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How to Build a Body Cart - Shopping Carts
Choosing a body cart or rotisserie for our restoration project
While many a project has been completed on nothing more than jackstands, using a body cart or rotisserie can make your job a little easier, especially if your classic requires a substantial amount of metal work—let's face it, any classic restoration likely does. That said, body carts and rotisseries have their individual pros and cons, and we reviewed all of our options when selecting one for our '69 Mustang SportsRoof project. Here's what you need to know.
The Body Cart
If you're stripping your car down to the bare chassis to tackle metal work, a body cart is a great option. It's inexpensive first of all, running between $400-$600, and it allows you to easily move your project around. Mobility will help create more garage/shop space when you're not working on the project, and you can also load it into or onto a trailer for transport to a sandblaster or body shop. Size wise, it takes up no more room than the car itself, and it gets the chassis up in the air where you can comfortably work beneath it.
There are a few small drawbacks, however. For one, if you need to remove the floor pan of the car, you'll need to modify the cart to be able to support the back end of the car. While there is ample room to work beneath the car, all of the caked-on crust will likely find its way onto your person—bring safety glasses.
All in all, it's a reasonably inexpensive way to keep your otherwise derelict project mobile, and it will allow you to perform nearly all restoration procedures.
If you need complete access to your chassis, the rotisserie is for you. Once bolted to the chassis at the front and rear ends, the rotisserie allows you to rotate the car 360 degrees, thus exposing the bottom of the car to daylight. With this design, you can stand upright or utilize your favorite stool to work on the car without worry of being covered in welding slag, sparks, rust, mud, and whatever other debris may want or need to come off of the body. You obviously get more light on the car for better visibility of your working area as well.
As good as the improved access is, the drawback is the added cost. Even the most basic rotisseries will run you at least $1,000, and the price can go up from there depending on options. Space is another consideration, as the rotisserie usually ends up adding an additional 2 feet or so to the length of your vehicle. Measure your work area before deciding if this is the right option for you.
Well, it's not much of a dilemma in the end. Figure out how much space you have, what work needs to be done to your vehicle, and if the added accessibility justifies the added cost—if you're likely to only use it once, you may want to consider that as well. Either one will provide much needed access to you chassis. We ended up choosing the body cart, as the Mustang will likely be moved around its current residence more than it will be worked on in any given week. That and the fact that the shop has a few rotisseries already made it the easy decision.
Baring It All
The Auto Twirler Mustang body cart that we ordered from Summit Racing comes in bare steel, and we saw that as an opportunity to get acquainted with the automotive painting process. Sure, we could have rattle-canned the whole thing, but it wouldn't be as durable and probably wouldn't look as nice. To get started, we turned to Summit Racing again and ordered a small and reasonably inexpensive amount of supplies to get the job done.
The StartingLine HVLP 3-gun auto painting kit from DeVilbiss includes three spraying systems for automotive primers, finish coats, and touch-up work. Included in the kit (PN DVR-802789) is one HVLP finish coat spray gun with a 1.3mm nozzle, one HVLP spray gun (primer) with a 1.8mm nozzle, and a small detail/touch up/custom gun with a 1.0mm tip. The system also includes two 600cc cups, one plastic 130cc cup, a cleaning brush and wrench, and an air-adjusting valve with a gauge. The trio retails for just $216.97, and should have us covered for all of our painting needs for the foreseeable future.
For a base, we selected Summit Racing's Etching Primer (PN SUM-SWSP200Q-12) in the quart size for just $26.97. It's also available by the gallon for larger jobs. The etching primer is mixed with a reducer at 1:1, and it can be applied directly to steel, aluminum, fiberglass, body filler, and galvanized steel. Summit Racing's Etching Primer Reducer (PN SUM-SWSS201G-12) retails for just $41.97 for a gallon.
When it comes to coating your body cart or rotisserie, powdercoating is a durable option, but baking it isn't for the average garage DIY'er. Since the cart will likely take a beating under the chassis as we cut, sand, grind, sandblast, and weld above it, we opted for a simple single-stage paint for the final finish.
Summit Racing's Low VOC Single-Stage Paints are very inexpensive at just $27.97 per quart (PN SUM-LVS339Q), and they comply with more stringent emissions standards as well. The flash time between coats is just minutes and they dry in less than an hour. There are a number of colors available, and you just mix it at a 4:1 ratio Summit's Low VOC Hardener (PN SUM-LVSH702Q). The hardener sells for $22.97 and you have your choice of slow, medium, and fast drying options—we went with the slow drying due to our mild winter climate here in Florida.
Sure, we've all enjoyed the smell of rattle can paint before, but spraying this much paint in a confined area is not a good idea without the use of a proper respirator. For that, Summit sent us a Gerson Safety Products Organic Vapor P95 Filter Respirator (PN 08311P). At just $19.97, it's an inexpensive way to keep you mind, and lungs, clear while focusing on your painting craft. If you think painting more than just one project may be in your future, you may want to consider stepping up to a full-face respirator and painting suit. Now go get started on your project. We've got a complete floor coming for ours, which means we need to get cracking.