My experience with painting is very limited. I spray painted my bicycle once as a teenager and a handful of car parts since then, but that’s it. I still figured it’d be a wise idea to paint the Fiat myself. My father in law bought a small compressor and starter kit when we did a welding course a while back. This starter kit included a paint gun, like the ones on tv, but then more low budget looking.
Painting a car yourself is not that challenging, on paper. I started with getting some paint. I found a small company here in the Netherlands that makes paint for people like me, affordable paint. They told me to send them a part, so I went looking for something small that matched the colour on the inside of the car (as I’d only do the outside). From that they figured out what colour I needed and advised me on how much I’d need. Their service is amazing and real quick. See their website if you’re looking for paint as well.
First part done, got my paint in. Bunch of cans with primer, top coat, thinner, hardener and some cleaning stuff. Not a surprise, but that was the easy part. I then went through a somewhat dumb and irritating cycle of sanding down the car to bare metal. It started with actually sanding the car with sand paper, which literally took forever. Maybe not literally, but long enough for surface rust to form. I switched to a scotch-brite pad on an angle grinder and that sped up the process significantly. Then I found rust on the firewall and got sidetracked for quite a while.
“My garage is located on a farmer’s land and is not really built
to keep the temperature and humidity at acceptable levels.”
I then continued preparing the car a little while ago. The surface rust got quite bad and I needed a wire brush on an angle grinder to get rid of it. I got lucky and only found minimal pitting. My garage is located on a farmer’s land and is not really built to keep the temperature and humidity at acceptable levels. The surface rust therefore only needs a night to form, albeit in a very mild way.
My new plan was to prep the car and garage as good as I could, and then sand down the car once more the day after and paint it that day. So I started on brushing down the surface rust and sanding down the body filler that I had applied. I also sanded down hard to reach areas like the drip rails. I replaced the plastic on the tent that I had fabricated and laid down plastic on the floor. Everything was ready, and after watching some Youtube videos, so was I.
I got up somewhat early and managed to arrive before noon. I’ll be honest, that was the hardest part. I sanded down the entire car once more, with 120, 280 and 320 grit sandpaper. The company where I’d ordered my paint had also sent me some degreaser, so I used that to clean the car. People on the internet advise to pour water onto the floor to decrease the amount of dust floating around, so I did that as well.
It was time to spray some paint. I put on the paper-like painting suit that I found in one of those discount bins at the hardware store and mixed up the paint. The hardware store also had these convenient containers with mixing ratios marked out. It was really easy to perfectly portion the fluids and then mix them up. The paint company also sent along some filters that look like coffee filters, but are probably meant to filter the paint that goes into the paint gun. I would’ve been happy with coffee as well.
First bit of paint was aimed at the plastic wall, I had a vague idea of how to set up the paint gun and that was what I started with. Painting the car wasn’t actually that bad, it’s honestly somewhat similar to using spray paint. The paint gun provides more control, but is also significantly larger. So I’d say it’s not as difficult as people make it seem, unless you want to do it perfectly of course.
In the end I had managed to lay down a nice and constant layer of primer on the entire car, apart from the inside edge of the drip rails. Those were nearly impossible to reach without hitting the fresh paint with either the gun or the air tube, or without over spraying certain areas. So I’ll be touching up those with a spray can very soon.
People on the internet advise to first spray the front panel and battery tray panel before welding the nose together because it is much easier to reach that way. I definitely agree with that as it was already hard enough to spray the battery tray itself without the front panel in place. This meant that my front panel was leaned up against a wall when I painted it. That obviously had to go wrong, which it did. It tipped over. It didn’t get damaged or anything apart from the wet paint being marked and smudged. So I’ll be either redoing that entire panel, or sections of it. For now I’ll just have to sit and watch the paint dry.