Painting a Honda CRX -- Tony's Project Completed!

So here we are, at the final stage of paint, where all the hard work begins to pay off.... Well, I can tell you, it didn't turn out perfect, although few paint jobs are ever "perfect" straight out of the paint booth, even new cars have imperfections in their paint, albeit not on the scale that this car has now, but I think it turned out pretty good nonetheless. There are several areas that I can specifically spot that I know where to look, and there is some considerable orange peel; however, after some wet sanding with 1000 grit, then 1500 grit, then polishing I think the majority of the imperfections should be gone. I took a few photos of a test area I did on the roof looked like and you can see the orange peel goes away, hopefully some of the other areas will look better as well. Unfortunately, I didn't have 1500 grit paper when I did that area, only 1000 and polishing compound, sso I wasn't able to get a true look at what it will be like, but it will be better than in the pictures, which is more than good enough for a car such as this. I think in hindsight, if this car had been the Cougar, I would have done several things differently. First, I would have used a waterborne paint system. I can honestly tell you, 3.5 VOC paint (the primer) isn't fun to be in when it is as dense as it gets in a booth with messed up ventilation like mine had and your mask starts failing because there isn't enough oxygen in the room. That said, 4.2 VOC paint (the color and clear I used) is even worse. Therefore, the next time (read: Cougar) I will be using thicker mil rating plastic for the booth walls (so I can use all 4 fans that I had intended on using), twice as many exhaust filters as intake filters (also part of the problem because 2 exhaust per 4 intake doesn't even make sense now that I actually apply logic to it) and make the booth a bit longer. Waterborne paint also will prevent the house from getting stinky with fumes as well. Moving the access door to the other side of the garage will keep this from happening as well. As far as getting a better paint job is concerned, I think the best approach is to ensure that I use a darker primer next time. The darker the primer, the more imperfections you can see, and the primer stage is the last phase that you want to be finding imperfections in. For the Cougar, block sanding is going to be a necessity, and lots of it. I don't mind sanding though, especially when I get to concentrate in an area and getting it perfect, it is kind of relaxing, and much like polishing your boots in the Army, I enjoy it, plus you get to work on your guns the more you sand. Haha. Additionally, wet sanding seems to be the method to get a ultra smooth layout when shooting the next coat. I can immediately confirm that the areas I spent wet sanding the primer and color coats prior to going to the next layer, turned out much better than those areas I did not. Also, the fewer the coats the better, as long as you are getting the correct coverage and flowout from the coats you have. The fewer coats you have, the less buildup there is on the areas where you do have imperfections The last couple things I wouldn't have changed on the CRX, but I will definitely ensure are different for the Cougar. First, a better quality color and clear thatn I used on the CRX. The ones I used on the CRX were excellent for the price I paid, but, it is for a daily driver, which, although I hope it is a daily driver, the Cougar is a higher standard of car than the CRX is or could ever hope to be. The second, is a better quality gun, with multiple tips that meet the specifications of the paint that I shoot with. I think a large part of the orange peel issue that I had was first, with the quality of the gun I used ($30 Harbor Freight special), and second because I used a middle of the range tip, not specifically designed for the coating I was putting on. The tip was too small for primer (causing to much dry overspray), a little too big for the color (causing some orange peel) and almost right for the clear (which actually shot pretty well). Unfortunately, painting a car is like building a house, everything builds on top of the foundation. If the foundation is off, everything else will be as well. The same goes for the body. Things to look forward on the Cougar: 1. Less trim and taping nightmares like the hatchback, plastic bumpers, parts to get int eh way. Everything on the Cougar is pretty much all removed2. Thicker body steel. I have a few spots where I need to address rust on, much the same as the CRX surprisingly enough despite the 22 year difference. This means welding in new steel is much easier because I don't end up burning through the metal as easy, making the job much easier, faster, and better looking requireing less filler in the end.3. More time. With the CRX, the longer it takes me to get this car back on the road, the longer I have to wait to get 44mpg vs. 20mpg, with a $0.30 difference in price per gallon. This car will pay for iteself within 6 months just in gas prices alone, not even considering the costs of wear and tear on a vehicle that costs more to maintain and is more valuable as well.4. More experience ... less frustration. With more experience comes less frustration and more accurate estimations of what can be reasonably done in a given amount of time. Less frustration = better quality and more experience = better quality. Given all other things being the same (which they won't since I'll be using a better gun and paint and ventilation) the ob should come out better just due to the experience and decreased frustration.5.5. No body work on the hood. I bought a NOS (New Old Stock) hood back in January, that has no issues whatsoever, so all I have to do to it is scuff the original paint prior to painting it. This is a supreme time saver compered to the CRX, as I spent nearly 20-30 hours on the hood alone, just fixing the hareas where the previous owner thought taking metal shears to the top and underside was a good idea to install hood pins. Things to not look forward in the Cougar: 1. Greater expectation. It is entirely possible (although not hopeful), that the Cougar turns out worse than the CRX. This would simply not be Kosher, for reasons which need not be explained.2. Time. Even though I have more time, I would like to finish this car in time for the start (or at least a good portion) of this year's Cruisin' Grand. Painting the car, coupled with the installation of the remainder of everthing that needs to go into this car, then the tuning, and working out of the bugs, means I am under a soft deadline. Couple that with the fact that I amstarting back classes in January means that I am going to continue to be busy for the foreseeable future.3. Cowl replacement. Almost all 1964 1/2 - 1969 Mustangs and 1967 - 1969 Cougars have rust issues in the cowl area in front oft the windshield. Mine is no exception, and unfortunately this is nearly a 40 hour job (or so I've heard) in itself. It has to be replaced prior to painting, and although I know I have to do the upper cowl, I dont know whether I'll have to do the whole lower cowl, or just the outer corners. I am cheating a bit here though, becasue I already have an original cowl (that was carefully removed)which has no rust to go in where I remove the old rusted one. This is extremely important, because they don't sell new ones, you have to adapt a Mustang one to fit on a Cougar if you can't find a good one (which 99% of the originals are bad). This will save me untold hours in prepping this, so I might get lucky and only end up spending 15-20 hours. We'll see. Anyways, I need to wrap this up, get packed and scoot on up to LA to catch a flight. If you want any specific pictures let me know John, I do have more, and can always take more if you like. I'll be taking pictures of the next process of removing the imperfections (called "color sanding") as well, for those of you interested.


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