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Avanti Paint Removal Suggestion.

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  • Paint: Avanti Paint Removal Suggestion.

    Last week I purchased a used ARE Z-series truck cap for my 2014 Ram pickup. The PO said he had sprayed the cap black over the original red it was when he purchased it last year.

    The cap was built in 2013 by the MFG label, so I took it home and (still with memories of scraping every inch of paint off my 74 Avanti) and decided to just sand off the top coats. The first time the sander hit the black paint it clogged the paper. After a couple of tries it became clear the PO had sprayed the cap with uncatalyzed enamel. Bugger!!

    There was no way I was going to attack it with razor blades so I started to read up on strippers. I have a general aversion to the aircraft strippers as when I used them many moons ago, I had a mess in the joints and seams that took a ton of work to remove.

    After reading a bit I chose two to try.

    Citristrip - from Home Depot

    West Marine Paint Remover -

    Bought a quart of each, spread about a 3' X 4' panel of each on the roof and tested at a few intervals.

    Just for the record, my guess at the paint composition is the top surface is just unhardened enamel over an automotive grade base coat topped with hardened clear coat, just like the OEM paint on the truck.

    At two hours, little effect from West Marine although the black did start to lift. The citristrip had started to loosen the clear coat but it would only come off with a small putty knife and erratically.

    At four hours, The citristrip had softened the black and clear coat but seemed to have trouble with the base coat. The black and CC would strip off the base coat. The West Marine seemed to be getting to the base coat and clear coat but would only allow removal with a 1" putty knife using a fair bit of force and still leaving a lot of BC/CC in place.

    Enough of that, waited until 24 hrs expired (GOLF happens) and went back to scraping. The citristrip hadn't improved much and was still erratic in removing everything and needed a fair bit of force on a 1" putty knife. The West Marine area now came off in sheets. I went from a 1" putty knife to a 3" paint scraper, and the paint came off in 3" wide sheets without much effort leaving a layer of gray primer, My guess, with just a slight red tint to it in places.

    Took out the orbital palm sander with 150 grit and sanded cleared area from the West Marine. Just like smoothing sandable primer, Eureka!!

    Went back to West Marine, purchased a gallon ($60) and spread it over the area where the citristrip had been and the rest of the cap.

    24 hours later, peeled most of the paint to primer with minimal effort and the 3" scraper. I'll let it set until my paint and primer arrive and my final sanding.

    To be totally up front, I did hit small areas under the West Marine that needed to be scraped with the smaller putty knife as they were still somewhat adhered to the cap. My guess is I didn't have enough remover in those areas.

    Paint comes off with no mess or liquid anywhere just long strips of soft paint. I used nitrile gloves but otherwise there seems to be little danger or mess from the stripper. As far a product in the seams, I just swabbed them with a soft cotton cloth soaked in Naptha and they look clear with no residue.

    Long enough, but if you want to start on your Avanti, this may be worth a look. Wish I had back when.


  • #2
    Where did you purchase the West Marine product? Is it a retail outfit or on-line? Our '70 Avanti needs the paint removed.

    Did you cover the stripper during the waiting process? Some people have good luck covering the goo with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out during the soaking process.
    Mike Sal


    • #3
      West Marine has stores but I'm not sure exactly where they are located. We have one 5 miles from my home. They do mail order, just Google West Marine and you'll find their website and store locations. They are my, and a lot of other folks, go to for Epoxy products.

      Apparently the stripper is designed to not need a plastic covering. They want it used between 60 and 85 deg F IIRC. It comes in qts and gals. $20/qt and $60/gal.

      I've used about 1/2 to 2/3 of a gallon on the 6.5 ft cap. You could try a qt to see effectiveness and also coverage if you are interested. I like the low toxicity and ease of cleanup.

      Good luck, Bob


      • #4
        To put a wrap on the thread, here is a shot of the side of the cap after the stripper was scraped off. You can see around the windows that there is less red as I cleaned that area with a stainless steel brush and Naptha to get into the areas around the windows. I've tested the other side with the orbital palm sander (150 paper) and the remaining material sands just like sandable primer.

        Click image for larger version

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        Here the complete tools etc, that I used on the project.

        Click image for larger version

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        • #5
          How thick would you say the layer of stripper was as you painted it on?


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mike Sal View Post
            How thick would you say the layer of stripper was as you painted it on?
            Hard to say exactly, but my guess is credit card thickness to possibly 1/8" or so. It is interesting technology as the MFG seems to want it to dry on the surface of the stripper possibly retarding evaporation but, IAC, it worked well for me. I just used a disposable 3" wide brush. The directions also suggest that it can be applied with a roller.


            • #7
              I live next to Lake Champlain where fiberglass boat hulls are soda blasted to remove paint and not damage the fiberglass underneath. Because I live in the woods, when they did my Avanti's "stripping" they didn't have to tent the car (some grass turned brown for a while). With baking soda as the blasting medium, they could take off as many layers of paint as required ... and it did not damage the trim or glass. Because I was worried about modern paint adhesion, I had them remove the original primer but, if I had to do it again, I would have had them leave it ... and not disturb the fiberglass below. (which then required more filler and sanding). As you probably know, there is no gel coat on an Avanti so the factory primer does a lot of "leveling".
              My Michigan Avanti's frame had been undercoated and soda blasting just bounces off rubber. Again, if I had to do it over, I would remove the engine, lift the body off and then scrape off the rubber ... then let them soda blast everything. Soda blasting is great at getting into crannies and concave surfaces (where razor blades and chemicals can be problematic). POR 15 is great stuff but, if I had a soda (or sand) blasted frame, then I could have powder coated. I should note, the soda has to be washed off and neutralized before painting ... but that was easy and left no chemical residue from a stripper (which I am very comfortable using for antique mahogany boats).