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post #1 of 21 Old 10-04-2008, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
4.0H.O.XJ
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Basic Bodywork tutorial.

Intro:

Ive seen several members ask questions about bodywork. I have much bodywork to do, so I figured I'd document it as I went along, and try to keep it simple, affordable, and achievable with the most basic of tools. If at anytime you feel I should stop this thread and get the hell off the damned internet, please feel free to tell me so. Until then, Ill post as I go along. Might take a while. Anyway......

I will try to cover:
- Basic tools
- Rust repair
- Dent repair
- Proper use of body fillers ("BONDO")
- Primer
....and possibly PAINTING, WETSANDING, and BUFFING if I get around to it.

Bodywork isnt hard, it's time consuming. It takes patience and an eye for detail. The MAGIC KEY for excellent results is PROPER PREPARATION. Dont skip steps, and dont be afraid to f*ck up a few times during the learning process. You WILL mess up, but you WILL learn. This is a skill that will pay for itself a million times over. The more you do it, the better you get. Like sex. and politics.

I am not an expert, and more seasoned vets of the hobby will have thier own techniques and suggestions. This is how I learned it, it works well for me, and the results are usually pretty damned good.

I basically do this as a hobby on my own cars, and help a few friends out so they can beat the CARFAX report at re-sale time. Definitely not a professional, but a pretty seasoned hobbyist that has turned out a few nice rides using these techniques.

I cannot guarantee you a show car on your first attempt, but your rig WILL look a thousand times better than the guy with the spray cans, paint roller and herculiner. It takes a little more effort and preparation, and with time comes better results. Most of that is in the prep.

Word of note, some will be pissed that there is no XJ in the pictures. Sorry. My XJ is pretty straight and dent/rust free, so I had to use some of my other toys as examples.

Read on.

STEP 1: BASIC TOOLS. You gotta have the basics to do this. Here is the minimum I would purchase.

Body Hammer and Dolly. For flattening dents, and moving metal around to where it needs to be. Full kit at Harbor Freight for like, 24 bucks.



More tools. From top to bottom: Orbital sander (12.50 Harbor freight)
Long board flexible sanding block ( .50 cents, garage sale)
Cheesegrater file ( Auto zone, 9 dollars)
Plastic spreaders (3.48, auto zone)
**Not pictured*** "4 inch angle grinder kit, 50 bucks @ Sears.
and a. HVLP (High Volume, Low Pressure) paint gun kit from Home Depot. Was under 50 dollars, I believe. The small paint gun is for door jambs and touch up, the large gun is for primer and paint. The kit is complete with cleaning tools, regulators, gun wrenches and a strainer. You dont need an expensive paint gun if you maintain a cheap one by keeping it clean.




.....Once you become a little more advanced, or you have larger holes to fix or general light fabrication, I would suggest a basic "buzzbox" welder. This is mine, I bought it on craigslist used for $75 dollars. Runs on 110 house current, so I can use it anywhere.



I would also suggest (but NOT necessary for the beginner)
1) a "4 inch angle grinder
2) A pnuematic file sander
3) A Cut off wheel
4) ......Obviously, safety glasses and a good set of thick gloves.

There will also be MATERIALS. I'll try to cover them as I type this. By FAR the materials are more expensive than the tools. Other than the time factor, this is what makes bodywork so damned expensive.

Things like:
Quality body filler
Sheetmetal
Sandpaper of a thousand different grits, grades and sizes
Primer
Sealers
Paint and paint related products
Thinners
Rags
Masking tape, drop cloths, masking paper ......
......So on and so forth REALLY starts to add up quickly.

Here it is........... NEXT? FIXING A HOLE IN A BODY PANEL.


Last edited by 4.0H.O.XJ; 10-08-2008 at 01:23 AM. Reason: eye cannut spel poperly
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post #2 of 21 Old 10-04-2008, 12:48 AM Thread Starter
4.0H.O.XJ
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FIXING RUST HOLES IN BODY PANELS.

Fixing holes in body panels where people can see them is different than fixing a floor pan or trunk area. With trunks and floors, you can get away with ragged edges, overlapping seams, and can attach them with anything from sloppy welds (not ground flush) all the way to pop rivets or sheetmetal screws.

When working on an outer panel, it's gotta stay smooth, clean and flush, and require a MINIIMUM of body filler to make it right.

Before I begin, I will tell you this is not how I usually do this. I usually use a pnuematic flanging tool that creates a slight recess in the accepting panel for the patch panel to lay in. Since the average guy doing this wont have access to one of those, I decided I would butt weld it instead, as this is how I had used to do this, and it worked fine. Just have to be more careful with your welder's heat settings.

The panel that I have selected to document this is EXCEPTIONALLY damaged. Not only did it contain a HUGE rust hole, it had been poorly repaired in the past from a previous collision, and too much body filler was applied without hammering the dents out first, as well as filler applied OVER paint (big no-no) which resulted in cracking body filler, trapping moisture underneath, and peeling paint, which resulted in rust and low spots.......which made this panel PERFECT for this tutorial. Anyway.........

Step 1) Cut the old rust out. This rust hole was as big as my fist. Bigger, actually. Cut the rust back slightly further than the hole itself, and try to keep the edges straight and square so your patch will be easier to make.



Step 2) Grind any remaining surface rust out. Get as much of it as you can without grinding THROUGH the sheetmetal. (only partially done in this shot)



Step 3) Make a template. I try to use the cut-off piece. In this case, I used a piece of cardboard and traced the hole, then transfered it to the piece of sheetmetal.





Step 4) (no pic) Trim and ensure your patch panel fits clean and tight, butted up against the recieving panel. There should be little to no light visible through the seam prior to tack welding it. I use my sander with a piece of 36 grit sandpaper to fine-trim my patch to fit the hole.

Step 5) (no pic) Tack weld from the center OUT. Do not weld from the outside in as you may warp the panel. Using .023 wire, welder on the lowest setting (turn it up as you need it) and wirespeed at 3, practice on a piece of scrap metal until you are comfortable, then begin tacking your patch panel into place, tacking every 1/4 inch, and allowing 10 seconds between each tack. Tack weld as you woul;d tighten a tire or head gasket. Work to the outside, opposite of each other. Do not panic if you blow a hole, allow it to cool, go back and lob some weld in the hole. Here is a pic from inside the panel. Yes I did both sides because I'm crazy like that. Not necessary, but I wanted to. Yes, the welds look like crap, but they penetrated both panels. (Have you ever tried to weld INSIDE the corner of a car trunk while laying on your back? This is what it looks like.) Fortunately, the outside looked better.



Step 6) Grind and prep your newly repaired panel for filler. That will come later. Right now, the desired effect is to have it feel seamless and smooth. Careful when grinding, do not soak too much heat into the panel or you will warp it. Tap any high spots in with your body hammer and dolly. Do not worry about minor imperfections like pinholes, small ripples, and seams, as you will cover this with a skim coat of filler in the future.





....Not perfect yet, but installed. It still needs tweaking to be finished, but it is almost ready for the next step. Hopefully Ill get to it tommorrow.

Next? SLINGIN' MUD! (Fiberglass, bondo, and spot filler.)

Last edited by 4.0H.O.XJ; 10-08-2008 at 01:30 AM.
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post #3 of 21 Old 10-06-2008, 01:44 AM Thread Starter
4.0H.O.XJ
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USING BODY FILLER ("bondo")

Body filler should only be used after PROPER repairs have been made. Rust removed, holes patched, dents hammered out to the best of your ability, area cleaned and prepped. NEVER put body fillers over existing paint, the surface must be bare metal for it to adhere properly.

The end result should be as LITTLE body filler as possible. The thicker the filler, the more likely it is to crack. Basically, it is intended for FINISHING a surface. You should aim for your total application of filler to be not much more than a half-dollar thick at it's deepest point.

There are four BASIC types of Body filler.

- Fiberglass reinforced filler: VERY strong, Used as a solid base for major repairs.
- Standard "bondo" body filler for minor repais: Dents, seams, minor rust.
- "Spot putty"....basically a thick, spreadable primer in a tube to be used over your primer coat to fill and smooth minor imperfections and sanding scratches.
- PRIMER! A good thick basecoat of filler primer over your repair area will be what finalizes the repair, and blends the repair area into the existing body panel. Filler primer is wonderful crap.



Most filler is a two part epoxy requiring mixing of a small amount of the "cream hardener" provided with the product. That is what is in the tube in the foreground, the catalyst "cream hardener.

PROPER PREPWORK is KEY to getting your body filler to adhere properly. Scuff the surface to be applied thoroughly with 80 grit or less sandpaper. I prefer to graze over the surface with a grinder to make it good and rough. Wipe the surface down with a tack rag to remove dust and debris.

I have already put a base coat of fiberglass reinforced body filler in place, and scuffed and cleaned the surface. This panel has been heavily damaged in the past, and will require a large "skim coat" of filler to level out the damaged area(s). A lot of filler will be used on this panel to level it out, but only a third of what's been applied will remain after the repair, mostly in the low spots and on the seam where the weld patch was applied. A panel this severely damaged and as large as this is perfect to detail the repair process. Most of your repairs will be much smaller than this.

Fiberglass reinforced filler: (base)



What it looks like applied and prepped:



Once your area is properly prepared and ready for the "bondo" filler coat, you must mix the body filler. (The mix/application process of the fiberglass reiforced filler is the same as the bondo coat, which I will detail here.) There is no real formula for this. I use the "bird sh*t" method. Use as much filler as you need, and add some of the "cream hardener" that is provided, no larger than a bird usually sh*ts. ....More filler? think bigger bird. **Word of note: The MORE hardener you put in, the FASTER it will dry! Do not use too much, or it will dry before you can apply it. If you use too little, (and it is mixed thoroughly) it will take longer too harden.. Not entirely a bad thing, it gives you more time to work. Expect to put on two coats, and sand most if it off.



When mixing the bondo, spread it back and forth, do not stir it, as it will trap air bubbles that will suck to get out once it's on the panel. Mix it completely, it should have a solid pinkish color when it is completely mixed.



....... I have Spread it over the entire panel. There were lots of SMALL dents and low spots after removing the old filler and hammering out the previous hidden damage(s). I have skim-coated the entire panel with filler here,.... 60 percent of that will eventually be sanded off.



Now to work the surface into a rough shape.
Take your thumbnail and check the surface after about 10 minutes. It should feel firm, warm, (this is the catalyst working) and slightly sticky to the touch. You are now ready to begin "Cheesegrating".



Drag your cheesegrater file over the surface with a little pressure. The filler should roll through the cheesegrater and collect in the "well" of the grater file. If it gums up the teeth, it's still too wet. If it is difficult to grate, and comes off powdery, you have waited too long. No problem, you will spend more time with a sander and some 80 grit, instead of the cheesegrater file if you waited on it too long. You should followthe straightest portions of the body panel with moderate presure, dragging the file towards you, as to not remove to much too quickly, or dig holes into your surface. You will see how this technique works by doing it.

Here is the repair area "roughed in" with the cheesegrater file. The surface it leaves behind is PERFECT for your second coat of filler that you will need to build up your low spots and fill your voids. Trust me, you will see them. What you cant see, you will feel with your hand. The dark spots are low areas, the gray spots are high areas where the sheetmetal rubbed through. The low spots wille need more filler and more grating, and the area in between those two is basically ready for sanding and finish work.





........At this point, the author's sander broke.

Author will return and detail FINISH SANDING in preparation for the PRIMER COAT and SPOT PUTTY application as soon as possible.

Last edited by 4.0H.O.XJ; 10-08-2008 at 01:52 AM.
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post #4 of 21 Old 10-06-2008, 08:04 AM
Finaltheorem47
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awesome! I took a auto refinishing class and there are some gaps (bad instructor) in what I know, but what I did learn from that, you are spot on! I can't wait for the rest of your tutorial! Good job!
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post #5 of 21 Old 10-06-2008, 08:17 AM
snakeeyes237
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I vote this to be linked in the FAQ section when it's done. I'm getting ready to start trying my hand at rust repair and this will be a great guide. Thanks, and PLEASE keep adding to this.
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post #6 of 21 Old 10-07-2008, 10:53 PM Thread Starter
4.0H.O.XJ
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Primering And Spot Filling

.....In the absence of a sander, I will work on the other side until my new sander comes in. Here is the basics of PRIMERING/FINISH prep before paint.

The other side of this vehicle had an equally large, and LONGER rust hole that was repaired in exactly the same manner as the first side. There was not any underlying damage, .....so the repair area appears much smaller.

The "bondo" finish coat was sanded smooth and level using a long board two piston file sander and 80 grit sandpaper. A cheap orbital sander will work as well. It's what I started out with, and achieved good results.

It was then finish sanded with 220 grit sandpaper by hand and block sander.
- At this point, there is only ONE REAL WAY to determine levelness and uniformity. - BY HAND. You will check the accuracy of your hand with a guide coat of primer later on.

Once your "bondo" is level and uniform, you want to BLEND THE TRANSITION between repair area and existing body panel.

It is best to scuff back 3/8ths to a half inch of each consecutive layer of primer/previous repaints to ensure a smooth transition from body panel to repair area so that it appears undetectable. This area will be hit heavily with primer and wetsanded smooth to hide the blend. Like this:



....Once you have detrmined everything is straight, level, blended, wipe the area down with a tack rag, and get ready to shoot primer.

I like to use acrylic laquer primer. It is light, flows into cracks, seams, and sanding scratches very well, does not run or sag, and provides a good base for laquer, enamels and base/clear paint systems. The mixing ratio is roughly 1:1, but I like it a little but thicker for better coverage, so I mix it 2/3rds primer, 1/3rd laquer thinner.



Mix it well in the mixing pail, (foreground) and be sure to use the strainer.......



.....To strain the lumps and other impurities out of the primer mix.

Next, load your HVLP spray gun. Ensure that it is clean BEFORE you put anything in it. Once you have put the primer into the gun, you must set about setting it up for spraying.

I like to set my air pressure around 50 PSI. It's a little high, but it REALLY blows the primer into the tight spots. Some recommend no more than 35 PSI, but primer is thick stuff, and I like the added insurance of having it forced onto the repair panel. You cant use this much PSI with the paint coat, however. Only the primer.

Next, you must adjust your spray gun for proper pressure, spray pattern, and fan quality. ("fan" being the width/height of the product coming out of the gun.) I like to use an old body panel or a piece of cardboard. In this shot, I set up on an old bulldozer blade.



1) Your needle seat pressure is adjusted from the back of the gun. Adjust it until a moderate amount of primer is flowing..
2) The knob on the side adjust the "fan" and spray pattern. .....Adjust that knob until it is spraying evenly from top to bottom. Too little, and it will spray likie a squirt gun. Too much and the sppray pattern will be heavier on the top and the bottom of the fan, with very little in the center. Adjust it somewhere in the middle and test it, like this:



The first pass went like sh*t. I needed to adjust my regulator pressure, (bottom of gun) and back my needle seat pressure off a bit.

1) Hold your gun 8 to 10 inches from the surface.
2) Keep your hose out of your way. I put mine behind me and over my shoulder.
3) Each pass with the gun should overlap the next by one half.
4) # coats of primer. 1) "Build" coat. 2) Coverage coat. 3) Final coat.
5) Spray your body lines, repair transition area (s), and around tight spots like wheelwell lips, turn signals and mirrors FIRST,..... then let it flash dry before your next coat. This is the "build" coat.
6) Spray everything again, working from bottom to top, overlapping. Working from top to bottom ensure that you will avoid runs, drips, and sags. While this is not an issue with PRIMER, it will be with PAINT. Get used to spraying from bottom to top...........then from top to bottom on the final finish coat.
7) Youll notice if you pull the trigger on your paint gun HALFWAY, it blows only air, no primer. Use this function at the beginning and end of each pass on your repair panel. Do NOT attempt to pull off, then release the trigger, as this will develop bad spray habits that will adversely affect your paint applications. Get used to releasing/engaging the trigger half way at the beginning and end of each overlapping primer pass. Think of PRIMERING as PRACTICE for your finish paint coat.

- Rough, (unprepared surface and gun setup) but here is how a properly set up gun will spray primer. Notice uniform coverage, equi-distant ends, overlap and good spray pattern. You are now ready to shoot primer on vehicle.



GUIDE COAT: I sprayed the repair panel with a DUSTING of primer, then went over the whole thing with some 320 grit sandpaper on a sanding block. There were no high or low spots to repair, so......I tack-ragged it again and layed down three coats of proimer, allowing 3 minutes between each coat.

OK. I shot this panel in about 10 minutes, then cleaned my paint gun with laquer thinner. Completely disassembled, cleaned, and put away for safekeeping. DO NOT let primer or paint dry in your gun, or YOU WILL HATE YOURSELF THE NEXT TIME YOU NEED TO USE IT!!!!

Primer flash-drys in about ten minutes. It is fully ready for wetsanding in an hour. HOWEVER......

I still noticed a few VERY MINOR highs and lows that needed to be addressed.
There is only ONE WAY to fix such minor imperfections after the primer coat is down. Which brings me to the next portion of this........USE OF SPOT FILLER/PUTTY!

More to follow.

Last edited by 4.0H.O.XJ; 10-07-2008 at 11:32 PM.
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post #7 of 21 Old 10-07-2008, 11:14 PM Thread Starter
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Use Of Spot Putty Prior To Finish Coat

No amount of bondo, sanding, blocking, primering or wetsanding will get rid of air bubble pock marks, deep sanding scratches, and repair transition evidence.

These are only MINOR deficiencys, but They WILL be noticable upon close inspection after a repaint, if you do not spot glaze your final primer job. You will see the minor blemishes with your eye, however, my camera could not focus on imperfections that small, so, use your imagination..

You need a tube of GLAZING/SPOT PUTTY, and a rubber applicator squeegee.
1) There is no catalyst ("cream hardener") for spot putty, it is already pre-catalyzed, and reacts to AIR. This sh*t dries QUICK!
2) You CANNOT fix large f*ckups with this. It is for MINOR BLEMISHES ONLY!
3) It takes a LONG TIME for it to completely cure. It will be dry to the touch in 3 minutes, but WILL NOT BE READY FOR SANDING for an hour. Trust me. You can check it by putting your thumbnail in it after an hour. If it leaves an indentation, wait more.
4) Apllication of this stuff is VERY DIFFERENT than bondo. Put a little on the edge of your squeegee and PRESS it into the panel with moderate pressure, then drag it along at a 45 degree angle to fill your blemishes, like this:



Sometimes 2 coats may be necessary. After filling my sanding scratches and air bubbles that surfaced, I noticed a TINY bit of a ripple where my body panel transition was. So I waited for the first coat to dry, then added another VERY THIN layer to that. 80 percent of this will be sanded off, leaving only a thin glaze where the low spots were previously.



After you are SURE that the spot putty is COMPLETELY dry, you can knock the high spots down with some 320 grit on a small sanding block. BE CAREFUL! tHIS STUFF SANDS very quickly, AND IF YOU REMOVE TOO MUCH YOU WILL BE DOING IT AGAIN! Remove the high spots, then finsih sand it with your hand. Youll know when it's right.



It should look something like this when its ready for the last coat of primer:



One more LIGHT coat of primer over the finished spot filler, and you are ready for.......WETSANDING THE PRIMER COAT!

- Coming up next, schedule permitting.
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post #8 of 21 Old 10-08-2008, 12:56 AM
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Nice thread. I am 30 years old and have never really done much vehicle work. I have an XJ that I will be slowly modifying for wheeling. I am bound and determined to do the work myself. 1) for the experience 2) cost.
I have some rust in the rocker panels and I can definitely put your thread to good use.

keep it up!
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post #9 of 21 Old 10-08-2008, 01:09 AM Thread Starter
4.0H.O.XJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrizzleXJ View Post
Nice thread. I am 30 years old and have never really done much vehicle work. I have an XJ that I will be slowly modifying for wheeling. I am bound and determined to do the work myself. 1) for the experience 2) cost.
I have some rust in the rocker panels and I can definitely put your thread to good use.

keep it up!
No problem, Feel free to PM if you get stuck with your bodywork..

Seriously, anyone who needs help with this or additional questions answered on this subject..
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post #10 of 21 Old 10-08-2008, 02:39 AM
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Let me make things simpler.

How to do body work on a jeep.

1. Find rust.
2. Cut it off.
3. Paint the edges to prevent more rust.


Just kidding. I'd like to see where this thread goes. I did a lot of work with body filler at my old job, though not on cars oddly enough. Looks like you've got a pretty detailed procedure there. Keep the thread going when you've got time.
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post #11 of 21 Old 10-09-2008, 05:58 AM
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fantastic work... invaluable thread... i am in the early stages of some serious bodywork on the cj7.... fixing a little disagreement that the rear panel had with a tree thanks to the previous owner... its going to be really fun.

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post #12 of 21 Old 10-12-2008, 10:39 AM
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Hey everyone. First off let me say that I'm happy as hell to have found this forum. Secondly, paint and body is my specialty, so if anyone ever needs any tips or suggestions, please feel free to ask. I love working with metal, it's a fun medium. Great thread too, you really covered the bases well and used inexpensive products that any DIY'er can get their hands on.
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post #13 of 21 Old 10-12-2008, 12:42 PM
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Thank you very much for this informative post! It is post like this that really make JeepForum.com an invaluable resource.
Tom in Virginia
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post #14 of 21 Old 10-12-2008, 12:52 PM
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might have better results with a primer that requires a catalyst and spot putty that requires a catalyst. that lacquer crap doesnt ever dry and will make a paint job over time look really bad, shrinkage will be bad. especially if using bc/cc and polyurethane systems
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post #15 of 21 Old 10-12-2008, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
4.0H.O.XJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjbond67 View Post
might have better results with a primer that requires a catalyst and spot putty that requires a catalyst. that lacquer crap doesnt ever dry and will make a paint job over time look really bad, shrinkage will be bad. especially if using bc/cc and polyurethane systems
Really? I have never had a problem with the stuff, though it is not my FIRST choice of primer. I am using BASIC easy-to-find and easy-to-apply products and materials instead of professional paint systems as to not scare away the average do-it-yourselfer with the complicated, big shop stuff.

Laquer-based primer, although not the best, is stilll WAY better than rattle-can method that many guys here go for FIRST. This high-build gray primer lays down flat and is easy to spray......and they can find it in any NAPA parts store.

I personally am a huge fan of self-etching primer, then red-oxide primer over that, for the trouble spots. But again, for ease of application and availability, I am using the cheap stuff. Looks damned good for a while, and much better than what comes out of a spray can.

I usually let this stuff sit for a week before wetsanding for the paint coat anyway, so the primer coat is good and solid at that point.

Thanks for your input.
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