Bondo - It's Not Like Play Dough

1961 TriumphPart 3 of a series on the restoration of a 1961 Triumph
By Jan of West Virginia Bikers

The frame of the Triumph is finally cleaned of all paint, oil and crud. I'm thinking about paint, but instead, John tells me, "Now you get to learn how to use bondo." Hooray. I'm thinking this shouldn't be too hard because half the cars you see cruising down our country roads are full of bondo. And I know some of those guys . . .meaning a high level of intelligence does not seem to be a requirement.

Interrupting my visions of myself as a high-tech body repair person, John says, "Here's the bondo, here's the hardener." Hardener? I guess it never occurred to me.

The hardener is a red color, and when mixed with the bondo turns into a pink substance similar in texture to Crest toothpaste. It looks quite a lot like the Bazooka bubblegum that used to come with the fold-out comics. I am now told the more hardener you use, the faster it sets. I'm thinking this shouldn't be a problem. I was wrong.

In showing me how to apply this pink bondo stuff, John hastily swipes it on the frame with something that looks like a wide butter knife, telling me that I'll sand this stuff down later. I understand this is to smooth out all those dents, bangs, and knocks the frame has taken during the last 40 years.

Lesson One - Females should probably not do bondo. All that heavy smearing of bondo is getting on my nerves. I figure why put so much on an area when you're just going to sand it all back off. I start using my fingers to spread the bondo evenly and nicely. That's when I came to…….

Lesson Two - The hardener really does make it hard. Duh. The bondo on my fingers started to harden so I had to find a quick place to wipe it off. Naturally my pants leg was close by. Now, I not only had little pink concrete bondo pieces on my pants, my fingernails were now filled evenly with hard pink bondo plus bits of fabric fuzz sticking from it.

BondoHere we go again. I'm not having fun anymore. My fingers are stuck together with bondo. And my nose is starting to run. I'm cold. I'm tired. John's looking at me with that "what's the problem" look while holding the putty knife in his hand. I quickly notice his hands have no bondo on them. I now have bondo on my clothes, bondo on my hands, bondo on my fingernails and now, bondo on my nose.

My husband begins to tell me about sanding. "You'll use the file, then sandpaper," he said. Logical makes me wonder why we applied all this bondo and now must remove most of it. I have the file in my hand this part really seems like work. I'm now referring to it as damned bondo and thinking about going inside to the bathroom again.

Filing and sanding. Not for the faint and weak hearted. I think I spent more time filing and sanding than I did taking the whole motorcycle apart. Gradually, it comes to me that riding is not sounding real appealing to me now. Neither is anything else. The idea of picking out a paint color just doesn't have the same excitement. I'm filing and sanding in my sleep. I now have nightmares about big chunks of pink bondo which appear from nowhere and adhere themselves to the frame.

Finally it's done. John proclaims it to be so, and again, I'm smiling like a little kid. He cleans the frame and gives it a nice coat of primer. He now brings out a little tube of orange stuff and declares it to be glazing putty. He smears a little on the frame and says, "We just sand it down when it sets." Oh no. Not again. Why are we doing this? Will it ever end? I need to get away for a while. John suggests a trip to the local PPG paint store.

On the way, I'm not very talkative. After an hour's drive, we reach the paint store. I walk inside expecting to see little cards of paint samples like they have at any paint store. Not here. The clerk asks about the color. I'm thinking about Candy Apple Red. He turns to this book on little rollers that must be at least four feet thick and begins to explain the different colors of red. It appears that you pick the red color before you add the candy apple coating. There are approximately 3,000 different shades of red. I went into the store knowing exactly what I wanted. Now, I hated paint. I thought of riding the Triumph with just the primer color and the thought didn't sound too bad. I finally told John, "I'm going outside. I hate red. I hate paint. Just make it black."

I heard John tell the clerk we had decided on black. The last thing I heard before I opted for a nervous breakdown was the clerk ask, "What shade of black?"

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

Jan is a resident of West Virginia, the boss of Hawk Mountain Trading and the webmaster of West Virginia Bikers. To learn more about her, check out her biography or visit her web site.


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