How To Prep For Painting: Chevrolet Task Force Truck Running Boards

Our Top Tips & Tricks For Getting The Paint Prep Work Right

By “Rotten” Rodney Bauman   –   Photography by the Author

If you’ve ever by chance worked in an auto paint shop, or even done your own paintwork at home, you know it’s not completely pleasant. In the trade, new painters’ helpers generally become aware of that on their very first day.

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As a painter’s helper in the ’70s, I didn’t exactly start at the top. Determined to work my way up, however, I knew if I stuck with it I’d one day graduate from the sanding pit. Little did I know—that day never comes!

01 Fairing out first round urethane primer surfacer on accessible outside skins would make a good technical topic
Fairing out first-round urethane primer-surfacer on accessible outside skins would make a good technical topic, but nope. This won’t be about that.

The Importance of Preparation

Because a quality finish involves far more prepping than painting anyway, conscientious painters (at least the ones I know) don’t pass all of the prep chores along to helpers. For me in this shop there are none, but Mrs. Rotten is a good hand. Through our years together she’s participated in countless sanding pit parties. She gets it, but she’s not here today—and here I go again.

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02 Doing the same job on wrinkly crinkly running boards will require a somewhat different bag of tricks
Doing the same job on wrinkly, crinkly running boards will require a somewhat different bag of tricks. On that, let’s begin the usual way with an application of dry guide coat.

Read More: Replacing the Window and Rear Door Seals on our 1971 Suburban

Now, don’t misunderstand me. It’s not that I’m tired of fairing and blocking and sanding and such. I’m tired from all of the above. At this stage (and age) in the game it takes longer to clamber back up off the concrete slab. If we’re in the same near-elderly age group, you know how carefully we must plan our moves nowadays.

03 Since well be working in small spaces between ribs well be using trimmed to fit flexible sanding blocks
For the job at hand, 120-grit abrasives will do nicely. Since we’ll be working in small spaces between ribs, we’ll be using trimmed-to-fit, flexible sanding blocks.

Back in the sanding pit, where we make a lot of dust, our project second-series ’55 Chevy Truck Cab is wearing a first-round urethane primer-surfacer. With adjoining body panels now in the same stage, we’re moving along into fairing (some just call it block-sanding) operations, beginning with the cab.

04 This particular portion of a once larger block fits the grooves fairly well
This particular portion of a once-larger block fits the grooves fairly well. We’re not just sanding back and forth, however. We’re wiggling and jiggling in various directions.

Block Sanding Prep For Primer

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At first the tedious task didn’t seem worthy of a CTP tech story. Then, as I neared the home stretch of my lengthy solo sanding session it occurred to me—the cab’s convoluted running boards would be the most difficult areas to prepare for final primer.

Read More: Replacing the Window and Rear Door Seals on our 1971 Suburban

05 Since repeatedly getting up and down from the concrete slab requires extra effort nowadays
This particular portion of a once-larger block fits the grooves fairly well. We’re not just sanding back and forth, however. We’re wiggling and jiggling in various directions.

Fixing Front-End Collision Damage

Thinking back to when this cab’s bodywork began, both running boards were pretty beat up. They had, after all, endured the truck’s working years—and a serious front-end collision. Out of shape as they were, they weren’t rusted out. As the cab’s heavier damage was corrected with jacks, the running boards followed. Toward the end of that round our lower-horizontal door gaps had returned to what we’d consider normal, too.

06 The guide coat is black like the epoxy primer below
Since repeatedly getting up and down from the concrete slab requires extra effort nowadays, a magnetic blowgun holster lessens the grunting and groaning.

Restoring Vs. Reproduction

In the past (as you may have seen here) we’ve repeatedly worked too long and hard to salvage original body parts. Time invested often adds up to more than reproduction panels, and their shipping costs to boot. This time, however, we believe we’re doing alright—so we might as well take pictures and write about it.

07 For the ribs topsides lets try this modified Dura Block
The guide coat is black, like the epoxy primer below. We’ll need to read our progress. Because the grooves fill and hold primer dust, we’ll keep blowing as we’re going.

Sanding Supplies

As we go you’ll likely notice three-or-so different brands of modified sanding blocks, as well as leading-brand abrasives in use. If your local parts store doesn’t carry auto body supplies, or if they’re just not competitive price-wise, you can always do what we do. For the commonly used paint shop staples, we’re quick to call Summit Racing.

08 It is importance to feel for the difference in the shape of the grooves
For the ribs’ topsides let’s try this modified Dura-Block. From an earlier job, it’s got stiffening paint sticks still affixed.

Paint Primer Application

From here we’ll be working toward this cab’s final primer application. At primetime we’ll pull not one but two HVLP spray guns. The epoxy and urethane primers we’ll use are available to shops here, but not everywhere, and perhaps not where you happen to be. For this reason we’ll focus on the hands-on how-to stuff and not so much the materials used.

Read More: How To Adjust Hood Alignment On A 1955 Chevy Truck

09 Wrapped in adhesive backed abrasives another wooden paint stick makes a great mini longboard
Wrapped in adhesive-backed abrasives, another wooden paint stick makes a great mini longboard. Although the guidecoat helps us see, we also rely on feel.

Knowing this type of work is not completely pleasant. We’ve saved the running boards for last—and they’re positioned pretty close to concrete. While you may not hear it all in print, just know there’ll be some grunting and groaning for sure. Welcome to the sanding pit.

10 Here a wedge shaped sliver of an old Motor Guard scuff pad fits the running boards fore and aft ends
Here a wedge-shaped sliver of an old Motor Guard scuff pad fits the running boards’ fore and aft ends. For this bit of finesse fairing, it’s largely about matching shapes.
11 Pushed around properly the aforementioned paint stick is ideal for finishing off the ribs
Pushed around properly, the aforementioned paint stick is ideal for finishing off the ribs. Our exposed epoxy primer spots are growing. Here the trick is to stop before we see steel.
12 Sometimes the best blocks are found outside of the usual sources
Sometimes the best blocks are found outside of the usual sources. I don’t rightly recall where I found this little plastic tube, but for this concave-horizontal stretch it’s a match.
13 Working our way downward the modified Dura Block again comes into play as were just about finished
Working our way downward, the modified Dura-Block again comes into play as we’re just about finished with fairing operations.
14 Folded three times and gently bent like so the same 120 grit abrasives level fuzz we may have missed around the ribs edges
Folded three times and gently bent like so, the same 120-grit abrasives level fuzz we may have missed around the ribs’ edges. Still, we’ll need to backtrack for one little thing.
15 Here the black arrow on green tape denotes a tiny low spot See the little black dot there
Here the black arrow on green tape denotes a tiny low spot. See the little black dot there? That’s our guide coat doing its job.
16 To straighten the downwardly dinged rib with a hammer and dolly wed need a little room below
To straighten the downwardly dinged rib with a hammer and dolly we’d need a little room below. This low on the cart and we might be able to sneak in with a bull’s-eye pick.
17 In this shop bulls eye picks dont see action every day
In this shop, bull’s-eye picks don’t see action every day. In situations like this one, however, they’re pretty much invaluable.
18 With the low spot relieved its remaining primer is sanded and blown clean
With the low spot relieved, its remaining primer is sanded and blown clean. Here we’ve applied a sparingly small smear of catalyzed glazing putty.
19 The proper block or paint stick selection speeds fairing along
The proper block (or paint stick) selection speeds fairing along—to the point where I actually missed the shot I had in mind. Here we’re just getting the feel of things.
20 a red Scotch Brite pad ensures that nooks and crannies are adequately abraded
Like 320-grit, with a slightly deeper reach, a red Scotch-Brite pad ensures that nooks and crannies are adequately abraded. For this last bit of sanding, it’s a good call.
21 Before spraying our dust is blown off about as well as possible
Before spraying, our dust is blown off about as well as possible. We don’t automatically reach for one of these, but this time we’ll employ an icky-sticky tack rag.
22 The system were using calls for an epoxy primer between prepped metal weve exposed a little and urethane primer surfacer
The system we’re using calls for an epoxy primer between prepped metal (we’ve exposed a little) and urethane primer-surfacer. That’ll be coming up next.
23 Our urethane primer surfacer is reduced as were not going for maximum build
Our urethane primer-surfacer is reduced as we’re not going for maximum build. We’re stoked with our results. Maybe, just maybe, no one will actually step on these.
24 At this point were closing in on color but wait—this is only about running board prep
We’ve worked for it, and here we are, in final prime! At this point we’re closing in on color, but wait—this is only about running board prep.

Sources
Brothers Trucks
(800) 977-2767
brotherstrucks.com

Summit Racing Equipment
(800) 230-3030
summitracing.com

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