I finally got around to experimenting with chassis painting. The idea was to produce a durable, professional looking finish with off the shelf paint without doing a lot of work. The results were surprising. The paint and primer were purchased from Advanced Auto Parts. Here is the lineup. I tried several types to see which ones gave the best results.
I chose Dupli-Color paint because it is available at most auto parts stores and Wal-Mart. The first step was to remove the plastic from the aluminum and sand it with 330 grit sand paper. Sand in a straight line so there is less chance of seeing the lines through the paint. The goal is to rough up the surface so the paint sticks better.
The next step is to spray the primer. Use a self etching primer for better adhesion. Another trick to make the paint stick is to spray a very light coat on first before applying heavier coats. You can still see the metal after the first coat was applied.
The instructions said to let the primer dry for 10 minutes before applying new coats. I applied two more coats of primer waiting 10 minutes between coats. Spray horizontally, not vertically. Start about two inches to one side of the chassis and stop about two inches past the other side of the chassis in one smooth motion. Don't spot paint in areas that are undercoated. Just spray over the entire area again. If the paint is getting a wet sheen you are putting it on too heavily and it might run. A run is a disaster as you will have to let the chassis dry and sand it out before continuing. Be patient and get it right the first time. Here are the primed test pieces.
Allow th primer to dry for 30 minutes before applying paint. The first paint I tried was the spatter paint. I thought it might be more rugged than other types of paint since it was designed to be used in car trunks. The results of the first coat were horrid, a big splotchy mess. I threw that stuff away and moved on.
Next I tried the black and red paints. Three coats were applied with 10 minutes of drying time between coats. The results were better but still not the results I wanted. The surface was a bit rough and it didn't have a good shine to it. One option would be to sand it and add a couple of more coats but I really didn't want to spend that much time on it.
My wife talked me into buying some clear color changing metal flake paint. I didn't want to buy it because I thought it would be too cheesy looking. Man was I surprised.
I let the paint dry for 30 minutes before applying the metal flake. I applied two coats and allowed it to dry 10 minutes between coats. Here are some pics of the final product. The pictures don't do it justice. My camera seems to have a hard time focussing with the metal flake. The picture looks a bit grainy but it is from the metal flake. The color changes from blue, green, to gold but is shiny black and has a much smoother finish.
Here is the red panel.
I test scratched a panel with a screw driver and it took a bit of pressure to scratch to the metal. Overall I am very happy with the results, especially the black panel. I can't wait to paint a chassis and add more pictures.