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1st time painting and need some advice.

Well my black '92 Explorer has decided it wanted it's hood painted earlier than I had hoped. It's a $250 project truck that I'm currently rebuilding the transmission on so it's not going anywhere for a while. There is a spot on the hood that I knew was down to primer and I was hoping it would last until I at least go the truck movable. But no luck. I noticed this weekend that some light surface rust is starting to form in that spot so it's is going to have to be done next weekend. Also I noticed that the edges of the grooves in the hood are getting ready to rust too so I've decided to just do the entire hood instead of the one spot. I was going to practice on the truck anyway but later with better equipment.

Right now I have no air compressor and can't drive the truck so I'm stuck to rattle can paints. I know it won't be professional results. I'm mainly wanting to protect the metal but I do want to do as good of a job as I can.

Here are the questions I have:
Should I sand the entire hood or is there a decently priced paint remover that I can use? I figure just doing the entire hood will be easier than trying to make sure I get all the spots.

Any recommendations for which company's product to use? I can get Duplicolor at my local AutoZone. I'm going to try to find out what else I can get around here for a reasonable price.

I'm thinking about maybe going to a flat black. Will that be an easier color to start with and not show my mistakes as well? If I decide that I want the gloss, could I just clear coat over it and polish it or would I have to do an entire repaint?

My last question (for now). Harbor Freight has a 7" electric orbital sander for $40 that I'm thinking about getting. Will this be okay or should I spend the extra money and get an electric DA sander/polisher? (Money is a consideration here because it's cutting into my transmission funds, and I've had it a year and not driven it yet.)

I know some of this is probably in other threads but time is a factor right now.


The yellow arrows are pointing to the rust spots or areas about to rust.

Thanks for any input and help.

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No matter what the best you will get is an OKAY job at best.

There are many steps that are important, the question is how much work do you want to put into it knowing OKAY is the best you are going to get ?

I mean you could strip the hood to bare metal.
But I wouldnt.
You could just DA the whole hood and paint over top of that.
But I wouldnt
You could just scuff and spray the effected area and wait until you can get it done right.

All that said, dont just do what I say I would or would not do.
Ultimately its up to you. Its your Ex, some times its just flat out tons and tons fun spending the whole day messing with it just to get to OKAY results.
They call them project vehicles for a reason.

If you just want to protect the metal for now and plan on doing a better paint job later, you could always just sand down the rusty areas and spray on some rattle can primer. You can get auto primer in a spray can at any parts store, or even Walmart or Lowe's. A few thin coats of primer will protect the metal, and you can just sand it off later when using something better.

If you don't want to spend a lot of money on a paint job for a $250 project vehicle, you can always go cheap and just sand it down smooth as best you can, or down to bare metal, prime it with spray paint and then paint it with spray paint. You could try to match the factory color, just go with whatever aftermarket black, or even just get satin black and leave it at that. It won't look as good as something professionally sprayed in a paint booth, but it won't cost you $2000, either.

Since :ttiwwp: I edited the first post. I was able to get a couple pictures on my way to work this morning since it wasn't raining then.

Monmix, I have no problem putting a couple days work and only coming out with an okay job. You have to learn by doing and it's my first time so I'm not expecting miracles but I do want to do it right (or at least as right as I'm capable of). And now with a picture of the hood I think you may see why I was thinking about just doing the whole hood instead of just the spots. Even a bad job will look better than it is currently.
I know the most important thing is prep. The second most important this is prep. And cleanliness is a major part of the prep.

Here is the current plan (and a couple questoins):
I've got 220, 320, 400, 600, and 1000 grit sandpaper and I'll pick up some 2000 for the final finishing. I'm going to use the least abrasive that I can to get the rust off. I don't want to have to try and learn body work too right now (That will come later I'm sure). I've seen "Sandable Primer" which I plan on using on the rust spots since I am going to have to take at least a little metal off.
Next will be the rest of the hood prep (which I'm open to suggestions). If the paint was in good condition I would just sand it enough for the new paint to adhere, but with the paint in the condition it is I think that I would probably be better off going to metal. Do I need to go down to metal or is it just me being super cautious?
Next is cleaning.
Then primer and wait
Sand and clean again.
Base coat, wait,
???? Sand here again (I'll have to look it up again)
Clean and clear coat (unless I go flat black) then final sanding.
Now my understanding is that since I'm using rattle cans I'm going to have to use more coats because they don't put out as much paint.

For the product line I'm looking at Dupli-color since it's readily available. I'm going to try to see what else I can get easily. Oddball working hours makes it kinda hard to do any real shopping around before the weekend. But I may decide (or need) to paint more on the Ex before I get access to a paint sprayer so I'm still looking at other product lines.

Toypaseo, I've heard about using paint roller for Bedlining and friction paints but not for other automotive uses.

Anime, I haven't decided on which black I plan on going with but if I have to redo the hood it won't be a big deal. Which since it's my first time I'll probably need to repaint it anyway. But it will give me practice at least. I don't plan on spending $2000 for a $250 truck.

Thanks for the input so far.

If you want a good smooth finish you will want to sand down the entire hood. It doesn't have to be down to bare metal on the entire thing, but that is one way to make it easier on yourself, at least in having an even surface and not having to deal with surface irregularities created by having some painted parts, some primered parts. You can try using aircraft remover or chemical paint removers to lift the remaining paint off rather than do it by sheer force with rough sandpaper.

Then, primering the whole thing will show you any imperfections and give you a surface to sand smooth. They do also make black auto primer in a spray can, so you can spray it black primer and keep it like that until you're ready to paint, then just sand it down and clean it up before painting.

If you plan on painting more than just the hood, and don't want to buy 50+ rattle cans, you could always buy an inexpensive spray gun kit (they sell them at hardware stores, even Lowe's and Home Depot), use a compressor and put a filter in the air line, and buy a quart of black auto paint and clear coat. The labor for the prep would be intense and take days, but you could get a better than rattle can job for under $100, and of course you'd always have the spray gun for later jobs.

No matter what the best you will get is an OKAY job at best.

Ahem. I do say rattle can jobs can look pretty decent

No one believed I did the whole thing with about 16 spray cans.

And then there was my SVT Contour that I did in flat black with an electric spray gun that was 20 years old, and everyone thought I had a shop do it since it was such a nice job.

All I ever did was make sure I gave it a good sanding, and then tried to do the most even coats possible, and at least 4 coats. Funny, I can paint a 1:1 with rattle cans but I can't get a plastic model to look decent :(

Not arguing JMan, just using a different reference point.


Anduiril, If you dont mind the time and the labor, here is what I would do.

Take all the paint off with 80 on a DA.
Grind out the rust. ALL of it.
Fill dings and dents with some body filler.
Finish every thing in 180 or 220.

Load on the primer and hit it with some guide coat. Block it all down with 500.
Clean it real well. Paint away. Many many thin coats are better than a few fat coats.
( you do have all day right ? )
Do me and YOUR SELF a favor and wear some sort of respirator. A dust mask is fine for the sanding and stuff but you need one that filters vapor when you spray all the paint.
Just being out side (which is a bad idea any way ) is not good enough.

Good luck.

Monmix, WOW!!!!!!!!!!

I'm going to come see that paint job. I'm never going to do a paint job that good, but I now know what I'm aiming for.


Toypaseo, That is an interesting idea but I think I'll stick with the spray cans. At least the prep will give me practice for when I do get a compressor and spray gun.

Anime, I was more concerned about maybe the old paint possibly coming off and/or not bonding with the new paint since they are probably two different types of paint. But the fact of starting with a smooth surface definitely makes a lot of sense. So I will be taking it all off. If I can't find an inexpensive stripper on Sunday, I'll just have have to use sandpaper. I don't think I want to use black primer because I think it would be harder to tell if I'm getting good coverage on the first couple coats. I am going to paint the whole truck. It will be section by section though (it's a project truck). Right now I don't have an air compressor but my landlord is thinking about getting one (more on this later).

Jman, was that 16 cans total or 16 cans of primer, base coat and clear coat? I was planning on getting 2 cans of each since I have no idea how much each can will cover and I don't want to run out halfway through a coat and have to run to the store. I was thinking about 3-4 coats of primer and 6-7 coats each of base coat and clear coat. Which brand did you use?

Monmix, once again WOW!! I was staring at the picture so long last night that my girlfriend asked me if I was :bdrunk:. Maybe a little. If you stuck a ruler on its end, how far up can you read? I don't know if auto painters do that but when I was in the Navy you could read up to the 4" mark on my dress shoes (and they were hand polished not patent leather). I'm definitely going to try and meet up with you next time I drive up to Pennsylvania.
Back to my paint job. I don't have a DA but I think I can get all the rust off with 220 since it looks like it just a light surface rust. And yes I will get ALL of it, I learned the hard way on that while in the Navy when I missed some while painting the ship and it came through the paint and I had to go fix it very quickly wearing my Dress Blues minutes before the inspection.
There aren't any dings so I don't think I'll need any body filler, unless the rust is deeper than I think. I don't have to ask which grit to use before the primer now. :thumbsup:
I don't have 500 grit for sanding the primer. I have 400 and 600. Could I use one of those or do I need to go find 500?
I plan on doing lots of thin coats and if I do get sander I'll probably add a couple coats to give me some room for sanding mistakes. I do have 3 days but it's Florida so it will probably rain at least 1 of them (Hopefully the first one before I get started).
Since I'm going to be outside (no garage) I thought that the dust mask I'll use while sanding would be enough, but I went to Harbor Freight today and bought a respirator. After I get the truck running I'll go get some pvc pipe and tarps to make a tent of sorts to help keep the wind from putting stuff in the paint but I can't carry 8' sections of pipe on the Harley (well not safely anyway).

Okay. Now to my next series of questions.

The yellow rectangle is one of the 2 grooves in the hood. What's the best way to sand in them? I know they make foam sanding blocks for curved surfaces, would it work here too?
I may decide to paint the grooves a different color. I guess I would do that after the base coat is dry but before I clear coat. I thinking either yellow, orange, or maybe even flat black.

My landlord is thinking about getting an air compressor (I will be able to use it) but he is looking at the small pancake ones. Would that be good enough to paint with or should I chip in and get a bigger one?

Paint guns. Gravity fed vs sucking it from a jar. Which is better (same price range) or do they have different uses?

Thanks again for all the input and advice. And I will post pictures even if it's a bad job.

Monmix, WOW!!!!!!!!!!

I'm going to come see that paint job. I'm never going to do a paint job that good, but I now know what I'm aiming for.


Thanks for your kind words, but sadly that Explorer is gone :(

I traded it in and I dont know where it ended up :(

Yes, 600 will be fine instead of 500

For the grooved area you could simply use a normal household sponge warped in sand paper to get into that area.

Gravity feed. no question.

Thanks for your kind words, but sadly that Explorer is gone :(

I traded it in and I dont know where it ended up :(

Well I hope the new owner comes down to Orlando for vacation.
My brother told me last night to use a sponge too.
I was thinking gravity feed would be better but it never hurts to ask if you aren't positive.

I stopped by AutoZone tonight and picked up
1 can of Rustoleum Airplane stripper (that should get most of the paint off at least)
2 cans of Duplicolor Scratch Filler Primer (the only duplicolor primer they had)
2 cans of Duplicolor Universal Black
and 2 cans of Duplicolor Clear Coat

Weather permitting, when I get home from the range (about noon or so) tomorrow I'll strip the hood, sand out the rust and get the primer on. The can says it only needs 1 hour to cure. Depending on how late it is I'll sand it down. Now the primer can says use 800 grit after the primer dries but the base coat says sand with 600 grit before painting. I'm going with the 600.

Monday morning I'll go out and sand the primer (if I didn't do it the night before), clean and put on the base coat. The can says to wait 10 mins between coats (makes sense) and then 30 minutes before putting on the clear coat. I was going to wait a day, sand out any runs and orange peel (800 grit), clean, then put on the clear coat. Is there a reason for putting the clear coat on that soon or is that just a minimum time for people in a hurry? And next weekend do the final sanding and polishing.

Thanks again for the input. I'll have pictures up tomorrow (unless it rains).

Update with pictures

Well I didn't get to anything yesterday and got a really late start today. I had to help some friends. I started out by pushing the truck to where it wouldn't be near my neighbors vehicles and then putting plastic around the hood for the stripping. I knew I would be spraying it down with water so I figured plastic would be better than paper. (I do have paper for the painting).

Well I bought the Rustoleum aerosol Aircraft Stripper (I'm not making that mistake again). It worked okay in some places but mostly it didn't. It did soften the paint all over only a couple places came up like it was supposed too. So I went to my local hardware store to see if the have anything (they didn't) so I went back to Autozone to see what they had that was brush on. The only option was Rustoleum again. When I got home I figured out why the aerosol can didn't work very well, the stripper was thick like jelly. I decided to just do half the hood at a time to see how well it worked. It worked a lot better. I did have to go back and put another coat on after I scraped off what I could. I decided to do it in smaller section since it was getting late.

This is a picture of the left side that just had the aerosol done (except for the obvious brush stroke that I wiped the brush after the first coating just for comparison.

This is a picture of the right side. It's obvious where I've done the second coat. I do have a couple spots to touch up.

And now for the first Wammy. Apparently this hood has been repainted because here is body filler.
Tomorrow is supposed to be another good day so I will hopefully be able to at least get the rest of the hood stripped and primer put on.

I'll keep you posted as I go along. Thanks for following along and helping out.


Here is after I got most of the paint off (I ran out of brush on stripper).
I found out that the hood was originally red and has been repainted and had lots of small patches of body filler on it.

Ready to primer.
I got all the rust spots sanded down and some of the filler and paint spots smoothed out. I was running out of time so I decided to just sand down the entire hood and resand the rough spots in the primer before I paint. But at least it's primered and protected. I'm not going to be able to do anything until next weekend (at the earliest) and being Florida there is a good chance it will rain.


1st coat of primer.


2nd coat of primer. The 1st can ran out half-way through. I thought it might so I started shaking the second can while waiting for the first coat to dry.


3rd coat and the last of my primer. I think one more coat will give me a nice even coat.


One of the rough spots which I'll be re-sanding and the primer makes it super easy to see where I need to redo.

Hopefully next weekend I'll be able to sand down the spots I wasn't able to get to. And thanks to the primer already on there I know where I need to sand. I'm gonna re-primer those spots then lightly sand the entire hood and put another coat on. I think that having a nice even primer coat will make it easier to make sure the base coat is even. Then I'll go ahead and put the base coat on.

Now for the bad (but maybe long run good) news. The painter's tape that I used to tape down the plastic pulled some paint off of the fender. I'm just going to sand the spot down and primer it until I buy a compressor and paint gun. I'm still going to finish the hood with the spray cans just to see how good of a job I can do.

I know it threat related to pint job but Mr "MONMIX" have a great shing ride so I just want to know that what wax or shiner you have for your ride looking so great..?