The process of painting a car is deceptively long. Most of the variance between reality and fantasy comes from the fact that the actual painting occurs in a relative blink of an eye. The really hard, and time-sucking part, is getting the car ready to enter the spray booth. This is why good ol' Earl Schieb used to be able to paint any car, any color, for $29.95. The prep work they skipped takes time, and as we all know, time is money.
Most of the hardcore bodywork has been done on our '68 project car, but the difference between a great finished product and mediocre one is getting all the little details right. Trim needs to be fitted, gaps made just so, and a host of little items, that in their entirety, can make or break the quest for a good looking ride.
The good news is that the process doesn't cost a ton in terms of materials. The bad news is that it does require some skill and, more importantly, a truckload of sweat and equity. Prepping for paint is not a task for the slothful, so over the last few months we've been busy sanding, coating, and massaging Project Track Rat in preparation for finally getting it into Best Of Show Coach Works' (BOS) spray booth.
Final prime is a beautiful thing. The bad quarter-panel is now a distant memory. BOS also laid down a guidecoat which will help with the final sanding.
The fist step is to go over the whole car with 220-grit 3M paper. The aggressive 220 will knock down the orange peel in the primer and leave a smooth surface in its wake.
The process is done wet, so we thought this would be a good time to try out the Wet Wedge. The embedded tubing in the Wet Wedge simply connects to a standard garden hose, and a valve controls the flow of water. Jon Lindstrom is an old-school kind of guy, so he was a bit skeptical, but after a little time with their short block (PN 5WW, $19.95) he definitely saw the benefits and thought it worked pretty darn good.
Once an area had been worked with the 220 paper, Jon used some 3M Dry Guide Coat. The guide coat is used to show all the scratches left by the 220 paper. These scratches could wreak havoc with a metallic or pearl paint job, so it’s imperative to make sure they are all gone. Our satin paint is more forgiving, but we still want to do it right.
Jon then worked over the panel with some 600-grit paper making sure to remove all the scratches left behind by the 220 paper. Some shops follow this up with 800 grit, but since we’ll seal the car before paint, it’s not really necessary.
The sanding process is then repeated over the entire surface of the car. Extra time spent here will result in a better overall finish.
Before paint, we also made sure to cut holes needed for accessories. In this case we made the cut in our flat firewall for the new DSE wiper motor.
We also located and cut the holes that will eventually be needed for our Vintage Air system. These bulkheads from Vintage air will make plumbing the system a snap. While putting them in we made sure to leave enough room to get a wrench on the fittings.
When these cars were new GM wasn’t building show cars. As such, the window trim moldings’ fitment fell into the “close enough” category. Here a piece of the OEM trim is held in place. The fit is pretty good, be we can make it better.
A small amount of U-Pol filler is applied to the corner. No need to go crazy with it, or you’ll just have more to sand off.
Then the work started. It was a process of sanding, fitting the trim back in, then sanding some more until the corner piece fit just right.
Behold the majesty of our perfectly-fitted trim. These "little" details are what sets one car apart from another. On the other corner we actually had to use a small dremel to remove some material to get a good fit.
Before paint we’ll need to have all the body panels on hand to fit, gap, and get looking right. So we picked up our carbon fiber panels from Anvil Auto. These pieces are pivotal in getting our ’68 looking like the Ben Hermance rendering. The front and rear panels weigh almost nothing (around a pound each), while the hood comes in at a svelte 17 pounds. As a bonus, the surface was as smooth as glass and would require little bodywork.
We also decided to try out the low-gloss paint from the Kustom Shop. To help our imagination, we used one of these aluminum mini-hoods. You can get them from the Kustom Shop for about $50. Sure the CF we used is just a sticker, but it helped give us a good idea of how the final colors will work together. To protect the paint, and bury the edges of the graphics, the hood was cleared in Kustom Shop’s Hot Rod Flatz Urethane Clear (PN HRF-289). The actual paint is Hot Rod Flatz Steel Blue (PN HRF221) for the body color, and Blood Red (HRF211) for the accent stripes. It’s a good idea to test our your colors on a panel like this since it’s easier to change your mind now than after the car has been sprayed.
We wanted the underside of Track Rat to look as clean and well thought out as the side that sees daylight. It’s not complicated to do, but it is messy and time consuming. Thankfully, the body was on a rotisserie since performing this work in the inverted position is a literal pain in the neck.
Fortunately, the floors of our Camaro were in great shape—no rust or big dents—but there was a ton of built-up grease and grime. The best way to get rid of it was to use a scraper followed by some Scotch Brite pads and lacquer thinner to get down to clean metal. Had it been worse, we would have moved up to a wire wheel and some power tools.
Once everything was suitably clean, we broke out our Lord Fusor gun and seam-sealed all the cracks and crevices. While not absolutely necessary, it’ll add to the overall fit and finish of the car.
We’ve had great luck with the Wurth line of products, and their Stoneguard is no exception. It will accomplish several things: one, it will rust-proof the underside of our Camaro, two, it will fill in any crevices that didn’t get hit with the Fusor seam sealer,and three, it will help protect the metal from stone damage. It’s sold in Aerosol spray cans, but for large jobs, this 30-ounce bottle is a better idea.
The process is pretty simple. We loaded a can of the Wurth SKS Stoneguard into the multi sprayer and started laying it down. The 30-ounce cans run about $50 each and we went through three of them coating the bottom of the Camaro and inside the front fenders.
After a couple of hours the Wurth dried and turned a nice low-gloss shade of black. Total time to clean, prep, and shoot the underside of the Camaro was about eight hours.