Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I think I’ve scored a paint booth…

Of sorts. Not exactly a ‘paint booth’ but a little bigger garage, possibly a little bigger compressor… more lights… “R…RR…RRRRR” - More power!!

My friend Mike Turner, who is also an excellent contractor… in fact if he’d ever let me build him a website I’d point any of you to him in a heartbeat… he’s a definite rarity... an honest home improvement contractor!!

Well, as a result of checking on his guys while we were finishing up the roof project (and yes, he even let’s me supply some of the labor to save me a few dollars, the caveat is, if I cause it to run ‘long’ that’s my cost not his), we got talking about project cars and trucks.

In the middle of our conversation UPS shows up with my new primer guns, and he’s wondering if I’d let him borrow them when he gets ready to paint his truck this fall. A few short minutes later, and I’ve set up a deal where I’ll shoot his truck, and teach him how in the process, if I can use his shop to squirt mine.

Can you say S-W-E-E-T!?!?

I know a lot of you don’t have the foggiest idea, what painting a car entails, and could probably care less, but I’m going to give you the short skinny anyway….

In terms of the environment you want:

  • Air flow, ventilation, pulling out overspray and fumes, will not only keep you healthy, it’ll yield a better finish
  • Light, too much is not enough, ideally it would be as bright as daylight, from every angle so you can ‘see’ how the paint is laying down.
  • Clean, and as ‘dust free’ as is possible, keeping bugs, especially gnats and mosquitoes outside is also a must.
  • Large volume air compressor, something capable of flowing 10-15 CFM @ 90psi non-stop is ideal. Painting takes quite a bit less than that, so the compressor will run cooler, less moisture in the compressed air, less that has to be taken out.
Why worry about all of this?

First, automotive paint is expensive; it starts at around $100/gallon and goes up from there. Even a low cost epoxy primer costs in the neighborhood of $75/gallon, and on a typical project I’d expect to use at least a gallon and a half of primer, a gallon of the base color and another gallon of clear.

So with just the paint, not to mention the additives, thinners and reducers, we’re talking $300, and at least double that if you’re planning on doing anything fancy. I saw a pint of a particular House of Kolor ‘Kandy’ priced at near $100 the other day!

With all this money involved you want to minimize the possibility of problems while you’re applying the paint. Ideally, you’d have a climate controlled ‘paint booth’ that provides down draft ventilation, plenty of lighting and an extremely ‘clean’ environment for the process.

One of the worst feelings in the world is to spend 100’s of hours in preparation, knowing you have an absolutely straight and square ‘canvas’ only to have all your efforts nullified by dust, dirt, water or poor lighting. I remember an ambulance we did once (I’ll tell that story another day), that we had to repaint; because the lighting in the shop we borrowed was so bad, there were actually places the paint didn’t ‘cover’ the primer. A hard lesson, and expensive as well!

Scoring a slot in Mike’s garage means I’ll be able to shoot the truck somewhere other than where I’ve been doing all the prep work. In short, that means a ton less dust.

Also, Mike’s shop is considerably larger than mine. That means we can set up some extra lights around the perimeter of the truck and not have to worry about ‘tripping on them while painting.

He’s got all the air compressor we’ll need and we discussed today my ideas for handling the ventilation.

All in all, I’m very excited (not to mention Mike will probably give me a hand with my project, so we can get to his!).

Work today was a series of nice little ‘wins’. I made some promises yesterday that I don’t think anyone thought could be fulfilled. I got lucky on one project because the fellow I’d been charged with guiding to a solution, not only accepted my suggestions, he got them implemented very quickly, with exactly the expected results! A nice win.

The little POL project I mentioned in yesterdays post is wrapped up and delivered, as promised by the close of business today.

I’m on target to get back on the Duns project in the morning, exactly on schedule. They added a couple items to my list for that project today that they need by the end of this week… If I knock that out on time, I’ll have had one of the best weeks on this project yet. All in all, I couldn’t be happier. My wife continues to recover, a roof with no leaks, a place to shoot the truck and the work projects are on track… does it ever get much better?

I hope you all are well, thanks for taking the time to stop by… by all means leave me a comment and let me know what you’re up to!

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Firehawk said...


I never thought much about the difficulties involved in painting before I saw a big program about how the auto industry was improving their paint application. Mazda had set up a sort of rotissirre (sp?) to slowly move and spin their cars as they dried, so that the paint couldn't flow away from one surface to collect on another. It seemed pretty much like overkill, but I guess if it helps to make the paint uniform and the finish last longer...you have to try it. Since then, I've been watching all the car shows like Overhaulin' and Rides, and they really give you a feel for how much the pain does for a car. It can be "perfect" as an unfinished piece, but the paint is what makes the car "pop". They don't often talk about the cost of the paint, though. Pretty pricy stuff, that car paint.

Neat post. Glad you had your small victories. They keep you going.

Bill said...

Firehawk - Overhaulin' is one of my favorite shows. Foose is an incredibly gifted guy, and yet, on every show you see him, in there getting his hands dirty, covered in 'bondo dust', loving every second of the process.

The paint does make the car 'pop', no doubt about it.

If you think about the problems a company like Mazda has, imagine, not only trying to replicate that process, but end up with a better end result, without their resources!! It's a crap shoot everytime we do one.

It's the process I love though, blowing on the finish coat is like icing on the cake. The best paint job, on a substandard prep-job, will still look bad, a mediocre paint job on a flawless prep will still look damn good!

Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

No_Newz said...

Wooohoo, win win all around!
Me? Um... I'm getting as back to normal as possible. :) Thank you for asking.
Lois Lane

Nina said...

I wouldn't have thought about the technical part of auto painting. Now I know. . .

Bill said...

Lois - I know... ya gotta love that! :) I'm glad you're getting back to normal... just don't go getting all 'real normal' on us... we wouldn't know how to act!

Nanina - You probably know more than you ever wanted too!! :)

Thanks for stopping by y'all!

Beth said...

My dad always worked on his own cars, painted them, etc. Same with hubby so this is something I know a lot about. Congrats on your wins!

Bill said...

Beth - I'm looking for a new 'HVLP' style paint gun... if you could, ask your husband what he's used and what he prefers. It's been a long time since my old Binks #7 was the favorite of painters.

Thanks, I only hope we can keep the string going!!

Trevor Record said...

I had no idea car paint cost so much. I was sort of wanting to have my car repainted, too....

Bill said...

Trevor - Yeah, it's pretty expensive... on the other hand, places like Macco run specials that are very reasonable.

If you don't have a lot of damage, just fading and chipped paint, that might be a way to go.

seeingdouble said...

Wow, I had no idea what went into painting a car. Totally cool, have fun with your project!

Bill said...

SD - It's far too complicated actually... and the technology keeps changing... in talking with the folks at the 'paint store' the other day, they convinced me to use a 2-part urethane primer, something I've never done before.

So, once again I'm off into uncharted territory!

Thanks for stopping by.