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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-04-2015, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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Paint/Body Questions - Repair and a Full Repaint

I've been doing some body-work on my 91 T-Bird base, which body-wise is in marginial condition. Before I go ahead, I am an amateur at body work. I can do touch-up work easily but it's my first attempt repairing dents and getting a car ready for a full repaint. I'm looking to change the color but don't want to spend alot, it just has to look good from 10feet away and be presentable to drive.

Problems
-Front Driver's Side fender was punched downwards (angry previous owner)
-Dent in trunk on driver's side corner
-Dings below driver's side tail light
-Ding/Dent above driver's door
-Small dent on passenger fender, damage near front corner light (looks like several bumps)
-Small Rust spot on driver's lower rocker panel below side window
-Rusted through (large crack) on driver's side lower rocker panel below driver's side mirror
-Front/Rear bumpers look bad paint/quality wise, replacing with SC units
-Paint is trashed (crystal blue?), it's faded and looks bad all around.
-Trim is done, I have to take it off.

Here's what I fixed/bought:
-Hammered out dent in the trunk and driver's side fender
-Pushed out dent in passenger fender (easiest so far haha)
-Bondo'ed over dents in driver's side fender, sanded and smoothed them out
-Fixed some of the rust on the driver's side rocker
-Purchased Front/Rear SC bumpers and Ground Effects
-Lots of sandpaper, epoxy primer, etc.

Here's a few bodywork issues:

-I've spent hours on the driver's side fender - First the bondo showed through the primer, sanded it again and got it perfect. I then sprayed a 2K epoxy primer on the panel and the primer cracked in several places! I think the problem is the weather, it rains almost everyday here and I think it needed more than 24 hours to fully cure?
-Still need to bondo/sand the passenger fender but it's in bad shape by the front corner light which makes it seem like bondo won't fix it (There are bumps where it looks like it was hammered out poorly).
-Still have to repair the roof ding, trunk dings, rear quarter dings, etc.
-Still a crack in the driver's side lower rocker to repair.

Cost issues:
-I am changing the color to white and I heard a color change is expensive. Definitely do not want to repaint it factory crystal blue and I know black shows imperfections too easily.
-The SC front bumper I have is a metallic blue (not the factory color) and the rear bumper is white, neither are mounted currently. I have no idea if it's cheaper to paint them separate or on the car? Tossing the base bumpers on the car currently.
-The side GFX are faded white and are not mounted to the car. They'll have to be painted separately I guess but I don't know if that'll be pricey separately.
-I've heard Maaco won't warranty the paint if I do the body-work, which can be a major problem as the driver's fender, passenger fender, roof, and trunk need filler repair. This is where I was planning to take the car.
-I don't want to spend more than $500 to paint it even with the color change. It's a second/beater car but it's an eye sore as is and it has to look better, especially for where I live and work.

So I have a few questions:

-Can Maaco paint this for $500 or less once the bodywork is done? I searched on here and some said it costs $8-1100 for Maaco to paint the car which seems high? I'm trying to figure a general estimate in case Maaco tries to quote high.
-What can I do to stop the 2k epoxy primer from cracking? Is it normal and I just need to sand it? I've been having alot of trouble getting the panel to look good after using bondo, any tips for the other areas?
-If this is expensive I may lean towards plasti-dipping the entire car? Any experience with this on a t-bird? I know of a WRX and a Mini that look great plasti-dipped and survived PA winters fine too.
-How can I easily remove the trim on the doors and quarter panels? I don't want to put it back on so it's not a big deal, I like the look without it.
-Can I remove the chrome trim around the rear window or is that part of the rear window moulding structure?
-Prior to painting, I should sand down the entire car with 600 grit and also use a wax/grease remover? This is what I read, just wanted to confirm.

Thanks for your time and any help you can provide.

Last edited by 06jeep; 07-04-2015 at 02:37 PM.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-04-2015, 03:08 PM
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From reading your post, it is hard to get a feel for exactly how much body work experience you have, so don't take offense at any of this. First off, I notice you said "bondo" several times. Bondo brand body filler is cheap crap. Spend the money on some good quality lightweight body filler. I reccomend evercoat rage gold. It is much easier to work with, sands easier, doesn't get pinholes, and is less likely to react poorly with primers or sealers. That brings us to your next issue. 2k primer should definitely not crack. It should spray out fairly easily, although it will have a lot of orange peel type texture. That is normal, as it has to be sanded anyway, but cracking means there is a reaction between 2 chemicals, and if that happens, you need to strip it all off and start all over again. Next let's move on to the various dents. Body filler should never be spread more than 1/4" thick. If it is thicker than this, it will crack out in a few months and it will take your new paint job with it. Given that, dents can not be filled with body filler, but instead the metal needs to be straightened to almost perfect before any filler is ever mixed or spread, and to do that requires a combination of time, patience, and skill. A good body man has all 3 of those, but to be a decent body man, you need to have at least 2 of those things in abundance. If you don't, then stop now because you will only make your car worse. Now when it comes to dents in the quarter panels or roof, replacing the panel is not only extremely labor intensive, but also impractical given that they aren't available new anymore, but when it comes to bolt-on panels like fenders, doors, and the trunklid, unless the damage is very minimal, you are probably better off hitting up the local u-pull-it yard and getting clean replacement panels and swapping them out. These cars are old enough that body panels are not in demand, so they will be cheap, and you will spend much more time fixing them than replacing them, so this is a place where the money will be well spent. That brings us to your final question about having Maaco spray the car. You would have to ask your local Maaco for sure, since they can change their prices somewhat, but there is a reason that Maaco sprays a car for $500 and a good quality shop wants $5000 for the same job. That $500 Maaco job does not remove any trim, any lights, any door handles, etc. it also does not include spraying any of the jambs like inside the doors and under the hood or trunk. Your best bet would be to remove literally everything you can from the car before bringing it there, but keep in mind that doing that means the doors, the trunklid, the bumpers, the mirrors, etc would all be painted separately, and you will probably double the cost of the paint job, plus have to put the whole thing back together after you get it back. The alternative is spend $500 to have them paint the car, and have the paint start peeling off in 6 months due to the poor prep work.

-91 Cougar LS, coming soon, complete overhaul with a 427" Windsor.
-90 XR7 5-speed black on black w/sunroof, MP2, coated rotors, double intercooler, 15%OD, ported heads, comp stage 1 cam, 85mm TB, 90MM LMAF, 80# injectors, and ported big valve heads
-98 Mark VIII LSC, Procharger P600b, TR3650 swap and 3.73s.
-90 SC Automatic rustbucket winter beater
-97 Tbird Sport 4.6 Nice weather daily driver
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-04-2015, 06:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadMikeyL View Post
From reading your post, it is hard to get a feel for exactly how much body work experience you have, so don't take offense at any of this. First off, I notice you said "bondo" several times. Bondo brand body filler is cheap crap. Spend the money on some good quality lightweight body filler. I reccomend evercoat rage gold. It is much easier to work with, sands easier, doesn't get pinholes, and is less likely to react poorly with primers or sealers. That brings us to your next issue. 2k primer should definitely not crack. It should spray out fairly easily, although it will have a lot of orange peel type texture. That is normal, as it has to be sanded anyway, but cracking means there is a reaction between 2 chemicals, and if that happens, you need to strip it all off and start all over again. Next let's move on to the various dents. Body filler should never be spread more than 1/4" thick. If it is thicker than this, it will crack out in a few months and it will take your new paint job with it. Given that, dents can not be filled with body filler, but instead the metal needs to be straightened to almost perfect before any filler is ever mixed or spread, and to do that requires a combination of time, patience, and skill. A good body man has all 3 of those, but to be a decent body man, you need to have at least 2 of those things in abundance. If you don't, then stop now because you will only make your car worse. Now when it comes to dents in the quarter panels or roof, replacing the panel is not only extremely labor intensive, but also impractical given that they aren't available new anymore, but when it comes to bolt-on panels like fenders, doors, and the trunklid, unless the damage is very minimal, you are probably better off hitting up the local u-pull-it yard and getting clean replacement panels and swapping them out. These cars are old enough that body panels are not in demand, so they will be cheap, and you will spend much more time fixing them than replacing them, so this is a place where the money will be well spent. That brings us to your final question about having Maaco spray the car. You would have to ask your local Maaco for sure, since they can change their prices somewhat, but there is a reason that Maaco sprays a car for $500 and a good quality shop wants $5000 for the same job. That $500 Maaco job does not remove any trim, any lights, any door handles, etc. it also does not include spraying any of the jambs like inside the doors and under the hood or trunk. Your best bet would be to remove literally everything you can from the car before bringing it there, but keep in mind that doing that means the doors, the trunklid, the bumpers, the mirrors, etc would all be painted separately, and you will probably double the cost of the paint job, plus have to put the whole thing back together after you get it back. The alternative is spend $500 to have them paint the car, and have the paint start peeling off in 6 months due to the poor prep work.
Thanks for the advice as above but basically, I'm not trying to spend alot on the car as it's just a beater (I have a nice Jeep for an alternate daily/toy) that I got for free and fixed it (replaced heads/headgaskets). It's just a small project to make it at least one color that looks nice from a distance. Definitely doesn't have to be anywhere near perfect, I was thinking white as it's going to have lots of imperfections in the body/paint likely even after minor body work that black or other dark colors will show.

I was definitely not planning on having the door jams, inside the trunk, under the hood, or anything else like that painted either. Just the outer body panels have to be one color. With bondo, won't that be ok with small dings? I'll ditch both front fenders for a junkyard set and the rest of the body is pretty much ok for a few small dings like below (that crease was popped out of the trunk).

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-04-2015, 07:59 PM
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If the ding is deeper than 1/4", it needs straightening prior to using filler. If your only goal is decent looks for a beater, I would say forget the Maaco job, replace the dented panels, straighten the dents in the quarter and roof and do body work with good quality filler, not bondo, cover the rocker rot with a set of SC ground effects, then use some rustoleum primer over the body work and just plasti-dip the car flat white.

-91 Cougar LS, coming soon, complete overhaul with a 427" Windsor.
-90 XR7 5-speed black on black w/sunroof, MP2, coated rotors, double intercooler, 15%OD, ported heads, comp stage 1 cam, 85mm TB, 90MM LMAF, 80# injectors, and ported big valve heads
-98 Mark VIII LSC, Procharger P600b, TR3650 swap and 3.73s.
-90 SC Automatic rustbucket winter beater
-97 Tbird Sport 4.6 Nice weather daily driver
-"Your buddy Mike is INSANE!" -ClintD's dad
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-04-2015, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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Just to update this, the car came out good, finished it back in mid-July!

I did not replace the front quarter panels, some filler and many hours of sanding cleaned them up nice. Was quoted $100/side for the front quarters at the cheapest and removing the driver's side resulted in many snapped bolts so I decided against that. Can't even tell it's been repaired.

I had to do a little bit of filler on the driver's and passenger doors (dings), along with some rust removal. I did the best I could with the driver's side rocker (passenger side was clean), sprayed some eastwood frame coating (I sprayed the inside of the frame of my jeep to protect it), and used some rust dissolver gel which actually worked pretty god.

Installed the SC front and rear bumpers and the side-skirts. I left out the cornering lights in the front, will put something else there (leds) in the future. I also installed two led fog lights in the front bumper (took some thought to mount them lol). I did not install the metal door sills, didn't want to drill holes in the door.

For the plasti-dip, I used an Earlex spray gun and pre-mixed plasti-dip. The only prep for the paint I did was wipe down the car with a non-residue glass cleaner the night before to get any leftover sanding dust/dirt off of it. I lightly sanded the entire car with 1000 grit but this is not necessary on a car with ok paint already, only did it to smoothen the surface and the factory paint was toast anyway.

Took a few hours to do, didn't need a spraybooth either, just a nice clear day. When your spraying it, it takes a long time to build the layers but the end result is pretty good. Overall, it was definitely worth the effort, not a regular paint job perfect but it looks good and is great for someone like me that basically is only building the car on a budget. I can tell it won't last forever either but touching it up is really easy, hopefully I can get 1-2 years out of it.

The last picture is from today, I peeled the black plastidip off the rims and painted the center caps to match the body.

Before Paint/Stock with Plasti-dipped rims, trim blacked out:


Prepping for paint (my Jeep is in the one pic, it's parked further downhill but still towers over the bird lol):




After Paint (plasti dipped)

Led Fogs and New Headlights


Still drying



After tint (car is wet, it just was pouring rain before the pics):



Today (peeling off the plasti-dip off the rims, not finished):


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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-04-2015, 05:09 PM
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Looks good! I personally would re-dip the rims, but either way that is a drastic improvement over what it was, and if you ever do decide to do a real paint job on it, it will be much easier to strip off than a Maaco job. Plus, like you said, any chips or scratches are very easy to touch-up. Out of curiousity, how much money do you have into this spray job?

-91 Cougar LS, coming soon, complete overhaul with a 427" Windsor.
-90 XR7 5-speed black on black w/sunroof, MP2, coated rotors, double intercooler, 15%OD, ported heads, comp stage 1 cam, 85mm TB, 90MM LMAF, 80# injectors, and ported big valve heads
-98 Mark VIII LSC, Procharger P600b, TR3650 swap and 3.73s.
-90 SC Automatic rustbucket winter beater
-97 Tbird Sport 4.6 Nice weather daily driver
-"Your buddy Mike is INSANE!" -ClintD's dad
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-04-2015, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MadMikeyL View Post
Looks good! I personally would re-dip the rims, but either way that is a drastic improvement over what it was, and if you ever do decide to do a real paint job on it, it will be much easier to strip off than a Maaco job. Plus, like you said, any chips or scratches are very easy to touch-up. Out of curiousity, how much money do you have into this spray job?
I think I might re-dip the rims too, I liked the look before, just was a bit concerned about night driving as it doesn't reflect light like a normal black paint job. At night it basically blends into the darkness lol.

I have about $350 total into the job but that includes 3 gallons of black plasti-dip (pre-thinned), 1 gallon of the metalizer (silver metalflake), plus lots of sandpaper, sanding blocks, filler, etc. I probably could have done it a bit cheaper if I thinned the plast-dip myself but didn't want to risk not thinning it correctly. I borrowed a friend's earlex sprayer as the full kit for this size car would run about $440 with the sprayer and the plasti-dip.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-04-2015, 07:22 PM
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Great job. I also like the blacked out rims. At one time I considered plasti-dip on my bird. Nice seeing how it looks on yours. Congratulations on getting by for $350.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-04-2015, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by MadMikeyL View Post
Looks good! I personally would re-dip the rims, but either way that is a drastic improvement over what it was, and if you ever do decide to do a real paint job on it, it will be much easier to strip off than a Maaco job. Plus, like you said, any chips or scratches are very easy to touch-up. Out of curiousity, how much money do you have into this spray job?
Has any one tried using Plastidip along the rockers or to seal surface rust before winter? Seems that if it peels off it might be a nice sacrificial coating against the elements. I realize there's pro quality gravel gard products for the rockers if you wanted something permanent. But this stuff looks like it might be good for protecting the lower body or sealing off minor rust. Obviously most rocker rust starts on the inside and rots it's way out. So it's not going to prevent that. Some primers are hydroscopic and this might be a better stop gap method if you can't get all the bodywork top coated before the salt hits the fan.
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