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John Deere Maintenance Monday: Using body putty

Use body putty to fill in small dents on the tractor.

Radio interview source: Walter Tubbs, John Deere Ag Tech Instructor, Arkansas State University-Beebe

Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below

Kip in Tennessee has had his eye on a 1950 John Deere-B tractor. It seems to be in pretty good shape except for a few dings here-and-there. How much work is it to smooth them out with body putty?

Walter Tubbs is a John Deere Ag Tech Instructor at Arkansas State University-Beebe. He says the first step is to push out the dents or creases as good as you can. Clean the surface, and sand it down to the bare metal so there is no rust or paint in the area. Then, you can apply the putty.

"Apply it and smooth it over to try to get it back to what the surface should look like to start with the best you can while it's still wet," says Tubbs. "Then once it dries, depending on how bad out of shape it is, you may have to take some type of a body file and take the surface of it down if you've got any high spots. And then, come back with heavy-grit sandpaper and sand it down, and get it ready to prime."

Filling a dent that ranges in size from a golf ball to a baseball will take about 4-5 hours from start to finish. Tubbs says sometimes the putty will harden up quicker than you want, depending on the temperature and humidity. The entire process will go a lot smoother if you closely follow the directions on the body filler, especially if you've never used it before.

"Make sure you read all of the instructions, the precautions, make sure you've got the gloves on, you've got a mask on," advises Tubbs. "Especially if you're sanding so you don't breathe the dust in because it's just like any other kind of dust. It's not real good for you especially when you start talking about the chemicals and stuff that are in the body filler."

Tubbs recommends talking with a professional auto body supplier to find the best putty for your needs.

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