Daily Archives: May 1, 2012

Meanwhile …

Today … today was all about Hughes 1965 Chevelle with an all hands on deck flurry of activity.

The first photo shows the hood upside down on the paint stand. In the ’60’s GM painted the underside of their hoods black, regardless the color of the car. This hood will be done the same. This is a replacement hood, already rust proofed from the factory. All we have to do is paint it black.

The second and third photos show the hood and inner fenders after the application of the sealer. The sealer seals the primers below it, yes, even the factory primers, so the paint has a nice smooth base. Each paint color specifies one of seven available shade of gray. The grays range from very light, an almost white, to a near black. The sealer specified for use on the hood and fenders is a little to the lighter side of the middle.

The sealer not only seals the primers below it, it also provides a consistent color base so the paint doesn’t look mottled after being sprayed over various types of primer. The sealer also provides a smooth surface with good adhesion so the paint looks its best and lasts a long time without peeling.

The fourth and fifth photos show the hood and fenders after being painted black. The paint looks a little glossy in these photos but as it dries it will flatten out some to match what has been sprayed on the bulkhead of the car.

Meanwhile …

Picture number six shows Mike wet sanding the fenders that were painted yesterday. Sanding painted bodywork?!? Is he crazy?!? Maybe, but not for the reason you might think.

After a panel is painted the clear coat is not perfectly smooth. It may look perfectly smooth but it isn’t … it has microscopic ridges in the paint that muddle the reflections. If you look carefully at the last pictures in yesterdays post, paying careful attention to the edges of the reflection, you will notice the edges are ill defined and a bit blurry. Those blurred reflections are the result of the invisible flaws in the paint. Sure it shines, but just wait.

Wet sanding, like all the previous sanding steps, is about smoothing the surface and removing imperfections. By carefully sanding the surface of the paint with an ultra-fine grit sandpaper, we can sand out those invisible imperfections, making the surface of the paint perfectly smooth. It is the smoothness of the paint the defines the sharpness of the reflections.

The process of wet sanding is performed with the surface wet. Funny how the name just happened to work out like that. Anyway, the water acts as a lubricant so the sandpaper doesn’t dig in and remove too much paint. The sandpaper is so fine that it feels smooth to the touch but there is enough abrasiveness there that the sandpaper will remove the imperfections and leave the clear coat, the part of the paint that give the paint its depth and luster, ultra smooth. The water also washes away the sanding dust so the person doing the sanding can see if all the imperfections have been removed or if more sanding is required.

As you might imagine, no matter how fine the paper and no matter how lubricated the surface, if you are going to starting rubbing sandpaper over the surface of the paint you are going to mar the paint and dull the refection. And you know what? You would be right. That is where the next step comes in.

Picture seven shows Mike buffing the freshly sanded paint to bring up the gloss. Buffing performs the same function as wet sanding, but it works at a much finer level. Using polishing compounds and the buffer/polisher, Mike gradually works out the sanding marks left by the wet sanding process. Mike will go through several progressively finer compounds until he finally reaches the liquid like gloss that is the High Performance Finish. 

Pictures eight and nine show the same fenders, the same paint, as you saw in the booth yesterday, but look at the difference in the reflections. This is the difference in our regular workaday finish and the High Performance Finish. Sure, our everyday finish has a brilliant shine … a shine that looks pretty good … until you compare it to our High Performance Finish. Then the difference is clear. Only the High Performance Finish has those razor sharp reflections, and that can only be achieved by wet sanding.

Meanwhile …

While Mike worked away wet sanding the fenders and I was busy painting the hood and fender wells, Jordan was busy sanding on the trunk lid. You can see him working away, sanding with both hands in picture ten. We needed to get the underside of the trunk sanded before it could go into the booth for paint.

Unlike the underside of the hood, the underside of the trunk lid will be painted the same color as the body of the car. After the paint on the hood and fender wells had a chance to dry enough so we could move them out of the booth, the truck lid and doors would be moved into the booth for paint.

Meanwhile …

As Mike continued wet sanding and polishing the fenders, and the hood and fender wells finished drying outside the booth, the trunk lid and doors were place in the booth. The inside of the doors were painted yesterday so those areas were carefully masked to protect the painted areas from over-spray. Picture eleven shows the doors all taped up and ready for paint.

Picture twelve shows the base coat, the red in this case, going onto one of the doors. The base cost is sprayed on in several thin layers so the panel achieves full coverage, but without runs.

The Chevelle is being painted using a two stage paint system. That means the base coat, the color layer if you will, is sprayed on first. This layer has almost zero gloss. Its sole purpose is to provide the color for the finish. Where a single stage paint will dry to a glossy finish, pictures thirteen and fourteen shows how the base coat dries nearly flat.

It is picture fifteen, the application of the clear coat, where the magic happens in a two stage paint system. The clear coat not only provide a tough protective barrier for the base coat underneath, it is also the clear coat that provides the zip, zing and pow to the finish.

Look at the last two photos, numbers sixteen and seventeen and compare them to pictures thirteen and fourteen, the same panel before the clear coat has been applied. The difference is obvious. The panels have more depth, more luster, more …  pizzazz … after the clear coat.

If these panels were going on someone’s daily driver they would be ready to go after the clear coat had dried. And they would look good too, at least as good if not a little better than the factory paint. But these panels are not going on a daily driver, but rather they are going on someone’s pride and joy. As such, just like the fenders before them, they will be kicked up a notch, bumped up from merely looking great to looking fantastic.

A car like this, after all, deserves nothing less.

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