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If you want a show quality paint job, hit the back button. If you are a Do it yourselfer and can live with a driver quality paint job, then read on.
First thing I did was strip the car down. Take off all the trim, mouldings,door handles, bumpers, ect.
With todays uathane primers and paints, there is no need to strip the car to bare metal.
I used a 6" dual action sander (DA) with 80 grit paper and sanded with it in the orbital mode.
I used 22 GA. sheet metal for the repairs.
It had a vinyl top and it was rusted really bad underneath. I chose not to replace the vinyl top, If you do plan on replacing the vinyl top, you need to prep and paint the top anyway.
I took, 12"X18" sheets of 22 ga metal and bonded them to the underside of the roof with JB Weld.
Once the sheets were in place, I filled the holes in the roof with JB Weld. Let it sit up for 24 hrs. Next I sanded the JB Weld to were it was a little below the roof itself. Next I SKIM coated the entire roof with glazing compound. Use the kind that you mix a hardner with it.
Sand the compound down with 150 grit paper till smooth.
I filled the holes with body filler. You need to "feather" out the filler so it hides the repair. I went 4-6 inches past the actual repair with the body filler. After getting the filler sanded, I sprayed some primer in a light mist over the repair you can sand and see any high or low spots. You may need to apply more filler to get it even.
You need to wash the car several times during the prossess to keep the dust from screwing up the paint job.
Now the primer:
I used a 2K uathane high build primer.It contains solids in it so it will "fill"the small imperfections in the bodywork. Buy a cheep HVLP gun for the primer. This primer is pretty thick and no matter how well you clean it , some primer gets left behind.
I used a gravity feed HVLP gun. Just spray ONE coat of primer on the car the first time. Just besure to get uniform coverage. The reason only ONE coat is, after it dries, you will see some imperfections in your body work. Let the primer dry 24hrs and look at the filler repairs. If you can see the feather edges, then you have more work to do.
Now is the time to get the filler work corrcect. I SKIM coated the entire car with the glazing compound. I skim coated the whole car because I wanted to make sure that I covered all the filler work, so you couldnt see the feather edges.
When I applyed the second coat of primer, I could not see the filler repairs, but I wasnt done yet.
After the second coat dried, I took some rattle can primer and MISTED the whole car with it, then, when it dried, I took 400 grit paper and BLOCKED SANDED THE CAR BY HAND. Get a flexible hand sanding block for this. This primer sands very easly and just like the filler repair, I wanted to find all the low and high spots. I just had to fill a few low spots with the glazing compound.
After HAND SANDING the car down and filled in low spots, I sprayed the third coat on nice and even has possible. After it dried, I LIGHTLY sanded the car by hand with 400 grit, to knock off the overspray from the primer.
Now, she was lookin pretty good, but I did go to bare metal while blocking it down, so now I used a SEALER.
The sealer is about 50 bucks a gallon. Use the kind that you mix a hardner with it. Buy a second spray gun to shoot the sealer and paint, spend about 100 bucks on THIS gun. The sealer cleans easly so it is not a problem.
The sealer will cover about like the base coat, yes I used a Base Coat, Clear Coat paint. I`ll explain later.
When you are ready to spray the sealer besure to be ready to spray the base coat too. So, have some help on hand so they can mix the paints for you while you are spraying. You will need to apply the base coat on within 30 min of the sealer coat. The base coat needs the sealer to be a little "tacky" so it will bond well with the sealer. The sealer sprays pretty easy just take your time and get good coverage. Its alittle thinner than the primer.If you get a bad run, wait 30 min, then sand the run with 600 grit, and respray the panel.
After the sealer has "flashed" for 20-30 Min. now its time for the color (Base Coat) Dont wipe on the car or touch it with your hands, wear gloves here. If you see dust or dirt, use compressed air to blow it off.
I used Omini base coat, cost was around 80 bucks including the reducer. It mixes easy 1:1 ( one pint paint, one pint reducer) Its kinda thin so when you spray, you need to move the gun smoothly or you will get runs ( and you will get runs).
Apply the first coat of base just enough to cover the primer and let it flash for 20-30 min. The base coat looks rough when you apply it. It will level out. Watch the clock here, dont guess, 20-30 min. Then apply another coat and let it flash for 20-30 min, if you get a run, or dirt, bugs, bic lighter, in the base, let it flash for 20 min and take 600 grit paper and lightly sand the run or bugs out. You can respray just the sanded area with the base. No need to spray the entire panel, just the sanded area. It will look a little funny, but when it flashes it will look like nothing happened. This is why I would recommend the BC/CC paint. It is very easy to "fix" a mistake.
After spraying the base coat, let it dry overnight before applying the clear coat. But you MUST apply the clear within 24 hrs. The clear needs the base to "stick" well. If you cant apply the clear within 24 hrs, you will need to apply another coat of the base before applying the clear. Some apply the clear within 2-4 hours after the base, but my painter buddy told me it is best to do it the next day. The base coat is at risk here, its fragil so dont wipe on the car with ANYTHING. The base will come off and you can put "wipe marks" in the base. Blow the car off with air before applying the clear.
Applying the clear: well, this is were I screwed up. Make sure that the spray gun is adjusted right before applying the clear. Before you shoot any of the paints, practice on a old hood or something so you know the gun is spraying correctly. If you have a problem applying the clear or have a lot of Orange Peel, you can sand the clear down with 400 grit paper to get the imperfections out. If you "cut" thru to the base coat, you can apply more base to the clear and clear over it, but you will need to use a blending agent to blend in the clear from the repair. Or , you can just re-base and clear the entire panel.Yes, you can shoot more base on top of the sanded clear and re-clear. Its easy to fix a mistake with the CC/BC paints.
The clear is about 100 bucks a gallon. It mixes with a hardner and "some reducer". Mix it up and test it on a piece cardboard and make sure you have plenty of volume coming out of the gun. You want to apply the clear almost to the point of it starting to run. If you get a small run, just keep going, it will probably flow out. Let the first coat of clear flash for 20-30 min and apply 2-3 more coats,letting each coat flash for 20-30 min., dont put more than 4 heavy coats of clear on or you will get cracking later.
Now after the clear dries for 24 hrs the car will look all nice and shiny. Well, guess what? MORE SANDING!!! Yes , you will need to "color sand" the clear. Start off with 1000-1500 grit wet paper and wet sand till the clear gets dull. Yes, until the entire car is dull. Its hard work, but MUST be done. The clear coat will have "low and high spots and waves, and peel in it". You must hand sand the clear untill it gets dull, no shinny spots. after the 1500 grit, I sanded it down with a block with 2000 grit paper.I had to wet sand the car 4 or 5 times. It gets messy and is a hell of alot of work. If you "cut" thru to the base and primer, you will need to re-base and clear that panel.
After all that hard work, there is one more thing to do. BUFF THE CLEAR. You will need a 8" car buffer. You will need a "cutting" compound,a glazing compound,a polishing compound, and a swirl remover compound. These compounds are like liquid sand paper. Start out buffing slow on the cutting compound and let the buffer do the work. Dont put alot of pressure on the car. The buffer can cut thru the clear. Keep the buffer away from sharp edges, the clear is thin here and the buffer will cut thru it. Once you start buffing with the cutting compound, your eyes will turn as big as softballs. The color and finish will absolutly jump out at you. This is when all your hard work becomes very satisfying. Do one pass of each compound and wash the car between each application.
I`m glad I did it myself and I saved probably 4-5K. Take your time it was well worth the effort. I enjoyed every second of it, eventhough I cussed alot.
Total cost on the job was a little under $1000, and approx. 100 hrs of labor.