DIY Bumper Prep And Paint!

Posted: April 15, 2014 in 300ZX Build
Tags: , , , , ,

Z32 JSPEC J-SPEC DIY PAINT RATTLE CAN TWIN TURBO AH6 CRP CHERRY RED PEARL

Finished up my DIY J-Spec bumper paint job this weekend! When I twin turbo swapped the car last year, I needed a bumper with openings for the added intercoolers. Luckily, I scored a used J-Spec bumper for a great deal a while back, but it was baby blue.

I drove around like that for 6 months or so, until couldn’t stand it anymore. I got estimates around $300 to $400 from body shops (outrageous), and up to $600 if I wanted it “blended” into the fenders & hood. The rest of the car is original paint, and I wanted to keep it that way. So I decided to just tackle the job myself.

Follow along and see just how I did it!

300ZX Z32 ROAD RACING SSR TYPE C NEWHAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY AMPUTEE

There she is, in all her baby blue glory. The bumper served its purpose, and made the car drivable (so I could track the Z  at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last August), but needless to say, the mismatched color got old real quick.

AUTOMOTIVETOUCHUP.COM DIY PAINT BASE CLEAR 3M Z32 JSPEC

I ordered the paint/clear online using the paint code from the under hood VIN plate. The company mixes the color and puts it into spray cans for you. I knew from prior DIY paint projects to pick up the rattle can spray gun adapter as well, it gives you much better results while spraying.

Z32 JSPEC J-SPEC DIY PAINT JOB

Winter was already in full effect by then. With only a kerosine heater in my garage – open flames and paint fumes don’t mix! – I asked my buddy Jay, of JPC Fabrication, if I could use his shop on a slow Saturday (bought him some beers & dinner for the trouble).

Because the blue paint was in great shape with solid integrity, I chose to prep/spray over it – as apposed to taking the entire bumper down to plastic (which would have been a much bigger job). Once the bumper was removed, I used a Scotch Brite pad to rough up the surface of the bumper (followed by some 400 grit). After hitting all the loose dust with an air hose, a pre-prep wax & grease remover was used to remove any remaining sanding dust/dirt.

I also took the time to remove the large tab from the upper “mouth” section of the bumper (which is used to mount Japan’s version of E-ZPass).

Z32 JSPEC J-SPEC CRP CHERRY RED PEARL DIY PAINT JOB

I was able to use JPC’s powdercoat station as my paint area. This worked out great as the powder racks allowed me to hang the bumper for easy access while spraying. After a quick wipe with a tack rag (to remove any final dust), three coats of base were applied, waiting about 10-15 minutes in between. The nose panel to the right is a 1990 model (also baby blue) that didn’t have the dreaded Nissan hamburger logo built into it, it really cleans up the look of the front end.

Z32 TACK RAG DIY PAINT JOB AH3 CRP CHERRY RED PEARL

Rattle can paint tends to go on dry (as the paint already begins to dry as soon as it leaves the can), this can cause a splotchy or striped look if you’re not careful. To remedy this, even “wet” coats were applied with a 4″ overlap, and a tack rag was used in between each coat to remove any excess loose/dry paint, this really helps to smooth out the base coat.

Z32 DIY PAINT JOB RATTLE CAN PAINT MASK RESPIRATOR

Next up was the clear coat, but not before I suited up with a respirator mask. Clear coat contains nasty chemicals that you shouldn’t breathe! In hindsight, I probably should have worn it for the base coat application as well.

Z32 CRP CHERRY RED PEARL DIY PAINT JOB JSPEC J-SPEC

Four wet coats of clear were applied with the same 4″ overlap, waiting about 15 minutes in between each coat. Since clear coat stays soft longer, the tack rag wasn’t used as it would have smeared the clear. My only regret was choosing single stage clear coat. The company sells a stronger 2K rattle can urethane clear that has a catylist that mixes in when you “pop” the bottom of the can. This type of clear is much stronger, and would have probably been better for the Z32’s chip prone bumper. Live and learn.

Z32 JSPEC J-SPEC CRP CHERRY RED PEARL SSR TYPE C

The car sat outside for most of the winter, giving the paint ample time to cure in the sun before wet sanding/buffing (an essential step in the process). The bumper itself barely had any orange peel, but the nose panel was a different story…

Z32 NOSE PANEL CRP CHERRY RED PEARL WET SAND BUFF

Orange peel city! I believe this happened because of its proximity to the powdercoat air recycling system, causing the clear to dry almost instantaneously on contact. The bumper was further away and didn’t have nearly as much peel.

Z32 NOSE PANEL CRP CHERRY RED PEARL DIY PAINT JOB

2000 grit sandpaper was used to wet sand the panel and knock down much of the peel. I didn’t go too crazy because rattle can clear tends to lay thin, and I didn’t want to burn through it. I taped up the edges to prevent burn through where the clear is thinnest (primarily on hard edges).

GRIOTS GARAGE ORBITAL BUFFER 3M RUBBING COMPOUND

I used my Griot’s Garage orbital buffer with some 3M rubbing compound to polish out the sanding marks left by the 2000 grit. I’ve been in love with this buffer ever since first putting it to use restoring the Z’s factory paint for my Detailing 101 post last year!

Z32 NOSE PANEL CRP CHERRY RED PEARL WET SAND BUFF DIY PAINT JOB

Ahh, much better! Check that reflection!! Not too shabby for a DIY rattle can paint job.

Z32 JSPEC J-SPEC DIY PAINT RATTLE CAN TWIN TURBO AH6 CRP CHERRY RED PEARL

The finished product! Once the top of the fenders were polished, you could barely see a difference between the OEM finish, and my rattle can job. Paint & materials cost me around $125, and my labor was free obviously! I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.

Cheers!

Jay

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Comments
  1. Chris says:

    Jesus that looks good!!

  2. Thanks! It’s been over a year now and still holding up nicely as well. Some stone chips and whatnot, but that’s fairly common on Z bumpers even with OEM paint (as the aerodynamics seem to send every rock on the road into the bumper).

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