Here's what Project Talladega...
Here's what Project Talladega started life as: a well-worn, but nicely maintained '75 Laguna S-3. The prior owner had performed much of the work and upkeep himself, including the red paintjob. The body was straight, and mostly rust free. How much does a Laguna in good shape cost? (Keep in mind that just over 7,700 were built that year.) We paid $5K to start out this nice. It saved us a bundle when it came time to do the bodywork.
To create detailed paintwork, at least partial disassembly is required. This is a major decision point, and one that can quickly escalate the scope of the project and the costs to completion. The further a car is disassembled, the higher the quality of the completed job, with the costs and time involved increasing rapidly. We were not looking to do a full rotisserie restoration on a '75 Chevy-which would be a gross waste of cash-but we were looking for the sweet spot that would provide the best balance of cost effectiveness versus quality. Here experience counts, and a judgment call must be made. Ricky decided upon a partial disassembly of the car, removing the doors, hood, rear bumper, trunk lid, and minor trim before the sanding process would begin. This would give good access to the jamb areas for a clean and seamless finish without going overboard.
Next, the sanding of the existing finish began. While a pneumatic D/A sander makes quick work of scuffing old paint, it does little to help level the body panels. As Ricky explains: "You just can't get the control with an air sander. We were going to use the material already on the car to our advantage, almost like a primer coat to cut the panels flat and level." To accomplish this, the car was hand-blocked and sanded dry with 80-grit paper, which leveled the existing material on the car. The 80-grit is coarse enough to level aggressively, and as the blocking progressed, any flaws in the car became apparent. Ricky continued: "You can see the flaws show up as shiny spots as the car is hand-blocked, and there were plenty of spots to fix on this car."
After the first blocking, the flawed areas were repaired. Most of what was found consisted of the typical minor dings common to a long life on the street. These dings were bumped as required using common bodyman's hand tools, and filled with Evercoat Metal Glaze. The Metal Glaze is a premium catalyzed finishing and glazing putty, a fine-grained filler for minor surface defects that adheres very well, even over sanded paint. Amazingly, only one area of localized rust was discovered as the prepping stage continued. This was along the bottom edge of the passenger-side door. These rust spots were repaired with patches cut from sheet stock, and then MIG-welded in place. As with the small dings, the patched areas were given a wipe of filler, and blocked level by hand with 80-grit, followed by 180-grit. The door jamb areas were thoroughly sanded smooth, as were the trunk and hood channel areas, and the entire car was given a detail sanding with 180-grit in preparation for primer.
Step one after cleaning the...
Step one after cleaning the car as well as possible is to start disassembly. Keep the scope of the project in mind when getting started taking a car apart, since they come apart a lot more quickly than they go together. We limited the sheetmetal disassembly to the doors, hood, and decklid. This is far enough to allow a nice level of detail in the jamb areas.
The primer coat builds material to seamlessly bridge the remaining minor flaws and previously repaired and filled spots for a smooth surface suitable for paint. Jackson selected Sherwin-Williams Spectraprime as the right product for the job. Ricky told us: "The Spectraprime went on smoothly, flashed off evenly, and dried quick. It sands easily and doesn't clog the paper, making it easy to work with." The car was sprayed in the booth with the previously removed loose panels off, allowing complete coverage in the various jamb areas, while the loose panels were shot separately, thus eliminating tape line. After the primer cured, the car received another round of hand block sanding, using 180 grit. What resulted is the perfectly smooth and straight surface that distinguishes a quality job.
One of the unique features of the Sherwin-Williams Spectraprime is that the same primer product can be modified to work as a sealer. SpectraSeal is made by mixing the Spectraprime P30 with Sherwin-Williams S41 Converter. While a primer-surfacer is used to build the surface and is intended as a filler, a sealer coat is normally applied after the filling and blocking with surfacer, for a finer finish. Sealers are typically just sprayed, allowed to flash, and then followed by the application of the base or color coats.