Even tradition begins with a trend. Among hot rod painters today, there’s an unwritten rule of thumb: if we want our efforts to stay in style, we’d best adhere to a style that’s timeless. The early ’60s were good years for hot rods. Being just old enough to remember, I’ve been influenced by the trends of those times.
When this little Deuce five-window project came to us, it was pretty rough. In its scattered state of disassembly, it had obviously been a hot rod for a long time. In the mix with other loose parts were gold ’n’ black, ’56-issue California plates; still affixed was a ’62 tab. As further proof of its period, the car’s underside floor and fenders were painted white. That was a short-lived California trend that lasted only a couple years or so, as my elders more-vividly recall. No one does that anymore — except for one guy I can think of, back about 11 years ago.
For the purpose of illustration, I’ve dug up some pictures from the older coupe build, which was actually completed back in 2008. Just thumbin’ through those got me thinking. From the bottom of the heap, this handful of old pictures could make for good storytellin’ — as “somewhat twisted” tech for the hot rodder or restorer.
Our story begins in a spray booth, but it won’t so much be about the shiny-wet body. This’ll be more about the supplied air system that’s mounted to the spraybooth wall behind it. For what we’re fixin’ to do, that’s a crucial piece of shop equipment. On that note, let’s rewind to the part where we paint this body’s underside as described, in early-‘60s-style white.
Before this step, bodywork was done, panels were gapped and a new wood kit was installed. With the body as it is, in final prime to boot, this doesn’t seem like a good time to roll it on its side for underside painting. With my trusty 2-quart pressure pot, I can paint the underside from below, but in the spray booth, I can’t get the body high enough on stands for that. There’s a two-post lift over yonder. That’ll be kind enough to the body, but in order to control overspray through the shop, we’ll need to get creative.
Through my years as a professional stunt painter, I’ve had to adapt to environments; from ’booths to barns, to chicken coops, and even the great outdoors. As a result, over time, I’ve done myself some damage, and by now I’ve pretty much had it with the hazards. Although I no longer care to inhale, I have committed to do the job at hand while standing just below it, encompassed by toxic-and-flammable vapors in a makeshift bubble ’booth. Without supplied air, it would certainly be “The Booth of Doom!”
As you’re likely aware, there are different types of supplied air systems. At this shop we have an older Sata setup (from the late ’90s, as I recall). Through a series of three serviceable filters, and special non-gassing hoses, it converts the shop’s compressed air to Grade-D breathable air. Over the years, I’ve used this equipment a lot. Replacement filters have always been spendy, but then, so would be hospital and funeral expenses, right?
Here, the dual-purpose plan is to protect the shop from sticky overspray without taking the hit myself, as I’m all bubbled-up in a haze of rubberized undercoating, epoxy primer, basecoat and urethane clear. My plastic bubble won’t make for a pleasant work environment, and I can’t help but wonder what clipboard-carrying inspectors might think of all this. At any rate, it’s not something I’d do every day. If I never do this again, that’ll be just fine.
The upcoming technical part of our story will focus on safety, as we go about doing a dangerous job. If, by chance, you’re expectin’ deep detail regarding our material selections, please keep in mind that these old pictures are just that — old. If you really want to know, our rubberized undercoating is a 3M product that we usually order through Summit. From there, it’s all PPG, but really, this ain’t about paint. This is about painters’ survival.
Don’t be another poisoned painter. A good supplied air system is money well spent. Even outside the bubble, protect your lungs, eyes and solvent-absorbent skin.
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