Though this is the third part in our series, the paintjob was actually the first thing I did to the car after buying it. To recap, this is the '03 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor I bought from Ken Porter Auctions in Gardena, California, for the paltry sum of $1,500. While the body of the car wasn't bashed up, the paint was scruffy looking. I thought I would be able to drive it around without caring what it looked like, but those who know me would have pointed out my flawed thinking. I'm the guy who washes his car religiously—once a week at least. So it only took about two days of looking at the dull, furry-looking finish, complete with hastily applied, aerosol-black on the doors and roof before I was scratching all that stuff off. From start to finish, the whole job took five weeks, working nights and weekends. There are things I wish I had done better, but the car looks pretty decent now. There are lots of pictures here, so let's get to it. Often, the dilemma when contemplating a paintjob is whether to strip the old paint or just scuff it before spraying the new stuff. I did a combination of the two. This car was wearing its original paint, black with a white roof and white front doors, but the white paint was peeling off. I've heard from some cops that they have the same problem—the factory white is especially susceptible to sun damage. I scraped all the loose white paint off the roof with a razor blade. Often, the dilemma when contemplating a paintjob is whether to strip the old paint or just The light bar had been secured to the roof with sheetmetal screws behind the weatherstripping just above the B-pillar. I welded the holes closed using our TIG welder, rather than a MIG because it generates fewer sparks. The light bar had been secured to the roof with sheetmetal screws behind the weatherstripp Even so, if you weld anywhere near a car's interior, keep a fire extinguisher close and be absolutely sure that any sparks that may have fallen inside the car are completely cooled. We've heard horror stories of cars burning to the ground because a stray spark dropped somewhere deep in the bowels of an interior panel where things like insulation and sound deadening material can smolder for a while before erupting into a towering inferno. I ran a bunch of compressed air through each hole and avoided singeing my headliner, but in hindsight, it would have been safer to remove it prior to welding. Even so, if you weld anywhere near a car's interior, keep a fire extinguisher close and b I figured painting just the roof first would be a good test of my ability to spray a decent black paintjob. Here is the roof stripped of all the loose paint, leaving behind the still-good factory primer. The remaining white areas were where the paint was shielded from the sun under the light bar and under the car's number decals. This was a cool find because Santa Barbara County had removed these roof numbers before sending the car to auction. Judging by the shapes, mine was car 418. This remaining paint still had a strong bond to the primer, so there was no need to sand it all off. Just be sure to sand the transition between the primer and the paint. This technique is known as featheredge sanding and it removes the ridge between the primer and the paint on top of it. To do this, I used 220-grit on a DA followed by 400 on a sanding block, sanding until I could no longer feel a difference between where the paint stopped and started. Once masked, blow the surface with compressed air and wipe with degreaser. I figured painting just the roof first would be a good test of my ability to spray a decen Epoxy primer is a good general-purpose primer. It can be applied to bare metal and, unlike a surface primer, it resists moisture once it's cured. This is beneficial if you don't have time to spray the topcoat right away; you can leave your car outside in epoxy primer and it won't absorb water if it gets wet. Usually epoxy primers are available in light grey, neutral grey, and dark grey. Obviously, it's best to use a light primer if your topcoat is a light color. Epoxy primer is a good general-purpose primer. It can be applied to bare metal and, unlike When spraying something tall and relatively flat, it's good to make (or buy) a platform that allows you to move the length of the surface. Standing on a ladder like this, your passes with the gun become arc-shaped, especially toward the center of the roof. This can cause thin, uneven coverage—not so critical for primer, but bad for the topcoat. When spraying something tall and relatively flat, it's good to make (or buy) a platform th To keep the costs down, I used a single-stage acrylic urethane rather than a more expensive basecoat/clearcoat paintjob. To do the roof, I tried a couple of different brands, one from one of those “supercheapcarpaintsforonedollar” online stores on the roof itself, and this Valspar enamel on the driprail moldings. To keep the costs down, I used a single-stage acrylic urethane rather than a more expensiv Charitably speaking, the results were less than optimal. The glitterlike effect on the roof is actually solvent pop. Imagine if you could flash-freeze a glass of Coke, suspending the bubbles of fizz in place as they rise from the bottom of the glass. The effect is similar here; the paint cured as the solvents used to thin the paint were still evaporating out. Usually this is an indicator of an improper mix ratio or using too fast an activator. The Valspar paint on the driprail moldings (the L-shaped pieces between the roof/back window and the quarter-panel) came out better, which was interesting because I sprayed them at the same time and with the same gun settings as the roof. To be fair, the roof paint was nearly a year old, and I had to thin it out more than the recommended amount just to get it to flow through the gun, but the Valspar paint was not quite as old. Paint and its additives definitely have shelf lives. Charitably speaking, the results were less than optimal. The glitterlike effect on the roo After my experiment with the roof, I got to work in earnest on the rest of the car, stripping away the aerosol-black on the doors and block-sanding the entire body with 150- and 220-grit sandpaper on our Durablock sanding blocks (seen in the grille opening). I originally planned to tape off the window trim and door handles but ultimately decided to remove all the window trim, door glass, window felts, door handles bumper covers and exterior lamps. That was extra work, but the finished job looks more professional as a result. The window trim, glass, and door handles are all secured by rivets. Make sure you've got a drill sharpener. After my experiment with the roof, I got to work in earnest on the rest of the car, strip 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | » | View Full Article By John McGann Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!