Big Doin's In The Works.
I've been told I'm an artist, and that, to be happy, I need to be creating. What I know is when nothing is getting done, be it renovations, writing, tinkering, etc., I'm pissed. So maybe that's it. In late 2009 I set a dream of mine into action, and produced an amateur horror film. It is a process that is still going on, but the bulk of the work is done. Last October, I had a premiere at our local theater arts center and 500 people came out to watch. Phrases like "Instant Cult Classic" were heard, and it was an incredible night.
After that, I was sad-as frustrating as it was, it was over. Wanting to create, but not wanting to go through that again so soon, I began to compile a list of things I wanted to accomplish from a creative, hands-on standpoint. Not your usual 'bucket list' (I hate that term, BTW), but one more like the accomplishments uttered by the guys in the back of the Lincoln Tyler Durden is about to wreck in FIGHT CLUB.
On the top of that list was to paint a car myself. I guess it stemmed from building models as a kid, or reading CHRISTINE by Stephen King, reading about Arnie doing body work (even though he wasn't, really), or maybe it was all those kids in shop that seemed to know how to do it perfectly, and a few that obviously had no clue. I knew with patience and the right equipment, I could do this too.
But there's the thing-the right equipment means one damned good compressor (properly filtered for moisture and dirt, not to mention a 220v line to power it),with enough pressure to power a $300-plus spray gun, as well as a DA sander. Said gun will also push paint, starting around $40 a gallon for the cheap shit and going up into the hundreds. Lots of accessories, a respirator, a clean, dry place to spray it, not to mention about a week to prep and spray, and you could easily be into $2000 of materials before you even start.
Then there's the body and paint guys. Go into a supply shop and they look down at you because you want to do it yourself. They laugh at you wanting to get away inexpensively, and most of the time end up suggesting you just let a pro do it. I get that paint work is a profession, with reasons why it costs what it does. But here's the rub-I drive an almost 13 year-old truck that is approaching 200,000 miles, that I will likely drive until the wheels fall off, using it as a weekend work vehicle long after I've purchased something else for a daily driver. I probably couldn't get $2000 for it in the shape it's in-why would I want to spend $3-$5000 on a paint job?
After some extensive searching I, like many others before me, discovered The $50 Paint Job. Here seems to be the first time someone tried taking a self-leveling, rust inhibiting industrial-grade paint (in this case Rustoleum Professional Series), thinning it, and applying it with a foam roller. The paint levels itself, and the fine roller helps it go on smoothly. After drying it is sanded, and a new coat is applied. Once final coat has sufficiently dried, it is polished and waxed, and maintained with annual waxings thereafter.
Yeah, it sounds crazy- You may as well paint with a brush, right? There's no WAY this could work. We've all seen AMERICAN CHOPPER, FAST AND LOUD, and countless other shows-we know what goes into paint, particularly prep, (which is probably 90% of the job). But the pictures spoke for themselves, and the price (while no longer anywhere NEAR $50 to do it right) could not be beat, and still cheaper than Maaco or Earl Sheib (though the latter is now gone sadly).
I knew a girl in High school that painted her '81 Malibu with a roller. I always thought she was awesome for doing it. For what it was, it wasn't too bad, better than her faded and worn out factory silver finish. We dated later, but that's another story...and it was over 25 years ago. I decided this was worth researching further and set to it.
In the process of my searching I was bounced around to various automotive restoration forums. What I found was a vast array of vehicles that had undergone this treatment. They ranged from rock crawlers to Porsche race cars, street and rat rods to vintage VWs. What they all had in common was an owner on a budget, with a vehicle that, while at times desirable, lacked the, say, Barrett-Jackson collectibility that would require a high-dollar paint job. Think Dodge Charger with a $50 paint job, Hemi 'Cuda without. Make sense?
Along the way, I learned of various techniques and methods that augmented the process or the results. Abrasives up to 2000 grit at the end. Hardener added on the last coat. Turbine sprayers like those used by guitar builders and cabinet makers (and yes, a few Wagner Power Painters as well) Different mix ratios. Different brands of paint (Ace Hardware's Rust Stop is a similar formulation, as well as various marine finishes including Rustoleum's Topside brand and Interlux's Brightside). And over and over again, I saw great results. I saw a lot of crap, but it was obvious it was due to a lack of preparation and planning.
Matt's Ranger Splash looks good, despite the fact that yellow seems to be one of the most botched colors attempted-particularly when attempted over a dark color (which is almost always). Matt did the smart thing and went yellow over his original color-yellow.
Eventually I found a forum that dealt solely with the $50 and its variants, Rolled-On. This helped to narrow it down, a community where others had posted their progress and results, and offered advice based on experience. Here I found unbelievable results from users like n0m4d, who tried it on his E30 chassis BMW:
Results like these spurred my creativity, and I got to work planning on how I would do my Dodge. There are specific challenges with this particular project, not the least of which is reaching areas like my roof. I have decided to go the route of matching my paint as closely as possible, so I won't need to paint the door jambs if i don't want to. I've been working on some rust repair already (more on that later) and if I can keep up a decent pace, I should have this completed before fall, or at least before it gets too cold to paint. Here I go again-wish me luck.