Paint and upholstery—probably the only two jobs most homebuilders farm out to professionals. However, if you’re capable of fabricating a chassis, forming panels, and making bodywork repairs, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to master bodywork and paint. Sure, you’ll need a few extra tools, such as a DA sander, spray gun, and sanding blocks, but most well-equipped home shops will already have a compressor.
Here’s our subject, my ’46...
Here’s our subject, my ’46 Ford four-door sedan-turned-roadster pickup. After years of abuse and a couple quickie paintjobs, it’s time to strip ’er to bare metal and treat ’er right. While with today’s paints it’s apparently OK to fill over paint, I prefer to fill over bare metal. That way you know exactly what you’re applying filler over!
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to date has been just where to source the materials required, and how to use them. Paint is complicated, right? Mixing ratios vary, drying times are dependent on temperature, spray guns are mysterious contraptions, and paint supply houses are few and far between. Well, you’ll have to practice with the gun, but Summit Racing recently solved the rest of those problems with their Paint and Auto Refinish System. While they sell other brands, Summit’s system includes topcoat paints, activators, clearcoats, primers, and paint reducers, all with the same mixing ratio, and at a significantly more affordable price than comparable brands.
However, before you get to apply any paint, there’s the not-so-small matter of bodywork. You know, the dusty, smelly job of sanding and filling, smoothing the sheetmetal or ’glass until it’s good enough for a coat or three of primer. Here we’ll show you how to do just that, following it up with the primer and paint steps.
Here’s the starter kit from...
Here’s the starter kit from Summit Racing, though I’ll admit I already installed one of the filters on my spray gun and used a bunch of the masking tape before I remembered to take this picture!
I’d been semi-planning to paint my 1946 roadster pickup for a while, gradually tackling the bodywork panel by panel when time allowed, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to test the Summit product, and actually get my truck in color once and for all. The cowl, one door, and rear of the cab have been finished for about six years, primed in high-build 2K primer under the “aged” paintjob the truck wore to match the old, original paint front fenders, but if I’d realized just how beat up those fenders were before I started work on them, I’d have sourced a better pair. I probably have two days work invested in each one just to get them into shape, and each is now almost entirely covered with a skim coat of filler.
Summit Racing doesn’t just sell paint, but everything required to tackle bodywork, so I ordered body filler, polyester putty, a paint starter kit (comprising masking paper and tape, mixing cups, paint sticks, gun filters, tack rags, and strainer) as well as a new spray mask and suit. Man, it was great not to have to trek to a paint store but just wait for the boxes to show up on my doorstep!