Monthly Archives: June 2012

Slippery when wet

The Chevelle has the smoothest paint I can put on a car, but as smooth as it is, it isn’t a High Performance Finish.

These three photos show how you take a great finish to an awesome finish, a High Performance Finish. You do it by sanding the paint with ultra-fine sandpaper while the surface is wet. The process goes by a couple of different names. Some call it wet sanding, others call it color sanding, but both mean you are sanding and smoothing the clear coat to make the deepest, richest, paint finish possible.

Paint achieves its gloss by reflecting light. The more the light bounces back directly to your eye, the deeper and richer the shine. Imperfection in the paint, including those you can’t see, scatter the light and muddle the shine. Sanding removes these imperfections, reducing the amount of scatter from the reflecting light.

The paint is sanded while wet because the water acts as a lubricant, preventing the sandpaper from removing too much paint. Sanding through the clear coat would be … bad. The second reason for sanding while the car is wet is the water washes away the sanding dust, making  it far easier to see if the imperfections are removed.

Now I know what you are thinking … how can you see the imperfections while you are sanding when you said you couldn’t see them before. Believe it or not, the sanding process reveals the imperfections so you can see them, just like blocking the car revealed any dents in the car, including those you couldn’t see before. When you can no longer see the imperfections you know the car has a mirror like finish.

High Performance Finish.

Bug out!

This 1970 Volkswagen Beetle is finally back together and looking good after being hit by an inattentive driver. The rich red paint compliments the classic lines of this bug very nicely.

You don’t see many of these old air-cooled beetles around any more … and you sure don’t see many as nice as this one.

Getting buzzed

A couple of days ago we primed this BMW Z3 to seal and protect all the bodywork we have done on it. Today Jordan buzzed over the entire car with the DA (Dual Action) sander, after blocking it, to smooth the primer and prepare it for paint.

It was a hot and dusty job, but it is an absolutely necessary step for the quality finish this little bimmer deserves.

Polishing like a rock star

Normally polishing is a one person job. Its not a hard job … you squirt some polish on the paint and carefully run over the surface with the polisher. Once you learn the technique, a person can move over a car rather quickly without any help. This fender, however, is another matter.

Because of its shape it won’t stay in position so you can run over it with the polisher. That is where another pair of hands come in handy. A pair of hands like, say, Jordan’s.

In the first photo you can see how Jordan is holding the fender upright and steady so I can run the polisher over the paint. The polishing process brings out additional gloss in the paint by smoothing over microscopic imperfections in the paint.

The second photo is a bit closer look at the polishing process. You can see in the bottom of the photo the portion of the fender that has already been polished, while top part of the photo still has the polishing compound on the paint from where I squirted it.

Picture three is, well, I don’t know what picture three is. All I know is that if you are a polishing rock star, like Jordan (right) and I are, you have to look the part, complete with stupid facial expressions.

The last two photos, numbers four and five, show the fender after the paint has been brought up to its final gloss.

Not bad work, if I do say so myself.

Bake for two hours

I didn’t get any pictures of this Senna being painted. I got busy in the booth and forgot all about it until I pulled it out in the sun. But if you have been following this blog for any length of time at all, you already know the process … sealer, base then clear.

It gets hotter than … well, hot … in the shop during the summer, but the heat does have its advantages. After the freshly applied paint on this van was dry to the touch, we backed it out and let Mr. Sun bake it for a couple of hours. The heat and sunshine speed the curing process of the paint, making it ready to go just that little bit quicker.

It didn’t matter on this van because it was so late in the day when I finished it, but catching a few rays certainly can’t hurt.

Finally …

At long last this poor little BMW Z3 is ready for paint. But first, it has to be primed.

The first photo shows the car of many colors in the booth, masked off and ready for primer. Most, but not all, of the car will be primed … there was a small area on the left quarter panel that didn’t need any work, and that section will not be primed.

Just like paint, the car has to be cleaned before it can be primed because, just like paint, the primer needs a clean and oil free surface to adhere to. Jordan is cleaning the car with a degreaser in the second photo.

The last two photos, numbers 3 and 4, are the car after being sprayed with primer. Finally the car is one color, even if it is primer gray.

Well, except for that one place on the left rear corner that is.

Now it’s mine

Sometimes all it takes to make a bike your own is a different style of fender and a dash of paint. Such is the case for this proud Harley-Davidson owner.

Not completely happy with the styling of his motorcycle, he is replacing the stock fender with this aftermarket unit. But, in order to complete the look, the fender needs paint.

The first picture shows the fender after the application of the sealer. The sealer is the last step before paint and it functions to seal the materials below, provide a consistent color for the base coat, but most importantly it fills any tiny imperfections and provides a smooth surface that the paint can get its teeth into for good adhesion.

The second picture shows the fender after the base coat has been applied. The base coat is the actual pigmented paint that provides the color to your ride. It comes as a surprise to some that the base coat doesn’t shine … drying nearly as flat as a chalkboard. It is the clear that provides the depth and luster of the finish.

The last photo shows what I mean. After the clear coat is applied the paint has a much deeper, richer, color than before the application. The clear coat also provides a protective coating to protect the base coat from damage and fading.

Taken together, the sealer, base and clear, form the long lasting, durable, finish on your car, truck, van or SUV. Or, as in this case, your customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Basic black

In a bit of contract work, this new Hyundai Accent bumper was sent to me for paint. On simple repairs, like replacing a bumper skin, a lot of people like to save a few dollar and do as much of the work as possible themselves. Normally I need to have the car to blend the paint into, but the nice thing about black is that in this case black is black, and the paint will, almost always, match perfectly.  However there are a few occasions where it doesn’t.

The first photo has the replacement bumper in the booth ready to go. The last two photos are of the bumper, painted and ready to go. Well, as soon as the paint dries that is.

On the mend

Yesterday we took this Senna apart. Today, we started making ready to put it back together.

The first photo shows the fender in it’s factory rust preventive coating. It looks nearly white in this photo, but it is really a shade of green.

We started by trimming out the replacement front fender. Trimming out a part is painting all the most places that are difficult to impossible to reach once the body panel is installed on the car, most notably the back and edges. You can see what the trimmed out fender looks like in the second photo. It’s not hard to trim out a body part, but it is an important step for a quality repair.

After the fender was dry enough to handle, it came out and the bumper went in. The third picture shows the raw bumper, ready to receive its paint.

Pictures four and five show the bumper after the application of the base and clear coats. This two stage paint process, base and clear, produces a deep rich finish that will last the lifetime of the vehicle.

The last photo, number six, is the Senna with the fender installed, ready to paint. You will notice that the side of the van has been sanded as well. This is so we can blend the paint from the front fender and repair a couple of small dents, unrelated to the front end damage, on the back door.

It is extremely difficult to mix color and achieve a perfect match in color. As an example, there is no such thing as red paint. The paint one might call red is actually made up several different pigments to make the color you see. Any variation in mixing the paint, a variation as small as the size of a single drop of pigment, can produce enough difference in the color that the human eye can detect the difference. But … only  if the two colors are adjacent and divided by a clearly defined line … like where a fender meets a door.

Blending is a technique to disguise the transition from the old paint to the new by feathering the new paint into the old. This denies the eye that clearly defined edge where the two colors can been seen in sharp contrast. It is a trick nearly as old as auto painting itself, but it works, and it works very well.

Looking at that last photo, it looks like it time to clean the lens of the camera again too. Being a camera in a paint and body shop isn’t an easy life.

It’s not a bad as it looks

I forgot to get pictures of this Toyota Senna before we started taking it apart, and because of that it looks much worse than it is. In these photos  it looks like the entire front of the van has been wrecked because the nose is already off the car.

The first picture show the bit of dented fender and the second the corresponding dent in the bumper. This wasn’t just a gentle kiss between two cars, but neither was there major damage.

The last picture shows the car with the fender removed. Had this been the first shot you saw you could be forgiven for thinking the entire side of the car was mangled, rather than just a modest dent in the bumper.

This is clear case of getting worse before getting better.

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