CaboWabo’s S-2000 White Rag-Top (v. 1.0)

by CaboWabo

Clear body maskedTo start, you need to make any cuts or trimmings on the body that you’ll want in the finished project. For instance, if you’re going to use the body on a “dual-celled” chassis, you’ll need to cut out the part of the body that will allow it to fit on the chassis while having the extra battery. Or another instance could be fixing the molding imperfections on the body, sometimes the molds don’t quite match-up and cause a crease, get rid of those. Continue this process until you have all your cuts made and smoothed out. The cuts and trimmings should be completed with the idea in mind that those cuts and trimmings are final, you will not be able to do any “touch-up” work after you begin so make sure you’ve got it like you want it before moving on.

Base CoatAfter you’ve completed and touched-up your cuts and trimmings, you need to clean the body extremely well. Make sure there are no dust particles, plastic shavings, etc. Try to handle the body as little as possible to reduce the risk of introducing any other debris. I suggest going to a sink, run the water and let it wash your bit, dry it off with a paper towel, usually “blotting” works best as it tends to be less likely to leave “fuzz” behind. After blotting, let the body sit for awhile to be sure it’s completely dry, even in the smallest of cracks.

Painting RoofNow you’re ready to mask the body, remembering to mask only the items that you do not plan on painting, such as windows, lights, etc, remember to tape the inside of the body as well so no over spray gets on the inside of the body and ruins your windows or other areas. I prefer using a combination of materials to use as a mask. For larger areas and areas of less detail, I prefer to use normal, cheapo manila masking tape. Be sure to work all air bubbles out of the tape as well as making sure the tape has made the best seal possible, especially for line work or areas where 2 colors are going to meet. UnmaskedThe idea is to do everything in your power to prevent the paint from bleeding into and under your masks. For smaller areas and areas of extreme detail, I prefer to use some sort of liquid mask, there are many out there, you’ll just have to ask your LHS which would be better suited for your needs. Be careful with some liquid masks, some tend to “eat” the plastic the body is made out of, which is why you should ask your LHS which you should use. Even then, before actually using the liquid mask all over, test it out on an inconspicuous spot on your body to be sure it doesn’t damage it. Once you’ve completely finished masking, you’re now ready to move on to the next step.

DetailingThe first thing we’ll be laying down is primer. Especially on clear bodies, primer is a must so colors show up and don’t cause any transparent / thin spots in the paint job on the body. Choosing the color of primer is another option you should pay attention to. In general, the rule is, the lighter color of primer, the lighter the paint will look once painted over the primer. It’s a good idea to do a few tests on scrap pieces to see just how light or dark you want your paint to turn out. I suggest using spray paint or an airbrush, they render better results than brushed on paint, no brush strokes and your coats of paint are much thinner. Thinner is a good thing. It’s much better to apply several thin coats of paint rather than 1 or 2 super thick coats. The main reasoning here is thick coats tend to look sloppy / chunky and causes raised areas in your body, especially around masked areas. When spraying on coats of paint or primer, the general rule to follow is: hold the object to be painted about 12 inches away from the spray. Quickly spray in a horizontal motion from left to right, using thin / light coats of paint. You may see areas that are quite light and need more paint, don’t worry if you see those, after drying – you’ll spray on another coat of paint. Do not keep spraying in the same area or try to spray the entire body the first time around, you’ll end up leaving “pools” of paint on the body, sprayed paint can be made to go on thick too, which isn’t good. You may notice some detail lines are slightly filled with paint, again don’t worry. If you painted on thin coats of paint, it’s going to dry and go back to its original form. Once you’ve finished the first coat, make sure not to touch it and keep it in a place where there’s the least chance of dust or anything else getting on to the paint. When completely dried, if necessary, you may re-spray another coat of primer, thin, just like mentioned above, then let dry again. Repeat this process as many times as necessary, though it should only take 1-3 times.

Rear DetailsNow that we have our primer down, we’re ready for the next steps, which is more masking if you plan to paint any details or designs. Again, it’s the same masking processes, techniques, and tools as previously mentioned. I personally just kept the windows masked, made a new mask for the convertible top and started laying down my first coat of paint over the entire body, which would be the “base” color of the body, the metallic green. It took only 2 very thinly sprayed coats. When that was finished and dried, I then took off the mask for the convertible top and re-masked the rest of the car, leaving only the convertible top exposed. With that, a new coat of white paint was now applied, it also only took 2 very thin coats and was left to dry. Once the paint dried, I began removing the mask that covered the entire car and left only the windows still masked (from our very first masking job).

Front DetailsNext, it was time to move on and paint some of the details of the car such as head lights, tail lights, and exhaust. This was a rather tedious job as you have to use the smallest brush you can possibly find, with the smallest dabs of paint on the end, while using the smallest brush strokes you can achieve. I chose to work from the rear of the body to the front, making sure not to skip any details as I moved forward.

Once finished and dried, I didn’t like the head lights and decided to paint over them. Huge mistake, the paints I originally used on the headlights bleed right through the new coat of paint, leaving me with a swirled mix of paint that resembled oil, dirt and metal shavings. Odd DesignI was pissed to say the least and through the freshly painted, wet body, across the room. As my luck would have it, the body landed directly on the head light I had just painted and smeared the paint past the lines for the head light, down my quarter panel and across my hood ruined! Now I’m furious and begin chain smoking and swearing like a tweaked out, over the road, big rig driver. Thanks to payaso’s quick thinking and handy work, he quickly wiped off my body, rather good too. Only paint that had smeared into creases was left. My original paint scheme was still ruined and I was devastated, however necessity is the mother of invention and this case was about to prove that.

Rear ShotNow I had to rack my brain for ideas of how to fix this cluster fuck of a paint job. After 37 cigarettes, a few b-rips and some collaborative discussion – I decided to make a bold decision. I was going to paint a design on the body that would not only make it look more like a “track” car, but would also allow me to fix my head light that seemed to be painted on by a crack addict with turrets syndrome. This was a hard decision to make not only because this was no where near the paint scheme I had in mind, but this was my first ever paint job and I wasn’t feeling very confident that I could pull it off. I wanted a bold design that commanded attention on part of the car and eventually turned the interest back over to the original paint scheme, it also had to match the current scheme. Once again, I started masking, I just used regular masking tape and cut out a design that went diagonally across the hood of the body, slipped across the door jam, and snaked down the side until its tail eventually trailed off to a point. Yea right! That’s exactly what I thought, but it reality – it really wasn’t that bad. This mask was slightly different than the other masks because it was a “fix” – normally you would have planned for this and masked it in earlier steps. What made it different was that I masked the entire car again and left the new design area open, ready to be painted on. I didn’t have any colors that matched in spray, so I had to mix several colors to achieve the color I wanted, and with that, I busted out my smallest paint brush and began.

As mentioned before, I tried to brush on the paint in the thinnest coats possible; it was going to take a lot of coats. I had a light color going over a dark color; I got impatient and started brushing on thicker coats, another big mistake. Why you ask? I’ll tell you. The problems with such thick coats of paint was that it was starting show brush strokes, very badly – the paint was thick enough to penetrate part of my mask and bled through slightly and didn’t follow the exact design mask I had cut out. You can learn from my mistakes and avoid all of this quite easily which in turn would give you significantly better results.

CompleteWith that now out of the way, I decided to call it quits and label the body as “complete”, but there was still another step, protecting my new paint job. To do this, I removed all tape and liquid masks and then I simply used a spray can of “clear coat”, and applied it just like mentioned before, in thin coats, horizontally from left to right. It took 3 coats to give it a shine I was happy with.

And that was it, my first paint job done and many, many lessons learned. Remember, if you screw up, don’t just give up or trash it. Just set it aside, and more than likely eventually you’ll come with an idea to fix it or make it different, but just as good. Also, I vowed from here on out to use “brushed on” paint as little as possible. Obviously it can’t be avoided all together, smaller details just require it, which is fine, but if I can do it without the brush, I will. Hope this novel of an article helps someone out there! :)

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