The Filler Detective, which you first read about in the SEMA Tech Guide in the May ’11 iss
You’ve finally found the Pontiac you have always dreamed of, but then that nagging question pops into your head. Is any body filler lurking under that paint?
You could ask the seller—maybe he knows, maybe he doesn’t. You could take a refrigerator magnet to it and hope that it sticks. You may even place a call to a restoration shop—a specialist there must know. The shop will tell you its method to find filler is to strip the paint off! What?
There are several other tricks to try to learn what is truly behind the paint but none of them are fool-proof. Basically you must play detective—looking behind this and around that, gathering whatever clues you can for evidence of body repair, rust, or the little filler worms left behind when a dent puller has been used. But what other choice do you have?
Try The Filler Detective, made by AAC. This new electronic tool is designed to take the mystery out of determining how much filler is behind the paint without damaging it. We logged on to the company’s website, which was full of technical information and numerous videos showing the tool at work.
The instructions are easy to follow—place the face of the tool flat against the panel, press the button, and look and listen for the results. The tool responds by lighting one of the clearly marked LEDs and with a sound that changes in pitch as the body filler gets deeper. You can even hear the sound in noisy areas, and the LEDs are easily seen in bright sunlight.
We took our Filler Detective to Classic Restorations in Sloatsburg, New York, to test the claims of the manufacturer. Fortunately, (unfortunately for me —Ed) HPP Editor Tom DeMauro’s ’67 GTO, which is awaiting restoration, has plenty of body filler in the quarter-panels, making it an excellent subject. Follow along as we put The Filler Detective to the test.
The Filler Detective does its job admirably, without the need to disturb the paint. Melvin Benzaquen of Classic Restorations was so impressed with the ease of use and accuracy, he borrowed the tool to start going over the numerous jobs he had waiting for restoration and was pleased at how consistently it performed.
When you consider that most shops charge in excess of $65 per hour or higher for labor, one can see how much money this tool can save. Simply inspect a Pontiac with it before you buy. It not only checks for normal filler but will also alert you to any type of excessive material between the tool and the sheetmetal. The $99.95 investment can ensure that your dream Pontiac isn’t hiding a nightmare under the paint.
 Testing with the supplied verification block on the metal side shows all is well. The
 Doing the same with the supplied verification block on the plastic side reveals an 1⁄8
 Our ’67 GTO’s quarter-panel was ground through the filler to bare metal in two places,
 The next reading, which was taken at the lower quarter, revealed more than 1⁄8-inch. W
 More digging revealed more filler. As you can see, the filler thickness was actually c