Paint Preparation

Summer is here, or so the calendar is telling me, and it’s the best time to paint a car if you are intending to use your garage as a spray booth.  I am, so it’s the best time, apparently.  I have to say that it doesn't feel like summer at all.  It's just cold and damp, typical British summer weather.  Anyhow, it's 'definitely' not going to be warm and dry in the winter, so let’s work with what we've got and crack on. 

I had previously sprayed the doors with etch primer.  There's a big debate about etch vs epoxy, and I've read a lot about the pros and cons of both.  The BIG advantage of epoxy primer is that it is total water barrier, unlike etch (and all other traditional primers) which is porous.  As projects can take months/years to complete, epoxy is ideal as you know that the metal under the paint is not suffering at the hands of a damp workshop.  I've already seen some tarnishing of the inside of the doors in just 6 months, so they'll be stripped back before a coat of epoxy, and all of the panels from here on in, will be epoxy too.

I guess that I've actually started the paint prep already, because the two O/S doors and bonnet have been prepared, but I feel this is the 'proper' start of the paint prep.  Probably because it's the next big job to be completed, rather than simply protecting the door welding repairs, which was the reason for the previous painting.  I started with the O/S rear wing, for no other reason than it's easily accessible and I wanted to see if the Youtube videos I'd been watching had actually made me better at filling and paint prep. 

The rear wing had been the victim of some of my early panel welding, and there was some heat distortion which I'd not controlled properly.  You live and learn.  So, this panel required some extra attention.  I stripped off the old paint with some industrial stripper that had been recommended to me.  Very good it was too, but I could feel my skin burning where it splashed on my arms, nasty stuff.  You would not want to get this in your eyes. After it had all bubbled up, a scrape with a razor blade got most of the layers off.  What remained had softened enough to get it off easily.

 A dual action (DA) air powered sander got off the rest.  The panel was in great shape, with only a little distortion around the arch welds. 

I gave it a quick coat of primer to seal it, then a skim of filler where it needed it (less, far less, than I’d anticipated!) then some sanding, and it was ready for the top coat of primer.

I hadn't sanded the panel down through to the finer grades of sandpaper as this is only the primer coat.  I finished it with 180 grit, which is sufficiently fine for this paint, although the base coat prep will be much finer.   I gave it a nice even coat, then I ended up giving it a second coat as the first wasn't thick enough I thought.  I'm certainly no expert, but it didn't have the glaze I was after.  Actually, that is another advantage of epoxy primer - It's glossy!  This is great because you can see exactly the same finish as your top coat will be.  Great for finding out if you did enough work on your preparation.  As luck would have it, I had!

It's hardening overnight now, and I have to say that I'm super pleased with the result.  Next is the rear O/S door.  The bottom panel gap is not great on this door for some reason, so I'll need to weld an extra 1-2mm to the bottom of it to close the gap up a little.  There’s me thinking that I’d finished with the welding…. I should have known!

So, this is how I gained that extra millimetre or two.

After grinding, finishing and painting, the door was re-hung to check the panel-gaps were acceptable.  They were.  Which was good news because nobody likes to have to re-do work, especially me!

I prepared the front door too, but forgot to take any photos I’m afraid.  Luckily, the gaps were good and didn’t need too much fettling.  But as soon as it was on….it was off again. The door frames and sill are next, so both of the doors had to come off.  I’ve masked up in readiness.

The door frames and jambs, despite looking innocuous enough, took an inordinate time to strip.  Big flat panels can be stripped quickly in comparison, but all of the nooks and crannies took an age.

Anyhow, I did eventually complete them and they too received a healthy coat of primer.

I also did the hinges at the same time.  I remember back in the day that many of the cars I owned had issues with door hinges.  They always seemed to wear and that would result in them ‘dropping’.  These however, either haven’t seen the use or were built to last.  There’s no perceivable movement at all in any of them.  Jaguar quality I guess.

So, once everything had dried, it was back on (again!) with the doors to double check gaps and fitment. All looking Good.  There’re are no latches on them at the moment, so that’s why the rear of each door looks out of alignment.  No need to refit them just yet, so I’ll leave the paint fully harden to avoid leaving marks.

The front wing was stripped revealing the patches I’d fitted earlier in the build.  They turned out well, but it also revealed where some of my very first attempts at welding were on the front valence area.  Oooh.  They didn’t look so good now that I’ve got 2 ½ years of experience.  Hard to believe I was super pleased with them at the time. So, back out with the welder to tidy them up.  I didn’t take any photos of them I’m afraid, but not because I was too embarrassed for you to see them (I was embarrassed for you to see them, but that wasn’t the reason I didn’t take them).  Although I’m sure you’ll all be heading back to the beginning of this blog now just to see how bad they were! So after a little further welding, from a now more experienced welder Steve, they were fine.

Years ago, people used to have a great disregard for filler.  Indeed, filler on a car was a sure sign of shoddy workmanship right!  Well, yes, and no.  Certainly it was for all of the filling work that I did back in the day (I’ll be going to hell for some of those I’m sure!).  I remember going to look at second hand cars with my Dad, armed only with an envelope of cash and a magnet.  Any ‘suspect’ looking paintwork was given the once over with the magnet, and if the magnet dropped, then the sale did just as quickly.  We walked away from many cars with my Dad muttering ‘that one was full of filler Son’.  So, obviously filler did have a bad rep back then.  However, not all filler is bad.  Everyone wants paintwork that is smooth and flat, of course they do. But unless you are using new panels (and even then too sometimes) a very thin layer of filler is essential to enhance the surface ready for the paint.  This is especially true for a 57 year old car on which I’ve welded patches and repair panels.

You would not believe how difficult it is however, stripping, applying filler and flattening the finish on a car with such a curvy body. The front end especially is all curves and a great deal of effort required to get it to a satisfactory finish.

So, the filler enhanced paintwork is complete, for the offside at least.  I used about 330ml of paint for this front wing, comprising 150ml actual paint, 150ml hardener and then a further 10% (30ml) of thinners.  I’m starting to get used to the quantities required now.  The first few panels I painted, I would always seem to make too little paint, and then need to mix more between coats.  This is epoxy primer, and I think I may have mentioned before that it does have a slight gloss finish. This is great for highlighting the areas which need further attention, despite the disappointment of a non-perfect finish.  However, better to see those little blemishes now, rather than after you’ve applied the final coat.  Normal primer is flat matt and means that some imperfections could be missed.  Fortunately, I have just a couple of areas that need to be tweaked before the next stage. 

So, time to test fit the grille, bumper and bonnet. 

Yeah, she’s looking great.  Gaps around grille, perfect.  Gaps around bumper, perfect.  Gaps around bonnet, perf…oh, hang on, not perfect.  Oh, looks like the edge on the offside is a little bit tight in the middle there. No idea what’s happened there.  I did think that the repair I made to the wing was a little high perhaps, but comparing it to the previous photos, that was patched way behind this.  Anyhow, this is something for ‘Future Steve’ to deal with, for now I’m going to carry on and get the rest of the car primered.  Then, I will take stock and address the other issues that I will undoubtedly uncover between now and then. 

The nearside wing was just a repeat of the offside, perhaps a little more complicated because there was a little more damage.  One thing I forgot to show on the offside wing was the repair to the sidelight cowl. Both sides had suffered the same, and an identical repair required.  The cowl is spot welded to the wing, but there’s a recess for it to fit into.  This is all then covered over with lead.  Not really good stuff to be working with, and modern repairs are carried out with lead-free lead (yeah, I know).  Anyhow, this is the repair that was required.  Luckily as it’s recessed, I had some leeway with my welding.


This was followed by a coat of epoxy primer.  I did stand a few times to admire my work (quite a few times, far too many times in fact). This is the best the car has been since I’ve had her.  Although, thinking logically, I could say that about every step I’ve made.  But hey, stand I did and was able to see her in all her primered glory, well from the front at least.  Not too much to imagine how she’ll look when the colour is on.

After even more admiration, I had to press on.  The nearside doors were next, starting with the rear.  Too busy and forgot to take progress photos, but here it is after a couple of coats.

Followed by the front.  It’s quite satisfying when products work as they are designed to.  After a scuff with a hacksaw blade, the Synstrip paint stripper made light work of the old Sherwood Green, and it was quickly consigned to the garage floor.

The stripped front door hides the two repair panels at the bottom quite well.  Despite them looking flat, they still required a very thin skim of filler to get them bob-on and ready for paint.

I think the centre of the roof may have been resprayed before, or maybe the factory didn’t use as much primer on the roof.  Either that or the sprayer was too short to reach the centre.  But when I applied the stripper there, it bubbled right down to the metal.

After stripping the roof, I was disappointed to find some rust along the whole length of the nearside gutter. 

So it was out with my mini drill and a tiny grindstone to perform some dentistry and remove the rusty cavities.

After this, I popped some weld on the deeper ones to ensure that there were no pin-holes and to make up some of the lost material.  The shallow ones will be rust treated and filled before the primer. 

You’re probably getting as bored with paint stripping as me by now, but there’s more to do I’m afraid. Nearside rear wing was next to be completed.

Once the rear door seal guide had a new triangular piece welded in, the door jambs were also stripped and ready for paint. The front triangle was solid enough and cleaned well after some grinding/flap-wheel/wire wheel action.

However, when I did spray the door jambs, I forgot to also paint the hinges which were pushed under the car. This prevented me from hanging them on, so for now at least, they’re still off. 

Also staring me in the face is the welding of the rear arches.  They are more than solid enough of course, the originals were only held on with two wire tabs and a pair of Zeus fasteners, but if I were doing them again, I would have welded continuously rather than stitch welding them.  I could go back and fill in the gaps to make a more professional job, but I probably won’t as the gaps already have some filler in them.  But, note to self, don’t sell yourself short next time.

I had hoped to get the primer on the rear wing next, but when I looked at the tonneau panel (that’s the bit behind where the bumper fits) I could see some puffing up of the metal around the spot welds.  Puffed up metal can only mean one thing….rust.

I must have missed this on the first pass.  I’m guessing that after spending the last three years fighting the stuff, I’ve a bit more experience at finding it now. Anyhow, before proceeding with the primer, I now have this little job to do. 

To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I’m still that it’s gone.

The complete tonneau panel costs an absolute fortune (You shouldn’t be surprised with that by now!). I only need a small section of it, it’s hidden behind the bumper and don’t have the best part of £200, so I simply repaired it. 

Once the rust was removed, it was an easy three-part section to fabricate and weld in.

Not the neatest job, but it’s mighty strong and well hidden away anyway.  The two hoes are for the bumper brackets to locate. 

So that was that done, and I could continue with the final primer preparation of the rear wing.

I forgot to take a picture after I sprayed it, but you can use your imagination I’m sure. 

So the final panel left to be done is the boot lid (that’s the ‘trunk’ to those of you guys over the pond).  To be fair, it wasn’t in bad shape, but did need a couple of repair panels.  The lower edge is always the first area to rust.  It’s obviously because this is where any moisture or rain will settle.  Below is actually my second attempt at this. The first time I made the panel, I half folded over the lip of the skin at the bottom of the lid and when I was happy with the fit, I folded it over completely.  The outer side fitted perfectly and I was left with a 1mm gap for the butt weld.  All good so far.  What I didn’t do however, was to allow for the inevitable shrinking after the butt joint had been welded.  Because the lip was already wrapped around the frame, there was no spare metal and the panel skin pulled in and distorted quite badly. I obviously didn’t take any photos of the resulting carnage, I didn’t what anyone to ever see that, no siree! It really wasn’t the best work I’d done, so before anyone could witness such a terrible job, I quickly cut it back out and started afresh.  This time I left the panel flat, and would only fold the lip over the frame AFTER I had completed the welding.

The boot is curved in all three directions, so was quite difficult to get into the right shape, but after some tweaking, I got there in the end.  I was pleased with the result, despite the weld being a smidge low in parts.  Still, far better to be slightly low, than slightly high.  This will get smoothed over with a tiny skim of filler.

The other lower edge was almost perfect, and just needed a couple of pin-holes welding up. 

Just needed to remove the remaining paint on the underside and she too, will be ready for primer.


So that’s it for this month I’m afraid.  Obviously my plan of getting the painting done over the summer has fallen by the way-side.  It’s not ideal painting in the cooler and damper weather and can lead to sub-optimal (crap!) results.  I didn’t want to wait until next year, so in a bid to get the garage to a reasonable temperature during the winter to enable me to spray year-round, I bought this Bad-Boy!

It has an output of 30kw (Yes, that’s 30,000 watts) and can heat the garage up from ‘A Bit Chilly’ to ‘Toasty’ in about 1 minute. I was going to amaze you all with an equivalent heat output in ‘candle power’, but after a quick Google search, it seems the two formats are not comparable. So, you’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s mighty powerful.  It looks, and sounds, like a jet engine, so that’s what the family affectionately call it, and it is absolutely amazing.  So, armed with this, I shouldn’t have any issues with spraying the car in the winter.  Mind you, at the rate I’m going it will probably be next summer before the car will be ready to paint anyway! Still, it will keep me warm through the winter.


Update of progress completed in November 2022


OK, so what did November bring?  Well, I managed to complete the boot and the boot lid.  Firstly the boot lid itself.  All of the fabrication had been done, so just a case of stripping off the old paint and getting some new stuff sprayed on.  All went reasonably straight forward, so I’ll just show you the results.

So, all good there.  The hinges also need to be painted body colour and getting the old paint off those was a bit more involved.  I tried with some paint stripper and numerous wire wheels, but there are so many nooks and crannies that it proved too difficult to get all of the paint off.  I had bought a mini sandblasting tool from Lidl or Aldi some years ago.  It wasn’t the best and it had been discarded to the back of the garage, but I did think I still had just the right amount of sand blasting media to give it a second chance.  Well, it turned out that I had exactly the right amount, and as soon as the last remnants of paint were removed from the hinges, the last remnants of media were dispensed from the gun. Perfect! (For once!)

So next up was the job I’d been dreading.  The interior of the boot.  The boot is cavernous and one of the reasons why these cars were allegedly popular with bank robbers and criminals of the day.  Apparently they were favoured so that either their stolen cash or a body ready for a concrete overcoat, could be easily stowed.  I’ve no idea if these stories have any shred of truth, but they are repeated so frequently with just the mention of the words Jaguar and MK2, that true or not, it has become part of the folk law of these beautiful cars.  One thing that is true however, and that has been well documented, is that these were used by Ronnie Biggs and his chums for their escape in the ‘Great Train Robbery’ of 1963.  So, who am I to break with tradition?  Anyhow, enough rambling, let’s make a start.  I’m pleased to report that my good luck with the sand blasting media continued with the paint stripper, and the last dregs of the 5 litre can were just about enough to complete the job.

After the paint stripper did its stuff, the surface still required some further work.  The problem is that with the boot being so big, it is difficult to easily reach into all areas of the inside.  I’m not a small (or young) guy, and physically getting inside to do the work poses equally or perhaps greater challenges.  I did wonder whilst cramped inside just how true the ‘body in the boot’ stories actually were.  The previous enormity of the boot suddenly evaporated and it seemed rather cramped for a strapping six footer.  It wasn’t a pretty sight and you should be thankful this is a webpage and not YouTube. But with no other option, cramming myself into the boot is what I needed to do for some of the last bits of the preparation.   I wire brushed the whole interior which enabled me to see the condition of the metal underneath.  I had already welded the areas where this was required and all that was left was a clean-up of some surface rusting.


Next was a wash over with rust treatment, but this was rather more for rust prevention than anything else. 

 Once dry, a coat of epoxy primer was applied and this acts as a sealer.  The paint applied very well and wasn’t long before it transformed the interior to look like this -


I managed to complete the whole boot with the paint I had mixed, but I still had half a cup full left in the gun hopper.  Rather than let this go to waste, I decided to give some areas just a little bit more paint to make sure it was properly covered.  The problem was that the surfaces were already properly covered, and the additional paint resulted in the existing layers to be overloaded and caused two or three runs on the off-side wheel tub.  Bugger, sometimes less really is more.  Anyhow, it wasn’t the end of the world, I was able to get a fresh Stanley blade the next day and carefully slice off the worst of the excess.

I debated for quite a while how best to finish the surface of the boot interior.  I considered simply spraying over the primer and giving it a body style finish but instead I opted for a textured finish.  This will be harder wearing I think and also cover some of the imperfections.  It’s only a boot, it will be carpeted and doesn’t really need to have a high gloss finish.  So, it was out with the remainder of the Gravitex I had bought for the underneath of the car. 

Having been fortunate with quantities on two occasions recently, I could hardly believe my luck when the Gravitex also managed to complete the job before the bottle contents ran out at exactly the same time as the whole interior was covered.  I was on a winning streak and I considered running off to buy a lottery ticket, but as this was the third stroke of luck, it will probably be the last.