If you want to do it right, keep the surface temp low. Orange peel needs to be knocked dow
`Face up to it right now: Paint and bodywork is just plain expensive. The days of pulling up to your buddy's body shop and leaving two weeks later with a car-show paint job for $5,000 is over. Today, the cost of materials can easily run $2,000 and up if you want to use top-notch materials and do the job right. Labor cost? Expect to pay $60 per hour minimum. If you can get the job done for less, consider yourself blessed. You get what you pay for.
So this leaves the budget-beleaguered car crafter with one alternative--do it yourself. You've probably heard all this before, but it demands repeating. The key to a quality paint job is all in the prep work before any color ever finds its way onto the car. Quality work involves taking your time and doing the work carefully and deliberately. It's also maddeningly tedious and very discouraging when dents keep showing up that you swear you fixed last week.
To show you that we're capable of taking on a project instead of just writing about it, we're willing to step on a few landmines firsthand. We jumped in with our buddy Jim Peterson as he was just embarking on a backyard '65 El Camino project. Jim enlisted the help of his pal Tyrone Williams, who offered his expertise in exchange for a Peterson-built 327 small-block for Tyrone's personal '66 El Camino. We offered to work with them. Isn't that how cars get built--by leaning on your buddies and trading your expertise in exchange for their help? Ya, we thought so.
It Has to Begin Somewhere
The key to any backyard project is to start with something that is reasonably sound to begin with. This particular El Camino was in fairly decent shape but still needed hours of tweaks before it was ready for paint. Once the El Camino was placed in the side yard alongside the house, everyone had a hand in searching for dents, wrinkles, and any general sheetmetal malaise. Once all the kinks made themselves known, the real work began. We started by unbolting all the sheetmetal, removing the trim and emblems, and stripping the paint.
Here's the El Camino hunkered down alongside Jim Peterson's house. Despite having two gara
Stripping the paint can be accomplished several ways, but the quickest (if not nastiest) m
Once the major layers are removed, you will no doubt find some rust. This is a rust hole i
If the corrosion is not too bad, cut it out and make a fabricated patch to repair the hole
The left front fender rusted in the same spot but the corrosion was far worse and required
The tailgate had a couple of bad spots where a screw-in dent puller had been used. We borr
Anyone who tells you that Bondo has no place on a quality repair job has never done bodywork. Even the best metalsmiths will use plastic repair media to skim-coat sheetmetal to give it that mirror-smooth look. In this case, we first eliminated all rust then pulled all the large dents and finished by working them with a hammer and dolly. With that done, they mixed up some 3M Lightweight Body Filler to fill in the little dings that were too small for hammer work.
The first step is to identify the problem areas. El Caminos have huge slabs for rear quart
After application of the first skim coat of plastic filler, sand in opposite 45-degree ang
If you want to push the job a little faster, you can hit the first skim coat of Bondo with
After short sessions with the sanding blocks, your hands are the best detectors of remaini
The arrow indicates a low spot in the Bondo that will need attention. If there is sufficie
The '65 El Camino also has a distinct crease or body line that extends the length of the r
The skim coats of Bondo are what take a serious amount of time. Just the hood, front fende
Since we wanted a perfect El Camino bed that will never see anything rougher than a lamb's
After removing previous-owner primer, we discovered Bondo and some light surface rust on t
Blocking the roof involves the same work. Remember to sand in 45-degree angles to create a
Just before the primer goes on, it's always a good idea to hit all the panels with wax and
Mere filler primer does not seal against the elements, so we elected to first spray the El
The front fenders were left off the car to allow painting everything with more control and
Folks who do not work on cars sometimes need a mantra or some kind of code to keep them on track. Anyone who does bodywork only needs to keep repeating one phrase--"keep sanding." We used red etching primer as the base primer that will adhere to the body and filler and also seal the body from the elements to prevent oxidation under the paint. Normal filler primers do not seal and will eventually allow rust to bleed through.
Here's the entire bed completely painted in the ruddy red version of the primer-sealer. On
Even with this first primer coat, we were still a long way from being done. Next we used a
This led us back to the long boards again, again using a 150-grit dry paper. Note how we'v
Since the El Camino was stripped to the bone, we also sanded and primered the dash. We did
Throughout the painting process we used an affordable Craftsman HVLP gun, which requires l
Finally! Ready For Paint
After what seemed like forever, the El Camino was ready for the fun stuff. Since this has been a homebuilt budget operation from the start, we bought a big roll of inexpensive plastic sheeting and trimmed the inside of the garage to create our own spray booth. We also fashioned a small fan with a filter to keep the air moving through the garage. With the HVLP gun, the overspray wasn't as bad as it would have been with a high-pressure gun.
Material costs are a big part of any paint job. It's easy for material costs to exceed $2,000 without getting extravagant. To keep the cost in line, we decided on single-stage paint for the El Camino, using a DuPont metallic urethane called Nason Ful-Thane. This is a low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint, which means it is environmentally friendly and you don't have to worry about poisoning the neighborhood by shooting this stuff in your garage. Single stage means that this is a one-shot deal compared to the more common but also more expensive basecoat/clearcoat two-stage paint systems. This also means you won't be able to color-sand this paint after it is applied, which makes it that much more important to get the coverage right the first time. This paint is a urethane replacement for the old acrylic enamels and will produce a good shine that will also be durable.
We're skipping over lots of details because of space considerations. For example, following the manufacturer's recommendation for mixing ratios between the topcoat and the catalyst is important. Paint manufacturers recommend mixing reducer with the topcoat to allow the paint to adjust for temperature. There are also several speeds of reducer based on weather conditions. Fast reducers flash the paint quickly for colder weather painting while slow reducers are best used in hot weather. There are tons more tricks that you can learn by asking a few questions of painter buddies and professional body men. If you're unsure, ask questions before you lay down paint and your chances of success will improve immensely. Take your time and above all, have fun.
The second coat of filler primer is used to again build up the low spots.
After the second application of filler primer, we blocked all the panels with 220-grit wet
Once the El Camino was in the garage, we hung plastic sheeting over the walls to protect a
Since this was a budget-driven paint project, we used less-expensive materials for primer, fillers, and especially the topcoat. In this case, we opted for a single-stage urethane paint. If you're looking for a better overall finish with more gloss, two-stage basecoat/clearcoat paints offer more depth and clarity but are much more expensive. It's not unusual to pay more than $350 for a gallon and a half of basecoat color followed by a gallon and a half of clearcoat that will run $150 or more. That comes out to around $500 just for the topcoat, reducers, and hardeners. Other attendant goodies could be another $50. We won't even get into pearls and specialty paints that can run much more. We'll leave those paints to the pros.
After a final shot with wax and grease remover, shoot time had finally arrived. We shot th
MaterialsDESCRIPTION PN SOURCE PRICEDA discs, 80 grit, 15 ct. 8A080
Abrasiveresource.com $10.05DA wet sheets, 220 grit, 15 ct. 8A220
Abrasiveresource.com 9.003M longboard 150 grit, 20 ct. 32569 local
supply 15.533M longboard 80 grit, 50 ct. 0391 local supply 30.74
3M 9x11 wet 360 grit 25361 Autobodydepot.net 26.26
3M filler, 1 gal. 5801 Autobodydepot.net 11.99
3M tube hardener, 3 oz. 5831 Autobodydepot.net 2.85
3M green spot putty, 21 oz 5960 Autobodydepot.net 13.03
5Star wax/grease rmvr, gal. 5900-1 Ditchek.com 13.00
Transtar etch primer, gal. TRE6121 Ditchek.com 30.36
Transtar primer, gal TRE6401 Ditchek.com 44.79
Transtar, primer active., qt. TRE6934 Ditchek.com 25.40
DuPont, Ful-thane, gal. N/A your choice 133.00
DuPont gun cleaner, gal. 3924S Ditchek.com 13.56
Masking paper, roll FGE467 Ray's Paint 5.97
Aircraft stripper, 1 gal. 343-1 Ray's Paint 29.95
Craftsman MIG 180 20504 Sears/Craftsman 699.99Craftsman HVLP gun
15531 Sears/Craftsman 109.99Craftsman DA sander 19976
Sears/Craftsman 59.99Uni-Spotter Stud Welder, kit 4500
Autobodydepot.net 199.96Body filler spreader kit 3844
Autobodydepot.net 67.473M long board, 16-inch 5744
Autobodydepot.net 27.963M hand board, 712-inch 5741
Autobodydepot.net 13.933M hand board, 5-inch 5740
Autobodydepot.net 11.83Total $1,191.12
Depending upon usage, you will need at least one gallon of body filler, dozens of lengths of sandpaper, a half-gallon of etching primer, two gallons of fill primer, a couple quarts of activator, one gallon of reducer, and 112 gallons of color to do a full-size car like the El Camino. Establishing a minimum price is easiest--around $500 to $700. From here, the price will escalate based on the quality of the materials and how much you use. Spending $1,000 is not unusual for quality materials. The prices given above are Internet prices; expect to pay more at local stores for the convenience of getting the material immediately.
`SOURCESAbrasive Resource; Minneapolis, MN; 800/814-7358; abrasiveresource.com3M; St. Paul, MN; 888/3M-HELPS;
solutions.3m.com/en_USDitchek; Brooklyn, NY; 877/CAR-COLOR; ditchek.com
DuPont Performance Coatings; performancecoatings.dupont.com
Original Parts Group; Huntington Beach, CA; 800/243-8355; originalpartsgroup.com
Ray's Paint & Supply; North Hollywood, CA; 818/769-4348
Sears, Roebuck & Company (Craftsman); 800/377-7414; sears.com/craftsman
TCP Global; San Diego, CA; 858/909-2110; autobodydepot.net