Joe Bailey has been at his buffing game for a long time, and that is one reason why Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop consistently turns out world-class paintwork.
Bailey uses a series of 3M...
Bailey uses a series of 3M and Meguiar’s products to produce the ultimate final finish. This picture shows everything you need, except for the patience and experience that only comes with time.
There’s one common ingredient required in every step of building a street rod: patience. From building the motor to the final phases of finishing a paintjob, you cannot rush the process and still expect outstanding results.
This seems to be especially true with finishing the paint on your hot rod. Modern paints are capable of unbelievable finishes, with a luster deeper than we could have imagined in the ’50s and ’60s. For those of us who cut our teeth on lacquer, it’s time to forget everything you know about buffing paint and relearn the process for the modern base/clearcoat paints. The process of buffing modern paints is basically the same, yet very different from vintage lacquers.
Every good paintjob begins at bare metal and works up to the final finish, poor preparation or application anywhere along the way will make achieving a high-quality paintjob impossible. We’ll assume you have done proper bodywork and paint and now it is time to begin sanding and buffing the car.
If you painted your street...
If you painted your street rod without a perfectly clean spray booth you may want to begin the process by “denibbing” with this cool cordless tool kit from 3M. The dime-size buffing pads work well to rid the paint of small bits of “trash” that land in wet paint.
Unlike vintage paints that required cure time, modern urethanes are ready to sand within 24 hours of application and are easiest to sand for the first three days after application. With each passing day the paint will become a bit harder to sand, it can still be done but it will take more effort. So, when you buy your paint, purchase all of the sandpaper and polishing material too because the next day you will be breaking out the water bucket and sanding blocks.
Talking to your paint supplier will net you some good information, but remember a bulk of their business goes toward OEM repair standards, not necessarily the custom painting market. The best advice comes from talking to a shop that consistently puts out amazing paintjobs, and when it comes to amazing paintwork Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop is second to none. But after Bobby Alloway lays down a super slick paintjob the final finish is placed in the hands of Joe Bailey, the man who sands, buffs, and finishes every paintjob that leaves the shop. Bailey was more than glad to share his years of experience and buffing sequences for you to use when it comes time to finish your own paintjob. We can tell you how Bailey does it, but we can’t give you the 40 years of experience that gives you a feel for the paint, buffer, the product, and how the paint is responding.
Before you begin it is a good...
Before you begin it is a good idea to have two of each buffing pad you will use. Bailey likes to begin with wool pads and finish off with foam. Both 3M and Meguiar’s offer high-quality buffing pads.
Bailey has been buffing paint since the days of acrylic lacquer and during that time he has learned that most of the work is done with the sandpaper, not the buffer. And this is where that heavy dose of patience comes into play.
When a car is painted at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop there are two to three extra coats of paint applied so Bailey has plenty of material to work with. That means five to six coats of clear as opposed to the recommended three coats.
If you are painting your own car at home there may be one more step prior to the start of sanding and that’s the denibbing process, where you spend time going around the car and carefully working out the larger pieces of dirt, dust, and debris that inevitably fall into the paint when a spray booth isn’t used. There are now special tools to help in this process.
Make sure your sanding water...
Make sure your sanding water is clean and dry the sanded area to inspect the paint and see if more sanding is required. Bailey keeps a steady pressure and is very careful sanding high areas like the corner of the framerails.
Starting with clean, fresh...
Starting with clean, fresh paint, Bailey begins the sanding process with 600 grit. This requires two extra coats of clear, but the aggressive cut ensures the paint will be perfectly flat.
The sanding process goes on...
The sanding process goes on for seven steps in this order: 600A-, 800A-, 1,000A-, 1,200A-, 1,500A-, 2,000A-, and finally 2,500A-grit. Yes that seems like a lot of sanding but the results make it all worthwhile.