There are several stages to the paint refinishing process that we employ at Lone Pine Garage. Every phase is just as important as the one before it and there are no shortcuts to achieving the results that we strive for. A lot of our process involves hand finishing, this takes longer and is naturally more labour intensive than using machines but the results do speak for themselves. The flowing and graceful lines of older cars especially, need manual work to make them look their best.
Detailed below are the stages of our paint process from start to finish, this is a typical example of the work that we do although it does vary with different client requirements.
We like to start off with a vehicle in bare metal, think of it as a blank canvas with nothing there that should not be present. Working with a vehicle in this way allows one to see any damage, imperfections, rust etc that could have been covered in the past by a re-spray. Whilst one can put new paint over old, you have no way of guaranteeing that the new finish won’t react and change over time. What looks like a perfect finish can look terrible in a matter of months if it sags or peels. The images below show an Aston Martin DB5 door that had been re-finished less than 12 months ago, but the paint was simply peeling off; the car came to us for a full strip down.
To get a vehicle back to bare metal a stripping solution is applied to the old paint, this is usually strong acid or alkaline based. It will lift old paint and filler that can then be scraped off by hand. We have access facilities that can dip doors, bonnets even body shells if required. This ensures any paint is removed but any parts dipped have to be taken apart completely.
If a body shell of chassis is very rusty sand blasting is a very useful method of removing the old rust and allowing permanent repairs to take place. In the case of very rusty or corroded bodyshells it can be more cost-effective to have a new one made instead.
The first part of the refinishing process involves and repairs to the bare shell or components. MIG or TIG welding is used for structural repairs, dents are hand beaten to be as flat as possible and then finished with a thin skim of metal filler. Etch type primer is then applied; this acid based undercoat promotes paint adhesion to the metal substrate.
After the etch coat comes the filler primer or undercoat, we use a high build formula that fills minor imperfections in the surface and improves top coat adhesion. Once the primer has cured guide coat is applied and the surface is sanded back by hand using a long block where possible to ensure the flattest finish.
If any small faults appear they are filled with stopper type filler before a second layer of primer is applied. This second layer is then wet flatted by hand again using a long block or by hand in the more intricate areas.
Once the final layer of primer has been applied and the body shell very carefully checked over the colour coats can be applied. In most cases a two part (2K) base colour is used, however on some historic vehicles cellulose paint is preferred to keep it the same as the original. We also work with water based HVAC paint that many auto manufactures are specifying.
The initial body colour or base colour is again wet flatted by hand after it is applied; this allows any small inclusions in the paint or spray texture to be removed. Once we are totally happy that the base coat is perfect the lacquer can be applied. The lacquer coat effectively seals in the body colour forming a hard outer shell to protect the paint underneath.
The lacquer is first of all wet flatted using a 1200 grade of wet and dry sandpaper, this primarily removes any texture or small inclusions. Next a 2000 grade paper is used to get the surface as smooth as possible before starting the polish. All of this work is done by hand, in our view it gives the very best finish possible.
The final part of our paint process in the polish. After the lacquer has been flatted the surface is very smooth but is dull and it will have very fine scratches, the polish brings the lacquer back to a uniform and glossy finish. The first stage uses a compound or cutting type polish which is the most abrasive; this is applied on a rotary type polisher or by hand as required. The second part moves to a less abrasive polish also applied by machine.
At this stage the bodywork will be taking shape; the lacquer will be shiny, uniform and flat with the marks from the flatting all polished out. The final part of the process uses the finest grade of the polish applied with a waffle type polishing mop. This removes any swirls or holograms that may be in the paint leaving a perfect and deep shine.