Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1973 -> Kerry's Restoration ->Part 11
COLOR! Or Runs, Drips, Razorblades, and Sandpaper
Been a while since the last update. Stuff happens, you know? Actually some work was going on but it was sand, prime, fill, and sand some more. Every time I got ready to paint, I'd see something that I needed to fix. Finally I told myself, "Self, ENOUGH dang it, It's going to be a driver, not a show car!" My major panel repairs came out great but the parking lot dings took a TON of time.
The hood and trunk were already off the car and I decided to paint them off. This car is HUGE and reaching over something this wide and long is just an invitation to getting up against sticky paint or causing other paint problems. I also needed to trim out the door jams and such because they had primer overspray and the rear door had the repair area that rolled over to the door jamb. The problem was that I did not (was not) going to pull the interior and did not particularly want to mask it off. Solution, an airbrush! I finally found mine but discovered it was inoperable so I got a new one. I'll make sure to clean this one properly.
The first thing to do is wash the car very well with soapy water.
In the past, I have had problems with a paint problem known as 'fisheyes'. This is a problem that looks like little holes where the primer can be seen. Several months ago someone mentioned a product named Ting which was an etcher and cleaner. I finally found some in Phoenix and had it shipped. It is applied like paste wax and not only cleans the surface of any silicones and oils but also puts a mild 'tooth' on the primer. I forgot if I mentioned earlier but I used PPG Catalyzed Primer. It is high build and is not THAT hard to sand. The lacquer primer I am using on the 57 is easier to use (unlimited pot life, no nasty stuff on the paint, etc) but 90% of it ends up on the floor. Plus, the two part primer is impermeable to water, that is, moisture will not go through it. It actually can be left as a topcoat and some hot rod types run primer for the 'look'.
I did not take photos of the airbrush because it is so small and slow you could not see anything. However, it did a great job. I masked off what I did not want paint on and went to it. Took about 3 hours to do all 4 doors and the engine bay.
I was very pleased. Masking the engine compartment would have taken quite a while but the airbrush has such a low paint volume and overspray that I mainly used a piece of cardboard as a shield.
A few days later I put on the color. This is hard work and I suggest having someone to help. I did not and was really hurting by the time I finished. This was probably why what happened, happened but more about that later. Since I was not going to paint the top I just covered it and the glass with plastic. I also covered the entire engine compartment with plastic and taped it to my nice fresh trim out. The shop was cleaned as good as I could, and the floor wet down. I put my big fan at the far end and let it pull air across the car. Did I mention it was 93%....
Its kind of hard to see because I painted inside but here it is. You can see the plastic over the top and also little boots I made for the tires. The paint is two part hardened enamel. It has isocyanates. Isocyanates are nasty things. Proper precautions are a MUST. Long sleeves and respiratory protection. A few months ago, I ordered an Army Gas Mask. I figure if they will stop nerve gas, it will keep the bad stuff out of my lungs. Plus it is full face so it keeps my glasses clear. Don't know why but they don't fog up either..?? I could not even smell the paint so I'm hooked on it. It is HOT though!
I also used my friend Ray's HVLP spray turbine. I like HVLP (High Volume, Low Pressure). It has at least 50% less overspray which is directly proportional to the amount of paint you have to buy. Paint is expensive!
This is the hood. It came out really well except for a bug which landed in the wet paint and some orange peel.
Another shot of the drivers side. The passenger side is not as pretty. For some reason, I had a HUGE paint sag on the entire back half of the car. The HVLP changed output in middle of a stroke and by the time I realized it the damage was done. Dang! Well, I had planned on color sanding and buffing anyway.
This is a trick a paint guy showed me to get rid of runs. If you look close, you can see the runs to the left of my thumb. (They look like bumps) What you do is hold a NEW razor blade (single edge) nearly vertical and slowly pull it across the drip. Slowly it will scrape off the high spot until it is the same level as the rest of the paint. I did have a couple of spots where I nicked the paint or had a piece of trash on it. These, I hit lightly with another coat of paint. The color sand will solve the blending problem. This particular paint matches very well because is is non-metallic.
While I was waiting for the paint to cure, I spent some time on the windows. I had ordered new switches and put them in but only the drivers side worked. All the door panels are off and I just plugged the switches into the sockets. Out with the voltmeter. No voltage, that would explain why they don't work. Time to resort to desperate measures. Where is the shop manual. I HATE electronics. Finally found the right schematic but it was not very clear to me. After awhile, I saw a fixture in the circuit. What's a 'lock'?. Oh Sh--, surely there is not a power window lock out switch...is there?... Yes. Dang I feel stupid. Now everything works except the power vent on the passenger side. The passenger front window doesn't work but that is due to the spring getting away from me and not winding it up enough when I put it back in. I'll pull it out next time I have a chance.
After 3 days, it is safe to color sand and buff the car. I will start with 600 grit wet or dry (actually the brand of sandpaper is Imperial!) I will then move to 1000 grit, 1200 grit, and 1500 grit. I have 2000 grit but will not take it that far. The rubbing compound will actually take out 1200 grit scratches. What you see in the above photo are 3 of my sanding pads. The top one is pretty stiff and aggressive. The middle is semi stiff and the lower is soft. The goal is to take off all the high spots and orange peel WITHOUT SANDING THROUGH THE PAINT! This is easier said than done. You have to be very careful on edges. The good thing is that anything you mess up can be fixed but you have to wait 3 days for it to cure. Yes, I sanded through on this car.
Wet sanding is hard work! Your arms and hands get tired and having to hold the hose doesn't help any. I came with with a tool that helps. It is simply a rubber "dent puller" and a cable tie around the hose. The hose sprayer is a new style I got at Home Depot. It is all plastic (no scratching paint) and has a rotating knob on the rear instead of a trigger. This means you can set it at the output you want and let go. It also has an adjustable spray. Its cheap, about 5 bucks. I've switched over to them on all our hoses.
The technique is to keep the sandpaper wet and sand in straight lines. I normally go front to back. I do the entire car with 600 grit. You cannot tell how things look until the water dries. When it does, if you still see shiny spots you have more sanding to do unless you decide to live with it. To get max gloss paint must be perfectly flat. Any orange peel will cause the reflection to dull. You can always get it flat but the question is how much paint will you have left. This is a judgment call. I put an extra coat of paint with the anticipation I would sand it off so I will go pretty smooth. You can tell when the paper starts to cut. The drag will increase and you will see the water 'color' with the runoff. I normally let a finger drag on the paint so I can feel the surface. It doesn't take long to get the hang of it.
Today (7/19) I got the entire car done with 600 grit. I sanded through the color on the front wheel well and had to touch it up with my airbrush. My camera does not show the orange peel so I have no photos of the operation. When the new paint dries, I will go over the car with 1000 grit and then 1200.
A couple years ago, I bought an used 3 ton AC for my lift room. It was only 100 bucks and would hold the room at 75 degrees. Unfortunately, today, on the hottest day of the year, it died. I have the freon and gauges and I'll try and fix it. My neighbor Bo is an AC wiz and he is off Friday. A hundred bucks is a small price to pay to be able to work in relative comfort.
If I can stand it tomorrow I will work on the windows.
Kerry's '73 Restoration Saga Main...
This page was last updated on 08/22/2001. Please email me any comments at email@example.com
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