Cage fight, round 4


Posted on December 23 2010

Last time we left the cage was done but we can’t just leave it bare metal or as you can imagine,  in no time at all untreated mild steel will rust with a quickness.  We had a quote to get it professionally sprayed but at around $2000 to get it done right that just didn’t seem feasible.  We could just use the ol’ rattle can and get an okay result but as far as durability is concerned forget about it.  The bars would be scratch city with two trips in and out of the driver’s seat.  After a bit of discussion we ended up going a different route altogether.  We ended up going out on a limb and trying some stuff called POR 15.  I’ve used it before in satin black on axles and suspension components and been very happy with the results.  We ended up using some stuff called Whitecote that they make, here’s a quote form their site:

“WHITECOTE is a glossy, non-UV sensitive two-component white coating for application over primed metal and painted surfaces. WHITECOTE may be applied by brush or spray, and will cure to a rock-hard, non-porous finish that won’t crack, chip, or peel. ”

So here’s what you need, its’ a 2 component supplication so you get your hardener as well as some stuff called Marine clean, and Metal ready to properly treat the metal before painting for the best results.  Don’t forget a bunch of different sized disposable brushes as well because this stuff doesn’t like to come off too well.

First up is to prep the surface, so that means scuffing up the ENTIRE cage.  DOM tubing comes with a pretty nasty layer of oil from the factory to help prevent the tubing from rusting before being used and it all has to be clean if you want the paint to stick.   I found a red Scothchbrite works great, but I’m starting to wish we didn’t add so many bars ;)

It’s actually kind of a shame to paint over all the nice welds…..  I actually think the cage looks pretty cool in bare metal but not so much for this car.  Maybe if I build a cage for the Starlet I’ll just clear coat it.   Anyways,  after just a couple of bars you can see how dirty they are after cleaning them with the Marine clean.

Before painting we also removed a big bulky beam that was on the roof that connected the B-pillars.  Helpful on a stock car but the gusseted tubing in the main hoop will be much more rigid than this thing with it’s glue and tiny spot welds.  Also noteworthy is that it feels like it’s around 15lbs. and if your going to lose some weight, the higher up in the chassis the better.  I also removed another bracket that held in the dome lights as well.

I wanted to clean up the inside of the car as well to make it look better when it’s all shiny white.  In the rear I started with removing about 8 big studs that used to hold in another unnecessary brace.

Cut them all off, and grind them flat.

We also decided to remove the trunk release, and fuel door cable.  The trunk can still be opened with the key, and we’re going to work out some sort of magnet device to hold the fuel door closed later.  I also cleaned up, and re-loomed the rear harness so there was only 1 running down each side.

Now it’s time to get down to the painting!  I highly recommend a good respirator, and I don’t mean one of those cheesy dust masks either.  I actually saw a dude at the last Time attack in California internally, and externally bleeding because he painted a car without a mask earlier that day, no joke.  You can’t tell but I’m super stoked to get started, Look mom, safety first :)

Rubber gloves and crappy clothes are also a must because this stuff won’t come off if it gets on you so don’t even bother.   And as you can imagine, painting a roof with a paint brush over your head you are bound to get some on you.   I started on the roof first, here you can see where the old brace used to be and why the entire inside of the car needed to be painted.

One coat down.  As you can see, at least 2 coats are necessary to properly cover and reduce the amount of brush marks.

And with the final coat.

There are some benefits to using a brush-on method rather than spray.  First up is that you don’t have to mask the entire car, wire harness, brake and fuel lines etc, from over spray.  Next is that you can do it in a garage without crazy ventilation systems and permits.  The bad thing is that you have to BRUSH it on.  And let me tell you,  I greatly underestimated how much time and labor it is getting in every nook and cranny, especially because as you may know I tend to be a bit particular.  With the cage finished, next up was the rear seat area.   Before…


Here you can see what the front of the car looks like after removing all of the sound deadening before painting.  You have to make sure every little speck of it is removed before painting because it’s oil-based and the POR 15 will spread away from any trace of it.

Here’s the first coat, you can see how I used a bunch of bungee cords to pull the harness, brake and fuel lines out of the way so I could paint underneath them.  And yes, I used a super small brush to paint inside all the gusset holes.  Sorry, I can’t help it.

And the finished floor.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with the results.  It still has a bit of texture to it in some spots but when paint is applied with a brush you kind of have to expect a little bit of that and I think the durability of the finish with be more than worth it.  Next up is to let it cure for a few days an get all  the interior and dash in before we stick a fork in it,

Stay tuned.

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