Once the dust settled at Competition Specialties in Walpole, Massachusetts, from the initial teardown of Project Orange Krate, shop owner Peter Newell gazed through the pile of parts to concentrate on what was left. Staring back at him, wearing a paintjob that looked like a tired old pair of jeans, was the body of a car obviously ready for the next step of the build. A decision was needed on what format to follow to remove the paint and find out what was lurking beneath its surface. There are a number of well-traveled paths to pursue when considering how to bring a body to bare metal, including sanding, chemical stripping, various forms of blasting, and, of course, dipping. While all of the options were considered, it was chemical stripping that eventually won because it could be completed in a controlled area to capture all of the debris. Since we hadn't attempted it before, it would make for a great experience.
With our decision made on the method to remove the stale pigment and out-of-date tribal flames, we paid a visit to good friend Ray Williams, manager of the local Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes store located in Medford to pick up all the necessary paint and stripping supplies. A veteran in the automotive refinish world, Ray supplied us with plenty of Klean-Strip Aircraft paint remover as well as all of the remaining items to get the job done. Once back at the shop, it was time to get the body ready for the stripper. Newell worked alongside team member Brian Jordan to remove all of the remaining barbs that might get in the way of the chemicals. Door handles, locks, marker lights, trim, and rubber weatherstrips would all have to be removed in order to protect them. The team bagged and tagged all of the parts, and also captured a few digital images during the procedure that might assist later in the reassembly process. With the car finally picked clean, the team proceeded to mask the window areas as well as back-mask all of the open areas on the body, like the marker lights, door handles, and lock openings. In addition, all of the body seams were sealed with tape to prevent any of the chemicals from entering an area that would be handled at a later date. It is imperative that the area in use has adequate ventilation due to vapors the chemical strippers give off. Safety is paramount and you should also wear eye protection, protective gloves, and old clothing, ensuring coverage of your arms and legs.
With the car masked and ready to go, it was a snap to lay down the Klean-Strip with short bristle 3-inch brushes a section at a time, at which time we waited for the magic to start. Within minutes the chemical reaction began, and after 15 minutes passed, the painted surface had bubbled, softened, and lifted itself from the surface. Using a scraper, the paint readily dropped to the ground from the body sides. Some areas required additional coatings of the chemicals due to the plastic filler residing under the surface. All we know is it took little time to unmask many of the Orange Krate's dirty little secrets.