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Alright, here's the deal, pulling the ole dragster into the trailer and came to a sudden screetching hault. Jumped out to see WTF and noticed i didn't have the trailer tongue jacked high enough and the middle of the dragster was stuck at the back door/trailer floor intersection. Of course i drove the damn thing into the trailr right on top of one of the D-rings that i put in with grade -8 bolts in stead of rounded head lag bolts. So, the bolt rashed up the aero lip of my dragster pretty damn bad.

I'm a body man by trade, but went to school to be an Engineer so i've been out of main stream body work for quite a while 10+ years. I still fiddle with my own stuff and do a few jobs for friends but not doing it for a living these days. I know from experience on my brother's car (we did the same thing to his the first night we got it home) that the aluminum on these cars is very hard to straighten due to it work hardeing when you try to beat/bend it back into place (i learned a little in college).

Now my question to the body men/custom guys out there is this:

Is there something i can do to make this aluminum a little easier to move/straighten and get it close to its original shape before i put bondo down?

I think i have seen someone on one of those custom bike shows using an acetelyne torch without oxygen to heat the aluminum up a little before starting to bend it into the desired shape but figured i'd check here first before i go heating the shit out of the panel and totally f-ing it up beyond all chances of being repaired.

PS, its got 4 different colors on this panel and i have very very little paint left from the original paint job which was all custom mixed by yours truely and my brother (with a little help from Miller lite) so i'm trying to save the panel and the majority of the paint. If i have to get a new panel, i dont' think i'll have enough paint to make the match dead on.
 

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Not sure I can help you or not. First a flat surface is the hardest to repair. Even a little convexed helps. That was West coast Choppers that showed annealing. This is basically applying 400 degree heat to area you want to soften up. You will get temper or work hardening back in the prosces of working it back in place. Jesse did it much the same as the old guy I learned from. A good solid coat of black is about right, you get a feel for it. It's stiff you didn't heat enough. let cool at room temp wipe down and have at it.
Your biggest stumbling block or help is the expansion or contraction with heat and cold. To isolate this from area you prefer not to work, tape dry rags around it with some tough protective tape then wet them. I can only imagine you have a good crease. Start by using shrinking buck and hammer. If you slightly bow piece it will work a bit better. This will leave you with a bulge instead of a crease. Get torch out and with a carbonizing flame heat a 2 to 3 inch circle just till it gets a funny look not shiny. With shrinking hammer and dolly work out side of circle in quickly and cold sponge it. This should shrink the bulge down some on that end of crease. work from both ends to middle. Don't make too big of circle. You will find the panel warping at times only to settle back down when cool. All I can say is if you have high spots shrink them down and if you have low spots , bow panel enough that the lowest part is higher than the outside perimeters and tickle them up with the torch. It is just metal if low pick it up, high knock it down. If stretched , shrink it. You won't get in trouble till you put a file on it and file threw a high spot that should have been shrunk. You will also want a little bow when you file it. Not much. just enough to make file bite. Keep file clean helps too.

Tickling with heat is a very small flame circling indent coming closer and closer to center. You will see an outside ring raising and moving to center as your torch does. This is absolutely best way to get hail dents out also. If you watch heat you can a lot of times save paint. Good luck it is more art than work. Getting the right temp on torch is hard art. I've made a nose cone for an airplane prop out of flat sheet, The old guy I learned from made Midget bodies from scratch. You can surly flatten a crease. If you don't have any luck there is always a flush patch.
 

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One thing I forgot. Anytime you use heat let it get to room temp before doing more heat.
 

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Do you know what aluminum was used to make your body..

If it was bare 3003 or a Baked Enamel finished Aluminum it will be very soft from the start. If it is a 5052 or similar alloy it will be be pretty stiff.

I usually soften the metal by heating up the area and quickly quenching the area that needs to be worked with a wet rag.

400-500 degrees is where you need to get the temp to

I have fixed up the bottoms of some dragster panels that were 3003 with out having to use heat and only having to do some minor touch up...

If the crease is not to bad I use solid round stock in the radius that is taped up to prevent scratches on the out side and do all of the hammer work from the bottom

Good luck
 
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