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1963 Etype Coupe

1963 FHC – Applying Basecoat and Clearcoat Paint

A major milestone in the life of any restoration project has been met- I have applied basecoat and clearcoat paint!

Opalescent Golden Sand

Now for the backstory. As I discussed in a previous article, I had a professional painter out last fall to look at the car, thinking it was ready to paint and that I would have him do it. He told me that the car was not ready and needed more work. And he was headed for back surgery. I spent most of the fall working on getting the car truely ready to paint. There were not only issues with getting the exterior of the car absolutely perfect but there are “secondary surfaces” such as drip rails and door jambs. Once you start looking, there are a lot of secondary surfaces to deal with. Anything that isn’t covered by chrome, upholstery, or trim. As Christmas drew near, I was getting pretty close but as the weather got colder, it became increasingly difficult to make progress. For instance, every time you need to add primer, all the surfaces and paint need to be above 70 degF. So after the holidays, I decided to shift gears and work on my Porsche 928, which needed various mechanical items that could be done regardless of temperature.

In April I got done with the 928 and turned back to the Etype. By this time, I had contacted the painter to come do an inspection. Well, he had returned to work but was way behind and politely declined to be drug into my project. After some discussion with my Glasurit rep, it seems that every body shop in the area is experiencing labor shortages. The fact that no one wanted to deal with my one off project was evident. I can take a hint. I decided to go ahead and shoot this car myself. After all, I had already applied basecoat/clearcoat to the interior, the bottom, the engine frames, and the inside of the bonnet. Although I was previously intimidated by the difficulties of applying metalflake (opalescent), the Glasurit basecoat had applied beautifully up to this point. BTW, one side benefit of my winter break was that the primer had ample time to stabilize.

There were a couple of reasons I wanted to get a painter to shoot the car. I envariably seem to develop runs in my clearcoat, which are a pain, but not impossible, to fix. I also thought that taking the car to a professional paint booth might yield benefits. Whatever, once I felt the car was ready, I turned to getting my paint booth absolutely ready.

I have a dedicated room in my shop for painting, with cross flow filtered recirculating air. I have painted a few cars in a homemade booth with no air flow. Once you paint with air flow, the benefits are very evident. There is virtually no “fog” of suspended paint particles in the air. You can filter the air flow, reducing clag in your paint. And the excess paint tends to wind up in the return filters, rather than becoming a sticky mess on the floor. I started by giving the booth a deep cleaning, trying to remove all dirt and dust. Two nights in a row, I set off insecticide bombs to clear out the insect population. I then hung plastic sheet on all the walls. I purchased high quality filters, which filter the air exiting to the room. The suction filters load up with paint pretty quickly, so I use lower quality filters there. And I installed water trap filters on my air supply lines.

Return/intake air enters at the two filters below the GAF logo. The black hose is my supplied breathing air system.
Filtered air exits from the bank of outlets in the overhead of the room.

So the booth was ready and the car was ready. Except for one annoying detail. My Glasurit rep had warned me that there was a known issue with the primer I was using (285-60). He said this primer was very popular with restorers because it could be applied to generous film thicknesses and then sanded back to the correct profile. But, it may be a feature or it may be a bug, the primer “heals” itself over time, basically it shrinks, such that sanding scratches are filled in. Although coarse sanding scratches must be removed, a P600 scratch is necessary for the basecoat to mechanically bond. He had anecdotal horror stories of guys making their final prep surfaces too smooth and the paint would just flake off a short time after application. His recommended solution was to “scratch” all the too be painted surfaces with P600 grit or grey Scotchbrite within 12 hours of applying the basecoat. Sheesh, what a pain in the ass!

So on a Friday morning, I hit the shop around 9 (yeah, I know call me slack!) and proceeded to wet sand the entire car with a combination of P600 using a random orbital palm sander on the exterior and Scotchbrite on the secondary surfaces. Then I had to triple clean the car with water, solvent cleaner, and water based cleaner. Then I proceeded to masking/taping all the openings and surfaces not requiring paint. I forgot to photograph the car after the masking but here is a shot of it after applying the basecoat.

Photo taken after applying the basecoat, which has a matte appearance.

By 4:30 in the afternoon, the car was ready to paint. As you may be able to see in the photos, the doors and the deck lid were hung in the booth from ropes. When spraying metallics, I was advised to paint everything at once, in roughly the orientation that they would be on the car. This is to minimize the risk of the metallic look being “off” from one piece to the next, which can happen when you paint the pieces separately on different days.

The Glasurit 55 Line basecoat in Opalescent Golden Sand applied beautifully. After 3 coats, I could find no fault with the coverage or appearance. After applying the basecoat, I stopped and gave every surface a close inspection, looking for any issues. For instance, I found a small area on the decklid that had visible scratches. Rather than get sidetracked, I decided to not proceed to clearcoat on the decklid. But otherwise, everything looked great. I decided to wait a conservative 1 hour for the basecoat to “flash off” before proceeding to clearcoat. By the end of my wait, it was 7:30 in the evening.

Applying clearcoat seems straightforward. I have fine tuned my setup and my techniques but clearcoat is my traditional nemesis. I applied 4 coats of Glasurit 923-460 Multipurpose Gloss Clear. As per usual, it is a balancing act between too little, which results in orange peel and too much, which results in runs. Each issue has its downsides. You would think just put it on in a lot of thin coats and sand out the orange peel after the job during the cut and buff process. But what I have found is that the first layers of orange peel, that get covered up by subsequent layers, leave a ghost image, for lack of a better term, which screws up the final gloss. Runs of course have to be sanded out during cut and buff. I decided to err on the side of runs.

On a positive note, I think this was my cleanest paint job every from a standpoint of dust, particles, and insects. I had zero insect issues, which is a new record. Jumping ahead to my next article, I found one obvious particle on the bonnet and two small specs on one of the doors. They were small but my wife would spot them in about 2 nanoseconds. And I found one area on the front wheel arch where I think my air hose hit the finish. My next article will discuss dealing with these issues.

I finished up around 9:30 in the evening. Very very tired. The car looked pretty damn good, as they usually do when freshly painted. Now comes the cut and buff process but that is another story.

Opalescent Golden Sand



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