February 2002
I hadn't really planned on painting the frame on Maych .  If you remember from the remarks I make on the Progress home page, I'm not doing a frame-off, frame-up, off-frame (or whatever you call it) restoration of Maych But Al (the guy doing the paint and body work) decided it would be easier to do the body work on Maych if we removed the bed.  When I saw how sad the frame looked after we had the bed off, I decided it would be a good time to spruce it up a little.  

Unfortunately, I put off making this decision until after Al had the cab primered and preped for painting, which meant the frame couldn't be sand blasted or even steam washed without messing up his prep work.  And, I didn't want to use spray paint for fear of getting overspray on the cab.  I needed to find a method to paint the frame that required very little prep work and didn't involve spraying paint.  

I had noticed that a lot of the people on the The 1967-1972 Chevrolet & GMC Pickups Message Board bragged about a product called  POR-15.  Several people had used it and were happy with the results.  I read up on the product at the POR-15 web site and it sounded like just what I was looking for.  According to their web site --  "POR-15 is designed to be coated right onto rusty surfaces, leaving a beautiful, rock-hard finish that won't crack, chip or peel".  Also, it can be applied with a brush.  In fact, they recommend brushing it on, because it can be a health hazard if sprayed without the proper protective equipment, which I don't have.  

This stuff is not cheap (a quart cost over $30.00), but a quart was enough to do the frame, so I guess that's not too bad.  I ordered a quart of semi-gloss black from their web site and it was delivered in a few days.  According to the information on their web site, you need to wear rubber gloves when applying the stuff, because, if allowed to dry on the skin, it has to wear off.  They also recommend placing a piece of cellophane over the top of the can before replacing the lid after it's open.  Evidently, the stuff has some "super glue" properties, and if there is paint in the lip of the can when you put the lid back on, you'll never get it back off.  For brushes, they recommend cheap throw-aways, because they'll never really be the same again.  Lastly, they recommend wearing old clothes.

Having now used the stuff, I can say I agree with all of their recommendations except the "old clothes" one.  Don't just wear old clothes, wear clothes you never want to wear again!  And buy several pairs of rubber gloves  You'll have to take them off when you go to tinkle and you can't really put them back on without getting the paint all over you.  I guess you could leave them on when you go to the bathroom, but I don't even want to think about the results.  Note - the more beer consumed, the more gloves you'll need to buy.  If your under 30 years old, about 1 pair for every 2 beers would be about the right ratio.  For those over 50 (like me), better go with at least 1 pair for each beer.

The prep work for painting consisted of degreasing and using a power washer (not steam) to knock off the grease and dirt. Degreasing was mainly confined to the differential and the backs of the brake housings.  I followed up by scraping off any loose rust with a putty knife.  POR-15 recommends using their Metal-Ready™ rust remover, but a lot of the guys on the message board said they skipped this step and it didn't seem to affect the quality of the application, so I decided it wasn't necessary.  The photo above shows what the frame looked like right after the prep work was done.

Once the prep work is done, about all there is to the rest of the job is to put on the rubber gloves, crawl into some throw-away clothes and have at it with one of the cheap paint brushes.  The job would definitely go faster and easier if the truck was up on a lift.  Laying on your back under the frame and painting upside down with this stuff is no picnic.  Did I mention, you should also wear a throw-away hat?  If you don't, you're going to need a haircut real bad.  Probably a buzz cut. 

I had planned on putting on two coats of POR-15, but the directions say you have to wait 3-5 hours for the first coat to dry before applying the next.   And if you wait over 24 hours, you'll have to wet sand the cured paint to get the second coat to properly adhere.  After I got the first coat on, I was too worn out to even think about coming back in 3 to 5 hours to apply a second coat.  Besides, one coat looked good.  Brushing it on provides good coverage and I don't think a second coat is really needed.  Maybe if it was sprayed.  Getting one coat on the frame took about 5 hours.  You could probably do it in less, but I wasn't on the clock, so I took lots of breaks (each one involving a change of gloves).  I didn't get completely finished the first day (Saturday), but what little was left, I could easily finish on Sunday.  Painting the tops and outsides of the frame took about 20% of the time.  The bottoms and the insides took the other 80%.

On Sunday I finished painting the areas I didn't get to on Saturday.  I also, went back over the frame and found several areas that I had missed the day before.  There's lots of surface area on a frame, so it's easy to miss an area.  The coil springs where especially tricky to paint.  You need a brush with about a 12" handle to get the insides of the springs.  I taped a paint stirrer to the handle of my paint brush and managed to do a fairly decent job.  At first I tried to keep the paint off of the brake lines, but after a while (and a beer or two) I decided it wasn't worth the trouble, so I just painted over them.  

I'm sure the next time I have Maych up on a lift I'll see a bunch of areas I missed, but it looks considerably better than it did before and I'm pleased with the way it turned out.  I was kind of worried that the brush marks would look bad, but there weren't any brush marks.  Why, I don't know.  I guess the paint flows well enough that brush marks disappear.  Al wasn't around when I but the paint on the first day and when he saw it the next day, the first thing he asked me was how I got all the brush marks out.  I wanted to tell him it was my skill as a painter (after all, both my dad and granddad painted for a living), but I finally admitted it must be the paint.  We both agreed it looked pretty darn good.

I only painted the part of the frame that was exposed when we took the bed off.  I didn't try to paint any of the frame under the cab or under the hood.  Someday when I have more time and energy I may try to paint the frame under the cab but I'm not sure I'll try it until I can get it up on a lift.

A couple of other things I decided to do while Maych was in the body shop was replace the exhaust system and install a new radiator.  Having the bed off would make installing a new exhaust a lot easier and with the grill and bumper removed, installing a new radiator would be easier also.  I'll chronicle these two activities in the next couple of episodes.



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