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Old 06-06-2013, 02:12 PM   #1
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DIY glue pull tab dent puller on the cheap.

I completely doubt my skills and the success of this endeavor, so I didn't want to spend $400 on a real kit.

I also want to polish my trailer, but it seems silly to polish over some dents.

So here's what I bought:
1. PDR glue sticks $19 eBay
2. glue gun $19 Harbor Freight
3. glue pull tabs $8 eBay
4. light weight slide hammer $18 HF


So the eBay stuff is being delivered today. Hopefully I'll have some time and daylight this weekend to give it a shot. I have two dents on the top of the AS to practice on, a doozy on the back corner, and a couple little ones in the front.

$64 I figure I can't make them worse, right?

"How hard can it be?"

Any tips are welcome. I'll be sure to give some pics of before/after. I'm expecting little, so any improvement will be awesome.

-Kevin
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Old 06-06-2013, 02:26 PM   #2
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Please let us know how this works,
can you post pics of your dents.

steve
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Old 06-06-2013, 02:34 PM   #3
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I am interested in this method. Please post on your efforts and outcomes. Thanks
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Old 06-06-2013, 02:54 PM   #4
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Just be careful you don't pull them out too hard and you will have a bigger issue. Gentle taps on the dent hammer will provide great results.
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Old 06-06-2013, 03:35 PM   #5
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Several years ago I pulled out a dent (caused by me) using a similar method. Hot-melt glue on a 1' length of 1" dowel which was tapered on one end down to a diameter of about 1/4". The melted glue went on the tapered end and was placed onto various parts of the dent, starting near the outer part of the dent and working inward. I pulled (by hand) on the dowel until the glue popped off the trailer's skin (without hurting the "clear coat"), and repeated the process numerous times. This slowly worked the dent out and even the crease which was present mostly came out.

The remnants of the dent are still slightly visible, but I need to search to find them.

Tim
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Old 06-07-2013, 05:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim A. View Post
Several years ago I pulled out a dent (caused by me) using a similar method....
Tim
I should have tried that first. I love it. Did you just use standard hobby hot glue?

I gently pushed (massaged) out a little dent on my truck tailgate with the box end of a 1/2" wrench. Not perfect, but 85% better. All I need is just some improvement to make me feel better. At least these dents on the Airstream were not done by me.

This one on the front has a lot of gravel dings as well. But we'll see.
Note: these pictures were all taken during the 2hrs I spent with the trailer pre-purchase. I took about 80 total.


There's a couple on the top that are minor, probably easy, and will be a good place to start. I don't have pictures of them, and I didn't know about them until months after I bought the trailer. You can only see them if you're on the roof.

But this one is the doozy. You can see where the PO used a suction cup plunger type to pull this one out. I'm hoping to do a little better with it, but I realize the gouge will not look perfect... ever.

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Old 06-10-2013, 12:43 PM   #7
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OK, so I started on the hardest dent first thinking that I can't make it look much worse.
Yes, it's hard to do. Every time you glue one onto the skin it has a different adhesion. Sometimes they rip the clearcoat off, and sometimes they hardly stick at all.

Here's a couple more pics with my iPhone in the same light and reflection right before I started.



Here's the first couple pulls. You can already see where the glue has pulled off a patch of clearcoat.


When I was working on this large creased area, I used a line of glue across the tabs to attempt to just pull on the creased area instead of the whole tab size.



Not sure if this is really any better. But this is only with about 15 min of work, and on this session I spent about 60 min. working the dents.



I took a scrap piece of corrugated plastic and some electrical tape to emulate the line boards that the pros use. Not that it helped too much, but it makes it easier to see the dents, or what needs to come out, and what needs to be pushed back in.


I watched more youtube videos on the process and cut the handle end of a toothbrush off to make my version of a "knockdown". When you pull a dent out, the area you pulled on, or the crowning around the original dent. This is definitely an art form. The rounded end made little dimples, so I used the flat end (that I cut and sanded) and it worked pretty well.



Here's some detail where you can see the clearcoat pulled off, and how the tabs made a high spot. BTW, I'm going to strip the clearcoat anyway, so I'm not too worried about it.



I'm going to keep working on it. This is something that I consider as training. I'm sure this is not the first dent I'm going to repair in my life.

When I tried to level my pool table they said it should take 14 hours if it's your first time. A pro can do it in 90 min. After about 5 hours I hired a pro. I learned a ton just watching them. I called a couple of the PDR guys in my area and they wouldn't take the job. They said "Too hard, too much time, and you'll never be happy with the results" or "We don't work on Airstreams"

I'll keep tinkering with it as I have time. Or maybe on those long camping weekends when my thumbs are twiddling, I see if I can make it better.

Just to let you know, this is not a quickie fix. I wouldn't advise anyone to go into this expecting perfect and easy results. I'm posting these pictures hopefully to show you exactly what to expect. I consider myself a level 8-9 Handyman on the home handyman scale of 1-10. But I have more skills with mechanical than I do with bodywork.

Your Results May Vary.

-Kevin
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Old 06-10-2013, 01:41 PM   #8
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cool. thank for posting pics. i'd be interested to see more as you go along.

edit: are you using some type of solvent to remove the hot glue after pulling to the position you desire?
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:05 PM   #9
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what is the name of the tabs and glue you used? I tried a "as seen on TV" type and the glue would not stick to the tabs, even though it stuck well to the AS.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJtoNC View Post
Are you using some type of solvent to remove the hot glue after pulling to the position you desire?
Yes. I found it funny that the companies selling kits call it a "release agent".
It's isopropyl alcohol, AKA: Rubbing Alcohol. I was mostly pulling until they popped off. Then cleaning with alcohol in between. The glue would end up on the skin half the time and end up on the tab the other half. I'd just leave it on the tab and apply more glue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by albert
What is the name of the tabs and glue you used? I tried a "as seen on TV" type and the glue would not stick to the tabs, even though it stuck well to the AS.
Both were purchased on eBay from the seller: denttoolsdirect (if the link below expires)

4 DK Spiral Glue Pull Tabs - Hail Glue Pulling Tabs - PDR Dent Glue Puller Tabs
4 DK Spiral Glue Pull Tabs - Hail Glue Pulling Tabs - PDR Dent Glue Puller Tabs
$7.99 shipped.

Black PDR Glue Sticks All Temperatures - PDR Paintless Dent Repair Glue Pulling
Black PDR Glue Sticks All Temperatures PDR Paintless Dent Repair Glue Pulling | eBay
$19.00 shipped.

There was some packing or starter hobby glue in my brand new glue gun and I tried that first, and there was a noticeable difference between the strength of the clear hobby glue and the black PDR glue.

Adhesion was not the problem; consistent adhesion was. Sometimes it would take 5-7 pulls with the slide, sometimes just one. But that was probably more related to my inconsistent gluing techniques and glue temp. I took many breaks to get beer, help my daugher with the kiddie pool, answer questions from the wife, etc. etc. etc.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:52 PM   #11
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thanks for those links, do you pull them with your hands or a pair of plyers, or what?
Is that what you use on a larger dent too? Mine are much biger and not "hail" sized dents.
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
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thanks for those links, do you pull them with your hands or a pair of plyers, or what?
Is that what you use on a larger dent too? Mine are much biger and not "hail" sized dents.
See Post #1

In the "light" slide hammer kit is an attachment that seems to be made for PDR glue tabs.

Check this out too: Glue Puller User Instructions

There's 1M videos about how to do it on YouTube, but 90% of them are trying to sell kits or their service. And for some reason they all employ the worst music possible. But you can get an idea of how it works there.

If you have a large shallow dent you might try a vacuum suction cup slide hammer. There's one at Harbor freight for about $70. You hook it to an air hose and use soapy water on the skin. It comes with 4" and 5" cups for different sized dents.

There's a post on here somewhere with a couple guys that had good success with one of these. They had basketball or bigger sized dents.

Here it is: $59.99
Pneumatic Dent Puller


-Kevin
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:31 PM   #13
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Practice...practice....you'll get better and better. A couple of comments:

1) I like the squeeze tab puller in the kits better than the slide hammer. It is more precise and you kind of bump/squeeze/pull the dent instead of impacting it. Also the tabs seem to stay on better with the squeeze puller.

2) On healthy clear coat, I have found that the cheap glue guns heat the glue too hot, which results in clear coat failure. I replaced my gun with a quality temp controlled one from the craft shop.

3) I also have a pneumatic puller, but have found it of limited use. I just haven't had the type of dent for which it would be ideal. I thought I did, but like OP's front dent, a rib was deflected. Suction wasn't going to even touch that. That will take a block of wood, a 5# sledge, and some courage to beat the rib straight before attacking what's left with the glue tabs.

FWIW.
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:55 PM   #14
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can you explain what in the "light" means please
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