By Mike Peake.
Well I’ve been dreading it for five years or more. I’ve put up with criticism, unsolicited “advice” from strangers, and people telling me I should look after my car better. (I say put up with, but it’s getting quite crowded under my patio now.)
I’ve been quite happy to expose Poppy’s mechanicals to my incompetence, but I’ve never done …. Da Da Daaaaa! … BODYWORK!!
The thought scares me rigid. It’s always been something to give to professionals and never something any self-respecting incompetent weekend mechanic should contemplate. However professionals are jolly expensive and I’m jolly skint and Poppy’s paintwork is becoming jolly desperate as many of you know. The boot lid being the worst part of the car. So, I’ve been psyching myself up to this point for a couple of years and figuring that my boot lid couldn’t look any worse than it does now, I decided to face my fears. Maybe not head on though. More like a sideways glance peering through my fingers.
As I said above, I have received lots and lots of advice on what to do about the paint and how to go about painting. Most of it vague and largely contradicted by the next “expert” to offer me unsolicited advice. And anyway, I’d never really bothered to listen as I was usually trying not to biff them on the nose for daring to criticise my Poppy. So I needed proper advice from a proven expert. I couldn’t find one so… Actually no. I’m not going to make that joke. Anyone who has seen the Brooks brothers work can clearly see that they are at Gandalf skill level in the dark arts of car restoration and Tosh is the painting expert I needed.
Any last hope of finding someone to do the job for me for the love of it and a bottle of whisky were dashed when Tosh’s Blog, “Why a car restorer has no mates” was published. So I gave up dropping hints and asked outright for advice. I collared him at our Coventry meet in February and he was jolly nice about the whole thing and freely offered lots of really great advice and wasn’t put off even with Simon Yeardon adding his two pen’orth. I did my very best to listen intently and absorb the sage advice offered, I really did. I even understood all the individual words he spoke but the order in which he spoke them along with my innate fear of the subject, induced the human equivalent of the blue screen of death crash and my eyes glazed over while my panic stricken brain kept trying to reboot and engage.
Fortunately for me, good saint Tosh didn’t take offence and realising my predicament published a brilliant “How to" blog which I printed off and read repeatedly before pinning to my workspace wall for immediate reference whilst I did the job. (You can read Tosh's 'How to' by clicking here - Ed). He even took me shopping for sanding discs and primer and gifted me a special paint stripping wheel for my grinder whilst we were at the NEC restoration show. (oh…I wasn’t supposed to tell you that bit in case he gets drummed out of Yorkshire for not being “Financially careful”)
I was now ready to have a bash! All I had to do now was wait for reasonable weather and temperatures as I would have to do this outside. The fabled perfect conditions arrived on the weekend of Drive It Day. I couldn’t “drive it” as my dynamo brushes hadn’t arrived, so I did the next best thing and worked on my car.
Boot lid removed from the car, I took one last deep breath and fired up my angle grinder fitted with the paint stripping wheel. I have to admit it took a bit of getting used to, but after I learned that it was equally effective at stripping skin from unwary knuckles as it was stripping paint from my boot lid, I settled into a nice rhythm slowly and carefully removing my paint and redistributing it in my hair, face, boiler suit and drive.
There was one moment when I discovered that the 80 grit disc I’d bought wasn’t hook and eye like we’d asked for. When I put it on my sander and started it up, it flew quite spectacularly. I mean it soared of the backing plate, all the way across the road and in through the neighbours open lounge window. I’ve not been brave enough to go and ask for it back and they’ve not mentioned it yet.
I followed Tosh’s step by step guide religiously and after 12 hours hard work spread over Friday afternoon and Saturday, I had my boot lid back to shiny bare metal before a final sand with 120 grit on my trusty sander/polisher. I was now ready to paint but decided to call it a day and head in for a celebratory bath and a G&T. I decided that being as covered in dust as I was, wouldn’t be conducive to a good dust free finish on my primer coats.
A gloriously sunny and still Sunday morning found me back on my drive in my freshly laundered Po costume vigorously shaking my aerosol. (This is called “Twerking” today by the youngsters I believe.) After a thorough wipe down with panel wipes, I was stood with the can hovering above my naked boot lid. This was the moment of truth. My 1st attempt of painting where it mattered… I bottled out and decided to have a quick couple practice squirts on a scrap piece of metal. A short time later I was stood with the can hovering above my naked boot lid. This was the moment of truth. My 1st attempt of painting where it mattered…
I took a huge deep breath, said a quick prayer to the automotive gods and pressed the button. After that it was all a bit of a blur as I entered a Zen like state of terrified concentration. I just kept spraying until my 1st can of primer ran dry and I started the next. I lost count of the number of coats but pretty sure it was 10 plus. The 2nd can was getting light so I stopped as I didn’t want to run out hallway through a coat. My Zen trance lifted as I put the can on shelf and it was time to inspect my work. I couldn’t do it. I was too nervous. It was going to be full of runs and patches and splodges - I just knew it.
After a while, I could delay the fateful moment of judgement no longer. I turned around and opened my eyes. Dare I say it? It looked quite good! It all looked quite even and best of all, no runs or splodges at all! OK, there are a couple, OK a few bits of dust on there, but I was having to spray outside. I was really pleased and proud of the result of my unexpectedly black boot lid. (I was expecting grey.)
I spent an hour gazing in wonder and taking pictures to publish on social media (who delighted in pointing out it was the wrong colour primer and I’d missed a couple of small dents) before putting it away snugly to fully dry and harden for a week whilst I was on a business trip. When I got back I would be able to do something that I knew vaguely was called “flatting back”. You see I’d run out of “how to” blog.
To be continued….
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