Daily Archives: June 15, 2012

Zoom Zoom

Yesterday I painted the bumper on this Mazda Tribute and installed it. Today we got the car cleaned up and made it ready for the customer to pick up.

Even though the SUV wasn’t heavily damaged in the crash, requiring just a new bumper skin, the owner didn’t want to be zooming around town with the bumper all broken and scarred.

Now they don’t have to.

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Red hot

At long last, after much spraying, and sanding, and spraying, and sanding … and sanding … and even more sanding, this 1965 Chevelle is finally in the booth ready for paint.

The first picture shows the car rolled into the booth. The body is as perfect as I can make it. It is now time to make all the hard work shine.

In the second, third and fourth photos, I am masking the car off. Masking confines the paint to only the places on the car that are to be painted. You would think that a car that is being painted all over, with no glass and no interior, wouldn’t need to be masked, but you would be mistaken.

We masked off the engine, which is obvious, but we also masked off the interior to keep it neat, the dash, the wheels and tires, the inside of the trunk and the frame. All these areas are protected from overspray just because we want to do a neat and tidy job.

As you can see in picture five, after the car is masked I wet down the walls and floor of the booth. This not only washes away any dust and dirt we tracked into the booth, it also causes the masking paper to suck down and stick to the floor, making a nice tight seal to help prevent the paint from sneaking though a unnoticed gap between the paper and the floor.

In pictures six, seven, eight and nine, I am cleaning the car. In picture six I am spraying the car with a cleaning agent to remove any oils on the car from our touching it. From this point forward, the car will not be touched with bare skin again until the painting process is complete and the paint is dry.

After spraying an area with the cleaner, it is wiped down with a lint free cloth. You can see me wiping down the top in picture seven.

In pictures eight and nine, I am wiping the car yet again with a tack cloth. The tack cloth is a lint free cloth that has been treated with a chemical that makes the cloth tacky. Wiping the cloth over the car causes any loose particles, such as dust or hair, to stick to the cloth and be removed from the surface of the car. If I can’t effectively get the tack cloth into an area, such as a seam, I use high pressure air to clean the seam as much as possible. That is what I am doing in photo eight, blowing out a body seem and using the tack cloth to catch any dust the air blows out.

After the car is masked to prevent overspray, and cleaned, then cleaned again, and wiped clean yet again, it is finally time to paint. That is what I am doing beginning with picture ten.

In picture ten I am laying down the sealer. The sealer is used to seal the primers below it and to provide a smooth and even surface that promotes adhesion for the paint that follows. The sealer is available in seven shades of gray … from almost white to almost black. Each paint color specifies one of these seven shades to produce the desired color. Using a darker or lighter sealer than recommend will produce a noticeably different color, even if all other factors remain the same. This sealer is dead in the middle of the gray spectrum.

After the sealer is applied, the base coat is applied. The base coat is the actual color of the car, in this case, red. You can see me spraying on the base in pictures twelve and thirteen. You will notice that in picture thirteen I appear abnormally tall … that is because I am standing on a clever device that I use to reach the top of cars so I can lay down a nice even coat of paint … a metal five gallon bucket.

Between coats of the base, the paint is allowed to try to the touch. The base isn’t truly dry, but it is dry enough to touch without leaving marks in the paint. Between coat the car is tacked again, just to take every precaution that the High Performance Finish, which this car is getting, has the finest paint job I can possibly produce.

Pictures 15-20 show the car after the fourth and final base coat has been applied. Even though the base coat dries nearly completely flat and without luster, it is so smoothly applied that it still has a bit of shine. Where we were waiting ten to fifteen minutes between coats for the base coat, we have to wait longer now. When painting base over base, the paint just needs to be dry to the touch, but the base needs to be dry before the clear goes on.

After a 90 minute wait or so, I am back in the booth in pictures 21 and 22, spraying on the clear coat. The clear coat is the magic elixir of the two stage paint system. The first stage, the base coat, provides the color. The second stage, the clear coat, provides not only the protection, but also the gloss of the paint finish as well.

You will notice in the last six photos, numbers 23-28, how much depth the paint has gained from the application of the clear coat. The color has gone from meh to oh my!

The camera doesn’t truly capture the depth of the finish, but after three coats of clear the finish appears deep enough that you could dive into it and swim around. If you look closely you will notice that the reflected lights are crisp and sharp with minimal distortion. But as good as this finish is, and it is quite good in my humble opinion, it will get even better.

It took most of the day to mask and paint the car. Now it will sit in the booth over the weekend until it is good and dry. But when it comes out next week we still have two more steps, critical steps, that takes this already very good finish to the High Performance Finish. 

Then you will see this finish go from red, to red hot!

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