Paint for wood bodied car?

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2015: Paint for wood bodied car?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Gelfer on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - 05:57 pm:

I have stripped off the 60 year old paint from the body wood of my 1912 roadster. I don't have a compressor, so will be brush painting. I know I need good oil based primer and top coat, but I don't know what paint to use. The guy in the hardware store said that the Valspar enamel would work well, but on the can it says "for metal surfaces only". I thought paints like Rustoleum were just a good quality oil based paint with some corrosion inhibitors mixed in. Will these paints adhere well to wood and give a good finish? Another thought is marine type paint. If it works on an old wood boat, why not my Model T? After all the prep work, I don't want to make the wrong choice.
Many thanks for your help.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Coco - Winchester Va. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - 07:48 pm:

I would suggest you seal the surface with a marine epoxy made for wood, such as West System. You can then prime and paint with any good quality paint, you'll want something that you can sand for a smooth finish, since you're brushing it on....


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Peter Kable - Kiama NSW OZ on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - 07:59 pm:

As you are going to brush your paint use any of the house paints designed for out door use such as doors and windows or you can track down marine paints which are brush applied.

Use enamels which are turpentine based not water.

To get a good surface for your top coat use the associated timber primer surfacer on the timber. Sand them down and get the smoothest surface with them.

Once you have a nice smooth surface then apply your color. Two brush coats is more than enough.
Don't try and put on heavy thick coats. These paints dry slowly If possible leave them to dry double or longer than the manufacture states. They can only get drier paint over them too soon and you will have problems.

Use a good brush and only do small areas at a time. (areas you can coat in a few minutes or less) It is worth doing a test run on something before you paint the car. Apply the paint, wipe out any excess and don't play with it further, the brush marks will flow out.

My Town Car has a all wood body and its been 30 plus years since it was done. As you will probably keep your Model T in a garage most of its life it will outlast you. Usually these paints last several years exposed to weather day in day out so they work OK on something which is looked after.

I used to teach students who worked for our railway system, all the carriages were brush painted inside and out with these paints. Done properly you won't be able to tell it has been brushed.

One thing more make sure you have washed and cleaned off any paint stripper properly from the wood if you have used it before you attempt any new paint on the wood.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Treace, North FL on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - 08:05 pm:

If skilled with a brush, enamel paint is the only way to go, gives better lay down for minimal brush strokes, but you will have them on that body.

Use a decent primer for enamel, you can brush on automotive primer if you don't thin it as you would for spraying. Then sand the primer very smooth, 400-600 grit. The better the primer surface the better the brush final will look. You will have one good coat, trying to re coat with brush strokes under brush strokes will look amateur, but if that is the look then OK.

The enamel should be automotive, so it has the UV protection, a good tractor enamel would be OK too, but usually these canned enamels come in only a few colors. Midnight blue usually isn't one of them, so spend the money on auto enamel. Don't add any hardener/gloss enhancer, as that will dry too quick for brush.

The better result is spray...you can rent a compressor and buy an inexpensive pressure feed spray gun and get way better results.


Auto Primer and filler, on wood, no under seal, the primer will soak in the wood.


Finish DuPont Centari Dove Gray acrylic enamel, with gloss hardener over primer.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Derocher on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - 09:51 pm:

As Dan said, the best is a sprayed finish, but if you roll a good marine paint, then tip with a brush you can get a nice finish. The roller helps apply the same amount of paint more easily, then just smooth out the bubbles from the roller, usually a 2 man job. I have built West System cedar strip canoes, and that's how we varnish them. Jim Derocher, AuGres, MI


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bud Holzschuh - Panama City, FL on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 08:10 am:

This is probably useless information, but I'll pass it along anyways, because it might give you an idea.

My grandfather used to make a living painting cars with a brush. I'm told this was common "back in the day". Dad always said that when he brush painted a car it was indistinguishable from the best paint jobs of the day. He used a product called "new enamel" which was prized for its flow characteristics. When he painted a car (dad's words) you could see the brush strokes faintly, but within a few minutes they leveled themselves out to a perfectly smooth surface.

"New enamel" probably no longer exists, but a call to an enamel manufacturer explaining that you want a paint with a high gloss and good "self leveling" might be worthwhile. Most paint manufacturers have help lines.

As others have said, for a wood surface, some kind of primer is critical.

Best of luck!


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