COMPLETE CUSTOM PAINT ON A DEADLINE
In the world of custom painting, customers often drop off their job and want it finished in an almost impossible time frame. We will never figure out why customers wait until the last minute to get something custom painted. But our business thrives on compulsive buyers. It's a mystery to me why a boat owner would let his boat sit all winter, and then a week before summer decide to have his boat custom painted. Which they need done right away. We had a window of only four weeks to do it in. There could be no, "Opps, sorry I need a few more days to finish it." The van was scheduled to be on display at the SEMA and NACE shows. It had to have a show winning finish. Which meant double clear coating and bringing the graphics into the door jambs. Even though this was a basic graphics job, I thought it would make an interesting article to show how to do a fast turnaround. I used a few unorthodox procedures to make the time frame, without cutting any corners. With the exception of a helper to get the van ready for paint I ran this job through by myself. If you're planning on making custom auto painting a career you must be able to do graphic layouts as well as airbrushing. As an artist our hopes are that we can just airbrush everyday. Unfortunatly to be successful that very rarely is the case. You must be able to take any job from beginning to end. Why would you want to lose any profits to someone you have to sub contract to do pre piant prep, clear coating or graphic layouts.
Tech Info: To primer I used a Iwata Air Gunza. Guide coat is a mist of paint used to see high and low spots. Its also a way of making sure you have re-opened the primer.
Tech Info: A pounce wheel punches small holes in the paper and lets the chalk go through giving you an outline. I use chalk because it is easily removed and doesn't cause a reaction with the paint.
Tech Info: The Iwata LPH-300 is a new spray gun designed for metallic and pearl paints. It atomizes so well that it actually saves paint material.
Tech Info: Transfer Tape is a low tack product used in the sign industry to transfer vinyl material.
Tech Info: Removing the nozzle tip from the airbrush not only gives you a finer line but reduces overspray and splattering from paint build up at the tip.
Tech Info: Keep water running over the sandpaper at all times so you don't develope built up under the paper which will cause deep scratches
Tech Info: adding catalyst to the striping paint makes it compatible with the clear and eliminates lifting or wrinkling.
No matter how good of an air brusher or painter you are, unless you finish the job correctly you will never get the recognition or money you deserve. When it comes down to it, your paint job will be critiqued by its overall finish. There are as many products available for the finishing stages as there are ways in doing it. There is not one particular way to every job. You might have to use different combinations depending on the surface. It is a very time consuming procedure. But if it is not done right it will reflect upon your entire work. To obtain a glass and wet looking finish you must take the time to do it right. You want to remove all the scratches from sanding and not just fill them. If you use a fast procedure that just fills them, marks from sanding will resurface a few months down the road. You should never have to use a swirl remover. This just means you rushed this step and are temporarily filling the scratches. The following depicts several ways to color sand. In this case I used them all. But you can do them individually or in any combination, depending on the job.
COLOR SANDING & BUFFING
I started off by using a Hutchins Jitterbug with 3M 1200 grit wet/dry sandpaper. The Jitterbug is an air powered, water fed sander with blocking pad and a finishing sanding pattern. This is a quick way to remove all the orange peel from clear coating. Add a little dish soap to the water. This helps to keep the sandpaper from sticking and clogging up. As you are sanding, constantly remove the water with a squeegy. Do this on every step of color sanding. When the surface is dry you will be able to see any remaining orange peel or high spots by looking for remaining glossy areas.
When color sanding, you don't want to create any waves in your finish. Always use a flat sanding block. Never use the sandpaper by hand. Your fingers alone will create an uneven surface. In this photo, I'm going back over the surface with 1200 grit and a flat sanding block. Keep water running over the sandpaper at all times. Don't bear down hard, use a lite touch or you will dig deep scratches in the clear. Also never go in one direction. Its best to use a criss-cross pattern. What I am doing here is making sure my surface is straight by removing any waves that might have been created from the Jitterbug. I am also making sure I have completely leveled the any raises from the pin striping.
Here I am using a Mirka Bulldog Finishing Sander with 1200 grit wet/dry sandpaper. This is great for removing orange peel and leveling odd shaped and hard to reach places. It has a finishing cut that is easy to buff. It also helps to eliminate those stubborn areas without digging into the clear coat.
Now comes the monotonous part. I must stress that you don't rush through any of these steps. Its also imperative that you have proper lighting. I always place a light at a 45 degree angle from where I am working. This way you can see any imperfections.
Start buffing with a wool cutting pad. I use 3M's Perfect-It II Micro Finish Compound. Set the buffer at 1400 rpms. If you go any faster you risk creating swirl marks or heating the clear up too much which will cause blisters or burn-through. Put a light on a 45 degree angle so you can see into the clear and make sure any sanding marks are removed. Never stay in one area for too long and move in a vertical and then horizontal motion. What you want to do is make sure you've come with the cutting compound from every angle.
Using the 3M Perfect-It II Compound again, repeat the process with a 3M White Foam Buffing Pad. Keep the buffer at 1400 rpms. This will remove any swirls created from the wool cutting pad. You can also use this pad to remove any imperfections. You can actually heat the clear up enough to move it with this pad without a huge risk of burning into it. By this time you have removed any signs of sanding without filling them or creating swirls marks in the clear coat.
Wash the surface with soap and water. You want to remove all the buffing compound before going any further. The last thing you want is to drag any compound into this step. Switching to a 3M Foam Polishing Pad and 3M Foam Polish, I start by applying small amounts of polish. Set the buffer between 1400 and 1600 rpms. Work the polish into the surface. There should be no polish residue left on the surface when done. Your end result should be an extremely high gloss-glass finish. If your customer takes care of the job the finish should remain looking brand new for years.
Wash the vehicle with a clear coat safe soap and water. I recommend drying it with an Absorber (available at Wal-Mart). Do Not use a terry cloth towel or all your hard work was for nothing. The Absorber is soft and easily removes any water spots. You want your work to look its absolute best when the customer sees it for the first time. Use a spray on hand glaze (make sure it has no silicone in it). I prefer Meguires Quick Detail. Use a soft polishing cloth. This step will help remove any water spots from washing. Don't use any wax. Paint needs at least 30 days to breath and cure before a wax can be applied.
There you have it. A perfect "Show Winning" job.
Tech Info: A Tack Coat is a light mist of clear to help lock down any oils or contaminants.
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