I'm not happy with the paint job I did on my 1910 body, and am planning on re-painting it this spring. What is the best way to remove paint from a wooden bodied car? Sanding would probably remove too much of the original wood, so I'm thinking maybe using a chemical stripper would be the way to go. Anyone who has done this the easy or hard way, I'd like to know your thoughts.
Bill, I have used a product called "Citrus strip" with good success. Available at Meijer stores near you.
What type of paint are you removing?
Is it enamel? or lacquer? and what type of paint do you intend redoing the paintwork? If you have decided to change paint type this time there may be a problem doing so as some paints attack others.
Safest way is sanding, if you intend using the same type of paint to redo the body then all you really need to do is sand the surface until its smooth and the majority of the old paint is removed. Using a machine to start with will save time and effort but finish by hand and use fine papers, try to rub along the grain where ever possible.
The wood grain will be already filled with the old paint saving you time and effort filling and smoothing the surface again for the new top coats.
Any chemical stripper which will soften paint will also attack any new paint applied unless it is completely cleaned and washed away and all traces of the paint removed as they contain the stripper. Wood tends to soak up the stripper and often it can be extremely difficult to get out of the grain of the timber.
Another method is to heat the paint and it will blister up and you can scrape it off, a hot air gun can usually do this, the surface is left only needing a light sand down, any traces of paint are usually easily painted over with out any reaction.
If the body is off the chassis and you have practiced you stripping with heat you can successfully use a torch flame but unless you have experience doing this I would not use this method though it is the way i would remove the paint due to the speed and ease it provides a surface to repaint.
As you say your body is an original 1910 then I would be looking hard at options you are suggested here on the forum before you start..
I have two brass T's with all wood bodies and used to teach students about painting wood before retiring.
I like chemical strippers. As mentioned, you didn't say what kind of paint you are removing and if same type will be used. With chemical strippers, wash it down real good (I like to use a red scotchbrite pad while doing this). And let it dry for at least a day--preferably in the sun to make sure it's dry.
But a thought, if you are using the same paint and color, you might consider a scuff and shoot. You can wet sand any of your imperfections and then the whole body with 320 and then 400 which in my opinion would leave a good bite for the next layer. You already have paint down, as long as it is a good base and stuck good, nothing wrong with leaving it as a base.
Bill, as others have asked, what's wrong with the paint job? If it's a situation of being dull, maybe runs, or flat/orange peel, or a situation where there's no defect in adhesion,or minor additional bodywork needed, I would just fix what's needed and sand smooth and re-shoot. If the paint has good adhesion now, there's no reason to strip it off, as you're making more work than what's needed. Strippers will also attack any bodywork you already did, so you'll be re-doing that also. Sanding the existing paint does not require a course grit paper, therefore, you should not be sanding into the wood.
If it's peeling or other adhesion problems, then you may not have a choice, but if you don't have to remove it, I would not.
A wood body finish will need to be refreshed in less than 10 years, regardless of stripping and/or finish medium technique. I agree with others here and would avoid removing any more finish than is absolutely needed. I advocate pre-slitting of painted seams where separation is likely. This controlled expansion/contraction joint allows inevitable movement without your finish randomly cracking.
Scott, your comments seem strange, what are the circumstances present that require the wood finish to be refinished in less than 10 years?
Both of my Model T wood bodied cars have way over 10 years service with no real need to refinish unless one feels the odd scratch or chip has made it necessary.
The Town Car has 38 years with a finish of red and black air dry enamel. Slight fading of red has occurred, the paint is automotive quality enamel not household. It's always garaged but when on the road is out in the sun and rain.
The Kamper 19 years with a 2 part urethane finish. This type of paint is way superior to other types of modern paints, just because the surface is wood does not mean a wood designed paint is the only one that can be used. A hard durable paint helps protect the wood especially for light bumps etc which would damage the surface.
Only movement noticed is where mouldings and panels join which will always happen I just keep the paint waxed which keeps the water out.
Peter makes a lot of sense in his 1st. post. What type of paint is there is important relating to what you plan to use now. I really don't think chemicals are a good bet for the reasons he stated. Just how bad is the existing coat? What was done when you did the first paint job?
I apologize for the extreme delay in responding; between shoulder recovery and the holidays I've been a bit busy. Also, I was a bit ashamed to admit my extreme ignorance with paints, and the fact that I used rattle cans to paint the body of my 1910. I scuffed the entire body first, and I also had to make a couple of body repairs that required sanding down to the bare wood. I thought I had found the perfect Brewster Green at an auto body paint supplier, so they hooked me up with a two part enamel rattle can that had the hardener already in it. They gave me the correct black primer to go with the rattle cans and I sprayed the entire body. It looked fairly good for spray paint, but apparently I didn't do a good enough job feathering the bare areas with the old paint, so at certain angles you can see imperfections. The color I used looked great in the garage, but when I pushed the body into direct sunlight, it definitely had a blue-green shade to it that I was not pleased with. So I contacted TCP Global in California, and they sent me a spray card from an original paint code circa 1914 Brewster Green and it looks as perfect to me as I've seen; a green so dark it's almost black. So I'm planning on re-painting the body this new color, in enamel. I'm thinking I may want to take it entirely down to bare wood because the areas that I did the sanding previously look pretty bad compared to the non-sanded areas around it. I hope this helps clear things up a bit.
I have yet to see a show quality finish on a wooden body, where this finish looks like a metal body with a couple of years on it. I have never seen a wooden dash that started out looking like a sheet of glass, that did not grain out, deform, and in some cases split the finish. I'm not saying it is not possible to keep the finish adhered to the body, but to continue to look like a metal body after 5 years, no Sir that is not going to happen. I used 2 phase urethane, where there are credible those here who know that it initially looked dead on a metal body. 6 years into that finish, it does not take a body expert to see the aforementioned conditions developing.
Scott, how did you prep it -- what is underneath the urethane?
I look forward to seeing the TCP Global Brewster Green, made from the original 1914 formula. Most I have seen are too light.
Keith, believe me, the first card they sent was a Brewster green - deep and it was way too black in my opinion. So I'm waiting for the Brewster Green light that I ordered last week. But from the online image, it looks spot on!
Apologies but this was along time ago so not exactly sure. I do recall this primer sealer was a PPG product that was 20+ year old technology at the time, and formulated for steel finish. We had issues with this stuff deforming the surface, in spots where the primer was thick enough to puddle. There were a handful of areas where we had to dig this mess out, re-establish the flat surface with filler, and then dust the primer back on until there was enough there to sand on. When the pigment was shot, some of these same areas lifted again. A couple of the panels looked great for weeks, then severe orange peel developed. These were reprimed, painted and reshot, and ultimately polished out fine. As earlier implied, wood can be an uncertain medium under the best of circumstances. I've discussed this with a number of this hobby's best, and impression I got is that my wood finish experience is not unique.
I can see now why you are thinking as you do Scott, seem that your experience was one where the best approach was missing.
The wood has to be seasoned properly and of good quality and it will never be possible to paint it if there is too much moisture in the timber. Put in the sun after painting and the moisture will expand and blister up the paint.
Wood good enough was Something I found extremely difficult to get here in Australia. All too often quality suitable timber is not being produced often enough as its rarely used, only people doing high class work need it and they often cut and dry it themselves.
The traditional way to paint timber works well with the modern 2 part urethane finishes. The primer should be the same as used with the top coat, use ones which prime and fill under the color, those designed to gain adhesion to metals or plastics only are not needed.
The first coat should be mixed with the correct amount of hardener but over thinned, This is then brushed onto the wood, (don't try and spray it) it needs to be rubbed into the grain so it soaks in, if you spray air are hits the wood first preventing the primer from reaching the low spots in the grain and air can get trapped under the coating, same as if you try to spray over any pin holes or similar in the surface. ( I think that's what may have happened with Scott's job)
If the paint with the hardener set up fast use a slower thinner or mix up only small quantities and do small areas at a time, brushed on the paint goes a lot further than sprayed, The material is expensive so experiment with a small amount (you can always mix more, once mixed it has to be used or discarded if left over)
After it has cured you can then spray the following primer coats, either thin or thicker until you have enough to rub it to a suitable surface to apply the top coats.
The material with its hardener ( primer and color) both lock up into a hard surface which will not soften if any normal solvent is put on them. The paint becomes a rock hard solid finish ( like coating with fibreglass resin) which can be rubbed to get faults out such as orange peel or even big runs and buffed to a high gloss. If the timber is of good quality the result will be a good one.
Whatever the instruction are don't try to rush the process, if anything extend the times so you are sure the material is completely cured. Watch the temperature, if its cool wait longer, instructions usually use a normal warm day as the guide time.
Another thing if a car is worth good paint finish, a spray can product is not going to be the one to give it to you.
Something I should have also mentioned as its possible some will follow what I have posted, it is not good practice to dust on paint, paint requires a way to key or grab the surface, if its dusted on then its so dry adhesion is difficult. On boats an Epoxy sealer is often used starting with that as the first thin coat would be helpful also.
On lacquers the solvent dissolves the previous coating joining the two together, on enamels the bond is created when the wet coating sticks or glues itself when its wet, dry coats of any paint don't adhere well. If its attacking the surface or not sticking something is going on between the paint and the surface, usually its a foreign material getting in the way, such as moisture, wax or grease or some other foreign thing. Wood being soft and porous tends to soak up foreign things, using products which can't leave behind residue is important check what may be on or in the wood.
No point in going on if its suspect, in the end the result will be poorer than it should be.
No question some things related to that finish could have been managed better, but all in all, not too disappointed. My project in question was the Town Car that can be seen in the photo in the MTFCA 1912 Photos section. The coach is wooden except for the steel foredoors. The finish has it's flaws, but with 6 years on it, it is still very slippery. This and a host of very relevant early T's can be seen at the fabulous Piquette Ave. Ford Museum. Say hello to Steve and see the newly installed Special Projects Room, then enjoy Detroit's best Bar-B-Que at Z's Villa, just 2 blocks down the street on Piquette.