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.
14. Small areas like the doorjambs and inner rockers were also worked with 220-grit in preparation for the final coating of SpectraPrime.
15. Be sure to check and re-check the fitment of various parts including the rear window corner moldings ...
16. ...and headlight rings to the fenders to be sure the gaps are perfect.
17. With the body completely block-sanded and blown clean, the rotisserie was rolled back into the paint booth to have the final three coats of SpectraPrime applied.
18. After receiving its last coat of Sherwin-Williams SpectraPrime, you can see that Orange Krate has come a long way!
19. Here you can see the results to one small area after wet-sanding with 220-grit and using the back edge of the sanding block to squeegee water away. A final wet-sanding with 500-grit will leave the surface as smooth as glass.
20. With wet-sanding completed, the body was rolled into the spray booth on the rotisserie for one last time. The undercarriage was plastic-bagged to protect it from overspray.
21. Peter then used 2-inch masking tape to back tape the inner trunk opening and followed it up by masking over the opening.
22. 3M Ultrapro Urethane Seam Sealer was applied to seal up any remaining seams prior to final paint, like this one in the rocker to rear quarter-panel area.\
23. Peter then made a pass over the entire exterior with Sem Solve pre-cleaner using a fresh white cloth one last time to remove any remaining surface contaminants.
24. Once suited up, a final run over the body with a Sherwin-Williams Tack Rag (PN V4X3) removed the last bits of dust, lint, or dirt from the surface.
25. Here you can see the completed body ready to go after all the stages of panel replacement, bodywork, block-sanding, and priming.
26. To bring the car to life, its signature hue of Planet Color Big Bad Orange combined with the rest of the Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes includes everything to complete the job.
27. It was great seeing Peter lay down the vibe bringing Orange Krate to life with a number of coats of Big Bad Orange.
28. By the end of the night, the body looked amazing finally covered with clear! Stay tuned as we begin our final assembly stages of project Orange Krate.