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removing repaint to expose original paint


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Is there any known way to remove a 30 year old repaint from a 80 year old auto to reveal the original factory paint?

I recall using chemical strippers for wood that seemed to remove one layer of paint at a time. Here we have an 80 year old factory paint job that some people say cannot be removed except by abrasion... Has anyone looked into this???

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Guest Skyking

When I restored my '54 Metropolitan it had a bad repaint on it that scrapped off with razor blades, showing the original paint. Getting the original paint and primer off I used chemical stripper.

Edited by Skyking (see edit history)
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It is very true that if the original paint surface was properly prepared then it would be totally scratched. It would seem that a mild paint remover if not left on too long may just take the top repaint layer off. But as you said what would the original surface look like?

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Guest T-Head

It can be done successfully. The Crane-Simplex seen below used to be owned by a several of clients of mine, I know its complete history and it was given a metallic burgundy and red paint job either prewar or in the mid-1940s.

It is now a part of the Rich Collection in PA and Steve Moskowitz or Mark Lizewskie the Director of the AACA Museum can find out how it was done.

Even though the original paint is likely to have sanding scratches in it, most of then can many times be wet sanded out with extra fine grit

sandpaper and polished out. View the lower photos of it afterwards to see the results. I was able to see it at Pebble Beach and it was very presentable for an unrestored car. You could also clearcoat the results with either a gloss or semi-gloss or flat finish which would keep bare metal from rusting

If you are a perfectionist it might not suit your needs, but what do you have to lose? You can always repaint it later.




Edited by T-Head (see edit history)
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Do you just want to discover what the original color was, (and there is no clue in the vehicle identification data plate) or do you wish to strip the entire repaint job off in hopes that the original paint could be exposed and refurbished? If it is only to determine what the the original color was, light sanding with fine wet-or-dry paper, 320 or 400, should allow gradual removal of paint down to the original color in an area large enough for detection. Select a place that would not likely have had to have been worked over before the repainting was done. Or, look for original paint in an area that was not painted over when the respray occurred, such as under weatherstripping or under some other removable part.

If you want to uncover the original paint all over, that would be difficult, and no doubt surprises lurk beneath.

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I agree with T-Head. There are several ways to locate the original color but patience and a lot of fine elbow grease is the only way I've ever found ( in my 30 years in the industry). Wet sanding, although it's true it is a form of abrasive, it is however a very low form of abrasive especially when using the finer grits of paper that's necessary to get to the original base coats ( including going down to primers if you so desire ). Once polished the true color comes out more times than not.

Stripping or using chemicals is high risk (if you want to find the true color) as they have the potential to remove or damage layers you were intended to preserve or uncover.

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