Chevy El Camino Rat Rod Flat Black Paint Job - Black-Tie Affair
Part 2: Brutus Gets Dipped With A New Finish ... Finally
From the December, 2009 issue of Chevy High Performance
By Sean Haggai
Photography by Sean Haggai
It was Round 2, and we were back at Rubio's Auto Body in Sun Valley, California, to put the finishing touches on project Brutus. The Rubio's experts had teamed up like an army of ants and pushed the build through what seemed an endless gauntlet of welding and replacing panels. When we left off ("Uncovered," June '09), the El Camino sat with the majority of the bodywork and welded panels completed. To recap what was done: We removed the old orange paint, revealing the El Camino's true colors. Rot had worked its way into just about every crevice. Some panels-the hood, front fender, and rear deck-were so far from repair they had to be replaced with reproduction pieces through the help of OPG. Other stretches of metal were cut, replaced, and filled. The rest of the good panels were sanded down and awaiting primer.
Now, however, the team was up for some real elbow grease. There was no easy way around it; the entire El Camino would have to be block/wet-sanded to perfection. Block-sanding the panels by hand is a true art form, and we had miles of metal to cover. Every high and low spot had to be flattened, every imperfection perfected. As owner Joe Rubio explained, "It's a necessary evil and any shortcuts here would show up in the completed finish." So before we could lay down two very luscious coats of Eastwood Rat Rod Flat Black, Brutus was blocked, sanded, and primered twice.
Again we called on the help of Eastwood-it's a one-stop shop for the latest in paint and body tooling. Plus, everything is viewable online and at your fingertips. At Eastwood we decided on the matte black paint. While some may question our choice of a matte finish, the answer is simple: Not only does it look sweet, but it's trouble-free, requiring very little upkeep. Unlike gloss paints, this flat finish doesn't retain fingerprints or even need wax. Moreover, this is going to be the magazine's mule. It's going to carry parts, motors, rims, tires, and whatever else will fit in the bed. It's more or less a shop truck and isn't going to be parked miles away in a lot for fear of some door dings or runaway shopping carts.
Grab a seat and watch the bland-looking El Camino become a brute. We even painted the wheelwells and installed a new hood alignment kit from OPG. Hey Joe, when can we get those Gloss Black stripes down the hood?
What We Did
Dressed the ugly duckling in matte black paint
Our hard work, calloused hands, and piles of sandpaper pay off
First, each door opening and...
First, each door opening and everything around it had to be covered with paper to prevent overspray.
The Rubio's team, including...
The Rubio's team, including Carlos "Pollo" Lopez and the owner's son, Arthur Rubio, mixed up the first batch of Eastwood Feather Fill with the supplied hardener.
Arthur started from the outer...
Arthur started from the outer edges of the El Camino and worked his way inward. He made sure to properly overlap his spraying to get complete coverage.
With the entire car covered,...
With the entire car covered, it needed time to cure, so we left it overnight. Joe explained that the first layer of primer will shrink. And since the body filler underneath acts like a sponge, some of the primer will end up getting soaked up by the filler.
As the first coat dried, the...
As the first coat dried, the team spattered a layer of gray primer. We had sanded with 80-grit paper first, the contrasting colors revealing any high and low spots still left in the bodywork. Then, after the rougher areas were sanded, we switched to 150-grit dry paper to smooth the rest of the body out.
It's easy to overlook the...
It's easy to overlook the factory body lines, and it's critical not to sand them flat. Pollo's expert eye taped off the bodylines and addressed them carefully.
After our first bout of block-sanding...
After our first bout of block-sanding the Black primer, we rolled the El Camino back into the spray booth for a second coat of gray primer. Here we checked the edges of the outer fenders and added body filler at the last moment.
Mistakes are still possible,...
Mistakes are still possible, and things do get overlooked. For instance, small pockets of low spots were discovered after our first sanding. We went ahead and kept filling every low spot with Eastwood lightweight body filler, using a putty knife.
Dust and contaminants are...
Dust and contaminants are paint's worst enemies. They can get lodged in wet paint and be difficult to remove when dry. We wiped the entire car down with a soft, damp cloth. Then we air-blew the car dry, dislodging additional contaminants.
Although it protects and works...
Although it protects and works the same as the first layer of black primer, we opted for a second full coat of gray primer to help locate the low-spots more easily. Again, Arthur Rubio began at the edges of the car and doorjambs, overlapping his work to ensure ample coverage. We left the coat to dry and cure overnight before any more work could be done on the car.
Using buckets of warm water...
Using buckets of warm water and blocks to begin wet sanding, we started with 320-grit wet/dry paper until a uniform finish began to appear on the car. How do you know when you sand too much? If the color begins to turn to the original primer color, you've gone too far and the primer is thin.
At this point, we had moved...
At this point, we had moved on to a 400-grit wet/dry paper. You've got to clean the sandpaper of contaminants; if the paper gets clogged, it won't be able to remove material, which makes the process that much longer. We were sure to keep our paper clean by constantly dunking it in water.
Even at this point, we were...
Even at this point, we were still finding minute areas to fill. This was our last chance to fill before paint. We went over the car with a hypercritical eye to fill every last low area.
Finally, our hard work was...
Finally, our hard work was getting us somewhere. Before our first coat of Rat Rod Flat Black, we hustled out the power washer and Ajax soap. We washed the entire car front to back in a last-ditch effort to remove any contaminants that could spoil our paintjob.
We mixed up our paint with...
We mixed up our paint with the activator and filled the guns. With the car in the booth, we were ready to seal the deal.
Salvador Garcia and Pollo...
Salvador Garcia and Pollo blasted their way first by attacking the edges of the car and spraying their way to the center. We let the car sit overnight before we sprayed our second coat. The following day, we rolled the car out of the booth.
The final touches involved...
The final touches involved reinstalling the wheelwells with an OPG bolt kit and getting the hood back on. We painted the springs and replaced the old hood alignment kit with a new one, also from OPG.
|WHAT WE USED
||40-grit dry sandpaper
|80-grit dry sandpaper
|120-grit dry sandpaper
|180-grit wet/dry sandpaper
|Feather G2 gray primer, gallon
|EW urethane activator, 32 oz
|Lightweight body filler
|Rat Rod Flat Black paint
|Rat Rod Flat Black paint kit
||Inner fender bolt kit
|Hood alignment kit
|Hood bolt kit
|Rubio's Auto Body
||Labor @ $42/hr