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Old 09-25-2002, 02:18 PM
Posts: n/a
G-Benz gives an excellent take on this skill.

In the seventies I painted several cars, some with Acrylic Lacquer and others with Acrylic Enamel. The paints have changed A LOT since then.

As G-Benz indicated, however, shooting the paint is the least of the process. Many first time painters think that the paint will hide whatever flaws may be in the panels. Not true, quite the opposite. The paint brings the flaws OUT!

I had not done any body work or shot auto paint in about 20 years. A few weeks ago I straightened a badly damaged door on my daughters 300D. I was not looking for a show car result. I got an air operated long file from Harbor Freight for $29 on sale. It probably wouldn't last a pro very long, but it worked great for me. This is 17" long so it helps in making flat panels with bondo.

Once everything was straightened, I used two part primer/surfacer and then urethane base coat clear coat and it went on PERFECT. Much better and easier than the lacquers and enamels of the seventies. Remember, however, I do have paint shooting experience.

In your case, Carrameow, you will have many skills to develop. You will first have to learn how to prepare the surface. Hopefully there is no damage that requires bondo, but even so, you will have to learn how to feather edge, fill minor imperfections and block sand to make the surface flat and blemish free, remembering all the while that patience is the key. Don't get in a hurry to put on the paint just to see what it will look like.

One of the best things a rookie can do is use a "guide coat." This means that once you have a panel such that you THINK it's ready, you spray on a light shiny coat of a contrasting color. Spray can paint is okay for this. You then start sanding with your block to see where the low and high spots are. You then can fill, straighten or whatever is necessary to flatten that panel.

Take the car one panel at a time, and once you are finished with a panel, put a quality non porous primer on that panel to prevent rust, etc. The new two part primers work best, especially for more modern paints such as base coat, clear coat. Then you move on to the next panel.

One of the other things that will make this job more difficult is the fact that you want to change colors. I have personally never seen a car that had a color change that looked right. It is probably twice as much work to prepare and paint all the surfaces that don't show, but need the correct color paint, such as door jams, underhood, trunk area, etc. This is only my opinion, but I think that if those areas are not painted the same color, it makes the car look really "tacky."

All that said, I have read your posts and emails long enough to know that for you, all this car work is therapy. I understand that perfectly because I am pretty much the same way.

You have the burning desire to do this and broaden your horizon in doing so. If you really want to do it, study and learn about all aspects of the work and the different skills involved and go for it.

The first paint job I did was an old truck that I had bought for $100. It was a '65 Ford short narrow bed pickup. It was solid mechanically but needed some serious body work. I straightened some of it, and replaced some fenders with some from the salvage yard. I stripped everything from the body and painted it. My neighbor was a custom auto painter and was my tutor. It helped me learn more quickly than if I had been on my own. My main point here is that my first job was NOT my beloved MB.

Should you still desire to take on this project, realize that it will take every bit as much time as your rebuild and then some. Approach it with the idea that it will be a job that will take a long time and be ready to do things over, don't put this project on a time line. Just start into it and take as much time as needed to do a good job.

If there is any body damage, you need to get some beat up, throw away fenders from the wrecking yard and straighten them with bondo, then use them to learn to block sand and then how to shoot on the paint.

I strongly recommend that you use urethane base coat/clear coat for a lifetime durable finish. It also is easy to shoot. BUT! MAKE SURE YOU USE PROPER SAFETY PROTECTION, mainly an activated charcoal mask. These are good for 12 hours only and you MUST seal them back in their plastic bag when not in use or they will continue to use up their 12 hours.

The skills you must develop:

Straightening with bondo.
Block sanding, preferably using a guide coat.
Spraying a primer surfacer.
Block sanding and properly filling panels with a guidecoat after the primer surfacer.
Mixing and shooting the paint.

You will need:
A GOOD paint gun, the good ones they use now are called HVLP.
A compressor capable of keeping up with the selected gun.
A DA air operated sander.
Various sandpaper, primer surfacer and polyester filler for minor imperfections.
A place to work where you can tolerate the ENORMOUS amount of dust that will be generated during the process.
Lots of time.
Lots of patience.
Willingness to do the same panel over and over 'til it's right.

If you're still up for it, I would recommend getting a book from the bookstore and studying up. You may very well find this to be extremely rewarding work. You also may very well find after you're done, that you never, ever want to do it again. There is no way you will know ahead of time which it will be.

Best of luck and enjoy.
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