Body painting is one of the most hands on and difficult elements of restoring a classic car. There are lots of steps to be taken before you can even begin painting like cleaning and preparation. Then you have to start doing long-winded planning; checking the humidity and weather conditions. If you want to accomplish a professional quality paint job it requires a lot of hands-on knowledge and expertise. When painting the body of a car you can’t hide your mistakes like you can when you are rebuilding mechanical systems. It is not surprise that most home classic car restorers prefer to avoid this job and outsource it restoring professionals.
However if you want to have a go at doing it yourself you can get some flourishing results with not a lot of knowledge. It is important that you have a strong wish to do this yourself. It requires a lot of willpower and determination to overcome the obstacles that occur during the tasks that lie ahead.. Nothing can beat having quality equipment, a well kitted out facility and lots of experience and know how. The more experience you have the better the finished product will be. If you follow these simple tips you should be able to spray on a new paint finish and be proud of the work you have done.
Being in the know
A few weeks before you start the task of painting your classic car, take the time to buy and read a book on body painting. Make sure to absorb all of the useful hints, tips and advice from the book. If you do not fancy reading a book then you can also do some research online. The internet is full of heaps of information to do with classic car restoration. As they say, Knowledge is power. The more you know about the painting process the better the end result will be.
As well as knowledge, practice makes perfect. Most home classic car restorers do not have the luxury of being able to paint other cars before painting their own restoration project. Practice by using some cheap enamel paint or a cup of plain paint thinner and spraying it on something such as the garage wall or some plywood. If you have any spare body parts like old car doors for example are even better to practice on. Practicing will allow you to see if you have got the spray gun adjusted correctly for the accurate spray pattern, air pressure and paint flow.
Setting up the garage
A day or two before you start to paint the body you should take the time to sweep the garage floor and then follow up with a complete vacuuming of the floor. Don’t do this on the day you plan to do the painting. The reason for this is during the process of cleaning the floor dust is thrown into the air and can take a few hours to settle back down on the floor. You do not want the dust to settle on the fresh coat of paint while it is drying.
It is also important to keep an on the weather. Paint is very sensitive to weather conditions. You should spray the paint when the temperature is above 60 degrees. You should also ensure that the humidity low. You should not do the painting when there is extreme humidity or when it is raining. The is more true when you are applying metallic paints because moisture can get trapped under the paint film and causes the paint finish to become cloudy. If the paint is exposed to high levels of moisture it can also cause the paint to lift after a while after it is applied.
While you are painting the car you should install a fan in the nearest window. A 30 inch diameter fan should more than suffice. The fan will help to draw away the overspray and paint fumes away from the working area. Although you will be wearing a paint mask the more fumes that you can remove the better. This will mean less paint dust will settle on the new coat of paint while it is drying and in turn will make the paint finish look better.
Tips while painting
Your car is one big magnet, you can’t see it though. You car attracts dust particles that float in the air to the steel body. If you run a steel chain from the floor to the body it will ground the car. This will do away with static electricity and therefore reduce the amount of dust the can settle on the body.
While painting the car make sure not to wear clothes that have fibres like cotton, flannel and wool. This is because fibres will start to detach themselves from the clothing and float in the air. These fibres might land onto the body surface and settle on the paint. You can wear nylon clothes or get yourself a disposable paper painter’s suit. It is also a good idea to wear a lint free hat as well. This will help to ensure that any loose hair will not fall onto the body surface.
Car restoration is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby. Try to relax while doing the painting. If you do end up messing up and making a mistake you can just wait for the paint to dry, then sand the surface and have another go at repainting. Painting is a learning process and you will get better with each time you try. You will get a lot better at painting if you are not so tense while doing it.
Don’t rush while you are painting. Give yourself lots of time as it takes lots of hours to complete an entire body paint job. Start rather early in the day and make sure you don’t have anything planned for the rest of that day. It takes a lot longer to paint a car than you might think it will.
Once you have finished spraying the body, leave the garage and let the paint dry as per the paint manufactures instructions. This is usually takes several hours. The more time you spend walking inside the garage the more dust you will throw into the air. This increases the chance of dust settling onto the newly done paint job. You will need to clean your spray gun right away after you have finished however as you do not want the paint left inside to harden and spoil the gun. It is a good idea to have a air hose that will extends enough to allow you to leave the garage to clean the spray gun.