Hey guys, I am getting my `70 CJ5 on the road, which means I can finally start the restoration of my `83 CJ7. Yeah! This way I will always have one to drive, particularly in the snow for my commutes to my job at the Hospital as there are no excused absences for snow on the ground. Any who, my CJ7 is in great shape and runs really well. Whats my #1 problem, rust of course! I have the typical rusted and loss of metal of a CJ tub, over both rear wheel wells, floor pans, floor seatbelt anchor positions.
I am curious, the thought of simply replacing with a fiberglass tub is a quick fix all as I have no metallurgy capabilities or desires to do so, or the added funds.
So my question is, would it be cheaper to pay a body shop to repair the rusted sections, prime, and paint to a completed repair, or cheaper to go the fiberglass route?
Also, I heard that there is a local High School in my area that may have a body shop class for students to learn, which is of course supervised. If I can donate, with a returned product of my CJ tub, free of cost, do you think I should go this route, or would you trust the repairs most of all? I am certainly not expecting professional quality, which I would be perfectly okay with, just as long as the metal holds together and isn't going to release my newly repaired seatbelt mount location, etc, etc.
I already know the pros/cons of metal to fiberglass tubs, so that is not what I am looking for, but any of the, "oh, I didn't know that" or "I learned that the hard way" type of responses that I am looking for.
Between the choices of getting a fiberglass tub or taking yours to a shop to repair, clean, prime, and paint, I'd say go fiberglass all day long...that would most likely be a MUCH cheaper option than having a body shop take care of it.
With the high school shop class, on the other hand, if you did have the opportunity to donate it as a project with the tub being returned upon completion (or at the end of the semester), I'd say there's nothing wrong with that option. These kids will be learning to weld, true, but they will also be supervised. And I'm quite certain that their first welds will not be on your tub. I'd probably explore this option before going after a fiberglass tub or checking on professional body shops.
In my opinion the school thing would be a good if you get it set up right. helping kids is a good thing . Another idea is to check with local jeep clubs, you might find someone willing to help you with repairs or do them for you. Or sell your tub to that can help offset cost of fiber tub.
Good luck with your project
Most of those Vo-Tech programs are super slow and you'd likely get the tub back next spring or in 12 months. Maybe your program is different but it'd be my first & foremost concern with snowflakes in the air and fixing a winter beater.
With the amount of rust described a fiberglass tub is likely the same expense as fixing what you got. I'm sure there's a ton of work fitting up a fiberglass tub but if it's your winter beater......lot of upside to be found.
Only way to really know the body shop cost is to drag the tub around and let em quote it. The further stripped down you can get it the more accurate your quote will be.
A word of caution however. Most body shops make their bread & butter from collision repair. This means they have a handful of adjusters who send them work. Generally speaking, any work sent by those adjusters will trump your CJ repair because quick turnaround pleases the adjusters, and a pleased adjusters sends more work. This means your CJ tub will be fill-in work. Sometimes it won't affect the timeline of your tub. Other times it means "body shop hell" and a 3 week job stretches to 3 months.
Have a heart to heart talk with your body shop about being fill in work before commiting to them.
Alternatively, try welding. It is great fun when you get into it and a CJ tub is mostly straight metal with very few curves, which makes it an ideal first project.
If you get the tub off and stripped of parts (not difficult) then you can have it sandblasted for a reasonable amount. Slap a coat of weld through primer on and then you can take your time cutting out sections and welding in new bits cut out of a sheet of steel.
The body shop can then fix any scratches etc as part of the painting process. And hey presto, a tub you can call your own.
Alternatively you may be able to find a good secondhand tub from a later model which can just be bolted on and then painted. This is a popular move as it is cheaper than a new fibreglass one and a steel Jeep is worth more than a plastic one.