• SEMA 2014- Day 2

    SEMA 2014 Day Two

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    Wednesday and day two of the show has ended. At this point we've crawled all over every cool car, checked out our favorite new products, and said hello to all of our friends in surrounding booths. I decided to start hitting the surrounding halls to look for some hidden gems around the show.

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    While posting photos on the go to our Instagram page I almost passed right by this beautiful 1950 Chevy COE custom flatbed in the official SEMA artist, Max Grundy's booth. This bad boy ticks all the boxes for a classic truck fan with its low stance and clean body! For us it's the left-field vehicles like this that makes walking SEMA so exciting.

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    Earlier this week we held metal shaping tech demos with Ron Covell and Gene Winfield. Even with little advertisement our booth was full of eager DIY guys and gals ready to learn. Gene and Ron gave the crowd a crash course in all things involving moving metal and held a lengthy QA at the end where each person got a detailed answer to their question. There were some great questions and we even came out of the short 1 hour class with a page of notes! It really is crazy how much knowledge can be crammed into a short class like this!

    We're just getting into the thick of the show so stay tuned for more updates and don't forget to follow the live coverage on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

    -Matt/EW


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  • History Timeline and Types of Automotive Paint

    What is the first thing you notice when you see an old car or truck for the first time? If you are like most folks, the answer would likely be the paint. Not just the color but the overall condition of the paint finish. Does it have a beautiful, high-gloss shine or a pleasing, soft “patina” that only the hands of time and exposure to sun and weather can produce? Of course, it is all subjective as we would fully expect a recently completed high-standards restoration to have a flawless, mirror like appearance. Conversely, a car or truck that is 40, 50, 60 years or even older and is still wearing it’s factory applied finish is greatly admired and highly prized for its beauty even though it may be worn through to the primer from many years of being lovingly polished or even proudly displaying some runs or imperfections that it acquired at the hands of that production line painter so many years before.

    In fact, at many show events, an unrestored car or truck wearing its original paint will often command much more attention by admirers than a perfectly restored example. What is all the more remarkable when we admire these old, preserved finishes is the fact that those paints weren’t really all that great compared to what is available today. This is not to say that those paints were of inferior quality as the manufacturers generally used the best materials that were available with whatever the coatings technology of the period allowed. It is also important to consider that, as the decades progressed into the 1950’s & 1960’s, the time required to apply paint increasingly became a more critical factor in the assembly of a car and with the exception of some of the more expensive luxury cars, a few flaws such as runs, texture and overspray were considered to be acceptable and actually looked for by some show judging organizations today.

    In the early days of the automobile, master furniture and carriage craftsmen painstakingly applied primitive oil-based enamel or varnish primer and finish coatings by brush!  These finishes had somewhat poor opacity which required numerous coats for coverage and took weeks to dry. They used mainly ink pigments which all tended to be darker colors. These coatings did not withstand weather and sunlight very well and tended to become dry and brittle before long. Since those paint jobs didn't last all that long, in those days, it was common for an owner to get some paint at a hardware store or mail order catalog like Montgomery Ward along with a good horse hair or hog bristle brush and re-paint the car. With the idea of preserving the car, some folks even did it every year or so…by brush of course!

    A number of manufacturers including Ford in the Model T line, used a combination of brushing, dipping and even pouring to fully cover and protect the various parts of a car or truck. The 1920s saw the beginning of the introduction to spray equipment and nitrocellulose lacquers and primers which were developed together to speed application and dry time to a week or less which cut down dramatically the time required to paint a car although they still required labor intensive and time consuming hand rubbing to achieve a shine. This was not especially true in the production of early trucks however, most 1920s to 1960’s trucks were considered to be no-frills pieces of working equipment built to be used and abused, not to be fussed over and pampered. A great example of this is with 1930’s Model AA Ford trucks with that were built with dull, non-shiny, non-rubbed lacquer finishes. Rubbing-out was an extra-cost Ford AA truck option that according to a Ford service letter of 06-05-31; cost $15.00 extra for the cab, cowl and hood while a pickup bed cost $7.00.  In addition to reduced dry times, nitrocellulose lacquers were more durable and allowed the use of brighter colored although more expensive pigments. Interestingly, although with constant improvements, the organic-based nitrocellulose lacquer was used by some manufacturers well into the later 1950s when it was replaced with the much more durable acrylic lacquers and primers which were synthetics.

    Appearing shortly after nitrocellulose lacquers were enamels or more specifically, alkyd enamels and primers. These were generally a thicker material which required fewer coats than lacquers and usually were baked onto a partially assembled vehicle body by passing it through a large oven. This baking hardens the enamel and “flows” it out for a great shine and greater durability. Many more brilliant colors were available with the enamels which became possible due to the use of organic pigments which were widely popular with some of the more flamboyant and  attractive two and tri-toned 1950’s combinations. Eventually, the alkyd enamels too were replaced in the early 1960s by the new and superior acrylic enamels and primers favored by several manufacturers.

    Of course as we all know, any paint finish has a limited lifespan and with the harsh conditions it is exposed to, it is remarkable that it can last as long as it does given adequate care. With time and exposure, even the best lacquers will lose their luster, shrink and crack while enamels will fade out and become dull and chalky. These shortcomings and a move toward greater environmental friendliness led to the eventual changeover by most car and truck manufacturers to new base-clear, water-borne systems in the late 1970’s to early 1990s however this period was not without serious issues as many of us will recall the peeling clear coats of many vehicles from that era resulting in scores of cars and truck being repainted through factory warranty claims. Fortunately, the major paint manufactures quickly resolved those problems and the newer finishes are the most durable in history and require virtually no care to survive.

    What does this all mean to the owner of a vintage car or truck today who is planning for a paint job in the near future? To begin with, lacquer, while still available, is very difficult to buy today and is actually illegal for sale in certain areas of the country especially California. This is because of state and federally mandated VOC laws. VOC’s are Volatile Organic Compounds which are chemicals found in paints and solvents that are considered harmful to the environment and living creatures. In addition, with the limited life of a lacquer or enamel paint job and the clear superiority of some of the higher quality modern paints, unless you are striving for 100% authenticity on your restoration, it would probably be to your advantage to choose one of the modern alternatives to lacquer or enamel. With today’s modern paints, there are two major choices suitable for use on a vintage vehicle; Single Stage Urethanes also known as Single Stage Urethane Enamels and Two-Stage Urethanes. These urethanes are extremely durable, chip resistant, and chemical resistant and retain their gloss without dulling or fading. The single stage products are only similar to the old air dry lacquers and enamels in that they are one coating with the color, gloss and UV protection all in one material and do not require a clear topcoat. That is, the color is all the way through. They are all 2K formulations which means that an activator must be added per the manufacturer’s instructions which will chemically cure and harden the paint. They can be color sanded and rubbed out to provide that hard to describe yet pleasing, softer “polished bowling ball” look of a genuine lacquer paint job that looks so right on the rounded contours of a restored older car or truck. The two-stage products also known as “base-clear” are also 2K formulations requiring an activator but consist of a thin, no gloss color only film “base” which is sprayed on then top coated with multiple coats of urethane clear. The clear is then responsible for all the UV resistance, gloss and protection of the paint coating. While the two stage base clears do provide an attractive, deep, high gloss finish on more modern vehicles and the clear can also be color sanded and buffed to a glass-like surface, they often can be too glossy and look out of place on an older car.

    Another two-stage, base-clear system is the “water-based” coatings that are rapidly growing in popularity especially in today’s VOC sensitive world. It should be noted however that it is only the color base coat that is water based. At this time, there are no known, successful water-based clear coats. They are still solvent based formulations although the paint manufacturers are working hard to introduce successful, water based clear product.

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  • SEMA 2014 Day One Recap

    SEMA 2014 Day One

    Early yesterday morning the doors for the show officially opened and the crowds of show goers pushed their way into the doors to start walking the show. The size of SEMA has only grown and no one is exaggerating when they say that you'd be hard pressed to see EVERY car and booth in the show!

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    For most show goers Hot Rod Alley and the Restoration Marketplace are the heart of the show and we're proud to say that our booth is smack dab in the middle of the madness. Some of the best cars can be found in this main hall along with some of the largest auto manufacturers like General Motors and Ford. Both of these big boys bring out a variety of vehicles from special editions and one-offs to fully modified versions of their latest models.

    This year Ford was showcasing their OE approved restoration parts and some brand new muscle adorned in the latest factory performance parts. We could't get enough of their new 2015 Ford "King Cobra" Mustang they debuted front and center in their booth!

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    Another reason we're paying so much more attention to the best cars of the show is because we're picking finalists for the Eastwood Hands-On awards for the show this year. One of our awards we're giving out this year is an Eastwood Customer Choice. Yes YOU out there in interwebz land can vote from our top ten favorite cars at the show. Get your votes in for your favorite by voting here: . We'll be announcing the winner later this week, so watch this space!


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  • Gotta Love a 6 Pack in the Summer- Sandpaper ins and outs

    IF you’re just doing a small project, or you’ve run out of your full box or roll of sandpaper, or it’s just simply not in your budget to buy an entire sleeve or roll of sandpaper, these new 6 and 3 packs are the ticket!! You don’t have to buy the box of 100 and have it sit on the shelf until next season.  Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • How to Restore Car Headlights

    Out of all minor automotive restoration projects, restoring your headlights is among the most important. After years of use, headlights can get cloudy, rendering their effectiveness much weaker and therefore more dangerous. This is why it is important to restore them to their original clear state in order to ensure your safety as a driver. Below, we discuss the best ways to clean and restore your vehicle's headlights.

    Different Methods of Restoration

    Cloudy headlights can affect just about any time of car make and model, from foreign to domestic. With headlight restoration, you can get rid of this cloudiness by cleaning the headlight lenses with headlight cleaner kits or with individual basic items found at an auto parts supply store. This will save you the expense of full replacements, and it is a quick and simple process.

    There are a number of different ways you can restore your headlights. For one, purchasing a Headlight Deoxidizer and applying to your headlights can be a fast option, as can using simple toothpaste, but these options are for immediate results for minor fixes and do not equal the quality of a thorough restoration. The two main methods we are focusing on today are using a glass cleaning solution method and a more thorough masking tape and sandpaper method.

    Using a Glass Cleaning Solution

    Here is what you will need for the glass cleaning method of restoration: glass cleaning solution, lint-free polishing cloth, car polish, car wax and a rotary buffer. This method is very simple and only requires a few steps. First off, if there is moisture on the inside of the glass, you must carefully remove the headlight lens from the car and let it dry before cleaning. If the damage is on the outside of the headlight, take your glass cleaning solution and spray it on the outside lens. Use a polishing cloth to thoroughly wipe the solution around and off of the lens to completely clean it. Make sure to not apply this solution in direct sunlight to avoid further spottiness or cloudiness. Again, if the damage is on the inside, repeat this step for the inside of the lens as well.

    Now, take some car polish and apply it to the outside of the lens. Make sure the polish has a very fine abrasive in it to lightly grind away at any accumulated dust, dirt or grime. Finally, use your rotary buffer to work in the polish, and apply a final car wax to the headlight to make the cleaning/repair last longer. Now, you have successfully restored your car headlight.

    Using Masking Tape and Sandpaper

    Here is what you will need for the sandpaper method of restoration: masking tape, simple soap and water, 600-grit sandpaper, 1200-grit sandpaper, 2000-grit sandpaper, 2500-grit sandpaper, multiple lint-free polishing cloths, plastic lens cleaner, plastic polish and car wax. The first thing to do is use your masking tape to make a protective tape border around the headlight to protect your vehicle's finish. Then, take your 600-grit sandpaper, and dip it into a bucket of light, soapy water. Lightly rub the fine sandpaper on the front of the headlight lens to clean any adhesive debris or grime off of the surface. Spray some plastic lens cleaner onto the headlight, and use a polishing cloth to evenly wipe around the cleaning solution.

    The next thing to do is remove the headlight's oxidation. Take another polishing cloth, dip one finger of it into your plastic polish, and with the lens still wet from the cleaner, apply the polish evenly across the entire headlight. Now, take your sandpaper from before, dip it into more soapy water, and begin to sand evenly from side to side across the headlight to work in the polish. Continue this sanding process with the 1200, 2000 and 2500-grit sandpapers, consecutively, making sure to get rid of any minor scratches left from the previous coarser grits. Apply another layer of the plastic polish, let it sit for a minute, then buff it with another polishing cloth.

    After cleaning the headline with soap and water to remove any excess polish residue, it is time to wax. Take a polishing cloth, and apply a quarter-sized amount of car wax to it, letting it sink into the cloth for several seconds. Apply the wax to the outside of the lens using a single stroke method gradually from left to right, top to bottom. Once all of the wax is completely worked into the headlight and the lens is completely clear and shiny, consider it restored.

    To learn more about car headlights and for various DIY car tutorials, be sure to visit Eastwood.com.

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