Automotive Restoration for beginners
By Phil Storr

Removing paint and bog:

If the existing paint is sound you may like to leave it on and paint over it after the body repairs are done but usually the car has had a repaint or two in its history and the old paint will be soft or ready to peal off. Any cracking, crazing or crows feet in the surface indicate extensive use of spray putty and/or plastic filler in the past and this must be removed otherwise it will show through the new paint one day. At this stage the motto "the finished job is only as good as the preparation" is very true.

The extreme solution here is to take the car to a paint removal business and have it dipped in paint and rust remover. This is expensive and some people do not like the way all the internal protection materials are removed. This is not a problem if you take extensive precautions to make sure the blind box sections and hidden areas are re-protected before the project is finished.

The cheapest but time consuming answer is to use paint stripper and remove the old paint and bog layer by layer. Follow the instructions on the can and be careful to follow the safety guidelines, using protective clothing and eye protection. Paint stripper works faster the hotter the weather so do this stage is the hottest part of summer, it will cut down the effort required. Most paint stripper materials recommend putting the stripper on, leaving it for ten to thirty minutes and them scrape and scratch the blistered paint off. Repeat the process until all paint and bog is removed. You can make paint stripper more effective by covering it with plastic food wrap or even damp news paper, this stops it drying out before it has done its job.

Another easy way to strip paint is to have the whole vehicle sand or grit blasted. This technique has two problems. The metal is work hardened by the blasting making it more difficult to weld and metal finish, and thin or flat panels can be badly buckled by excessive blasting pressure. I have seen perfectly good bodies written off by over enthusiastic operators. Don't believe a promise "she'll be ok" we'll do it carefully.

Many panel shops take the quickest way out and grind the paint off with abrasive disks. This usually removes some metal and will buckle panels by heating the metal if the grinder is held in the same spot for too long. Although this looks a cheap way to remove paint the abrasive disks can add up to a significant cost.

My own technique is use a combination of the first two or three techniques. I have the removable panels dipped in paint and rust remover and strip the rest of the body with paint stripper. If the floor and other unseen areas are rusty, I may have them sand blasted or do it myself with a small portable sand blaster.

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Written by Phil. Storr, last updated 8th September 2000