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I've got a 72 that I'm taking down to bare meatl. The other body panels I started off with a chemical stripper, then finished with a da gun. I've heard that a chemical stripper like "aircraft remover" will actually eat the fiberglass. Is this true? Also, the reason I'm asking is they are in pretty rough shape, and wet sanding them by hand to take off three coats of paint will take a lifetime.
 

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Why wet sand to remove paint, wet sanding is done at the end when the pieces are receiving their final coats of primer and even after a first coat or two of paint. For the initial stripping I would use a fairly rough to medium grit paper. I would stay away from the chemicals on the fiberglass parts, especially since the headlight buckets are small and really don't take that long by hand. The stripper may not eat the glass but it could etch into it and make it really hard to get paint to adhere.

Its strange some headlight buckets are fiberglass and some are steel, I have a set of steel on my car and a set of fiberglass buckets in primer in storage.

Good luck, body work really starts to test my patience its so time consuming I guess thats why it cost so much.

Matt
 

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Striper WILL actually eat the fiberglass. What happens is that it softens the top layer of resin back into a thick goo like state and you end up wiping it off when you are using a brush or scrubby to wipe off the stripped paint. I found this out the hard way on the bottom of a boat one time. Matt is right when he says just use a rough, 60-100 grit, paper to start. You should really be no lower in the grit range than 320 before you shoot your primer and that used dry. You want some "tooth" for the primer to grap on. I also sand my primer with 320 used dry before I shoot my paint.

Also, if the paint on the shell is adhereing well consider just roughing it up, shooting a coat of sealer on it, and then your primer. I know though the feeling that you want to take it all the way back to bare. I did that on my 76 that I am restoring and it sure does make a nice job but it is time consuming.

One other possility on your headlight shell is to take it to a place that blasts with a plastic media. With a light touch the paint could be stripped off with no damamge to the glass. Most of these places have had experieince with Vette parts so know how to treat fiberglass.

Charles
 

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Definitely don't use Aircraft Stripper on Fibreglass unless you are extremely careful. As Charles already stated it will soften the top coat (gel coat) and will cause you lots more problems than if you just D/A or wet sand with a coarser grit.

I would recommend you D/A what you can without grooving or rounding out edges, then for a baby bottom smooth surface, follow up with maybe 180 or 220 Wet/Dry and wet sand it to eliminate that roughness you refer to, then prime using a Primer/Sealer (the Sealer is very important for fibreglass parts) with a medium to high fill factor. Give it a thick enough coat to allow you to wet sand to the countour and smoothness you want, then just paint as normal. You can also use Red Cap spot filler on any scratches, pits or roughness. You might give them a dusting of primer or sealer.

One note, I was taught, and I've not heard anyone say different, on fibreglass ALWAYS use Sealer. Fibreglass is known for leeching part of it's chemical composition for years, and if you don't seal it, you'll get a reaction to the paint you put on. Whether you use regular primer and then top it with non-sanding sealer or use a combination primer/sealer is up to you. I personally use regular high fill primer, wet sand to desired smoothness then top with non-sanding sealer that I give a light scuff to eliminate any nibs just prior to painting.
 
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