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TR6 Painting

As this project progressed various paints have been used. In an ideal world the car would have been broken into sections and each repaired, stripped, and painted. I was able to do this on the frame but the body has been started and stopped a couple of times now. As winter approaches, this year's work will be halted at the end of October and the car stored away until Spring. To put the car in storage it has to be able to move under it's own power. I also want to have all the body panels in place to keep mice from making it a winter home. I'm not saying that there are mice in the storage barn but why take a chance?

Frame: The frame was repaired, sandblasted, primed, and painted with an industrial coating. The sandblast shop did the painting and I'm not sure what they used for paint. They assured me it was the very best protection available. Thinking back, it may have been an epoxy primer and a urethane paint.

Body: This one I'm sure about. All the paint used for this project have come from NAPA Auto Parts. New floor panels and rockers arrived with a black primer coat. Prior to installation they were hit with two coats of a light gray primer (Econobody primer surfacer). Two coats of Acrylic Enamel followed. Welding messed up some of these panels but I figured that they would be better off with a good all over protection. Of course the welded areas have since been sanded/ground and got the same treatment.

The trunk area was cleaned, derusted, and repaired. Bare areas were primed with an etching primer (Martin Senour 7220 spray can). Then the entire trunk area was primed with with a primer/sealer (Martin Senour Crossfire CS279).

I'm still learning about paint so I'd like to share some of the things just learned. There are three basic types of primers, etching primers used on bare steel for good corrosion protection, primer/surfacer a good general purpose primer that builds quickly and requires sanding, and my new favorite; primer/sealers. Primer/sealers actually create a moisture proof seal. Have you ever primed something with regular primer only to see rust bleed through after sitting awhile? Primer/surfacers are pourous and depend on the topcoat of paint to seal it. I was advised to use primer/sealers if the project would be started and stopped. A primer/sealer doesn't require sanding if the topcoat is applied within sixteen hours. A light going over with a gray surfacing pad is all that's required if it been over sixteen hours. Primer/sealer dries with a slight sheen. Primer/sealers are also ideal for areas that don't need a lot of wet sanding or a mirror finish such as undercar, interior, underhood, etc.

This car is getting four new fenders. It's pretty drastic but there wasn't any choice. Anyway the fenders will be painted off the car then bolted in place. The new fenders arrived with a single coat of black primer. Laid out on sawhorses they will each get two coats of a urethane primer sealer inside and outside.

I watched a demonstration where the same sheet metal panel was painted using different primers then "keyed". The entire bare panel was first sprayed with NAPA's Vinyl Wash etching primer (8827). It left the panel with a very tough dark olive drab surface. The panel was then masked into two sections. One was sprayed with a coat of lacquer based primer/surfacer and the other sprayed with a urethane primer. The panel was then painted with a single stage black urethane topcoat. Both sections gleamed equally. A quarter was dragged across the face of the panel starting on the urethane primed side. Yes it scratched the paint but not through to the primer and it could be buffed out. The lacquer primed section was destroyed as the quarter tore through the finish exposing the light gray primer. The topcoat paint was the same but what a difference! Last year I helped my son paint his Datsun 280ZX. We used a lacquer based primer and already the parking lot dings and scratches have taken it's toll. My TR6 fenders and doors will be primed with a urethane primer/sealer.

The urethane primer on the outside will be block sanded until all panel imperfections have been addressed. Outside and inside will get two coats of urethane primer/sealer (Martin Senour). Both sides will get a base coat/clear coat finish (Tec Base). Base coat/clear coat is a very high end modern finish not originally used by Triumph. Two coats of base dry to a nearly flat finish. Two more coats of clear bring out the shine. The finish dries hard and can be buffed for even more shine. I have enough base/coat clear coat materials on hand to do both sides this way but my original thought was to use a regular primer/sealer (NAPA Crossfire CS279) on the inner sides and finish them with acrylic enamel.

This car originally was painted Delft Blue. It was my intention to change the color to something flashier like a bright red or even a yellow but my better half liked the blue. So blue it is. NAPA listed Delft Blue and all the Triumph colors and their formulas. They have the formulas in acrylic enamel and several other paint types but nothing listed in a Tec Base type. Acrylic enamel delft blue formula is 99-22158. While doing the trunk, I primed a piece of cardboard and gave it two coats of delft blue acrylic enamel. NAPA scanned this sample with a spectrometer and came up with a formula for Tec Base, 98-60257. It turns out that this same Tec Base formula is used by Mack truck!

The hood's paint is badly checked from too many repaints and old age. All the old paint must be stripped before refinishing. The trunk lid will get the same treatment. Both will get the same Tec Base finish as the fenders. The usual stripping method is a DA sander and 80 grit paper. Needless to say there is a lot of dust created so I'd like to try a waterbased stripper (will get part number). I'll let you know how it goes. Once they are stripped an etching primer (NAPA's Vinyl Wash) will be laid down, followed by a primer/surfacer, then Tec Base and clear coat. The undersides also needs painting so these will probably get primer/sealer and acrylic enamel.

The doors will be painted like the fenders. Once again, acrylic enamel inside and tec base outside. All this painting is being done in my cluttered dusty two car garage.

So far my paint spraying has been done with a conventional touch-up gun at about 50lbs pressure. Our store just got a new HVLP (high volume low pressure) spray gun. It sprays at 8lbs pressure at the nozzle and has little overspray. I can't wait to give it a try.

October 2, 2001

Tonight two coats of Crossfire primer sealer were laid down on the tub parts using the new HVLP spray gun. The gun worked well but I could use a little help setting it up. It ended up running about 35lbs pressure at the regulator. My test piece had a pretty heavy coat that orange peeled until the paint was thinned more than specified. Then it sprayed pretty nicely with very little overspray. It's going to take some getting used to.

The primer went on very well. Stinks pretty bad but by tomorrow the smell should be mostly gone. Actually there were two small area that the primer reacted with the old paint. Both were areas that I'd repaired years ago and touched up with a blue engine paint that sort of matched the original blue. These little spots will be sanded and recoated. One little spot on the cowl had some scratches from a coarse sandpaper remaining.

October 5, 2001

Today is the day to put the final finish on the tub. Two coats of base coat color then two coats of clear coat. My friend, Bill, came over to show me the finer points of painting. Thank you, Bill! Putting down the basecoat was nothing like I'd expected. The first coat was incredibly thin just as if you held a spray can two feet away. The second coat merely filled in the voids. I gave it a try and put it down as if it were acrylic enamel - way to heavy! Correctly done it has a dull finish, bordering on orange peel. A couple of spots reacted with the new paint and wrinkled up. Previously the cowl in front of the windshield had some scratches from sanding that I'd repaired then sprayed with a Duplicolor primer/sealer. Every spot treated with the Duplicolor primer reacted! Fortunately except for the cowl the other spots were on inside panels. Prior to applying the topcoat all surfaces were cleaned with NAPA's Kleen-Easy. The cleaner dragged as it passed over the Duplicolor primers and I should have taken the hint. Bill finished up the tub except for the cowl with two coats of Maximum Performance Clearcoat. WOW! What a shine! Most striking was the rear deck that shines so much everyone thinks it is still wet. I'm a very happy guy right now.

Later that evening the cowl was wet sanded with 600 grit paper until the wrinkles disappeared. Bill was gone and it was up to me to paint it. First all the areas freshly painted were masked off. A touch up gun with four ounces of basecoat was used to mist on a little paint at a time using the air from the gun to dry it almost immediately. Using the air for drying was a trick learned from Bill earlier in the day. Two light coats and no wrinkles. Followed by two coats of clear for a gleaming finish.

Dirt. Yup there is a little dirt in the finish. Not very much considering this garage has no ceiling and someone has been sandblasting TR6 parts! A spray booth would have made the job absolutely perfect. Bill advised me to lightly sand the clearcoat with wet 1500 grit paper. There goes my shine but so did the imperfections. Machine buffing will bring the shine back better than ever. Next up is painting the fenders.

October 12, 2001

Four brand new fenders to paint today. Once again I've changed primers. The fenders arrived with a black primer called e-coat. The interiors were roughed up with a red scotch pad and the outside was wet sanded with 400 grit paper. There were a couple of tiny dents from shipping that were filled with green acrylic putty and wet sanded away. Wet sanding the exterior exposed bare metal in a few places that was spot primed with an etching primer. Both sides of the fenders were primed with a urethane primer/sealer (Martin Senour 5105 tintable primer/sealer). I chose this high end primer to ensure that the finish would be hard and resist scratching.

My original plan was to prime the fenders with Crossfire primer/sealer, a single part primer but I opted for a more durable two part that uses a hardener. I also chickened out using acrylic enamel on the inside fearing a reaction where the different paints overlapped around the edges. The primer coat came out quite nice and the outside wet sanded with 600 grit until as flawless as possible. Later that day the inside recieved two coats of base/coat and two coats of clear. Very very nice but unlikely anybody would ever see it. That was the end of painting for the day.

I need to add a caution about the paint fumes. For the past few weeks a chest cold had plagued me but later that night I thought a trip to the emergency room would be necessary! I just couldn't breathe, there was no way I could take a deep breathe. My wife nearly called 911. Yes I'd been using a respirator but there was vertually no ventilation in the garage as I was afraid of dirt in the paint. The respirator may not have made a good seal and I was in there without it after painting either mixing the next batch of paint or doing prep work. Well I won't make that mistake again. It was pretty scarry.

October 13, 2001

Back at it again the next morning with lungs still aching but being super careful about fumes. Today would be easier as only the outside needed finish coats. Two coats of base were laid down followed by two coats of clear. What a shine! The fenders came out great. Don't know if it would be worth losing a lung over but they sure turned out great. Great care was taken with the respirator and I didn't feel any the worse for wear afterward. To keep the fenders out of the way they will be hung on the tub with a couple of bolts in each. I hope to tackle the doors next. Time is running out for this year with just two weeks before it goes back into storage. A bunch of small parts like door hinges, rocker end caps, inner front fender baffles, etc need a coat of blue acrylic enamel. The blue in the following photo is much lighter than the actual color.

October 21, 2001

The fenders have been hung on the tub for a few days and do they look great! I found that the two lines to the gas tank were switched so no gas to the fuel pump. Now when you hit the key she fires right up and it can be driven out into the sunshine away from the dust and overspray in the garage. This past friday I stripped the doors, trunk lid and hood with a chemical stripper. The stripper was waterbased and did the job in two applications. A single edged razor window scraper proved to be the best tool. Under the paint there were a few surprises. The driver's door had a fairly large patch of Bondo right in the center filling a dent as if it had been kicked. Not very deep when the Bondo was removed but something to be redone.

The trunk lid had several layers of paint like the rest of the car but it also had a thick layer of a paint that didn't strip as well. It turned to a paste version of itself and hardend right back up. Once the paint was finally removed, the sheetmetal revealed was terribly scared. It looked like someone has stripped it along the way with a grinding disc. There were deep swirl marks all over. All the panels were washed, sanded, and treated with an etching primer. Tonight I skim coated the doors with filler then sanded it off with a board sander. The remaining filler filled all the door dings and the dent. There is more sanding and filling needed to get the doors as flat and smooth as possible. The doors had always shown irregularities that a new shiny finish would really be painfully noticeable. It's worth the time to get them as good as possible. Next up is to reprime the metal areas now bare from sanding, prime the entire surface, and mist with black primer. The black will highlight the high's and low's when block sanding. I won't get a chance to work on it again until Tuesday the 24th.

October 26, 2001

Here it is nearly the end of October, the painting still unfinished, and snow flurries are forecast for tonight! It's crunch time so even though it's a little past midnight, I just came in from the garage. Tomorrow may mark the end of the painting. The doors are ready for a coat of primer sealer around the inner edges. The outer skins are primed and wet sanded to perfection. The trunk lid's underside is ready for primer sealer and it's top is primed but needs final sanding. The hood's underside is ready for primer sealer. The plan for tomorrow is to finish painting the doors with color and clear coat and do the same to the underside of hood and trunk lid. Time permitting and if things dry quickly the hood and trunk will be finished. They may have to wait until Sunday evening. I've been much more cautious around the paint fumes and so far feeling fine.

Last week I recieved an email from Cliff warning about using two part urethane primers and topcoats. He cautioned that those paints usually require a fresh air supplied mask rather than the standard organic mask I'm using. I checked the spec sheet for the primer and sure enough Cliff is correct. I don't have that type of mask and accept the risk and will finish with this mask but will replace the filter elements. As I'm painting small sections at a time I'm only in the room with the fumes for less than five minutes at a time. And my wife dragged out an old window fan and ordered me to use it. It has made a big difference. This paint needs near 70 degree temps to cure so the fan has to be monitored before it drops the temp too far. Cliff, thanks for your email.

October 27, 2001

The doors are done and look great. However I did notice a few tiny tiny bubbles in the clear coat. Perhaps it was a bit cool in the garage tonight or the clear should have been thinned a tad nore. I'll get to try out those fixes when painting the top of the hood and trunk lid tomorrow evening. You should see how shiny the undersides of the hood and trunk lid are! No ill effects from paint fumes today. . .

October 28, 2001

Last two body sections to paint are the top of the hood and trunk lid. Both have been stripped and primed with primer/sealer. Tonight they were sanded smooth with 600 grit paper that removed all texture. There was a little touch up to be done to the front left corner of the hood from slight collision damage. Stripping this car down completely revealed several dents and dings I hadn't noticed. By the time the panels were ready for color it was getting too late and too cold to start painting.

Another cold October night. Outside overnight temps had dipped to 26. Dragged out the 150K salamander heater. It wasn't long before the insdide garage temp was 80! The regular heat source added little but the temp dropped quickly without the big heater. You just can't paint with a big open flame blasting away in the room - and it really stirs up the dust. The color coats went on quite nicely. The clear was another story. There are reducers for various temps and I have been using a mid-ranged reducer (TS-3) that is for temps 70 to 85. By the time the last clear coat went on it was in the mid fifties! It just wasn't laying out like I wanted. The surface had a ripple to it that usually levels out. It takes a while to lay down but the following morning it was till present and set. There is a fair amount of dust in it too. You can tell I rushed this part. It would have been better to put it away and paint in warmer temps. My friend, Bill, took a look at it and said it would easily buff out. That was a relief. He believes that I didn't have enough pressure or was holding the gun too far from the work. He may be correct. Painting is done for this year.

October 30, 2001 Halloween

Another friend, Jay, joined me tonight to hang the doors, hood, and trunk. All went well and it is starting to look like a car again. Jay took the hood and front fender alignment as a personel challenge and has it very close. Without a grill, all the hood mounting bolts are easily reached but it is one of those things where one adjustment changes three other alignments. It is going to storage with the panels loosely in place. Next Spring they will be removed one at a time, seam sealed, and finally tightened down. Enough for this year. I'm done till next year.