As you can see in the following picture, Ure’s truly has an old 2001 Dodge Ram Pick-em-up.

One winter day, about 2006, or so, this big hairy limb about 5-inches in diameter decides to fall on the hood of the truck, like so….


Now I’m in no particular hurry to spiff up the old farm truck. You know…not the vehicle I would drive to draw attention to myself. (we had a red ’86 whale tail 930 at the time for that…)

Since I believe in carrying good insurance, but with a $500 deductible, I took it into a couple of shops in town. 2006 Verdict: $550 to $650 which means that I would be out $500 and I would have a claim on my policy. Hmmm…

We were in the midst of house rebuilding at the time, too. So I did the next best thing: Hit it with some Rustoleum Primer and then some silver paint over that and called it good.

In the next few weeks, the truck will get a good workout. Panama and bride will use it to move stuff down to their new home in town.

Then, we’ll go through a frenzied clean-out of the storage room and get a new freezer out there. New shelving for the survival foods is a given…and a dozen, or so, other projects around here.

When it’s all done?

I’ve decided to have a go at fixing the dent in the hood myself. As usual, before I take on any new project, I do a “total immersion” in trade books to pick out what I call in “Recipe Method of Learning” 1) the ingredient list, 2) the recipes, and 3) cooking instructions.

Automotive Bodywork & Rust Repair was my starting point.

This is a marvelous book, indeed. It reveals the secret to getting out a decent dent like this is simple: Figure how the dent happened (think of this as a timeline of the denting process) and that becomes how you work the metal back into position.

In my instance, the 5-inch limb hit and it fairly well messed the left edge of the hood first. Then, it either bounced or there was a branch that made a secondary dent over a little wider area.

The magic in the book is that if you work the dents out in correct order, you will have a very good chance of making things right.

The author of this book alludes to an even earlier book Martin BFB The Key to Metal Bumping Manual Instruction Book, 126 Pages– in paperback for about $18 bucks called

which seemed like the source of this “order of cooking” stuff.

That left only two missing pieces of the recipe. One was the welding part. I can run a pretty good triple-pass bead (for butt joins of ¼-inch plate steel, for example). But the few times I have had occasion to weld on sheet goods, I need to take extreme care because I tend to be the King of Burn-Through.

As this bent up lid handle, soldered to our burn barrel demonstrates, my “finesse” at welding thin stuff is…oh…midway between piss-poor and gawd-awful. Enter  Weld Like a Pro: Beginning to Advanced Techniques and that solved the problem.

Two notes to city slickers: 1) I have revised my shop practice to include backing the O2 regulator all the way out before turning on the tank. I knew that regulator explosions were possible, but not as common as they apparently are.

Second “in passing” is to report that we can get a year or two out of a burn barrel now, instead of 6-9 months by simply keeping the lid on (and the rain out). Definitely worth the effort to cover….

Back on the story line, this left only a few simple hand tools to round up. The grinder and sander stuff is handled. But I didn’t have a set of auto body tools (three hammers and four dollies) so there went $27 bucks.  Performance Tool W1007DB 7-Piece Auto Body Repair Kit

Finally, a spray can of approximately matching paint, which will be applied over aircraft grade primer (which we have on hand). Topping everything off will be a nice coat of clear-coat.

Notes to the Financial Statement

Now comes the detail level – facts that matter, but they would get in the way of storytelling.

1.This is not a hurry up project. I understand that the hammer hits only move the metal about 3-thousands of an inch at a time. Between a piece of copy paper and a manila folder, right? So it will be no hurry up job. Just a little Zen kind of metal beating.

2.Ear protection is required when banging metal. A hundred pairs (2X 50 packs) ofMack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs, 50 Pair (Pack of 2)  will do fine. Around the ranch, there is no end to noise so this makes sense to us.

3.I have no delusions about perfection. If I cannot bump the metal perfectly, I don’t have any problem resorting to what Pappy referred to as “1/4-inch Spackle.” For additional durability, I will use Bondo, lol.

4.Good shops will take a project like this hood deal off the vehicle. You get much better access for tools and such. But, no, not me. The work is about chest high as it is, and propping the hood open ought to work just fine. I can tie it into position with a rope to the carport overheads.

5.The MOST IMPORTANT sub-recipe is that when metal is dented, it can become hardened by the stretching. In which case, it has to be annealed first so that it can be piles back into itself in the hammering process. The best tool for this is an oxy-acetylene torch with a #1 or #2 tip. With this, the metal is quickly heated to about 1,550 to 1,600 F which makes it about salmon-color. Books say to do it quickly, don’t burn through and consider a wet rag to aid cooling. I figure to use the wet rag to put out the fire when the truck lights off, too.

There: Howzat? A complete idiot’s guide to Prepping for the Next Accident. If we lived closer, Gaye’s hubby (SurvivalHubby of used to bang metal when he was a teenager and is reportedly very good at metal bumping. While it would be a lot faster and for sure it would look better if someone else did the work, I can’t think of anything more fun than mashing yet-another skill into my head.

This one sounds like more fun than most and even if it goes terribly wrong (except for the fire, what could go wrong though?) so what: It’s a damn farm truck and it’s not for trolling. It’s for pick up new burn barrels, bringing home dimensional and sheet goods from the lumber yard, and dumping things like old water heaters at the dump…and using it to move things.

Think about it: How many people would lend out a new $80,000 show-car detailed Cummins Diesel-powered truck to do a move or hazard the road into the dump? Or let a kid at a lumber yard dump 2,000 pounds of peeler poles for fencing into the bed from 2-feet up (“Ooops, sorry…”) (“Aw shoot, don’t worry kid, it’s a farm truck…”)

Approximately no one.

That doesn’t mean I’ll do a sloppy job. In fact, I still marvel at my rust-prevent work from ’06. Why the damn dent looks good-as-new to me.

Besides, you can just rush into things of such importance now, can you?

Mandatory Disclosure:  Yes, Preston the real body artist will be doing the Lexus.  Sure, I have read how to pop out the ding and how to heat it back into position with a heat gun.  But me?  Paint?  Lexus?

Three variables to weigh closely here:  Skill of workman, quality of results, and the continued high reliability of marriage.

Write when you get rich…