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Author Topic: GM Heritage Center Documentation / Underbody color  (Read 6832 times)
DavidS
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« on: January 05, 2012, 09:14:52 PM »

I am not sure if this info has been posted but these documents have a lot of GREAT info:

1967 http://gmheritagecenter.com/gm-heritage-archive/docs/Camaro/1967-Chevrolet-Camaro.pdf

1968 http://gmheritagecenter.com/gm-heritage-archive/docs/Camaro/1968-Chevrolet-Camaro.pdf

1969 http://gmheritagecenter.com/gm-heritage-archive/docs/Camaro/1969-Chevrolet-Camaro.pdf

For a long time, I have been curious about what color the underside of a 1969 Camaro should be.  There were quite a few postings that the color black on the underside of a Norwood car is the stuff of showcars.  After reading page 49 (as labeled on the page) "Exterior Paint Process", I would tend to agree that original undersides were primer color.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 03:00:37 AM by KurtS » Logged

69Z28-RS
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2012, 12:31:21 AM »

underside seems to be primer with areas of 'body color' overspray, as they sprayed the lower portions of the car body the underside got some body color..
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2012, 06:58:14 AM »

Agreed.

I have a 69 Z/28 being restored and there were a few sections that had been repainted but it never had a complete repaint.  Here is the underside:



However, for judging, my understanding is that it should be black and not primer color.

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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2012, 08:20:23 AM »

Especially the AMA charts. Same as the snail mail package you could request and same poor quality on a few pages, but it's great to have them downloadable. Thanks for sharing!
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2012, 10:57:10 AM »

The question of what color to paint the underbody is not a trivial one for me.  My hope is to have the Z/28 as a judged trailer queen for a few years and then use the car for local driving and car show.  I am trying to have it restored as correctly as possible.  But if there is a deduction of points due to the underside not being black then I am not sure what to do  Huh  Huh  Huh

The car will probably be ready for paint in a few weeks.

I have read through the GM info:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EXTERIOR PAINT PROCESS

1. RUSTPROOFING.  Assembled car bodies are chemically sprayed to clean and etch the metal surfaces for corrosion resistance and paint adhesion.  Unassembled sheet metal parts follow the same process.

2.  BODY AND SHEET METAL PRIMERS.  Four corrosion resistant primers, specially formulated are had sprayed on the body in areas where rust might develop.  Lower areas considered especially vulnerable are coated with another rust inhibiting compound.

3.  PRIMER COAT is applied to all outside and inside surfaces of front fenders and hoods.  The parts are mechanically dipped or flow-coated to insure coating in all seams and secluded areas, and baked at 390 degrees F for 30 minutes.  A coat of sealer is then applied by hand spray to all surfaces requiring another coat of lacquer.

4.  FLASH PRIMER AND PRIMER-SURFACER COATS.  An air-dry flash primer coat is hand sprayed on surfaces below the body belt line.  Then a gray primer-surfacer coat is hand sprayed on all outside surfaces of the body and oven baked for 45 minutes at 285 degrees F.

5.  INITIAL SANDING.  Power wet sanding, followed by hand sanding, is done on all body surfaces requiring lacquering.  This insures a smooth surface for the lacquer finish.  To remove the water, the body is wiped and run through an infra-red oven.

6.  LACQUERING.  Three coats of acrylic lacquer are spread on the exterior surfaces of the body and sheet metal parts to build up a finish of the required thickness for each color.

7.  INITIAL BAKING………….etc through step 11.
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JohnZ
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2012, 02:42:41 PM »

<<The question of what color to paint the underbody is not a trivial one for me.  My hope is to have the Z/28 as a judged trailer queen for a few years and then use the car for local driving and car show.  I am trying to have it restored as correctly as possible.  But if there is a deduction of points due to the underside not being black then I am not sure what to do >>     



Have you read the Fisher Body Paint Shop portion of the First-Generation Camaro Assembly Process Report? Painting the underbody black is a typical restoration mistake.

http://www.camaros.org/assemblyprocess.shtml
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2012, 02:59:33 PM »

Have you read the Fisher Body Paint Shop portion of the First-Generation Camaro Assembly Process Report? Painting the underbody black is a typical restoration mistake.

http://www.camaros.org/assemblyprocess.shtml

I did read that John and that's why I started researching this.  I believe you are absolutely correct.

What is baffling is that it does not seem to be just a restoration mistake, but it is a widespread held belief that they should be black.  From very high end restoration places to judges.  However, it is documented both through you and through GM that the underside is  primer.  At that point, it's not a subjective issue.  It is GM documented, historian documented, and at least on my car is proven out by physical evidence.
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2012, 08:38:30 AM »

Coverage of the primer is also different from one plant to another, the bodys at norwood sat on trucks that rolled along tracks on the floor with the bottom of the body about 18" off the floor, while the bodys at LA hung from a ceiling mounted track which allowed more access to the underneath portions of the cars.   Your lucky if the center area under a Norwood car got anything more than a light dusting of primer.  Body color was not painted by humans, but by fixed and reciprocating spray heads along the sides and top of the spray booth.  Think of a car wash that sprays paint instead of water, no one painted the main body color by hand at the plant, except in the repair booth area to fix damage and or missed spots.  Stripes and blackout treatments were painted by hand later in the process.
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Mark C.
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2012, 10:45:46 AM »

Thanks Mark.  The information from you and JohnZ are very helpful in understanding how things should be restored. 

For incorrect black underbody restorations, I have two theories how it started:

Theory 1)  In the GM instructions, Step 1 (etching) and possibly Step 2 (rust inhibiting compound) left areas that were black.   This caused people restoring cars today to believe that the underside must have black. 

Theory 2) People believed that black looked better or was more durable than primer.  They started restoring cars this way and it became accepted practice.

Out of the huge number of restoration pictures I have seen, I have only seen one underbody that was primer color.
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2012, 11:52:04 AM »

Just to clarify, what color is the primer on the underside?
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68Z28
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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2012, 12:11:11 PM »

... I have two theories how it started...
A third could be that is was very common (at least in the rust belt) for dealers to undercoat cars.  The underbody on my car was completely covered in black undercoating.  It sure saved the floors, so I left it.  Not factory correct for judging, but 'as-delivered' correct.
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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2012, 01:51:43 PM »

David Thanks for posting the links for the documents that kind of information is a tremendous asset to us restoring cars. I researched allot of original cars trying to understand how my car was originally painted. The assembly information that JohnZ provided really answered a lot of my questions but then I looked at other clues and other cars and had more unanswered questions. 35 years ago I worked for a shop that had more original low milage original Corvettes & muscle cars come thru the doors than any other shop that I can remember at that time. This ingrained me with a believe that originality & restoring it as it left the factory is most important to my restoration.
My car came out of Colorado, was covered underneath with oil, grease, and sandy dirt. All of witch saved the bottom of the car finish. After cleaning it I found really nice original BLACK paint. At the front of the tunnel and low on the firewall I see grey primer misting back OVER the black paint but just 6-12" back on the bottom of the floor. The firewall blackout paint is sprayed over the grey primer above this area. This same grey primer was found inside the car and under the vinyl top. Apparent that the factory didn't paint the entire roof if it was getting a vinyl top. In the trunk area I found red oxide primer on the top of the rear seat panel and near the lock support. At that point I didn't know how I was going the paint the bottom of the car. After cleaning I believe the bottom was painted black, the outside surfaces and in the trunk were painted red oxide primer, then the topside painted panels, and inside overspray, were painted grey filler primer. I will post a couple pictures showing what I found on a Norwood car built Nov 1968.
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NoYenko
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« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2012, 02:28:45 PM »

A couple other related pictures. I can't understand why there is no paint under the one exhaust hanger and I would have thought the blackout paint on the rockers would have been painted after the front end was on but this picture shows a masked line over the Lemans blue on an area covered by the fender normally.
I have other pictures if you are looking for more.
I really enjoy these kind of posts, Thanks.
George
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DavidS
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« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2012, 04:44:45 PM »

Wow!  NoYenko, I did not expect to see so much black primer.  When I look at the GM instructions, the last step with primer is step 4 and it is a gray primer.  If black primer was put on it would have been done earlier in step 2 when the instructions say 4 corrosion primers were put sprayed on by hand.

Jeff68, your 3rd theory sounds reasonable too.  

I have a 4th theory: There is too much variation considering 4 corrosion primers applied in GM instruction step 2 and the gray primer applied in step 4.  To make judging guidelines uniform and make the underbody look neat and tidy, everyone should paint their underside floor pans 30-percent gloss black (and add a little overspray).

Also, I could not find specifics in JohnZ’s write up where black primer was put on.  

from JohnZ
---------------------
"Prime System: In the first prime booth, the entire body, inside and out, was manually sprayed with primer, and confined areas subject to corrosion were given a second coat of heavier primer material; this prime coat was then baked at 390F for 30 minutes. In the second prime booth, the instrument panel and rear of the shelf area (and the upper door and quarter areas of 1967-68 models) were painted interior color, and another coat of air-dry flash primer was sprayed from the belt line down. The interior color areas were masked, and the entire outer body was sprayed with gray primer-surfacer and the body was baked again at 285F for 45 minutes."

Based on the GM instructions and John’s write-up, I would expect the majority of the underbody to be gray primer.

68Zproject, you have the bottomline question:
what color is the primer on the underside?
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« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2012, 05:02:28 PM »

Black paint, or black phosphate coating?
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Mark C.
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« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2012, 05:32:14 PM »

I have a clearer idea on what you are saying now Mark when you wrote "Your lucky if the center area under a Norwood car got anything more than a light dusting of primer".    Step 4 gray primer was not a thorough application of primer.  Therefore when we look at the underside we are looking at whatever was put on in either Step 1 or Step 2.
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« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2012, 09:17:40 PM »

My floors have lots of overspray. Where overspray was knocked off, its black under:






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« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2012, 10:06:23 PM »

My floors have lots of overspray. Where overspray was knocked off, its black under:

It's black primer, correct?

Is your car a Norwood car?  What's the build date?

My car is a 01B, 2nd week of Jan 1969.
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Oaklyss
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« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2012, 10:13:08 PM »

It's whatever GM put there Grin

O4A LA car. Original paint, the overspray is factory applied.
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« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2012, 10:27:06 PM »

It's whatever GM put there Grin

HA!!!   Smiley

At first I thought that it's "Four corrosion resistant primers, specially formulated" and "hand sprayed".  But you don't see black all over the rest of the body.

However, when I read the rest of step 2 it states "Lower areas considered especially vulnerable are coated with another rust inhibiting compound."

So my best guess is that the black areas are "rust inhibiting compound".





« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 12:07:54 AM by DavidS » Logged

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« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2012, 12:15:33 AM »

Maybe it's "hammerite" which came out in 1962 ?
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« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2012, 12:53:36 AM »

Maybe it's "hammerite" which came out in 1962 ?

Wow!  You may be on to something.  I googled that.  Hammerite is zinc phosphate based. 
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NoYenko
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« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2012, 09:52:35 AM »

Many years ago we used GM restoration paint in Gal. cans for Corvette restorations. Currant # 1050104 available from dealer or other suppliers. I don't know if it still matches the paint from 30 years ago.
Maybe someone has recently used it and can give feed back.
George
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« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2012, 10:21:10 AM »

At a place I used to work, we did material analysis with machines like this one:
http://www.helmut-fischer.de/independent/31/XAN_en.asp
And this one:
http://www.helmut-fischer.de/independent/31/XUV773_en.asp
If I had samples of each and I could get a few favors at Fischer, a comparison could be made between black samples from a couple cars and Hammerite.

….or…..maybe I am nuts and should just go 30% gloss black and call it a day.
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« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2012, 12:20:31 PM »

David, if you have connections, I think that would be a worthwhile project.  I don't have a survivor car, but hopefully others would agree to submit samples for analysis.
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« Reply #25 on: January 08, 2012, 02:48:42 PM »

I have connections and used to work at Fischer.  I would have to talk to my former boss and see if he would agree to some testing.  I don't think it would be a big deal for him though.

However, if JohnZ or anyone else knows what "another rust inhibiting compound" actually is, this might be resolved quickly.



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68Zproject
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« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2012, 05:57:46 PM »

Just to clarify, what color is the primer on the underside?

 
Black paint, or black phosphate coating?

Or whatever it's called.  The question for my LOS car would be; what color was underneath it before the exterior paints were applied?  And what was the color of the primer that was sprayed that "oversprayed" onto the bottom of the car?  From my reading, there should be a lot more of this on LOS cars as they were higher off the ground when sprayed.
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« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2012, 06:28:26 PM »

I was just under a 68 Z/28 survivor this week observing things for our restoration and the only color other than the body overspray underneath was black. Our Oct. 69 Norwood car is a TN never undercoated Camaro and other than the Lemans Blue overspray it's all black. I honestly do not remember working on a car with a gray bottom but that does not mean they do not exist as I'm sure they do somewhere.
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« Reply #28 on: January 08, 2012, 06:39:40 PM »

I would have thought the blackout paint on the rockers would have been painted after the front end was on but this picture shows a masked line over the Lemans blue on an area covered by the fender normally.

The body was painted by Fisher, including the rocker blackout, in their Paint Shop; the front sheet metal was painted separately by Chevrolet, in their Paint Shop, including the continuation of the rocker blackout on the lower fender, before the front sheet metal was assembled to the body, as noted in the Assembly Manual in the Z21 and Z22 sections.
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« Reply #29 on: January 08, 2012, 07:18:50 PM »

So John, do you know what the color of the bottom of the Camaro should be and what was this color made of?  And what was the color of the primer that was sprayed by hand that overspryed under the car?  Was this color more pronounced on LOS cars vs. NOR cars because of the height on the lines?
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« Reply #30 on: January 08, 2012, 07:58:39 PM »

JohnZ you never seize to amaze me with your knowledge & memory. There it is noted on page 453. I heard your pretty involved in NCRS, do you know if the Corvette guys are using the GM restoration paint, or how they feel about it?
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« Reply #31 on: January 08, 2012, 10:42:13 PM »

So John, do you know what the color of the bottom of the Camaro should be and what was this color made of?  And what was the color of the primer that was sprayed by hand that overspryed under the car?  Was this color more pronounced on LOS cars vs. NOR cars because of the height on the lines?

Hopefully John can answer this and of course John would know much better than I would.

but going by the GM instructions, comments, and pictures of the cars posted, here is my conjecture:

step 2 - black primer and in vulnerable areas a black compound like Hammerite is applied by hand

step 4 - the entire body is painted in gray primer. Again, applied by hand.  Since in a NOR car the underbody is only 18" off the ground and not easily accessible, areas that recieved gray primer were inconsistent.  I have no idea about a LOS car but I would think they could easily end up with a lot more gray primer.

I started out believing that underbodies were supposed to be gray primer color and right now I believe they are mostly black with some sections that have gray primer.

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« Reply #32 on: January 09, 2012, 10:53:57 AM »

JohnZ you never seize to amaze me with your knowledge & memory. There it is noted on page 453. I heard your pretty involved in NCRS, do you know if the Corvette guys are using the GM restoration paint, or how they feel about it?

I don't recall the primer colors, although Van Nuys probably used a different formulation due to their environmental restrictions.

The GM Restoration paint (black) really didn't have much application on the Corvette, as the only black used on the body (other than exterior black) was the underhood blackout on the firewall, inner fenders, and underside of the hood; it was a flattened cheap black lacquer, sprayed after the final bake oven, which air-dried. On the exterior, Corvette used red oxide primer, then gray primer, then sealer, then color lacquer, and there was no paint of any kind on the underbody - just raw fiberglass.
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« Reply #33 on: January 09, 2012, 01:26:37 PM »

I wonder if color pictures exist showing the underside on either the NOR or LOS assembly lines.

In John's terrific write-up, he has these two pictures:

#1
   

#2
   

#3    GM has this picture which is similar to picture #1 - Van Nyes (LOS) assembly line for 67 Camaros
   

has anyone ever seen a color picture that is similar to picture #2 ?
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« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2012, 02:24:04 PM »

The underbodies on most of the original cars I've looked out are primarily (90%) black as the last "primer" and then have body color overspray over the black to varying degrees. Usually the upper areas such as over the axle and the tunnel areas have more grey primer, rather than black. That's typically what I have seen but in a few cases I have seen primarily grey primer on the lower areas and black primer in the tunnel and overaxle areas. What I recommend is closely examining the car prior to resto, document your findings with pictures and replicate what you have found during the restoration. The pics NOYENKO posted is typical of what I have seen and serve as a good reference.
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« Reply #35 on: January 10, 2012, 12:06:56 PM »

Heres a couple of pics. Ironically a few pics are from a Yenko we certified a few years ago.
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« Reply #36 on: January 10, 2012, 12:15:28 PM »

I believe the photos I posted show the grey primer was applied first and then the black . The black in most cases did not cover the "hard to reach upper areas" such as upper tunnel, over axle and lower firewall.
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« Reply #37 on: January 10, 2012, 12:45:18 PM »

Great pictures Steve! 

It would be great if what the pictures show could be matched against the GM instructions.  Is it possible that the gray primer in step 4 went on over black primer in step 2?



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« Reply #38 on: February 06, 2012, 11:48:13 AM »

The drop offs and rear rails extensions are gray as well.
04C Norwood










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James
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Check out the Black 69 RS/Z28 45k mile Survivor and the Lemans Blue 69 Z 10D frame off...
https://picasaweb.google.com/112392262205377424364/1969_Z28_Restoration
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« Reply #39 on: February 06, 2012, 04:12:37 PM »

Pictures of my '69 Van Nuys 04B underside as well as the factory green firewall - go figure.   Whatever the paint material was (primar or paint), the underside was clearly black throughout with significant body color overspray.  The car is an original SoCal car - never spending anytime outside of the area.  I found no signs of non-factory undercoating anywhere. 

Regarding the green firewall - my only guess is they ran out of black paint that day and dark green was the closest alternative. 

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http://www.littooy.com/hans/
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« Reply #40 on: May 21, 2014, 12:23:25 PM »

Pictures of my '69 Van Nuys 04B underside as well as the factory green firewall - go figure.   Whatever the paint material was (primar or paint), the underside was clearly black throughout with significant body color overspray.  The car is an original SoCal car - never spending anytime outside of the area.  I found no signs of non-factory undercoating anywhere.  

Regarding the green firewall - my only guess is they ran out of black paint that day and dark green was the closest alternative.  
If your car is dark green then the firewall just got sprayed with body color... there was an original 68 Sequoia green car with complete Sequoia green firewall.

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James
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Check out the Black 69 RS/Z28 45k mile Survivor and the Lemans Blue 69 Z 10D frame off...
https://picasaweb.google.com/112392262205377424364/1969_Z28_Restoration
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« Reply #41 on: May 22, 2014, 06:32:31 PM »


Regarding the green firewall - my only guess is they ran out of black paint that day and dark green was the closest alternative. 
If your car is dark green then the firewall just got sprayed with body color... there was an original 68 Sequoia green car with complete Sequoia green firewall.


69 69 Cortez Silver Car.   I've seen a few others LA Cars, same build week (Daytona Yellow & another silver LA car) that also had the green fire wall.  It's metallic as well!

Hans
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« Reply #42 on: May 22, 2014, 10:42:26 PM »

That would be great to see the judges looking at an unrestored Daytona Yellow car with a Green firewall...

Ford during the 30's-40's used left overs of paint, mixed it all together and used it to dip parts for shipment to dealers etc, most of the time it was black or dark brown, I am sure there were short instances of some off colors.
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James
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Check out the Black 69 RS/Z28 45k mile Survivor and the Lemans Blue 69 Z 10D frame off...
https://picasaweb.google.com/112392262205377424364/1969_Z28_Restoration
janobyte
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1968 z/28

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« Reply #43 on: May 23, 2014, 05:38:34 AM »

I'll post some pics of mine before it gets covered up . Red Oxide final before bare metal--liberal from mid car back/frame rails.traces of gray was in the tunnel/front.Black--body color overspray/liberal---undercoat. Took it down with water based stripper, which pretty much allowed 1 layer at a time to come off. The Ash Gold weeped . Almost half the underbody had body color overspray on the driver's side,very little on the pass. My bodyman went with another supplier for the GM blackout, suppose to be higher quality---very happy with the shade. Guy doing my car wanted to replicate the overspray underneath ,I'm out on that.
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NoYenko
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« Reply #44 on: May 23, 2014, 05:27:14 PM »

Since this thread was brought up again I thought I would post some pictures of my floor after painting. I had found black on the bottom with grey primer overspray on the front 20". The slightly duller firewall blackout paint sprayed over the grey primer on the firewall vertical surface. The sides of the floor and rear frame rails received body color overspray. I could not figure out how to accurately reproduce the grey paint runs found at the firewall to floor seam so I didn't do that. George
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NoYenko
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« Reply #45 on: May 23, 2014, 05:46:15 PM »

Couple more shots.
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Mike S
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« Reply #46 on: May 23, 2014, 06:08:59 PM »

George,

  Did you spray the car? If so, approximately what spray fan size did you use and how much overlap did you do under the rockers with the blue coat to get that factory look?

Thanks,
Mike
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67 LOS SS/RS L35 Hardtop - Original w/UOIT
67 NOR SS/RS L35 Convertible - Restored
NoYenko
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« Reply #47 on: May 23, 2014, 06:50:35 PM »

Mike, I did not spray it but ill try to find out the answer. The car was painted Ohare Auto Body in Bensenville IL. I thought they did an outstanding job, other than covering up most of the lightly stamped date codes. But I can be slightly anal sometimes. George
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janobyte
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1968 z/28

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« Reply #48 on: May 23, 2014, 07:38:18 PM »

Very pretty under your car George. Blue works Cheesy.....Ash Gold does not Angry

What you wrote falls exactly in line what I found under my Z. Wondered why the gray ? ( and front 20% pretty accurate)

under my tank (trunk) was barely any coverage what so ever ,had the car sat out over the years , it would have long since rotted away. presented almost as bare metal with very lite surface rust.

Looks like you pretty much nailed what it might have looked like before the undercoating.
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