Friday, January 31, 2014

Painting a Car

 Published in the January/February, 1978 issue ofThe Restorer,” the Ford Model A magazine.

by June T. Bassemir

I’ve painted one Model A Ford Sport Coupe and suddenly I’m an expert!.  And on top of that the “J” in my name stands for June.  And if that isn’t enough (materially speaking) the only thing left to me that is young, is my spirit.  I’ve just finished the most thrilling part of restoring my car.  Filling, priming and sanding has been my concentrated way of life for the past six weeks.

My brain, ever active, jotted down some do’s and don’ts which I would like to pass along to you if you are a nervous beginner like I was.    But first, it shouldn’t surprise you that a woman is restoring a Model A.  I mean after all, haven’t women always been in the painting business?  We’ve been lacquering our nails for years and years.  True some do a better job than others but then some Model A paint jobs vary too.  What about the restoration job we have been doing on our faces?  Avon knows about it and they have been supplying us for a long time. 

Sanding a fender is just like filing a nail… only bigger.  What about upholstering…nothing could be more up our alley… especially if you’ve done some sewing.  If you have ever cleaned an oven, you can certainly clean the heavily coated grease off an old engine…. In fact it’s easier.  And whose fingers can adeptly lay the masking tape but a woman’s.  Does a man know that the tape will make a curve better if the outside edge is clipped?  I do admit that welding and hammering out dents is not quite so easy to correlate but it’s possible to learn if you have a good teacher.

Cranking the car is another thing not too easy for women but if I ever get stuck somewhere, I hope there’s a big strong man around.

Now, for the do’s and don’ts that I learned the hard way.  These are just a few beginner observations and in no way assumes to be a comprehensive list.  Any good paint book can give you these same hints, and many more. 

It cannot be overstated that your paint gun must be absolutely clean and fully operative.  If you paint for an hour or two, plan to take at least ½ hour to clean your equipment afterward.  (“I can’t imagine why the gun is dribbling…it worked perfectly a week ago.”)  Leave a little clean thinner in the gun, just in case you have overlooked any paint in your clean up operation… the vapors will keep things open.   Never soak the nylon ring inside the nozzle in thinner for any length of time as it will crack as mine did and have to be replaced.  Make sure the article you are painting is in the center of the room, with plenty of free space to move easily around it.  (!!*@*#!!   Who left that roller skate there?”)

Have your hose free from tangles and not wrapped about a can of thinner or a lamp.  (Oh, the bottles I have knocked over and light bulbs that I have broken  Would you believe four 100 watt bulbs in one day?)   Work under a strong light and if you need to wear glasses – wear them.  (My hood looked great until I put my glasses on.)

Never paint in a hurry.  ( “Just give me another 20 minutes, then I’ll take you to your dentist appointment.”)   When pouring out the paint, keep the paint dribbles from covering up the formula figures on the side of the can.  (“Egad, this doesn’t look like the right color.”)  Don’t be afraid of the gun.  Know in which direction your hand is going to take before you pull the trigger.

Become familiar with the gun during the process of priming before you tackle the finish coat.  If a run occurs, fight the temptation to wipe it with a rag.  (“Maybe if I wipe it real quick with some thinner…”)  Wait until the next day, then sand and start over again.  That nice terry towel is soft, but a tack rag is the key to a lint free surface.  And now that I have told you my secrets for a great paint job, wait ‘til you see me at the Washington, DC Meet next year.

copyright 1978 and 2012, June T. Bassemir

June Tuthill Bassemir is the widowed mother of four and grandmother of 10.  An artist and writer, she  volunteers as a docent in a 1765 farm house.   June loves old cars and antiques, and has also enjoyed furniture stripping and rug hooking.  "I used to say I was a stripper and hooker.but with so many trips around the sun, no one raises an eyebrow anymore. They only laugh."  June has given up furniture stripping, but is still an avid rug hooker.

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