atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#5536: That was surprisingly painless.

I didn't get started until 3 PM, was done before 5, and only had to improvise once.

I'll say it again: Toyota engineers really seem to know what the hell they're doing. Removing the bumper fascia was easy. Reinstalling it was easy.

The hard part of the repair was getting the fender sheetmetal straightened out so I could bolt the new headlight assembly into it. When the headlight got hit, the fender got damaged; correcting that was the most difficult part of the whole thing.

There's a black plastic thingy which bolts and clips to the fender. The bolt also holds the headlight in; the clip was busted off in the impact. Looking for a nut and bolt to hold it in place, I found a plastic expanding fastener from an Escort; its head was too big but it was otherwise perfect for the job. I ground off the excess head with the Dremel, then popped it in, and it held that plastic thingy in like the Rock of Gibraltar. This thingy is where the front fascia clips to the fender. Not a problem.

Headlight in, lights tested, all working; it took me fifteen minutes to put the bumper cover back on, and most of that was making sure I was using the right shoulder bolts in the right locations.

Got the fender and the ding in the hood fixed. A little Bondo and paint would make the repair invisible.

The rear passenger-side door, though--

We didn't realize until several weeks after the accident that the door was involved. I thought it was a single dent, but it's not; whatever the car hit, it was big and flexible enough that it bent the door skin around the impact beam. I can't get that one out. We'll have to see if a body shop can do it using a paintless dent removal technique, but I for sure can't. (Yes, I tried the plunger trick.)

But: new headlight fits and looks great, and from twenty feet you can't tell the front end was ever damaged. Not too bad for a couple hours' work.

* * *

I kind of surprised myself, though. Using a rubber mallet and my body hammer set, I was able to get the hood crimp most of the way back to where it should be, leaving only one low spot. It's almost like I know a little about shaping metal, even though I know approximately fuck-all.

It reminds me of that time I knocked the dent out my bike's fender; I spent an hour working at it with the hammer and dolly but managed to remove the dent almost invisibly, but for a couple of high spots. And I don't know what I'm doing.

Maybe it's just a matter of being patient and watching the metal's movement carefully. Light taps, just enough to move it.

It helps that once metal is formed, and has retained that shape a while, it wants to be in that shape. Removing a dent is simply a matter of coaxing it to resume its former alignment. You can take a BFH and beat on it like a chimpanzee and force it to resume its old shape, but if you do that you'll leave all kinds of high spots and hammer marks that you then have to remove.

...and maybe I know a little more about metalworking than I think I do.

* * *

My wife is happy that her car is fixed, at least mechanically. I'm happy that she's happy. Win-win.

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