CASCADE R.G. MEETING 01/07/93
As I attempt to explain how this process works please remember that this is something I am copying and these are not original ideas of mine.
To begin with, the very first step should he research. You need to know what the original pattern and colors were. Few of us will be starting with a dash that has enough ORIGINAL graining left for matching purposes. Places that were covered may give you a clue (like where the mirror attaches on some models). Try to find an ORIGINAL unit that has not been changed. Take pictures, measure the pattern, notice where the grain ends around the edges etc. Remember that pictures don't always accurately reproduce colors so compare the print with the item. Note if the garnish moldings have a different pattern or direction of grain. A good source of information is of course the V8 Times. Use the master index in the National Roster to find which issues have into pertaining to your project. Factor, pictures that appear in Sorensen's books are a good resource too. Often the black & white pictures give you a very good view of the grain pattern. Be wary of conflicting information written in the books, an unrestored original car is ALWAYS your best reference.
Clean all parts to bare metal via your favorite method. Metal etch and prime all surfaces. Surface pitting is always a problem and the temptation is to use heavy coats of primer-surfacer to smooth it out. Just like any other place on your car. The thicker the primer is the easier the color oat will chip off. Be extra careful to clean out the typical counter-sunk holes where screws attach the parts to the car. If you don't the pressure from the screw will pop a big ugly piece of your pride and joy off just when you thought you were finished.
Spray the base color coat on all parts to be grained. Use lacquer for this.
Finding the correct color for this or having it mixed, is a time consuming step.
I have had good luck finding a color that will work without resorting to special mix, avoid custom mixes if you can.
Now comes the fun part. The grain is not paint but a rubber based printing ink. This ink has been used for silk screening and for lithographs.
You can mix these colors like oil paints so I only have black, white, red, and brown. From these I can mix just about any color of graining. The bad news is that the smallest container of this stuff is a 1lb. Can. It takes very little to do a complete dash and set of garnish moldings I probably have enough to do 10.000 cars. You also need the solvent that goes with the ink and it comes in gallon cans. The really slick thing about this, is that the solvent and ink won 't affect the Lacquer base color. You can grain all day long without fear of lifting the base coat. I use cheesecloth and paint brushes to apply the grain, but rules apply here and you are limited only by your imagination. Don't forget to have all removable parts sitting in place for this step, glove box door ashtray etc.
After you are satisfied with how it looks, put all parts in a DUST FREE area. If you put the grain on too thick or don't dilute the ink it will take longer to dry. When it is dry it still might be a tiny bit tacky. Now you can spray on the clear and admire your work. I use a clear urethane (Ditzler DAU 75 with DRX 80 iso-cyanate catalyst). This is compatible with the ink, don't use cleat lacquer the thinner is too hot_ Put a moderate amount of clear on so that you can wet sand an polish the pieces when the inevitable speck of dust gets in your finish. PLEASE FOLLOW ALL SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS WHEN USING CATALYZED PRODUCTS I spray this stuff ONLY WITH A SUPPLIED AIR SYSTEM because respirators are not adequate. This is not a joke. Thousands of people were killed in Bhopal India veers ago from an accident at a plant making iso-cyanate, there is NO SAFE amount that you can breathe and its effects are cumulative.
When mounting the dash and moldings, for insurance put a Little soap or wax on the backside of the screw head. This will allow the surfaces to slip a little as you draw the screw tight. Of course don't over-tighten the screws.
Material costs are significant. Irk is $12 to $30 per pound depending on the color and the solvent is about $20 a gallon. Lacquer thinner, primer, clear etc. you usually have left over from some other project as I stated before I have lots of ink so if you are considering this method ask me before you buy some because I will share what I can with fellow V8ers.
There is a great deal of satisfaction in doing this yourself. give it a Try! No artistic talent is necessary.
16214 Meadow Road
Lynnwood, WA 98037