Q and A: Do any auto body shops use lead-based products in restorations?
Question: I have a 1956 Ford I am restoring, and I want it done right by using lead instead of Bondo to complete the body work. I am having trouble finding someone who knows how to do this. Am I living in the past?...
Question: I have a 1956 Ford I am restoring, and I want it done right by using lead instead of Bondo to complete the body work. I am having trouble finding someone who knows how to do this. Am I living in the past?
Answer: A little bit, George. "Bondo" is a brand name, but has been used as a generic term for plastic body fillers. Those fillers smooth over small dents and dips and seams in body work before the panels are painted. Years ago, body shops used lead, but the improvements in plastic body fillers, which are typically mixed together in two parts like epoxy glue, have made that almost a lost art. A handful of craftsmen still do lead work, but you may have to consult with the members of some antique cars clubs to find one.
Q: I have noticed that many of the hybrids refer to the gas engine they use as an "Atkinson engine." I believe that this includes several brands of vehicles from different manufacturers. What's an Atkinson engine?
A: An Atkinson engine looks, sounds and acts pretty much like a regular gas engine, because it essentially is. Invented by James Atkinson in 1882, the term "Atkinson" describes the fact that the engine has a unique crankshaft that alters the way the engine's cylinders fire. It makes an engine produce less power, but the power it does produce is more efficient. That's why it is popular with hybrid builders -- the Ford Fusion and Toyota Prius use engines that operate on the Atkinson cycle -- because they are looking more towards increasing mileage than winning drag races.