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charliekwin

Thinking about tackling body and paint, advice?

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I've started to run out of small projects on my car and am left with two big ones: the motor, and body/paint. Since I'm in CA and subject to the smog laws, and the engine's reliable and strong enough to still be fun, I figure that can wait, so I've come up with the following plan to get the car looking better. I'm hoping the folks here with more experience can tell me just how bad of an idea this all is, and what I should do differently.
 
What I've got to work with:
It's not good, but it could be worse. The car's had at least one bad respray, possibly more. The body work I can see that has been done is pretty terrible, and there's small dents on many panels that I'm assuming are areas where no work was done. The worst areas I can see are things like the hatch and passenger rocker, though if I uncovered something especially unpleasant as the old paint comes off, it wouldn't be a surprise.
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My goal:
I don't want/need a show car. I do want the Z to look like something to have some pride in, or that I could take to a Cars and Coffee without feeling the need to explain it. I'm surprisingly ambivalent about the color, so I'm planning to keep it the 510 blue, which I think I like enough and means no color change. Other than fixing the dents, I'd want to remove the molding and the antenna, clean up the rear valence for a 240 bumper, add an air damn and 240 front bumper, and put on a set of side mirrors.
 
Main Limitations:
Budget, space (my garage isn't very big) and experience. Never done body work before. Never welded before. But I do have friends, YouTube, and the unearned confidence of someone who might not know what he's doing.
 
A Plan:
  1. Strip paint until I get to something good, which might be down to bare metal. The respray is bad enough that I think it'll probably come off with a razor blade or a heat gun and putty knife. Beyond that, sanding, patience, and Spotify.
  2. Removing the molding, antenna, etc. and patch up the holes. That will require some welding, which is something I have neither done, nor have the equipment for, but have always wanted to do. My hope is that a small flux core welder from Harbor Freight will be enough to do what I need for now, and if I like doing it and have a need, There's unanimous agreement that flux core is a bad idea and even the cheapest MIG is worth the extra couple hundred dollars. I could step up to a better setup sometime in the future.
  3. I'm planning on pulling the glass (bought  a bunch of stuff, including new seals, from Black Dragon last year, and the respray was done with glass in and looks so bad), so I may as well remove the fenders and hood, too, esp. since they will require the most work.IMG_4947.jpgIMG_4956.jpg
  4. Shoot it with epoxy primer. I don't have a lot of space in the garage, and haven't sprayed anything larger than the gas tank, but primer seems...approachable. My understanding is that epoxy is good for mixed surfaces and on longer-term projects like this would be, where bare metal would rust before the body work is done.
  5. Fix the dents. This I'm probably the part I'm least worried about. I've done similar work before. And I can't make it worse than this.IMG_4943.jpg
  6. Have it painted. Considering my goals, right now I'm thinking maybe Maaco. I've seen some cars done and they can be not bad. With my lack of space and experience, I really don't think I would do a better job than the guy at Maaco who sprays cars all day every day. Haven't decided on single stage or base/clear yet. The price would likely be tough to beat, too.
 
I'm not expecting this to be easy, fast, or cheap (probably 6+ months, and at least $2,000, even assuming nothing goes sideways), and I've done a fair amount of research to try to get a sense of what I'm in for, but do worry about the things I don't know that I don't know. Any thoughts or suggestions before I go in the garage and commit myself to doing something stupid?
 
Edited by charliekwin

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 I've not tried any of the HF welders but assuming they're capable of doing the job, I question your choice of a flux core welder.The sheet metal on Z's is very thin. A flux core weld isn't as precise as hard wire. There is a lot more smoke to prevent good vision, (even on a spot weld), the weld is left with slag on it that doesn't conduct elec. very well and you'll be left with a lot of splatter to clean up. Hard wire, on the other hand will allow smaller, more precise welds on thin steel. CO2-Argonne mix is expensive but is the easiest to weld with and will leave you with the least amount of clean up (no slag) and little splatter. I use straight CO2. Quite cheap, not quite as good as the mix and leaves just a little splatter to clean up. I've got quite a bit of experience with both types and while flux core is good for some things, rusty THIN sheet metal in tight places isn't one of them. Also invest in an auto-darkening hood. You'll need it to start small welds in the right place.

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I agree with Mark on the flux core but I will also add I had boat loads of frustration with a cheap 100amp 120volt welder. I was like this can't be this hard or no one would do it. I bought a better welder, a Hobart, that is 220v which you don't really need and plenty of capacity and the welding got much easier...

Thoughts on your approach:

Do you have problem neighbors?

Painting in SC is not a problem; painting in CA could be.. paint smells and problem neighbors could cause problems...

I don't know that I would try to get all the way to metal. If I had the car all apart and blasted clean then I would go epoxy primer but for you, it just adds work. If you get down to something solid and well adhered I would start priming from there and block it out. The more you can remove from the car the better your Maaco job will look. I would probably leave all the glass out of it and just let them tape it up...

You need to be careful with paint products!!! Especially products like epoxy primer, they can be very bad for your long term and short term health. You need a good respirator and know how to use and care for it. Is your garage big enough? Can you get all the way around the car with some room to spare? You will need to tent up the garage when you spray or it will be on everything and all your sanding dust will be in your paint. Also do you have a reasonably large source or fairly dry air to run a spray gun? The more CFM the better...

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Thanks Mark. I looked at the flux core welder primarily for cost. The HF welder and something labeled as an Arksen (https://www.amazon.com/ARKSEN-MIG-130-Gas-Less-Welding-Automatic/dp/B00CLG1VVI) that seems to be well-regarded enough for what it is, are available for under $100. My hope was that would be good enough to close up the rivet holes and do a couple small patches.

When you say "hard wire," I assume you're talking about MIG? (My inexperience here showing, for sure.) There's a cheap 120v Lincoln (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000QFNZ74?tag=mcaveman-20) runs a little over $300, and I'm sure it's unquestionably a better unit than what HF and the like has to offer. The gas for the small bit of welding I'd need to do would probably be quite cheap (probably cost more in gasoline to get the tank). 

I guess what I want to know: Christmas is coming, so I'm in a justifying mood...is the ~$250 savings a false economy here? 

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35 minutes ago, Patcon said:

Do you have problem neighbors?

Painting in SC is not a problem; painting in CA could be.. paint smells and problem neighbors could cause problems...

I don't know that I would try to get all the way to metal. If I had the car all apart and blasted clean then I would go epoxy primer but for you, it just adds work. If you get down to something solid and well adhered I would start priming from there and block it out. The more you can remove from the car the better your Maaco job will look. I would probably leave all the glass out of it and just let them tape it up...

You need to be careful with paint products!!! Especially products like epoxy primer, they can be very bad for your long term and short term health. You need a good respirator and know how to use and care for it. Is your garage big enough? Can you get all the way around the car with some room to spare? You will need to tent up the garage when you spray or it will be on everything and all your sanding dust will be in your paint. Also do you have a reasonably large source or fairly dry air to run a spray gun? The more CFM the better...

I wasn't thinking bare metal as the "goal" necessarily, more thinking that might be where at least some of it goes since I don't know what's under the paint.

True story about one painting experience: we live in a rental, and the previous tenants were using our place as a grow house. The DEA raided it and everything! :) When I painted my floorpans, I cooked up a supplied air system using a Tyvek suit and shop-vac (it totally worked), and can only imagine what my neighbors were thinking. No one said anything, but I probably don't need to push my luck! That was two years ago, though, so I think I could get away with priming, as long as it's a one-time quick-enough job.

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Sounds like you have a solid plan except the fluxcore, I'll just repeat what Mark and Charles said, fluxcore is garbage as are those entry level welders, you will grow to hate it. At a minimum go with a gas Mig Lincoln, lots of them on craigslist and if you find you are not using it after the car is finished you will get every penny back on craigslist. Once you start digging out the filler you are probably going to find a lot more welding work then you see at the moment.  Invest in a good quality long board sander, this site is fantastic and has a number of professional  body/paint guys that are willing to point you in the right direction, http://www.autobody101.com/forums/index.php?sid=f044bf1f351a02abe241234902095df9

A good paint job is all about good prep work which takes a lot of time, if you take a properly prepped car into Maaco I think you end up with a very decent paint job. Any professional paint man (yes even a Maaco paint man) can see in an instant when good prep work has been done, that will get his respect and his A game.

Take lots of photos and post them, there are quite few good bodymen on this forum, unlike SoCal some of us have a looong winter in front of us. GL

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11 hours ago, charliekwin said:

.is the ~$250 savings a false economy here? 

Yes!!

Lincoln makes a good welder. Purchase a little bottle from a welding supply or buy an empty bottle and have them fill it.

What is the situation on available air?

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Appreciate all the comments everyone. Gives me some confidence to do this!

For air, there's there's an Airgas and some other welding supply stores close enough. Being in Los Angeles, availability isn't an issue, traffic is!

California has some weird regulations on what you can and can't buy. I know it's easy (and fun!) to pick on us, but I don't know if there's any logic to any of those regulations. Epoxies at least still seem to be easy to come  by.

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Gotcha. I have a small compressor that's right on the border of big enough. It'll run mostly non-stop, but it's delivered enough air when I've used it for spraying or blasting. And, it's dry here.

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1 hour ago, charliekwin said:

Gotcha. I have a small compressor that's right on the border of big enough. It'll run mostly non-stop, but it's delivered enough air when I've used it for spraying or blasting. And, it's dry here.

Ok. Spraying paint takes a lot of air and the more the compressor runs the hotter there air coming out of it is. As the air gets hot it absorbs water. When the water comes out the end of the paint gun the Venturi effect cools the air drastically and can cause water problems in your paint or water spitting. No harm in trying with it but you need to get a couple of dryers to put in line...

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I have a bigger one right off the compressor but the one that helped me the most goes before the gun. Bought it Lowes and has a valve core I press to release the water. Made painting, sandblasting so much better.

images.jpeg

 

 

 

 

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I saw a loose thread and pulled on it...a couple minutes with the air compressor and a razor blade and this happened. Guess I'm in it now!

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You have your work cut out for you now. All of that paint has to come off if it peels that easily...

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 I had the same problem with paint on my 260. I used a HF wood chisel to scrape it off. I was amazed how well it worked. Using light pressure, the paint flew off in a cloud of fine chips. Use eye protection. Paint chips are sharp.

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As wisely said before, multiply your budget by 5.

Take all the badges off carefully, all glass out, doors off (as you will need to access the sills properly or it will look shite). Guards off, sugar scopes, hood, cowl, gas flap, rear facia out and tail light clusters. Tool hatches, rear deck also.

Here’s the killer. Are you prepared for all the rust repairs you will find? Your doglegs could need replacing, sills, rear arches, what about under the body issues?

Once you’ve done all that, the little things will grate at you. Like the cost of new door scuff plates, you may want to put on new badges. You’ll spend countless hours polishing stainless, maybe new door handles etc. It will soon turn into a major, if you let it.

Not trying to put you off, just letting you know what happens. Good luck.

 

 

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I tried a heat gun and razor blade last night, and it seems pretty effective so far, at least for the big flat areas. Wife came down after her shower; she thinks I'm crazy. I count three layers of blue, and assume the first is the factory paint, so two resprays. Kind of surprised it wasn't more.

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Mine was five coats... original, respray same colour, respray same colour, respray same colour, then respray puke gold. I went down to bare metal. I also found two donor panels from another car under all the bondo and paint.

IMG_1163.jpg

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If I missed a prior reply, sorry. On the paint question about single stage or base / clear. Here's my thought (I know this subject has many sides). Solid color - single stage / metallic - has to be base clear.

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Make sure you use a protective coat if you get down to bare metal such as KEYFOS as the steel will quickly get covered in surface rust.

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On 11/18/2017 at 11:18 PM, wheee! said:

And multiply your budget by 5.... ask me how I know...

Multiply your time line by a factor of 5 also, ASK ME HOW I KNOW! The car below had a main harness fire in 2005 and I am still working on it. It might take six months just to find everything that needs attention. You could spend 2K on supplies alone. If you use it everyday multiply your fix time even longer. I too have a small garage but I make the most out of my space. Fortunately I learned to weld when I was 16 now 59 so I am comfortable. For 1K I bought a Lincoln 190C. Works great and doesn't take much space. The best thing it is argon gas mix. No need for flux core. Maybe rethink your plan and figure out how much you can or want to do yourself. I held a job as a welder so I know it could take a year and lots of frustration and wasted material before you got it right. You probably have enough garage space to move the car outside to work on it. These cars can reveal a whole lot if you really look so make sure you are prepared to see. Many have walked away or sold unfinished projects. DON'T BE THAT GUY. Maybe a better plan would be to save up enough cash to have the body done by professionals. You won't be disappointed. A MAACO job is something that will look ok for about 6 months even less if the car is outside all the time. You can learn the basic steps to panel repair and prep on YOUTUBE. There is lots of step by step information out there. I you lived in Florida you could even come over and watch me complete mine just to see how involved something like this can turn out to be. In 2005 I was thinking no more than a year. Well if my math is right..........! Anyway reaccess what you want to end up with. Done right now means never having to do it again.

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