Automotive Paint Info

While in the process of painting the car, I became good friends with Ron, who was a professional bodyman/painter. He informed me that the Western Paint that I was using was old technology (more info farther down). There is a newer technology called base coat/clear coat has several advantages that make the Western 3 part epoxy paint obsolete. It became quite obvious as I painted the car and made the standard number of mistakes where using a base coat/clear coat would of been a great time saver.

Base Coat/Clear Coat

The base coat/clear coat system applies a dull color coat on first. After the color coat is on, a clear coat is applied and that brings out the shine. The base coat dries to a dull primer like finish in about an hour or less. The quick drying time is one of advantages because if you make any mistakes you can quickly correct them and reshoot.

The other advantage is that while shooting the dull base coat, it still sprays on wet which means that you can watch the reflection in the paint for faults in the prep. This combined with the fast drying time means that mistakes can be quickly and easily fixed in hours!

After the base coat is on and you're happy, you shoot a clear coat or two over top that brings out the shine. You can shoot a car in a day. Having a couple of layers of clear coat is a good idea if you are new to painting as mistakes like orange peel can be wet sanded out as I found out!

Old Painting Info

Back in the early 2000s, I found a beautiful metallic blue (W525) from Western Automotive Paints (a division of Sherwin Williams Paints) at the local parts store. Not knowing too much about paint, I bought enough W525 to paint my car since I had the money at the time and 4 years later I was able to use it. When I finally painted the car, I ran into two problems with the paint:

  1. Old Technology - It is a 3 part epoxy paint which is really old technology and I bought it at the end of its product life. The biggest problem is that it takes a long time to dry. If you make a mistake, you must wait 24 hours or longer for it to dry enough to fix it. So a small problem may take days to fix and repaint. Wait at least 24 hours to dry, sand and fix, prime then paint again - another 24-48 hours. Compare that to base coat/clear coat where the base coat takes an hour or less to dry and it is easy to fix.

  2. Discontinued Color! - The W525 paint color is discontinued! It is an absolute beautiful semi-metallic blue and they don't make it anymore! I found that out when I ran out of paint to do the interior window frames. I really regret spilling that quart (litre) of paint when painting the door jambs....

    Should be no problem to match the color right? WRONG, I went to every paint supply house in my city and used their painting matching guns and computers - none could even do a close match. I had to search through catalogs of sample paint chip books to find a non metallic blue that was close. I can tell the difference and so could a professional painter but others won't notice.

Archived Info on Western Paints

The following information is on the Western Paint's Hi Glo paint that I used. It is left here just for archival purposes. Maybe someone like myself who was new to painting purchases this and needs to know how to use it. I don't recommend using this paint, only because the base coat/clear coat paint technology is much better and because the Western Paint reducers and hardners are hard to find. Here is the info:

I used the Hi Glo catalyzed synthetic enamel that was very forgiving and gives quite a high shine. I used a low temperature reducer that works between 45 and 75 degF which is the normal temperature of my garage (I live in Canada!).

For the catlayzed mode, you mix it in 8 parts paint (W525) to 2 parts reducer (WS4575) to 1 part hardener (W1016) combination. Then paint a tack coat -just enough paint to lightly cover. Let it flash for 10 minutes to allow the chemicals to evaporate and get tacky. Then paint a wet coat, flash for another 10 minutes and then the final wet coat. I was very impressed that I didn't have any runs as the surface is very round with few flat areas. I was shooting the spray gun in all angles. Like I said the paint is very forgiving!

Being a newbie to non-spray bomb paint, I was a little confused about the whole paint mixing process. Here's the scoop on Western's synthetic enamel which has a very good reference information on their website. You do have to read it over quite a few times. Anyways, there are 3 methods of mixing the paint:

  1. Uncatalyzed

    This is called the economy coat. You only add reducer to the paint. This is the quick way to paint a car for the least amount of money. Medium shine.

  2. Catalyzed

    This gives a deep finish and harder surface than uncatalyzed. You add reducer and hardener to the paint. I went this way because there is the option of spraying a clearcoat on top if it is not shiny enough. The clearcoat uses the same reducer and hardener (cost savings). I'm very happy with the current finish of the catalyzed synthetic enamel.

  3. Integrated reducers

    This gives the deepest finish and best performance of the three mixes. It is a urethane mix and uses special hardeners and reducers specific to urethanes. They mention that this is the choice for high metallic content paints. I took it to refer to large metallic flakes as the catalyzed mix worked fine with the W525 small flakes.

I shot 3 to 5 coats of W525 blue and white as my car is two tone. The extra coats were due to fixing mistakes on a small portion of a panel and reshooting the complete panel. Then I shot another 4 coats of clear overtop. This turned out to be a good thing as there was quite a bit of orange peel on the car. My buddy Ron, spent a week, wet sanding the paint and turned it from a daily driver paint job into almost show car quality! Ron performed a freaking miracle!

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Copyright December 2011 Eugene Blanchard