Automotive Restoration for beginners
By Phil Storr

Top coats and preparation:

I prefer to use two-pack materials because they are hard and resistant to staining from materials like tree sap, oils and solvents. The only problem is the best materials must be sprayed in a booth with appropriate safety equipment. It is worth the extra cost involved in getting someone to do this for you, you have saved a lot of expense by doing the preparation yourself so do not spoil the job, have it done properly.

Final preparation before the top coat is very important. The two pack primer/putty/undercoat materials are very hard and will rub to a very good finish with wet 400 grit paper and a sanding block. If you have a very heavy layer of material to cut back, start off with 220 grit and work up to the finer paper. If you rub through the paint layer put some more on before finishing that area. When sanding areas where the sanding block will not reach fold the paper into three layers and sand at right angles to your fingers. Put a squirt of washing up detergent in the bucket of rubbing water, it will wet the surface better. Do not push the paper hard, use light pressure and keep it damp lifting off the surface often. If the paint balls up under the paper you are rubbing too hard, not using enough water or the paint is not hard enough yet. The two pack materials I recommend take up to twenty four hours to harden at fifteen degrees but are faster at higher temperatures.

The various seams and joints in the panels should be filled with Gap and Seam sealer after the primer coat is applied. Pay particular attention to the seams where the roof turret joins the rest of the body. Leaks here will usually be under the hood lining and will not be seen until they have done the damage.

Wet rub the vehicle all over and after the first cut, spray the surface with a guide coat to help you identify high and low spots. If you use a light colour two pack material use black Acrylic Lacquer for the guide coat. I use a black two pack material and a guide coat is not necessary with black.

"Feel" the surface regularly and stand back to sight up the panels, looking for areas that need extra work. Use a good quality two pack Stop Putty to fill in any low spots. High spots will require a bit of rework, and then you will have to re-coat with the two-pack primer/putty/undercoat. This could be done with a brush if you do not have spray facilities.

The text book I have used for my attempts at painting is: Al Probert's Spray Painting Vehicles in Australia and New Zealand, a Child and Associates publication.

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