•Before my entry into the publishing world I spent a considerable amount of time working behind the counter of a major East Coast paint and body equipment jobber. Those 11 years of nearly constant education left me with a pretty good understanding of the basics of paint and bodywork (at least for one who doesn't actually do it for a living). And though the materials used have changed considerably since those days, the basic process has stayed the same. That said, for me the experience gained was priceless, mainly because I was able to use what I'd learned on my own hot rod projects over the years (saving me a boatload of hard-earned cash). Now that I'm in the process of building a couple of hot rods, I thought this might be a good time to share some insights on homebrewed body and paint work.
Just keep in mind that there are about as many techniques or procedures for tackling these chores as there are people doing them, and though some will find a bit of my advice questionable, what you'll read here is a combination of what I've learned from others and things I've learned from personal experience. And if I'm able to inform, and more importantly, motivate even a small number of you to at least give the process a try, I'll consider this compilation a success!
First And Foremost Probably the most important fact that I'll express here is this: anybody can successfully prep and paint their hot rod themselves. That's right! You can do it! I'm thoroughly convinced that even with little or no previous experience, any of you can undertake this daunting task and end up with a paint job you can be proud of. It might not happen on your first try, but I'm sure it can be done, because I've done it myself with nothing more than verbal and written instruction-no "formal" training at all. I just picked up a few tools, pulled the car into the garage, and started beating, sanding, and spraying. And believe me, most of you are probably more talented than I, so you've got no excuse not to at least give bodywork and paint a shot!
Now, I know there are some out there who are shaking their heads and saying, "What about tools and spray guns, and paint materials and such? That stuff's expensive!" Well, sure, some of it is, but there are plenty of inexpensive body and paint tools available to the beginner these days. Everything from entry-level spray guns to long-board and dual-action sanders are available from discount tool stores and catalog suppliers (like Summit Racing Equipment). And you know what? They're perfect for the novice, and as your confidence and skills grow, you can make the decision to upgrade your equipment at any time (though much of my body equipment arsenal still consists of bud-get-priced tools purchased years ago). And besides, what you spend on tools, you'll save in spades when compared to the $65-$100 per-hour labor charges and outrageous paint material costs you'd have to fork over to a professional shop! Plus, there's nothing like the feeling of satisfaction you'll get when asked who painted your car and you can honestly say-"me!"
While I'm on the subject of cost, I've recently been informed of (and a short time ago used with great satisfaction) Summit Racing's new Summit Racing Paint and Auto Refinishing System. The new product line includes top coat paints, activators, clear coats, primers, and paint reducers-all at a significantly more affordable price than comparable brands. When I say significantly, I mean it. With the Summit system one can get all the materials needed for a complete paint job for right around $300.00-compared to about $900.00 to $1,500.00-literally hundreds of dollars less than comparable materials purchased at the local paint and body equipment jobber-and from personal experience, it's high-quality stuff!