Thursday, September 11, 2014

On $30 Paint Jobs, and Other of Life's Priorities

Before . . .
I've written several times about my little truck which, honestly, looks like it has leprosy.  It's does, after a fashion, since, because it is cursed with one of those infamous GMC primer coats that NOTHING sticks to, its paint peels like it's a redhead with a sunburn.  The dealer painted it several times in its youth (it's 25 years old this year!), and nothing stuck until my aunt and uncle, from whom I inherited it, painted it with tractor paint.  That's been at least 15 years ago and that paint is turning loose, too.  The truck is primarily used on the farm, is 25 years old but runs well, needs some body work, and, to be perfectly honest, is probably not worth the cost of a professional paint job.  My Suburban is afflicted with the same GMC paint disease, is only 20 years old but runs extremely well considering it has 300,000+ miles on it (we're going for half a million!), and would take more paint than my house.

Now I'm not one to sweat appearances over function, but even I began to tire of the piteous looks from friend and stranger alike so I started casting about for a solution.  Professional paint jobs?  Too expensive--even the cheap ones.  And the idea that formed sounded the the beginning to a Jeff Foxworthy joke:

If your car's new paint job involves blue tape, spray cans, and day with calm winds . . .

Before . . .
You get the idea.  Yup, I did it.  I started with the Suburban and a trip to Home Depot for Rust-Oleum Automotive Enamel in Gloss White.  I taped off everything I didn't want painted and shot the little rust dings with a bit of gray primer.  Given that the roof of a Suburban is only slightly smaller than an aircraft carrier, I dragged out a 6 foot step ladder for it and the hood.  Finding a calm day can be a challenge, but one turned up in late July, and I spent an afternoon and six cans of gloss white.  Actually, I'm pretty impressed with the results, so far.  It looks far better from a distance, and not so bad up close.

. . . After
The procedure was the same for the truck:  sand off big flakes, prime rust spots, tape off glass, and wait for a calm day.  For this project, I invited my darling daughter out to help; it's never too soon to start training the next generation in cost/benefit analysis.  For this job I dropped by my local Tractor Supply for five cans of Majic's M F Gray--for the non-tractor girls among us, that's Massey Ferguson gray.  A quick test spritz revealed that to be the tractor paint color that had held up so well.  We, basically, painted everything but inside the bed (I have my eye on some rubberized spray coating for that!) but, because it's so tiny, only used barely four cans of paint!

The reactions of my friends, family, and colleagues have ranged from bemusement to bewilderment.  I find, however, that the same ones who were aghast at the visual condition of my vehicles are even more aghast at my admittedly cheapskate solution.  But, I'm okay with that, and I have my family to thank.  I was raised by people who survived the Great Depression--both my grandparents, and my parents--where functionality trumped fashion in every case.  I like to think the lessons I learned from their frugality have helped my family survive the Great Recession of 2008.

So, my vehicles are joining a long line of vehicles whose function far outlasted their beauty:  the Blue Goose ('50 Dodge), the Red Monster ('56 Chevrolet), and, now, the Suburban ('94) and the Little Truck ('89).  They're worn, but they do their job with a quiet pride in a job well-done.  And, friends, that's real beauty.

What about you?  How are you living your Savory life?