Auto Body Repair - Overview


It's not like it used to be. But in some ways, it is.

Years ago, all cars, trucks, and vans were built on frames. The body rested on the frame, just as a horse-drawn carriage rested on a frame. In the 1920's and 30's, automakers began to think about eliminating the frame, to save weight and thus improve gas mileage. In the early 1940's, manufacturers in the United States began to mass-produce cars that had no frames. This "unit body" or unibody (monocoque in Europe) manufacturing technique later became the standard way to make cars, although many trucks made today still employ a frame.

Body work consists of working with and repairing automobile, car, van and SUV body panels and other exterior body parts. These include bumpers, hoods, tops, and grilles. Body work is a very lucrative segment of the automotive repair industry. Hundreds of thousands are employed world wide in this ever-changing field. The skilled work uses many unique tools, and all kinds of equipment and techniques to do the job.

If you are a serious repairer of exterior body parts and components, you must inevitably learn how to weld. Welding means using heat to attach two pieces of metal. There are two ways to generate enough heat to do this. Either gas or electricity. On your journey into body repair, you will become familiar with the different types of welding. They include arc welding, carbon-arc welding, oxy-acetylene welding, MIG welding and TIG welding. You will also become familiar with the equipment needed and the various welding techniques, including brazing, heat shrinking, spot welding and joint welding.

In addition to welding, there are other basics included in body work. These basics include panel beating, getting rid of rust, painting, and bodywork repairs and improvements.

Panel beating is the most basic of all body repair techniques, but is also one of those that requires the most skill. As a body person you will learn how to expertly get rid of bumps, dents, and breaks using various panel-beating techniques and tools.

With rust proofing, you will need to know how and why rust occurs so you can effectively prevent it and get rid of it when it forms on any body part. You will also learn about the many products and techniques that are involved with rust removal and rust inhibiting.

Painting is another major skill in body work. As a painter, you will need to know about preparation not only on the vehicle but in the garage; and about the many kinds of paints, including undercoats, etch primers, clear-over base coats, enamels, lacquers, metallic paints, sealers, and low-bake paints. Then you will find out about applicators - the spray guns - that have various kinds of feeds, and how to use them and clean them.

You will also learn about the many important safety measures that must be observed. These include working with vehicles and lifting equipment, but also with fumes, fire, electricity, compressed gases, plastics, liquids, and first aid.

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