Gel Coat Question

OK - I'm confused. I've got a '63 split Window that I'm going to re-paint because it's got blisters showing up. The confusion is because I don't know
if Gel Coating is a must or not. I have 2 restore shops that tell me it is and the paint won't last 3 years if I don't and 2 others that ay they never Gel Coat these year Vets (they didn't come from the factory with a gel coat). It would be an easier decision if they would give me a price but they won't and say they'll tell ne when it's stripped and can see what I've got. Can I hear from some of you guys so I can make an intelligent decision. I don't want to do this again in 3 years and I want to do it correct now but I don't want to spend unnecessary money as it's already going to cost a fortune.
Thanks for any advice!
Vic
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Vic Spainhower wrote:

lasts without blistering depends on how careful the shop is about not allowing comtaminents to get on or stay on the surface, and about allowing time between surface prep and painting for solvents to thoroughly evaporate out of the fiberglass. Mixing paint brands between layers is risky also.
You CAN use gelcoat, and it may be a good idea if the fiberglass is rough, with lots of panel repairs, or spider cracking and glass fiber ends sticking out of the surface, but most Vette painters say it isn't normally needed, and it's very difficult to work with and sand.
You don't say what paint system you plan to use for a topcoat, ie, basecoat/clearcoat, acrylic lacquer, or single-stage epoxy, so it's hard to speak in specifics.
If they say they can get it done in a week or two, they probably aren't doing it properly; plan on a couple of months elapsed time to do it right. It's especially important to allow the body time to sit in the sun (or an oven) for a considerable period after initial bodyprep and even more inportant if the old paint was chemically stripped, before painting any gelcoat or primer/sealers, and between primer/sealer coats. Blistering is usually due to solvents leaching out of the fiberglass or crevices at joints, or from oils or silicone that wasn't thoroughly removed. And, if paint is applied very wet and/or solvents aren't given sufficient time to escape between coats, you can experience delayed paint shrinkage that causes sanding marks to appear for up to a year or more afterwards. These are issues more problematic in fiberglass cars than in metal cars.
PPG seems to be the basecoat/clearcoat favorite, but DuPont, Diamont, and Glasurit are also commonly used. Some recommend using PPG DP40 to seal the fiberglass or gelcoat (then let it dry at least 4 days at 70 degrees or more before continuing, preferably longer), K36 or NCP271 for blocking, then DP40 or DP90 again to prep for color coats.
Your best bet is to get recommendations from other Corvette owners who have used the shop you are contemplating using, but who had their car painted a year or so ago. That may mean asking the shops for referrals (and following up by looking at their cars), attending local car shows, joining a Corvette club, etc.
I haven't heard anyone else recommend this, but I think it might be smart to have an example car (perhaps a car he previously painted, or even a brand new car) that you can show the painter and get his agreement in writing that your car will get a finish at least equal in quality, and that he will guarantee it against blistering and sub-surface sanding marks for at least a year. He is so used to looking at paint work that he will know if he can accomplish that. I've only done that once, and the painter was proud of his work and expressed confidence he could do even better work for me than my example, and did write that on our work order contract. That way, you both know exactly what is expected, and you have a benchmark you can use later in court if that ever became necessary.
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Base/Clear. I don't profess to know much about Gel Coating, but I do know firsthand that the paint can last much longer than 3 years if you don't use Gel Coating. Two years ago I won Best Paint in a major car show with what was then 7 year old paint. So that was B.S. from the "2 restore shops that... the paint won't last 3 years if I don't "
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Vic Spainhower wrote:

until they see the underlying fiberglass, but they ought to be able to make a close estimate based on looking at the underside of panels for prior damage, with a proviso that they may run into unforseen bodywork that they will show you upon finding it, and that it will cost you extra. I think after you talk to a few shop managers, and get references from car owners who've dealt with them, that you'll be more comfortable about assigning the work.
They are often oriented towards doing the work the cheapest way (because they deal with insurance companies a lot), so if you want quality bodywork (like replacing damaged panels rather than simply repairing them), you have to so state and be ready to pay for the level of quality you want. It is not uncommon for a strip and paint job alone to run $6k or more; body work will add to that cost.
If they don't want to spend the time to thoroughly inspect the car and give you an educated estimate, well, find someone else who wants your business.
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wrote:

====================I have often swore that I would never ever again buy an older Corvette that HAD paint on it.... honest.... Just way too many surprises after the stripping process...
But like Wayne said...they should be willing to inspect the car and give you an educated GUESS....
Another poster said his paint job was 7 years old when he won his Last Best Paint award....Personally I really do not think that is really unbelievable... Been at least that long since I had my last car was painted and I still get questioned all the time asking who painted the car (s)... Honest I have been asked by guys who restore Corvettes for a living who painted the cars.. most restorers do not do in house paint... they want a quality painter as much as you do...
The suggestion to open your mouth and ask owners who painted their car is a DAMN GOOD suggestion... Ask at crusie ins, ask at shows, ask at the gas stations... I bet that after you have asked 100 different owners you will discover that the same 3 or 4 shops names keep comming up...
BTW....Quality, especially "show quality" paint jobs are NOT cheap.. 20 to 30 hours of labor Just to buff out the paint is normal...BUT well worth the cost.. Bob Griffiths
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You hit that on the head Bob. My body/paint job cost Can. $ 8500 nine years ago and I still have people asking who did the paint.
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Great feedback and I feel a little better about finding someone willing to do a quality job for a reasonable price. btw I'm planning a base coat/clear coat paint job. It is now black and I want to do a color change to silver. I did get 1 price which was $13,000 after it was gelcoated. The car actually looks good until you get right on it and then you see the blisters on the front fenders (very small bubbles) there is one larger one on the back. The car was painted about 10years ago.
As for stripping the paint, based on the condition of the paint I described do I want to media blast it or not. I'm also considering soda blasting but have concerns about the reaction of the soda with the fiberglass. Anyone done soda?
Thanks,
Vic
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un-altered Corvette". The only time there is gelcoat on a Corvette is when there has been an aftermarket part added to the car. What I think you are referring to is the process of applying new resin to the fiberglass body, a costly process. Gelcoat is applied to the mold to produce an after market fiberglass part.
Glass bead done by a competent strip shop has worked for me and will be used in preference to the other medias for that reason.
--
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I watched a video on the resto of a C2, not sure of the year. What you mention is what they did, they applied thinned resin to the body after media blasting. Soaked up quite a bit as I remember.
Marty
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Vic Spainhower wrote:

From what I've heard, you need to be VEEERRRRRYYYY careful about who does the media/soda blasting if you go that way... stories abound about ruined bodies, yet others say it worked out well for them. If you aren't doing a body-off restoration, I'd be concerned about the media getting into the interior, bearings & bushings, etc. Sanding is probably the safest (if you're super careful not to sand down edges), and some swear by razor-blade peeling (others say it's too easy to gouge the fiberglass this way), but by far the most common method is chemical stripping.
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Thanks Wayne, think I'l stay away from the soda blaster. How about media blasting that's the method used by one of the shops I talked with who justs works with Corvettes.
Vic
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walnut shells.
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