Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Engine bay is PRIMED!

Today was one of those days where just about everything "clicked" (I love those days)!  It has been a VERY long time since I painted anything of significance, so it took a bit to re-acquaint myself with my spray equipment and the process of painting.  However, after a brief learning period, we were up and running and the end result is great!

First, a little about the equipment and materials I use:

I pretty much use PPG products exclusively for a few reasons (and cost ISN'T one of them).  First, PPG products simply work as advertised.  Follow the instructions to the letter and the stuff simply works every time.  Secondly, PPG HQ and their local retailer reps are awesome for getting help and information whenever you need it.  I should take a second to thank Chris and the folks at GNE Paint in Lake Orion, MI for all their help with anything PPG and automotive painting in general.  Third, I'm used to PPG products, having painted my 1988 Mustang drag car over 10 years ago with PPG products and it still looks like I just shot it yesterday.  Incidentally, that was also the last car I painted and I was a bit rusty indeed.

On the "hardware" side, I stray from the "norm" in a fairly big way where my spray equipment goes.  I use and LOVE my TP Tools HVLP Turbine spray system for all of my painting needs.  I spent a very long time studying the popular conventional painting equipment options and finally settled on the turbine HVLP for it's many advantages where my particular needs were concerned.

The TP Tools turbine HVLP has the one big advantage of delivering totally clean (filtered in fact), dry, oil free air every hour, every day, all the time.  No fish eyes, no moisture.  Secondly, there is absolutely no compressor required and therefore, none of the usual headaches and expenses associated with delivering clean, dry air to a conventional HVLP spray gun.  Third, the cost of the total system was (and is) far less than outfitting a shop with all of the equipment necessary to shoot with a conventional gun (e.g., compressor, filter, dryer, regulator, piping, hose, higher-end spray gun(s), etc.).  And finally, much like PPG products, it works!

Now, during my research phase, I ran into my share of hard case, self-proclaimed old school "professionals"  that sh*t all over turbine HVLP units.  So I started asking questions and found that not one single guy that was spouting off about turbine HVLP's supposed inferiority had EVER used one of the machines.  Arm-chair quarterbacks full of BS, armed with a keyboard and too much time on their hands instead of dried paint and experience.

Like any new tool, you have to take the time to understand it to use it effectively.  A turbine HVLP system is absolutely NOT the same as a compressor-based system and any attempt at using it in the same way will certainly result in disaster.  Your mix requires about 10-15% more reducer than with a conventional gun and you work a bit closer to the surface than you would otherwise.  Once you learn how to use the system it is absolutely amazing how efficient and clean it is.  Transfer efficiency is usually better than 80% and there is almost no overspray whatsoever.  Anyway, I bought one over 10 years ago, I loved it then, I love it now.  In fact, I will be upgrading to a gravity feed gun and a touch-up gun in the near future to round out my gun selection for this project.

Finally, on with the primer!  As I mentioned above, PPG products work very well when their application instructions are followed.  In the past, I was using PPG DP-40 primer and loved the stuff.  Today, their newest product is called DP-40LF (the "LF" stands for Lead Free).  As I discovered, the behavior of the newer products was quite a bit different than the old DP-40, but with a bit of adjustment and a quick learning curve, the stuff laid on the surfaces nice and smooth and we were in business.

I decided on 2 coats of primer for all of the surfaces.  I started by degreasing everything with DX-330 and once it dried, we tacked everything down to remove any lingering dust.  After that, I mixed up about a pint of primer and let it fly (twice).  About 5 hours later, the engine bay, inside and out, wore a nice, smooth coat of epoxy primer!  I must say, everything looks sooooo much better in one solid color.........even if it is battleship grey.

Supplies laid out and ready for battle.  I love the PPG products and highly recommend them to anyone tackling a restoration of their own.

More essentials:  Mixing ratio cups, tack rags, and a cleaned and adjusted turbine HVLP spray gun.

Here is the air supply unit used with my TP Tools turbine HVLP spray system.  I love this thing!

French-made SICMO turbine HVLP gun.  I'm not one to give the French credit for much of anything, but this gun works very well.

What a TERRIBLE mug!  Actually, this is just a reminder to use a good respirator mask for ANY type of work like this.  No compromise.

PPG DP-40LF primer all mixed up and ready to spray.

Yet another advantage of having a car on a rotisserie is being able to spray every nook with primer from just about any angle.  This job would have been hateful with the car on stands!  Blech!

After two nice coats of primer, the left outer apron looks very nice.  A sign of things to come......I hope.

Left inner apron looks equally good.  Now I'm getting a little excited.....

LR corner of the engine bay showing the new NPD apron and firewall.

RR corner of the engine bay and firewall.  Here you can see the damage at the top of the trans tunnel where the engine/trans had been crashed into the firewall pretty hard.  One more thing I gotta fix.

Right inner apron full view.  Notice how nicely the weld seam is hidden at the top of the RF apron?

New front radiator support from Dynacorn looks ok.  Very irritated with the crooked hood bumper mount seen here.

Right outer apron full view.


  1. OH boy I just love it... I can't wait to be getting to that stage. Well done again - 2 thumbs up!

  2. And another two thumbs up from me! That Turbine unit may be a good one but I have a feeling your skills and experience had something to do with the outcome as well. Looks awesome.

  3. Job well done! You did it very well. This post is very informative.