Bailey starts the process with a perfectly clean car, making certain no dust or grit has settled on the car. The first step is a thorough sanding with 600A-grit wet sandpaper. By conventional standards some painters may think 600A-grit is too aggressive for sanding urethane, but Bailey says this is one of the key secrets to his finish, as he told us, “I get most of my work done with the 600A, cut all the ‘fat’, orange peel, and minute pieces of dirt out of the paint until it is sanded to a perfect 600A finish.” Bailey also uses a hard block with sandpaper wherever possible and avoids using his hand in all but the most difficult places. An assortment of block sizes and using things like a piece of a paint mixing stick will allow you to use a hard block almost everywhere. Next up is the 800A-grit, and once again the entire car is brought to a uniform 800A-grit finish, followed by 1,000A-, 1,200A-, 1,500A-, 2,000A-grit and the final sanding is done with 2,500A-grit. Beyond patience it takes some determination and effort to sand the car thoroughly seven times before buffing, but if you are wondering if all that effort is worthwhile we recommend you walk around any of the cars built at Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop, then you will realize the effort involved in a perfect finish completely worthwhile. It’s this progression of ever-finer grits that truly polishes the paint.

After sanding the car to the desired 2,500A-grit finish it’s time to begin the buffing process. Once again with years of experience and experimentation Bailey has developed his own sequence of buffing paint. While many painters today use a series of foam pads Bailey still begins the buffing process with a white wool pad and 3M Perfect-it Rubbing Compound. Bailey runs his buffer slow, 1,000-1,200 rpm, and keeps a water bottle handy to mist the panel, preventing the compound from drying up and building heat on the paint. Modern paints do not like heat from a buffing pad and the misting bottle is one of those experience things, too much water and your pad is soggy, not enough and you’re heating up dry compound. If you have done proper sanding the paint should take a shine quickly with minimal buffing. If you find yourself buffing for a long period of time it’s probably time to put down the buffer and pick up the sandpaper again.

After compounding, the panel is wiped clean with microfiber towels and then 3M Finesse II Polishing Glaze is applied using a yellow wool-polishing pad on the buffer. This product is amazing and after going over the panel with the Finesse the paint is looking very good. All the while you are buffing, keep a keen eye for any imperfections you may have missed in the sanding process. If you find unwanted orange peel or a bit of “trash” in the paint, stop and sand with 2,500A-grit and resume the steps.

After buffing the paint with Finesse, Bailey changes over to a black foam waffle pad and buffs with 3M Perfect-it Machine Polish, this removes any remaining swirls and once again the finish should respond quickly to each buffing step.

Between each application of compound, polishes, and glaze the paint is wiped clean so no two products are co-mingled on a buffing pad. The final buffing step that Bailey uses is 3M Perfect-it Ultra-fine Machine Polish and it is applied with a blue foam waffle pad. After this final buff the entire car is waxed using Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax No. 6 and then the paintjob is considered finished. Then the car is given a very close examination to be certain there are no dull spots or imperfections. Once again keep an eye for places that may not have been sanded enough or buffed properly and take the required action to bring them up to the same level of finish as the rest of the car.

To have a truly great paintjob it is imperative that every bit of the car has the exact same finish. This often means hand polishing in nooks and crannies, but once again, if you get the sanding right the polishing is easy.

And there you have it, the inside scoop on how Alloway’s Hot Rod Shop manages to produce world-class paint finishes each and every time. Special thanks go out to Alloway and Bailey for sharing their secrets to a final finish so home builders can strive for that perfect finish.