Custom painting made easy
The last instalment on the Land Rover was a tale of woe. In an attempt to make the bulkhead whole again, it had been necessary to deal with a whole load of rust and new panels that didn’t want to fit together. And that was just the driver’s side. After several days of grinding, welding and just a touch of hammer work, I had something that resembled a Land Rover bulkhead similar to when it would have left the Solihull factory all those years ago. So my next task was to make sure it stayed that way, which meant paint was the next job.
I’ve sprayed cars in the past, but DIY spraying brings with it a whole load of problems. It’s expensive, it’s noisy, it’s dirty and not least, it’s really hard work. I’d read a lot about coach painting in regards to Land Rovers and the idea of not having to deal with gallons of thinners, overspray and dust really appealed. Some forum dwellers made it sound beautifully straightforward. Simply buy the right paint, some good quality brushes and solvent proof gloss mini rollers and you were away. All stressed the importance of good quality prep of the surfaces, but I thought it was worth a shot.
One tip I did pick up was the absolute need to use an etch primer. Normal primers and undercoats will not adhere to aluminium or alloys, so any bare areas of Land Rover bodywork would need to be carefully flatted and etched before any top coats were applied. I decided that all the panels would get the same treatment regardless of the material they were made from., So the steel bulkhead and front panel would be treated exactly the same as the rest of the alloy bodywork.
Thankfully, the bulkhead didn’t need much more than some minimal filling and a thorough flatting down. With the dust removed and the whole panel degreased with panel wipe, it was the moment of truth. Just because you’re not spraying doesn’t mean you can skimp on the personal protection. A good quality mask and goggles are the absolute minimum, but it’s best to play it safe and cover up completely. Not the best outfit to wear, as I started painting on an exceptionally warm day, but when using any form of solvent, adequate personal protection makes the job a lot safer.
I’d ordered three types of paint from a commercial paint supplier. Etch primer, high build primer undercoat and top coat in Pastel Green. The instructions stated that the paint was ready to use straight from the can and with the etch primer this was certainly the case. The paint went on easily, covered really well and settled to a smooth finish. This was all going far too easy.
There were a few issues with the primer undercoat, not least I suspect down to the high ambient temperatures in the lockup. As soon as the paint was hitting the panel it was drying, so the desirable ‘wet edge’ was disappearing very quickly, meaning drags and puckers in the paint. I tried thinning the paint down a little, but it didn’t improve matters much. So I decided the only solution was to wait until a cooler day. There’s a first when painting a car.
I let the paint dry thoroughly and then flatted the surface back with wet and dry. A second thinner coat of undercoat went on a lot better when the temperature in the unit had dropped down to
more normal uK temperatures. and then it was time to test the top coats.
Just to check the colour, I decided to paint both the front panel and apron before the more complicated bulkhead. Cracking the tin open, Pastel Green suddenly looked far more the shade that its name suggests. I thought it would dull a little when it dried, so gave the front panel a coat and left it to dry. My mate walked into the lockup and said; “nice colour for a retro food processor!”
Faced with the prospect of five litres of paint going to waste, I decided to experiment, so added a litre of grey primer to the can of topcoat and mixed it. This didn’t completely kill the colour but toned it down sufficiently. and another plus was that adding the matt primer killed the topcoat’s very high gloss, giving it a very pleasing satin effect. This was much better suited to the shabby chic of an ageing Land rover and looked quite smart.
So with a shade I’m now happy with, I’ve started to lay on some colour. The bulkhead, front panel and apron are all in final topcoat and I’ve also managed to get the three-part transmission tunnel and the floor plates painted. It’s a lot easier to manage painting a car which comes apart like a huge Meccano kit, but you start to realise that it may come in small sections, but there are an awful lot of them to paint!
The seat box will need to be repaired before it can be painted and I’m also aware that the chassis needs to be properly degreased and protected before much more of the pretty stuff can be completed. Get the feeling I’ve a busy few weeks coming.
The paint went on easily, covered really well and settled to a smooth finish. This was all going too easy
Before putting on any paint, I thought it was wise to see everything fitted, including a trial fit of replacement seatbox number three. After a few days of welding, the Land Rover’s bulkhead was now solid and finally ready for painting. A solvent resistant gloss roller was used to lay the primer on. It’s a really good way to apply paint with no waste and low mess. Etch primer is going to be used on every panel and it went on easily on the bulkhead, giving great coverage and a smooth finish.