February 22, 2014

Prepping A Car for Finishing

Body Shop Business published a great article about car refinishing a few years back. The mindset that car refinishing is easy seems to be spreading throughout the industry. But there are no shortcuts to perfect paint jobs, and thorough prep work is essential to a lasting, quality repair.

No Scuff ’n Shoot Here
by Nathan Tarr

Clean, Clean, Clean
Many times I’ve observed a refinish tech pull a job into the paint shop, pull out a DA and go to town on the car. And I cringe every time I see it. Why? Because they’ve violated what I consider the golden rule of prep work: Always work with a clean surface.

There are many contaminants on a car’s existing finish, and every paint company makes several types of cleaners to get these contaminants off. The first thing all refinish techs should do to any car they work on is spray it down with their chosen paint company’s waterborne cleaner. Wipe off the cleaner using clean towels, making sure you’re actually cleaning the panel and not just smearing around the gunk. These waterborne cleaners are designed to rid the panel of nasty stuff like bird droppings, bug guts and grubby body tech fingerprints.

You’ll also want to use some solvent-based cleaner on the panel and clean it again. When you just start sanding on an unclean surface, you’re just grinding all that wax and gunk into the paint, which will ultimately result in a repair that just doesn’t last.

Technicians generally don’t have to deal with customers, so we usually don’t have a personal connection with the cars we’re working on. As a result, it’s pretty easy to become thoughtless with other people’s property. But as professionals, we all need to treat these cars in a professional way. Before you go slopping up a customer’s interior, close the windows and cover up any openings that allow dust and sanding goop to go where it doesn’t belong. It’s also a good habit to protect the panels next to the ones you’re sanding with masking tape instead of relying on your extreme skill with sandpaper. The extra time you spend protecting the customer’s car will be nothing compared to the time it’ll take you to fix an extra panel you damaged after zoning out.

Inspect the Damage
The car is clean and protected, but you’re still not ready to get on with this “scuff and shoot” just yet. Now is a good time to check over the body technician’s work. I make sure the repair looks right and is finished in the appropriate grit. Most primers are made to fill 180 grit scratches, so an 80 grit repair is unacceptable in my mind. Yes, my primer will fill the coarser grits, but only for the time being. In most shops, it isn’t standard operating procedure to take care of primer shrinkage three months after the car is delivered to the customer. Now is the time to give the body tech a second chance to finish his repair…

To read the complete article, please visit Body ShopBusiness.com

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