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'82 GTV6 - lead paint?

2340 Views 16 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  chairmankaga
I'm starting to get into the phase of my DIY restoration that involves removing the ruined paint, going to bare metal. I'm slightly worried, especially with a pregnant wife, that doing this in my garage with a grinder, DA sander and wire wheels is a bad, bad idea. Any thoughts on the toxicity of the paint used in this era? General dust and contaminants? Best left to the professional, since I'm having a shop do the painting anyway?

A hot rodder friend suggested 800 or 120 grit flap discs on my 4.4" grinder to remove most of the paint, then a combination of hand sanders and wire wheels to get the nooks and crannies, and I know all of those methods make a mountain of dust.
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I doubt that automotive paint contained lead in 1982. It was outlawed here in California in the mid 1970's, and Europe isn't know for environmental indifference. But that isn't to say that you or your wife want to be inhaling whatever is in that paint! In addition to the health issues, the dust would make a huge mess of your garage. So, I agree with typhoon90 - sanding it off, particularly in a garage - is a bad idea.

Chemical stripping isn't exactly safe or neat either! I believe paint stripper contains methelyne chloride, which I think is carcinogenic. And, you'll track stripper and paint residue into the house on your shoes.

How about using a commercial media blaster? They'll get all the paint and rust off your car for < $1,000.
Well, maybe not that cheap. A little search here will show that some have spent over $2,000. Cheap blasters typically use cheap sand and way too much air power to get it done quick, and that's not so good for the sheet metal. The environmentally best is dry ice blasting, but those are not everywhere.

Well, here's the conundrum. The car is not nor will ever be worth enough to really justify a full-bore restoration. I basically want it to be as rust free as possible and as clean as I can get it on a very limited budget. That's entails as much DIY as possible. I'm welding (and getting a lot better as I go), straightening, filling and painting where possible. However, if I have to let the paint shop handle the majority of the removal, then I think that's the best decision even if it's more expensive. I'll have to strip some to accomplish the rust repair, but there's just no way I can realistically take the whole car to bare metal in my garage. Which is OK. Like I said, this is a "good enough" restoration and not a concourse job. I just want to be able to drive it again!

That said, I might try some stripper on the panels I do need to take to bare metal. They aren't huge areas, so I'll just rely on a respirator and a big fan to keep things as clean as possible.
So far, I've used the gel-type paint strippers available at most auto shops to remove the old paint from my GT1300 Junior. I'm doing a section at a time and then spraying on etch primer to protect the newly bared metal as I go.

Paint the stripper on reasonably thickly with an old paint brush, wait for the paint to bubble up and then scrape it away with whatever makeshift tools (eg scrapers, old screw drivers, kitchen knives, wire brushes, etc) you need to to get into the nooks and crannies.

Sometimes you will need to re-apply the paint stripper, but a little time and patience, and you will get the job done. A good trick is to apply the stripper and then cover it with a piece of kitchen-grade cling film... this seems to enhance the effectiveness of the stripper.

Once all the paint layers are off, I usually scrub the stripped area with steel wool dipped in stripper. I then clean off the bare metal with thinners to thoroughly remove any paint/stripper residue. I pay particular attention to gaps and joints between the body panels because I don't want any old stripper in those areas when the new paint goes on... it will eat the new paint from below.

Below is a shot of me in the now stripped engine bay... the cheesey grin may be related to stripper fumes, so work in a well ventilated area :D


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That's inspirational.
Any particular brand of stripper that you've found works best?
That's inspirational.
Any particular brand of stripper that you've found works best?
I use a local brand (I'm in Australia) called Sparko, but I have tried another brand, the name of which I can't recall. Both brands worked as well as each other.

I buy the stripper in 4 litre tins... it's not that expensive, and it does go a reasonably long way. Perhaps buy a smaller tin first at your local auto shop to try it out before buying in bulk.

The stripper I use is a kind of thickish/gloopey gel, which is clear in colour. It's about the consistency of sweet chilli sauce... but I wouldn't recommend putting on a hotdog :)
Paint stripper is very good, if you use it correctly. The trick is to keep is about an inch from any body seam or edge and power sand back to that edge after you've stripped. A few layers of masking tape and some plastic stops any stripper dribbling around edges etc.
Also have throw away plastic sheeting under the area to be stripped. I like to work on one panel at a time, get it to metal and sanded. Then do your acid etch, etch prime and prime as soon as possible after that.
Automotive paints have not been required to remove various metals as pigments, unlike household paints, so to say an auto paint will not have lead is pretty much wrong, it could well have.
I know for sure that auto paints still use various metals like chromium etc in their composition, the strongest pigments are usually a metallic oxide of some sort. You are smart to be concerned by any dust and that's why I recommended chemical stripping to you. If you use the plastic sheet underneath, all the paint you strip ends up on that, then you just fold it up from the edges and straight into a bin.
The best strippers tend to be the ones for aircraft. Buy yourself an assortment of sizes of flexible metal scrapers too.
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That's inspirational.
Any particular brand of stripper that you've found works best?
Klean-Strip Aircraft remover buy it at an automotive paint jobber you can pick up all the other things that you will need there. These are the suppliers where the shops get their goods.
All recommendations noted. Thanks!
Klean Strip is working like a charm! I just got a small can to test and managed to do about half of one side down to bare metal. Finished off any remnants with a worn wire wheel.

I'm trying the PickleX (Alternate Metal Surface Preparation & Pre-Treatment Process for Steel & Aluminum, Eliminates Hazardous & Toxic Chemicals - Welcome to spray to halt rusting and to etch, after having it recommended by a restoration shop here in Austin, since I don't have access to a sprayer to lay down some epoxy. According to their engineers, the stuff will prevent any oxidation from forming with just a single coat. Being Texas and that it's in my garage, I'm not too worried about moisture at all. We're already in a drought here...

Anyway, my one problem was my gloves. I tried both vinyl and nitrile gloves, and still anytime I got any of the stuff on my hands I'd have to quickly peel the gloves and thoroughly wash. The guy at the shop said either would protect me, so maybe it's just the cheap-o Harbor Freight stash I was using?
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I use PVC gloves when using any sort of chemical (stripper, rust remover etc) like these:

PVC Glove Red 45cm, range of gloves available.

Buy them from any hardware store here.
I'm a good boy and take my plastic sheeting to the hazardous waste handler. We're lucky to have one nearby but I figure that keeps the nasties out of the dump.
Waste Management - our city trash contractor - and the city - has HazMat collections about once a month. Just collect it for a bit and take it in for no charge.

Yeah, I have a stash of stuff (old paint cans, brake fluid, etc) in a special bin for hazardous waste disposal day. The funkified plastic sheeting lives there too.
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