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TECH: HOT RODS & ROCK "N" ROLL

PAINT TIPS FROM LANZINI BODY WORKS

BY SID ENGLISH - PHOTOS BY RICH BOYD AND LANZINI BODY WORKS


A slight change of direction was made from the original pearl orange rendering by Steve Stanford.

Musician and custom painter Mitch Lanzini holds a G&L Legacy guitar that has and ice pearl metallic finish complete with a 14-karat engine-turned gold leaf graphics by pinstripper Dennis Ricklets.

Preparation for paint is perhaps one of the most difficult stages of a hot rod build, but once the color has been selected and the primer blocked to perfection, things begin to move rather quickly. Mitch Lanzini of Lanzini Body Works in Huntington Beach, California, has been one of the key players of TLC's popular television show "Overhaulin'," having painted over 25 cars in the five seasons that the show has been on the air.
The show's time constraints don't leave much room for error when the cameras are rolling and the producer is worried about his deadline. During Mitch's 16 years in the business he has painted everything from collectible Ferraris to Volkswagen Beatles, including Rod Millen's Pike's Peak Hillclimb cars and Jimmy Johnson's off-road racer before he was a NASCAR champion. Mitch is also a hot rod owner and vintage car lover who built his own '32 Ford roadster highboy.
The custom cars and trucks that have been created for the television show have provided Mitch with some invaluable lessons about time management and how much can be accomplished in a short period without sacrificing quality or jeopardizing the integrity of the manufacturer's paint products.


At this writing Mitch is in the homestretch of the build of his '33 Ford Speedstar Coupe. This stylish coupe will be a rolling business card and the paint preparation much be the best Mitch and his experienced crew can achieve in his Huntington Beach shop. There were approximately 300 hours of sanding, priming and surfacing involved even before the first coat of color was applied. The World of RODS entered at the point where the first coats of color were being applied in the paint booth. We'll show readers some of the important steps Lanzini and his crew took to ensure a superior paint finish, one that was accomplished in a 24-hour, non-stop workday. There was literally no down-time or hour-long breaks from start to finish. The work was continuous last July when the Southern California weather was warm and dry.
Here's some background: the coupe actually sat for several years as Mitch and his wife Tara considered numerous color choices. Mitch first painted the grille shell, installed the insert and evaluated the color every day for two months to make certain this was finally the color choice they could live with for years to come. Once the color was selected and finally approved, it turned out to be a cocktail of two colors combined to achieve a bright and bold hue that was appropriate for the hot rod of a body shop owner, a painter and a guitar player.
Because Mitch has been playing guitar for decades and performs regularly in a blues band, he feels the color choice for his hot rod ride was appropriate for his personality and profession. The fit and finish and attention to detail in the finished coupe will soon be in harmony with the high quality of the paint. the finished Speedstar couple will be one that naturally attracts a good deal of industry attention and demonstrates what can be done for any Lanzini customer who demands the best in automotive paint finishes. We hope to show readers the finished coupe in the near future.


These G&L prototype guitars are painted with automotive finishes in hot rod colors. The limited edition models are planned for the 2009 model year and will be on display at the NAMM show, the musical equivalent of SEMA.


Mitch sprayed these preliminary color choices for evaluation. A period of decision and a final commitment is important because once the paint is on it's too difficult, expensive and wasteful to change. Mitch encourages customers to look at a large samples of the color they want (on a curved surface) to see how the color looks in direct and indirect sunlight. Just because you saw it on a BMW doesn't mean it will look good on your hot rod.


The floor pan is often overlooked, but turning the body on its side will allow the bottom to look as good as the top. Here Walt applies sealer to the floor pan before the first coat of color is sprayed.


Now the clear is applied to the floor, and we get a chance to see what the top color will look like finished. A little drying time and a look at the color outside can be helpful. Mitch color sanded and buffed the floor pan, and then masked it to prevent any overspray from reaching the top when the upper panels are sprayed.


A BASF tool has 3,000 color chips painted with automotive paint - each has its own formula, and there are subtle differences to each one. Mitch has used the color chips to make a preliminary choice to see how two colors will look together. He also gets a precise formula to match an existing color.


The first color coat is applied over the sealer. The bottom of the body offers a chance to look at the color over a large area. If you have to make adjustments, now is the time to make them because you won't see the top and bottom at the same time. It's easier to redo the bottom than every single piece of the top panels.


Walt found a spot that wasn't finished to his satisfaction. The body is in the spray booth, but there's still time to pay attention to a minor imperfection that might have been overlooked. Paint will not hide an imperfection, even in a door jamb where few will see it. The highest level of attention to detail will secure the best paint job.

This fixture was designed to allow the hood and hood sides to be painted next to the body to ensure even, accurate color coverage between all top body panels. This is extremely important when painting metallic and pearl paints, even the spay pattern form one panel to another can cause a minor variation in color.


Another last minute detail is the hood release rod opening that passes through the cowl. Mitch opens it with a rat-tail file to de-burr the hole and make it more uniform.


Like any recipe, accurate measuring is important for best results. Paint is a chemical that needs the most accurate measurements to mix properly, and following the manufacturer's instructions is best for consistently superior results. Quality materials from one manufacturer's system, and of course, following the precise guidelines of mixing and applying paint, builds confidence and peace of mind that the paint performance meets the standards required for the manufacturer's warranty.



The LED taillight was permanently mounted to the body and blocked to perfection in conjunction with eh body surface. The lens will not receive color during the application of the color topcoat. But, the lens will be coated with clear (with the rest of the car) at the final stage to maintain a continuous surface from body to lens. The clear chemically adheres to the plastic lens because of solvents in the paint.


The final masking job goes all the way to the floor. Every opening is closed and ensures that Mitch and Walt can put paint on the surfaces where they want it and prevent paint from reaching where they don't want paint or overspray.


Almost as important as blocking and sanding is the masking phase. Using quality materials is important to the success of the paint job. Tape that stays put and paper that hold back the solvents are important. Poor quality tape and paper can add to the smallest pieces of visible debris and dust that can compromise your paint's surface.


Mitch mixed a compatible yellow with the translucent pearl color to create a tined basecoat that was a close to the topcoat pearl color as possible. This was done to improve the overall consistency of the color and help pearl cover with fewer overall coats.


A clean surface is paramount to ultimate success. No potential contaminant is allowed to reach the surface from a cloth shop towel or even from the oil on your hand. Gloves are a must and using wax and grease remover is very important, but keeping the surface as clean as possible will help prevent headaches and imperfection later. Mitch and Walt Pearson make their final preparation before the doors to the paint booth are closed.



Mitch likes the aerosol RM Aero-Max because it allows him to clean a reasonably sized area before the solvent evaporates.


The SADA treated nylon paint suits are lint free and designed to repel dust. Mitch and Walt wore brand new suits - no corners were cut. Gloves and professional respirators are obviously a must as well. All of the intake and exhaust filters were replaced and the walls and floors were prepped to the maximum. Even the paint booth lights were cleaned. Mitch has learned through "Overhaulin'" that two guns are better than one, when experienced painters work together, time is saved as well.


Mitch and Walt apply the tinted basecoat before the pearl is added. This is where the "rubber meets the road" and you can tell what the surface preparation really looks like, especially around the reveals.



Pearl has been applied to every panel at this point. a clear basecoat seals the pearl. The basecoat dries quickly and allows you to handle and clean the parts without affecting the color coat. Notice how the fixture allows the painters to apply the pearl to all panels evenly. The doors and hood panels are in close proximity to the body and the deck lid has been installed as well.


Mitch evens out the pearl over the clear basecoat to make certain the color and text rues are consistent and even. Highly translucent candies and pearls are extremely difficult to coat uniformly without the panels almost as one. A few passes around the car are all that's required for this step. then another coat of basecoat clear was added on top. At his point, it was time to take all of the panels apart again and clearcoat them individually.


Mitch prefers to clearcoat all of the panels separately to prevent tape lines and seams inside the jambs.


Before the trunk lid was removed for the final clearcoat, notice the consistent gap spaces around the trunk. The taillight has been uncovered in preparation for the final clearcoat that will create a seamless surface from the body to the lens material.


The last coat of clear was applied around the end of the 24-hour period of continuous work. Walt and Mitch have been away and working during the entire process, both agree the payoff was worth the extra effort and sleepless nights. Lack of sleep is nothing new at Lanzini's shop, but this "Overhaulin'" was for Mitch and Tara Lanzini's rolling business card that you'll see as soon as the Speedstar high-boy is finally completed.