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DIY Paint Job: Old Rig, New Coat

Posted in How To: Body Chassis on January 8, 2019
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Old patina is cool and looks great on the right vehicle without ill-matching panel colors, but our old Jeepster didn’t have such gracefully aged paint. It was time for the 50-year-old body to get some fresh color. Before that could happen, we had some rust and old body filler patches to deal with. Plus, we had done some cutting and welding on the sheetmetal to make modifications.

After some bouts with body filler and a lot of sanding prep, we were ready to start applying primer and paint coatings. Summit Racing Equipment has an extensive line of body finishing products, and we chose to source most all of our chemicals and coatings from there.

You can choose from two basic kinds of paint systems: a single-stage paint that contains the color pigment and any surface gloss finish; or a two-stage, basecoat/clearcoat where you spray one paint for the color base and a separate clear paint for the desired gloss finish. For this project we chose one of the Summit’s single-stage paints. We had decided we didn’t want a shiny finish on this rig, so opted for the Hot Rod Flat acrylic urethane paint. It is sold in gallon cans and is available in 10 colors.

Summit Racing Equipment was a one-stop shop for most of our painting supplies. Buying all the finishing products from one source can ensure that they are all chemically compatible.

If you’re thinking of painting at home, it may be wise to check with your local ordinances to see if there are restrictions on what you can spray at your location. As an alternative, we’re aware that in our area there is at least one rental location that DIYers can use to do their own painting inside a booth.

Before we could make our body a new, bright orange, we needed to seal up some bare metal and other previous finish layers. We applied epoxy primer followed by multiple coats of high-build primer. The high-build primer contains a lot of solids and builds an overly thick prime layer that can be used to further smooth minor scratches and surface imperfections. After letting it dry, we began sanding it smooth using our various sanding blocks and pads, and doing final sanding with 400-grit sandpaper. We did the final sanding wet and also used a maroon abrasive fiber pad to smooth the surface in tighter body contours.

Finally, it was time for the color. We needed to paint the tub, hood, fenders, grille, tailgate, windshield frame, and a bunch of small parts. We did the painting over the span of a few days, starting with the smaller parts and working our way up. This allowed us more practice with the painting before we got to spraying the largest surfaces.

We were careful, took our time, and followed the product instructions closely. It was a good bit of work, and we are pleased with the results. We saved a bundle of money doing our own paint job and have the satisfaction of knowing we did it ourselves.

For spray guns, we used the DeVilbiss StartingLine HVLP kit from Summit. It includes both primer and paint gravity-feed spray guns, along with accessories in a blow-molded case.
Unlike when using old-style siphon feed guns, newer high-volume, low-pressure (HVLP) spray guns generally require greater airflow volume but at lower pressure. The inside diameter of air fittings and hoses can vary considerably, and small ones may restrict flow to your gun.
We had some various other parts that were going on the Jeep, such as these tube doors. For those, we applied the direct-to-metal (DTM) primer to protect the bare metal and give the final paint a good biting surface.
We used two cleaning solvents during the preparation. We used the Summit Grease and Wax Remover to clean parts prior to sanding and other body work. Before applying primer or paint, we did final cleaning with Summit Surface Wash. Plus, a tack cloth was used just prior to spraying to lift off any small debris that might have settled on the surface to be painted.
We had some panels that were stripped to bare metal or had new metal that wouldn’t be primed or finished rather quickly. To protect those from surface rust or corrosion, we shot them with DTM epoxy primer mixed 1:1 with a matching catalyst.
Note that when using catalyzed paint products such as these, it’s especially important to guard your respiratory system. An appropriate filtered mask should be worn to protect from the vapors. Safety glasses and a simple paint suit can also keep you separated from the paint products.
Our tub ended up with a mix of prepared finishes. Some of the old paint structure was good, so we prepped it with 220-grit sandpaper to provide good adhesion for the epoxy primer. Other areas had welded metal, body filler, or were sanded to various layers.
For our sanding needs, we purchased a Dura-Block kit. With the several sizes and shapes of firm foam blocks, we could easily sand surfaces of most any contour using self-adhesive sandpaper.
After the epoxy primer dried fully over a few days, we sanded it again with 220-grit sandpaper before shooting it with the Summit 2.1 VOC High Build DTM primer. A little more body filler was applied in a few places between these two primers.
We again wiped down each body part with the Surface Wash and a tack cloth, after sanding and before spraying the next primer. At this point, we weren’t heavily concerned about avoiding small dust particles in the primer so simply shot it outdoors on the driveway. We used the DeVilbiss primer gun with a 1.8mm tip for all the primer steps.
We touched up some minor surface imperfections and a few pin holes we found over the body filler using Summit’s Finishing Glaze. It is a two-part putty that goes on very smooth and can easily be wiped on thin.
With the body panels primed and all the final sanding complete, we were close to spraying color. We built a temporary spray booth from clear plastic sheet and a couple of discarded canopy frames we had.
As mentioned, we chose to use Summit’s Hot Rod Flat Single Stage Acrylic Urethane Paint in an orange color. Necessary activators and reducers come in three different formulas to accommodate the temperature at the time you’re spraying.
The paint, activator, and reducer were combined in the recommended ratio and thoroughly mixed before pouring them through a clean paint strainer into our spray gun.
We swapped over to the DeVilbiss paint gun for the color work and used the 1.3mm tip.
We had been concerned that the overall sheen of the finish might not be consistent given our amateur paint-spraying skills. However, the orange dried to a very consistent flat/satin surface. It was time for body assembly and to coat the interior with bedliner material.

Sources

Summit Racing
800-230-3030
www.summitracing.com

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