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Goodmark Chevelle Project Car - Part 4

It's all about the block

Jason Walker Jun 26, 2002

The beauty of this project is that after the new body panels are in place, the result is a bodyman's dream. Think about it, no major dents, no more rust to fill, and if done correctly, all body seams and gaps should line up perfectly, or as close to perfectly as is humanly possible. All of this means more time to spend fine-tuning the factory imperfections and, ultimately, less block-sanding to do. That's not to say block-sanding isn't the most important part of making any car, whether show car or not, have a straight body. In fact, just because a body panel is new, doesn't automatically mean it's going to look straight after the paint is applied, especially when the color is black like this project Chevelle. Block-sanding your car is going to make or break the end result, no matter what color it is. Before we get too far on the block-sanding "high-horse," let's first look over the minor imperfections and discuss the best way to massage them out. When we say factory imperfections, we're talking about everything from spot-welds to machine-press creases or dimples, as well any slight dings and dents caused by shipping. To handle this type of work, you are going to need some specific tools and know-how, for sure. The next step will be to coat the raw metal and body filler with a specific bare-metal sealer. With that in mind, it's always a good idea to use the same brand sealer, primer, and paint from the start to make sure all the different products will cover each other without any bad reactions, like bubbles or lifting. PPG paint products were used throughout this entire project. As mentioned before, the first coat to touch the bare metal will be the acid-etching sealer, then primer, and finally paint, with some block-sanding in between.

Also on the list will be to coat the underside of the car, as well as the entire inside sheetmetal area. One other aspect to restoring a car's body is using seam-sealer and drip-check. The factory used this goop for some very good reasons, and so should you. The sealer will help by creating a flexible surface over an area that might not hold paint, or would be hard to get the paint down into, for a secure bond. Remember, paint grabs onto scratches in the surface of whatever is being sprayed. (This might also be an area that may flex to a certain amount, thus the need for a flexible coating like seam sealer.) If the paint does not bond in the crack or body seam, it will eventually lift and create an air pocket, leaving room for new rust. After all this work, rust would be the ultimate downer, if you know what we mean.

With all this in mind, take a look at how the experts do it and use the results to gauge how you want to tackle your own paint and bodywork.


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To start off right, the entire car was stripped clean of paint and primer. This is worth the work considering someone may have done some shoddy work to the body, which can, and most likely will, affect or be affected by the new products used over the old. Sometimes the new paint and the old will not like each other. This spells out work and frustration no one deserves. Strip, Strip, Strip.

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A true bodyman using his "sensitive side" to feel every bump and dimple over the entire body. Another way to feel with added sensitivity is to place a CLEAN rag flat on the body's surface feeling the body through the cloth. This will add to your sense of feel.

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The tool in Craig's hands may look like a planer but is actually a metal file. This can be used for everything from filing led body-filler, to shaving off very slight bumps, to reading the scratches left by it that will show you what parts of the body are too high and too low. This effect is a lot like what guidecoating does during the block-sanding stage.

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This is where expertise pays off. A body pick-hammer and good set of body-dollies are a bodyman's best friends. When small bumps and dimples are found, they can be smoothed with light tapping. Once the protruding bump has been tapped down, a skim coat of body filler will be all that is necessary to finish the area.

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We can all see in this photo, wherever there is body filler, it's a place that we most commonly find factory blemishes and body seams. This photo is a true testament to how close Goodmark has come to the quality of factory sheetmetal.

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After the body has been thoroughly cleaned and is free of dust and grease, the PPG Acid Etching Sealer can be applied. This stuff may look funny and seem like it's not covering the surface like other primers, but the simple fact of the matter is that it's not primer; it's a basecoat to lock in the bare metal from the atmosphere as well as to promote adhesion of the filler primer. Even catalyzed primers can let moisture through, causing rust you won't see until it's too late, making the Etching Sealer very necessary.

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With the body sealed, it's time to load the body up with a good filler primer. Filler primers are very heavy and add thick layers of micro bits of "body filler-like stuff" to block-sand off. Notice the spotty black streaks all over the panels. This is guidecoat. Its basically just paint applied in a very light coat over the entire surface to be block-sanded. As you sand, the low areas will still have the guidecoat visible, thereby letting you know that additional filler or primer is going to be needed.

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When block-sanding large, flat areas, like the roof of a car, the longer the block, the smoother the outcome will be. If the surface is straight and flat, all of the guidecoat will sand off with no metal showing through. You will also want to be aware of how much primer is being removed because you won't want to sand through the Acid Etching Sealer.

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Sealing all the body seams will not only leave the body looking just like it did from the factory, but it will seal areas that, if only paint were applied, would crack and eventually rust and ruin the beautiful body and paint.

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For a clean and factory-fresh look, the firewall, underside, and inside are all sprayed with a semi-gloss black, very close to original.

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With the body completely block-sanded and the inside and underside sealed, it's time for the next coats of primer. The PPG DP 90 will also receive a thorough blocking when fully dry.

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When applying any primer to your car, it's a good rule of thumb to spray it as if it was the final paint. You want good, solid coverage with wide, even coats covering the entire area.

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In this shot we can see Hopkins using a clean sponge or rag to keep a good flow of water where he is sanding. This will not only wash the sanded primer away from the area being sanded but will also clean the area so you can keep an eye on how far the area is being sanded.

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Before applying the paint, 3M Drip-Chec was used in the driprails and body seams.

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The last step before paint was to install and align the doors--a job that is much easier and safer at this point.

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Wow! I hope everyone can see how straight and smooth the Chevelle's body looks with glossy black paint. Just wait until this baby's back together. Very soon.


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