We can think of no single day more exciting than laying down the final finish on a street rod project. The hundreds of hours of metalwork, hammering, blocking, and sanding all culminate with the careful mixing and applying of the final paint. It's a glory day, the one that brings out the personality of the car, and in the world of hot rods paint has very little to do with protection from the elements and everything to do about making a statement. Because of that, color choice is one of the most critical and difficult decisions to make during a build. Pick a cool color that works with the car and you've got a winner; pick the wrong color for the car and regardless of how good the workmanship and selected modifications may be the car will never look "right".
Luckily we had three things going for us: Eric Black's rendering was done in gold, so we immediately limited our selection to the gold family. Second, we had the great PPG Vibrance palette. Finally, we had years of experience working for us at Honest Charley Garage, and after several hours of thought, holding color swatches inside the building, out in the sun, in the shade, and even in dim evening light, Greg Cunningham made the final call. The color would be Code 908324, Golden Dream.
After completing the metal finishing there was still the need for a skim coat of body fill
The finish was achieved by using a waterborne EnvroBase pearl followed by a gold mid-coat over the base, followed by three coats of PPG clear.
Before the car could be painted, conventional bodywork methods were employed. PPG DF 700 premium filler was used to straighten welded seams and cover hammer and dolly marks, followed by JP 205 primer. Inside the car Eastwood seam sealer was used over the repaired floor seams. After blocking with an array of Eastwood sanding blocks, several coats of K36 urethane primer were laid down using an Eastwood spray gun. More sanding followed and when the body was deemed ready for paint, hours of careful cleaning masking ensued. Then it was time to start spraying. Ben Giuilano has done plenty of custom painting and has a lot of experience with waterborne paints so he was a natural to be behind the spray gun. We won't go into all the grizzly details here, but the paints were very carefully mixed exactly as prescribed by PPG. These modern paints aren't like the lacquers of old where you mix thinners by eye. No, this is more like being a chemist, so much care is taken in mixing the paint. From there it was a matter of donning the proper safety equipment and laying down the three stages of paint. It is imperative to leave time between the coats for the paint to dry and "off gas". Allowing the vapors to escape will prevent potential problems on the following coats. Always follow the instructions carefully, and when in doubt ask questions before you apply the paint. Your local PPG jobber is a wealth of knowledge and if they can't answer your question they can find a specialist who can. Remember, this paint isn't cheap, so getting it right the first time is imperative.
First the car was "jambed", meaning we painted inside the fenders, the doorjambs, and trunk jambs. Then the body was completely assembled and shimmed to the final fit before it was rolled into the spray booth for the top coats. Painting the car completely assembled assures color uniformity. We've all seen cars that were painted in pieces, having color variations. Those color variations can be caused by different spray gun angles, air pressures, temperatures, and any number of seemingly minor variables. At Honest Charley Garage they have found the best way to ensure color uniformity is to paint the car assembled.
Team Honest Charley used PPG DF 700 to fill the final minor imperfections.
After the paint was allowed to cure overnight, the color sanding portion of the paintjob began. The ultimate final finish is only as good as the color sanding and buffing, so the progressively finer grits of wet sandpaper were used until it was sanded to an astounding 5,000-grit finish. That's a far cry from the 600-grit we used to use on lacquer. At this point the paint is actually beginning to shine just from the fine sanding. Buffing follows using the 3M Perfect-It products and following the instructions provided with the product. After the desired luster is achieved, final cleanup is done with a good spray detailer, and the paint is finally finished with a good coat of wax.
The results speak for themselves; not only is gold the right color for this car, this is the right gold for this car. The pearl base "flops hard", meaning the color in the highlighted area, caused by either sunlight or indoor light, bursts into a brilliant gold with dazzling pearl, while the portions of the body not in direct light reflect a more subdued color. It is this contrast in light reflection that makes candy apple and pearl paints so attractive and seductive. There is simply no other final finish that can provide that look. Laying down a great paintjob takes training, talent, and time. There is simply no substitute for experience, and there is only one way to get experience, and that's by doing it. Should you elect to paint your hot rod at home, remember these important things. First and foremost: safety, use the very best paint protection. Second, a steady supply of clean dry air from your compressor, a quality spray gun, and a surgically clean spray area. Allow plenty of time to get the job done; rushing and custom painting just don't go together.
Regardless of whether you decide to tackle this job yourself or have a pro shop do it for you, follow along with the photos of our 2013 AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour car as we apply the finally candy gold finish. We have listed the materials of Honest Charley Garage, The Eastwood Company, and the PPG paint products to guide you in selecting the right products for your project.
For even more detail on how this car was built, you can order the comprehensive Guide to Building a '51 Ford, which will be available in 2014 from the editors of STREET RODDER.
Steps and PPG Materials for Paint and Bodywork
Paint Color: 908324 Golden Dream, Vibrance Collection
The following PPG Products were used to produce the final finish:
- DX1791 wash primer on bare metal after sanding with a DA to promote adhesion of the epoxy primer to bare metal
- DP40LF corrosion-resistant epoxy primer to prevent rusting during fab work
- DF700 premium body filler
- JP205 (Shop line brand of PPG) polyester primer used for high build dry sanding
- DF715 Techniglaze polyester glazing putty
- K36 urethane primer surfacer as final primer followed by wet sanding
- ECS6 sealer use for color holdout with EnviroBase paints
- EHP (EnviroBase High Performance) waterborne basecoat/mid-coat
- DCU2021 clearcoat
- Finish bodywork in 150-grit and spray four coats of JP 205 primer
- Sanded JP 205 with 80-grit and finished to 220-grit, followed by three coats of K36 Primer
- Sanded K36 with 400-grit and 600-grit wet
- Sealed car with one coat ECS6 sealer
- Sprayed five coats of EnviroBase pearl base color with proper flash time between coats
- Sprayed two coats of gold mid-coat with proper flash time between coats
- Let set overnight (approximately 10 hours) then sprayed three coats of DCU2021 clear
Steps and Materials for Color Sanding and Buffing
First - Wet sanding with 1,000-grit
Second - Wet sanding with 1,500-grit
Third - Wet sanding with 3,000-grit
Final - Wet sanding with 5,000-grit
Buffing and Polishing
Recommended polisher speed is 1,200-2,000 rpm
1. Compound: 3M Perfect-It Rubbing Compound (PN 06085/06086)
Use Foam compounding pad (PN 05706)
2. Machine Polish: 3M Perfect-It Machine Polish (PN 06064/06065)
Use foam polishing pad (PN 05707)
Wipe with yellow detail cloth (PN 06016)
3. Swirl Elimination: 3M Perfect-It Ultrafine Machine Polish (PN 06068/06069)
Use foam polishing pad (PN 05708)
Wipe with blue detail cloth (PN 06020)
4. Final clean up with a good spray detailer
5. Apply a coat of your favorite wax to protect the finish
Eastwood Tools and Equipment for Final Finish
- Hammers and dollies
- Sanding blocks
- Rolled sand paper
- Pre-pre-paint cleaner
- Spray gun
- Body seam sealer
- 2K chassis black (wheelwells)