There are certain phases during a car's build when things really start to change. One is when you get to step back and look at all of your hard work as it's torn down for the final time before it heads off to the spray booth. Another is when it turns back into a roller, gets wired, and the engine is fired up. Both fuel an adrenaline rush, similar to experiencing nitro Top Fuel cars launching from the line.
When we last left off with Project Orange Krate, Peter Newell of Competition Specialties in Walpole, Massachusetts, was heavily into the bodywork stages. It's a time where hours turn into days, and days turn into weeks as you constantly raise the bar, striving for perfection in every body panel.
The journey to achieving perfection isn't for the faint of heart as the stages of panel replacement, bodywork, surface preparation, priming, and finally paint require both experience and attention to detail. Sure, a quick glance at a panel might reveal a nice, flat surface but a closer inspection could reveal minute flaws that will stand out like a sore thumb once the paint is laid down.
With Orange Krate's bodywork completed, it was time to focus on the application of a primer/sealer to the panels and body surface. For this we once again called on our pal Ray Williams at Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes in Medford, Massachusetts, for his expert recommendations. Ray suggested we proceed into the final stages by using Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes SpectraPrime P30 color surfacer/sealer, which is a urethane high-build primer combined with their SpectraPrime H38 hardener and UltraSolv US3 medium reducer. For an added touch, Ray custom blended the primer in orange just for our application.
With the body in the spray booth for the final time, you could feel the excitement build as Peter made his final go-around, preparing it by masking and bagging, pre-cleaning with Sem Solve, and a final wipe with a tack cloth. It was then time to mix the first batch of the car's signature color: Sherwin-William's Planet Color Big Bad Orange to bring the project to life. The level of vibrancy increased with each and every coat of base color and exploded off the charts once the clearcoat was applied. Peering into the spray booth once Peter laid his spray gun to rest, left you in awe as the glistening body was finally ready for its journey into re-assembly, where it will come to life the next time you see it.
1. With the bodywork stage and panel gapping complete, Peter Newell of Competition Specialties, mounted the passenger-side door on a stand to prepare it for priming. It's important to use a pre-cleaner such as SEM's Sem Solve (PN 38371) to remove any surface contaminants such as wax, grease, and skin oils from the panel's surface.
2. A clean white cloth was used to wipe on the product and another to dry the surface. Even though the surface looked clean prior to applying the pre-cleaner, it was not. The amount of contaminants can easily be seen here.
3. Peter used Sherwin-Williams SpectraPrime P30 color surfacer/sealer, custom-tinted orange and mixed it in a ratio of 4:1 primer surfacer to hardener. Next, one part Sherwin-Williams SpectraPrime H38 hardener was added. Then UltraSolv US3 medium reducer was used to achieve the desired fill thickness. The ratio is 4:1:1. The combination was thoroughly mixed prior to being strained and poured into the priming gun.
4. Since this is a urethane high-build primer, Peter laid down three even coats to build up the surface, covering all blocked and filled areas in preparation for final sanding.
5. With the door back on the car, Peter began sanding utilizing various sanding pads and blocks with 3M 180- to 220-grit, moving uniformly in a left-to-right motion.
6. While sanding, you may come across some high spots...
7. ...and some low spots. Both areas need to be addressed before proceeding further.
8. Eastwood's Contour Polyester Glazing Putty was the perfect product to address the low spots since it is designed to fill pinholes, sanding scratches, and cover minor imperfections prior to painting.
9. Using a clean piece of cardboard for a mixing base, a spreader was used to mix in 2 percent of the crème hardener to prepare the mixture for application.
10. Peter then spread a thin coat of the mixture uniformly across the surface areas and let it harden for 15 minutes.
11. Once dry, the areas were once again sanded with 180- to 220-grit paper. You may have to repeat this procedure multiple times until the surface is perfect.
12. The doors were then removed and the body was rolled outside on the rotisserie to blow out and vacuum the car, removing any last remnants of the media used to strip the car.
13. The long process of block-sanding continued onto the roof areas where Peter used a long board and 220-grit to continue preparing the surface.