This has to be one of the most dreaded tasks associated with building a restomod. Bodywork and painting are undertakings no one wants to tackle. It's a filthy task good for blisters, dust-impregnated mucus in your nose, absolute boredom, and certainly anticipation. Anticipation is about the only positive because we're eager to get to that all-important finish coat when our efforts become fruitful and we feel productive. To get there, we have to pay our dues and give a budget restomod abundant sweat equity. Or you could spend a lot of money and turn the whole thing over to a body shop.
Can't afford it? We thought so... Again that darned incentive to save money. There are two basic ways you can strip a body down to the bare steel while staying within a tight budget. Wrap your hands around an orbital sander and begin with 80- and 100-grit sandpaper. The second way is to buy a gallon or two of paint stripper from your favorite autobody supply store, which takes less time, but it costs more and makes a bigger mess.
We were going to build the small-block V-8 engine for Project KISS this issue. Because all of the parts haven't arrived for our budget small-block, we're going to be productive anyway, and begin paint and rust removal. Like we told you earlier, there are two means to budget rust and paint removal: sanding and chemical. Sanding takes longer, but it's cheaper. Chemical stripping costs more and it's messier, but it's faster.
If You Had A Dream Budget
There are two more expensive means to paint and rust removal we won't be addressing at length here: chemical dipping and media-blasting. Chemical dipping is very expensive, around $1,500 to $2,000 for an entire car, and it is labor intensive when you get the body back. The body must be thoroughly washed and the stripper neutralized afterward. This means blasting all seams, rocker panels, torque boxes-everything. The nice part is, chemical dipping yields a raw steel body ready for bodywork and paint. It's just very expensive, which puts it outside our KISS requirements.
Media-blasting costs approximately $1,000 for an entire car, depending on the shop and location. It's also labor-intensive when it's time for cleanup work afterward. Media-blasting can sometimes bite you in the posterior because not all shops do a professional job. We've seen decklids, doors, and hoods so badly warped after media-blasting they had to be thrown away. If you choose media-blasting, shop carefully and ask to see examples of their work. Professional shops use specialized media (not sand). They also understand the technique necessary to remove paint and rust without warping the sheetmetal. This is what you want from a media-blaster.
Another approach to paint stripping is dry-ice blasting. Not all areas have this service available, but we've seen it in Los Angeles. Dry-ice blasting is undoubtedly more expensive than media-blasting, but the dry ice melts and evaporates, leaving only the paint dust and rust particles. It's the cleanest approach to paint stripping we've seen yet. Again, too expensive for a KISS budget. But we can dream.
We're going to show you two approaches to paint stripping on Project KISS: sanding and chemical stripping. Then you can decide what works best for your project.
Here's what you need to get...
Here's what you need to get started: a good orbital sander, available from any home improvement store, and lots of 80- and 100-grit sandpaper, also available from the same place. You can buy pre-cut sandpaper for orbital sanders. Because you want to save money, you should buy large sheets of sandpaper and cut it yourself.
Begin by scuffing up the finish,...
Begin by scuffing up the finish, then working your way down to the steel. Don't overdo it. When you get to the steel, move on. Watch edges and corners.
You can begin almost anywhere....
You can begin almost anywhere. We suggest beginning at one end of the body and working in one direction. This way, you don't miss anything.
Low and high spots should...
Low and high spots should be circled with a marker as shown. This way, you don't miss anything.
How far should you go? We...
How far should you go? We suggest sanding all areas including door jambs, rocker panels, trunk area, and any other areas you're going to paint. This is especially important if you're going to change body color. Because Project KISS is going to be '99 Mustang Anniversary Red, we need to eliminate all of that Lime Gold Ford had applied 33 years ago.
Some areas will have to be...
Some areas will have to be hand-sanded. Areas like concave and convex surfaces should be hand-sanded for