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Auto Paint Or ____? - Refinishing My Wood Cart

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  • Auto Paint Or ____? - Refinishing My Wood Cart

    I just bought a lovely wood road cart for my 14.1hh Percheron/Morgan gelding. It's structurally sound, but needs some beautifying. The woman I bought it off of was in the process of sanding it down to repaint it when she found out she was pregnant, and so the paint she'd intended to use was unsafe to work with while pregnant so she stopped. She ended up selling the horse it was made for, so put it on the market, at which point I went to look at it, found all the measurements to be what I was needing, and after a couple months of biweekly payments it's now mine!

    She was intending to use some random high gloss paint from the local hardware store, but the fellow at the store I spoke to said it's not the best for anything to be used/kept outside, and especially not on wood that will swell and shrink with the changing weather. He suggested automotive paint, but in my search through old threads it looks like there are other options for paint that don't require a spray room?

    I'm hoping to paint it a nice glossy black, and then have a steady-handed friend do silver and teal pinstriping. I'm also going to swap the current green velvety upholstery for black vinyl with teal piping.

    I'm not overly concerned about minor chipping, or brush strokes, I'm likely only going to be using the cart for pleasure driving and (hopefully) a local "toy ride n drive" to collect toys for Santas Anonymous. Should Java and I ever get to the point where we're capable of (and can afford to travel to) doing CDE I wouldn't mind trying our hand at a super low level event, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

    What is the ideal "do it yourself" paint (and primer?) to use to refinish a wood cart? Especially if it's going to be used/living on the wet coast of Canada (Vancouver Island to be specific, we're a temperate rainforest!) And would it be better to apply it with a roller or a brush? My painting experience is limited to interior walls and paper, haha!
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  • #2
    I wish I could be of more help, but we had our meadowbook painted from a natural to blue and we had an automotive painter do it. It did cost a lot, but it worked well and the paint still looks good 12 years later. I'm sure you can do it yourself but I do think automotive paint would be the best option. We also had a phaeton, cutter and an eagle carriage painted by an Amish company, and they use automotive paint as well, but they also have a special "spray" room where they paint all of their carriages.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      That's what I figured, auto paint and spray room being the best option. I'm having no luck finding an auto painter who's willing to do my cart though, all of the ones I've gotten in touch with (and actually got a response from) say they only deal with vehicle collision related work.

      I seem to be living in one of the worst areas for driving, haha! Everyone in southern Vancouver Island seems to either be a draft driver with the carriage companies, or mini people, nobody seems to drive the normal horses. I even had to find a coach/trainer from out of town (She actually comes to the Island from her home in England every month or so over the spring/summer/fall, until the weather gets nasty again) because nobody local was willing to help me get my guy going.

      We don't have an Amish community out here, so I'm stuck relying on a trueblue automotive detailer. Any suggestions on how to convince one to help me?
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      • #4
        money usually talks. Tell them you will cover all the metal and bits that you do not want painted and pay in cash. (that way you are doing a fair amount of fiddle-y work that he does not have to worry about)


        I don't understand why people pigeon hole themselves, money is money.
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        • #5
          I once had a cart painted by the local Ford Dealer, who actually did a pretty fair job for not a lot.

          Get the vehicle well sanded so the primer sticks. You NEED primer, makes a better base for getting the color layer to stick well.

          Considerations with using auto paint, is not making the mix a "hard finish" because you are not painting metal. Your person who said wood has to expand and contract, is correct. Wood was alive once, still will take on moisture from the air, or dry out in sun or heat.

          You CAN brush this kind of paint on, but might want to sand between coats, for a better "slick" look. Some folks with brushes CAN do a paint job without leaving stroke marks, but is a bit time consuming with the sanding.

          The hardest part, is having a place to let the paint dry SLOWLY, without getting dirt in the air for dust to stick on the paint. Black is a nice color, but can need attention in washing, dusting, during shows because it WILL show dust, just like a black car does. Black is real easy to touch up if it gets nicks, chips or rubs.

          We get our paint made up at a auto paint store. They can make ANY color for you, in the hardness you want, will have the numbers "recipe" to make more for those touch-ups later. Auto paint is expensive, so do the good job putting it on. Primer, paint, sanding the layers, so paint lasts a long time for you, in all the driving things you will want to do with the cart.

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          • #6
            The automotive dealer did not want to do our carriage as well. He put a large price on the job and we had to take the whole carriage apart. They just had to sand it down and repaint it. We had to put it all together again and send it out to someone else to do the pin striping. It did cost over $3,500 to paint the carriage plus a lot of labour...
            The amish are much more affordable but they are hard to find as they are busy dealing with other clients. We just can't be in too much of a rush

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            • #7
              I've redone about 3 jog carts now. An oil based paint is preferable to acrylic. There is another type paint out there, that is historically what is used for carriages, but I can't remember the name of it. It's hard to find outside of the internet. For my natural wood one, I used a semi-gloss spar varnish and it came out great. Auto paint is good as well, I did that once too.

              I've pinstriped a couple ways. Automotive striping tape is pretty reasonable and is quick and easy. I painted the stripes on the natural cart, but I was a little sleazy about it. I used narrow (1/8") masking tape to bound the stripes; 3 pieces in parallel, then pulled the middle one up. I filled the open part in with an oil based paint marker. It worked great.

              When I got the one bike sprayed, I just asked them. What kind of businesses are you asking? I went to a hungry-looking, small outfit, a little off the beaten path and almost kind of shady. I think they had a Rottweiler tied outside. I didn't bother with dealerships or bigger body shops. My other thought would be someplace that did a lot of motorcycle work.

              I used a cabinet roller on one - not sure I'd do that again. The natural one - I spray painted the metal work, about 6-8 times, and touched up with a small brush. I taped it extensively. The best thing I did was to rent a storage garage. It was clean and allowed me to keep it out of the weather (apartment dweller). I only used it for a month or two so the cost wasn't too high. Many places do the first month free.
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              • #8
                I think Red Mares is getting really hot by suggesting that you first look for tied up rottweilers- and then ask for the spray guy.

                I actually have a paint booth here on my farm and my husband was a professional painter for many years- not so much anymore. It's a coonhound, not a rottweiler though. Day jobs at a dealership doing collision repair painting on new cars- night work at home doing custom motorcycles.

                I will also mention that we had a few *young* amish guys hire us to paint their buggies- because when black is all you have to work with- the difference between brushed on enamel and a sprayed automotive paint with deep clearcoat was a difference they were willing to pay for.

                The paints themselves are very expensive- but the prepping, taping and sanding is very time consuming and eclipses the cost of the paint. People who don't quote you what the job is really worth will wind up hating themselves (and you) the whole time because it's just slave labor.

                Most people with automotive and motorcycle experience have a VERY high standard of finish- and will really fret over tiny specks of dust, drips, or surface texture called "orange peel"... so while you may not even be able to see those defects- "comon- I just want it black- it's not going in a museum" the person may simply not be able to work at any level other than the perfection expected by a person who brought in a expensive new car or a custom Harley. One of those things is that the primer has to be sanded. Just think about sanding spokes...(yeah- that was my job) it's possible that someone would be more willing to take it on (and at an affordable rate) if you could do it in 2 parts- have them spray the primer- you sand- and then they do the finish.

                I also would suggest that this idea is presented not as a way for you to chisel every bit of profit off the job- but as a way for you to present the job to them in a way that might make it appealing to even do.

                I would try going to the local dealer of automotive paints and ask about independant shops or see if you can post a flyer.

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                • #9
                  Racetrack standards are pretty high as well and the paint of choice for wooden shafts is high gloss marine enamel. Metal parts are chromed, powder coated or automotive paint with clear coat.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Plainandtall View Post

                    Most people with automotive and motorcycle experience have a VERY high standard of finish- and will really fret over tiny specks of dust, drips, or surface texture called "orange peel"... so while you may not even be able to see those defects- "comon- I just want it black- it's not going in a museum" the person may simply not be able to work at any level other than the perfection expected by a person who brought in a expensive new car or a custom Harley. One of those things is that the primer has to be sanded. Just think about sanding spokes...(yeah- that was my job) it's possible that someone would be more willing to take it on (and at an affordable rate) if you could do it in 2 parts- have them spray the primer- you sand- and then they do the finish.
                    This is the guys who did mine. They were much more anal about things than I was. I think they painted it a couple times until they were happy with it - I think the clear coat dripped/ran. The striping was another story. They striped EVERYTHING even under the singletree. It looked fantastic. Then my horse decided to go over a fence with it. So much for that bike.
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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Bumping this back up because a couple new-but-related questions have popped up.

                      red mare suggested I try Citri-Strip to help get the old paint off without damaging too much of the wood underneath, but I learned that Citri-Strip isn't available in Canada.

                      Are there other, equally effective, alternatives to Citri-Strip that I could look into? I know I could/probably should just sand it down completely by hand, but I'm finding that my tendinitis (both elbows, unfortunately) makes sanding really painful after more than a few minutes, and I'm making no progress. Thought about borrowing Dad's power sander but I'm not comfortable enough using it to feel like I can do a good job and not ruin my cart.
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                      • #12
                        I'm going to assume you have some sort of hardware store up there. IME, if you're female, the help assume you have no clue about what you're doing and are happy to tell you exactly what you should buy. Just tell them you need something to strip antique furniture.
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                        • #13
                          It's a long way but I know someone in Winlock, WA who would be willing to do an automotive paint job on a cart. I've seen his work personally, he's pretty good.

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                          • #14
                            You don't need a spray room for automotive paint. It is nice but not 100% necessary. DH has done the MG and his GTO. Both done on the driveway on a nice calm, non-humid morning. Rolled it into the garage before the dew overnight.

                            The MG was a beautiful Snapdragon Yellow and the GTO was Covette white.
                            My understanding is that metallic is the hardest to apply. DH won't do metallic and after that black is the toughest color. DH has done black on a Toyota pick-up and on a Barracuda.

                            He uses a good sized compressor and a spray gun. Many light coats is better than one heavy coat.

                            The GTO had a flexible bumper so there was an additive he put in the paint for the bumper so it wouldn't crack.
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