Ed Schram Motors Body Shop
Our November 1998 Technical Session was held in the Surrey body shop of Ed Schram Motors. By all accounts, this was as successful as any previous sessions judging by the turn out and enthusiasm. Any time you find 20 or more Volvos parked in one spot, you know you've found the right location. On hand were Ed, Brian and Schram and their body man and painter Howard. Len Lee, who looks after the used parts end of the business was also on hand.
Among the popular topics were rust, rust, rust, rust and rust. It certainly was a popular topic for the crowd. Brian told us that rust is a not overly fond condition to any body shop. A good portion of the body shops would say "thank you for the work, but no thank you." He has suggested to number of people, try to find someone who can work on your car at home because at a job shop like there, you can't afford it. They still do some rust work that gets involved in ICBC claims.
Rust has been a big problem on 140 series and 240s up to the mid 1980s. Anyone who owns one can certainly relate. If yours isn't rusty, you know one which is and you are concerned about when rust will hit yours. One of the most common areas in need of rust repair on 140 and 240 is at the spare tire well and up and over the rear wheels (most can relate to this). To get one side ready for painting, will be about 10 hours, depending on the condition of the inners. The sad part is that you can't guarantee the work. If there is a rust perforation and affected area is cut out and patched, there is a chance that you may not have replaced all of the affected metal. Look out!
Howard pointed out that there are three things required for rust to form: metal (that's the obvious one), moisture and air. Rust repair must take care to eliminate future sources of moisture and air. As is the case with most repairs, you're working on one side of the metal. To make a really effective repair, you really need to get inside the panel if it at all possible. This will help protect the bare metal on the back side and in joints. Rust, in many cases, starts from the inside and works its way out. For a 240, they don't even have to go out and look at the car, they have been down this road a lot of times. You could be looking at $3000 to $5000, and after that, there's no guarantee.
The question was asked how easy it would be to get a set up at home to do body work. Brian told us all that it wouldn't take much to get totally discouraged. Without some basic equipment, work is quite difficult. One would need a welder and a cutter of some form. Some of the newer 120 volt MIG welders will probably do the job for around the home and can be purchased for a bit less than a thousand dollars.
In order to cut out bad metal, they use a plasma cutter. This unit runs on 240 volts and [compressed] air. It cuts very fast and produces very little heat thus generating little warpage. Howard showed us the speed and tidy cutting of the plasma cutter. This uses an arc and compressed air. Then, not being the least bit shy, Olof stepped up and offered to give it a try. He proved that it was actually easy to pick up.
They also have a sand blaster with a vacuum attachment. These units are perhaps a bit beyond the cost of what someone would likely be willing to spend to set up a home shop.
Years ago, paint cured by evaporation. Now, it's a chemical reaction that takes place. It has become more and more difficult to get good results in non-climate controlled environments. Now, paint will actually cure faster with higher humidity as the water vapour takes a role in the chemical reaction.
A sprayable litre of paint is $55 to $60 litres. To simply paint a car, the material alone is about $300. It now takes less paint to cover a car due to improving technology. The first guns that were designed for HVLP (high volume low pressure) to comply with VOC regulations, were horrible. However, a new gun has cut down paint consumption by one third to one half. A 240 Volvo can be done in a bit less than two litres. If doing the insides (inners) this will dramatically increase paint usage.
A warning about mixing manufacturers. If you chose a primer from one manufacturer, don't use an overcoat paint from different manufacturer. If you do, you are looking for trouble. Sometimes the primer can be attacked by the overcoat. Stay with the full line of paints; don't mix them.
They use a number of products from Spies-Hecker. Spies-Hecker is German made, is one of the OEM paint suppliers to Volvo. A brief outline of the common products that are used at Schram's is as follows.
Spies-Hecker 3255 The primer-to-metal bond is very important. Red-brown primer 3255, a weld-through primer, doesn't effect MIG penetration. Use the weld-through primer to reduce the amount of exposed metal. This product should be used on both the patch panel and body. Prime first (both sides) and then weld. The primer burns back only about an eighth inch, leaving most of the metal (especially important on the inside) protected. This works well and allows easy welding.
Spies-Hecker 8583 Spies-Hecker 8583 is a primer which can be used underneath body work. Bare metal should be coated with a product like this to protect it. Filler is not water proof, as many people think, so it can conduct moisture straight through to the metal. Is it acceptable to prime and then apply bondo over top? Yes, that is what this product is for. Some epoxy primers are fine for this application. Use 8583 over top of freshly sanded bare metal. This painted metal is good for storage for six months. Not all primers are good for this as they will let moisture go right through. Any bare metal should be primed within ten minutes of sanding.
Spies-Hecker 8590 The Spies-Hecker 8590 primer can be used to isolate an unstable substrate. If you are going to paint over top of existing paint, a good test is to put lacquer thinner on a rag, place the rag on the hood. If it swells up - trouble. If this happens, first use 8590 yellow primer over top to isolate the existing paint. It is interesting to note that ICBC will not pay for stripping the old coats of paint. Bull's eyes are caused by penetration of the top coat through to the substrate. Essentially, the solvents have re-flowed the primers.
Spies-Hecker 5110 Spies-Hecker high-build primer 5110 is then applied over top of the 8590. Blocking, using 320 grit on a long-board, is done to level the surface. A guide coat gives the benefit of showing how far you have gone and how far you have to go. You will want at least 2 mils for isolation of substrate.
POR 15 On the topic of combating rust, POR 15 is very difficult to use but is a very useful converter for rust. However, it is not UV immune. The cost is about $35 for a can about 1 litre. Once it is applied, you must watch it carefully and coat it with primer when it is just tacky otherwise it gets so hard, nothing will stick to it. POR 15, they have been using it for 3 years and no returns.
He recommends plastic bead or walnut shells, or baking soda. Sand is a bit aggressive and requires a lot of work on the substrate. The plastic beads don't shatter on impact like glass or sand.
A recently-painted 240 wagon was on display in the paint bay. This car had been painted on the driver's door and front left fender. The colour was a dark charcoal-green metallic, though the exact colour was hard to tell with the artificial light. By all accounts, this appeared to be a beautifully executed paint job. I studied it for some time and was unable to find any type of flaw in either the paint or the preparation work. This is, after all, the desired end result.
We would like to thank Ed, Brian, and Glen Schram, and Len and Howard for their time in showing us a bit of what goes on in a modern body shop. It was certainly a very informative session.