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Discussion Starter #1
Hi - I plan to start my first pass at fixing some rust on my car. I bought a used welder etc... Plan to use a tank, not flux core.

I have looked through the BB at lots of the body restore postings.

Never done this before. I have some scrap sheet metal that I plan to practice on. I have a hand held Makita grinder.

My basic questions are:
What type wheel do you use to remove the paint and rust?
What sort of wheel do you use to cut the metal?
What sort of wheel do you all use to grind down the welds?

Any and all responses appreciated (especially with links to the wheels you use, at say Amazon).

Thanks!
 

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My first suggestion would be to go hang out at a local body shop and observe the pros and see how they do it. I did this 50 years ago and learned a lot.
Second get a crumpled fender at a wrecking yard and practice.
Bob
 

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1. I use a blue Norton redi-strip wheel or plain old wire wheel to remove the paint (filler, bog, mastic) and rust
2. Ordinary everyday metal cutting disc, 1mm thick
3. A flap disc removes welds and metal fast like butter, be careful.

Practice on some spare metal. Good welds need clean steel, no rust, shiny. Get a feel for your welder and the settings it needs for the thickness of steel you want to join. Buy a good spot weld cutter/drill bit too for removing panels, it can be faster and cheaper to replace panels than it is to beat, patch and weld them up.. Or to get to panels that need patching.

Enjoy!
 

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You've never welded or done any auto body work before and you're going to try on your car?

Man, I would seriously study up before trying that. Welding done right is almost an art, and it really requires a lot of knowledge and experience relating to metal types, temperatures, weld type, etc. There are also a host of safety issues involved (e.g., grounding when arc welding, issues with proximity to fuel lines/gas tank, etc.) If you don't know what you are doing you might really warp and screw up the panels you are working on (at best) or blow yourself up (at worst). I love watching these car restoration shows on TV, but they've really contributed to a common misconception that restoration work is easy. And by the way, it isn't just the welding - fabrication of a patch is a skill unto itself, particularly if it's not just a simple flat panel (which they never are).

I'm no expert and would love someday to learn how to weld, but I've done enough grunt-level dent, prep, blocking and pre-paint work to know it is far from easy.

I'm not sure this is feasible, but there may be a local adult ed/vocational program you could do, covering auto body and fender work, including welding. Not sure you would have the time and patience to go through that, but it would probably teach you all you need to know at a basic level, and would make your first foray on your Alfa a lot more likely to be successful.

Good luck whatever you do!

Also - to answer your questions partly - in terms of stripping and grinding, use a rotary grinder and grinding wheels made for auto body restoration of various grits (lower the grit, the higher the cutting power). e.g., to strip and grind caked paint and known filler areas and get down to body rot to be replaced, you'd use a 60 grit wheel. A similar wheel could also be used to smooth down weld seams. But as you progress with restoration, you're going to want different tools depending on the area being repaired - e.g., in-line sander, 3/4 sheet sander, palm sander, and even hand blocking and wet sanding. All with various grits of paper.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you all for your concern.

I basically traded $300 and a 50CC scooter for my Spider - with the intention of learning/practicing things like welding...

I have plenty of spare sheet metal to practice on and I plan to build a cart first too - before I attack the car resto.

Craig - thanks for the recommendations.
 
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