Our client contacted us about a very unusual paint problem on his 1970 Ferrari 365 GT2+2. Whilst on display at a local village show, some children were playing nearby with cans of ‘Silly String’. By accident, it was sprayed across the bonnet and nearside front wing. As soon as he was made aware, our client cleaned the residue off the paint, but in the minutes it had been there, it appeared that the paint had been ‘scarred’.
Quite difficult to photograph, it looked almost like worm casts you might expect to see in grass, running right across the wing and bonnet. It could be felt as a raised area on the paint surface.
Fearing that this would require a respray to correct the problem, our client called us right away and we immediately started doing some research. It is the solvent that causes the product to turn from a liquid in the can, to a jelly-like string when it hits the air, that is incredibly corrosive to automotive clearcoat. In parts of America, Silly String has been banned altogether from town parades after a number of fire trucks were damaged to the point of needing resprays. Cleaning the string straight off had been the right thing to do, now we needed to find a solution to repair the damage.
A few days after the event we visited our client at home to try a test area. Given that the trails were raised, it seemed reasonable to think that they could be sanded down again, level with the surrounding paint. Aware that this carried a degree of risk, but willing to try anything that would avoid having to paint the car, our experiment appeared to offer a huge improvement to the problem. At that point, he was happy if that was the best achieved, a reasonable compromise. However, we felt confident that with more time, and some different materials, an even better finish could be achieved. The car was booked in on this basis, but also with a view to giving the rest of the paint a refresh too.
This car had been with us a couple of months earlier to have the wheels refurbished. Not as simple a task as it may sound, 46 year old Campagnolo magnesium alloy wheels are not the easiest things to refinish. Sadly this had been demonstrated by 3 separate attempts by other people, with no real understanding of the task in hand. The resulting mess was horrific, the paint finish quickly becoming bubbled and flaky, with liquid solvent actually bursting out of the bubbles. The magnesium surface needs to be properly stripped, then sealed again with a very specific process, before an appropriate paint is applied. It\’s also worth point out that the wheels are now finished in the correct colour for the period, the previous efforts had used a modern silver which wasn\’t in keeping with the originality of the car. Having access to the experts, we were able to rescue the wheels and return them to a stable, factory colour and finish. During the refinished process, magnesium wheels are also stress tested to ensure their structural integrity and safety, and given the value and rarity of these wheels, we were delighted they were given a clean bill of health.
At the time of doing that work, we had pointed out to our client the huge potential for improvement in this car\’s finish. He has lovingly cherished it for years, keeping it immaculately clean and regularly polished. But the paint had reached a point where it needed a much more intensive polish, by machine, to remove the multiple layers of fine to medium scratches, with the odd deep one thrown in for good measure. Priority was to address the damage, so that is where work started.
Working by hand with a block, 1500 grade wet & dry paper was used to re-level the paint surface. Being a hand painted car, the thickness readings were certainly generous, so there was plenty to work with. As always, great care was taken with regular reassessment of the paint. As can be seen from the pictures above, the marks can first be clearly seen where the high and low points are, then bit by bit they disappear, and a smooth, uniform surface is restored.
Some time later, with the damaged areas now completely flat, the process turns to restoring the paint finish. Because of the many scratches and marks, it was sensible to flat and polish the whole bonnet. Using a machine, the paint was carefully sanded with finer grades of wet & dry discs, starting with 2000, then 3000, and finishing with 6000 (the higher the number, the finer the abrasive). Finally, to restore the gloss, the super finely sanded surface was polished by machine several times until flawless.
It was wonderful to see that the damage from the Silly String had been removed 100%, along with 99% of any other defects from the panel. Given the success of this, it was decided that the same process should be employed on the roof and bootlid, both of which had escaped the Silly String, but had become particularly dull and flat over the years.
Firstly, the Ferrari badge was removed from the bootlid. They are incredibly awkward to clean effectively when on the car, and years of dirt and polish residue accumulate beneath them. Removal was a simple task, and well worth the extra 5 minutes it took. Once clean, a machine was used to sand the panel with multiple grades again, then polish to a deep, rich looking gloss.
Care was needed with the roof, due to signs of a previous localised repair. Towards the back of the roof, a patch of ‘crazing’ had appeared in the lacquer. Aware this isn’t something that can be fully fixed without repainting, the area was approached with great caution to see if it could be improved. The rest of the roof was very hazy and covered in general scratches.
The time taken to achieve a finish like this cannot be underestimated, sanding and polish the roof, bonnet and bootlid took approximately 9 hours. With those main panels completed, it was time to turn attention to the sides. Here the paint responded beautifully to a multi stage machine polish, without having to resort to sanding.
To finish, the whole car was lightly cleansed using Swissvax Cleaner Fluid, before being covered in the sublime Swissvax Utopia carnauba wax. This is perfect for older paint finishes, leaving a wonderfully warm, rich gloss.
If you are interested in any of the services demonstrated here for your car, please get in touch with us here.