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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | March 28, 2012

It's Hammer Time at the Auto Hobby Center

By Senior Airman Torey Griffith 11th Wing Public Affairs

Sparks flew and hammers wailed at the Andrews Auto Hobby Center on March 25 as Team Andrews members participated in an introduction to body repair and refinishing class.

Working with tools and materials provided by Maaco of Waldorf, and under guidance of three Maaco employees, the budding body rebuilders learned to repair dents, prepare body panels for paint and how to apply a fresh finish to the panels they worked on.

"This class really benefits people who use this facility," said Paul Faucheux, who owns of Maaco of Waldorf and who put the class together. "Before, if someone had their own equipment, they could come use the paint booth. Other than that, it was just sitting idle."

The paint booth at the auto hobby center has been there for years. In fact, Faucheux remembers using it when he was stationed here years ago. What was missing at the hobby center were the essential tools of the trade: dual-action sanders, metal-working hammers, paint guns and safety equipment.

Faucheux donated these items and sponsored the class in which he and two other experienced auto body technicians showed a group of Team Andrews members some basic skills needed to perform work on their own cars.

"We equipped them with everything they needed, and this class teaches people how to use the tools and the facility," he said. "Now the hobby center isn't just a single faceted shop where people can do mechanical work; it's a fully-functioning auto center."

The auto hobby center provides an important resource to Team Andrews members, providing them a space to do their own repair work with a full spectrum of tools as well as knowledgeable staff that can give advice and even lend a hand when a project becomes overwhelming.

"It's a money saver for service members," said Faucheux. "I'm sure that if they get paid like I did when I was in the military, it's not much. By doing their own work, people can save thousands of dollars on car repairs."

While the 8-hour class didn't transform the attendees into Chip Foose, it did provide them a basic understanding of auto body work. The plan is to hold more basic classes and possibly initiate more detailed courses that provide even more insight.

When the dust settled, the class attendees were a little more comfortable with the tools of the body trade. Some were even making plans to spray a new coat of paint on their car the next weekend.

"I thought it would be a lot harder than it was," said Michael Truden, a military spouse who has designs to repaint his 1990 Nissan 240 SX. "I didn't think fixing dents would be so easy, but the way they broke it down to us and taught us how to do it hands-on really helped."

Truden's Nissan is far from stock, sporting a turbocharged engine and a custom interior. He said he plans on using the facility to put a shiny new coat of paint on the car to match the rest of the modifications he's done.

"It definitely beats going out to the garage and using a rattle can," he said.