In Which I Do Body Work on My Mazda

About six weeks ago, I did some body work on my 1998 Mazda Protege. The rust always comes up first around the rear driver side wheel well, and so the last time, I worked on a small patch of it, saving the bigger job for "later." Well, guess what: this weekend turned out to be "the later."  :-)

It was a case of seizing the opportunity. My birthday weekend wasn't my first choice as to when to do body work, but the temperatures are supposed to drop in the coming week, and it would soon be too chilly in the garage for it. Not for my sake - I don't care about being chilly - but the body putty and paint don't set right if it's too cold.

We spent 4 to 5 hours on Saturday in the garage. First, I had to rip off all the rusty parts, and that was a bit of a chore. Then you sand down the rust and clean the surface with rubbing alcohol. After that comes the Bondo (body putty). You mix the white putty with a bit of red stuff from a tube to harden it; when the consistency is just right, you apply it neatly to the affected areas.

So we accomplished all of that on Saturday. Sunday morning, I made us an apple crisp, then headed back into the garage. I completed the project in about an additional 2 to 3 hours. Sunday's tasks included sanding down the putty, cleaning it with rubbing alcohol, then applying several coats of paint.

This is a picture of me hard at work on my Mazda. The photo was taken by my husband, who was my assistant for all tasks, and moral support, of course. You may notice that I'm wearing plastic safety goggles, a good tip for anyone doing car work.

You may also notice a big bouquet of flowers behind me; they were an impromptu gift on Thursday from my dentist. No, he doesn't usually give out flowers, but they gave them to me "just because." That was a nice surprise.

Of course, Dexter attacked the bouquet immediately, so I put the flowers on top of the microwave. He found them and attacked them again there, so I finally put them in the garage, out of his reach. It was odd but nice to have their company in the garage while I did my work!

So the overall project took somewhere around 7 or 8 hours, and I did everything by hand. The Bondo, the sandpaper, the paint brushes, and the paint were all items we already had on hand. We estimate the total cost of materials for this job to be around $5. Plus, of course, all of the elbow grease (mine!) that it took to get the job done!

My husband and I listen to our tunes all the time, whether working or having fun. And one of the songs that came on while I was working seemed quite appropriate.

While I was ripping off the rusty parts, I was thinking how rust never sleeps; no matter what, it always manages to break free. And the song on the tunes box was Queen, with a song that could have been sung by the rust itself: I Want To Break Free. This version is live at Wembley in 1986.

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