Monday, October 15, 2012


This week I thought I'd go through what's involved in bringing the exterior of Clarabelle back to life. This series of shots explains it all!

This is the area I decided to focus on. It was painted by me with a cheap acrylic paint several years ago after stripping off the remains of the original paint and giving it a good sanding. But the cheap paint hasn't lasted and needs replacing.

First I go over the whole area with my sander and 40 grit paper. I call this the investigator stage where I use the sander to ask questions about the integrity of the remaining paint and the underlaying surface. This is where I find any problems that need attention.

Here I've raked the seams of the matchboard and cleaned them out. More problems can be revealed at this stage, particularly gaps between the matchboard that will need to be either closed by repinning or filled with a suitable filler. This job is best done with No-Gaps, exterior grade, or similar acrylic filler.

Once more with the sander taking back much of the surface to bare wood. It always amazes me that the timber is in such good condition after almost 90 years service and almost complete neglect for the last 20 years! I've also filled a few problem areas here using an epoxy bog then sanded smooth. I'm not too particular about getting all the old paint off - if it survives two rigorous sandings with 40 grit, it probably deserves to stay! What is important is to make sure that the edges of any remaining paint work are feathered into the surface so that there are no tell-tale edges that will shine through the new paint work.

I use a 3-in-1 sealer, primer and undercoat which also serves as a good surface filler. And a lesson from my model building is that an important reason for undercoating is to identify any further problems with the surface that can be fixed before putting on the top coats.

Three coats of top coat are required because red is a notoriously difficult colour to get a good coverage with. The amount of paint also adds to the density of the final finish. And, because I'm now playing for keeps, I'm using a much better quality exterior grade acrylic paint that should last a lot longer than the old cheap stuff. Yes, the drop light needs further attention and painting in a different shade of red (Deep Indian Red) but I'm pleased with the surface and finish this process can achieve.

I'm keen to hear your comments on this process, particularly if you have had experience of restoring a similar old wooden surface. Do any of you have tips or recommendations to improve my technique?

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