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!
The 63 didn't come from the factory with gelcoat. How long the paint
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.
Vic, I have a '63 roadster and last had it painted 9 years ago with
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 "
PS, you can't blame them for not wanting to give you a firm estimate
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
====================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..
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
Someone correct me on this if I'm wrong, "There is no gelcoat on any
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
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.
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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