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J

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Hi folks,

During this lousy spell of weather, otherwise known as winter, I have been wet sanding the 77 like I actually enjoyed it. This car was originally blue (weren't they all?) then painted a true candy apple red using a solid gold base and translucent red then a clear coat. I have it wet sanded (400) down to most of the blue again.

I know there are guys who will not paint a car that has not been stripped to the metal. Here is my plan. Wet sand it down to the blue where possible and no more, fill in the ripples, dents, (all of them just minor) etc. with some good mud and sand it, prime the bare spots and seal it with a good sealer. Then go from there with the body color.

Does that sound like a good plan? If not let me know. Also, everyone I have spoken to about this recommends Dupont products. Where are you folks at with that?

I look forward to your responses.

Thanks again. John
 

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I'm prepping my car for paint right now. After all my research and discussions with my local paint store, here's what I'm doing:

Sand down the whole car with 320 grit. I sand down to the factory paint, if not the factory primer. Some rough spots I go down to bare metal if necessary.

I'm using self-etching spray can primer on bare metal areas.

Coat entire car in Dupont epoxy primer for protection while it sits in carport and I tend to the body work. I'm using Dupont because that's what my local auto paint store carries. Their products seem ok, but I have not really compared them to anything else.

Now I can tend to the dents and scratches, one panel at a time without hurrying. I'm using black epoxy primer, which dries semi-gloss, so the door dings jump right out.

After smoothing out all the imperfections, I'll sand over the entire car again, then spray a high fill primer-surfacer, and follow up with another sanding, repeating the process as necessary to get rid of all imperfections. Since the primer surfacer can't sit out for too long, the topcoat will follow immediately.

I'm considering having the topcoating done by someone else. I'm comfortable spraying my own primers with my cheap spray gun, but maybe not the final coat.

This is just my plan, and I am about 50% through the process. Since it's a California car, with minimal rust, I saw no reason to go down to bare metal. I researched most of this process at the forums of autorestorer.com
 

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A lot longer of an answer than you need

You guys sound like you have the right idea. I haven't been around painting much for the last 20 years, but prior to that did a lot of it. Generally speaking, going down to bare metal is a waste of time and money. Almost all factory paint jobs form an excellent base for future topcoats, especially on older cars where they didn't have problems with deteriorating clearcoats. Zs fall in the former category.

If you were starting out with a never-painted Z car with faded (not cracked) paint, you just really need to take the oxidized layer off. In other words, hand sanding with 320-360 (paint cans will usually specify grit of final prep paper) paper all over until you're into the meat of the paint will do just fine. This doesn't necessarily mean going through to the primer, and I tried to avoid it. The primer that the car came with is formulated for that topcoat and might not work as well with the new one you're applying. After that, hey, I just hit 'em with 3-4 coats of acrylic enamel. About 10 years ago, I saw a car I'd painted a decade before that and it still looked good.

Some other tips:
* Never paint when it's raining outside, even if you're inside
* Whatever paint product you use (Dupont, PPG, House of Kolor, etc.), stick with their products — reducers, thinners, primers, etc. — for the whole job. They're engineered to work together.
* Get reducer for the temperature in which you will be painting the car. Not the temperature it is outside when you buy the paint.
* If you're new to this, get a viscosity cup and use it. Improperly reduced paint is on of the biggest cause of runs and other 'imperfections.'
* If you can, make friends with an experienced body guy. Ask if you can pick his brain from time to time about your project. Also ask what his favorite beer is and make six packs of it appear on his doorstep from time to time. He's also a good bet to put the final finish on for you after hours at a reduced rate.
* Some shops 'rent' their spray booths after hours. These are very clean, well-lighted, well ventilated places to paint cars. You CAN achieve an equivalent finish in a garage, but it's much harder.
* Wear a quality air mask with fresh filters.
* It's MUCH easier to repaint a car the original color than to change colors, for lots of reasons.
* Do NOT spray the new catalyzed isocynate (sp?) paints at home. Even with a facemask, they will poison and likely kill you. Leave those to the pros, who use fresh-air breathers, kind of like scuba divers.
* All bare metal MUST be primered before painting. Primer-surfacers are best for this, so you can fare the repair into the paint.
* All dings should be taken to bare metal before bondo-ing. Never put bondo over paint.
* Wash all cars down thoroughly with wax and grease remover BEFORE you start pounding, sanding, etc. If you don't, old silicates will come back to haunt you as fisheyes or bleed through in the new paint.
* Buy a book on car painting, read it, and practice on your sister's car before you paint your Z.
* For severely cracked (dry lake bed) paint, take off all the topcoat. If you're lucky, it's just the paint, not the primer, that cracks. (This is common on dark colored cars in extremely hot places like Arizona.) Go down to the primer with 220 or so and then hit the whole car with primer surfacer. Then proceed with 320. Otherwise, you really don't need to primer-surfacer the whole car.
* For a really nice, smooth shine, add hardener to acrylic enamel. It also allows enamel to be buffed later, if you so choose. You cannot buff non-hardened enamel. It will just dull the paint.

Well, there are lots of others, but I do tend to go on a bit. All bets are off with cars that have been painted, as the quantity and quality of the jobs varies so much. In those cases, you sometimes do need to take everything off and start over to get a good job.
Bottom line, you can put a killer paint job on any car with enough care and proper prep. And like they say, 90% of a good paint job is in the preparation. On the other end of a scale, if you want the best, hardest, shiniest show-car paint job possible, bring the car and a fat wallet to the best body shop you can find. They'll be happy to help you.
 

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I Agree with JR!

Down to metal is a waste of time for a daily driver. You can not reproduce the factory paint-metal bond. Nothing adheres like the factory paint.

Isocynate Paint will cause you to have a Heart Attack if not properly ventilated (try an archives search on "Goat Roper" for the full story...

It's all in the prep, you can NOT "cover up" ANYTHING with topcoat! It WILL return later and make your otherwise great job look like crap.

Not to seem sacreligeous, but if you haven't gone tooo far, with prep paint, my suggestion would be to go to your local 1-Day, Maaco, or 9REALLY!) Earl Scheib quick paint place! Find out what products they use for the topcoats (Urethane is my preferred TopCoat) and then go to the paint store and buy the matching parts of the paint system for prep work. When you're all prepped and finished with the body, trailer it over, and let THEM put it on and bake it. The sh***y paintjobs you see from these places are, 99% of the time, due to their hasty prep process. They CAN apply psint, and make it stick. If you time it right, your paint application can be as low as $199, and that's less than the cost of the paint in many cases, since you are buying at retail and not wholesale! Nice thing about you doing the prep, if you strip the interior and windows out, chances are they will paint ALL the car for the same price and not nick you for "Jambs and Underhood" like the saps off the street. My Corvair was painted inside and out, including the dash because I stripped it out totally...

I prep my cars at the house, and wharehouse them until Maaco or 1-Day runs a Urethane Special, then off I go, and three days later, I got two "New" cars in the driveway waiting for all the bits to be put back on...
 

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I agree with TonyD!

That's a great idea. Ordinarily, Maaco and Scheib are good examples of what a poorly prepped car looks like — I think they just walk by the car with sandpaper in their pockets and consider it 'sanded.' On the other hand, most of those places have really good sprayers (there is a certain art to properly using a spray gun) who can lay a perfect coat of paint down on a WELL-prepared surface.
 

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I used to prep for maaco

auto body. we would redline the da's but generally do a pretty good job
for adhesion sake. what part i thought was funky was what we did when we had a synthetic enamel or a cheap old paint job that reacted to primer. boss told
me to hold the primer gun 3 feet away and spray. that way the lacquer thinner
mostly dried by the time the primer hit the surface LOL

i do disagree on one point with JR. I highly recommend putting bondo over
a painted surface but only if its for a slight dimple in the sheetmetal.

if the paint underneath is solid whats the matter with 36 gritting up the surface
of the paint and applying bondo over that. its alot easier than heating up
the metal with a grinder and possibly doing more damage. Especially if its
out on the middle of a flimsy panel

if u look closely after its feather edged you will notice the bondo goes down
into the grooves in the paint and forms a solid bond. Plus its much easier
to feather edge and get a ripple free finish.

for primer i recommend not using lacquer. It shrinks too much. Use an epoxy primer if u can. Especially if u are priming the whole car and wet sanding with
a block.
 
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