It's The Pits

Content Tools

Rt. 2, Tamarack Road, Whitewater, Wisconsin 53190

Co you've succumbed to the disease and purchased a 'rust bucket.' You've cleaned, scraped, washed, blasted, honed, polished and rebuilt the chassis to like-new condition. You can't put it off any longer, you must now work on the sheet metal. Maybe some of you like this part best? Let me explain.

I'm a farmer, not a body man. I paint because I'm too cheap to pay someone else to paint for me. But how do you get a like-new finish on that rusty sheet metal? You've seen those tractors at shows, the ones with the mirror finishes, and you think, 'Did this tractor ever sit outside?' Most likely yes, it probably didn't look any better than yours when he started on it. So how did he get that shine? Here's one way. Now remember, I'm a farmer, not a body man; if someone who should know tells you different, listen to them.

First, sandblast the sheet metal, if possible; be careful with a large capacity blaster, you can warp the metal beyond use in a very short time. Back off with the nozzle and keep moving. A wire wheel is your next best option. Once you're down to bare metal, take the dings out with a flat body hammer and a bucking dolly and some heat. If you want to stretch the metal, heat a spot about the size of a quarter and place the dolly behind and pound the sheet between. If you want to shrink the metal, heat a spot the size of a quarter and then pound all around the spot, without the dolly. You will eventually end up with less metal than you started with.

Once you've got it flat, prime it with zinc-chromate primer. This primer should be applied very thin, and please, buy a good paint spray respirator and use it, for this and all your painting; these paints can kill you.

Now it's time to fill the pits. There is a product called Poly-Prime, made by the Marson Co., 130 Crescent Ave., Chelsea, MA 02150. They call it a 'sprayable polyester primer-surfacer-filler.' I call it liquid Bondo. The product is sprayed as is in a heavy cream consistency and is activated with MEK (included). It sprays best at low air pressures with a pressure pot type gun. It dries very fast and will 'dust' easily with too much air. Three coats will fill very deep pits. When this dries, the surface will be very 'orange peeled.' Sand this flat with a DA orbital air sander with 180 grit paper. If you sand down to bare metal before it's flat, just spray another coat. Once it's flat, spray three coats of lacquer primer surfacer, then wet sand that with 400 grit by hand. This will fill all the scratches in the poly-prime left by the DA sander. Now you're ready for the top coats. I use DuPont Centari with a catalyst. It shines well and is much more forgiving than Imron.

It sounds like lots of work, but the results are worth it. And remember, paint is very soft for several days after spraying; you'll probably put the first scratch in the hood while bolting it on!