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How to prep for paint with Summit Racing

Prep For Perfection

Jim Smart Feb 7, 2018
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Body prep and painting any automobile is challenging even for the most seasoned body professional, and they all have their own unique approaches to getting the perfect paintjob. Bodywork and paint is expensive when you hire it out for a reason. It is labor intensive and time consuming.

Prepping and painting a steel body is one thing. Prepping and painting a classic Corvette is another story entirely. Fiberglass isn’t as forgiving as steel, requiring boatloads of patience and tenacity. Preparation is 95 percent of a paintjob. Without methodical prep and due diligence, you’re going to wind up with a 50 footer when what you want is a finish people will want to touch and admire. It has to be that good.

If you’ve never performed paint prep before, expect a lengthy learning curve because this is something you learn through experience. You develop a fingertip feel for irregularities or you will never learn at all. You can farm it all out to a trusted professional and spend the money or you can allow yourself time to learn it if you have the luxury of time. Paint preparation is an element where you can do foundation work yourself, then allow a professional to do final prep and paint. That will save you some money.

We’re at Hot Rods by Dean in Phoenix, which has done everything under the sun ranging from street rods to classic muscle cars and obscure collectibles to Corvettes. Hot Rods by Dean will tell you there is a difference between preparing steel and preparing fiberglass. Steel is easier to prep than fiberglass, which can be very temperamental. Fiberglass and plastic by their very nature have a lot of irregularities requiring a lot of time to achieve a perfect surface. This is why Corvette body prep can get darned expensive.

Aside from patience and tenacity, you’re going to need the right tools and materials, which are available from Summit Racing Equipment. Summit has everything you’re going to need to prep and paint any Corvette.

Summit Racing offers three groupings of materials that will get you going from the very beginning to the finished bodywork. Let’s take a look at what’s available and see if we can get you going on your first body and paintwork project?

The Summit Racing Basic Body- & Paintwork Starter Combos
Summit Racing Paint Prep Tools Combo (SUM-CSUMSRPP001). This combo includes basic body prep tools like an Ingersoll Rand D/A sander and body filler spreaders. You also get a top-quality DeVilbiss HVLP paint gun and a Summit Racing Paint Starter Kit with paint pails, stirring sticks, paint strainers and tack cloths so you’ll be ready to spray when the body prep is finished. Summit includes an SAS safety respirator mask and coveralls to protect you from sanding dust and paint fumes. (It should be noted that Summit includes a size large mask and coveralls; but other sizes are available.)

Here’s what comes in your starter paint prep tool combo: Ingersoll Rand D/A sander, Titan filler spreaders, DeVilbiss FinishLine HVLP paint gun, paint starter kit, SAS Safety Gen-Nex large painters coveralls and safety large air respirator.

Summit Racing Paint Prep Bodywork and Sanding Combo (SUM-CSUMSRPP002). Nobody likes spending hours sanding and fixing small imperfections, but it’s gotta be done. Summit offers combos that will get you started in the right direction and also save you time and money and add to the overall final outcome. This combo includes Summit Racing sanding discs and paper in various grits, two Dura-Block sanding blocks, and U.S. Chemical Kromate body filler and glazing putty to smooth out any remaining dings and dents.

Here’s what comes in your paint bodywork combos from Summit: 6 in. 40, 80, 150 and 320-grit sanding discs, 80, 180, and 220-grit sandpaper rolls, Dura-Block short and long sanding blocks, U.S. Chemical light Kromate body filler and body finish putty.

Summit Racing Paint Prep Cleaning and Masking Combo (SUM-CSUMSRPP003). This combo includes Summit Racing Surface Wash and Grease/Wax Remover; a roll of Summit Racing masking paper; an Astro Pneumatic masking paper station and wheel covers; 3M masking tape and Gerson tack cloths.

Here’s what comes in your cleaning and masking combo from Summit: Summit Racing surface cleaner, wax and grease remover, masking paper, Astro Pneumatic masking paper station, Astro Pneumatic wheel covers, 3M 3/4-inch-wide masking tape, 3M 1 1/2-inch-wide masking tape and Gerson tack cloths.

Here is an individual parts listing by part numbers:
Summit ING-311A Dual Action Quiet Sander
SummitTTN-15089 Plastic Spreader Kit
Summit DVR-803558 Finish Line Solvent-Based Gun
Summit SUM-UPPSKIT Paint Starter Kit
Summit SSC-6853 GEN-NAX Painters Coveralls
Summit SSC-8661-93 Bandit N95 Respirator
Summit SUM-AB514C6TP40 40 Grit Sanding Discs
Summit SUM-AB5514C6TP80 80 Grit Sanding Discs
Summit SUM-AB514C6TP150 150 Grit Sanding Discs
Summit SUM-AB514C6TP320 320 Grit Sanding Discs
Summit SUM-514C3SRP80 Sheet Roll 20 Yards 80 Grit
Summit SUM-514C3SRP18 Sheet Roll 25 Yards 180 Grit
Summit SUM-514C3SRP22 Sheet Roll 25 Yards 220 Grit
Summit DUK-TAI-AF4403 Sanding Block
Summit DUK-TAI-AF4401 Sanding Block
Summit SUM-UPP18 Masking Paper 18-inches
Summit APT-ASMS-2 Max Masking Paper Station
Summit APT-9004 Wheel Masks (Covers)
Summit TES-26334 18mm x 55mm bulk tape
Summit TES-26338 Scotch Performance Mask
Summit LMG-020003G Tack Rags

You might not go out and open your own body and paint shop, but with some practice you, too, can handle your own body- and paintwork to a degree where you will be very proud of your efforts. This is one of those projects that takes time and lots of patience and throw in plenty of practice but the average at-home hot rodder can handle it and the satisfaction is tremendous from a job well done. Vette


This is what we started with when our early production 1968 Corvette was rescued from a desert dry 30-year inside storage under a car cover.


Body prep has begun with the removal of the engine and driveline, which makes way for detailed clean up and bodywork by Hot Rods by Dean.


Summit Racing Equipment has everything you’re going to need for methodical and detailed body preparation. If you’re investing in body prep tools and materials invest wisely and buy the best Summit products.


Body prep tools like this masking paper dispenser from Summit Racing Equipment are inexpensive and worth every penny when it comes to the time they save you.


There’s plenty of choice out there when it comes to sandpaper. However, for durability and longevity there is but one choice: 3M paper from Summit Racing Equipment. Though more expensive, 3M lasts longer and doesn’t clog as quickly as lesser grades of materials tend to. Body prep begins with a coarse paper such as 80-grit for rough cutting, winding up at 1,000-2,000 grit for final prep.


This orbital sander from Summit is good for overall sanding and prep using a variety of sanding pads from Summit. These pads come in economical multi packages.


Summit Racing Equipment offers you virtually every type of sandpaper imaginable in a wide variety of grits, from coarse to super-fine for detailed body prep.


Here are body prep items you cannot do without: tire/wheel covers. Overspray and fallout on tires and wheels is something you do not want. They protect tires and wheels, which will save you time and labor when the masking comes off.


These wheel/tire covers from Summit fit perfectly, protecting our rolling stock from sanding and overspray fallout.


Think of Summit Racing Equipment like you would an automotive paint supply store where you can get all of your body prep materials in one place. USC Lightweight Autobody Filler (Kromate Light) is a user friendly filler. Summit’s own Surface Wash and Grease and Wax Remover get you started with a clean surface. USC Polyester Finishing Putty is good for final filling and finishing.


Hot Rods by Dean is using this Finish Line gravity feed HVLP gun from DeVilbiss and Summit Racing Equipment for both prep work and final finishing. What you get for your money is an affordable, environmentally responsible gun that lays down a nice finish.


Our C3 body is stripped down and ready for paint prep. As you can see, there’s a lot of work to be done here at Hot Rods by Dean. We first approach the surface with an orbital sander and something like 240-grit paper to cut the surface.


Too many of us get body filler chemistry wrong because we don’t follow instructions. We use either too much hardener or too little. Too much and you wind up with filler that cures too quickly and will ultimately crack. Not enough hardener and you wind up with a mess that will not cure.


Mix Summit’s Kromate filler until it blends into a light blue, again per the directions. You want the mix to where you have time to apply and work the filler. Use a cheese grater to perform that initial cut before you go to sandpaper.


Sean Rosic uses the Summit provided orbital sander, which is ideal for working massive surfaces as well as the minute details. Sanding pads ranging from 40-grit to 400-grit are available from Summit. Broad surfaces get a workout, as shown, to cut primer down to a workable surface.


Gel coat and primer have to be cut down to where there are no irregularities in the surface. Irregular surfaces are filled and worked as shown until you have a buttery smooth surface. If you can feel the low and high spots you will see them in the paint.


As you work the body (Sean is hard at it!), it eventually gets down to hand- and wet-sanding to where you become more intimate with the surface. Mechanical sanders are good for initial rough cutting. Where the pad meets the fiberglass there’s no substitute for hand-sanding.


Wet-sanding with 400-grit paper and generous amounts of water leads you to the final foundation. The next phase will be the guidecoat, a light dusting of black paint over the gray primer. As you wet-sand the black guidecoat high and low spots will show.


Summit offers a variety of anti-static tack rags and cloths for dust removal.


Prepped and primed surfaces get a wipe-down with a tack cloth, which is electrostatically charged to capture dust particles. Latex gloves are used to both protect your skin and keep skin oil off from the car’s surface.


It’s a good idea to arm yourself with enough masking paper to get prep work and painting done. It’s better to have too much than too little. Few things are more frustrating than not being able to continue prep and paint because you don’t have enough materials.


One cool thing about masking paper is the tape incorporated into the paper for ease of use. Hot Rods by Dean depends on tools that enable them to do a high-end job without high-end time and expensive. Pull the mask off the dispenser and go right to work protecting surfaces where paint isn’t desired. The 3M green masking tape was born for bodywork. Easy to apply. Easy to remove. And without paint creep.


Sean uses Norton Paint Check polycoated mask as it’s water resistant, which makes it perfect for that final prime and paint stretch when you’re priming, wet-sanding, and getting ready to paint. The masking tape should be worked with a fingernail to ensure sealing and prevent paint creep beneath the tape.

Photography by Brian Brennan


Summit Racing
Akron, OH
Hot Rods By Dean
Phoenix, AZ 85027



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