Author Archives: malcolm

And Finally Painted!

It’s painted – the last major step. I’d been quite worried about how the paint was going to turn out, especially as the last metallic car I painted turned out rather badly. To be fair it was a Renault 4, and the main reason it looked bad was every panel had dents which reflected the light all over the place giving a rather uneven appearance. I ended up re-painting that car in a light solid colour.

Finally finished painting the sodding thing

It turns out 2 pack base coat and clear lacquer is a remarkably forgiving paint system. Much easier than cellulose. So long as the base coat isn’t sprayed too thickly it will smooth itself out and align the metallic flakes to give a smooth, consistent appearance. The lacquer goes on just like any ordinary solid colour paint.

I’m in three minds about the finish. The first is that it’s worked out better than the nasty respray the car had in the ’80s (and which still exists on the rest of the car). The second that I’ve not achieved an Aston Martin finish, and that feels disrespectful. The third is it’s probably on a par with the factory painted Mercedes parked outside the garage (not mine), so overall perhaps a good result for someone who claims not to be capable of spraying a metallic finish.

Although I’d like to know how Mercedes get the flies out of their paint. 🙂

More Painting

I’ve found a better match for the paint. There are no records of what colour had been used in the respray, so I took a filler cap into the paintshop and found the nearest match. It’s a Mitsubishi colour (B67 ICI).

The match is very good. I elected to paint the whole side of the car rather than mess around with blending as there were some other defects in the paint. Here’s a photo before the lacquer coat:

Whole side in base coat

Aston Martin Parts

Previously when I’ve tried to order Aston parts from an Aston dealer they’ve asked me to call Mark Hewitt from AML Heritage to confirm the part numbers so they could order the bits for me.

I decided I was being lazy so borrowed Nigel’s parts book and looked up a number for myself. But the number had changed so the dealer was confused.

I phoned Heritage, but instead of an ever helpful Mark I had an answer phone message suggesting I contact a dealer. I could see an endless loop here.

I ordered the new fuel pipe from Puddleduck.

The entire car seems to be built around that fuel pipe, so progress should continue quickly once the pipe is installed. Even more progress if I could bolt in the wheelarch liners with screws that I can’t find (doesn’t anyone make affordable 1/2 inch no.10 UNF hex screws any more?) Edit> picked them up from Namrick but oddly they seem to be getting scarce.

Painting Progress

I had a few issues with painting other than the colour match. I started to get surface crazing where I’d feathered the original paint. According to the book this can happen when spraying over paint that’s 0.3mm thick or more. I think Aston managed 0.3mm when they originally painted the car, and the ’80s respray was even thicker.

It was possible to get around it by spraying very light coats. I’ve lacquered the A pillar so that further painting can be done with the door in place. At the very least the whole side of the car will need painting to disguise the colour matching.

An immaculate Oscar India visited the farm today, fresh from a very high quality bare metal respray. That’s the way these cars should look. I’m going to get some quotes as there is no reason why this OI can’t look just as nice (other than the cost of bare metal resprays obviously).

(The colour match isn’t quite as bad as it looks in the photo – the front wings are in shadow, and they haven’t been lacquered which changes the way light is reflected. The front of the rear wings represent the new colour more accurately.

Poor metallic colour match

First colour coats

Take care of that elbow Nigel.

Having worried for weeks about blending in metallic paint I finally read a book. It’s called “Vehicle Painters Notes” and was written by an Aston guy – Peter Child, who worked in quality control at Newport Pagnell while they were still building V8s. (ISBN 0-632-01873-9)

Turns out blending metallic is easy. Metallic paint consists of base coat followed by a couple of coats of lacquer. For blending in you would mix metallic 50:50 with the lacquer and spray slightly further than the edge of the repair with the metallic base coat. Then mix 25:75 and spray a little further into the rest of the panel. Finally mix 10:90 and spray the whole panel.

Metallic is less forgiving to spray than solid colour. I was having problems with solid colour a couple of years ago, then took a long hard look at my old spray gun (with the damaged nozzle). It went into the bin and I bought a new gun that was actually suited to my compressor output. Great results with solid colour since then, but it’s been a while since I sprayed metallic.

The metallic finish was good, but the colour was wrong!

The Aston was resprayed (badly) in the ’80s. The colour is nice, but it’s slightly lighter and not quite as green as the original Tourmaline paint. That’s annoying.

Options from here are to blend in some special paint matched brew from the paint shop, or to return the whole car to the original colour (probably the job of a paint shop as I wouldn’t be confident with metallic over a large panel area).

First colour coat

On the plus side even I can’t see the join in the aluminium wings.

Aston in Primer

I’ve already sprayed self etching primer onto the aluminium wings (nothing else would be likely to stick), and have sprayed a couple of coats of high build primer. This will be sanded down with a guide coat, and depending on how that goes we might see some colour soon.

Results so far are pleasing with the location of the welded join in the wing undetectable.

Aston Martin masked and primed

Rain stopped play this afternoon, so I finally decided to sort out the fuel vaporisation on the MGA by making some new heatshields. It very embarrasingly conked out yesterday in a multi-story car park, thankfully just at the top of a ramp so I could push it out of the way and let it cool down for half an hour.

The Psychology of Aston Restoration

The Oscar India project has been through it’s ups and downs (and as a result has taken far too long). I think much of the delay is down to the psychology of car restoration.

The chassis welding on the OI went quickly as I have a lot of confidence in mild steel welding. The biggest delay was down to welding the aluminium wings back on. My thought was “Oh my god this is an Aston Martin and I can really screw this up if things go wrong”. It took a couple of weekends to learn to weld aluminium, but it must have taken me a couple of months to build the courage to weld the wings back on. But it all turned out OK in the end:

Front aluminium wing welding

Another mental block of mine is blending in metallic paint. That’s a job for this week. Fortunately in this case I have a backup plan – if it doesn’t go well we can take the car to a paint pro for a full respray (which would also help with other parts of the car that have a little bubbling or dents).

I’ll have to paint the door shuts whatever happens so may as well attempt blending in paint over my repairs. I’ve nothing to loose. And that’s the thing. It’s something that has to be done, and it’s not a problem if I screw it up, so it happens quickly.

I’m not sure of the answer to this car restoration psychology issue. For the most part it’s good to treat the Aston like any other car – after all it’s got MGB door handles and steering column so why not pretend the rest is MGB?

The other way around is thinking up back-up plans for when things go wrong. For chassis welding it’s no problem – you can get better at welding and then try again, scrap the bugger, or send it to someone else. For visible repairs it’s a bit more of an issue, but again for the most part you should be able to give it a go and if it doesn’t work there is bound to be someone else who can sort the mess.

Really there is no reason for anyone to share my psychological issues. I’d encourage any owner or enthusiast to get stuck in. Nothing can go wrong – you’ll most likely get things right with a little research beforehand, and if anything does go wrong there will be someone who can sort it out.

SU Fuel Pumps

The Aston V8 has a twin SU fuel pump (like two normal ones joined together in the middle), but one half wasn’t clicking.

Having had no success with SU pumps in the past I reluctantly removed the plastic end covers to have a look at the points. The top contact slides out when the screw is undone a few turns and can be cleaned against a bit of fine sand paper. Removing the top contact allows access to the bottom contact for cleaning.

I put the pump back together, tested it and both sides worked! That’s a first for me and was very satifying. Yes I know I should fit a Facet solid state pump, but the evil SU pumps are working now, and I’ve been unable to find a single case of a car blowing up due to the close proximity of fuel and point arcing.

Incidentally, the SU pumps on the Aston have a condensor between the live and earth. It’s a remote condensor exactly the same as the ones fitted to distributors. And it’s fitted for the same reason – to stop the points from burning out. Anyone with an MGB fitted with the dreaded SU pump would do well to pick up an old condensor and fit it to the fuel pump.

The photo is an old one from before the pump was removed. I’m planning to replace the fuel piping partly because it’s plastic and it’s old (but not too brittle yet), but mostly because it doesn’t seem to stretch all the way to the front of the car any more. The condensors are blue in the photo.

Twin SU fuel pump

New Rollable Hammerite

Finnigans Smoothrite is usually great. I use the stuff a lot and used to find it to be very good – drying in a couple of hours and very durable when painted over primer (rubbish and brittle when painted directly onto steel).

My most recent tin declared it was new and improved as it could now be applied with a roller. “New and improved” should have rung some alarm bells. When Tesco do new and improved it normally means they’ve done a cost down exercise – the product has become less nice but you’ll probably keep on buying it because you are in Tesco anyway and you used to buy the old inferior stuff.

Cutting to the chase. I brushed some of this new improved Smoothrite onto the boot floor to tidy up some bare patches on Friday. It’s now Monday and the stuff still hasn’t dried. It’s still sticky. I’d expected it to dry after the normal two hours, so after three days felt safe enough to sit inside the boot and fit the fuel pump.

Big mistake. The boot needs painting again and I’m very sticky. The paint is going back to the shop.

Beware the new improved rollerable Smoothrite! Try for an old tin from the back of the shelf.