How to rebuild a XKE Bonnet

The bonnet was a real mess on this car, many small dents from earlier body work which were poorly fixed etc. I metal prepped for at least 50 hours to get the major high and low spots out before I even started to skim with plastic. There were dozens of holes drilled which needed to be welded up, and several areas that needed to be cut out and patched. The lower hood section was first to get attention and after welding and beating out dents it got a skim of plastic seen here.

After a couple skims of plastic I used a surfacing glaze and then sanded out with 150 grit paper before shooting DP40

The fender on the left hand side of the car was pretty badly damaged but wasn't a complete loss. It took a weekend or two to get the front fenders dressed and ready for primer.
I skimmed about 3 thin coats of plastic on, block sanded down as many high spots as I could find then put a coat of pin hole filling glaze on. This was sanded this down with 150 grit and before painting. Make sure you use plenty of grease and wax remover to get all the filler's natural oil out of the pours and to eliminate all dust before painting.

Work in Progress, this is where it all happens. space is very limited so I have to do allot of planning to make sure I don't get myself into a corner which is hard to work out of (so to speak). I'll be glad when the bonnet is back together as it will create space I can use for other projects.

The center section was a real mess. I really debated replacing it along with one of the wings and supports, however some research told be that the center section alone was over a thousand dollars so I thought I'd take a stab at repairing it. Previous body men had beaten the crap out of the left side. Several patches had to be cut in, I really would have cut more of this out and replaced it if I'd had an English wheel. I estimate that about 40 hours of work was required.

Close up of the damage really says allot. Fortunately only one side was mangled. I really improved my hammer and dolly skills by the time I was done. I also used a torch in many areas to heat planish out really nasty spots. The combination of heat and hammer and dolly really smoothes and shrinks steel if its done right.

I made a mistake here. Once I had all the dents leveled as close as I could with the hammer, dolly and files. I skimmed the inside of the bonnet with plastic filler, This turned out to be a bad way to go. After I had the inside perfect I started on the outside and found a number of high spots that needed to be dinged down during block sanding. When I did this the inside plastic cracked and had to be replaced. So lesson learned do the outside first and then skim the inside where high and lows are less noticeable and a skim of plastic is easier to blend in.
After a coat of paint its looking allot better. Not perfect, but the high build primer should take care of any minor problems I missed. I found later that in fact I should have spent more time working out the highs and lows during this stage, another lesson learned.

A single coat of primer doesn't quite cover up the plastic filler under it, however once the bonnet is back together I'll shoot two or three coats of high build primer and do another round of block sanding.

The inside of the center section after I reworked the plastic and paint after cracking it by dinging out high spots. Everything is ready for re-assembly now.
Putting the bonnet back together was fairly challenging. I started with the wings and lower hood section. All this went in smoothly. Alignment was hard at times and I'll have to do a small amount of dressing in the front to get everything perfect.
I didn't take enough pictures of this part of the rebuild but the short story is that getting the air ducts installed was the hardest part. They fit tightly into the nose of the bonnet and have lots of holes which must be aligned in the supports. Next time I do a bonnet I will start by fitting these before I put the wings or lower tub in place. In the end I managed to get it all done, but this took about 20 hours of fitting and refitting. Later I found that all of this work was a waste. I ripped out the ducts several times once I found the bonnet didn't fit correctly on the car. See later pages.
Boot Replacement

Author: Bill McKenna