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1966 Triumph Spitfire

I've been lurking here for a long time, asking questions here and there, but mainly absorbing all of the great information and making my way down track. I'm happy with where I've gotten, but as I draw closer to paint, I need some help. Please bear with me as this will be long...(and I'm using SPI exclusively, including base).

I am a rookie with body work and paint. I've got everything as straight as I believe I can get and I've been through several rounds of epoxy, filler, build primer, etc. on every panel. I am doing this in a climate controlled garage, but my spray booth consists of plastic sheeting hung from the ceiling and a box fan and few air filters to move some air.

Today I blocked out my hood (or bonnet, more properly) following build primer and am happy with how straight it is. However, I'm concerned for my sanding scratches. Until just today, I've done all of my blocking by hand because I was concerned on causing more harm than good with a powered tool (and a small car helps). But, due to my lack of experience, I'm afraid that I've left sanding scratches that will not be filled by paint. I understand that each successive round of sanding should remove the scratches from the previous until there are none. However, since I haven't developed a feel for when I should move to the next higher grit, I'm afraid I may have to go back. As I mentioned, today I used my 3M orbital sander (model 20325, 3/16" orbit) with 320-grit (after blocking by hand with 150 and 220 following build primer) and then moved to 400-grit. Bonnet is very smooth...but I can see scratches. I can't feel them with my bare hand (even closing my eyes), but I can see them. I guess my question is...should the panel look perfect as well as feel perfect? I'd really hate to think I'm all set and put base down and see those scratches staring up at me, laughing...

I was so happy with the orbital sander that I am considering the following: shoot the bonnet with 2 coats of full-strength epoxy (I have some minor bare metal spots), then follow that up with 2 coats of build primer. Then, since I've already blocked it and am happy with the straightness, go right to 220-grit on the orbital (or can I get away with 320-grit?) and work up to 400-grit. Then, hand wet in 600 as my final prep...then reduced epoxy and shoot base.

I've enclosed a few pics of the scratches, but they may be worthless to you...not sure if you can really use a picture to determine.

My next problem, considering I come through this, is applying the base coat / clear coat. The bonnet of a Spitfire, for those that don't know, is all one piece (last pic)...much like a Jag XKE, but with the added disadvantage that you can't take any of it apart. That makes it logistically difficult. My thought is that I get the underside of the bonnet all prepped, then shoot base and clear. Wait some amount of time until it's all cured, flip it and paint the outside in base and clear. My concerns for this would be how long to wait...the bonnet, while not heavy (I can pick it up by myself to move it around) would rest on a scissor rack during painting. I'd hate to destroy the inside paint because of putting weight on it before it was "ready". I'll accept any tape lines that I have because of doing it this way. My intention would be to get the bonnet 100% ready for base and clear, then shoot the inside, flip it, then the outside, masking to minimize visible tape lines as much as possible while preventing overspray.

Whew...sorry...I know that was a lot. I am starting to spin my wheels a bit on my path ahead and didn't want to make a mistake that would undo all of the work that I've done up to this point. You guys have always been great in answering all of my questions so far and I'm usually able to search for answers without asking...I know this is a big one, but it's unique and I appreciate all of you spending the time to read through and maybe provide some wisdom.

Thanks so much,

Close-up of some scratches. The dark spot on the left (about the size of a dime) is build primer, the lighter grey is the epoxy, and the white is some polyester filler. These are post-400-grit orbital sander scratches.
Some more scratches, about as close, scale-wise, as above. These are post-400-grit orbital sander scratches.

The car on the day I brought her home, August 23, 2014. My youngest in the driver's seat. You can see the bonnet design.
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Definitely needs more sanding before spraying anything. Those scratches look too deep. I wouldn't use a DA sander at this stage. All the blocking and priming steps you have done can be ruined rather quickly. Get some dry guide coat (applied liberally) and block by hand with 180 or 220. Sand until all the guide coat is gone then 2 coats epoxy. Look it over and if there is anything you don't like, (there probably will be), then you can spray more 2K the next day. The guide coat will prevent what you are seeing. Just use it between grits. As far as your bonnet, the best way would be to build a stand out of metal or wood that would allow you to paint both sides at the same time, something that would let you bolt it to the hinges in the front and rest on the latch area in the rear, allowing you to tilt it forward to do the underside. If not that, make sure you lay it on something soft, (like blankets on a couple stands), do the underside, wait at least a day or 2, (1 day in the sun would really help), mask it off, then flip it over on your stand and blanket setup and do the outside.
Painting the underside the same color as the body? or Black? You can stand the bonnet on its end on the ground and paint both sides ...if its a solid color. If you're shooting a metallic you should shoot the outside on the complete car with the bonnet installed. Got any new pics of your progress?
Thanks, guys. I have been brainstorming on a stand and I think the best way to orientate it to get at most of the areas is nose down, using the hinges like texasking says, but I'm not sure I can figure out how to get at everything with one stand and orientation. If I stand it on it's end (nose up) I'm afraid I'll miss a lot of spots up high. Not sure...I'll have to do a few dry runs, but I think I'll have to go in two steps...great advice on that, thanks! I will be painting it in SPI Medium Red, which the rest of the car will be in as well.

As far as pics go, yes I have thousands (literally). Here are some more covering the start of the restoration. The pictures uploaded in reverse chronological order. IMG_2912.JPG
Except for final routing of fuel lines and tightening suspension bolts, the chassis is ready to go.

Motor all rebuilt, ready for run-in.

Front of chassis with suspension and steering in.

One side of the suspension all rebuilt and installed (mostly).

Frame all cleaned and painted (POR-15...sorry, I hadn't found SPI yet...a big regret now).

Some frame repair. There is an outrigger that goes here that's been removed. A bad spot, historically, for these cars. A "class problem" as we called it in the Navy.

Body off and set in the back of the garage, waiting patiently for repair and restoration.

What the front looked like after pulling the motor. Just a little bit of a difference.

And so it begins...the start of the tear-down.
Stand it on end and use a stool or short ladder to get the high stuff, like painting a truck. The Spit is looking great, man that'll be a fun car! I had two later ones, very cool to drive. On the rest of the body go spi epoxy first, on everything.
Here's some more. Figured out the picture order this time. IMG_2943.JPG
Front bottom of the driver's firewall.

My very first weld repair. Lap weld (mistake). Not pretty, either.

Cancer at the seam between the front bottom of the B-post and the rocker (or sill, as the Brits call it).

Inside bottom of the B-post (inside passenger compartment).

Lower A-post cut away for repair.

The front of the bonnet, showing the meta-to-filler interface. Almost 1/2" thick in some spots.

Lower B-post cut away for replacement.

And replaced. Used a good section of the sill I removed to make this since the curvature was the same. IMG_3420.JPG
Lower B-post on passenger's side. Same place as the repaired area above.
And some more. I'll stop for now.

Passenger's side floor removed, lower A post toast.

Floor now in, lower A post gone and needing repairs to the bottom of the upper A post.

Except for the bonnet, the only place where I found accident damage, surprisingly. Yes, this was all filler. That crease over the slide hammer holes was a real PIA!

Back of the passenger's rear fender (wheel arch). This one wasn't as bad...

...as the driver's side. Yup, just filler stuffed int there.

Entire bottom of the rear valance was gone, as you can see in some of the bottom of the trunk (boot) floor. I replaced that section, but not the whole floor.

Repairs to the driver's side rear wheel arch tacked in. Looks good here, but my welding was horrible and I warped the hell out of it. My worst repair by far. I ended up cutting out and redoing the whole upper seam.

Passenger's side. I was much more careful on this side and it went much, much better.

New rear valance going in. Nice that you can still get a lot of whole body panels for these things, and I didn't think they were horribly expensive, either. Both floors, lower A posts and rocker panel assemblies were under $1000, direct from England.

Driver's side rocker (sill) installed. New lower A post is in behind there. Body is back on chassis to allow me to align everything, including the doors, as the sills are structural even though the car has a frame.