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by Mark Johnson
NACE Online Daily News Contributor

I-CAR's "Collision Repair Overview for the Ford F-150" had its world premiere at NACE on Wednesday. Led by Steve Schmidt, research administrator for State Farm, the comprehensive class explored the different models - from the basic F-150 to the king and crew cab models - to repair techniques on the frame, body panels and special parts, such as the magnesium radiator cradle and the Quiet Steel cowl panel.

"The differences in the vehicles don't really affect the repairs, so much as whether the vehicle gets repaired at all," says Schmidt, explaining that the decision to total a vehicle is based on its replacement cost and a $39,615 King Ranch SuperCrew is more likely to be repaired than an $18,790 base model.

Schmidt laid out what the class would cover at the beginning and his comments indicated the breadth of repair issue of the "overview" would entail: "We'll go into the different types of panels, the different types of welds you'll run into on the vehicle. We'll go into the suspension systems, the safety systems and the Ford recommended repair techniques for sectioning the side rails for frame repairs. We'll look at heating concerns, corrosion protection and more."

In the class, Schmidt showed how the plug welds on the radiator support brackets are done just like the old steel brackets and he showed that "you are never really involved with the magnesium," in what is really a common and commonplace repair. The safety systems on the F-150 are very sophisticated for a pick-up and the class showed where to find repair information on those systems on the Motorcraft Web site. In fact, much of the class was devoted to using and understanding the repair information available on Ford's repair site.

Repairers were also interested in understanding the repair methods for the Quiet Steel cowl panel. Because quiet steel is composed of two layers of sheet metal laminated with a viscous inner layer, technicians are concerned about straightening and welding the material.

Schmidt put those fears to rest by explaining how to repair the panel and that it could be MIG plug welded back into place. "You're allowed to MIG plug weld, but it depends on the damage involved and your ability as a technician with the tools you have," he said. Another key to repairing the cowl is that Ford "wants you to access it from the cab side out," according to Schmidt.

Earlier in the day Schmidt led another I-CAR class on doing aluminum damage analysis. Like the F-150 course it was a comprehensive exploration of a single topic and it was another of the six I-CAR courses offered at NACE.

Mark Johnson is senior editor for ABRN.

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