The very first thing everyone does when they walk up to a car for the first time is to look at the paint. It requires your very best effort and the most attention to detail that you can give it.
This Tech Tip is From the Full Book, MOPAR B-BODY RESTORATION: 1966-1970. For a comprehensive guide on this entire subject you can visit this link:
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For those who want to do everything, who don’t want to hand off their car to a restoration shop, this portion of the build can be the most demanding, or the most thrilling. It all depends on how you view paint preparation, painting, sanding, and polishing.
Certain people look at an engine and reel in terror whereas others find it to be the most exciting part of a car build; so it is with paint. This chapter is aimed directly at those who can’t wait to jump into the challenge of aesthetically restoring their Mopar to as-new condition.
Though far more detailed than a beginner-level discussion, this chapter does not go into the same level of detail as books and videos dedicated to teaching you how to paint your own car. We strongly suggest you use them to learn the basics of painting a car.
This is a “how to” book on 1966– 1970 Plymouth and Dodge B-Bodies. It is a great tool for learning the differences among these cars. We cover specific painting techniques and tips along with how to reproduce the factory painting process.
Pulling Out Dents
Sometimes the fender or door may be free of rust but has a large dent or crease. When you can save original body panels you should take the extra effort to do so. You really need a good hammer and dolly set to work on these types of repairs. Companies such as Eastwood sell these quality tools at reasonable prices and they are a good investment if you plan on restoring or repairing more than one car.
You can use the old-fashioned dent puller that uses a metal screw that is drilled into the lowest part of the dent and then by sliding the moveable weight out you can pull the dent back to its original position. This still works but it puts holes into good metal that are not necessary with today’s technology.
A stud welding system, which is available through Eastwood among others, is a great way to pull out dents and creases. Instead of drilling holes you weld a stud onto the metal and pull the dent out starting from the deepest part of the dent and working gradually outward until the dent is removed. After you get the metal back to its original shape all you have to do is cut off the stud and grind the weld smooth. You always have to use a dolly and hammer to get it really close and then dress the repair with body filler.
Body Filler Basics
Body filler (or Bondo) has received a bad rap for years. It is true that misuse of this important tool in preparing a car for paint can be found on many of these older cars. It should never be used on exceptionally thick patches or as a substitute for missing metal. It is used to fill in minor irregularities in the metal’s surface and to dress repairs.
It can be applied directly to bare metal, but we prefer to spray the car with epoxy primer first and then use the body filler. We prefer to use as little as possible, whereas others coat the entire panel and then level it with the correct grade of sandpaper.
Regardless of the method you choose, do not buy the cheap stuff. Use the best grade of body filler available and you never have to worry about it failing and replacing it after the car has been painted. You can purchase your body filler from the local PPG distributor. Several different brands are available to suit your specific application.
The most common beginner mistake is to sand off too much of the filler. The next most common mistake is to use too fine a grit when shaping the repair. When the body filler has been sanded you skim coat it with a body glaze. Mix a small amount of body filler in with your final glaze filler so that it sands easier.
Always use the longest sanding board possible on a repair for a more level finish.
Primed and Ready
After you have performed all the metal work, body filler work, and finish sanding, it is time to use a sanding primer. We have already mentioned using epoxy primer on the bare metal before making body filler repairs. Epoxy primer is very difficult to sand and should not be used after the body filler is finished.
For this next step use a high-build sanding primer. Shoot two to three good coats on the entire body and all panels. Then sand with 100-grit paper and again use the longest blocks you can for the area you are working.
Apply a good “guide coat” in a contrasting color, usually black. As you sand the primer, the black helps to highlight any low spots that need further attention.
Shoot two to three more good coats and sand with 400-grit paper, again using a guide coat.
Finally, shoot everything with a primer sealer and you are ready to apply the top coats.
Single-stage or base coat/clear coat: Which should you use? When these cars were originally painted, the factory used single-stage enamel paint. They had a lot of “orange peel” and you could actually see repairs under the paint. If you are trying to re-create this original factory look use single-stage enamel paint. If not, use base coat/clear coat. It looks better and lasts much longer if you use modern paint technology.
When you use the base coat/clear coat process, it is much easier to produce better results. You shoot two or three coats of the base color over all parts of the body and panels. Be sure to observe the proper flash times between coats. Then you shoot three coats of clear over the base. The end result is a deep shine. This look cannot be re-created with single-stage enamel. If your car is covered in a metallic color it is very difficult to get good results without using base coat/ clear coat.
Many top-level companies have good products. Now is not the time to try to save money. Buy the best paint and supplies you can because you really do not want to have to go through this again. We strongly recommend using PPG paint. They have all the original formulas for all the Plymouth and Dodge colors and their top-of-the-line clear produces a fabulous, deep shine.
Now the moment of truth has arrived. Can you paint your car yourself and be happy with the final result? Only you can honestly answer this question. We covered selecting the right paint shop in Chapter 1. You may need to use that advice if you feel you cannot apply the topcoat and be satisfied with the result.
Even if you have never gone this far on a restoration before, the information in this chapter will guide you through the process to successfully paint your car and be proud of the final results.
You can successfully accomplish many of the previous restoration work in a regular home garage or even in your driveway. However, applying color and clear requires having access to, or building, some kind of paint booth that helps you apply the paint with minimal dirt, dust, and even bugs getting in the paint.
The best thing to do is to contact several independent paint shops and inquire if they rent their booth over a weekend. This way you can be sure to have all the necessary equipment, lights, ventilation, compressor capacity, water, concrete floor, and space to put a quality paint job on your car. The better the environment you have to paint in, the better the results, and the less time you have to spend sanding and buffing out the flaws.
The next best thing is to build a temporary paint booth or convert part of your garage into a place where you can shoot paint and not fill your neighborhood with paint spray from your garage. We have seen many great paint jobs come from a home booth.
If you decide to build a temporary booth, several plans on the Internet provide step-by-step instructions on how to build one. Choose the plan that fits your specific needs and ability, and build it.
The factory painted these cars completely assembled. If you are going to return your car to its original factory condition you can either paint your car completely together or paint it in pieces but have a final result that “appears” as if it was painted fully assembled. If your car is non-metallic color it is much easier to paint it in pieces than if your car is metallic. Be sure to paint all exterior panels at the same time when shooting metallic; otherwise the paint does not match from panel to panel.
Because the undercarriage and interior received only an overspray of color, we recommend assembling the entire car and all joints. Also, ensure that gaps are correct before painting the interior and undercarriage. It is best to apply as much seam sealer and sound deadener as possible. Also, before you paint, make sure that you have assembled those parts that show an oozing of this filler.
Don’t forget to use grease when you mount the trunk sliders in the car. Yes, they do get painted (grease and all), because that is the way the factory did it.
After lining up everything and straightening all of the gaps, drill a small pilot-positioning hole in several areas. This way, you can reassemble all of the parts after you have painted; you won’t damage the paint by having to reposition these parts.
Drill one hole on each side in the middle of the trunk hinges where they attach to the trunk. Then drill one hole on each side in the middle of the upper and lower door hinges where they attach to the body. Drill all the way through and use the drill bit to reposition these hinges after paint.
Remove the doors, hood, and trunk and hang them vertically for paint. Leave the fenders on the car and the hinges on the doors. (You do this because of the factory seam sealer and the fact that the car was fully assembled before it was painted.)
Hang the hood, trunk, and doors in the room so you can shoot them in the same order as you removed them from the car. This way the color is consistent from panel to panel.
Mount all the loose attaching bolts into cardboard with the heads sticking up. Shoot them with color and clear at the same time you shoot the car and panels.
Clean the car well before putting it in the paint booth. After it is in the booth clean it again. Blow it off with air and wipe it down again. Wet the floor and blow the car off again. Use a tack rag on all areas to be painted.
Always wear a disposable paint suit and cover your hair and face. Wear gloves and a respirator. Wipe off the air hose. Do anything you can to keep everything as clean as possible.
Carefully assemble the doors, hood, and truck using the pre-drilled pilot holes. Any paint that chips off the attaching bolts can be touched up with a brush. After assembly fill the pilot holes with silicone and with a fine detail brush paint it with color.
Within one week begin the cut-and-buff process discussed at the end of this chapter. The longer you wait the harder the paint is and the harder it is to color sand and buff.
Make a Spray Plan
Plan out where you will start shooting color and the order of where you will go next so that you never have a dry edge while spraying.
We start in the trunk and work around the car counterclockwise, until we arrive back at the trunk. Have plenty of paint pre-mixed according to the instructions because one trip around the car can use as much as 1/2 gallon or more of reduced paint.
Allow the recommended flash times between coats. Shoot two or three coats of base on solid colors and three or four coats on metallic. On lighter colors you may need as many as four to six coats to achieve good coverage.
Keep the floor wet, and complete the process by shooting three coats of clear. Let all parts dry for at least 24 hours.
How the Factory Did It
Just how did the factory paint your car in the first place? One source takes you step-by-step through the factory process: Winged Warriors National B-Body Owners Association. Their website (wwnboa.org) is dedicated to the Winged cars and provides complete information about the unique assembly and painting processes used at the Lynch Road plant to build these amazing cars.
The following is a summary of everything we have learned over the past 30 years. This will help you understand what you find when you strip down one of these cars and how to duplicate it with your restoration.
Your car began in the metal shop, where everything that would receive paint was assembled and welded together. Each area of the mated surfaces of the panels was treated with a gray weld-through zinc primer before welding. When you take the doors off you see a green primer between the door hinge and the body. This was brushed on in several areas to prevent rust. Seam sealer was applied between the front fenders, taillight extensions, etc., and on many seams on the cars’ bodies when they were assembled.
The trunk sound deadener was applied to the inside of the quarters before they were welded together.
The fender tag at most plants was attached to the body with one front screw and the tag was bent upward so that paint and inspectors’ stamps could be applied along the way. At the Lynch Road plant the tag was hung inside the car with a paper clip. Upon leaving the “Body in White” metal shop, all parts of the car that would receive paint were completely assembled.
As your car entered the paint shop it went through several rinses, and then was treated with metal etching primer. After that it was dipped into a water-based dark primer vat, about halfway up the body. Then the exterior was hosed off before the dip primer dried. This dip line can easily be seen inside the doors, inside the backseat side panels, and on the inside of the cowl under the dash.
You can also see where this primer puddled in the ribs of the trunk and interior floors. The primer dripped out through the holes found in the floorboards and trunk, and left drip marks on the undercarriage around these holes and along the ribs.
Next, a black seam sealer was applied to the interior joints and a white hard drying sealer was applied in the trunk. A dark gray primer was applied to all doorjambs, trunk, under-hood areas, etc., and a final automated coat was applied to the exterior.
Immediately after, the interior color was sprayed and the car went into the oven to cure. After curing, the outside of the body was sanded, wiped off, and the interior color was masked off by hand. The body color was then applied and it again went into the oven to cure. Only an overspray of color partially covered the interior and undercarriage of the car.
All vinyl roofs were then attached (note that no body color was applied on the roof if it was a vinyl-top car).
Understanding the factory process helps you document your car when it is disassembled and stripped of its old paint. Then, as you restore it, you can duplicate your car’s unique fingerprint and have a car that is finished to its very own factory original condition.
Painting Your Car Body
The decisions you make and the actions you take at this important step of restoring your car have impacts on the quality and value of the car for the rest of its existence. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take the time, effort, and expense to get this right! Frequently, an owner is so excited to get their car done that corners are cut or important steps are missed that come back to haunt later.
If you can finish restoring your car and not say, “I wish I had done this differently,” you are in the minority. We hope this section can help you get to the finish line and say, “I am glad I did it the right way.”
Body and Paint Preparation
Here is a great example of the factory’s “dip primer” line left after the entire body was dipped into the primer bath. You find this line on the doors and also on the firewall under the dash. Also notice the “sound deadener” inside the panel proving that it was applied before the car was welded together. An E-Body is featured in this sequence, though the procedures are the same as for a B-Body.
Removal of all the undercoating from the undercarriage can be daunting. This is a factory-undercoated car, and as you can see they did not skimp on coverage for this car. It really does help to have a rotisserie rather than having to lie on your back to remove the undercoating.
A good MIG welder and cart are a great investment even if you do not plan to restore another car. If you have a large amount of metal replacement on your car it pays for itself the first week.
Using the pick side of the body hammer you can tap down any high spots and also create a better surface to improve the adhesion of the body filler.
After stitch welding the seams (left), grind down the weld to make a smooth, even surface (right). Always remove the “black” protective coating on replacement panels. (Photos Courtesy J&J Repair and Restoration, Hazen, North Dakota)
After replacing and completing all the metal work it is time for the body filler application. Be sure to buy a good-quality filler. It sands better and never has to be replaced after painting. You can use a good square of heavy cardboard to mix the filler and hardener.
Coat all surfaces with a filler. This is the best way to make sure the entire surface is completely straight.
As soon as the filler gets tacky and before it dries completely, take a long board with 60 grit and rough form the filler. Use a wire brush to clean the paper off the filler to use it again.
As you can see, filler quickly fills the low spots, and the high spots also show up. Always sand away from the edges and bodylines.
Even after using what may seem like a lot of filler you may still have good-sized low spots. If the car has a lot of replacement panels this process works well in getting the aftermarket panels even and smooth.
This car not only had new quarters, but the roof was replaced also. Using the filler created a seamless, even surface. Use additional filler and smoother-grit sandpaper until the filler is ready for sanding primer.
This car only needed some minor repair to straighten the body. It was stripped to bare metal and covered with two coats of epoxy primer. After spraying a guide coat and sanding with a long block and 100-grit paper the low spots showed up.
Rather than coating the entire quarter and C-pillar with filler, just use enough filler to fix the areas that need attention.
The trunk can have many small imperfections and you must use a lot of patience in making sure every flaw is finished. The wheelwells should always be perfect because they are seen first in the trunk when the pad is installed.
Here you can see the taillight extensions attached with seam sealer. It oozes out when tightened. To achieve the correct factory appearance, wipe the seam with your finger. Contrary to what some suppliers tell you, there wasn’t a foam gasket between the body and the taillight extension from the factory.
There isn’t any seal sealer between the fender and the inner fender panels yet on this car. You apply it before the final coats of primer are sprayed. Also be sure to weld up any extra holes in the firewall and fenderwells.
A new AMD hood was used on this car because the original was unusable. You remove the black protective coating with 100-grit discs and a DA sander, then epoxy prime it.
It takes hours to hand sand the underside of the new hood, but it must be done. The hinges, hood, and fenders have been pre-fitted and primed. Now it just needs to be scuffed with 400 to be ready for topcoat.
The trunk is now perfect. Wait until after paint to drill out the drip holes with a hole-bit to the correct size for the body plug.
After the car has been sealed and scuffed with 600-grit and a block you can take it to the paint booth that you rented for the weekend.
No need to waste the paint by spraying it where it does not show. We recommend masking off the whole car while priming. If you have already sprayed the entire car with epoxy primer there is no reason to apply more material.
When the car is in the booth remove and hang the doors, trunk, and hood. Blow off any dust and thoroughly wipe down the car with a tack cloth. Tape and section off the underside of the car.
Be sure you have everything you need before you begin the painting process. Always have extra paint cans so you can mix the two gallons and have the same color. The objective of the base coat is to achieve really good coverage of color on all areas of the car. It does not have a shine so do not make the mistake of applying too much paint at one time.
You do not need to paint the top with color or clear if you are installing a vinyl roof.
We recommend that you hang the hood and the trunk when possible. If the trunk vertical panel is difficult to fully cover with paint when hung you can put it on a stand (shown). After the paint dries completely mask it off and paint the underside.
With the hood hung it is easier to spray the front and backside at the same time. The backside of the hood has many curves and irregular surfaces. Take your time to avoid dry areas and runs.
Usually two good coats of a solid color and three or four coats of a metallic give the paint job a good color base for shooting the clear. Always allow the correct amount of flash time between coats. If you need more coats to cover you should have enough paint because you started with two full gallons of unreduced color. We usually end up with 1/2 to 1/3 of a gallon left just in case a panel ever needs repair. Follow the instructions for the recommended flash time for your brand of paint. The average flash time is 15 minutes.
Start in the trunk with the clear coat. Before shooting, lightly go over the car with a tack cloth to remove any overspray or dust nibs. Work your way around the car making sure you do not have any dry lines. Complete each panel with the spraying motion before moving to the next area.
The first coat goes on wet, but remember that you have three more coats to apply so do not apply so much clear that you cause a run.
The engine compartment is the most difficult to shoot. Carefully climb into the engine bay and have a helper hold the air hose up so it does not touch the car. Move very carefully and deliberately. Plan each movement.
Shoot any extra panels off the car unless they have sealer between the joints. You have less overspray with it apart.
You may see a slight orangepeel finish in the clear. This means you are shooting everything the right way. This all sands and buffs out later.
When you have applied all the base and clear coats walk away and let the paint flow out. You will be amazed at how the paint changes appearance and improves as it dries.
Secure the doors, trunk, and hood so they are stable while transporting the car back to your garage or shop from the paint booth.
Your car may have an interior door color that is different from your exterior color. A prime example is a red car with a black interior. You have to mask off the car and shoot this color. There isn’t really any better way to do this.
Your tapeline should follow the holes in the door where the door rubber seals snap in. Scuff the paint and shoot with single-stage enamel. Use the color designated on the fender tag. After it dries remove the masking.
If you have a post car, remember that the interior part of the post also receives interior color.
While you have the car masked off it is a good idea to shoot the hood stripes and the blackout behind the grille.
Ma Mopar did not like to see body color shining out from behind the grille on these cars. Many say that the darker cars, such as black and dark green, did not receive the blackout. We have seen blackouts on an original black car so be sure to document your car if you have an exception to the rule.
There is also much discussion about where and how much blackout was applied to these cars. If you are fortunate enough to have this area original on your car, undisturbed, just take pictures and reproduce what you have. It will be messy and sparse in places, and masking was not used to prevent areas of overspray.
Basically, the semi-flat black paint was originally shot from the front of the car in a slightly upward direction. The area included is behind the headlight buckets to the lower part of the radiator support all the way up to the bottom of the upper radiator support, not extending over the lip, except with small irregular areas of overspray. The grille supports were painted, but not the back edges because of the direction of the spray.
Most people cannot bring themselves to do this the same way the factory did. They mask off the area and completely, and uniformly, cover it with an even coat of paint. We recommend using a spray can of black paint that is not flat and that has no more sheen than a semi-gloss color.
After sanding, buffing, masking off, and painting the interior door panels it is time to add stripes. Most of the original painted stripes used Organisol. This is a flat-black, slightly textured lacquer paint. You can purchase the lacquer-based Organisol from several restoration sources. Most PPG paint suppliers have the formula but do not sell anything but enamel.
The factory bulletin outlined how they shot these stripes originally with the lacquer-based Organisol. The original formula is difficult to paint with a tendency toward too much texture and a rough finish. Most restored cars have way too much texture in their Organisol. You can achieve better results with the enamel formula. Use about a 25-percent reduction in the shine of the color by adding a flattening agent.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as this makes it sound. Hood stripes, and entire hoods, as is the case for the 19691 ⁄2 lift-off hood Road Runner and Super Bee, are very difficult to paint correctly. Whether you use Organisol DDL 9355 (lacquer) or DCC9355 (urethane) is up to you. The process for laying out, scuffing, and masking is the same. The differences are in shooting the paint because each has its own application technique.
Different B-Body models have different stripes. You can find specific details on your stripes dimensions on the Internet. Different panels and other areas also were painted with Organisol on some models. Be sure to research your specific application before painting.
The following discusses the layout for the hood stripe on a 1969 Plymouth GTX and Road Runner. This can serve as an example of the basics of how to paint these stripes.
You need a roll of fine-line masking tape as well as a good-quality 1/2-inch masking tape. Never use the cheap masking tape you can buy at a school supply store. Only use a high-quality tape designed for automotive applications.
The stripe starts at the corner of the A-pillar, even with the edge of the cowl. It runs straight down the length of the fender and wraps over the rounded edge of the fender. The center gap measures 111 ⁄4 inches and is positioned evenly, with 55 ⁄8 inch on each side of the centerline of the hood. Lay these lines out with the fine-line tape and rub down all the edges well with your finger.
After laying out these lines carefully scuff the paint right up to the edge of the tape using a red ScotchBrite pad. Wipe with a clean cloth and tack rag before shooting the paint.
Mask off the center gap and the outside of the fenders, cowl, and windshield. Do not worry about trying to mask below the cowl vents because, first, the factory didn’t and, second, there is no access to do so.
The stripe goes all the way to the windshield trim. Do not mask off the gap between the fender and the hood because the factory didn’t. The overspray pattern that is created when you just shoot the stripe is random and matches the factory technique. Some prefer to mask off this gap so that no overspray is present inside the hood area.
Emblems and Decals
Many emblems and body stripes were used as decals on these cars. The earlier 1966–1967 cars had few of these decals. But by 1970 almost every car had some kind of decal or stripe. Application of emblems and decals can begin in as little as two weeks after the car is painted, sanded, and buffed.
All these decals are reproduced and can be purchased from many suppliers. All are applied in the same fashion and turn out great when applied correctly. Purchase the better-quality decals so that they are more correct in color and size and last longer.
The most difficult part is installing the decals in the correct location and making sure they align with the body correctly. If you are in doubt about the decal location on your specific car, turn to one of the many factory documents detailing where these are positioned on the car. These documents are easily found on the Internet. If you cannot find one of the factory documents, catalogs such as the one from YearOne has many good color pictures to help you, or you could attend a national car show and look at top-level restored examples of your car.
Tips Follow the installation instructions provided with your emblems and decals. The following basic guidelines and tips will help you get them correct:
Measure as close as possible to where they go and put several pieces of masking tape about a half-inch wider than where your decal needs to go. This gives you a good guide for positioning it.
Apply smaller emblems and decals dry. There is always paper on the side of the decal that sticks to the body and a semi-transparent paper on the outside of the decal. Trim the top edge of the paper of the decal very close to the actual shape that you want on the car.
Then with another piece of masking tape, position the decal in the exact place you want it to be, and put the tape over the top of the paper of the decal and the body. This way you can lift the decal and put it back down in the same exact position because of the “tape hinge” you have made.
Lift the decal and remove the paper from the sticky side. While you work from the top down, press the decal in place (be precise because you cannot adjust the position). Rub it to eliminate any bubbles and make sure you have good adhesion to the body. Remove the masking tape and slowly remove the semi transparent cover paper while making sure the decal stays in place.
Apply larger decals wet. You can position them by using the “tape hinge” method. Just use water with a drop or two of soap in it on a cool surface. This allows you to slide the decal and adjust its position.
Carefully squeegee out any air bubbles toward the outside edge working from the middle, and let dry.
Many Mopars from this era had vinyl tops. They were a popular add on that often made the car look better. Sometimes the vinyl roof was added to cover up poor bodywork, as in the Wing car line. Because cars in general were left out in the elements, those with vinyl roofs did not fair well. They allowed moisture to get next to the metal and then the moisture became trapped under the vinyl. The result was a direct and long-lasting association between a vinyl roof and a rusted car
Today, vinyl roofs are much better and last much longer, mainly because these cars are usually not daily drivers and are garage kept. Some restoration books claim that vinyl tops are removed completely during the restoration of all cars. This could not be further from the truth for the 1966–1970 Plymouth and Dodge B-Body cars.
If your car came with a vinyl top you need to restore it with a vinyl top. Your local upholstery shop can install it and guarantee it is installed correctly. They prefer that you bring the car in before you install any glass. However, you can install a top with great success if you take your time, use the correct supplies, and follow some basic guidelines and tips.
Many videos show how to install a vinyl roof. We suggest you watch some of them, because seeing the process will help you install your top correctly. In the end, all you are really doing is gluing a large piece of vinyl onto your metal roof and trimming off the excess.
The following basic guidelines and tips will help you successfully install a vinyl top:
Enlist the help of a friend to get the top to lay out without bubbles or lumps.
Purchase a high-quality, correct grain and color top from a source such as Legendary Interiors. They can help you make sure you get the correct top for your specific application.
Use a high-quality glue in a spray can such as 3M Super Trim Adhesive.
Lay out the vinyl top in a warm environment for at least a week so that most of the folds and wrinkles smooth out (you may need a buddy to help).
The unpainted roof should be free of glue or residue. Thoroughly clean the top area where the vinyl top will be applied. The roof of the car should have a good coat of epoxy paint on it.
Tape off and mask the hood, trunk, doors, and quarters so that the spray glue does not get on your fresh paint.
Place the top on your car and check for proper fit.
Fold the top, seam-to-seam, finished side to finished side, and mark the center at the front and the rear with the marker on the unfinished side of the top. Pop a chalk line on those two marks. You now have the centerline of your top marked.
Take three measurements of the car’s roof, front, center, and back, and mark the center of those measurements on the roof. Pop a chalk line on those marks and the centerline of the car’s roof is marked.
With the top folded in half align the centerline of the top and the centerline of the car.
Apply a generous amount of adhesive evenly to the top and to the car’s roof from the centerline all the way out to the seam on the vinyl top from front to back. Let the glue become almost dry but not completely.
Line up the centerline marks, and with your hands and a plastic filler spreader, press the top into the glue from the center and work out to the edges. This is where a helper can hold the vinyl top off the glue until you press the top onto the car’s roof. Be careful, because when the two-glued surfaces touch they cannot be adjusted.
When you have one half of the top applied from the centerline to the seam, fold over the other unglued side and repeat the process. You should now have the top completely smooth and applied to the roof, seam-to-seam and front to rear.
Spray glue and attach the top from the seam outward to the edge following the same gluing procedure as on both sides of the roof.
Spray glue and attach the pillar posts, using the same method as above.
Trim any excess vinyl leaving the material well glued and pressed down in the channels around the back glass and windshield.
Mark the location of the trim clips holes with a small piece of masking tape on the roof.
Overlap the drip-rail edge so that when the molding is installed it locks over the vinylcovered lip. There is a difference between original drip-rail molding used on non-vinyl and that used on vinyl-top trim. They do not interchange. New reproduction stainless is designed to be large enough for use with a vinyl top.
Trim along the holes for the molding that separates the vinyl top from the quarter panel.
Clean up any excess glue on your top or on the car with adhesive remover.
Attach the stainless molding clips following your tape marks.
Attach the trim after you have polished and buffed it.
Inner Fender Masking
The undercoat patterns on the inner fender are similar but seldom identical from one car to the next. Using pictures of your original undercoating or a similar car gives you a good guideline.
The edge of your layout has a special foam rope material that has an adhesive strip. It leaves a nice, tapered, slightly spattered edge, much like what you see on original applications.
After the rope is pressed down firmly, mask off the rest of the area you want to protect from overspray. If your paint is older than about a week, you should scuff sand it to ensure good adhesion for the undercoating.
Inner Fender Masking
Purchase a box of selfadhesive rope foam tape. It can be cut to any length and pressed to stick in any form.
By using reference pictures from your car or from another car, place the rope tape where you want the edge to appear. Then with regular masking tape and paper cover the surrounding areas to keep excess overspray off the car.
Notice that the emergency brake cable, grommet, and inner splash shield are all restored, but they are coated with undercoating. Take “before” pictures for reference that these parts were restored.
Spray the undercoating following the product instructions and guidelines. With the masking in place the other areas do not get the spatter from shooting the undercoating. The factory gun had a more controlled pattern than today’s Shutz gun.
Remove the masking and rope tape after shooting several coats that are allowed to dry between applications, and when you are happy with the final results.
Even up close the results are flawless.
Polyurethane Underbody Painting
By Restorations by Rick
The best mixture ratio is four parts primer color to one part activator to one part PPG DT-series urethane reducer appropriate for the temperature (4:1:1). Apply it in two or three medium wet coats allowing 5 to 7 minutes between coats. (The pot life of the mixture is 48 hours.) After preparing the substrate as desired, apply one or two coats of epoxy primer prior to the underbody paint.
Apply one coat of epoxy primer. This gives you time to perfect things without having rust form. An excellent epoxy primer is made by Southern Polyurethanes Inc. It has etching properties and dries to a tough coating. Another big advantage is that after curing it sands without gumming up the sandpaper as most epoxy primers do. That’s a huge time saver on a large, complex area such as an underbody.
Smooth out flaws such as pitting, scrapes, and dings with body filler. Sand epoxy primer in repair areas with 80-grit sandpaper before applying the filler. Finish sand the filler with 180-grit sandpaper. Also, scuff sand unworked epoxy primer areas with 320-grit before the next step.
Apply two coats of epoxy primer followed by three or four coats of primer-surfacer. Allow one day of dry time after epoxy primer application before primer-surfacer application. (This can be done sooner but I prefer to allow the extra cure time.) Allow drying time according to manufacturer’s directions before sanding.Keep in mind that you should use only as much primer as necessary to do the job. Excessive primer thickness makes the finished coating more susceptible to chipping and edge puckering around fasteners and other irregular surfaces. It’s a good practice to sand down the edges around screw holes to a minimum thickness.
Start sanding with 180-grit paper, followed by 320-grit, and finish with 500-grit. You’ll likely have missed flaws to touch up after the 180-grit step. Reapply primer to these areas.
Blow, vacuum clean, and wipe with wax and grease remover. Apply the wax and grease remover using a spray bottle and wipe it off with a clean, disposable towel. You use a lot less product this way and eliminate potential contamination of the can.
Apply one or two coats of epoxy primer. (Two coats if you have multiple bare-metal areas.) Allow a minimum of one hour to dry (one day is even better) before applying RestoRick Polyurethane Underbody Paint. Flatten and tack wipe any dust nibs.
Apply underbody paint in three coats. I like to focus on the hard-to-reach pocket areas first. If you’re following the dip color with the original primer color oversprays, red oxide is first, then the light gray, and last is the topcoat color. Overspray colors can be applied after the dip-primer color dries for 15 to 20 minutes. For best adhesion, apply it within 48 hours.
By Restorations by Rick
Here are two good questions: What’s the best way to paint inside the cowl (under the grating)? And what is the best way to sand between the slots on the cowl? Let me answer them with a real-life example.
I worked on a Road Runner a few years ago where I replaced the cowl; it was great because I was able to paint that area before installing the replacement cowl top. I just stuffed a damp towel over the paint while welding; then masked it off while doing exterior paintwork.
For routine refinishing work, this area can be pre-painted somewhat by using a touchup gun and placing the nozzle close to the openings while blasting paint.
The gun can be rotated slightly as well. You can also get a pressure pot fed gun up through the cowl fresh-air openings on the interior underside.
Sanding the slot openings is a pain!
I usually use a small piece of sandpaper folded over a couple of times so it is rigid. This is used to sand in line with the slot opening. I then finish with a single thickness and my finger for rounding and blending the edges and ends.
I also use a paint stir stick with Stikit sandpaper occasionally.
To align the slots just right I block sand perpendicularly over them to reveal the high and low spots. Then I use a pull rod tool to adjust them. You may obtain slight correction from the primer block sanding effect too.
Many people are so focused on getting paint on their car that they neglect the final two critical steps that really make the difference between a “driver” paint job and a “show car” paint job: wet sanding or color sanding. During these processes you take a freshly painted car and sand out all the imperfections to create a perfectly smooth surface.
You follow the wet sanding with a buffing and polishing process that removes any super-fine scratches left in the paint after color sanding. This process can take from 30 to 60 hours, depending on the quality of the initial paint job.
The following list identifies the products, techniques, and tips for shine so deep you think that it is wet, and so clear you can read the newspaper in the reflection.
Wet sanding and buffing create a very big mess. It is always best to do all of your sanding and buffing before assembly. It is also good to do this on a concrete floor in a well-ventilated area.
Always remove any residue and especially any compound that is left over from the buffing and polishing session. If you do end up having to do a buff after the car is assembled, tape off and protect areas from the compound and sanding residue, including all glass, the vinyl top, the interior, all trim (especially chrome), and even the tires.
The basic materials needed for wet sanding a fresh paint job include the right grit of wet/dry sandpaper, a bucket of soapy water, sanding blocks, paint sticks, a squeegee, and wiping rags.
Always start with the least aggressive grit of paper appropriate for your application. If the paint is really nice with minimal orange peel and few dust nibs you can start with 2000-grit. If this doesn’t do it, go to 1500, and finally, if you have any runs, you may have to use 1000. Be very careful using aggressive grits. Stay away from the edges so you don’t sand through the clear and into the base. The only fix is to re-shoot.
Soak the paper in a bucket of water with a few drops of dish soap. The soap makes the paper slide freely and keeps the paper clean of buildup of paint.
Use a sanding block on flat areas and wrap a paint stick with the wet sandpaper to get a super flat surface in tight or angled areas. Use the squeegee to wipe off the water and clear coat residue, and then wipe the area with a dry soft rag. You are then able to see if the surface is uniform and flat, or any shiny low spots need more attention.
If there are at least three coats of clear on the car you can spend a lot of time massaging the paint without going through the clear. If there are only two coats be careful because there is less material between your sandpaper and the base coat.
For all the rounded edges and curves, wet sand by hand using 2000-grit paper.
Most enthusiasts used to wet sand the entire car by hand until they discovered a palm sander and sanding film. Through the use of a soft-throw-air palm sander, you can reduce sanding time dramatically with fantastic results.
Start with a 1500-grit sanding disc. Use it on all the flat panels, staying away from the edges and bodylines. Try to keep the palm sander flat and move it uniformly over the surface to prevent waves or deep scratches.
Change the discs and the paper often so you don’t create scratches from the buildup of material on the paper. Always wipe all the clear coat/ water residue off the car because if it is left to dry it can stain the paint and be very difficult to remove.
Start with about a 2 x 2–foot area. You want to get right up to the edge but not hit the edge with the sander. Even with 2000-grit wet hand sanding, avoid the edges or you might sand through the clear.
You can already see how much clear is removed with the fine white residue left behind. When “pig tails” start to appear, stop and rub your hand over the disc to remove the buildup. If you don’t these “pig tails” can be difficult to buff out.
After wiping the residue off you can go back and work on the area until all the flaws are smooth.
Continue sanding a section at a time until the designated area is flat and smooth.
We covered the surrounding areas that were already finished with soft towels. You can also mask off these areas to protect them.
Use side lighting so that all of the flaws show up during the sanding process. A plain light bulb in a droplight shows everything. Here you can see small flaws that still need attention.
After completely working out all the flaws wipe clean with a microfiber towel.
Use wet sandpaper to work the rounded edge, removing any dust nibs and smoothing out the orange peel. We do not use a block or paint stick on these areas, but be sure to hold your fingers in a tight, even grip on the paper.
Using a 3M rubber squeegee you can remove the water and sanding residue so you can see what you have done to the finish.
With a dry, soft cloth wipe off the rest of the water. Asses whether you have removed enough of the orange peel to for a smooth, even surface.
Here the inner part of the sanded section is flat. Toward the outer edge of the sanded area you can still see orange peel.
All problems have been sanded and much care was given when sanding the lower trunk recessed panel. In fact we only sanded the small imperfections and not the entire panel, because this area is very difficult to buff without burning through the paint.
The basic tool for correctly buffing out a color-sanded paint job is a variable speed right-angle polisher with a “hook it” backing plate to mount the wool buffing and foam polishing pads to the polisher. Orbital polishers are useless for this level of polishing out sanding scratches. For the beginner it is very scary thinking about buffing through the clear and having to re-shoot the panel with paint. However, more pressure on the buffer is required to get the desired results than you would think.
Until you get the hang of just how much pressure is needed, work slowly and carefully examine the surface you just buffed. After several passes you are able to tell how much pressure is needed.
By carefully massaging the paint, a fabulous finish can be achieved. Even though it seems like a scary procedure, with patience, knowledge, and a little practice, even the most inexperienced novice can create a professional looking finish. The following is an overview of the general process for buffing your paint.
Start with the wool pad and the number-1 rubbing compound. Apply small drops to the area you are going to buff. You don’t really need much material. Spread the compound over a 2 x 2–foot section with the non-rotating pad. Bump the polisher a little at a time until the compound is spread evenly without slinging it everywhere. Start at the top of the area moving back and forth with even, slow passes using only one half of the surface of the pad at a time.
When moving from right to left, use the right half of the pad. When moving left to right, use the left half of the pad. Never try to keep the pad flat or it bumps up on you.
Work the compound into the area with firm pressure, gradually becoming lighter as the compound disappears. Always use the number-1 setting on the buffer.
When you approach the edge or a bodyline, make sure the buffer rotation is away from the edge. Catching an edge is the easiest way to buff through the paint.
Wipe off any residual compound with a clean cloth.
Repeat this process section by section until you see a non-hazy shine. If the area you just buffed has a hazy shine, buff it again with the same process until it has a good, clear shine. Do not worry about buffing swirls; they are removed with the next level of pads and compounds. Clean your wool pad with a “spur” to remove any built-up compound. Do this outside because it creates a lot of dust.
Next, use the red pad with the same number-1 buffing compound. Less pressure is needed with the foam pads and you should move the buffer a little faster across the panel than you did with the wool pad because you are actually polishing rather than removing scratches.
Cover the same area using the same technique. You should see more shine and fewer swirl marks.
Wipe off any excess compound with a soft cloth, but you cannot use a spur on the foam pads.
Next, use the yellow foam pad with the number-2 compound. Repeat the techniques you used with the red pad.
Last, use the black pad and the number-3 compound for the final polishing passes. Use a varying amount of pressure so you remove any remaining polishing swirls.
Always wash the pads after a buffing session. Spin them dry on the buffer, holding it close to the ground to avoid spraying the excess water everywhere.
For the novice, it’s best to completely buff one area at a time so you can see how well the final results look. Mask off that finished area (such as a door, a quarter, or a fender) before proceeding to the next panel.
Experienced enthusiasts may buff the entire car with the first pad, then use each successive pad over the entire car. That takes a lot of practice!
Begin with compound number-1. Do not overuse the compounds. It only takes a few drops of the compound to accomplish the task.
Spread the compound without the buffer running. Again, only work a 2 x 2–foot area at a time.
Bump the trigger a few times to completely spread the compound without slinging it everywhere.
Run the buffer on the slowest setting, dragging the compound with the slow but firm strokes.
Always buff away from the edges with the rotation of the buffer.
As the compound dries out it begins to disappear. As it does, apply less and less pressure on the painted surface.
After the first pass and after wiping off the excess compound with a soft rag, you can still see a hazy shine. You still need to remove the scratches.
Reapply the same number-1 compound and repeat the process. Again use firm pressure, sometimes even hard pressure, while keeping the buffer moving. Never stay in one place or you burn the paint.
You know you have removed enough of the scratches with the number-1 compound and wool pad when you achieve a clear, deep shine. What a contrast to the dull-sanded area!
Continue to buff the rest of the area using the same process you have been using on the previous steps. This close-up shows the compound and how it is dragged along with the wool buffing pad. Notice the indirect light and how well it shows everything.
As the compound dries apply less and less pressure until you have a deep, clear shine.
Hit the small detail areas with small amounts of compound and carefully use only as much of the pad as necessary to achieve the shine.
Now that you have a good clear shine with no haze, the area is ready for the number-2 compound and yellow pad, following the same step-by-step technique used previously. However, you don’t use as much pressure as with a wool pad because you are now polishing and removing swirl marks rather than removing scratches.
After the yellow pad use the number-3 compound and the black pad. This is your final step and, accordingly, requires less and less pressure and more of a floating motion. You still only use the slowest speed setting on the buffer.
When you have used all the compounds and pads and have wiped up all the residue you are left with a deep, clear shine.
When the entire car has been buffed with the black pad you can use a final hand glaze and micro-fiber towels to fill any almost-invisible swirls. Pull the car into the sun to inspect for any buffing swirls. Usually very dark colors show these swirls more than the lighter colors.
If you do see buffing swirls in the sunlight you can use the smooth black pad and 3M compound to remove them.
The final step is to use hand glaze for a “like glass” finish.
Written by Mike Wilkins & Mike Wilkins and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks
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