I have been eyeing the rolled up interior panels in the back of my garage for quite some time. I did a bit of practice stripping on a few small panels in the spring and was not looking forward to doing the big long panels. My Overlander came with 4 different colors of latex paint plus the zolatone.
Assuming each paint color coat took two coats (and I think the pepto bismal pink was actually 3) you're talking 8 layers of paint PLUS zolatone. Since in my tests I was only taking off 2 layers per application.... well the math doesn't lie, I was looking 3-4 applications of paint remover for each panel. Yech.
People who know me, know I like to experiment - (legal stuff only LOL!
). And I really needed a better way to strip these larger panels.
So my requirements were a safe environmentally-friendly stripper and as few coats as possible. The safe aspect took on new significance recently...... as I managed to burn myself pretty badly spraying poison ivy with Roundup.
I was spraying the Roundup when I got stung by a bee. I tend to have an allergic reaction to bees (hives) so I was more concerned with icing the bite and getting benadryl on board,. By the time I realized my arm was burning it was too late. I was wearing long sleeves too.. Grrrr
This was after 2 weeks of healing even!
Whoops, re-focus, .... sorry
Now I had already done the side by side comparison of as many different brands of paint stripper as I could find. Aircraft stripper and Citrastrip came out on top as suspected.
Suprisingly, I thought the Citrastrip did as well, if not better, than the Aircraft stripper, but the darn stuff is expensive, $20 for a half gallon and I needed at least one and a half containers to do a panel with one coat!!!! Add that to repainting and my cost was going to approach reskinning with new, especially if I want to factor in my time.
I decided to strip one panel and see how it went.
Well as I was stripping the first big panel I noticed that the plastic putty knife did a great job for the first foot or so and then rapidly dulled and got beat up every time I hit a rivet hole. That's when the light bulb went on folks! Some time back I blogged about these handy fellas, plastic razor blades. At Amazon, they are like $9 for 100!
They worked AWESOME!!!!!! FAN FREAKIN TASTIC!!!! Oops, there I go with the exclamation points overuse again. I promise to stop. Pinky swear.
This is ONE pass with a razor. Okay 4 passes in a row LOL but all eight layers AND zolotone are virtually gone. This is epic!
The process after I refined it a little (of course I did
Paint a fairly thick layer of Citrastrip over the whole panel. Leave at least 4 hours (overnight was fine but I didn't find it worked any better and it was worse if it dried out).
Scrape a small one foot by one foot section using the plastic razor blade.
While the residue is still soft keep scraping until nothing else comes up
Using a cloth and some mineral spirits (or a little extra citrastrip), clean off any remaining paint in that one foot square section - really important to do this before the area dries out.
I did this whole panel - the picture only shows half of it - in just over an hour. Then I pressure washed it and came back at it with a green 3m scrubby and some extra Citrastrip to get all the edges and areas I had missed.
Just a few hints,
Its essential to have the panels out and flat. There's a correct angle to holding the blade (more like 60 degrees than 45) to get the best effect. I suspect that doing this while the panels are still on the trailer might work, but pressure is key to removing the most layers in one pass.
Try to use a plastic razor blade holder, otherwise sooner or later you'll slip and gouge the metal. Yep did that! They sell one with the blades at amazon, unfortunately I couldn't find mine and spent a couple of hours looking for it ...after I scratched the metal of course
! It took me longer to find the darn thang than to strip the panel!
Leave the edges and rivet holes for when the blade is dull because it will wreck the razor's edge pretty fast which defeats the whole purpose! I generally got a 2ft by 2ft section clean before I had to flip the blade (there are two good sharp edges per blade- pay attention to the orientation, its not like a metal blade) I probably used half a dozen blades on this panel but that's way cheaper than another layer of stripper!
One small problem...
After I cleaned the panel really well I noticed that they wiped it with something (Aluma prep?) in prep for painting I'm guessing. Is there a way to remove this? It left a funny haze. I don't want to polish but I might consider leaving the aluminum bare in a few areas if I can get rid of this... HELP!