No matter the vehicle you have, the paint job is the most visible aspect. It protects the body of the vehicle and makes it visually appealing. Protecting the metals and parts from harsh weather conditions is critical for extending the life of the vehicle. If you’re lucky enough to run across a vintage restoration project, the paint may need your assistance.
Let’s review how to properly paint a WWII military Jeep to ensure you’re on the right track!
Importance of a Paint Job
The most visible aspect of any vehicle is its paint job. Regardless of the details in the restoration or how meticulous you are in choosing the right shade of olive drab, improper preparation of the vehicle’s body can lead to chipped paint or increased wear on body parts.
Today’s hobbyists and restorationists need to understand this important thing; you will never truly be able to apply an authentic paint job to any vehicle. Several factors contribute to this, including reduced labor costs, environmental laws, and a lack of original manufacturing practices from when the cars were made.
If these manufacturing ideas and practices were still around, we wouldn’t want to use them. From a performance and application standpoint, these finishes were lacking. With that in mind, these manufacturers used equipment that today’s restorationists can only imagine.
Though hobbyists and restorationists can’t get their hands on any of this original equipment, they have user convenience on their side. The improved quality and chemicals of these finishes allow them to apply the finishes right in their backyard. In 1940, this would have been the dream. But this can also lead to an over-eager hobbyist.
Today, the paint and finishes are more modern and carefully put together. But the secret to lasting paint jobs remains the same as in the 40s and beyond: thorough and precise preparation of the surface. This is often where many try to cut corners. However, if you cut corners, you lose out on great, long-term results.
It would be best if you considered where your paint is coming from. A supplier with quality military vehicle paint for sale will typically offer parts and other components for your project. A supplier like Army Jeep Parts has reliable finishes and products, so there won’t be any gaps in project needs.
It can be challenging to find a supplier that doesn’t have an influx of professional clients, so locating one that tailors its services to hobbyists is essential to your project. We can offer advice, insight, and proper paint detailing.
Here are a few tips for a proper preparation and paint job:
Commonly, restorationists will prefer a motor-pool style restoration. This consists of washing the vehicle thoroughly and sanding it down as a starting point. It’s common to find oil residue, tufts of grease, and even leaky seals, but you need to thoroughly clean them to ensure the best adhesion. Without a thorough wash, you risk clogged pores, deep gouges, and extra work with vintage military vehicles specifically.
Removing the rust and properly treating the metals is vital before any paint components can go on the parts. This applies to situations of extreme rust. You will want to remove the large pieces and sandblast the troubled areas. Consider employing the help of a professional service provider or using hobby-grade equipment to go at it independently.
Motor-pooling will work best on existing well-preserved vehicles. A quality sanding is sufficient, but ensure you buff down to the original primer for the best finishing results.
A chemical stripper is an alternative to sandblasting. You must follow the safety instructions on any chemical option, but in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, chemical strippers work excellent. Also, maintain alertness to any disposal and environmental concerns.
You must address any body flaws when sanding or stripping the surface. You’ll need to correct things such as holes and rust. Leaving these will essentially counteract any other finishings or restoration aspects. It’s worth noting that rust happens naturally via mother nature and could keep happening, so keep this in mind as you make your way through the project.
The severity of the damage will call for a range of treatments and repairs. Some may call for welding, new paneling, or body filler. Don’t skip any of these needs.
Should the paneling have a lot of imperfections, stripping it to bare steel is best. Apply a skim coat of body filler and smooth over the indentations. Be aware that welded joints were visible when these military vehicles were new. But their civilian counterparts often had these parts filled while in the factory.
When the filler settles, use a dual-action sander to sand the majority of the residue off.
Sanding can expose things like air pockets, so applying a coat of glazing putty can fill anything that appears. It can also provide gap-filling to any small but imperfect particles that the human eye can easily miss. You can use a spatula or plastic trowel to apply your glazing putty.
Sand over the glazing putty to create a smooth, glass-like surface.
An epoxy primer is the most considerable next step if you’re completing a total restoration. During WWII, an epoxy primer was not in the lineup, but it would seal the metal completely and protect it from moisture. When moisture reaches the metals, you risk corrosion. When it comes to WWII vehicles, their matte finishes are very porous, and if these vehicles are outside often, the epoxy step is critical.
A rather common thing many hobbyists skip or miss is applying a pre-prep grease and wax remover, which removes any skin oils and ensures the best adhesion to the metals. If there isn’t a firm bond, the primer and every layer following have a higher chance of lifting.
If you skipped an epoxy primer or you didn’t strip your vehicle fully, you must use a conventional primer. Typically, traditional primer works well with the existing surfaces. However, ensure the primer and finishes are compatible with one another. If you’re unsure, reach out to Army Jeep Parts for confirmation.
Regardless of your priming preference, it will require more than one coat for the best coverage. Using 180 to 220 grit, sand in between each application.
For superior results, sanding blocks are available in various sizes and shapes and allow you to access hard-to-reach areas.
It’s a rather large undertaking to restore a vintage vehicle, and depending on its condition and size, the bodywork process requires diligence and patience. But remember, to receive the results you desire, you must prepare your canvas adequately.
To learn more about how to properly paint a WWII military Jeep, reach out to Army Jeep Parts today!