Vintage Painting and




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Figure A

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Figure B

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Figure C

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Figure D

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Figure E

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Figure F

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Figure G

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Figure H

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Figure I

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Figure J

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Figure K


The final procedures in the auto-body repair on the 1984 Alfa Romeo include priming and painting. Following are the major steps in the in the process.

Safety Alert: Always use a respirator when using a paint-sprayer, and make sure that the respirator is suitable for automotive paint. Also wear eye protection in the form of safety glasses.

  • Before painting actually begins, a dual-action sander is used to smooth the repair area and body filler to a smooth surface (figure A). A dual-action sander is the ideal tool for this job since it can utilize either orbital or circular disc action, and can be used to feather the edges of the filler and create a seamless juncture with the surrounding painted surface.


  • Also prior to painting, the adjacent areas of the car are masked off (figure B), and the car is covered with plastic (figure C) to prevent damage by over-spray of primer or paint. The masking paper used in our demonstration is a special type that was obtained from a body shop, but newspaper will work also.


  • The professional paint-spray gun used is a HV-LP paint gun, which stands for "high volume; low pressure." This type of spray gun (figure D) allows paint and primer to be applied smoothly and evenly, without over-spray or visible paint-lines.


  • A two-part primer, with hardener, was used to prime the damaged areas before painting (figure E).


  • Spray-Painting Tip: As with any spray-painting job, the key to a professional look is to keep moving as you spray. Don't hold the sprayer stationary as you spray in one single spot. Instead, use even sweeping motions as you spray. Also try to keep the nozzle of the sprayer at a uniform distance from the work surface at all times.


  • Depending on the brand and type of primer that you're using, you may need to apply two to three coats.


  • Once the primer has dried (figure F), it is ready to be sanded.


  • We used a DA sander with 320-grit sandpaper to sand the primer surface and the painted edges adjacent to it (figure G). As before, feather the primer out past the edges. You only need to apply light pressure to the DA sander.


  • On the lower panels of this car, the paint has a textured finish known as a gravel guard finish (figure H). This is a sprayed coating that protects the paint against rock-chips. Gravel-guard is available in spray cans at auto-supply stores. We applied to the rocker-panel area to match the existing paint. Perfect spray-painting technique is not required with gravel guard, but try to achieve a fairly even coat.


  • With the primer and gravel-guard applied, the car is ready for painting. For this car, the paint had to be professionally color-matched since the car had previously been painted another color. The gas cap was taken to the paint supplier to get a perfect computer-match. The paint we used was a single-stage paint.


  • Prior to painting, remove any dust from the areas to be painted using a tack-rag.


  • For our job, we applied paint to the body areas first, then to the removed door (figure I).


  • Apply the paint using even strokes, as discussed earlier (figure J).


  • Allow the paint to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions before taking off the masking (figure K).




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