1996 Chevrolet Impala SS Body and Paint - Stay Shiny

We wheel a well-worn ’96 Impala SS into the shop for some body and paint rehab.

Patrick Hill Apr 15, 2014 0 Comment(s)
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Sata Rp 3000 Hvlp Gun Painting 2/47

31. Now it’s time for the color/basecoat. For application, Aldrin used a SATA RP 3000 HVLP gun with a 1.3 tip. Same process as before: nice, even coats and not too heavy or too much air pressure to cause runs in the basecoat. Black/dark colors will show just about every degree of imperfection in a paintjob there is, so the application process is critical to an outstanding paintjob.

First Coat Tack Cloth 3/47

32. After the first coat was applied and allowed to tack up (about 20 minutes), Aldrin used a tack cloth to wipe off any overspray before applying the second layer of basecoat. After the second layer was applied, it was allowed to set up half an hour before the clearcoat was sprayed on.

Basecoat Flush Gun 4/47

33. After basecoat application was done, Aldrin flushed out the gun he used with solvent. Anytime you use a paint gun, you should always flush the gun and tip after use. Once product dries inside a gun’s workings, it can be very difficult to get clean again before its next use.

Clearcoat Summit Sum Up200 5/47

34. Now it’s time for clearcoat. For our Impala, we used Summit’s single-stage urethane clearcoat, PN SUM-UP200, along with Summit’s single-stage reducer (SUM-UP401) and urethane activator (SUM-UP101). The activator we chose is a medium-temp activator for use between 70 to 80 degrees. Summit also sells a low-temp activator for use below 70 degrees and a high-temp activator for use above 80 degrees. The same applies to the reducer. Choose your activator and reducer to suit the ambient temps you’ll be applying them in.

Filter Funnels 6/47

35. Even though it’s done for all steps when loading a paint gun, it’s especially critical when loading the clear to use filter funnels to make sure no particles of debris or crud stay in the clearcoat mixture that could clog up the gun or end up in the clear and have to be picked out once they’re on the car.

Sata Rp Tip 7/47

36. For spraying the clear, Aldrin used a SATA RP with a 1.3 tip.

1996 Chevrolet Impala Paint 8/47

37. After two coats of clear (with the proper amount a flash time in between), this is what we had: a bright, shiny, looking-like-new ’96 Impala SS.

Orange Peel Paint Finish 9/47

38. After the car sat for two days and the clear fully dried, we noticed there was a significant amount of orange peel in the finish. That’s the dimpling you see in the photo that resembles the skin of an orange. It’s not unusual to see but also not acceptable for a show-worthy finish! The problem is easily solved, though. Time for some wet sanding.

Sanding Fine Sandpaper 10/47

39. Wet sanding is an easy but patient process. It involves sanding on the clearcoat with three steps of very fine sandpaper, 1200, 1500, then 3000. Each step smoothes out the scratches left by the previous grit of paper. It’s critical not to bear down too hard on the sanding block, along with constantly keeping the paper and clearcoat surfaces wet. Just like with the sanding steps before, you should change direction while wet-sanding regularly.

Wet Sanding Finished 11/47

40. When you’re done wet-sanding, this is how the surface should look. The next step is polishing the sheen back into the surface.

3m Rubbing Compound Wool 12/47

41. To polish the surface, Aldrin uses 3M rubbing compound, first with a wool knap pad…

Foam Polishing Pad 13/47

42. …followed by a foam polishing pad. It’s important to keep the pad flat at all times so you don’t burn into or polish through the clearcoat.

Orange Peel Sanding 14/47

43. On the edges like this one where there’s orange peel, it has to be wet-sanded and polished very carefully, because this area is where the least amount of basecoat and clear is sprayed during the painting process, due to the small amount of area it covers and the angle it’s at.

After Polishing 15/47

44. After polishing, you can see the difference. On the left is the area we just wet-sanded and polished. On the right is the unpolished surface. You can see how much clearer the reflection of the overhead lights is. That’s the difference between a polished clear and one with orange peel. Now we just need to do the rest of the car, and our job will be done.

1996 Chevrolet Impala Ss Post Paint 16/47

Additional Sources:
A&R Motorsports


Summit Racing
Akron, OH


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