Q. Tony,

I just read another great installation of Resto Shop titled “Soda Blasting” (Oct. ’12). I’m starting to build my ’67 RS and plan on doing some patch panels and fab work. I don’t have a soda blaster but do have a compressor and some air tools. What do you suggest for removing paint and cleaning welds?

Mike Mitchell
Phoenix, AZ
Via email

A. Mike,

I spoke with Brian Henderson, restoration guru from Super Car Workshop, and Kyle Tucker, Pro Touring extraordinaire from Detroit Speed Inc. about this topic.

Brian started off by suggesting you photograph and note any factory stamps or marks before removing any paint if you’re doing a restoration so you can put them back on later. He’s had good success with a dual-action (DA) sander with 80-grit paper to remove paint and clean up seam sealer on most flat surfaces, like the firewall. Be careful not to remove factory defects when working on more intricate areas, so hand-sanding with less aggressive grits works well.

Detroit Speed’s Kyle Tucker says his shop uses 3M Green Corps discs on most of their metal fabrication projects, especially to clean up rust on original sheetmetal and quickly smooth some welded areas for a sanitary look. They follow up with less aggressive methods to further smooth the surface, which include DA and hand-sanding.

I also like the green 3M Bristle Disc (also available in Radial version) because the aggressive (50 grade) isn’t extremely harsh on metal; however, they aren’t as effective on rusty surfaces. Unlike a sanding disc, which wears out at a steady rate, the length of the bristles keeps the effectiveness from degrading too quickly. These are available from aggressive to fine and are designated by color. Surface-conditioning discs also do a great job and come in grades ranging from coarse (for cleanup) to very fine (for a smooth finish).

01. Spot welds like these can be found all over a Camaro. These are commonly ground smooth, but you’ll lose points if you’re building a correct restoration to be judged. Some restorers will re-spot weld panels if necessary.

02. The 3M Bristle Disc is the best for removing paint and body filler without removing much of the factory detail in the sheetmetal, which is important to preserve if you’re attempting to build a factory-correct restoration.

03. Here, you can see the difference between the smooth metal attained with an 80-grit sanding disc and the grinding marks left by the 36-grit Green Corps disc. These are great if you’re working with rusty surfaces and don’t care about preserving the factory spot-weld details.

04. 3M Roloc discs identified in clockwise order, starting with top left: Green Corps, Surface Conditioning, Bristle, and Radial Bristle.

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