Cus­tom paint­ing made easy

Classics Monthly - - Driver’sdiary -

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.

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