Regarding equipment considerations, Bradshaw recommended a dedicated or universal frame bench, depending on the manufacturer requirements for the specific vehicle. Squeeze-type resistance welders are necessary, as are MAG or MIG welders; requirements for both will again depend on the manufacturer’s requirements and the processes required. The same applies to self-piercing rivet guns and OEM-specific adhesive guns and corrosion material application devices.
Preparing for your blueprint begins by inspecting the vehicle and documenting its condition. Next, the vehicle should be pre-washed, pre-scanned and visually inspected. Pre-measure the structural dimensions, and pre-check the suspension alignments. Then, research the OEM repair information, visually map the vehicle for disassembly and perform 100 percent disassembly of all components for the repair process required. Lastly, inspect the vehicle and removed components and finalize OEM research.
Bradshaw shared, “To be a good blueprinter, you need to be a good storyteller. A big mistake people make is not putting everything they do on the blueprint.”
Addressing how shops can translate the required repair processes based on the damages and OEM replacement requirements to an estimating system, Bradshaw said the story can be told using OEM repair information, estimating guides, training materials from I-CAR or the OEM, and cheat sheets like those published by SCRS and the Database Enhancement Gateway (DEG). He also recommended refereeing prior repair plans on identical or similar vehicles.
“Research the OEM repair procedures on a case-by-case basis. You should be very familiar with the p-pages. If you don’t have them memorized, print them out and read them every night,” Bradshaw stated.
Some operations to consider when creating a blueprint are pre-measurement, unibody or fixture setup, protecting the vehicle and removed components, structural realignment pulls or pre-pulls for removal, and removal of wax, grease, seam sealer or any other material that impact the repair processes. Shops should also consider the removal of any adjacent components, new panel preparation, and weld zone/adjacent panel repair and refinish.
Additional operations that Bradshaw proposed included testing the fit or alignment of structural components and adjacent panels; setting up and testing welders for each process; adhesive application; clean-up; and bench cure time. Repairing any welding burn damage to adjacent panels previously outlined should also be included, as should washing the vehicle after repairs are completed.