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Old 11-27-2003, 06:06 PM
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finding a reputable paint/body shop

Hello,
I've recently purchased a fiberglass kit car which needs paint and bodywork. From what I've read elsewhere, painting fiberglass bodies is a whole different skill than the regular guy that paints steel bodied cars. When I talk to shops, what are some ways to see if they know what they're talking about or are just pulling my chain? The shops that I have found with experience in painting the replica that I have want outrageous amounts to paint the car. I don't want a show car finish, just something that looks great to the average eye. Are there any shops in the MD, DC, VA, or PA areas that someone here recommends?

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Old 11-27-2003, 06:27 PM
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Most body/paint shops are real expensive these days. Thats why alot of us are into doing it themselves.

As for expertise in fibreglass, most cars these days had a fair amount of plastic on them these days (bumpers etc), so they should be pretty good at fibreglass.
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Old 11-27-2003, 07:52 PM
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The painting techniques are the same for steel or fiberglass. The prepwork may vary depending on what is done to it. As far as expensive...they all are when you take it to a reputable dealer. How much are you looking at spending and what exactly do you want done. For a BC/CC expect to pay from $1500 on up.

Kevin
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Old 11-27-2003, 07:58 PM
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I'd jump at a shop that would paint the car for $1500-$2000. All the shops I talk to want $4500 and up which is a fair amount of money. I know that the body has seams which have to be ground and filled and the gelcoat has to be sanded off but I see it as a body which comes right off of the frame so there is no masking, etc to perform. Why so much money??
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Old 11-28-2003, 08:37 AM
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I was talking $1500 and up just to spray the car. You get into the bodywork side of it and it can go up and up and up and.... The reason it is so high is because materials cost so much. It wasn't that many years ago you could paint a complete car with $100-$300 worth of materials. And that was brand name materials to boot. The you could get the candy colors for around $400-$500 in materials. I'm talking only 15 years ago. Time is money and the more time someone has to spend working on a car the more it is going to cost. Most body shops only cater to insurance jobs these days. Pull them in, pull off the wrecked parts, put on all new, spray it and outta there. Complete wrecks can be repaired complete in a week. It's fast good money. Now roll a car in there that has to have body work done and it can take weeks if not months to get done. That is why it cost. Just figure that most body-shops get $65/hr. labor and up for what they do. Then if you get into the show cars and the custom paint jobs you are looking at thousands just to paint a car. I was reading an article about Monster Garage with Jesse James and the paint jobs that the projects get are donated but would cost anyone off the street an average of $8000.00 not counting body work. Now you know why there are many that are attempting to do it their-selves. There are a multitude of book to buy, books at the library, tapes to buy or rent, and hundreds of sites on the net that can help you out to do it yourself. Although you will need to make an investment in equipment if you don't have anything. Look at Centerlines site. He has a pretty well detailed site on what to do when it comes to body work. Dragon J has a very good site. Look thru the Photo Album and you will see many that has done it their-self. Rubberman never painted before and read up and painted his own ride which turned out real well. I guess what I'm getting at is that if you can't find something in your price range attempt to do it yourself. Or if you really don't want to attempt it, then hit some local car shows, ask around, and you may find someone right in your area that you never knew existed. There is a lot of painting and bodywork that goes on after hours in someones home garage.

Kevin
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Old 11-28-2003, 05:16 PM
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Yeah, I would love to get some side work, if only I knew who wanted it around here. Doesn't pay to stay in the biz when its hazzardous to your health, have to buy all your own tools, and the body shops don't want to pay you anything to work for them or send you for any additional training to get ahead. Wish I went into the machinist trade when I was younger instead of auto body, but I had to look at all the cars in hot rod and car craft when I was a teenager and thought how cool they looked so I chose auto body. Anyone got an extra 100 grand lying around they could give me so I can start my own shop? 20 bucks an hour on the side would be enough and would love to take away some of the bodyshops work.
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Old 11-28-2003, 06:04 PM
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The shop I work at is now scheduling work in for the middle of January. Most of the reputable shops in the area are in the same boat. We do very few all over paint jobs because they take so much time. We have 2 paint booths and usually put out 12-15 cars a day with repairs. If we do all over paint jobs, it would cut down the production considerably. Since we always have cars lined up for the painters, that is usually our bottleneck. We actually make very little on the paint part of the repairs, thanks to the insurance companies placing caps on what they pay for materials. Pintwork that is acceptable for insurance claims would require sanding and buffing on overall paint jobs. That is terribly time consuming for the painters, and our painters wouldn't think of letting someone else touch what they paint. If something needs to be buffed, our painters do it themselves, as they take considerable pride in their work.

When you figure that the paint alone, that is no body work at all, would run about $1800. It could be quite expensive. You have to figure the time for "detrimming" and puting the trim back on. Fixing any dents or imperfections, simply magnifies the cost, as it would the finished produce it that work isn't done. I have had numerous customers come in and ask for prices for paint jobs. When I list all of the repairs that need to be done, I get this, "all I want you to do is paint the thing, don't worry about all of the dings". I then recommend them to another shop, telling them that we won't paint over that stuff, because it reflects on out work, not their pocket books. When someone asks you who painted your car, you don't say, " I had Joe paint it, but I told them to paint over the stuff to save me some money". You simply say, "it was painted at Joe's Place". The Joe's reputation goes out the window.

Keep those facts in mind when you go shopping for a paint job.
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Old 11-28-2003, 06:18 PM
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I agree with you. I would never want to put out something that looked bad. Your name is at stake and you want to build up a good reputation. I have seen enough bad work come out of body shops and wonder how they get work. I good buffer and prep man is even more important then a great painter. A good buffer can save an average paint job and the amount of prep put in is going to determine how well the final job looks. Most shops I've done the repair from bodywork to painting to final buffing and cleanup. The only thing I haven't done a lot of is the heavy bodywork. I've wanted to learn the frame rack and do more of the heavier body repairs, but shops don't want to spend the money to get you the training you need and with the amount of money I've been payed and working during the day its hard to afford the classes and have the time to take them.
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Old 11-28-2003, 06:45 PM
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After you think you have found the shop to do your car ask for SEVERAL refrences. Look at some jobs that are at least 1 year old. I made this mistake on a $4100 job. I now have the paint job from hell. No better than a Maco. I am sure I could have done this quality and would not feel bad because it would have been my first and probably for around $2000 including some tools I would still have. Some shops charge alot because they deserve it and some THINK they deserve it. Like the old saying-theproofs in the pudding(paint)
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Old 11-28-2003, 08:26 PM
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Thanks for all of your replies.

I figure that I don't have much to lose by taking a stab at doing some of the prep work myself. I'm going to invest in some books and the paintucation video and see how it goes.

I think that some of these shops that specialize in Cobra replicas jack up the price just because it's a Cobra that is being painted. If it were a fiberglass boat of the same size, I can't imagine a place charging or a customer paying $5000 to get it painted. I guess if people are willing to pay that much money then there are places that will gladly charge it.

Those are some good points though about body shop economics that I wasn't aware of. Why would they want to paint a full car when they can make more money replacing fenders and get those cars out of their shop within days?

Jeff
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