PROCESSES AND PROTECTIONS
Vehicles are tricky to modify
They’re large, heavy duty, and complex machines which are wrapped in relatively delicate materials, such as plastic, fabric and thin, high gloss paint. Manufacturers spend enormous amounts of time and money planning how their particular vehicles, with all of their specific materials, should be maintained, repaired, and modified.
There are no quick or easy training courses that distill that information down for someone who wants to start to customise vehicles. Professional, experienced vehicle body shops pay tens of thousands of pounds to equip and train themselves to gain approval for a new vehicle marque, and many fail to qualify. There are no shortcuts to gain this knowledge.
...come into the industry from other trades. They are often skilled electricians, cabinet makers, or from another background. Many equipment manufacturers, such as those who make elevating pop top roofs, kitchens, bed seats, and similar are converters who had a product idea. Very few, if any, will have the same professional, high-level experience of vehicles as we do.
We’ve spent decades working in and running body shops with approvals from almost every vehicle marque on the market. We repair, modify, and paint one-of-a-kind vintage cars, modern supercars, vans, and almost every other type of vehicle.
This experience has taught us how and why vehicles from different manufacturers require a different approach, which materials, adhesives, and processes to use, and how to protect vehicles from damage that may not show up for months or years.
An easy example
...is in the use of grinders to hot cut metal. Almost all elevating pop top roofs, windows, and similar are put in with the almost exclusive use of grinders to cut the required apertures. This hot cutting produces a constant spray of superheated metal sparks.
If even one spark lands on a vehicle’s paint it will melt into the paintwork and sit in the tiny pit it has created. The very first time it gets even a little wet it will rust and, if it has melted down to the vehicle’s metalwork, will start corroding the panel on which it sits. Once corrosion enters metal it has to be totally removed, either by cutting or acid treatments, and the vehicle repainted to stop it from spreading.
What can happen
...to paint when it is exposed to superheated sparks followed by a little moisture is scary. From: https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&f=10&t=1118736
Many, but definitely not all, converters will use spark blankets to try to prevent this from happening. We instead avoid this issue by cold cutting whenever possible. This requires more diverse and expensive tools and takes much longer, but reduces the risk of damage to your vehicle. In the rare instance that we have no choice except to hot cut, we use 1000 degree weld blankets in addition to spark blankets and other covers in our multi-layer masking processes.
Despite our cold rather than hot cutting, we also mask off and protect vehicles far more extensively than most other converters. We use specialist automotive tapes with low adhesion to vehicle paint and surfaces to limit the risk that old, damaged, or poorly finished paintwork will lift off when removed. These, along with specialist coverings, are used to protect steps into the vehicle, paint edges, trim panels, units, and more.
Layer 1 - Polymask
A specialist automotive plastic sheeting designed to protect against particles and liquids without damaging paintwork
Layer 2 - Grease-proof paper, spark blankets
Prevents stray metal fragments or adhesives from touching any bodywork
Layer 3 - 1000 degree weld blankets
The ultimate protection against hot metal