Before you start with body work line up all panels, do your mechanical work,
get everything dirty out of the way. Lining up a door for the perfect fit
after it is color coated is asking for chips/scratches. Then clean your
sockets and wrenches thoroughly before beginning to disassemble lights,
I always recommend hand sanding a panel versus sandblasting, especially flat
panels. Sanding is labor intensive, this is one of the reasons that bodywork
is so expensive. Sandblasting, IMO, should be reserved to only small areas
that are rusted or too difficult to reach with a piece of sandpaper. You
will have to smooth the panels that you have sandblasted with 180, 220, and
340 in that order with primer coats in-between. I recommend a 3M sanding
block and muscle. I use good quality air tools, after years of practice to
learn the correct usage, but my finish sanding is ALWAYS done by hand. Sand
in an "X" pattern, i.e., opposing directions perpendicular to each other.
Don't go smoother than 340 for the final primer sand, you need a mechanical
bite for the paint to adhere to. Get creative on sanding. Use a broom handle
as a block for a rounded concave surface, a paint paddle for tight fits,
etc. Cleanliness and preparation is the key to good results.
If you do weld in patches for the rusty areas, which I recommend, the welded
area will have to be ground down sufficiently to accept whatever filler you
choose to feather into the unaffected part of the panel. After
welding/grinding, sandblast the weld bead to remove all fluxes and
contaminants, or those will one day bubble back through your work. I
personally have no trouble with plastic body fillers. The idea is to get the
metal as close to original configuration as possible, and very clean, so
that your filler material is minimized in thickness. I have successfully
used "Durabond" or "Dynaglass" on sketchy areas for my initial filler layer,
followed by a quality plastic filler for final prep. I am not good enough
even after all of these years to single layer a repair and have it be
flawless enough to not show up in a "sighting" down the side of a long flat
panel (i.e. ripples). It usually takes me a few very thin coats before I am
sufficiently satisfied to shoot the primer. Speaking of primer, let the last
coat shrink for 2 weeks before shooting the color. A trained eye can catch
the sanding marks through the topcoats if you don't. Either that or use
two-part primer, but that goes into a whole discussion about respirators.
Bottom-line: buy a good one, you are worth it. When checking your bodywork,
your hands are the measuring tool. With no gloss you can't see defects you
have to feel them. This takes time and practice. Keep your hands clean! If
you eat a sandwich, wash your hands before returning to the work (I usually
skip the washing before the sandwich). Use only clean/new rags. Don't wear
previously greasy clothes when doing bodywork. Blow off the car and the
crevices at least a thousand times to get the sand out of the nooks and
crannies. It will show up while you are blowing on the gloss coat, minimize
I recommend that after you do all of the prep you get some books on painting
techniques. Go to the local shop and ask the painter if you can go in the
booth with him (bringing your own respirator). Some shops will even shoot
the color for 50-100 dollars if you have it all taped up and ready to go.
BTW, don't use newspaper to tape off the glass, it is inherently dirty. Use
some good butcher paper. If you do decide to shoot the color yourself there
are a couple of things worth noting. Wipe the entire car down with
"Prep-sol" or "Acryli-clean" using NEW rags. I like cotton diapers for this.
Since you can't get every contaminant put a couple of drops of "Smoothie" in
your paint cup to ward off any fish-eyes in the paint for areas that may
still be contaminated. Silicone is the number one killer of flawless
finishes, and I swear that stuff can get airborne for hundreds of feet.
Preparation can not be overstressed. Use good products that you buy at an
automotive paint supply store. Ask questions of the guys behind the counter.
Let your sandpaper work for you, don't try to milk it for a few extra
strokes. The elbow grease that is saved is worth it. Just be glad you are
sanding a Triumph instead of a 1966 Cadillac. (now there are some LONG
panels) Use 3M products wherever you can, there is good reason why those are
the tools of choice for body men all over the country.
Finally, (thank goodness, right?) take your time. Do one panel at a time and
then move on. When you think it is perfect leave it alone and "feel" it
again the next day. You will be intimately aware of every bump, crease, nick
and dimple. Note them, and have at it. It really is a labor of love. Get
books. When you aren't sanding/filling read them.
Note: Lest anyone think that I can't relate to rust, I grew up in Akron,
OH. right in the deepest part of the rust belt.
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