Bob Winfrey, owner of All Precision Collision Repair in Marshville, N.C. wrote in a Bodyshop Business article about how his shop has become quite adept at installing body kits for customer’s rides. He specializes in custom painting projects among his shop’s list of expertise. He gave the following guidelines to other shops who might be interested in following his path, but this information can also be a good, common-sense guide for hot rodders as well.
Step By Step Installation
1. Before signing for those expensive packages, open the box and inspect the kit for damage. Make sure the gel coat is in a condition where you can sand and prime. Minor imperfections are normal as these are handmade pieces. Also, be sure that it will clear the bumper reinforcement after installation.
2. Test fit the aftermarket pieces. Most kits can be installed using fasteners in the factory mounting locations. Some kits require drilling and installing screws or bolts in some areas to make the installation good and stout. Some trimming may be necessary. If it won’t fit and you don’t feel comfortable with it, send it back and try again with a different manufacturer.
3. Take “before” photos of the vehicle. These, combined with “after” photos, can be great to display on your website or social media page.
4. Mount the kit and install headlights and trim to make sure everything clears fine.
5. When bracing is needed, we purchase mild steel supports at a hardware store. I also have a ton of old brackets from the running board days and have been using them up on these jobs. They have 1-inch steel brackets 1/8-inch thick with multi-holes in them that work well.
6. Most front kits and some rears need or come with a mesh to cover large style openings built in them. If you want to cover the openings from the back side with mesh or screen, the local hardware store comes in handy. The lattice used in masonry construction looks great and is galvanized so it won’t rust. To attach the mesh to the bumper, we use two-part epoxy and fasten a cotter key to the back side of the bumper by the rounded end of the key. I suggest a cotter key every 6 inches or so. You can then slide the screen or lattice in place over the ends of the cotter keys and just bend them over to hold the mesh in place after refinishing.
7. Fix your imperfections. Sometimes fiberglass repair may be necessary.
8. Prime and refinish.
10. Take pictures of the after install and paint.
Kits that are bonded to the car and molded in require all the steps listed above, plus the extra step of course of bonding the kit to the car. Winfrey says they use a two-part steel-to-fiberglass bonding adhesive, and fiberglass mat and resin to fill and strengthen the part. He says then fill with chopped glass, then body filler, then putty and prime for the final coats.