Parts Catalog Accessories Catalog How To Articles Tech Forums
Call Pelican Parts at 888-280-7799
Shopping Cart Cart | Project List | Order Status | Help

Go Back   PeachParts Mercedes ShopForum > Technical Information and Support > Tech Help

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-25-2002, 12:31 PM
Coming back from burnout
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: in the Pacific Northwest
Posts: 2,274
How hard is it to repaint a car? (83 240D)

I like working with my hands and with engines, but I'm told the hardest task to do is body work. I own a fading yellow 83 240D that I would very much like to paint white.
For some reason I want to do it myself. I rebuilt the engine on that car.
I've been warned, DONT TRY IT!
Is this possible for a methodical, careful, well motivated amateur?
I got a creative impulse in me that just wants to learn how to paint a car, but I would pray that my results would look very professional.
Is thsi possible? I do know lacquer at one time was easy because you could buff it. Alsoi dont have access to a paint booth.

Here are my credentials
Reply With Quote
Old 09-25-2002, 12:40 PM
BlueBabyBenz's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 151
I remember in Toronto, back in the '70's, there was a shop where you could take your car to prepare it for painting. I did as much to the car at home as I could, removing trim, doing the body work, etc., because once you were in the shop, he charged you shop time, albeit at a fraction of the rate than if a body man were doing it. What it came down to was shop time for the final prep part of it.

He had all the tools and supplies you would need, and once you were done preparing, he would apply the paint in the paint booth.

I don't know if he is still in business, but it seems to me that this type of facility might exist in other cities today. It might be a solution for you.
MB 1986 190D in my past
MB 1987 300E on the street
MB 1994 'Smoke Silver' E420 in my driveway
1999 Mazda Miata in the fun stable
1964 E-Type Jaguar Coupe- Sold
1970 E-Type Jaguar Coupe- Sold
1968 Corvair Monza Conv. with Turbo Transplant- Sold
1986 Merkur Xr4ti- abandoned
various mundane American autos

If I'd known then what I know now...

Hell, I'd probably still have done it anyways.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-25-2002, 12:58 PM
G-Benz's Avatar
Razorback Soccer Dad
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Dallas/Fort-Worth
Posts: 5,711
Your credentials indicate you are handy in the area of engine repair and maintenance...and from the variety of engines you have worked with, quite adaptable!

Painting is a completely different skill, almost an art form if you may. Your willingness to learn is a good thing, and at least you know you can strip the body down to the shell if necessary is a noteworthy talent.

Yes, prep work is the most labor-intensive part of the process. A well-executed $1000/gallon paint job will look crappy on a haphazardly-prepped body, while a $50/gallon paint job can look marvelous on a well-prepped body!

The one real attribute needed to ensure good results is patience. There is a guy near my house that does nationally noteworthy show cars, and he can spend weeks on a door panel until he feels it's right!

The real question is, how do you feel about practicing on your MB? Regardless of the end result, your first effort IS a practice.

You don't need a paint booth...a good spray gun and a portable compressor will do the trick. If you have a garage, get some plastic drop cloths to line the area (floor to ceiling, paint particles get EVERYWHERE), and a really big fan! Don't forget the mask, paint fumes are pretty noxious, even after the job is done. Since your "paint booth" is not isolated from the envoronment, Pick a nice 70 or so-degree day in which to work, with little humidity. The best time of the year is when there are few bugs to contend with, so you won't arrive to see that a gnat has been crosstraining across your hood!

Try painting a smaller panel from a salvaged car first to get the hang of it. Because once you start painting your shell, you can't just from top to bottom, spraying each section in a linear motion from right to left (or left to right). Several light coats are better than a few huge coats, that could "orange peel" or drip. Give each coat enough time to cure before applying another coat.

Personally, I do better engine work than paint work (and I'm not that good at that either). I like superb results, so I just take it to a pro...
2009 ML350 (106K) - Family vehicle
2001 CLK430 Cabriolet (80K) - Wife's car
2005 BMW 645CI (138K) - My daily driver
2016 Mustang (32K) - Daughter's car
Reply With Quote
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.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-25-2002, 08:58 PM
rdanz's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,158
It cost more to fix a bad paint job then to start from scratch.
Enough said
Reply With Quote
Old 09-25-2002, 09:23 PM
Posts: n/a
oh, and dont start practicing with a mercedes

you'll ruin our rep
Reply With Quote
Old 09-25-2002, 09:44 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: oregon
Posts: 2,013
you want to read up before you work with base coat clear coat two part systems as the hardner contains cyanates cousin to cynanide.As in plating or reblueing a fire arm the finished result depend greatly on surface preperation.then you need to learn to use a gun with some degree of skill.
I have all the right equipment except a good booth,and can do a passable job after many years but I'm far from a pro. one of the secerets is in block sanding the primer with guide coats (guide coat paint can be bought at auto paint store in spray cans in contrasting color to your primer,it is sprayed over the primer holding the can quiet far from the surface and moving quickly so it covers in a light spackle pattern. Then when you block sand it will show you the low spots.You then reprimer re guide coat and block sand again.You keep repeating this sequence untill the are no more low spots, then shoot your base coat and then your clear'll be suprised what a nice job you will get after about 15 years and 2 tons of wet and dry sandpaper.....
William Rogers......
Reply With Quote
Old 09-25-2002, 09:53 PM
Posts: n/a
I do not think anybody mentioned the problems with color changes. Where do you stop? If you want it "right", you have to do everything and that is not easy. Under the hood, inside the trunk, door jambs--the list goes on and on.

Otherwise, I agree with most everything said by others. Like Larry, I painted a few cars in the "old days". At that time, some of the paints were very toxic and you had to have outside air to your mask. A charcoal filter was not enough. Maybe some of those have gone away but at least with some older paints, it could be dangerous for the home shop.

Some more problems if you plan to do it in a garage attached to your house. Overspray seems to get on everything! Also, some of the paints have a smell that seems to linger forever.

Most of the time, the sellers of automotive paint are willing to give advice. Check with them on the latest and they may even be able to tell you who will shoot final coat after you prepare it.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-25-2002, 10:50 PM
Lebenz's Avatar
backwoods member
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: In the fog
Posts: 2,862
Decide the nature of the task. If you are out to put a new finish on the car, this process can go as far as complete disassembly, taking the panels down to bare metal (and welding in replacement material for any rust) and going foreword from there.

The web offers a lot of excellent resources in this process. If you take the time to look around, you can probably find a procedural guideline for virtually everything you’re going to encounter.

As implied above, the majority of work and time is in restoring the underlying surface to pristine condition, or as close as you wanna get to it.

Another element not mentioned above is the need for fireproofing the work and especially paint areas and for a really really really good exhaust system. Oh yes, and you have to devise a way of maintaining a high air flow while keeping the volume of dust particles to a bare minimum. There are actually painting tools to do all of this, of course.

Last, there are a lot of excellent chemical paint strippers on the market. If you are going to redo entire panels (advised), using a chemical stripper will leave the metal in far better shape than grinding away paint with a sander, plus it will only take about 1/100th of the time.

Mostly have fun with it!

'00 ML320 "Casper"
'92 400E "Stella"
Reply With Quote
Old 09-25-2002, 11:06 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 571

Heed the advise given, then ask yourself how much downtime can you afford. It will likely be considerable.

If this isn't an issue, go have fun painting your car. My money says you'll do fine.
Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2002, 12:48 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: oregon
Posts: 2,013
another conderation is always money ,I checked several quality paint shops in area about haveing paint job done on my 81 SD average price without any body work and using top quality base clear was $2000 to $2500. More than I paid for the car....... William Rogers......
Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2002, 03:08 AM
Provo Spain?
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 656

I don't know if you have a tech school in your area or not...If you decided not to paint yourself, but didn't want to shell out the $$ maybe you could take it in there? At our school the autobody classes would really take there time with cars, and they really came out great. It was supervised by the instuctor and you'd only have to pay for the paint. I'm not sure if it's like this all over, but at our school they did some great paint jobs and really took their time. Just a thought....If I had an older one, I'd do it. Good luck whatever you do.
1994 C 280 117.5k, White (Good as new)
1997 Toyota Camry 149k Miles (Not so pretty anymore)

1990 190e 2.6 95k (Sold-Should not have)
1981 240d Stick ??? Miles...sold
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:55 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
Copyright 2018 Pelican Parts LLC - Posts may be archived for display on the Peach Parts or Pelican Parts Website -    DMCA Registered Agent Contact Page