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> Yeah, but how do you properly -- and permanently -- fill a gouge?
You don't. You flatten it first, with the dolly held *behind* the
panel, and each tap of the hammer brings the (heavier) dolly forward,
smoothing out the gouge. Slow and steady (and wear ear protection).
Then, assuming that this gouge is a place where the metal has been
stretched, you'll need to shrink it back down or it'll always be domed
and bowed. Heat the metal to cherry red, let it cool a minute or so,
then place a rag soaked in water on it. The water will evaporate,
cooling the metal, and the softened steel will shrink. Really. Do this
several times till it shrinks enough.
Once you've shrunk it down to repair the stretched section, flatten it
again with hammer and dolly and finally file it smooth and use a light
layer of body putty (not Bondo) to make it look like glass. Or, I
suppose, lead if you're even more old-fashioned than I am.
No, I've never used the torch-and-rags trick, but I've watched it done.
Hammer and dolly work, on the other hand, I find very enjoyable. The
first few taps are just intimidating as hell, though, even more so if
the piece is as scarce as this one appears to be.
For a good laugh some time, check out any of the restoration how-to
books published by "Practical Classics," a British magazine. No, the
laughs aren't the technical tips -- which are excellent -- it's in the
choice of cars they start with for "restoration," most of which appear
to be nothing but a VIN plate, a few scraps of leather, and several
mounds of iron oxide. I swear they picked one that literally had a tree
growing up through the engine bay...