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Technical The tradition of brush painting a hot rod

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Butch Clay, Oct 31, 2014.

  1. Butch Clay
    Joined: Sep 27, 2011
    Posts: 221

    Butch Clay
    Member

    Hi guy, I don't post much, I mostly just read posts here. I have a couple of questions for you older cats with some experience under your belt.

    Brush painting a car is very traditional, probably one of the oldest traditions in rodding I suppose. It's truly amazing the results that people get when going down this path.

    Often times we associate brush painting cars with Rustoleum or Valspar etc. But what about catalyzed auto paint and primer?

    Over the years the "auto paint" has obviously changed and I suppose it's safe to say it's engineered for spraying. The new stuff is nothing like the old.

    The other day I bought some PPG Omni quarts in a single stage black and some black epoxy primer. My goal is to do an experiment in brush painting and finishing.

    I don't want to practice on my 40' so I figured I would practice on a piece of scrap. Fortunately I have an old Harley peanut tank to brush this on. I stripped it down to bare metal this week and want to experiment with brushing on the PPG Omni epoxy and single stage paint.

    Given the obvious changes in paint technology since the 1920's do any of you guys have any advice on brushing this thin paint? Any additives? Should I heat the paint? Types of brushes?

    Any advice would be great. I'd be happy to post progress photos is anybody would like to see them.

    Butch Clay
     
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  2. Butch Clay
    Joined: Sep 27, 2011
    Posts: 221

    Butch Clay
    Member

     
  3. aaggie
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,531

    aaggie
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    You might get away with it on a small piece like the gas tank but mixing enough to cover a large area probably won't work out. The hardener would kick in before you finished the brush coat. A lot of old cars were painted with brushes at the factory. They used very high quality silk or badger hair brushes and the paint was enamel that was heated to about the same temperature as the metal. It flowed well and brush marks were easily sanded out when dry. Labor intensive and took skill.
     
  4. There are lots of threads on this and some people have had very good results. I think the general consensus is to get a halfway decent paint job with a brush is more labour-intensive than spraying.
     

  5. Glenn Thoreson
    Joined: Aug 13, 2010
    Posts: 236

    Glenn Thoreson
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    Brushing the new paints will probably be very difficult. They aren't made for brush application. I just finished a Model A jalopy project and painted the metal parts with XO Rust from the hardware store. It's a good paint of the old alkid enamel family and looks pretty damn decent considering I sloshed it on right over the rust. It's a parade jalopy after all and have gotten rave comments from folks around here who probably don't know the difference anyway.
     
  6. Butch Clay
    Joined: Sep 27, 2011
    Posts: 221

    Butch Clay
    Member

    Interesting. I've read the old threads but it seems they don't brush catalyzed auto paint. Maybe that's why?

    So would the goal be to slow the drying time down via temperature?

    I'm not doing this to save money, it just seems like it could be a fun experiment in traditional hot rodding. That Omni is pretty thin. Ha!
     
  7. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,241

    Squablow
    Member

    From what I've read about brush painted cars, the paint was very thin and they'd brush on 5 to 7 layers, then sand flat, then repeat that a couple more times, in order to get it leveled out, so you have to plan on a ton of really thin coats. I think they were using shellac (sp?) or lacquer at the time.

    Neat experiment, and it certainly was done, although it's got to be incredibly time consuming to do it that way with good results.
     
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  8. '51 Norm
    Joined: Dec 6, 2010
    Posts: 745

    '51 Norm
    Member
    from colorado

    A friend of mine helped me with my last paint job. He showed me how he uses a brush to put on spot primer. I was quite surprised but it worked out well; no overspray, etc.
    After brushing on the spots and letting the primer dry overnight he sanded it down. This was only in small spots, we were repairing a bunch of hail dents in an OT car. After the repair we sprayed the topcoat as usual.
    It could be done over a larger area but it would require more work than I think it is worth.
     
  9. You'll need to read the pot life of the paint once its mixed. You might be able to pull off one panel at a time. I think the omni enamel has a longer pot life if I remember. The black or white omni enamel cuts and buffs quite well but the coverage is not the best.

    Don't forget Catalyzed paint has ISOs and the paint is no less problematic because you are going to brush it.
     
  10. onthefritz
    Joined: Oct 29, 2014
    Posts: 44

    onthefritz

    Some of the paints designed for boats was made to brush on. I have never done it but it might be worth looking into.


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  11. fritz is right, I saw a boat that was brushed once and you could not see a brush stroke. I don't know what the paint was or what it cost, if I had to guess it was not cheap, nothing for a boat is.
     
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  12. oldsman41
    Joined: Jun 25, 2010
    Posts: 1,434

    oldsman41
    Member

    did this a few times when we were young but we did enamel. didnt care to much about the looks just better than having three or four different colors on same car. you know buy a junker for 25.00 and get fenders and doors or hoods off of junk yard cars .put it together and throw some color on it that the paint shop had left over cheap. good luck with todays stuff, but keep us updated.
     
  13. that omni enamel sprays so well and is user friendly for a novice. as said i think it will dry too fast to get the results you are looking for, good thing is it sands and buffs nice so if brush marks are present you could "knock" them down.
     
  14. The paint you are using is the key. Not really gonna work well with modern paint. The reason you want it to dry slower is for the brush marks to have time to flow out along with having enough time to paint the car before your paint goes bad.
     
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  15. banjorear
    Joined: Jul 30, 2004
    Posts: 3,872

    banjorear
    Member

    I wonder if it was an alkyd-based paint.
     
  16. Also I want to touch on this....

    "Brush painting a car is very traditional, probably one of the oldest traditions in rodding I suppose."

    I don't think brush painting has anything to do with hot rodding, It's not one of the oldest traditions in hot rodding. It's just a technique. Not a tradition. If you were a hot rodder or not, you brush painted your car because that's how it was done. You didn't brush paint your car because you are a hot rodder.

    Frankly it comes down to availability of equipment. Home compressors and spray guns were pretty rare to find prior to the home shop revolution.
     
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  17. Butch Clay
    Joined: Sep 27, 2011
    Posts: 221

    Butch Clay
    Member

    Yeah, you're right. Poor choice of words on my part.
     
  18. For brush painting, stay the hell away from 2-part paints. In my (fairly extensive) experience, lacquer is difficult to brush as well. You'll want to focus on oil-based paints.

    IMO, alkyd paint is good, cheap, and durable, but the synthetic binders in the paint have a tell-tale 'glow' that might or might not be what you're after. I've had great success using paint from the Geo. Kirby Jr. paint company - thinned with white spirits, with penetrol to aid with 'flow'. (Million dollar yachts are painted with this stuff, and their colors have remained the same for 50+ years).

    If you really want to go hardcore, look into linseed oil-based paint with natural pigments...I've been working with a 1920's Ford formula with fantastic results...be advised, however, linseed oil paints take forever to dry (making them perfect for brush-painting).

    It'll take lots of wet sanding, cutting, polishing, and buffing if you brush paint (but the result is well worth it!)
     
  19. Butch Clay
    Joined: Sep 27, 2011
    Posts: 221

    Butch Clay
    Member

    I talked to a guy that did this. He said don't thin it, use no reducer. So instead if 4-1-1 just use 4-1.

    Then brush it with a foam brush and wait as long as possible before next coat so solvent can escape.....then recoat.

    I'd have to check but I think pot life is pretty long, I seem to remember 6 hours.
     
  20. No worries, the sentiment still rings true.
     
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  21. Butch Clay
    Joined: Sep 27, 2011
    Posts: 221

    Butch Clay
    Member

    Hmm, maybe this is just an all around bad idea. 2 part catalyzed paint is really designed for guns. I guess I figured it would be fun to try.
     
  22. i.rant
    Joined: Nov 23, 2009
    Posts: 3,298

    i.rant
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. 1940 Ford

    I think HOT ROD did an article on brush painting a Falcon some years ago, as I recall the result was pretty good.



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  23. i.rant
    Joined: Nov 23, 2009
    Posts: 3,298

    i.rant
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. 1940 Ford

    Just googled Hot Rod magazine brush painting a Falcon, plenty of info.


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  24. Normant93
    Joined: Apr 23, 2009
    Posts: 148

    Normant93
    Member

    Hey Butch,
    I've done lots of stuff with the "roll & tip" method, using single stage epoxy and urethane paints for boats, it's quite easy and gets fantastic results if done correctly.
    Simply follow the paint instructions, it works best with two people working as a team, one to roll the paint on, the other to follow with a very high quality natural bristle brush, to smooth (tip) the paint with a single stroke over each area, all in the same direction. If done correctly, the paint will flow out and leave no brush marks. As gwhite says above, they do $mil boats with these kind of products. Here's a picture of a 1938 Old-Town (NOT a $mil boat) a buddy and I restored for a Scout camp in NH, we did three coats of finish and sanded between them. Can't really tell from the crappy cell picture, but it came out really nice, you can see the refection of the driveway in it (all 23ft of it) if it were on a car, I would have wet sanded and buffed the final coat.
    Scout canoe).jpg
    My dad once told me, his Dad painted his first car, a '37 Pontiac, with Black enamel and a brush and no one could tell it wasn't sprayed.
    Anyway, that's my 2 cents, and I want to say I do really admire your desire to use traditional methods to build a traditional car, sounds like fun to me. Good luck with it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2014
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  25. Normant93
    Joined: Apr 23, 2009
    Posts: 148

    Normant93
    Member

    No way man, don't give up, you just have to find the right method/products. I agree the 2 stage is the wrong thing to use as it's not meant for this process.
    check out this website for high quality single stage epoxy and urethane paints. http://www.jamestowndistributors.com
     
  26. Butch: I'd like to see how it works for you. It should be a fun "just had to try it" thing. I brush coated a '34 steel roadster I had many moons ago. Used red oxide lacquer primer. All I remember was how hard that crap was to sand. Tim
     
  27. Slopok
    Joined: Jan 30, 2012
    Posts: 2,657

    Slopok
    Member

    Back in the day a lot of the stock cars than ran at the local tracks around here used 1-Shot. Sure looked good from the grandstand.
     
  28. don't use a foam brush or roller. i have found that if the paint doesn't eat it away ,it "pinholes" like crazy.
     
  29. A Boner
    Joined: Dec 25, 2004
    Posts: 6,172

    A Boner
    Member

    Valspar tractor restoration paint works very good. Hardener is available, but you are probably better off not using it....paint flows out better when drying slower. Dry to the touch the next day. Hard enough to wet sand in a week or two. Lots of wet sanding and hand polishing compared to when spraying it. Probably too soft to machine buff, unless you wait much longer. I use a small foam roller, so lots of severe orange peel to level out. Probably needs 2 or 3 coats.....and 2 to 3 wet sandings to get a very close to spray job quality paint job. It won't be a show car quality, but a VERY GOOD driver quality paint job. It's more work, but there is ZERO overspray, and the paint is only $35.00 per gallon! Also it may fade sooner than $500.00 per gallon automotive paint. Some old hot rod patina without the long wait.....I hope so anyway. Have not tried any of the other available colors.....the above experience is with gloss black Valspar tractor paint, that I bought at the local Farm and Fleet store.
     
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