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History Brush Painting Cars...

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by -Brent-, Jul 22, 2010.

  1. chrisser
    Joined: Mar 20, 2008
    Posts: 132


    I redid a camper using marine enamel and a quality camel hair brush.

    Two coats of primer and two coats of enamel.

    Yes, if you get close you can see brush strokes, but you have to get really close and most of them are in the primer. The darned thing is too tall to get in the garage, and spraying something the size of a small house was not practical in my little back yard with the neighbors and local laws.

    It just wasn't worth sanding the primer on currogated aluminum, but I think if you did you could get a very high quality finish. Marine paint is made to be brushed or sprayed (no solvent pop) and it flows out very nicely with a quality brush. You don't get the durability of catalyzed urethane, but marine enamel isn't exactly crappy paint either - it has to endure heavy sun, salt spray, water, etc. At least one company has a clearcoat that can be used over the base for an extra level of gloss. I can't see it being any more work than lacquer was and what you loose sanding off imperfections, you gain by not having overspray.

    You may not get the depth with marine paint that comes HOK or other premium automotive coatings, and metallics/flakes are out of the question, but there's no reason you can't get just as high a quality of surface finish with them if you invest enough time and get good materials/tools. And how much depth was there back in the 30s/40s and early 50s with most regular paint jobs, especially if the car spent time at the local track?

    For someone who has more time than money, and can't legally spray urethane in a residential neighborhood, it could be a real alternative for some projects - not all of course. Flattening agents are also available if you're intersted in a suede look.

    I encourage anyone to give it a try on something - toolbox, scrap metal, whatever and see what kind of finish you can get with a little work.

    I used Interlux Brightside which is a 1 part urthethane enamel. There's also a two part that is supposedly more durable (Interlux Perfection). ( System Three linear polyurethane line has a gloss clear topcoat in addition to the water-thinned basecoats (
  2. roddinron
    Joined: May 24, 2006
    Posts: 2,676


    My dad told me he painted his 36 ford with a brush when he was a young man, and he says it looked great. Years ago, I painted a 49 ford truck using my mothers electrolux vacuum cleaner. I suspect I was ahead of my time, since if you think about it, it was an early HVLP system!:)
  3. gary mundy
    Joined: Nov 26, 2009
    Posts: 45

    gary mundy
    from Kansas

    In 1955 I painted my first car a 1948 plymouth with a kirby vacuum cleaner spray bottle which they used with water to take off wallpaper
  4. Wolfman1
    Joined: Jul 8, 2010
    Posts: 265


    I remember my uncle use to paint cars with a roller , first he would paint the low areas with a brush ( body lines etc. ) and then do a panel at a time with the roller.
    The roller he covered with pantyhose so the knap of the roller wouldn't stick to
    the paint.
    He used enamel and once it flowed out it was hard to tell it wasn't sprayed.
  5. kruizin
    Joined: Jan 23, 2009
    Posts: 41


    I worked for a man in Kitchener Ontario doing T's and A's and he told me that Model T's were in fact sprayed with a hose what he called a shit spreader!!! and they did it without masking and had the interiors in them!! and then the paint that dripped off went into a tray under neath the car and was reused to keep sraying all along the line..He told me if someone had the actual mixure for the famous China Black paint they could still do it the same way, and this is the reason you can still to this day find T parts that you wax up and still get a good shine on some areas of them..
    Joined: Mar 20, 2008
    Posts: 296


    All cars were painted with a brush until Dupont came out with Duco lacquer[I think in the late teens or early twentys]. Henry Ford started spraying the Model T, that was the reason he started painting them all black. When I started in the trade, all the old guys could do a lot with a brush, stripe, stripe wheels ,woodgrain etc.
  7. Interesting post! I used to work with an older guy from Ipswich Mass named Fred Worrell who specialized in restoring horse-drawn carriages.Fred was an old boat painter and until he met me had never used a spray gun.All his paintwork was done with various sized brushes;most of which were sable and ox hair.These brushes were VERY expensive and VERY old and he would not even let me handle them.
    I watched him brush paint a carriage body with black nitrocellulose lacquer and when finished looked like it had been sprayed.The way he brushed paint on reminded me of how Jon Kosmoski wields a spraygun:almost like a robot.He would load the brush very carefully and lay down a stroke and then overlap it about 50 percent;continuing on until the edge of the panel was reached.To retard the dry time slightly he would put a few drops of castor oil in the paint.He also said that banana oil worked but was harder to obtain.You had to be careful because too much would cause the paint to not dry at all.He would usually do three to four coats starting with a vertical stroke and moving on to diagonal strokes and finishing with a horizontal stroke.
    I did striping on several of his carriage restorations and then he kind of fell off the face of the earth.I ran into him several years later and he was working as a short order cook in a diner.When I asked what happened he said he just got tired one day of doing carriages and started drinking again.He worked as a cook to make money.
    Before we parted company I had given him an old door jamb gun I wasn't using and he tried it out.He gave it back saying it was easier to use a brush!
  8. dlotraf
    Joined: Apr 7, 2010
    Posts: 113


    Not brush but, I ran across an old article, or might have been in a book, but late 40's early 50's showed how to paint a car with a bug sprayer. The old type, with a can and what looks like a ball pump on top. And as I recall they turned out pretty nice. It just goes to show, a little enginuity goes a long way. Also Hot Rod Deluxe, I think, ran an article on brush, and roller painting a car. Although it was a falcon.............:D Rustoleum I believe and a lot of wetsanding afterwards..........:D
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 8,674


    Just for a goof I brush painted an old 20s Chevy fender with black nitro lacquer and some Dupont lacquer retarder. I used an expensive brush ($7.00 in the 70s!) and applied it in 3 different directions like safariknut was describing. After 2 days drying time I wet sanded with 600 and machine polished it with good ol Ditzler DRX16 compound. I was having big time trouble with swirl marks so Dad made me a wet paste of corn starch and explained it to me. The corn starch worked great for the swirl marks, and worked better with a wet polishing pad (a real mess!). I did just for the experience having read a few weeks prior how cars were painted in the teens and early 20s. Certainly today it's a "why bother" exercise, but interesting. I also have a manual from the 20s from a company called "Kyanize". They explain chapter and verse how to brush paint your car at home. They mention steel wool for prep and using powdered pumice to level between coats. If I get time I'll try to scan it and post it here.
  10. Bloodandmotoroil
    Joined: Feb 22, 2010
    Posts: 154


    im gonna paint my 58 international with a paint roler, one of those texture ones... bet
    it'lll look HORRIBLE.. but it'll be MINE and it wont look like YOURS.
  11. my understanding was the only reasons Henry Ford went to spraying instead of brushing wasn't because of was to save time [equals money] and the spray process put less paint on the car, saving paint costs. A good brush job with horsehair brushes and color sanding/buffing will lay a lot of paint down. Gives a guy lots of room to sand/buff without going through to theprimer.
  12. steveo3002
    Joined: Apr 4, 2009
    Posts: 227

    from england

    id like to see that scan if you get chance to post it up
  13. speedexx
    Joined: Jul 6, 2008
    Posts: 92

    from Georgia

    This is a very interesting thread! I've only seen one individual paint a car with a brush (this was a older man during the late '50's). I was at first amazed he was crazy enough to do it & then, amazed at how good it looked. Although the paint looked a little flat, I couldn't see a brush mark in it.
  14. Asphalt Outlaw Hero
    Joined: Dec 9, 2006
    Posts: 973

    Asphalt Outlaw Hero
    from Dixie

    A few years ago,I think it was HRM did an article on painting with a roller.There were lots of howls on this list!
  15. junk yard kid
    Joined: Nov 11, 2007
    Posts: 2,718

    junk yard kid

    my workers load up paint on a broom then i drive the truck back and forth.
  16. chrisser
    Joined: Mar 20, 2008
    Posts: 132


  17. Joatha
    Joined: Jul 6, 2008
    Posts: 184


    There was a thread (multiple threads even) of epic length on this topic over on I'll see if I can find a link.
  18. barry wny
    Joined: Dec 31, 2009
    Posts: 451

    barry wny

    My daughter painted mine with a brush, can be real good with right technique/thinning. good enough for us.
  19. gearguy
    Joined: Jan 27, 2010
    Posts: 286


    I painted a 1963 VW microbus with thinned down Rustoleum in 1971. Two tone yellow and white. From 10 feet away it looked better than my friend's Earl Schieb paint job. Back then you did what you could with what you had and I happened to have time, a ladder, paint, brushes, and a roller.

    It was standard procedure to brush pain all but very high end stock cars for our local track. Only those sponsored by a body shop used a sprayer.
  20. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 22,134

    from Michigan

    While your at it, Why not make it look like stucko??? :D
  21. My Dad used to put corn starch in a sock, and gently beat the sock on the panel to be final rubbed to eliminate swirls. GREAT thread!!!!!!!!!!
  22. Ahh forget the paint just use indoor/outdoor carpet and some spray glue. :p
  23. 29nash
    Joined: Nov 6, 2008
    Posts: 4,544

    from colorado

    Use Acrylic Enamel. Get a china-hair brush about 3" wide, don't be tempted to thin the enamel too much. Practice a little.

    My brother and I did this one around 1949.

    Our Mom with our '29.jpg
  24. -Brent-
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,685


    After he dusted it, Groucho, was there a certain way it was rubbed, like directionally, etc.?
  25. Another trick that I've seen is to mist the paint while it's still wet with water from a garden hose after it's been rolled on. Makes the paint lay right down and the roller & brush marks disappear.
  26. RichG
    Joined: Dec 8, 2008
    Posts: 3,919


    Hmmm, interesting. I brush painted a wheat truck quite a few years ago (around '90), just roughed up the old paint and brushed the new right over it. I saw the truck at a machine shop the last time I was back in my old town, it still sported the same paint and looked just fine.
  27. shemp
    Joined: Dec 16, 2006
    Posts: 512

    Alliance Vendor

    My mother told me how she bought a product from a magazine ad that was applied with a rag and wiped on. This was 1944, and while my Dad was in North Africa, she repainted their '39 Oldsmobile. She said it worked well, and that most all of the lines and wipe marks went away while it was drying in the Sun. It looks nice in the old photos.
  28. krooser
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 4,584


    I've seen several guys use shellac to 'paint' their old cars... these guys did it back in the 40's/50's to help preserve the cars without spending a lot of $$$.

    Shellac is an interesting product... comes mostly from India and is produced from the 'lac' insect.
  29. Thorkle Rod
    Joined: May 24, 2006
    Posts: 1,392

    Thorkle Rod

    I have brushed a few things on several cars, there is a fine line between the exterior film of the paint and the soft under neath if the paint is thick enough, I have rubbed them when the paint is still plyable under the top skin of the paint until they were like glass as long as you don't rub hard and or, break the top skin of the paint. The technique takes some practice and pateience. I have seen some nice brush painted and hand rubbed cars.
  30. shoprat
    Joined: Dec 23, 2006
    Posts: 1,109

    Member Emeritus
    from Orange, CA

    Enamel dries from the outside in and lacquer dries from the inside out. That's
    why enamel gets a skin on it. In 56 I painted my dash with a fly sprayer with lacquer
    turned out good.

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