The main thing that I’ve learned from this part of the project, and I’ve learned quite a bit, is that I don’t particularly care for body work. If you find yourself in need of such work, and value your time and sanity, have somebody else do it….unless, of course, you’re into that kind of stuff. I believe such people are called masochists. This post will be kept brief as adding too much depth could trigger PTSD-style flashbacks.
On a more serious note, I have tremendous respect for anybody who can do body work well–it truly is an art. If you’re a noob like myself, expect to experience some frustration. All of the articles and youtube tutorials in the world, although very helpful, are no substitute for experience. With that said, here’s an overview of my process:
I started by totally stripping the engine bay. This required wire wheeling, sanding, brushing, scrubbing, paint thinner, and above all, time. I brought every surface down to bare metal since so much work had been done in that area. If the surface you’re working on has a decent coat of factory primer, going down to bare metal isn’t really necessary.
After stripping the residual paint, the surface needed to be scuffed to create a surface conducive to the bonding of fillers and primer. I scuffed the metal with red scotch brite pads and proceeded to wipe the surfaces with lacquer thinner to remove grease and dust.
I stripped the inside of the firewall as well before laying down filler and paint. I figured that the vibrations generated by the liberal use of power tools during the stripping process could potentially harm the filler on the other side of the wall so I got it out of the way before any filler was applied.
If you care about the final appearance of your project, and I can imagine that you would, adding and smoothing body filler will be one of the most time consuming steps. I used Evercoat Rage Gold. I think they call it that because it’ll induce rage despite being one of the top rated products. I used Evercoat glaze as well to smooth out smaller imperfections. Thickly applied filler can lead to cracking. 1/8″ is generally considered to be the safe upper limit. Since my car will see more abuse than most, I did my best to keep the filler under 1/16″.
Then came the home-brew paint booth. I used plastic sheeting, box fans, and furnace filters. Even though I used box fans, I advise you to not use box fans. The reason for this is that the motors can produce sparks, and those sparks can ignite the volatile chemicals that you’ll later be spraying inside the booth in an atomized form. Be smart, don’t get yourself blown up. Also, make sure you wear suitable protection. Protect your eyes and wear a respirator that’s intended for volatile organic compounds. The respirator isn’t too expensive and you can incorporate it into a Halloween costume when you’re done.
For paint, I used John Deere Blitz Black and John Deere primer. Hot rodders rave about this stuff–extolling its finish and durability. Me, not so much. I’m satisfied with the finish however the stuff has proven to be prone to chipping. This paint is extremely easy to touch up and should be fine now that the car is assembled, but I had to be extra careful to not bang tools and parts into the surface while putting the car together. I mixed the paint according to the instructions, used their recommended hardener, and sprayed everything through a Harbor Freight gun, which actually worked quite well.
Here’s the primer:
After priming, I packed certain areas with seam sealer. The seam sealer available at Napa seems pretty good.
And the paint:
The suspension got attention too, but with Eastwood rust converter, rust encapsulator, and chassis black paint. Before that, I did the typical wire wheeling.
Can’t forget the little bits:
Additionally, I bombed all of the hard-to-reach areas with Eastwood inner frame rail protectant. This stuff sticks to anything and converts rust. Water and oxygen are going to be seriously bummed when they encounter my car and realize that they can’t leave their mark.
Interior paint came next….after the car went away for a while to get a roll bar and door bars. I painted the interior with 9 cans of VHT roll bar paint. This is an awesome product, by the way. My prep work consisted of some wire wheeling, scotch brite red scuffing, and a lacquer thinner wipe down. The paint goes on smoothly and has a nice finish. It comes in gloss and matte. I used the gloss, which I knew ahead of time was not truly glossy. It’s a nice satin finish–exactly what I wanted. This stuff doesn’t seem to chip, resists scratches well, and is chemical resistant. Due to a leaky slave cylinder fitting, I found myself repeatedly topping off the clutch fluid reservoir. After a couple of small spills, the paint looks the same.
The under body looks new too, with fresh paint and undercoat.
And then I made it look like a space ship: