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How To Use A Spray Gun - Prime Time

The ins and outs of using a spray gun for the first time.

May 31, 2011
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We are sure that just about all of you reading this story right now feel pretty confident in using a rattle can to paint something. What if we asked you to pick up a professional spray gun and spray your car? How's your confidence now? Using a spray can is a no-brainer, because all you have to do is push the button and go. With a pro gun there is much more to do and much more that can go wrong.

It would take us an entire magazine to teach you how to fully restore the outside of your car, which we just won't do. We can, however, teach you how to use a pro gun and spray something like primer. That is exactly what this story will cover: the proper procedure to setting up a gun and spraying the car. We will be using a '66 Chevelle we have that is in dire need of a single-color exterior. The previous owner thought it would be a good idea to give the car a zebra-inspired paintjob and that just won't fly here at Super Chevy.

For the spray gun, we looked to Summit Racing and ordered one of the company's Pro Packs. Summit takes out some of the guesswork with the Pro Pack by combining a bunch of stuff you will need to get a certain job done, in this case priming. The Pro Pack comes with two good-quality DeVilbiss High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) spray guns; two 60cc spray cups; a regulator with gauge; fluid tips of 1.4, 1.5 and 1.8 in size; multi-wrench; and a bunch of cleaning brushes in a blow-molded case to keep it all nice and tidy. You also get a gun holder, painter's coverall, head socks, respirator and two disposable airline filters/water traps all for just $227.00.

This gun set can be used to spray all the media it would take to finish a car thanks to the multiple tips it comes with. Since basecoats, clears, and primers have different viscosities, it takes a smaller tip for the thinner stuff and bigger for the thicker stuff. The 1.4 tip will be used for most basecoats, the 1.5 will be good for clearcoats and sealers and the 1.8 will be used for the thick stuff like high-build primers and micro flake.

Before we can get into setting up the gun, we needed to get the car ready. For that we picked up a couple of packs of 6-inch round dual-action sander (D/A) sandpaper in 40- and 80-grit. The 40 will be used to quickly strip off the paint, and the 80 will be used to prep the surface for our primer. The primer we are using was something we had mixed special to emulate the Red Oxide primer used back in the day. The reason we needed to have it mixed was we could not find a direct over bare metal (DOBM) primer in Red Oxide so we had to tint a white DOBM to a close match. If you are not stripping your ride down to bare metal, then finding a Red Oxide should be no problem. There are gray and black DOBM primers out there if that is more your speed, but we have seen enough flat-black muscle cars and wanted ours to look a bit different.

Since the author is still pretty green when it comes to spraying, we enlisted the help of a pro, Vic Sapien, from Seaside Collision in Hermosa Beach, California. Vic came to the shop and made sure we did everything correctly. So without further ado, let's get into it.


Summit Racing
Akron, OH

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