Mark Ehlen
January 1, 2001

Step By Step

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Would you reject this piece? Before our eyes, Bob Tueffel will transform this stainless trim into a usable piece.
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This is the backside of the same dent. Most of the hammering is done from this side. Work the dent out from the outside, working to the center back and forth across the length of the dent.
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To avoid stretching or tearing the stainless, hammer on a dolly, as shown. Tueffel uses an old section of railroad track. Work slowly and carefully, striking the area only as hard as you must.
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Occasionally, a narrow dolly in a vice is more effective for certain spots.
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Compare this with photo two, which is shown earlier in this article. This is what the backside looks like when hammer and dolly work is completed.
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Tueffel stops occasionally to lightly sand the damaged area. This greatly aids us in seeing any low spots that remain. Here, we're using a 320-grit surface on an expansion wheel from The Eastwood Company. Once we are satisfied with the repair, the entire piece is sanded with the 320-grit wheel.
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This is the damaged area after being worked on by the 320-grit belt--quite an improvement!
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Polishing begins with a 240-grit wheel. This cut must be made diagonally until the previous lengthwise sanding marks are gone. Yes, 240 grit is more coarse than 320, but it improves the polish because you are cutting at an angle across the previous cuts. Do not use the 240 wheel at right angles to the 320 because, with powered polishing wheels, your part can become wavy.
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Our stainless isn't shiny yet, but it is considerably smoother than it was when we started.
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For the first buff, Tueffel works the part lengthwise using emery compound on a cloth and sial wheel. At this point, any imperfections will show. Wheel speed here is 3600 rpm. Earlier speeds were just 1800 rpm.
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This may look pretty good in the photo; however, there's still a hazy look. The final buff is performed with an unsewn-cotton coloring wheel using coloring compound. We will buff diagonally again, just as we did with the 240-grit wheel, until this haze is gone. We will then finish with a few lengthwise passes.
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The final finish is mirrorlike, with virtually no evidence of prior damage.
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Tueffel forms all of his tools to work specific jobs. The hammers come from Eastwood; however, Tueffel modified the rest to suit his professional needs.

There are plenty of parts out there for the pony marque. Even if you’re working with little more than a shell, you can build a Mustang from a parts catalog. The rest of the Ford and Mercury car lines, however, do not enjoy the same kind of parts availability that the Mustang does, which forces most of us to go searching for good used pieces. If you’ve done much searching lately, then you know that the most difficult parts to find are show-quality stainless trim pieces. It seems that nearly every piece we need for our vintage Fords and Mercs has been scratched, dented or kinked in some way or another. We’re not only going to show you how to save these pieces, but we will also show you how to return them to a show-quality shine.

Most Ford trim from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s was made of stainless steel. Stainless is, of course, virtually corrosion proof. However, it is also a relatively soft metal that will dent, scratch and kink easily, which is why it is often hard to find good used pieces. On the other hand, it is that very softness or malleability that makes it possible to repair even badly damaged stainless-steel trim parts. Expert polisher Bob Tueffel allowed us to look over his shoulder at his East Bethel, Minnesota, shop while he demonstrated his technique. Tueffel is a genuine craftsman who has been repairing all kinds of stainless trim parts for nine years. The piece we’re demonstrating for you isn’t necessarily a Ford item because it is generic in nature. Ford trim isn’t unlike that of General Motors, Chrysler or American Motors of the period. This is a throwaway part that can be brought back to like-new condition. As with any form of hammer and dolly work, this sort of repair requires some practice. Therefore, we recommend practicing on something you won’t need in the future until you get a feel for what works. Start with something simple and use the following photos as a guide. It is likely you will amaze even yourself! If your parts are damaged beyond your capabilities, call Bob Tueffel at 763-434-1208.