Q. I am mulling over how to repair the roof on my pickup. There are some small rust holes near the drip gutter on my C10. Should I weld these shut or would you recommend cutting the metal out and making patch pieces?

Gary Hemberger
North East, MD

A. Unfortunately, when you see a few pinholes anywhere on your truck body, that's often just the tip of the iceberg. Rust works in devious ways, and though you may see just a little damage, it's likely that there is more thinned metal lurking near your pinholes, just waiting to cause some mischief. Simply filling the holes you see is not likely to be a long-term solution.

Repainting a panel is a big job, so you really want to do the metal repair correctly the first time. I'd suggest doing some detective work to help develop a long-term solution to your rust problems. Once rust starts, it just keeps spreading like a cancer, so the only way to fix it permanently is to cut out every bit of rusted metal, and replace it with new metal.

I'd start by sandblasting the area where the rust perforation can be seen, and any other areas you are suspicious about. If there are rust areas just about to break through, often the blasting media will open them enough to be visible. After the area is sandblasted, cut out the sections with perforations, and I'd recommend cutting at least 1½ inches beyond any holes. Once this "window" is removed, you'll have a better opportunity to see what it looks like on the inside, perhaps with the help of a flashlight and small mirror.

With any luck, your rain gutter will be salvageable. It's made of fairly heavy metal, so even if it's slightly eroded from rust, if you sandblast the rust away, you may be able to fill any pitting with plastic filler, and paint over the old gutter. If the rust damage goes into the joint where the roof panel, rain gutter, and A-pillar come together, anything that's badly damaged should be replaced, and this can become a very large job, indeed!

Q. I've done a fair amount of patch panel work on my truck and car projects, and they come out great after they are painted. I love seeing how high-level metalwork is done in the magazine articles, and I'd like to learn how to increase the quality of my work, so the repairs are nearly invisible in bare metal. I can get things close, but the last 10 percent of refinement seems elusive. Can you offer any tips?

Bud Turner
Via the Internet

A. First of all, it must be said that not all metalwork has to be taken to the highest level. Certainly, if a repair is 95-percent straight, and a tiny bit of filler is all it takes to give it a perfect paintjob, that's good enough for most people. I learned the metal trade from an old-world craftsman who took a lot of pride in metalfinishing every project, and that's how I prefer to do it. It does take more time, and the development of a high level of skill, but many people get great satisfaction once they learn to do work of that caliber.

The short story is that you make any spot that is too low come up by hammering on-dolly, and you bring any high spots down by hammering off dolly. It may sound easy, but there is a lot of subtlety that goes into doing this with precision.

I have a new YouTube video that shows this process in great detail. Go to YouTube, search "Ron Covell," and click on the "Slicing and Dicing" video. It's only 12 minutes long, but you'll see how to get welded joints smoother and smoother, until they are completely invisible!


You can email your questions to Professor Hammer at covell@cruzio.com, or mail to Professor Hammer, c/o CLASSIC TRUCKS Magazine, 1733 Alton Pkwy., Irvine, CA 92606. You'll receive a personal reply! We'll print your name and city unless you request otherwise. Ron Covell has made many DVDs on metalworking processes, and he offers an ongoing series of workshops across the nation covering all aspects of metalworking. Check them out online at covell.biz, or call for a current schedule of workshops and their free catalog of DVDs. Phone 800-747-4631, or 831-768-0705. You can send a request by mail to: Covell Creative Metalworking, 106 Airport Blvd. #105, Freedom, CA 95019. You'll also enjoy Ron's YouTube channel: youtube.com/user/covellron.