Special Report Questions For Larry

October 1, 2011 | By Larry Lyles

Readers Ask This Restoration Pro About Storing Paint, Dash Pads, Shop Lighting, Patch Panels, Frame Finishes & More.

Advice On Installing Quarter Panels

I am restoring a 1967 Dodge Dart. I already have replaced the passenger compartment floor pans and currently am in the process of replacing the trunk floor pan and side extension panels.

I also need to replace both quarter panels and have purchased full replacement panels from Auto Metal Direct in Buford, Georgia.

Is this something that the average person can accomplish and, if so, are there any precautions I need to take before cutting off the old quarter panels?

Clark Peterson Via email

The panels from AMD (autometaldirect.com), are about as good as they get so you shouldn't have much difficulty getting them to fit. As to whether this is something you can do yourself I would say that as long as you have access to a good MIG welder and a means of removing the old panels—a grinder and air chisel—you shouldn’t have any problems. I would recommend replacing one quarter panel at a time and while you have the old quarter off of the car that would be the best time to replace the side extension panels.

You will need to place the car up on jack stands, positioning the stands under the suspension components. Leave the doors and the deck lid in place on the car as you will need to align the new quarters to the doors and deck lid before welding. Once you have a quarter panel on the car and aligned to the door and deck use small sheet metal screws to secure the panel before welding.

Since the car is only rusted and hasn’t been through a rear-end collision, getting the new quarter panels to align should not present a problem so there will be no need for adding bracing or taking extensive measurements.

How Can I Repair Pits & Holes In Fiberglass?

Your December 2010 and January 2011 articles on refinishing the fiberglass car was perfect timing. I am restoring a 1965 Corvette that has been soda blasted. Unfortunately, the blaster got a little too aggressive and left the body with some nasty pits and small holes. How do I repair these areas before painting the car?

Joel Keefer Via email

To repair the holes you will need to first sand each area with 80-grit then apply more fiberglass resin and fiberglass mat over the holes. To repair the pits I would sand each one with 80-grit and fill the areas with Evercoat Vette Bond #870. This is a very strong fiberglass product that can be used everywhere except on cracks and holes. Those must be repaired using resin and mat.

Something to look for on that particular body style is cracking around the headlight door openings and at the forward corners of the surround panel where the hood mounts. Those areas are prone to stress cracking.

Sand the Paint Off Of Those Cars

I have four Mustangs I need to paint. Some of them have more than one layer of paint on them. Do I need to strip these cars to the bare metal before painting, and if so, what do you use to remove the old paint? I do not want to send these cars out for blasting. The last time I did that I ended up with black blasting residue everywhere.

Joe Bottari Via email

I know what you mean about the residue. I don’t like to have vehicles media blasted unless I plan to completely disassemble the vehicle. I would sand the cars with 80-grit on a DA sander and take off the layers of paint down to the original finish. That should allow you to refinish the cars and not have a thick buildup of old paint under your fresh new paint.

You Need a Spray Booth and More Lighting

I really enjoyed your articles on Refinishing Fiberglass Vehicles (December 2010 and January 2011). However, as an opinionated and retired military officer (nature of the beast) I do have a couple of comments. First, where is your spray booth? Body shops are dirty environments and spray paint is toxic. Second, I don’t believe you have enough lighting in your shop. I can always see shadows in the background of your photographs. I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but these issues bother me. Otherwise, keep up the good work.

Jeff Hoebing Via email

I could give you a handful of excuses why I don’t have a metal spray booth in the shop but the main one has to do with space. Not only do I produce articles for Auto Restorer, I also produce auto restoration DVDs. I figured out a long time ago that camera equipment has a tendency to crowd the booth and makes painting and filming at the same time almost impossible. (I have access to two professional- grade booths any time I need them.) That’s why you see the guys on TV filming through the booth windows and rarely filming from inside. When I film I want the viewer to have an unobstructed view of what I’m doing. So, no booth.

I do have to go through some extensive cleaning to get the shop ready for paint work and I also employ a serious filtration system to deal with the over spray.

As to the low lighting seen in the photographs, I have eight-foot fluorescent lights running the length of the shop on both side walls plus overhead lighting plus additional halogen lighting stationed up about 10 feet. I can mimic daylight without a lot of fuss. The problem with that is camera glare. If I don’t kill a lot of the lighting the photographs just don’t turn out well.

Sir, yes sir. I will keep up the good work.

Coloring Tips for a New Dash Pad

I purchased a new dash pad for my 1985 GMC. The material is vacuum- formed black vinyl over foam.

The seller recommended using a primer under any paint I apply to the pad. Any recommendation regarding which products I should use?

Don Walker Via email

Vinyl dyes are available in aerosol cans at most local auto parts stores. The colors are limited but they may have what you need. As to applying a primer coat I would not prime the pad. Instead I would scuff sand the pad using a red Scotch- Brite pad then apply an adhesion promoter such as Bulldog #ETPO 123B or SEM #77723. Both of these products are sold in aerosol cans.

In the event that you cannot find an aerosol can of vinyl dye in the correct color you can visit your local automotive paint supplier and ask them to mix the appropriate color. Be sure to tell them the color is for a dash pad so that they can mix it in the correct low-gloss formula. Use the adhesion promoter under this type of paint also.

Storing Paint In Cans

I often use paint in small amounts, which means partial cans are in storage until the next use. Sometimes the next use is a long time off. I try to clean the can groove and seal the can as well as it can be sealed but I still get a skin on the paint. How can leftover paint be preserved until the next use?

Tim W. Elder Louisville, Ohio

All I can do is offer a few suggestions that will help extend the life of the paint because in the long run, any automotive paint left on the shelf will go bad.

First, when you open the can for the first time use an awl and tap three holes spaced evenly around the sealing trough of the can. This will allow any paint that accumulates around the sealing trough to drip back into the can and keep the trough relatively clean so that it can seal once the lid is put back on.

Second, when you put the lid back on the can always hammer it completely down all around the sealing trough to be sure it seals.

Third, store all leftover cans of paint upside down and every three months open each can and stir the paint.

Fourth, and I can’t offer anything scientific to support this, try taking a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, then exhale the carbon dioxide into the can and immediately seal it. This supposedly removes oxygen from inside the can and replaces it with carbon dioxide.

Fifth, try storing each can in a plastic zip lock bag to help keep the air out.

Finally, always store automotive paint at room temperature. Automotive paint doesn’t like extreme heat, above 90° F, or extreme cold, below 50° F.

Can I Mix Paint Types On My Car?

I am restoring a 1962 Lincoln Continental convertible. The March article on replacing the Mustang quarter panels really came in handy since I need to replace the right quarter on this car. However, my question has to do with paint. I am considering using a single- stage finish inside the engine compartment, passenger compartment and trunk.

I noticed in the April 2011 issue that you used base coat/clear coat to refinish those same areas on the Thunderbird. I now have concerns about color matching if I use single-stage on the areas mentioned and base coat/clear coat on the exterior of the car.

Are my concerns founded?

Brad Norwood Via email

If the color you are spraying is a solid, no metallics, then you won’t be able to distinguish between the single-stage fin- ish and a base coat/clear coat finish. If the color is a metallic you may notice a slight difference between the two finishes. It has been my experience that darker metallic colors when sprayed in single-stage urethane tend to come out slightly darker than the same color sprayed when using base coat/clear coat.

Which Comes First… Blasting or Patch Panels?

The firewall on my 1971 Torino has areas of rust that need to be cut out and repaired. I am going to have the car soda blasted and I am wondering if I should repair the rust before or after having the car blasted?

James Castleman Springtown, Texas

I would have the car soda blasted first. That will clean up the metal and give you a good surface to work with.

As for repairing the rust, I would use 18-gauge steel and form-fit the patch panels over the rusted areas to get the shape correct before cutting out the rusted areas one at a time and fitting the new metal into the holes for butt welding.

Are Additives Needed to Paint Over Insulation?

Having read your book “Project Street Rod” I see that you applied Lizard Skin insulation to the underside of that car then painted over it. Did you add a flex additive to the urethane finish?

Vern Perryman Port Ludlow, Washington

No. Urethane finishes have a built-in flex agent that makes them slightly flexible and adds more durability.

Note: Flex additives are added to paint so that the part being painted can be safely flexed and bent as the part is being installed; late model bumpers come to mind. As the paint cures, the flex additive dissipates along with the solvents in the finish.

I Removed Paint With My Tape

My project is a two-tone and I sprayed the first color without issue. I waited the prescribed 30 minutes before taping over the first color. However, after I sprayed the second color and attempted to remove the tape I had places along the tape line where the first color lifted and exposed the sealer underneath. (The temperature was about 75° F with a humidity of about 50%.)

What happened?

Roland Black Via email

I suspect this was one of those occasions when temperature and humidity conspired against you and slowed the drying time of the first base color. Humidity doesn’t bother a catalyzed finish but it can extend the drying time of a non- catalyzed base coat, which is what I think happened. I like to give base coats at least an hour to dry before applying tape over them and on cool days I will extend the drying time up to two hours or more.

Put Undercoating On Your Bumper

I’m replacing the front bumper on my truck and would like to add some type of rust protection on the back side.

Can I use rattle can paint and if so, how would I prep the bumper to get the paint to stick?

Bob Paraichuk Via email

Try this trick. Mask off the mounting holes on the outside of the bumper then mask around the edges of the bumper. After masking, apply two coats of rubberized  undercoating  to  the  back  of  the bumper and install it.

The undercoating will give you rust protection for many years.

Help Me Adjust My Doors’ Alignment

I have a 1952 Chevy hardtop that I restored a few years ago. Now the doors need to be adjusted both for sag and for in-and-out alignment. Any suggestions to prevent chipping the paint?

Denny Popelka Via email

The first step is to mask off all of the edges around the door openings and the edges of the doors themselves. That helps prevent chipping. Next, start at the top hinge on either door, loosen the bolts, and adjust the door in or out as necessary to gain good panel-to-panel alignment. After that, move to the lower hinge and make the same adjustments.

But sometimes, there isn’t a lot of adjustment to be had. In that case, I have had occasion to add shims on the door side of the hinge to push the door out- board. A thin body shim, 1/16 to 1/8-inch, at the forward bolt on the door will push the leading edge of the door outboard.

Once you have the panel-to-panel alignment corrected you can use an alignment bar like the one I used in the June 2011 article to lift the back of the door and correct the sag. Without the bar, you can loosen the lower hinge on the door, lift the rear of the door, and tighten the hinge. That should correct the sag.

Take your time with each adjustment and watch the edges every time you open or close the door being adjusted. If the door looks like it is going to hit the fender, stop and undo some of the last adjustment made.

A Molding Clip Source & Advice Regarding a Nicked Fender

We discussed trying to locate molding clips for my 1949 Packard a few months ago. Since that time I found a good source: Chirco Automotive, 9101 E. 22nd St., Tucson, AZ 85710; .

I also am finishing up the sanding process on my ’49 Packard. I found a nick and a few sand scratches on one of the fenders. I filled the nick with Evercoat Metal Glaze and sanded out the scratches. Do I need to prime this area again or can I spray sealer over it and paint the fender?

Clay Fouts West Linn, Oregon

Thanks for the molding clip information. I suspect this will be of great help to other Packard restorers.

On the fender, I would prime the repair area one more time. Put on two coats then sand the entire fender again using 320-grit to be sure you have removed all of the sand scratches and over spray from the additional primer coat.

Metal Glaze is good stuff but if it isn’t covered with primer it can soak up products  like  sealers  and  urethane  paints and leave a strange-looking spot in an otherwise perfect finish.

Should I Clean This Metal Before Painting?

I put a light coat of plastic body filler on the roof of my 1948 Chevy truck and, after sanding, it covers all but a three-inch-wide strip around the perimeter of the panel. Should I wipe the exposed metal with Phospho to clean it before applying the epoxy?

William Baublitz Via email

No. Epoxy will not stick to most etching washes or etching primers.

I would forgo the Phospho and apply two coats of epoxy over the entire roof, wait an hour or two then apply three coats of urethane primer/surfacer over the epoxy.

Painting a ’34 Chevy’s Frame

I really enjoy your articles; they are great. I need some advice on repainting the frame on my 1934 Chevrolet. I had the frame sand blasted then refinished it using Eastwood’s Chassis Black. I’m not happy with the results and would like to try another product. My question is what product do I use after I sand the Chassis Black? I’m looking for something that is urethane-based with a semi-gloss finish.

Bill Masters Via email

The finish you are looking for is Kirker Acrylic Urethane—Hot Rod Black (Satin Finish)—UA 70388. It has the correct gloss and being urethane-based it will hold up well over the years. You can spray this finish straight over the Eastwood Chassis Black as long as you sand it thoroughly using 320-grit sandpaper.

If you feel the need to completely remove the Chassis Black I would have the frame blasted again and apply two coats of epoxy primer over the bare metal before applying the Hot Rod Black.

Should I Use Single-Stage or Base Coat/Clear Coat Paint?

I will be painting my Chevelle and because I am not a professional painter it has been suggested that I use single- stage urethane to paint the car instead of base coat/clear coat.

Ralph Cabrera Via email

If the paint is a solid color, no metallics, I would go with the single-stage. Solid colors sprayed in single-stage can really look good once they are color sanded and buffed. If the paint color is a metallic, you will be much better off spraying the Chevelle using base coat/clear coat. It is much easier to get the metallics to lay flat and even, no mottling, when spraying a base coat color.

Single-stage metallic colors can easily mottle and look blotchy. And, you can’t color sand a metallic single-stage finish because even if the metallics look great you will disturb them during the sanding and leave the finish mottled and blotchy. That won’t happen with a base coat/clear coat finish because if you color sand the clear coat you will not disturb the metallic coat beneath.

Either way, I would first tack a large piece of cardboard to the shop wall and make a few test sprays to get a feel for how the gun is working.

Don’t Use That Additive On Your Vintage Truck

I really enjoy your articles and DVDs; all are a great help. I’m spraying PPG DCC Concept Single Stage on my vintage truck and the paint store tells me I don’t need to add DX84 Enhancer. Does that sound right? I’m going for a more vintage look, not a high gloss.

Ron Malouf Hillsborough, California

PPG DX84 Enhancer is used primarily in commercial body shops to help the DCC Concept flow out better, lay flatter and dry faster. It’s a labor-saving additive used to reduce or eliminate the need for compounding and to help speed jobs through the shop.

But the question is whether you should use it on a vintage truck, and I would say no. Spraying PPG Concept without the additive will give you a great shine with a slight bit of orange peel effect, close to what the truck would have looked like when new.

When To Apply Etching Primer

I am restoring a 1987 Dodge Dakota. From your articles it sounds like I should use an etching primer because the vehicle is post-1980.

If so, can the etching primer go over the existing factory finish or must it go on bare metal only?

Roger Plischke Via email

I did say that etching primer should be used on vehicles newer than 1980, but only if the metal is bare.

Etching primer should not be used over any type of finish, so I would suggest that if you plan to sand the original finish but not take the truck down to the bare metal, Dodge used pretty good paint in 1987 so you don’t have to remove all of it.

Start by applying two coats of epoxy and follow that with three coats of urethane primer/surfacer. That will give you a great surface you can block sand nice and slick before applying the top coats.