Kustom Paintwork by Kev Reilander

There are 4 essential requirements to achieving a quality Kustom paintwork;

1.     You must be competent with a spray gun. Gun distance and spray overlap are very important in getting a uniform finish, especially when using Kandys.

2.     You need to be able to sense your flattening down when using a block, failure will result in cutting back too far and ruining all your good work.

3.     Always use quality products!

4.     And finally and equally as important is patience. You cant hurry Kustom paint finishes. There are normally many stages needed to achieve that depth in your lacquer, and that glass/wet look after final polish.

Kustom paintwork is a form of art, and Masterpieces take time!  

Preparation; The cost of materials for doing a Kustom paintwork isn't cheap. Therefore it is very important that the bodywork is well prepared. Any paintwork is not only as good as the way it has been applied and finished, but it is also only as good as what is underneath.

The best way to approach the preparation of a vehicle body is to bare-metal the whole thing. The best way to do this is to use a commercial paint stripper (not Nitromors), although it is time consuming and messy, it runs less risk of damaging and distorting your panels.

Once ALL old paint has been removed, then you can do all your body repairs ie: dents etc, but at this stage donít be to worried about small dents and imperfections. The quality of materials used here is also very important. You donít want to apply a paintwork to cheap fillers and primers. Normal polyester fillers will shrink with time, and leave your repairs showing in your Kustom paintwork.

For filling I always use 'Upol D' aluminium grade filler, which is polyester based but with aluminium particles added to it. There is only one better way of filling repairs, and that is 'Lead Loading'. But the aluminium particles found in this filler, stop the normal shrinkage which occurs in normal filler. The disadvantage of using this filler is that it is harder to rub down, but it will be worth it!

Once you have applied the filler and it has cured, then rub down with 40 grit until you have got it to the correct shape or flatness.

Next dust off your panels, and using a lint free cloth clean with 'Panel Wipe'.

Once you have gone round the whole car, wipe the panels again with a fresh dry lint free cloth to remove dried panel wipe, then wipe over with a 'Tack Rag'. New tack rags should be opened and left to stand for at least 1/2 an hour before use, to prevent contaminating your panel and causing fish eye.

Now you are ready to apply the first of 2 stages of primer.

You must use a catalysed  primer, and it must also have high build properties.

As you are going to spray new paint on bare metal, the first coat should be a light coat, about half the coverage of a normal coat of paint. This coat once it has flashed off will be the key for the following coats, but if you apply it heavy straight on bare metal, you will have runs everywhere.

Once the key coat has flashed, then apply a further 3 coats, then leave to cure for at least 12 hours.

Now you can apply a dust or guide coat over the primer.

Flatten down all the primer using 120 grit dry using a block as much as possible. On big areas try to use a block at least 12 inches long, and sand in a cross pattern. All little dents, imperfections and finishing touches needed to your earlier repairs, will now be shown by the guide coat spots that are left after flattening. DONíT rub into these as they are your guide as to where to add stopper.

So your next job is to put stopper in these revealed areas. For this use 'Upol Top Stop or Top Stop Gold'. This stopper has a hardener which you mix with it just like filler, and is by far better than an air dry stopper.

Spray some guide coat over the stopper to give you a better idea as to when you have got it smooth and left no pin holes. You are now working at getting your panels ready for paint, so you may need to re-stopper certain areas if they are not quite right. If you have a large area that feels wrong, then it is better to apply stopper over the whole area, rather than trying to put it in lots of little lows etc.

When feeling a panel for straightness, you should always use your opposite hand as it is more sensitive, e.g if you are right handed, then feel with your left, and vise versa. It is also good advise to wear a cotton glove, as this stops you feeling the difference in texture between paint and stopper.

Once you are happy that your panels are straight, then clean panels as before with panel wipe and tack rags. Now you can apply 3 more coats of catalysed primer.

When the primer has cured for at least 12 hours, apply a guide coat all over, and flatten with 600 grit wet and dry (but donít use any soap in the water or on the paper).

If you are going to spray a flake or patterns, it is VERY important that from now on when cleaning your panels prior to applying paint, you must NOT use 'Panel Wipe'. High build paintworks need to be done in Acrylic or Cellulose, and panel wipe shows through these as a smokey wipe mark. You also need to use a low tack 'Tack Rag' to help prevent contamination.  


Part 2 Solids, Pearls and Metallics

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