This concept illustration created by Chris Brown is a 1986 Dodge Ram – it's a project I started in 2006 during my tenure as editor of CUSTOM CLASSIC TRUCKS. The Dodge was billed as the "High School Custom." If one Google's Dodge Ram D150RT the article will pop up with images. The premise was, what could a high school kid or anyone who wanted to get behind the wheel of classic truck build for super low-bucks if they tried? I bought the Dodge for $500.

After a few mechanical tech features it wasn't long before the High School Custom went to college and the students in Riverside City College's autobody program got busy. The RCC instructors spearheading the project were Jerry Sievers and Mark Williams. The Dodge was at the college for almost a dozen semesters and provided numerous students a hands-on experience bodyworking and painting a "complete" from start to finish.

The drive from my Orange County base to RCC is just a little over 40 miles. I loaded up a gallon of Summit Racing's DTM epoxy primer and headed out to the college more than a few times during the project. There were students male and female alike who were quite dedicated to doing the best job they could. However, there was one know-it-all guy who really stands out in my memory of some of the trials and tribulations the students endured getting the Dodge ready for paint. I was watching the know-it-all grind the passenger side door down from silver bare steel into a cherry red glow that left a smoldering trail of warped purple metal. Typical of a know-it-all, he wasn't open to suggestions and the students around him cringed because they knew one of them was going to have to clean up his mess.

Generally, an area of the truck, such as along the bedsides, the doors, or on the hood would be worked to perfection by an advanced student and then a student from a little lower on the learning curve would jump in and create a problem to be repaired. It's one thing to work with virgin body panels, but it takes a real "golden hammer" to be able to shape overworked sheetmetal back into something that matches original lines. Then advanced students would hop back on it and bring things back above par. A good learning experience for all concerned.

In 2013 Jerry called me and said his current class had the Dodge ready to go into color, and asked if I like to come out to watch it get sprayed. I said sure and hoped it was as straight as an arrow because I had decided against light blue; I wanted it to go black. I'm sure most of you reading this realize nothing reveals imperfections more, or confirms the bodywork is perfect, more than the color black...and yes, black is a color. In pigment theory, black is the presence of all color and in light theory black is the absence of all color. Anyway, the body was straighter than new and the DTM epoxy was ready to accept a coat of Auto-Air Colors water-based sealer, followed by Auto-Air Colors pure black.

Beyond the merits of using a paint that's absolutely VOC free, being water-based, Auto-Air Colors allow a second chance if things go wrong in the booth. It's something that at times can happen to even the best of painters. On the first passes a massive infestation of fisheyes makes the surface look like a cheese pizza or a heavy hand can create beaucoup runs. With solvent-based paints, washing the paint off to start over requires using thinner, or reducer, but all it takes for water-based is a garden hose.

After the Auto-Air Colors basecoat color has been completed there is no window to worry about before the clear topcoat must be applied. Unlike a specified amount of hours this means the day after or two weeks later like in the case of what the RCC students did with my Dodge. In this month's article we've covered spraying Auto-Air Colors water-based sealer and color followed by the application of Summit Racing's high-solids fast-drying urethane clear. In next month's edition we'll show how to color sand and rub Summit Racing's urethane clear followed with a spiffy polish and wax...spiffy?

SOURCE
Summit Racing
Akron
OH
800-230-3030
330-630-0240
http://www.summitracing.com/
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