View Full Version : pulling dents from hail

08-03-2004, 04:31 PM
My TR 3 has major hail dents (or dents from major hail). The dents are at least 20 years old and I wondered if there is a shade-tree method for pulling the things out. I've tried the little rubber suction thingy but it didn't even budge them. I don't need to have them perfectly pulled because I'll still do the sanding/filling to smooth it so it looks nice but wondered if anyone had a suggestion or had experience?

08-03-2004, 04:45 PM
From my limited experience I find that one a panel is dented your options are limited because the metal is stretched and shrinking it back is an artform I never mastered. Plus cars like yours have some real metal in them so they'll tend to be a bit obstinant.

My suggestion is to buy a sand bag from Eastwood company (or make one - Eastwood's are slightly high )and turn the hood over on it and try to gently beat the dent back out as best you can untill it's just shy of level then fill with a minimum of filler and finish - heres a link for the beanbag

https://www.eastwood.com/jump.jsp?itemID=492&itemType=CATEGORY&iMainCat=489 &iSubCat=492

Check out some of the other metal working tools featured - thet're a bit pricey but the sure do have some neat stuff - I bought a hand flanger which makes panel repair/replacement much easier and the results much more attractive.

Best of luck!

Bob M. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hammer.gif

Mark Beiser
08-03-2004, 04:47 PM
There are paintless dent repair kits available that use a glue on stud instead of a suction cup. You may have better luck with it.
Cheep kit from Eastwood (https://www.eastwood.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=2603&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainC at=504&iSubCat=513&iProductID=2603)

More expensive kit from Eastwood (https://www.eastwood.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=2602&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainC at=504&iSubCat=513&iProductID=2602)

Not paintless, but works very well without requiring the drilling of holes. (https://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=6970&langId=-1&catalogId=4006970&PHOTOS=on&productId=385537&cat egoryId=0)

The suction cup thing only really works on the tin foil they use on modern cars.

Webb Sledge
08-03-2004, 04:54 PM
You could do it the normal way, with a body hammer and a dolley, but put a cloth or something over the car as to not crack the paint off. I did it today at the shop, and it works well if you have a good eye and some patients. And you don't have to spend much money for the hammer and dolley.

08-03-2004, 06:43 PM
You could do it the normal way, with a body hammer and a dolley, but put a cloth or something over the car as to not crack the paint off. I did it today at the shop....

[/ QUOTE ]

You rock!

It's awesome to see a teenager pick up a hammer and dolly to finesse sheet metal. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif

The stereotype seems to be that young people these days only bang on keyboards and press stickers on cars. It's great to find that craftsmanship is still alive and valued.

Pound on dude!
/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hammer.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hammer.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hammer.gif


08-03-2004, 06:57 PM
Small shot bag, and a nylon teardrop mallet. Just go slow, and don't try to pound the dent out all at once. Little taps, and frequent checking. A good light to sight across the dent, and some light finger work to see if you can feel the highs and lows.
I love doing stuff like this!!


08-03-2004, 09:57 PM
Try one of the paintless dent removal guys. I thought that it was all voodoo and snake oil, but a coworker have very good luck with one of these guys after a hail storm in Houston a couple of years ago.

The comment about the old steel being stronger than the new stuff may have some merit, but I have to dings on the Healey that I have thought about letting them have a go at. I understand the rate is usually about $50 a dent so small jobs.


Bruce Bowker
08-03-2004, 10:14 PM
Try one of the paintless dent removal guys.

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They are good but can be expensive. I had three crease type dents removed from on top of my Mini fender. He worked on these at my place. Drove up in his truck. I left him there and when I came back it was all done and he was gone. I expected to be able to see something indicating where the dents had been but there was nothing. Checked it in bright sunlight, at all angles. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

If I wanted to show someone where they were today I could only say somewhere on top of the fender but I am not sure where.

08-03-2004, 11:21 PM
You guys are right about the strength of the metal.. must have been some pretty good sized hailstones to begin with.I've worked with MG hoods and this is another animal. I attempted earlier to pop one out by removing the grille and pounding upwards while holding a pad over the spot on the front apron. Nada. Couldn't get a good whack at it with my mallet so I know I'll have to remove some pieces and work at it from the inside. I will check out the dent guys, however-- there are a couple that are right over the cross pieces in the trunk. Thanks for the suggestions.
Pete /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif

08-04-2004, 12:24 AM
One of the nice things about doing body work on the older cars such as the TR3 or a Bugeye, is that you actually have enough material to work with to do metal finishing, rather than get it close and fill it. When I did the body on my GT6, I wound up with about a teaspoon of filler in it.
I think you could probably stick weld some of those panels!
I saw a Miata this past weekend that had gone through a hailstorm, and it looked like a golf ball.


Rick O.
08-04-2004, 09:51 AM
Years ago I had the roof of my Honda Accord dimpled by hail. It was repaired using an oxy-acetylene torch to pop each dimple out. Of course, the roof required refinishing afterwards.

08-04-2004, 01:55 PM
Rick-- was the torch used to soften the metal or did it literally pop out with heating cooling process?

08-04-2004, 03:08 PM
If paint isn't a concern. A friend of mine, his grandfather was an old body/paint man from way back (we are talking about working for Hudson, Packard, Chrysler) he used an oxy-acetylene torch to get the spots red hot then immediately put a cup of ice right on the spot. He also used a shrinking hammer on some spots.

Rick O.
08-04-2004, 03:14 PM
I'm unsure whether it was a 2-step process involving rapid cooling of the dimple after being struck by the torch. I would ask a local body shop about the procedure.

08-04-2004, 04:38 PM
Years ago(20+ years ago) when I worked at a used car lot, we had a "Paintless Dent Removal" guy come to the lot to fix up our dinged, and dented inventory.
He used a heat gun to heat up one side of the body panel, right where the dent was. Then he would put Dry Ice on the opposite side of the panel and the dent would pop back into shape.
I really don't know much about the technology of paintless dent removal, but I'm sure it has progressed a great deal since those days. I would think the newer methods would be better.

Just my 2

Webb Sledge
08-04-2004, 10:09 PM
That thing with the dry ice and heat gun is actually really good, if it works. Because metal contracts win it cools, and expands when it's hot, that should work great! But if the metal is creased I don't think it would do much good.

08-08-2004, 02:15 PM
Forget paintless dent repair, it can only be done on cars a few years old with NO repaints. If the dents are large enough to have streched the metal, they may have to be pulled out with a stud gun(which does minor shrinking too). If you are really planning to DIY ,I would have the worst hits pulled out by a pro. You will save yourself a ton of time and grief for a few $$
MD(mad dog)

Bruce Bowker
08-08-2004, 02:36 PM
Forget paintless dent repair, it can only be done on cars a few years old with NO repaints.

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Not to argue but I have witnessed it done on newer cars and I had two of my older cars done, both having been previously repainted.

Why " a few years old"? and how old is "a few years". I don't understand why it would make a difference if it is1 year old or 4 years old.


08-08-2004, 02:42 PM
Bruce, the statement may be related to the fact that newer cars are made of much thinner sheet metal than our "classics".

01-31-2005, 08:23 PM
If you are filling and sanding, these dents must be at least 1/8" below the undented surface. Try latching on to a "pin welder" and tack the pins on the center of the dent. Use a slide puller to gently pull the dents to within a 1/16th from the surface. Fill, sand, guide coat, prime, and paint.


02-01-2005, 10:29 PM
Hi all,

Hail dents are often a serious problem, usually a repaint of the car is the only way to properly fix them.

The "paintless repair" method works in some cases with older cars, but generally not. Your TR3 has 18 gauge mild steel body panels.

The paintless method works best with modern, thinner 22 gauge high tensile steel parts (like the front fender off my old Aerostar van, a big part that I could literally hold with 1 finger, weighed maybe 2 lbs total!).

With mild steel, heat is more likely to work to reduce stretching. Mild steel moves toward a heat source, such as a welding torch. The hotter the source, the faster and more it moves, the more shrinkage you can effect. A heat gun in front of the dent and something cold behind *might* work to some degree, but I'd be surprised if it completely removed the dent. And, there is danger of damaging paint with a heat source, of course.

With modern auto body high tensile steel, the metal moves away from a heat source. So gas welding, in particular, can be a problem because heat is applied over a fairly large area. This type of steel is also doesn't work well with a hammer. But, that's not the type of steel you are dealing with in your car.

Personally, I think the suggestions to use a hammer and dolly are your best bet, but may also need some heat to help shrink the metal. There are special types of hammers, too, that shrink metal, but these will more than likely mar the surface.

Hammering is an art and needs to be done slowly and gently. Think of it as the metal wanting to return to its original shape, and the hammering is being done to help it get there. (This is different from hammering out a fabrication piece, where you are creating a new shape.)

Before using any hammer techniques, be certain there is absolutely no undercoating or any dirt, etc. on the back side. Anything there will transfer through as a high spot on the front side, after a few taps with the hammer.

Unfortunately, many hammering techniques will stretch metal, which is the opposite of what you really need since the metal is already stretched by the hail. Working in combination with heat may be the best. You are likely looking at using heat, hammers, fillers, sanding and, finally, a repaint to really "do it right". But, you might be able to reduce the dents and make them less noticible, without going to the full extent of a repaint.

Good luck!


02-02-2005, 11:24 AM
Thanks Alan, et al. You might note the date of the original post-- I've been working on the dents when weather permits and It's starting to look pretty decent-- if you're like me and think smooth primer looks better than dimply shiny red paint. You've confirmed what I've experienced-- The heat source/dry ice thing didn't work. I obviously wasn't concerned about messing up the paint and have been hammering/tapping my way across the surfaces of the car. You're right again in that big whacks end up distorting metal around the dent. So I've been hitting away with a chunk of rounded steel on the other end and bring the dents out to not quite flush level. I considered replacing the hood and trunk lid until I saw the prices... If mine ever becomes a show car, I'll go that way but since I just want a clean driver, filled dimples will do just fine. I've learned lots along the way with the help of this group. I also make a note on some of the less obvious dents that are in the car... one may not be able to feel them or see them under shop lights. Even in the sun you might have to contort yourself at different angles to peer across the surfaces. I learned (serendipity, not intelect) that by using two different colors of primer, concave and convex areas will show up with sanding. Ol' body work guys prolly have use this an others, but it helped me find glitches I couldn't see. I also learned that I have to be patient and not set deadlines because I'm tempted to take short cuts or not do the necessary prep or finishing work. Work has stopped temporarily cause my garage is not heated but hope to get the thing finished this spring. It won't necessarily be a thing of beauty by you super autobody types but I'll be pretty happy driving a smooth and shiny red TR3 /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/driving.gif

02-02-2005, 11:38 AM
You might want to consider purchasing an inexpensive shrinking hammer or dolly. They have a waffled surface that will take up the stretched metal as you tap the surface. The dolly give you something to tap against and is held behind the panel. A complete DIY body hammer kit with several different hammers and dollys if around $20-25 at Harbor Freight and elsewhere. Just be sure to get one with a shrinking hammer or dolly.
The two color primer trick is a good one to use.
Good Luck! Peter