When you have decided to take on body repair there is a certain amount of tools you will not be able to live without. With the vast amount of tools on the market today, it is not easy to choose what to get, at what price, or where to put the big bucks etc.

I will expect you already have the basic and essential tools for mechanical endeavours, that is wrenches, pliers, spanners, etc. But the tools for the body repairsman is somewhat different from that. To be able to cut away the rusty parts, and make a few repair panels, you must have an angle grinder. This tool is very good for cutting and grinding metal, especially in getting the bad stuff off the car. You will also need a set of metal scissors, straight, left and right cut is recommended. This is a good place to use a few extra bucks to insure you're getting the best quality stuff, you will thank yourself many times as the alternative is blisters and soar hands from cutting with cheap and not really sharp scissors.

In addition a metal saw would be nice. Sometimes the grinder is different to use, especially in tight corners and that's where the saw does the job. Another little helper is the spot weld remover, assuming you have an electric or pneumatic drill, this tool is made so that it'll bore a hole in the upper panel, thus separating the two spot welded panels.

(crude ASCII pic of spot weld remover)
                 Axle(to drill)
________________| | |___________________ upper panel
---------------------------------------- lower panel

Picture 5; Essential tools.

For the more delicate work, a good set of quality hammers and dollies is recommended. Myself I've traded up from a set of cheap ones to a set of Stahlwille's best quality tools, I even got a very nice set from Eastwood's. I would recommend the Eastwood set as it very reasonable and in a great quality!

The punch/flange tool is another tool you need. Basically it puts a step in the panel, so that a flush fit can be made when overlapping panels, the outer panels will then be flush fit. The good punch/flange tools have rotating heads, one turn and you are ready to punch holes for 'spot welding'.

Picture 6; More essential tools.

Before you go ahead and buy these tools, stop and think over whether you want an electric or pneumatic setup.

I would recommend the pneumatic tools, if you have the place for a compressor, get one! This is mostly because the tools are so many and cheap compared to similar electrical tools. Invaluable air tools such as sandblasting, painting, cleaning have no real competitiors with a plug in cord.

As an example; -the price of a punch/flange tool for the compressor is only 1/8 th the price of an electrical one.

Air compressor and tools.

What's left then? Surely it must be the welding equipment. Here you will find different alternatives. Gas welding, TIG and MIG/MAG. Basically it is the result that counts and not the method, but as I myself choose a MIG/MAG welder, and found it very reliable and easy to work with, I'll recommend this method.

There are lots of welding machines in the market, but if you are only concerned about welding car panels, a little machine of about 100 amp will do. Of course a bigger machine will do the task, but it is not necessary. I'm using a 120 amp welder myself, it has fully variable wire feed adjustment, and four setting for power, but I have never used settings 3 and 4.(....on cars that is.)

Together with your welding machine you need a 'good quality' welding helmet, as you will be using the only set of eyes you have, I would recommend buying 'better than you need' quality.

If you're not counting, and the value of beeing able to do it all is important to you, you need;

1) Gas welding equipment.
2) MIG/MAG or TIG welfing machine.
3) Electrical spot welder.
A good welders hammer, and a set of welders pliers would also be helpful.

Welders gear.

Ther are of course numerous other facilities and tools one would want, but the above mentioned will do the job. I will include a set of drawing for a rotiserie you will be able to make yourself. This is a facility you should make/rent/borrow/buy as it really is helpful in the task of restoring underbody panels. Every time you get a welding pearl through the overalls you will be swearing about how stupis you are, laying flat under a 356 replacing panels, believe me....I know it!

Some other special equipment can easily be made. For instance a cheap 'jig' that attachs to the car. Perhaps I overdid it, but I did want to keep my 2100 mm wheelbase even after the repairs were done.

I thought about this for a while, as I replaced longitudinals,,I just couldn't get it.A complete chassisjig? No,... too much work.

I bought 4 meters of tubing,and 4 meters of square metal.

Picture 9; Self made jig.

Some of the tubing (2m) has to have the same *outer* diameter as the *inner* diameter of the front torsion tube, the other 2m needd either to fit the cover of the rear torsion bar,or have the same *outer* diameter as the *inner* of the tube.

If one chooses to use a tube to fit *into* the torsion tube, one has to remove the rear suspension! (most precise) Else,remove the covers,and make a sturdy plate(adapter) with a tube on it,to fit where the cover was.

If you've been precise, you'll have two legs which can be reused and will keep your car straight under repair.You could also want to make a stabilizing bar in the front. Just weld from the square metal to the chassi somewhere.....!

The other essential special tool I recommend is the rotisserie. Two of them has to be made to be able to rotate the car. The mounting bars should be safely attached to the bumper mounts. Otherwise this is my idea sketch for a good rotisserie.


The self made rotisserie. With the tools setup, working properly, it is time to find the object of your tool investments,.....the 356!


Trond Vidar Olsen