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How to Paint Your Car on a Budget How to Paint Your Car on a Budget
by Pat Ganahl
If your car needs new paint, or even just a touch-up, the cost
involved in getting a professional job can be more than you
bargained for. Fortunately, there are less expensive
alternatives-—you can even paint your own car at home!
In How to Paint Your Car On A Budget, author Pat Ganahl unveils
dozens of secrets that will help anyone paint their own car. From
simple scuff-and-squirt jobs to full-on, door-jambs-and-everything
paint jobs, Ganahl covers everything you need to know to get a
great-looking coat of paint on your car and save lots of money in
the process. This book covers painting equipment, the ins and
outs of prep, masking, painting and sanding products and
techniques, and real-world advice on how to budget wisely when
painting your own car. It’s the most practical automotive painting
book ever written!
Click below to view sample
pages from each chapter!
Introduction - Budget Painting
Chap. 1 - Automotive Painting
Chap. 2 - Paint Stripping
Chap. 3 - Bodywork
Chap. 4 - Painting at Home
Chap. 5 - Paint Products
Chap. 6 - Paint Preparation
Chap. 7 - One-Day Paint Job
Chap. 8 - Sand and Paint
Chap. 9 - Full Paint Jobs
Chap. 10 - Restorations
Chap. 11 - Sand & Buff
8-1/2 x 11"
Softbound
128 pages
Approximately 400 color photos
Item: SA117
Price: $22.95
Click here to buy now!
This is a great book that any enthusiast will love,
whether it's your first paint job or your 50th.


Introduction to Automotive Painting
I’ve been planning and thinking about this book for quite a while. That’s why my ’52 Chevy has
been driving around in spotted-in factory original paint with some chrome strips missing for so long.

But finally sitting down to write this has given me pause. The one thing I have never really
considered is: Where did I learn to paint cars?

There weren’t any books like this around at the time. The closest thing to it were George Barris’s
little “Spotlite Books” and his frequent articles in the various car magazines showing how to make a
scoop, French an aerial, roll a pan, and so on. I read and absorbed all that stuff. But it told more
about how to cut, weld, grind, hammer, and dolly sheetmetal (and round rod) than how to spray
paint. Teaching how to spray paint in printed words and photos is quite difficult. You learn much
more by actually doing it. That’s what I did. And that’s what you will do.
I learned about welding, grinding, and metal fabrication as a young teen in metal shop classes in
school, and got further experience when my father bought an acetylene welding outfit for use on
the family ranch, and made me the primary welder. Again, you learn by doing—burning and cutting
your fingers as well as burning holes in metal.

However—and this is a theme repeated throughout this book—I was learning these things at a point
of major transition in the entire bodywork/welding/painting industry. For generations, bodywork was
done with hammers and dollies, welding was done with torches, filling was done with lead, and
painting was done with lacquer. That’s the way it was done from the 1920s through the early 1960s.
Those are the methods Barris showed readers in his how-to articles.
But paddling lead was way beyond me (and most) young beginners. On the other hand, resin-
based “plastic” fillers, which were just coming on the market at that time, afforded an alternative.
Unfortunately, typical of pioneering products, many weren’t quite perfected, nor were their methods
of application. This gave plastic fillers a bad name they definitely no longer deserve, but still find
hard to shake. The real problem with plastic fillers is the same today as it was then—and it’s a fault
in technique, not the product. Filler is very easy to apply, with no special tools or talents, and was
and is therefore often spread too thickly over poorly prepared surfaces. The latter was also true of
lead; it just took a bit more training and equipment to do it. .

We’re getting ahead of ourselves, but let me give you one example from my early experience that
gives a hint of dealing with changing technology. Brazing is simpler, faster, and causes less
warpage than gas welding sheetmetal. It’s not as strong or permanent as welding for joining pieces
of metal, but it’s great for things like filling holes. It’s also perfectly compatible with lead. Most of
those early articles showing Barris, Starbird, and others doing custom bodywork showed them
brazing on sheetmetal, and then covering it with lead. It’s what Barris said to do. So that’s what I did
in several cases, but then I covered it with filler instead of lead. But filler, no matter how good, is not
compatible with brazing. I don’t know the chemical specifics, but they just won’t stick to each other. I
learned this the hard way, after my carefully sanded, primed, and painted bodywork produced
bulges or bubbles wherever I had brazed the surface and filled over it. The only way to fix it was to
cut out the brazed area, weld in sheetmetal patches, and start over. Today, as I am finding lots of
small brazed areas from long-ago bodymen as I prepare my original ’32 Ford body for paint, I am
glad to learn that certain high-adhesion sealers (such as PPG DP40, or similar) can be applied
over brazing and then coated with sanding primers or even plastic fillers.
Continuing the theme of early experience and changing technology, spray paint cans didn’t become
prevalent until the early ’60s. So when I wanted to customize my first bicycle (riser handlebars,
bobbed rear fender, and so on), I took it all apart, carefully hand-sanded the frame and other parts,
then brush-painted them with some sort of gloss enamel—purple, I believe. About the same time
(the late ’50s), my friends and I switched from model airplanes to model cars, which we also
customized (this soon became a national fad). These we also brush painted, painstakingly, to get
them as smooth and glossy as possible. But we also spent considerable time prepping the plastic
bodies: sanding down mold lines, filling depressions (or customizing the body) with putties, priming,
and then doing lots more sanding with increasingly fine grits of paper, before we thinned down the
“enamel for plastics” paint and flowed it on with carefully chosen brushes. Then, especially as the
kits became more complete, we learned to use different and realistic colors to hand-paint engines,
chassis parts, chrome trim, and so on. What this early model building taught us was careful and
thorough preparation, color selection, detailing, and patience. These are all requisites of a good
paint job on a real car.

Then came spray paint. This wasn’t an entirely new learning curve, because the prep, patience,
detailing, and so on didn’t change. But we had to learn a new technique that wasn’t easy, at first, to
master. It took a lot of practice and experimentation: making jigs or props to hold the various parts,
getting all the dust off, spraying tack coats, warming the paint under hot water in the sink, then
trying to keep all dust, dirt, or bugs off until it dried. But the real talent was learning how to wield
that spray can so you could get an even—and the glossiest possible—coat in that seemingly very
narrow window between orange peel and runs. We also learned that switching from one type of
paint to another (enamel to lacquer, for instance), or even changing brands, usually required some
testing and adjustment. Moving from spray cans to spray guns was a bigger step, but it still takes
the same talent and the same feel. The best way—the only way, really—to learn how to paint with a
spray gun is to do it. Spray cans are an excellent (and cheap) place to start. But whether you are
painting model cars, the kids’ bikes, or the back porch furniture, go out and paint stuff. Start
practicing. Right now.
Most of my friends were older and got cars before I did. They were also smarter, and got cars
that didn’t need any real bodywork, just new, better, sharper or cooler paints jobs. In our small
town, there were only a couple of “paint shops.” One guy built a cinder-block spray booth in his
backyard and the other had an old building downtown that I’m not sure even had a booth. But
both were glad to spray cars for a minimal fee if we did all the prep and bought the materials.
See, if you know how to spray paint—and if you do it regularly—that’s the easiest part of the job,
by far. And we were young and eager (especially me), so doing the grunt work not only saved
money, it was even fun. The only cost was several sheets of wet-or-dry sandpaper and rolls of
masking tape. Disassembling the cars (removing bumpers, lights, emblems, and so on) was
intuitive. Removing things like doors handles and certain chrome trim was more mysterious. We
either figured it out, or left them on and masked them. Sometimes getting them back on was more
difficult.

Again, I don’t know how we learned to start wet-sanding with 220 paper, how to fold it, how to
featheredge chips, how not to use our fingertips, and how to finish with 360 or 400 grit—probably
from the magazines. But there was also some sort of common knowledge among us teens who
worked on our cars, which we all shared. In fact, I remember a few “paint parties,” wherein the car
owner would buy the beer and invite everybody over to sand the car in an afternoon. You
wouldn’t always get the best quality, but you’d get the grunt work done, and you could touch up
the rough spots later. I also remember some bloody fingers.
First car
When it came to body and paint, my
first car gave me plenty to learn. But I
couldn’t hurt it. The good part was that
it didn’t have any rust. But it was really
beat up and abandoned in a field when
I got it. In this photo, I’d already been
working on it six months, including
taking the fenders off and pounding
them flat against the ground. Of
course I got the car for free.
For my own first car I wasn’t nearly so smart. I inherited a sound, but exceedingly beat-up old Chevy
sedan. It needed a whole lot of bodywork, and about all I knew was beating out big dents with a
heavy rubber mallet that my dad used for similar purposes. Using blocks of wood as dollies, I tried
doing what it showed in the magazines, but of course it wasn’t nearly was as easy as it looked (and I
didn’t have the proper equipment). Finally I figured out I could remove the fenders, lay them on the
driveway, and beat them flat against the pavement. I don’t recommend this today, but “whatever
works” is still a rule of bodywork in my garage. Fortunately, by pure luck, I happened across a $10
dead identical parts car that had excellent sheetmetal that I could simply swap for my bent and
broken parts. Thus I learned a new lesson in bodywork: It’s often much easier and ultimately
cheaper to bolt on a new, decent fender (or other body part) than it is to try to straighten out a
mashed one.
Heap of the week
I found a parts car for $10 with good
sheetmetal and swapped the fenders,
trunk, and other parts. I sanded the
car down and removed most trim in
preparation for paint, but that’s as far
as I got, so I drove it like this through
high school.
However, my old bomb was 2-tone to start, and the replacement fenders and trunk were a third
color, all of which I eagerly sanded down. But I had no painting equipment (nor money to pay
someone else to paint it), so I touched up a few bare spots with spray-can primer and drove this
laughable coat-of-many-colors all through high school. It wasn’t until about a year later that I rented
a cheap little compressor and gun, primed the car in my dad’s garage (got in trouble for that),
bought two shades of metallic enamel (and a quart of “aircraft sealer” that the painter wisely
recommended), and got one of the local guys to spray it in his backyard booth for $25. Wow, what
a difference! I waxed it about once a week through college to keep it that way (dorms didn’t have
garages and car covers were unheard of). But I finally started wearing through the enamel, and
tiring of people asking me “Did you paint that yourself?” and having to reply, “No.” What I really
wanted was a “custom” lacquer finish, anyway.
First paint job Preparing to repaint
During my first summer home from college I
rented a small sprayer and primed, re-sanded,
and masked the car. Then I bought three
quarts of enamel (’62 Corvette Fawn Beige
and Cordovan Brown), one of sealer, and got
a local painter to spray it in his backyard booth
for $25. This was the next day, mostly
reassembled (the front bumper was at the
chrome shop).
After several years of daily driving with this first
enamel paint, the car had some dings and
dents. I fixed those and started refurbishing it
in preparation for a better lacquer paint job.
I should admit right now that I obviously have a hot rod/custom car bent that derives partly from my
generation, but probably more so from a personal and financial do-it-yourself mentality. For me, hot
rodding is 70% about fixing up old cars—taking something cheap that no one else wants and
making it look good, then using some traditional tricks and my own ingenuity or creativity to make it
look better than good (that’s the other 30% of rodding and customizing). But this book is not about
“custom painting.” Plenty of books talk about that already. We won’t even talk much about custom
paints or products, because they are changing constantly. We talk about the basics of stripping
down, straightening out, fixing up, prepping, and repainting any vehicle that you think (1) needs it,
or (2) will look better in a different color. We also proceed on the premise that you want to do this
because (a) you don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for someone else to do it, or (b) you think
you can do the job better yourself, without paying someone else thousands of dollars to do it less
well. Just being of that mind makes you something of a hot rodder in my book (and a bit of a rebel,
at that). But no matter. This book is for anyone who wants to repaint a car at home, for whatever
reason. An added bonus is that once you have the equipment and know how to use it, you can
paint all sorts of things.
Next


This has been a sample page from

How to Paint Your Car on a Budget How to Paint Your Car on a Budget
by Pat Ganahl
If your car needs new paint, or even just a touch-up, the cost
involved in getting a professional job can be more than you
bargained for. Fortunately, there are less expensive
alternatives-—you can even paint your own car at home!
In How to Paint Your Car On A Budget, author Pat Ganahl unveils
dozens of secrets that will help anyone paint their own car. From
simple scuff-and-squirt jobs to full-on, door-jambs-and-everything
paint jobs, Ganahl covers everything you need to know to get a
great-looking coat of paint on your car and save lots of money in
the process. This book covers painting equipment, the ins and
outs of prep, masking, painting and sanding products and
techniques, and real-world advice on how to budget wisely when
painting your own car. It’s the most practical automotive painting
book ever written!
Click below to view sample
pages from each chapter!
Introduction - Budget Painting
Chap. 1 - Automotive Painting
Chap. 2 - Paint Stripping
Chap. 3 - Bodywork
Chap. 4 - Painting at Home
Chap. 5 - Paint Products
Chap. 6 - Paint Preparation
Chap. 7 - One-Day Paint Job
Chap. 8 - Sand and Paint
Chap. 9 - Full Paint Jobs
Chap. 10 - Restorations
Chap. 11 - Sand & Buff
8-1/2 x 11"
Softbound
128 pages
Approximately 400 color photos
Item: SA117
Price: $22.95
Click here to buy now!
This is a great book that any enthusiast will love,
whether it's your first paint job or your 50th.


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