In a previous column, I described the early stages of repair and preparation on Project X – a 2001 Dodge Dakota 4×4 truck destined for adventure in the foothills of southern Alberta. My basic requirement was that X didn’t have to be beautiful, but it must be reasonable looking and reliable above all.
Part 1 concluded with the broken parts stripped off and the left fender test fitted. Since that time, much has happened. Body parts came from two private sellers, combined with a trip to Pick and Pull, a grab-it-yourself operation. A gently used right fender was fitted and the hood received some dent removal action and primer. The bumper, lower fascia, grille, and headlights were installed and aligned.
This was fiddly work and the truth is used parts offer challenges unknown with new pieces. Because a goal of the project was to stay low-buck and cost-effective, good used parts were a necessity. If you have more time than money or are obsessively frugal like me, then reuse and recycle is the correct option.
The fenders received 3 coats of Dupli-Color’s Bright Silver Metallic applied via spray cans. The paint was blended into the front doors and on the hood, to ease the transition between new and old paint.
I used a high volume low pressure spray gun also from Canadian Tire to spray 3 coats of Dupli-Color clear. The kit I chose came with a small spray gun for touch-ups, and a larger gun for bigger surfaces. Both worked great, and I would say that the kit offers great value.
The blended areas were then polished with a Simonize 17.5 cm variable speed polisher-sander coupled with Autoglym Super Resin Polish. This polish is slightly abrasive, so it can eliminate the small amount of overspray that naturally occurs on a blended panel.
With the machine set on a medium low speed, I kept it moving over the painted surfaces and didn’t apply excessive pressure. The weight of the polisher by itself seemed to provide the correct amount of down force. With the polishing out of the way, I declared the paint work finished and final assembly began.
Given the “off the beaten path” direction of this vehicle, I thought that something tough on the bottom of the truck would work well for the intended purpose. I finished off the rocker panels with Dupli-Color’s Bed Armor Kit – the same material that is used inside the truck box. I like the finish of the Bed Armor although it was messy to apply. Three coats were required for the coverage and look I sought. The Bed Armor Kit is available through Canadian Tire as well.
The final touches included the painting of the fender flares with Mar-Hyde® Black Satin™ Automotive Trim Coating from Calgary Body Shop Supplies. This product sticks tenaciously to flexible pieces such as the fender flares without cracking and falling off. The flares were re-installed as were the front inner fender liners. The front bumper fascia and rear bumper inserts also got a coat of Mar-Hyde® to complete the black accent theme.
There have been lessons learned. Achieving shiny paint takes patience, progressively finer sandpaper, and talent with a spray gun. For me, two out of three worked out and I openly admit I need to refine my spray gun technique.
I also made an assumption that previous paint repairs were the correct color and that my blending efforts would work out perfectly. This was not the case. And lastly, if you don’t enjoy this type of repair process, don’t buy a beater and try and fix it up. If closer to a factory look is your goal, open up the wallet and call in the body professionals.
While far from perfect, Project X has proven that with some sweat equity and determination a reasonable project vehicle can be put together on a low budget. Grand total as the truck sits is under $2000.00 including initial purchase, parts, and paint and body supplies. You results may vary.
What does the future hold for my X? Hopefully a serious off-road bumper with a winch, and perhaps one of those gear racks that fits on the roof. It may even get a crazy camouflage paint scheme in the not so distant future.
Thank you to Canadian Tire for being my major provider for supplies and tools.