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Help me restore this (possibly) 70 year old lacquer finish


Mortimer452
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This is a 1947 Plymouth "barn find" I picked up about two months ago, it's been sitting for the past 20+ years. Mechanically speaking, finally got it into road-worthy condition over the weekend and gave this car it's first wash in two decades.


 


The paint is lacquer with no clear coat. Pretty sure at least portions have been repainted at some point years ago, but some of it may be the original paint (note the cracking on the trunk lid)


 


I have some experience with paint correction but never on old lacquer like this, and nothing this severe. Looking for advice on a good plan of attack to get this finish looking great again. It looked amazing wet but dried a bit chalky, and there's a lot of weird spots/stains/scratches everywhere from sitting in a barn for so long. Clay bar and hand polish seems to be doing a fairly good job of pulling up some of the spots & stains, but others (see pictures) are much more stubborn.


 


Not looking for absolute perfection, mostly just hoping to get rid of these stains and bring back some depth to the black color. I have a cheap random orbit single-speed buffer, might finally pull the trigger on something nicer like the Porter Cable 7424 (always wanted one) if it would make a big difference on a project like this.


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Edited by Mortimer452
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You will definitely want to get a polisher, I would get the swirl killer if you are using it a lot. It wouldn't be a bad idea to use a clear coat depth gauge to see how much is left. I would start with the correcting polish and orange pad, if it doesn't work good enough then go to the heavy compound and the microfiber pad. Just remember if hi use the compound you have to follow with the correcting polish.

 

Remember to apply 3-5 pounds of pressure!!

 

Nice find and good luck! :thumbsup:

Edited by Nathan
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To be honest, I wouldn't do anything more than wash it and wax it to protect what's left. That thing is stellar and in great condition.  Making the paint look brand new will diminish it if you ask me. I might try some Bleech White or Tilex on those whitewalls though.  But not too much so you don't crack them. Let the car stand for what it is and show it off.  That's a pretty nice barn find.   :2thumbs:

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Thanks for the suggestions so far.  I like the cracks in the old lacquer honestly, I think it gives the car some character.  Mainly hoping to just diminish (or remove) the spots and stains.

 

Used a clay bar and swirl remover, then polish on one fender this evening, this got me pretty much where I wanted to be.  I don't want to get too aggressive on this lacquer since it's so soft and I know it's easy to take off too much.

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I am going to recommend a non-Adams product (I will PM you the details) as it has oils that will help 'moisturize' the paint some.  This product is used by hand, though some effort is suggested.  This can bring back some of the shine to the original paint.  Then you can continue to polish (Revive, FP, or CP) by hand.  Then some BG (if you want more shine),  or just Americana/Patriot wax to protect.

 

You can never replace the original paint, so you do not want to go very aggressive.

 

I worked on a 'new' old stock 1956 MV Agusta race bike last weekend.  It is all original including the paint and tires.  It was cleaned with Rinseless Wash, and rubbed with the other product.  Then we went over it with Revive to clean the paint more, and it came out great (a full write is coming soon).

 

If you want to know more about working with oxidized singe stage paint Google "mike phillips removing oxidation'.      

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Post some pictures when you are done. I grew up with a 1940 Plymouth. How does it run?

 

It actually runs pretty well, starts up really easy.  Like I said, been sitting for 20+ years, all I did was change fluids, new fuel pump, new plugs, cap & rotor, new clean gas and it fired right up.  Needs a little tuning, maybe a carb rebuild, probably running too lean.  Doesn't want to stay running unless the choke is partially closed.

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Clay bar, a little work with Adam's swirl remover and Harbor Freight DA polisher got me where I wanted to be.  A few pics below.

 

Roof stain before & after.  Not gone, but really only shows up if you're looking for it, and I can't feel it at all now

sXVMvb1.jpg

3WY5ARp.jpg

 

 

R fender after swirl remover & finishing polish.  It's not flawless, but definitely took care of the chalky finish and brought back excellent sheen:

lTWdIQW.jpg

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