Prep And Paint Guide - Major Makeover

How To Prep And Paint Your Corvette

Steve Dulcich May 27, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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Often the painting stage does not start with paint at all, but a sealer coat of primer. This will depend on the specific requirements of the top-coat materials, and even the primer used at the surfacing stage. The sealer coat may also be tinted to resemble the final top coat color, which will help in achieving an even coloration in the final finish. Follow the system for material sequence as specified by the manufacturer. Generally, the paint must be applied in sufficient thickness to provide a uniform coverage and color, while clear must have sufficient film thickness for the cutting and polishing process. The most important thing in paint application is to apply each layer of material as smoothly, and with as little surface texture, as possible. This will come down to many factors including the paint mixture and reduction, air pressure, the quality of the spray equipment, and the painter's technique.

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When applying the paint, cleanliness is vital. Dirt and contaminants will ruin a perfectly prepared surface, so it's imperative that the vehicle's surface, the environment, paint materials, and air supply are clean. If a major problem is encountered when attempting to paint, the best course of action is to stop, fix the problem, and then come back to attempt the job later. Even if cutting and polishing after paint is the plan, it will only go so far in correcting flaws in the paint application.

Difficulty: 3 Wrenches

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If everything goes right, the moment of rolling a freshly painted Corvette out of the paint booth is one of the most satisfying you'll experience as an enthusiast. While modern catalyzed paints will cure in a matter of hours, it will actually take a period of weeks for the paint to reach full hardness. Generally, most paints can be cut and polished shortly after painting (check the specific recommendations for the materials used), and after the paintwork is done comes re-assembly. The amount of work here can be anything from attaching a few articles of trim, to fully building up your Vette from a bare body, depending upon the starting point. With the look of gleaming fresh paint, you'll find it hard to attach anything to the body that is not as perfect as the new finish

Getting the car to this stage requires considerable work, and one of the chief concerns during re-assembly is to protect that investment and avoid damaging the new paint. When re-assembling bolt-on body panels, adjusting doors, and aligning the hood, the new paint can easily be gouged or scraped. Some extra hands on deck to handle the heavy items and the use of foam pads and lightly low-adhesive masking tape on panel edges will minimize the potential for damage.

Another Approach
While most of the information presented here involves intensive paint projects, starting from the bare fiberglass and working up, not all Corvette repaints necessarily require starting from the ground up. Many cars, particularly late-model machines still in their factory finish, can be given a good cosmetic paintjob with a more basic approach. The C4 pictured here was in very sound condition, wearing its factory paint. The sensible approach for this driver was to simply repaint the car.

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In this case, the disassembly was kept to a minimum, with some trim removal and a detailed masking. The factory paint was in very sound condition, so it was simply wet-sanded to scuff the surface for adhesion of the repaint materials. The entire body was hand-sanded, which avoided the potential for damage to the panels, as well as any remaining trim, or glass, which can easily be scratched while machine sanding. The body was thoroughly inspected, just as in a complete body restoration, and a few minor surface flaws were located. These flaws were spot-repaired, with fiberglass mat used in the few minor cracks found. Once reinforced with 'glass, the areas were blended with filler, spot-primed, and sanded. The entire body was then given a surfacer coat, guide coated, and block-sanded once. Extensive blocking was not required, since the panels were generally in very good condition. From the block-sanding, the car was moved into the booth, masked, and then shot with sealer, base, and clear. After buffing, the car presented a finish the owner could be proud of.


J & D Corvette
Bellflower, CA 90706


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