Several issues ago we covered buffing our '53 Roadmaster 2 door hardtop for a show finish. It is a very labor-intensive process, but resulted in a glasslike finish. This month, we are buffing and polishing our '49 Buick Roadmaster Sedanet for a factory finish, similar to the rubbed lacquer finish it was born with. Our choice of finish was PPG' s Deltron Acrylic Enamel, used with a gloss hardener, but not the wet look. When buffed, it is hard to tell it from lacquer, and it's more durable. We had covered painting with this product in previous issues and will start this article one week after I painted the car. Restorer Jeff Coe and I work on all of the painting projects together and we discuss what each car's finish is to look like before we start the project. Using acrylic enamel with hardener, Jeff likes to wait 7-10 days after painting for the paint to cure. If you don't have a paint booth, cold weather will cause the paint to dry more slowly, and we have had to wait up to two weeks. You will know when you begin to wet-sand the car. The sandpaper will want to stick to the surface if the paint is not thoroughly dry.
STEP #1 was to wash the car, removing all of the dust and residue. This is done using a bucket of clean water with about 2 ounces of Joy liquid soap and a wash mitten. It is important that there is no dust or grime on the mitten because it will leave swirl marks in the new paint! You are now ready to color-sand.
STEP #2: Wrap 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper around a flat paint paddle and sand all areas of the body. Remember to use green automotive paint tape to cover all door edges, fender crown, etc., to keep from sanding thin spots in the paint. Putting a little Joy liquid in your water bucket allows the sandpaper to move uniformly over the surface. Go over the car twice.
STEP #3: Rinse the car with clean, clear water, then sand the car using the above process with 1500 wet/dry paper.
STEP #4: Repeat the above process, sanding now with 3000 Ultrafine wet/dry paper. Hand-sand curved areas without the paddle.
STEP #5: It1 s now time to buff. If you are an experienced buffer, now is the time to remove the green tape from the sharp edges. If you are not, you might want to leave it on until you get the feel of the buffer. (If it is set on high and left in one place too long, it can quickly cut through the paint!)
To get that factory old-style look, we use PPG' s white compound #DRX 25 (do not use this with base/clear!) Jeff also likes to use a high quality wool buffing pad, and sets the buffer on low to low/medium (around 1500 rpm). Apply the white compound with a 2" china bristle brush, putting a moderate amount on the brush and working on a 2-3' area of the car at a time. If too much compound is put on the car, it builds up quickly and is difficult to remove from the paint. Jeff buffs with the wool pad tilted up, in the direction of the buff. Flat buffing will burn the paint. Always keep the buffer moving--never stopping in one place, which causes excess heat and will burn the finish. Do the entire car twice with this process and white compound, washing the car with soapy water and a mitten between buffings to remove the excess compound. Compound gets down into every door jamb and body crevice, and once it's dry, it is very difficult to remove. After washing off the compound residue, the car is now ready for polishing.
STEP #6: Use a high quality polish and swirl remover (such as 3M). Again using the buffer, Jeff puts the polish directly on the clean, fresh wool pad, setting the buffer on a low rpm. He puts just a moderate amount on the pad and then, without starting the buffer motor, just touches the compound pad to the area he is going to work on, so that just a dab is on several places on the paint before he starts the buffer. With the buffer running, he goes over the car twice, washing as described between each polishing.
STEP #7: Finish-polishing is done by hand. Using the appropriate towels for this is imperative! Regular cotton towels will leave swirl marks that might not rub out. Jeff uses microfiber towels, which are extremely soft and lintless, and, on our dark maroon paint will not scratch or spiderweb. Put a moderate amount of polish on the towel and work on a small, 2-3' area at a time, then go over the entire car 2-3 times with polish. Before waxing, wipe away any compound or polish from the body crevices.
STEP #8: Hand-wax with a high quality wax. Jeff uses Meguiar's Gold Class.
STEP #9: The final step is to wipe down the entire car with a dry microfiber towel. There are different microfiber towels made for different applications: Paint, glass, etc. Make sure the towel you use is for automotive paint buffing and polishing.
The car is now ready to have the chrome put back on! Step back and enjoy your beautiful factory paint job!
Watch for future issues in which we will put this Sedanet back together. A Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year to all of you, Our Friends! God bless.