interchangeable with other years.

When that was pointed out to me, I'm thinking "well, wasn't that stupid, go and buy a car that there's no parts for". Turns out that was the point. He wanted the "rare" year and is very proud of it. He did, however, take it to get painted and had the body shop do a couple of repairs.

Can anybody think of a "girlie" name that could be a species of bug or beetle? Car needs a name - according to him.

Here's "her" photos HERE (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rsschen)
Lady! As in Ladybug!

Kalhoun
06-06-2006, 09:09 AM
Actually, I was just watching a TV show about a car being restored the other day. What surprised me is after they repaired the body, they covered the entire body in bondo and sanded it down. According to the guy doing the work, this was so that they could get sharper lines out of the car. They didn't just fill holes with bondo, though. They actually repaired the body properly, then applied bondo and sanded it. This was for a "show car" quality car, so you can't say it was nothin' special.
Did the car look basically the same as it would have originally? I can see using it to sculpt something slightly different (I guess). My husband watches all those car shows. Usually they show a guy hammering the bejesus out of something to form a new fender or what have you. I don't usually see bondo on those shows, but hey...whatever works, right?

engineer_comp_geek
06-06-2006, 11:17 AM
The car looked basically the same as it did originally. They weren't sculpting anything.