Take Off the Ugly

So, right in the middle of the new racing season we decide that new fiberglass doors and fenders would be neat to add to the car. Over a long weekend, we pulled the metal ones and replaced them. Wow, that sounds so simple. And except for having to do a little math work to figure out where and how to mount the new hinges along with the new door handles it actually went fairly well. We started Friday afternoon and by Saturday evening we had the new parts installed. Putting the new lexan windows in place was a different story all together. That little project took a couple of days to get done and we’re still not sure we like the results.

IMG_0949So if you remember, the car was a dark gray color with burgundy scoop and bottom trim pieces. That paint job was just flat ugly. It was my first attempt – and probably my last with a single stage urethane. On top of that my skill with a spray gun is nowhere near the level needed to spray a metallic paint. I hated it when I finished it and was glad to have the chance to remove it. Even if the new paint wasn’t perfect, something, anything was better than the current paint job.

So while I took off to do some work and help my youngest son Douglas move in Las Vegas, Phil started the fun task of stripping the paint off of the rest of the car. Now think about it, we already replaced the doors and front fenders so just front nose, hood and remaining body needed to be stripped. Yep – right, 3 gallons of aircraft stripper, a king’s ransom in sandpaper and well, 90% of it was off the car. That last 10%? Oh wow, it took hours upon hours upon hours. Oh and then we needed to try and straighten the body too. So here it is in the middle of June and I finally get to lay the basecoat on the car. Overall, it looked pretty dang good but I also know that putting the clear on is going to reveal every little mistake we made but as people kept saying – hey, it’s not a show car, it’s a racecar. Sure hope they remember that one. I would say that the car needs at least another 100 hours – yes 100 hours of priming and blocking to get the body right. Even in the basecoat I can see things that we missed – with clear these will be magnified a 1000 times over.

The color combination this time around is back to our original white but with blue bottom trim. I had originally thought about painting the hood scoop blue too but since we changed to a different scoop and I bonded this one to the hood rather than bolting it on, I decided I had enough work on my hands just making it white. So a little different that our original but we both agree that the car looks a ton better already. Upside for me is that this is another paint job done and I have learned some new things that should help me on my next paint job – you know, yep the G35 that once again sits patiently waiting to be finished.

I mentioned that I bonded the scoop and hood together, that’s really nothing new as I did the same on my old Chevelle years ago. Actually, I like working with fiberglass – it’s an easy medium to work in and you can do some really neat work with it but it does take some planning. Once you get the hang of it though, it’s really simple. In fact somewhere during the body work on the Camaro, we managed to whack a corner of the hood – cracked off about a 1/2 inch of it. But with some tape, cardboard and fiberglass mix, I had it fixed pronto. Heck of a lot easier than grinding, welding and filling sheetmetal – that’s for sure.

IMG_0936So a few pictures of the work, not exactly in any order mind you but you can see where we added the new doors and fenders, then got started on trying to straighten out the body. The doors and fenders had come with depressions where the door handle and marker lamp would mount so those had to be filled with fiberglass, then glass putty and then finally a coat of poly to finish them out. There was a lot of sanding, blocking, poly putty, more blocking and more poly. The roof was a mess and even though we worked on it a lot, we still missed some spots. Around the fender-wheels it was uneven and rough too. I also had to straighten out the body line on the left rear corner and it actually looks like a Camaro now.



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So with all this work you would think that the paint job would have been the easy part. So did I really. I have a new gun, a Devilbiss FLG-5 that I bought from an English supplier. Very impressive service, ordered it Saturday night and had the gun here by Wednesday morning. And the gun is fantastic – sprays extremely well, in fact another gun I had that I thought was really good is now the primer gun. A good gun makes a big difference! The weather also plays a huge role in my painting experience and the high heat and humidity meant that I had to look for windows of opportunity. I had a few days where I just had to sit and look at the car, any attempt at painting would have been an disaster.  I also had a problem with the final clear coats, getting a little too close and getting more than a few runs in the paint. Most of these I was able to level out and re-coat, but I can still see a few that I did not get leveled out completely. I am hoping that when we color-sand and rub out the finish in 30 days that most of those blemishes will be taken care of.

IMG_0988I will have a few more pictures of the finished product once I get everything reassembled on the car, but here’s a look at the new layout with the Championship White paint, complimented with a Dark Blue trim kit color. The front foglight blanks and grill were shot with a semi-gloss black. The new hoodscoop is one that I picked up years ago and was huge. I actually tried to sell it for $20 and could not get any takers. So I took it and cut about 5 inches off the bottom to get the proportions right and bonded it to the hood. I think it turned out nice.

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