This is the final part of a series of posts on the automotive restoration of this 1959 Porsche 356A coupe.  The first post described the problems with the Porsche, which were limited to the back end where paint was bubbling up because of a bad repair job.  The historical repair had overlapped the sheet metal and then used bondo to fill in the resulting valley.

After repairing the rear end it was now time to define the area where the trunk lid meets the sheet metal of the rear body.  This definition is aided with an age old restoration skill involving lead.  This process may be called ‘body solder(ing)’ or ‘wiping metal,’  depending on what country you’re from.  ‘Lead loading’ (as we call it in England) is a skill based on patience, especially leading a vertical panel.

The advantages to lead loading is that no body filler (i.e. bondo, which is a polyester based material) is needed.  Obviously, if one places more than just a thin layer of filler under paint, the paint will have issues down the line (i.e. bubbling or cracking).  Unfortunately, since it takes little skill to use body filler, this is a problem we see all too often.

Here are the basic (very basic!) steps I used:  The sheet metal is prepped with flux paste and tinned.  Lead is then applied with a paddle and heat source from a propane cylinder.  Lead is heated and moved around after dipping the paddle into tallow (pig fat) to allow no adhesion of lead to paddle.   This website does a pretty good job of describing it in more detail (and provides kits).

For those of you wondering this process for this Porsche took 26 hours from start to finish.

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Lead work begins around the engine lid to accomplish correct gapping and leveled surfaces.

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The lead is feathered out into the steel body.

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Lead work ready to file.

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Lead filed, set the engine lid, and gapped the lid.

Photos of the leaded and restored back end of a Porsche 356A

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Clean gapping, we are now ready for the paint process.

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View from the left hand corner.

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Overall view

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….and finally from the rear.

As you can see, it’s a bit of a process to get the shape just right.

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