Saturday, 21 May 2016

Car Painting & MGBs

I've been spending lunchtimes and evenings getting rid of a rather large scratch and dent in rear n/s pillar of the 500SL's hardtop, but with little success. I've sprayed a number of cars over the years, having totally rebuilt several MGBs in my youth.

The problem is metallic paint - I've never played with it before. Usually, with a solid colour spray paint, you flat the paint down with 1200 wet and dry to remove any blemishes or orange peel before polishing with cutting compound - job done! The issue with metallic paint is it doesn't take well to flatting, leaving hazy marks at the join between the old and new paint due to the alignment of the metallic flakes.

Finally cracked it - you give it several very light coats to eliminate the chance of orange peel (and contrary to what you'd do with a solid colour), don't flat it down at all and simply cover with clear lacquer, ensuring you go well over the 'join' between the old and new, flatting down the lacquer much later, if necessary, and providing it is thick enough to take flatting. Just cutting compound is best, and then just at the feathered edges of the lacquer to remove the spatter texture there. That way you're not even touching the metal flake.

Not a bad job, though I say so myself, and even despite the conditions not being optimum - no garage and quite a bit of wind.

The best car I ever rebuilt - literally a nuts and bolts job - was OEG 81F, a 1967 Tartan red MGB. Took me 2 years in between voyages to sea and college time. When I bought it the car had been bodged into a rubber bumper conversion - don't ask me why. I had intended to run it for a few months before rebuilding it, but it was so unsafe that I started immediately.

It was, naturally enough, a labour of love, but she gleamed when finished and fully restored back to chrome bumper. I was totally surprised when, after 2 years and a complete strip-down (engine included), she burst into life on the first turn of the ignition, albeit somewhat lumpily.

I once parked it at my parents' house when my brother and his kids were there too - imagine my horror when I caught one of my nieces shoveling slow off the bonet with a spade! She thought she was doing me a good turn.

I documented the rebuild in the MG Owners' Magazine and, on the basis of some comments I made, they instituted my 5 point condition criteria for cars sold in the magazine, with slight amendments. I was bloody proud of that car.

Eventually sold it to a neighbour for £1,800 when I bought a Lotus Elite that needed some work doing on it. All told, it cost me more than that to restore it. Always wondered what became of it.

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