Equipment Selection

Equipment Selection

Body Straightening & Metal Repair Equipment

To restore a collision-damaged vehicle to pre-accident condition, a body shop first has to hold on to the vehicle, accurately measure it and pull it back into shape, to ensure the vehicle is returned to factory specifications.

Holding and pulling a vehicle can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Floor systems can be used to hold the vehicle in place, while a portable pulling device is used to pull the vehicle back to factory specifications. Benches can accomplish the same task, but usually require a much longer set up time. Racks are used to hold the vehicle in place, while attached posts will do the pulling. Racks will usually consist of a drive-on deck, which is surrounded by moveable hydraulic pulling posts. Many high production collision shops are using floor systems in combination with a rack or bench. The rack or bench can be used for heavy hits, while the floor system is used for light pulls. Keep in mind that if you are going to work with full-frame cars, trucks or vans, you will need equipment that can generate up to 20 tons of force. Unibody construction cars require only 4 tons.

Items to consider:

  1. Setup time required before pulling can start
  2. Ease of getting non-driveable vehicles on equipment
  3. Ease of use
  4. Pulling capabilities
  5. Training
  6. Service
Racks hold the vehicle down while it is pulled back to factory specifications.
Floor systems installed in each stall permit technicians to continue working without waiting for equipment to free up.

Prep & Prime Stations

Improved factory finishes have given new importance to prepping and priming operations. Prep stations help control and improve these operations. A properly designed prep station offers many advantages:

1. Downdraft prep stations surround the vehicle with a curtain of air, which sweeps the sanding dust off the vehicle and into the filters beneath it.

2. Many units feature modular construction, so they can be customized for your specific building and shop layout.

3. Most units re-circulate filtered air, which lowers shop heating costs. Some units have inside/outside dampers for venting fumes outside during priming operations.

Buyers have a choice of pit or semi-downdraft styles. Pit models provide a better curtain of air around the entire vehicle.

Although a prep station will trap most of the dust generated by typical sanding and grinding operations, some collision shop owners also install a dust collection system to provide even better dust control.

If you are going to install several prep stations that will exhaust air to the outside, you should consider installing an air replacement unit to supply clean, heated outside air into your shop. An air replacement unit will correct the negative air condition caused from the prep stations exhausting shop air outside of your building. Proper sizing and location is very important, so talk to your equipment representative to figure out exactly what your shop will need.

We recommend that a lift be available at each station for work on the rocker panels and lower areas of a car.

CAUTION: Your local jurisdiction may not allow you to prime in a prep station. They will require that a prep station which is also being used as a priming station have an explosion-proof motor, an inside/outside damper assembly and possible other modifications to meet local codes. The damper allows the operator to switch from air re-circulation to air exhaust to carry solvent vapors out of your shop. In this case you may need a limited finishing workstation for priming operations. A limited finishing workstation combines an air replacement unit attached to prep plenum/s. The air replacement unit will provide clean, heated outside air while the workstation is in the “exhaust” mode. A limited finishing workstation will provide a positive pressure environment similar to a pressurized spray booth, resulting in cleaner paint work. Some manufacturers offer curing options on their limited finishing workstations to improve productivity. Again, it is very important to know the codes relative to what you want to accomplish when choosing the proper equipment for your shop.

  1. During sanding or prep, the overhead plenum re-circulates clean, filtered air to the workstation. During priming, the inside/outside damper vents solvent vapors to the outside.
  2. Each fiber in the paint booth-quality air filters is coated with adhesive. This adhesive traps particles as small as 10 microns permanently, even under severe vibration.
  3. An adjustable-pitch, non-sparking fan provides 10,000 cubic feet per minute of airflow through the filtering system.
  4. A Magnahelic gauge monitors the filtering systems efficiency at all times.
  5. The central filtration chamber holds high-density, ultra-fine bag filters. Acoustic insulation reduces shop noise.
  6. The first-stage roll filter at floor level collects large particles of overspray and dust.