Pinstriping: Tips For Classic Car Enthusiasts

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You’ve decided to add pinstriping to your classic car but want basic information before beginning the project. What are some classic car pinstriping tips?

Pinstriping a classic can enhance the appearance of your antique car. Have a plan for pinstriping and use specially designed paint. Most pinstripers thin the paint using dixie cups as containers. Work the brush on the palette for the desired consistency.  Pinstriping on a base coat is not advised.

Many classic car owners have spent fortunes hiring professionals to pinstripe their cars. While this is always an option, some classic car lovers prefer to do the art of painting themselves. Whether adding a thin line down the side or touches to the rising phoenix from the hood, pinstriping can help add charm and beauty to any restoration project. But what should you know if you decide to do pinstriping yourself? What are some classic pinstriping tips? This article will examine the ins and outs of adding these enhancements to take your classic car to a new level.

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What Are Pinstriping Tips For Classic Car Enthusiasts?

The following are some tips for pinstriping a classic car. It is essential to have a plan for the pinstriping to get a feel for what looks right on the car. Some owners draw lines on the car to act as guides, but it isn’t necessary if you want to create a free-flowing pinstripe, depending on your sense of style.

A word to beginners: Classic owners with no pinstriping experience should consider hiring a professional to handle the task. While it might be more expensive to do so, it can free a classic car owner from the frustration of having to do the work themselves.

Choose Your Paint

Once you have a plan in place, you should choose the colors for the pinstriping. Many pinstripers have used oil-based acrylic enamel paints like OneShot or Alphanamal. (Your local paint or auto parts store should carry them). Be sure to thoroughly mix the paint to ensure all the sediment in the bottom of the can is mixed into the pigment completely. Failure to properly mix the paint can lead to runny, too-thin paint, a recipe for disaster.  

Prep The Surface

It is vital to thoroughly clean the surface of any contaminants that might interfere with the pinstriping paint. Once the surface is cleaned with detergent and water, go over the surface with a wax remover to help remove any residual buildup. (You do not want to use anything that would damage the clearcoat, but any wax or grease needs to be off the surface for the paint to stick to the clearcoat). Once the wax remover has been wiped off with a clean, lint-free cloth, apply a final layer of isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol to absorb any oily residue the grease remover might have left.

Tape Any Edges If Needed

Many pinstriping lovers use 3M masking tapes to produce clear straight lines. Be sure to seal the edge of the tape to ensure that there is no bleeding from the painting of the pinstripe and so the tape can create a nice clean edge.

Filter Your Paint Into A Small Container

Since paint tends to thicken when stored, you should use a Kafka Cheap Insurance Paint Filter to separate dried paint globules from the liquid. Many pinstripers use small containers like dixie cups to hold paint. (Be sure to use a wax-free container to prevent any contamination).

Setup a Brush Cleaning Station

Most pinstripers use lacquer thinner to clean brushes and rinse them in a smaller can of mineral spirits. To remove any oil or residue from the brush, rotate the brush into lacquer thinner vigorously to free any old paint residue or oil from the brush. Squeeze the thinner out of the brush, dragging it through a clean, absorbent shop towel. (Paper towels work). Once done, dip the brush into the mineral spirits and stir quickly. Repeat the drying process with a dry shop towel to absorb the spirits. (The lacquer thinner breaks up the paint or oil residue, and the spirits clean the brush).

Thin Your Paint

Most pinstripers add additives to the base paint to achieve the desired consistency. The only way to know the proper amount is to experiment on a different palette. (You can use almost anything, like the top of a Tupperware container or old magazine (as long it’s clean).

Penetrol is an excellent additive that will help thin the paint as needed (follow instructions).

Test The Paint With A Palette

The viscosity of the paint will determine how the pinstriping will look on your car. The best way to figure out what kind of stroke you need is to work on moving your brush back and forth on the palette. The use of a palette will help load the brush with paint.

Begin Painting With Smooth Strokes

Once you have the right amount of paint on the brush, use smooth, steady strokes to apply the paint onto the surface. Remember that the more pressure you apply, the thicker the line, and vice versa. (So start in a place where you want a more solid line and taper towards a lighter line).

In addition, you have the most paint on your brush with the initial stroke. To maintain the proper density of paint on the brush, retouch the brush on the palette after each movement.

Patience is the key to effective pinstriping. Don’t rush the project. Make smooth, simple strokes with the brush, following the spacing between lines. One tip is to concentrate on the spacing between dual lines rather than trying to watch the line itself. (You will have to trust yourself). In addition, as your hand moves, keep your eyes on where the line is going rather than where it has been.

Suppose you need to correct the pinstriping while painting. Use a Q-tip dipped in acetone/denatured alcohol to remove the paint mistake carefully. Be careful to keep the cleaning solution free of other painted pinstriping. (This solution assumes that you are painting on a clear coat. We do not recommend pinstriping on a base coat because making a mistake is often permanent (you must sand the surface to remove the error and then repaint the base coat).

Let the Paint Dry

While most pinstriping paint cures and dries within a few hours, it can vary depending on the humidity and extent of application. It is best to let the paint sit undisturbed for at least twenty-four hours. If you want to test whether the paint is dry, try the fingernail test. (Press the edge of your fingernail onto the paint, and if it makes no dent, then it is likely dry.

Clean and Store Brushes

To clean your brushes, squeeze out any remaining paint in the brush hairs. Press the residue rather than pulling, but be careful not to pull any hairs out. Dip the brushes in brush oil. Shake loose any extra and lay the brush in a tray in a clean, safe environment.