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Paint and Rust Removal

Late Winter 2002

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A freshly stripped shell is the proper way to begin a thorough restoration.

Back when I was restoring my '64 Nova Wagon, one of the first big jobs I tackled was removing the paint and rust from the engine bay with an under-powered air compressor and a siphon sandblaster. It was July, the weather was hot, and there I was spraying sand all over the alley. It was an exhausting experience that taught me a valuable lesson. Paint stripping and sand/media blasting of anything more than a few small pieces is a job best left to professionals.

To Dip Or Not To Dip?

For my 2002, the decision to have the entire car professionally stripped was already made. I had only to decide where and how to have it done. There are a couple of places in the Denver area that do this kind of thing. The first business I contacted uses mostly plastic media for stripping and has a good reputation among the classic car community. The second business, alternatively, uses a combination of media blasting and chemical stripping, they also have a good reputation. I weighed the pros and cons of dipping, and chose A-1 Metal Stripping in Golden, Colorado. The deciding factor was the fact that the other business required me to thoroughly degrease the car before they would accept it. All things things being equal, the added mess and expense of pressure washing the entire car just wasn't worth it to me.

There are differing opinions about chemical dipping. Some think it is a recipe for rust and paint failures later on. I believe, however, that meticulous metal restoration and prep work can address these concerns. If you decide to have your car dipped, realize that you are now committed to paying close attention to every square inch of the car.

In my case I think it turned out great. It has been a year now since the car was stripped and I have not observed any problems. Except, slightly, in some of the places that were already rusty. And I'm going to replace the metal in those areas anyway.

The whole job was done for around $500. That included the doors, trunk, hood, and everything else that I wanted to pile inside the car. Considering the potential misery of sandblasting an entire car myself, this was an absolute bargain.

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These guys did great work for a reasonable price.

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The first step in the process is to dip the car overnight in a caustic soda (a strong base) solution. This loosens up the paint and grease.

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Good-bye ugly blue paint!

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Trapped air in the roof has caused the shell to float just a bit. The technician vented the air with a pipe and the car completely sank.

The Rest Of The Process

I don't have any more pictures, but here's the rest of the process:

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And this is what my '02 looked like afterwards. Special thanks to my dad for all of his help!

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