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Let me first say that key to a good paint job on cars can be summed up in three words. PATIENCE PATIENCE PATIENCE!! If you are rushed to do something, don't paint. If you have a hot date don't paint.Got it? Good!! You must be sure to allow adequate time for all steps to be completed and let all primer and paint dry or cure properly before you proceed to the next step. I am as guilty as anyone else for not practicing what I preach, but if you follow these steps you will achieve success and be an expert just like me. Yeah right!! Let me say here that I spray everything using an airbrush as I DETEST spray cans. I know that some people like them, but I am not one of them. Even though I have used them with success, I think they are more difficult to control and are more susceptible to problems than airbrushing. I have a good article on airbrushing on my modeling pages.
Here are some basic supplies you will need before you prime and paint.
Wet Dry Sandpaper (400 grit, 600 grit)
Fine Sanding Films (K&S makes a nice set or the micron ones that they sell in auto body supply houses)
Clean lint free dry cloth
Before I prime the outside of the body, I first lightly sand both the inside and the outside of the body with the 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. I go over as much of the surface as possible to "scuff" the plastic to give the primer and the interior color a surface to "grip". I use copius amounts of water to allow the small plastic particles not to clog the paper. I keep a small cup of water on the workbench And I constantly keep dunking the sandpaper in it during this sanding. When I have gone over the surface, I rinse the body under a running facet. I normally do not use soap as this only seems to create more problems than it solves. I then dry the body with the clean lint free cloth of the majority of the moisture and then let it air dry while I prep the airbrush and interior paint.
I normally do not prime the inside of the body, but just paint it the correct color which is normally a light gloss grey. I have used a number of greys, and I think the closest match to the grey I have seen on the TV is Testor's Light Grey #2038. Unfortunately this only comes in flat finish. This is the most accurate form my point of view, and if you use it, you must then gloss it with Glosscote which adds another step. This also produces a nice semi-gloss finish which again looks the most accurate. Lately, I have been a tad lazy and am using Testor's Gloss Gull Grey, which is pretty close albeit a tad darker. For the purposes of these two CAT cars, this is what I will use. Actually it is a little quicker to use the flat Light Grey followed by Glosscote as both paints dry faster than the Gloss Gull Grey. I also normally paint the chassis at the same time as I paint the interior of the body and hood.
I normally allow the interior Gloss Gull Grey 24 hours to dry before masking it off before applying primer to the outside. I use a good quality masking tape and first tape around the window openings and wheel openings before applying tape to the rest of the interior. I spray the primer on the hood and body separately as I did the interior grey.
Now I have used a lot of primers, but I have settled on what I think is the best primer for model use. It is Floquil Reefer White or Primer grey. You will have to use the Floquil DioSol reducer to thin it for airbrushing. The choice is based on what the exterior colors is gonna be. 99% of the time I use the Reefer White. I normally use Primer Grey only under all black or all medium to dark blue cars. On all others I use the white. This stuff acts as a good primer no matter what type of paint you use be it lacquer, acrylics, or enamels. It works under anything, it covers well, is thin so it does not hide details and it shows any flaws that will show up in the color coats. It is hard to find sometimes, but as far as I am concerned is the best product of its kind. I will not go into any spraying techniques here as they are covered in the separate article. I spray on several light coats slowly building up the coverage until it is even. Here is where the patience comes in. I normally let the primer dry overnight. I then check for flaws in the surface. I either use 400 grit followed by 600 grit to sand out any flaws and then reshoot these areas with the primer.. Once I am happy there are no flaws, I let the body dry completely for 24 hours before I lightly wetsand it overall with the 600 grit paper.This will show the beauty of this primer as it sands out wonderfully leaving a fine powder that I rinse off under the faucet again and dry with the cloth. If you have done it right, the resultant surface finish will be glass smooth and ready for the next steop. Another nice thing about this primer is it is so thin that repeated coats will not hide any details.