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Painting vintage butyrate bodies


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#1 dc-65x

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 07:03 PM

I’d like to start by saying that the method and choice of paint I’m going to present here are not necessarily “the best.” I don’t want to start a debate over this or that kind of paint or technique. I just want to share what has been working for me for the last 20 years painting over 100 vintage butyrate clear plastic bodies.

 

The picture shows some of them (and a few from master painters Jairus and Noose):

 

display%20cabinets%208.jpg

 

Some general points:

 

Vintage bodies made before about 1970 are quite likely made from butyrate plastic which, unlike Lexan, can be harmed by using lacquer paint. By harmed, I mean damaged to the point of folding up flat as a pancake!

 

Lexan was a selling point so the manufacturer’s advertised it. The later vintage bodies made of Lexan by Lancer, Dynamic, Kirby, and others are most often marked on their boxes, “LEXAN” so you’ll know what you’re dealing with and can use modern painting techniques on them.

 

1.  The paint I use is Testors Enamel, not Testors Lacquer or Testors acrylic.

2.  I use a rattle can whenever possible… I have an airbrush but I’m lazy and hate to clean the thing.

3.  The metallic, candy, and most of the gloss colors are at least somewhat transparent and require a “backing” coat of, most often, gold, silver, black, or white when used on clear bodies.

4.  Most of the flat colors are very opaque and often do not require any backing.

5.  Modern Testors enamel won’t flake of clear bodies like their paint of the '60s.

 

Below is a repop body I used to test colors. I cut off part of the excess plastic…

 

5.jpg

 

... wadded it up into a ball….

 

6.jpg

 

... and flattened it out without the paint flaking off:

 

7.jpg

 

For this project I’m using a vintage Dynamic Mirage 'Handling Body' kit:

 

1.jpg

 

2.jpg

 

I think these vintage bodies are real works of art:

 

3.jpg

 

First I paint any inside the body details. I’ve tried a variety of paint brushes but I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t shake like crazy! :crazy:

 

For some details like tail light and gas caps I started using the end of a wooden cotton swab stick shown (on the bottom):

 

8.jpg

 

Dipping the stick into the paint cap and transferring that drop of paint to the body seems to work for me:

 

9.jpg

 

Then the body is lightly scuffed with a Scotch-Brite pad to give the paint a surface to bite into:

 

10.jpg

 

Dawn dish soap gives the body a good cleaning:

 

11.jpg

 

Time for masking. I use a crazy expensive Teflon tape because it works absolutely bitchin' for me. So little of it is needed per body, a roll has lasted me for years.

 

I cut a strip of tape into narrow strips which can bent around the curves of the window:

 

13.jpg

 

I find this much easier to do than trying to cut around the window outline with an X-Acto knife:

 

14.jpg

 

The rest of the window was filled in with tape and then burnished down really firmly with cotton swabs:

 

15.jpg

 

I am breaking up this thread into two posts. Part 2 will be posted as soon as I can.  :)


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#2 dc-65x

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 07:27 PM

Part 2:

 

The body openings were masked...

 

16.jpg

 

… and the outside of the body is “bagged” with clear plastic so I can see through it. I can hold the body up to the light and see how the coats of paint are laying down:

 

17.jpg

 

I wanted to use a metallic red or a candy red on the Mirage. I tried both out on a test body. Both were brand new cans and all the spray cans I use are heated in hot water before using:

 

28.jpg

 

The metallic sprayed on the test body beautifully while the candy sprayed on much more "coarsely." It left a heavy orange-peel that was visible on the outside of the body. Maybe a different can of the candy would have sprayed on smoothly?

 

Luckily, I liked the look of the metallic so I went with it. Of course, if you are not lazy like me, an airbrush would allow you to control how the paint goes on.

 

4.jpg

 

With the primary color chosen, the Mirage’s first red color coat went on very lightly. If it goes on too heavy it can cause runs or “fish eyes.”

 

After the first coat is at least tacky, the following coats should be applied with the goal of getting a nice even finish, not heavy in one place and light in another.

 

Remember it will be transparent but that's OK.

 

The gold backer went on next and was followed by the chrome silver for the rocker panels:

 

18.jpg

 

Any overspray is no problem to remove. Testors brush cleaner easily removes it.

 

I also use a cotton swap dipped in thinner and clean all the edges of the body:

 

20.jpg

 

The cotton sway treatment really cleans things up and gives the body a crisp, finished look. Here is a before and after of the engine opening:

 

23.jpg

 

24.jpg

 

When removing the masking tape you need to be so careful. The enamel paint may seem dry to the touch but it is still very soft below the surface.

 

After I get the tape off and clean up the over-spray I let paint cure for a good week. A lamp placed about a foot above the body helps:

 

27.jpg

 

I'm very pleased with the color and the super-clean window masking. It was so easy to just guide those thin strips of tape along the window lines:

 

19.jpg

 

Here’s the painted body. I can’t seem to get the metallic effect to show up in the picture but it’s really eye popping:

 

25.jpg

 

26.jpg

 

In a nutshell the process is:

 

Inside body detail painting.

 

Scuff inside with a Scotch-Brite pad.

 

Wash with dish soap and dry.

 

Mask.

 

Spray color coat.

 

Back up color coat if necessary.

 

Ever so carefully remove masking.

 

Clean up overspray with thinner.

 

Let dry completely.

 

Done!


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#3 Tim Wilkins

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 08:00 PM

Thanks for sharing, Rick. Always liked the shape of the Mirage body. Dynamic came out with a red one as did Testors but yours looks fantastic.  

 

Sure wish someone would make a re-pop of those decals.


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#4 Bill from NH

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 08:07 PM

Rick, have you tried decals on the inside of a body with enamel paints? If you have, did you have to take precautions or use any special procedures? Would enamels sprayed over a clear acrylic work?


Bill Fernald

 

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#5 welslotcar

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 08:24 PM

Thanks for the MASTER CLASS!


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#6 dc-65x

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 08:39 PM

I hope you can find those decals you're looking for, Tim.

 

Bill, I never put decals on the inside of bodies back in the day but I know many did. Sorry, I can't help with that.


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#7 Pete L.

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 09:21 PM

Rick,

 

Thanks for the post; especially helpful is the masking tape information.

 

Have you shot Testors bottled enamels through an airbrush successfully ?

 

Thanks,


Peter J. Linszky

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#8 dc-65x

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 09:40 PM

Yes, Pete. Here's an example:
 

 ... Captain Rick with an air brush.  :shok:  Abandon ship, every man for himself  :crazy: . For this part of the project I thought I'd need some special incentive which you'll see soon. But first...

1967CukrasGPbody002.jpg

That cool red car is Bryan Warmack's. That was my inspiration for my paint job. Flat black was shot on first which resulted in this:

1967CukrasGPbody003.jpg

Next came some Testors medium metallic red. Oh, there's that special incentive I was talking about... MGD. laugh.gif The paint is very translucent at this point. You can spray more red on until the cows come home and it still won't be opaque.

1967CukrasGPbody008.jpg

So, out comes the flat aluminum for the back-up coat:

1967CukrasGPbody007.jpg

Here it is set aside to let the paint cure for a few days:

1967CukrasGPbody006.jpg

Next up I have to find my least shaky paint brush and do the flat black details... arg!


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#9 Pablo

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 10:02 AM

Thanks for posting this, Rick. The bible of enamel painting.  :good:


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#10 Jairus

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 10:17 AM

Enamels are great, if you have patience to let it sit a week to dry completely. I never do and end up leaving a fingerprint somewhere...  :crazy:

 

By the way, very nice tutorial, Rick!


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#11 John M Wimett

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 10:51 AM

Fantastic!  I had no idea that Testors Enamel spray paint would work on old clear bodies.

 

I acquired four Tom Anderson painted bodies a few years ago and read his tutorial on water-based paints. But he painted and detailed the inside of his bodies with a brush!

 

I am a rattle can guy and I wasn't going to take that kind of time!  His work is beautiful and I have studied his painting techniques, interiors, and detail lines over the years. He must have the steadiest hand in the hobby world!

 

I recently viewed pictures of your paint booth; I thought I was the only one that painted outside! I do transform our laundry room with plastic sheeting, fan on, and wife at work from time to time, especially when it is this cold outside. I use many of the same tools you have shown. I do use Saran wrap over the top to prevent over spray, it hugs the plastic, easy to tape, and I can see through it.

 

I hope you show your technique and paints for finishing the interior and driver's head. I am off to Hobby Town today to stock up on enamel spray paint, have some beautiful old bodies to paint.


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#12 Noose

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 10:52 AM

Good stuff, Rick!


Joe "Noose" Neumeister
Sometimes known as a serial despoiler of the clear purity of virgin Lexan bodies. Lexan is my canvas!
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#13 Lone Wolf

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 05:11 PM

Great, and that fog job.   :heart:

 

I feel the same way about my dust collector, I mean airbrush. Hate to clean it. 

 

I will say I've had good results decanting enamel spray into the airbrush cup. When it gets atomized it goes on much thinner and dries extremely quickly. Otherwise I almost never use enamels. 

 

I wonder if it's dry yet.   :dash2:

 

And if you find that non-shaky brush let me know.   :)


Joe Lupo


#14 Pete L.

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 05:30 PM

Rick,

 

Thanks again for all of the info on enamel paints!


Peter J. Linszky

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#15 olescratch

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 06:20 PM

Good info.  Another method for masking windows.  I think this is the one for me, well at the very least, looks like the method I might be able to perform!  Let us all know where you find the brush, mines just keeps shaking no matter what I do to try to calm it!!!!


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#16 dc-65x

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Posted 02 February 2017 - 06:39 PM

Thanks to everyone for the replies and a special thanks to John for his comment:

 

................ I had no idea that Testors Enamel spray paint would work on old clear bodies................I am off to Hobby Town today to stock up on enamel spray paint, have some beautiful old bodies to paint.

 

Knowing that he will now be able to paint and enjoy his vintage bodies made all the effort put into the post worthwhile. I hope others can get their vintage cars on the track soon too.


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#17 Steve M.

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 05:16 PM

I have one of these Dynamic Mirage bodies that I am getting ready to restore.  I notice you cut the engine area out of the body.  What was/is the purpose for that?  The same thing was done to the one that I have - whoever was the original owner cut out the engine section of the body same as you did, but then they just taped another clear lexan piece to the inside that was painted to match the body, so that my body appears to have no engine area at all.

 

Will you just leave the engine area open or will you use an engine insert?  I have been trying to decide what to do with the one I have got, have had several different thoughts.  I have a cox cuc engine piece, I thought about mounting that on a flat black card and fixing it to the inside of the body so that it sits up through the engine area of the body.

 

I'd be very interested to know what you will do on this one.

 

Steve M.


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#18 dc-65x

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 05:49 PM

Hi Steve,

 

The bodies molded in engine detail hit the top of my very large Dynamic GE motor and prevented the body from sitting down over this chassis:

 

Dynamic-GE (74).JPG

 

Here's what I'm doing to cover the engine detail hole in the body, a thin piece of polystyrene with cooling holes and some Russkit engine detail pieces:

 

Dynamic-GE (81).JPG

 

Here's a link to my Mirage build:

Dynamic’s '67 GE motor - just a "Mirage"?

 

 

 


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#19 Jairus

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 06:49 PM

*Still waiting on that body Rick...*  :dirol:


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