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Paint Class 101


Well-known member
Jul 3, 2001
Auburndale, Florida
1969 Killer Shark
Some of you might get a kick out of this. I am a firm believer that the most important element of a nice paint job is the under surface prep. This is where the labor costs skyrocket when you are paying a professional to repaint a car.

A panel might look pretty good in basic primer. It might even feel smooth. As some of you know however, when you get the shinny stuff on there it will tell on you. This is especially true of fiberglass panels.

With that said, one technique to reduce imperfections uses a "Guide Coat". SEM actually makes a spray can version of this light weight, low build, dark pigment paint that you can mist over the entire panel/car. After it has dried you begin the long painful process of hand wet sanding. You can watch as the black goes away leaving the primer surface while you sand.

Check out this picture link below. You will see some lines and spots of black in the rear of the left quarter panel. These areas surfaced only after the process listed above. Prior to this, I would have sworn this panel was ready for paint. What you are seeing is where the prior painter had set up the custom stripes and two tone. Eventhough I used a heat gun and razor blades to push off all the old paint, the fiberglass had been imprinted with the design.

Now, I have to build the area and continue blocking until it goes away. I may do the process three or four more times.



I have used a heat gun on a metal car, but it had never crossed my mind using one on fiberglass?!?

You apparently have this process figured out, did you not blister the glass in some places?

I have only used the stripper on my vettes, but it is very messy, razor blades do work very well, especially on laquer paints.

Larry (gus)

The heat gun did no damage that I could detect to any of the glass. I also did not just hold it in one spot for too long either. It is much cleaner than chemical strip, and you can control the speed that you wish to strip. You can also just turn off the gun when you get tired and simply sweep or vacuum up the little rolled up chips on the floor. Nothing to wash off either.

I think it works best on cars that have had two or more all over paint jobs. The thicker the paint, the better it softened and rolled off. It acts just like chemical stripper. When you hit the factory sealer/primer coat, it will not lift it (unless you just hold in one spot without moving).

There is one other benefit. The heat will cure out any old laquer materials that may otherwise be waiting to bubble through the new paint surface.

I did burn my right inner writs with the tip of the gun. It actually left a scar that will not go away anytime soon.
Given it a try

Thanks for the tips Chris,

I will have to try it, what could it hurt?
My rear deck lid that is useless, I will have to give a couple of passes with the heat gun and see how it works. I HOPE I like it...

I tell you about anything would be better than the stripper! its good stuff but be prepared to get rid of some clothes (AND SOME HAIR) powerful stuff!

Is this the first time you stripped a corvette with the heat gun?
or have you painted over one that you stripped this way?

good luck on the car looks good and your tips will help a lot of people who are crazy enough to attempt this kinda thing themselves (like me and you..)

you never realize HOW much sanding is envolved in prepping properly!!!

take care
Larry (gus) :cool

I have painted panels in the past after this technique, no problems.

However, like any such activity, it should be attempted in a small out of the way place (like the lower section of the rear quarter panels) until getting the hang of it. That will avoid over heating in any one spot.

You are right about the do-it-yourself hard work. It is hard to appreciate what you are paying for at a professional shop until you personally sand an entire car at least once. In our case, the whole car may be sanded as many as five times before the top coat of paint. Then, it may very well be sanded at least one more time for the wet sand and buff treatment.

Give yourself $5 an hour an you will quickly roll up a nice little nest egg. I am averaging about 15 to 18 hours each time I block the whole car. This is after the initial grinding, filling, sanding, feathering of the repair spots. This is beyond the norm, but considering what I had to start out with--you would expect it.

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