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Projects Removing old spray paint from old finish

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by smokinjoe3, Aug 26, 2021.

  1. smokinjoe3
    Joined: Mar 19, 2008
    Posts: 8


    OK... I have searched and couldn't find a good answer so hear goes. I have a 49 pontiac that had sat in a barn since the mid 60s. The car was factory light blue but that faded away a long time ago. It looks like someone used rattle can flat white paint back in the 80s to cover surface rust. With patina an accepted practice now, I'd like to see if I could get the spray paint off but not remove most of the factory paint underneath. I've used green scotch pads and they remove the light areas, but a lot of the car has a health coat of spray paint on it. Is there an easier way to do this? Acetone? Comet? Surely I'm not the only one that has a car that has been ruined by a rattle can. Any advise on best practices would be GREATLY appreciated!!

    Attached Files:

  2. Have you tried a rag soaked with lacquer thinner?
    Algoma56 and squirrel like this.
  3. Thought of another one I've used; a flat razor blade on the thick areas.
    Algoma56 and squirrel like this.
  4. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 51,241


    I worked on a car several years ago that also had white spray can paint over the original finish, I used the rag with lacquer thinner trick. Some of the original paint went away also, we sanded the whole car and primed and painted it.

    So it works, but don't expect to end up with a perfect original finish. There's a reason they painted over the whole thing.
    VANDENPLAS likes this.

  5. -Brent-
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,650


    @Chris has probably done this 100+ times. Maybe he could chime in with his technique?
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
  6. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 23,314

    Staff Member

    easy off oven cleaner , the original formula in a yellow can. I have done this to remove spray paint (also works on one shot striping enamel) and it works. Try it on an inconspicuous spot before you go hog wild just in case
  7. So the rust it is covering is going to look better than the spray paint? :rolleyes:
  8. greybeard360
    Joined: Feb 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,916


    I was unaware that patina was an accepted practice.
    Flathead Dave, clem, loudbang and 4 others like this.
  9. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 31,064


    This is actual patina, still presentable original paint that will shine if you polish it enough with some thin spots where the paint has worn though either due to actually having the paint polished off it or in the case of this car that previously had belonged to an older gent who kept it under a tarp for years because the tarp had worn the paint off. No rust, no sign of neglect just a loved old car that the guy who bought it brought back to life.
  10. Gearhead Graphics
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 3,874

    Gearhead Graphics
    from Denver Co

    As stated easy off will remove most of it. BUT, why not just give that girl a new paint job? Even just some simple single stage
    Flathead Dave and VANDENPLAS like this.
  11. Nice - I have a car that was repainted after 5 yrs from new and has faded really bad. Funny it was parked after those 5 yrs with 95,000 on the speedo and has a trailer hitch - kinda funny......but what do I try on it ?
  12. dodored
    Joined: Feb 5, 2007
    Posts: 640

    from Concord NC

    Not a hamb friendly vehicle, but I bought a van off a government auction that had the paint turn to chalk from never being buffed. I knew the single stage paint would be thick enough to buff out, so I started with green 3M pads and WD40. The areas that had spray paint I used the same green pads with lacquer thinner and patiently rubbed on it, a little bit at a time, until all the spray paint was gone. After that I used my Harbour Freight buffer, with a wool pad, and McGuirers buffing compound. I used the most aggressive first, then medium, and then final buff and polish. Came out amazing.
    Algoma56 likes this.
  13. Lone Star Mopar
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 3,320

    Lone Star Mopar

    Easy off oven cleaner is the answer you're looking for. Cheapest, easiest thing to try first. It worked pretty well for me too.
  14. clem
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 3,671


  15. smokinjoe3
    Joined: Mar 19, 2008
    Posts: 8


    I appreciate all of the tips! I will try the lacquer thinner, easy-off and hot white vinegar to see which one works best. To those who want me to paint it.. I would love to paint it too. But even single stage would look awful unless there were hundreds of hours of prep to get it straight and rust free. I don't have the time.. one day I will. For now, I would rather get the splotchy white paint off and enjoy it. Unlike some people, I appreciate all old cars.. The shiny ones AND the rusty ones. The hobby is not just for people that have a bunch of time and money or stumble across an original car that is only slightly faded. Patina is not a hard definition. It can mean anything from original paint that is buffed back to a shine or a bunch of surface rust with only a small amount of paint left. And YES it is an accepted practice by a large, growing crowd of car enthusiasts who would not otherwise be able to get into the hobby.
  16. clem
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 3,671


    ^^^^^ well said.
    The patina thing has been overdone for years now and out of that grew fake patina…:eek: - which is probably what most on here are against.
    If your circumstances only allow that, go for it , and enjoy your car.
    hotrodjack33 likes this.
  17. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 5,585

    from Berry, AL

    I've had good luck with plain old regular gas taking off spray paint. Wipe it on with a rag, let sit a few minutes, then the spray paint will wipe off.
  18. MCjim
    Joined: Jun 4, 2006
    Posts: 473

    from soCal

    brake fluid...
  19. Malibu406
    Joined: Nov 10, 2020
    Posts: 223


    If it really is rattle can paint then that is normally not a durable paint. Before lacquer try a prepaint precleaner (wax and grease remover). I lnow it works well removing recently applied/dried rustoleum spray paint and primers. I put three coats on a visor. A week later I scuffed it down and went to preclean it. The pre cleaner softened it and ultimately I kept it up until it all came off. Didnt harm the 70 year old automtive paint even at the finest level. Lacquer you need to be careful.

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