‘He wants to paint me naked!’

There are no words to describe what a ball ache of a job stripping a car back to bare metal is. If you don’t have to do it, don’t is my advice. I had no choice – it would have taken an age to flatten off the 2 brush painted coats of paint and would also have to run the risk of new paint reacting with the old mixture of factory paint, household gloss, silver paint and unknown primer and old seam sealer.

It’s a fact that each bit of the van that I strip reacts differently to the paint stripping process.  Here’s an example below:

A messy business is paint stripping – not something I want to do again any time soon

You can see that the door on the left has hardly been affected by the paint stripper – or so it would seem, except for some patches where all layers of paint have peeled off back to the bare steel.  The door on the right has shed it’s outer coat of the household eggshell paint as a single layer.  Unaffected is the (I guess) original coat of factory red – bar a few places where the stripper has managed to bite through and lift this off as well.

Both doors had the same product applied, were wrapped in cling film and left to sulk for 24 hours.  The door on the left had all but dried out under the cling film, whilst on the right, the peeled off paint was still wet with stripper.  OK, so under the top coat of paint, they are different – I think the door on the left has fewer coats of paint – perhaps only one coat of silver over some primer and then it’s bare steel, so maybe this is why they respond differently to the stripper?

It’s a mystery that I’m never going to understand – and to be brutally honest I don’t really care why it happens, I just know it does. 

I wrapped them up in some more stripper and cling firm and left them overnight, after which most of the paint scraped off without too much fuss – except for a few recalcitrant patches which had to have another application of stripper. This seems to be a feature of working on this van. I do 90% of a job in a reasonable time and the remaining 10% takes forever and is a real pain.

With the shell and nearly all of the panels stripped, I thought it was about time to fit the rear wings. Once again the previous shunt the van had in the rear right hand corner is causing me issues. With the petrol tank cover in place and the wing clamped in, the rear edge of the wing which should be folded over the rear door pillar is about 5ml longer than where it should be. What to do? I can’t really see that cutting the wing and putting a new fold in it is going to work – it’s a tricky job and realistically is beyond what I can do without a proper metal press brake / folder. I could put a jack against something solid on the front of the shell and push to back a bit, but I can’t see that the bottom of the door pillar will move anywhere. It’s welded to the rear box section at the base and at the top is welded to the rear of the shell, but it’s he only viable option. More on this later, I might just have to make do and mend, If I can do a reasonable job, I’ll post pictures of the repair, or it will be problematic – in which case I’ll skip over writing it up and distract you with something else..

The other repair I need to do is to replace the drip rail (gutter) just above the rear doors. Chopping the old gutter was going to be tricky. It’s held on with dozens of spot welds and the metal underneath is badly corroded. In the end I just peeled it off with a pair of pliers – a bit like opening a can of corned beef, winding the old strip of metal around the pliers and popping off the spot welds one at a time.

Brutal but effective..

It’s cleaned up ok, so I should be able to plug weld the new panel onto the old spot welds but this it will need a good dose of seam sealer to keep the water out – hopefully it will keep the rust a bay for few more years. We will see.

All of this bare metal is a concern. It’s dry in the workshop – mostly, but there’s lot of humidity in the air which is causing the steel to flash rust just as soon as it’s exposed. ‘Thas roite hoomid’ as they say in Norfolk. All I can do is give the bare metal a wipe over with some phosphoric acid, this should keep the rust in check while I get the rest of the shell ready for painting.

Lastly, a couple of people wandered into the hack space part of the workshop for a look around, so I press-ganged them into helping me flip the shell up on end so that I can paint the underside. They obliged and left with a bemused look on their faces. ‘What was it?’ one of them asked – I think that just about sums it up.

no too shabby, but a fresh coat of paint will keep the rust at bay for a little longer

Ready for lift off! – acres of metal to rub down

I’ve still got many, many hours of rubbing down with emery paper to do, so I’ll get on with it, therefore there will be no blog updates for a few weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to try and rent a paint booth and then figure out how to move the shell and all its component panels to the place where the spraying will take place. There’s a place about 15 miles from the workshop which will rent me their paint booth facility for a day, so I’m going to need a trailer – or a big van to put my van in. I’m away on holiday for a couple of weeks in July so painting looks like it will be a job for mid or late August.

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