Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. The Competition – Part 6

Painting the Car

One of the most time-consuming and important projects you’ll perform in the auto restoration process is to paint the sucker. Painting a classic car is more of an art than a mechanical procedure, and doing a good job means summoning patience and a bit of perfectionism from your normally “that’s good enough”-self. That new, glossy paint job will make the slightest blemish look pronounced and no matter how awesome the ride’s going to look, believe me, you’ll be staring at that blotch like my teenage daughter obsesses over a zit.

First, choosing the paint: Most likely you’ll be compromising between the quality and budget. Most paints nowadays do a pretty good job of protecting the underlying metal, but cheaper paints can be less tolerant to sun, and will fade quickly if the car sits outside for any length of time. Regardless of the type of paint you choose, remember you get what you pay for. More expensive paints will last longer and retain their pigment better than the “bargain” paints.

Just a couple more things to cover before we move on to the equipment: proper preparation. Especially if it’s assembled, the car first needs be taped off, using masking tape and paper. You might be thinking, heck, I’ll just use newspaper. But newspaper is porous and can let paints– especially clear coat– bleed through onto the glass and trim, leaving a time-consuming mess. It costs a little more, but using a less porous paper– making paper better still–will make the job a lot easier. Plastic can be used to bag the engine bay and other areas that won’t be painted, and wheel covers or trash bags can be used to cover the wheels and tires. Once taped, the car is prepared by wiping it down with a cleaner (Naphtha is usually the main ingredient) to eliminate any oils or foreign materials from the surface that could cause fish-eyes or other blemishes. Finally, the car is wiped down with a tack-cloth to remove any dust or debris that could affect the paint job.

If you don’t have a lot of experience painting cars, following the instructions on the MSDS will help you apply a good paint job. If done properly, your paint job should protect your car and look great for many years.

Now on to the equipment. The primer is already on, so our designated restoration artisan turns to the…

Central Pneumatic 2-pc. Professional Automotive HVLP Spray Gun Kit $49.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HVLP spray gun’s material transfer gives you better, more consistent coverage than conventional spray guns, and with minimal messy over-spray. It comes with a 20 oz. gravity feed gun that operates at 30-35 PSI and detail gun that performs 25-30 PSI, and comes with stainless steel needles and tips on both guns. Our technician used this, along with a 33 Oz. Gravity Feed Paint Cup to spray two coats of red paint and three coats of clear. After which, he color-sanded the body with dish soap & water,  1200 Grit Sandpaper, using a 4-7/8″ Soft Rubber Sanding Block to knock off the “orange peel.” How does our spray gun kit compare to the competition’s?

  • Sears – US Freight Neiko Pro 2.0mm HVLP Gravity Speed Spray Gun w/Gauge #9924G – $59.99
  • Northern Tool – Wagner Double-Duty HVLP Sprayer #0518050 – $94.99
  • Home Depot – Husky HVLP & Conventional Spray Gun Kit #HDK00600AV – $79.99
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt Large Gravity Feed Spray Gun #SGY-AIR88 – $54.96
  • Grainger – BINKS HVLP Gravity Spray Gun Kit #98-3170 – $204.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following the pain job, Jeff buffed, using this polisher/sander and then, with the waxing, delivered the classic car to an incredible mirror gloss finish!

The polisher gives you all the power and control you need for a wide variety of applications. It generates between 1000-3500 RPM for a pretty nice polish. The LCD display shows the speed and the textured grip side handle provides comfortable handling. The polisher comes with foam and polishing bonnets as well as an 80 grip sanding disc. It’s also great for boats, travel trailers, stairs, etc– all at a great price. Now here’s the competition:

  • Sears – Wen Variable Speed 7″ Polisher/Sander #946 – $59.99
  • Northern Tool – Makita 7″ Sander & Polisher 3000 RPM #9227CX3 – $239.99
  • Home Depot – Wen 7″ Pro Sander/Polisher #946 – $59.99
  • Lowes – Porter Cable 4.5 Amp Ros Power Sander/Polisher # 7346SP – $119.00
  • Grainger – Makita 7″ Variable Speed Sander/Polisher #9227CY – $284.75

 

Once again, Harbor Freight Tools proves you get what you pay for– and more! Visit the homepage and Coupons Page, and check out other great deals the store has going.