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Painting a wooden body


mikesbrunn
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I have a 1910 reo that I will be repainting soon. Which is the best way to prep and paint the body? It is in good shape now with some minor cracks. I know a Rustoleum type paint will probably be best to eliminate the cracks, but I want to use an auto paint for the look and shine

Thanks- Mike

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Sand it down to bare wood, without damaging the wood.

Seal the body with West System epoxy. It's made for sealing wood (used extensively in wooden boat repair), and if applied correctly can seal the cracks too.

If the cracks are very large, you may need to fill them in, KwikPoly will fill a large crack, but you have to use gravity as your friend (it pours easily and sets up in a couple of minutes, so you'd have to have the crack horizontal to make it work).

Once you have the wood sealed correctly, you can choose the paint you want to use.

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Are you sure its a wooden body? I had 2 Model R Reo's, a 10 and an 11. Most of the body on the 10 was missing but I do believe it was skinned with a form of plywood. The body on the 11 was made of pressed paper... people sometimes say "paper mache" but something akin to masonite or hard board would be more accurate.

In any case, I painted my 10 with a 2 part epoxy sanding primer... then regular automotive laquer (this was 30 years ago)... it came out fine, never cracked or peeled for the remaining few years I had it.

And... I tried brush painting the '10 with Rustoleum, sanding it and varnishing it like the original process. I wanted to see if I could do it. Believe me, it doesn't work. Its the wrong kind of paint and I don't think that the right kind, true brushing laquer, is even made any more. If it is, its a specialty product that will take some digging to find. That sort of painting was a very skilled profession, hardly worth taking the time to learn even if you can find the materials.

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Guest Jim_Edwards

Brushing lacquer is still made and still extensively used in wooden boat hull maintenance, guitar making, and furniture restorations. MINWAX and BEHLEN are among the producers.

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Definitely use West System Epoxy. Be sure to totally seal the body inside and out. You want to encapsulate the wood as completely as possible. West System also supplies a microballoon filler that can be used to thicken the epoxy to a sag free consistency for filling larger cracks. Sand the epoxy and do any additional bodywork using the same primers and fillers as you would use on metal. We have used this process on wooden bodies and wheels with great success. Ignore those who will inevitably tell you wood has to "breathe", it doesn't. RustOleum is the kiss of death in auto restoration. Stay away from it at all costs.

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Trimcar is right on. I have restored carriages, cutters, boats and wooden car bodies and the two products I could not do without are the West systems and Kwik-poly. Get the manuals from West, they are good and will show you how to use their products. Also get the dispensers. Kwik-poly sets up really quick so do some experimenting. Both excellent products for wood.

RHL

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When I first saw Kwik Poly used, in an aviation application (very early wooden airplanes), I teased my buddy Greg about the little 2 ounce or so cup he was using to mix the two part ingredients. He told me it set up so quickly, that was about all you could mix at once and use it before it started getting stiff.

Also, it's so thin, it will soak into weak wood to a good depth, then harden. I won't say that it will solve all weak wood issues, but if theres still some meat to the wood and it's soft, this will fix it.

West Systems takes longer to set up, so you can work more of it at a time, but once it starts to harden you're done.

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I'm 100% in agreement with using the west system. We've been using it for some years now on all wood, including wheels, with nothing but excellent results. Once the west system has been well sanded, we apply a coat of DP-40 (PPG epoxy non-sanding primer), allow it to cure well, go over it lightly with a scruffy pad, and then prime, sand and finish just as you would with any other metal body. The DP has excellent adheasion to the west system, and to any areas of wood where you may have sanded through, and is a better base for applying primer than the bare west system. One thing that too many people don't observe, and it's especially critcal with wood, is allowing the proper drying time between applying successive coats of any products. The solvents MUST dry out before being sanded/re-coated, or your looking for trouble! Take your time and you'll come out fine. Good luck.

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When I first saw Kwik Poly used, in an aviation application (very early wooden airplanes), I teased my buddy Greg about the little 2 ounce or so cup he was using to mix the two part ingredients. He told me it set up so quickly, that was about all you could mix at once and use it before it started getting stiff.

Also, it's so thin, it will soak into weak wood to a good depth, then harden. I won't say that it will solve all weak wood issues, but if theres still some meat to the wood and it's soft, this will fix it.

West Systems takes longer to set up, so you can work more of it at a time, but once it starts to harden you're done.

Having soft areas doesn't mean you have to replace the entire piece. Working on boats, we would install what's called a "dutchman" an area mortised/cut out with a hammer and chisel down to good wood and then a piece to fit, and epoxied and held in place with screws or clamps. West System can take longer to set up, but it depends on the ambient temperature they make 206 slow and 209 extra slow for hot weather conditions and 205 fast for cold weather. If using the filler to thicken the epoxy in hot weather, after it's mixed and the and thickened, take it out of the mixing cup and try spreading it out on a piece of plywood this will make it last longer. If your going just putty an area with the thickened epoxy depending on the project and how much is used you might want to put some 10 oz. fiberglass cloth over it or else the putty could become loose and fall out.

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Years ago we restored a 1910 era vehicle. The owner had had the wood spoke wheels sandblasted with coarse sand with exactly the results you would imagine. West System saved the day.

I don't know if those spokes were painted but West System even makes a (207) Special Coating Hardener for clearcoating.

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Definitely use West System Epoxy. Be sure to totally seal the body inside and out. You want to encapsulate the wood as completely as possible. West System also supplies a microballoon filler that can be used to thicken the epoxy to a sag free consistency for filling larger cracks. Sand the epoxy and do any additional bodywork using the same primers and fillers as you would use on metal. We have used this process on wooden bodies and wheels with great success. Ignore those who will inevitably tell you wood has to "breathe", it doesn't. RustOleum is the kiss of death in auto restoration. Stay away from it at all costs.
Filling cracks with thicken epoxy is fine, but be aware that resin is heavier than paint and when sealing with just resin on vertical surfaces that it has a tendency to sag and has to be what's called in the industry as "tipping" or continous brushing up until it stops sagging. Sealing or what we called "coating"horizonally is easier and more complete, but not always practical. I know this because after building a wooden cabin or superstructure for a yacht we would cover the entire thing with 10 oz. cloth than coat with resin and there was alot of brushing. Note too that if the wooden area is to be subjected to dampness, resin alone maybe not be enough, fiberglass "cloth" with resin over it will be more effective in stopping water intrusion/penetration. BUT NEVER USE FIBERGLASS ON METAL. Edited by rhb1999
addition information (see edit history)
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