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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
THE FOLLOWING IS BEING ADDED TO ALL THE TIME WITH PICTURES OF PRODUCTS AND INFORMATION. SOME OF THIS INFORMATION HERE IS NOT COMPLETE. FOLLOWING THE INCOMPLETE INFORMATION COULD COST A LOT OF TIME AND MONEY. THE LEARNINNG CURVE IS STEEP WITH THIS SORT OF WORK. LInks will be posted on tutorials of how the techniques are supposed to be done. I will show videos .....part numbers....cost....materials. This will be a comprehensive thread that should guide anyone wanting to do extensive work on their car.

April 2013.........my car gets hit by a truck. This is what I did about it

I am always adding to sections the specifics of that section. The reason for this was that for me to learn.....a massive amount of era wax had to be done. Like a typical forum you had to sift through hours of opinions to get some concrete answer. And like all professionals.....they do it so much they leave out important information.....like letting the epoxy sit for 30 minutes after it's mixed then stirring it. The labels and directions on all these products say.....for professionals only. They aren't kidding. To a certain extent, I spared no expense. I figured the school for this is like $25,000. I know people who have been to these schools and I can now do a lot of what they do. The tools and materials I use are quality and set up for a pro restoration shop.

Shop is often messy....I was coming home from work and driving 75 miles to the shop. Working till 2 or 3am often times and driving home. Being that tired I just put stuff wherever. I typically don't work in such a mess. It gets messy very quickly with this process

This thread will be a tutorial on how to basically put together the 330ci body. I am doing a bare metal respray.....all the paint removed.....all the parts removed.
I won't show you how to take it apart. I will show you how to put it back together and you can do the reverse of that. This thread will be fairly comprehensive and will be a work in progress with things added as I go. As of now you are looking at the bare steel body. All the plastic clips and pieces underneath all that trim and seals will be shown as well as explained how to remove it and

I tried several kinds and this was the best I found.
.......seemed to work easier when I put plastic over it to not let it evaporate
.......DO NOT USE THIS ON PLASTIC PARTS.....it will eat all plastic
.......stuff is messy and gets everywhere
.......Takes multiple applications
.......way faster than sand paper removal
.......clean, clean, clean, and then clean more to remove it....water or wax and grease remover.
This is some nasty stuff. Make sure you use thick rubber gloves because it will eat your skin. It's harsh and I hate using it. It's messy but effective. Seems like it takes forever to remove everything.
Once you start with it that's all you have. You can't just use it halfway and then stop.
It's get every nook and cranny. Places sand paper won't go....that's good and bad.
It literally eats the paint off the car and you take a bondo spreader and wipe the paint right off. The stripper basically liquefies the paint so you can see how it would be messy. Make sure you get it clean and off of the metal. If any is left on there. The primer won't stick to the car and will lift the paint after your paint job is done.
-----that's the problem with it. Say you put some on the paint and there is some paint that just wants to stay on there. Which there will be......if you decide to sand that paint with the stripper on there. The sanding grit that cuts into the metal will imbed stripper into the metal. And will come out when the paint job is done. I cleaned my car until there was almost no black on the rag. I didn't have the pump sprayer to do it at the time. Didn't know it existed till I saw it on a shelf at the paint store.
I said "what is that on the wall"
he said "you don't want that, it's an expensive wax and grease remover applicator"
I said " I want it"
He said "For one car?"
I replied "yeah, for one car"
Wished I had it the whole time.
Basically if any is left on there it will continue to eat the paint from the inside out
Looking back.......I would tape off the car in section and do one section at a time. I didn't...I spread it over the body all at once. Would have saved some time doing it piece by piece because once the paint is gone it starts rusting the next day. Some of the paint just did not want to come off. Bmw primer and paint is some nice stuff. I was impressed.
I tried to strip a wheel I bought for my spare.......the stripper would not take the original primer off of it.

-aircraft stripper for metal-

I started by mechanical stripping. I didn't want to use chemical stripping at all because I knew how messy it was and I hate it. What takes .....let's say 30 minutes to several hours with mechanical stripping will take you 5 minutes to 1 hour with stripper. It's just way faster and much much less manual labor. I use chemical I a corner and the paint is gone.
If I use mechanical I a corner with whatever rotary or any tool I can get in that corner it's still rough to get the paint and primer out of a tight spot. So I switched to chemical stripping.
If you want to use rotary tools and don't like stripper. Here are some I used and found effective and still ended up using even though I switched to chemical. The black wheel works well. As it wears down it can get into tighter spaces.

-rotary tool by infer sol rand with paint stripping wheel connected to it-

A drill is handy for mechanical stripping because my air grinder couldn't get into some spots the drill could. The spiked wheel came from northern tool. The other piece with the sand paper pad on it is called a roloc. You buy the rubber base and the roloc pads screw into the base. Very handy and has some really aggressive grit sand paper pads. Gets into tight spaces. The black wheel on the air grinder is much better than the spiked red pad shown here. Much more aggressive.

-roloc pad ......and red stripping wheel-

The body is bare steel.....there is no rust preventer of any kind on there. The body would surface rust in a day if left un primed.

The body metal is not as good as the door, trunk, hood metal. The roof being an exception...The body metal rusts way faster. This means the door, hood, roof and trunk metal is superior. They contain other metals mixed in with more rust resisting qualities. For example, I left the body for a day and there was some rust, I left it for a week and there was a lot of rust.
The bolt on parts barely rusted in 2 weeks. My guess is this is because doors, fenders, hood etc.....take impact in crashes and need to be stronger......so the metal is much better. When I say better I mean the steel sheet metal is mixed with stronger metals while in its molten state.
the dark metals aren't rusting. The rusted metals became rusted after 5 exposed days. It had to be re sanded. The cleaning process was daunting

Masking the car
Seems pretty straightforward, but it's not. There is -believe it or not- a learning curve that if not done correctly will make you ridiculously mad. I'll tell you why.....

Look at this stuff. It's blue, smooth, expensive, and thick.
It's the best you can get and for primering I don't use it but I might in the future.
.......I use it for paint and clear.
.......It's white on the other side
.......It is a bright color and seemed to help me see better. Contrasted black paint and black primer.
.......Showed dust better and overspray. Especially on the white side when I used it white.
I started to use this well after my project was underway. I didn't know it existed or I would have been using it the whole time just because it's bright and helped me see the car better.

-blue masking paper-

-note the contrast difference-

Dark green masking paper
Then there is this stuff.
......Didn't show dust at all because it's dark
......less expensive
......made the whole car look dark
......not as smooth
......might use it again if I don't have blue masking paper above.
......buy a sprayer like the one on the floor....off topic....but important enough to mention again.

-dark green masking paper-

-it seemed harder to see with the green stuff....the black epoxy looks like black base coat-

Start here by getting one of these pump sprayers.
.........There are 2 kinds. One for water and one for solvent. Get the one for solvent like this one
.........They are expensive for what it is. This one was $60
I didn't start out with one. I bought it far into the project, and if I could think of one of the best items I bought for the project this would be it. It made cleaning much less time consuming and much much easier. I will never do a car again without one. Worth every penny. I will explain later.

-solvent pump sprayer-

One brand of wax and grease remover I used. I switched after a problem it caused me. Your supposed to wait half an hour for this stuff to dissolve. Really it dissolves in 10 minutes or so. I used it all the way up until clearing the car. I waited 45 minutes and it lifted my fresh clear. .....and it was this that was the cause. Maybe I put too much on or something. I had a lot of experience using it. I'm not saying don't use it. I used it for a long time. I'm saying I like what I have way better. It evaporates in seconds and works fine. No more jx 101 for me. Peeve without the lifting of the clear.......it just stays on there too long.
I WILL SAY THIS.......since it stays on there for a long time. You can use it to check wavy panels. If your filler work is not right and you want to check what it's going to look like with final paint on there. Spray some of this jx101 on there....or water to check reflection. This acts as if you put polished clear on there because it's shiny when applied. The other stuff I use evaporated too fast to really check well. I found several thing with it. Heavy scratches that would have shown up in final paint and wavy filler work that I went back and did more finish work on. It's a good trick.
I'm switching to spi wax and grease remover. Never used it but all their stuff is good. I cannot get it on hand though. I will use spi epoxy, high build and grease remover. No affiliation with them. More on spi later and why I use them and have dedication.

-ppg was and grease remover jx 101-

-checking reflection with jx101......will show imperfections and scratches-

Epoxy needs 70° to cure properly.....what that means is the metal needs to be 70°. Not just the shop temperature. It even likes 90° if you can stand it. My heater is on the side of the building up high. The passenger side of the car was 83°, the driver side was 60°. Check multiple places on the car. This little device was second to the pump sprayer in best things I purchased. I used it very often.....it's a standard laser temperature checker. Point it at the car and check the surface temp. Bought it at lowes

-temperature gun-

Epoxy primer.....
............EPOXY HAS RULES TO FOLLOW. I will have the manufacturer proof read this.
............It's like JB Weld..... a 2 part primer mixed that hardens
............it is flexible.....needs no flex additive for plastic

............water proof, it's is the only water proof primer. ALL OTHERS absorb water and rust under the primer //////////epoxy does not rust under the primer.

.............seals the metal with 2 coats
..............wait 1/2 hour between spraying coats
..............you can spray epoxy over paint or other primers if the paint or other primer is dry and scuffed with 180 grit sandpaper.....needs 180G scratches to bond
...........Bare metal MUST be sanded with 80 grit scratches for primer to bond to it
.......... Must be the first primer, you can't put HIGH BUILD 2k on bare metal
...........Eliminates need for etching primer...etching primer bonds to metal well also
...........2k high build can be put on top of epoxy
...........Epoxy is not high building, it is sealing primer only, very thin
...........spray at 70° at least. That means the metal is 70°
............use a laser temperature gun to check the metal temperature..
............epoxy must stay 70° for 12 hours...
................................. less than 70° THE PRIMER GOES DORMANT
...........can must be stirred with paint stIck.....not just shaken up. Stir well
...........let epoxy sit 24 hours and then out seam sealer on it......see the picture below of the rusted out seems on the door. The epoxy created another moisture barrier to prevent this.

This is the only type of water proof primer. Other primers are like a sponge, will absorb water and rust underneath, you won't know until much later....... 2k high build is not water proof.

Filler (bondo) can be put over it ONLY AFTER 48 HOURS .
I scuff the epoxy after 48 hours with 180G sandpaper and hen put filler on it.

Brand: SPI.....southern polyurethane inc
Mix 1:1 ................1 part primer and 1 part catalyst.
Mix1:1:1 ....1 part primer, 1 part catalyst, 1 part reducer. THIS MAKES SEALER.
Best tech support, easy to get a hold of, smaller company with an excellent reputation, would never buy from anywhere else......I have no affiliation. Try to find a bad review on them....even 1

Directions of use:
Stir can well
Mix in the mixing cup according to ratio
Stir in mixing cup
LET SIT FOR 1/2 HOUR to induce
Stir again
Pour into gun pot using paint strainer
Spray primer after metal is 70°

-SPI epoxy primer-

For turning epoxy primer into a sealer.
A sealer is just reduced primer for better flow and a soft smooth coat. It goes on like base coat and is very very thin. I used black epoxy as a sealer because I putting black paint on there. Black had a hard time covering the yellow primer. No problem covering the black sealer. You put on the sealer, wait over night and put paint right on top of it if it comes out nice.
Sealer is also made to make the car one color.
High build is absorbent of paint. It is harder to cover. Epoxy sealer dries like glue and is water proof. Therefore......it is not as porous as high build and paint cover it better. Epoxy sealer is also water proof. You can sand it like primer because it's reduced primer. I had to sand mine. Wit is also great for touch ups. Places where I broke through the paint in sanding the clear I will touch up with reduced epoxy.

-SPI urethane reducer-

The 2 part stuff is the best and supposed to last the longest. It's like epoxy glue

there are 2 kinds
Self leveling.......thin, runny, very liquid. Good for horizontal surfaces because it flows well

Regular......more like tooth paste. Good for vertical surfaces because it doesn't run down. Doesn't flow well for horizontal surfaces. Won't flow into seams as well as self leveling. I used both styles at $30 a piece.

Look at the gun applicator. Stupid expensive for what it does. $90
Get a caulking gun and use that style. Although.......this brand is good but you have to have that gun to use it. It's a 2 part mixing gun. Buy extra tips for it. They are 1 time use, when it dries the tip is done. I used like 6 tips or so. Basically......so you know.....as long as seam sealer is moving out of that gun, it won't dry on you. The moment it stops and sits for 4 or 5 minutes the seam sealer in the tip will cure and you change the tip out.
Your doing both doors, roof rack, tail light housings and possible trunk and maybe underside of hood. Your going to stop at some point and rest. The tips are cheap. Stop, rest, and change it. No big deal. The gun has more uses.......plastic repair glue, panel bond, and seam sealer. It was worth it to me.
-SMC brand 2 part mixing gun with seam sealer-

Not bondo, Bondo is a brand
Filler work done on top of epoxy primer
Filler is Rage Evercoat Extreme. $65 per gallon
Lighter weight than other brands
Sands much better than other fillers. (Its like sanding drywall)
Epoxy was rough sanded to find low spots......all of which were known anyway since I stripped the paint and all the previous filler..........filler was applied and sanded shallow. More epoxy was sprayed over the filler, scuffed afterwards to find low spots in the filler. More filler was added 24 hours after epoxy was applied. SPI epoxy has a 24 hour window where it needs to cure before body work can be done on top of it.
2nd coat of filler finish sanded.....
2k high build sprayed
Dry guide coat powder applied then sanded off to find low sots

glazing putty

This pad had many sheets of paper that are used for mixing bondo.
It's clean, flat, and you just tear a sheet off when your done. Get one if your doing any filler.

-filler work spreading paper-

your going to need sanding blocks. The dura block set is just the start of the blocks you should have

Durablock sanding set........just by the whole set. Your going,to need them all-

Used to fill in very small un evenness and imperfections
3 coats
Not water proof
Helps fill in scratches from 320grit sand paper

Mix is 4:1 ratio

Special aircraft stripper used to take paint off of plastic parts.
..........................DO NOT USE REGULAR PAINT STRIPPER ON PLASTIC....................
........Look on the plastic part for a stamped letter combination. Such as "ABS" "PP" "ABS+PC".

ABS......DO NOT USE ANY PAINT STRIPPER WHATSOEVER. the paint stripper will eat the part. Your plastic door trim is abs plastic. I used plastic safe stripper......the part was ruined.

-melted plastic abs trim piece-

PP......POLY PROPYLENE........bumpers, door handles, ........SAFE to use plastic safe paint stripper.
With paint stripper on the car period especially plastic... Do not touch it with sand paper. The stripper will dig itself into the micro surfaces of the plastic AND WILL NEVER COME OUT. Just wash it off with water several times and then wax and grease remover for plastic.

WAX AND GREASE REMOVER FOR PLASTIC......alcohol based, creates no static electricity.
Regular wax and grease remover does create static and dirt sticks to it, and you will notice the static when you run any kind of towel over the part. Plus it's rumored the static and the solvents have cause flash fires. The alcohol stuff is aggressive cleaner and has no flammable solvents. My polypropylene bumper came from Umnitza already primered. The primer is junk and the plastic cleaner was aggressive enough that I stripped the primer all the way off with just the cleaner. I did this because using the plastic safe paint stripper.....is hard to clean up. You have to clean it a lot to make sure none of the stripper is left in there. By doing it with the plastic cleaner.....it was already clean and left no residue as the cleaner evaporates....the plastic cleaner stripped the junk primer just fine. Here is plastic cleaner

-dx103 plastic cleaner-


3,342 Posts
Concerns about the rustproofing. Are you leaving the galvanizing intact?

Sent from BimmerApp mobile app

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Where I started at.....purchased in Florida

For some reason my car has the long sweep trunk handle. I only see this on 03 to 06 facelift

It should have this one..because I have the 02...so I have this 02 bumper but the facelift trunk handle.

These trunks are not interchangeable. The handle cut out is stamped perfectly for each trunk. They rough cut the holes bigger in the trunk for some reason..... It looked like a hack job. It was behind the handle and well hidden but it could have been a cleaner cut. When they ground it out was a lot of surface rust that would have eventually become a problem. There was no 330ci emblem on it when I bought the car.....Which should have raised red flags. As you can see the 330 emblem sits higher on the facelift car.

.......the start of this mess
Typically you just scuff the paint with a grey scotch bright pad as you can see above. In doing this you can either repaint over the old paint or just reclear the car.
Your making the clear very dull and you want to. It is counter intuitive......but if I were to reclear or put more clear on top of that dull scuffed clearcoat. It WOULD NOT LOOK DULL. It would be transparent and have a deeper clear look.
Say you want that deep shine on your car. You could just do this and put more clear coat on there. This would give you the deep clear look. Your car has 2 coats on it.
3 more looks show quality..... I will eventually have 6 coats.
I will Start with 3 wet thick coats. Block sand that with 400g sandpaper to make it flat, taking out the urethane wave that comes with putting on clearcoat. Then spray 3 more and sand that to 5000g
Then polish

I was going to throw a passenger side fender on it and repaint it black. I didn't know about the problems at the point I scuffed all of this. I was just going to blend the fender paint into the original paint job. I scuffed all of this to reclear the whole car.


........................STRIPPING THE PAINT...............
As said above stripping the paint was started by mechanical stripping with rotary tools and whatever I could get into the tight spaces. I did the whole care all at once. Now looking back I should have stripped and tapped off in sections 3 feet at a time to prevent rust from forming.then epoxy primered the section I tapped off. The reason I did not is because I didn't understand the building nature of primer. I thought I would never be able to get the car blocked consistently even because if I primered the thing in sections there would have been no way to get it all even.
.....well, the primer builds more than enough in the high build stage that no matter what you do to it as far as it being uneven or wavy, you will still be able to block it back out with sanding blocks. The sand paper on hard blocks will cut the primer flat again. You cannot see the waves , tape lines, or un even parts. Only the block can find these inconsistencies. I was in and out of the shop for weeks because of work. If I had enough time to strip the car all at once with no rust forming I might do it all at once again. I couldn't get there every day of the week and my shop is an hour away. I moved at the beginning of this project.
Doing it in sections is hard for me to explain as I've never done it before or experimented with it. Someone who has experience with it can explain it maybe. I will figure it out if someone wants to try. Right now I'm just trying to get this written.

Look at this piece. .....probably imported from china.....and a replica made out of polypropylene. On the car it's probably fine and long lasting, I mean that to give it credit.
Most of these parts are junk compared to oem. They make it cheap and really don't put much into it. They look the same as oem, maybe even fit the same, and have the same polypropylene build.
My guess is that it's cheap polypropylene because this piece flexed and took Mis shape on me. I believe when I put it on the car it is thin enough to straighten itself back out. I wanted the piece bare plastic......they only had painted ones in stock and they cost more. He sent me a painted one for the same price as the plastic because I bought a lot of stuff.
I got the parts in, took a look at them, and laughed as I picked up a can of flexible paint stripper to take off the ppg paint that was on there. Ppg makes several lines of paint. I doubt this is the good line and even if it was. What clear coat or primer was on there? I just didn't believe it could be quality........and it doesn't have to be. For most cars. It needs to look good and hold up for a while. For this build however I wasn't going to put expensive clear on the body of the car and throw nice paint and clear over the paint and clear they already put on it because what's under your paint is as important as what's on top of it. Not to mention......when I talked to the guy, he told me they had just switched painters and he didn't know if the parts I received were painted by the old painter who was putting out sub par work. I thought....."what a waste as the paint on those looks nice but it's going to be stripped the moment I get it".
Here is a picture of it being stripped. As you can see, there was no primer on there. It stripped in minutes easily. I was very happy it came off that easily and only took one can.
.......don't get me wrong, buying painted side skirts is fine if you can't paint. It also will probably last you the life of the car. I'm not beating on it here. selling painted products helps you out because that the only way you can get products like this and a painter would charge a lot more.
Point is......it's cheap but it doesn't matter.

Stripped paint off of side skirt-

Now we look at bmw side skirts......3 cans of flexible plastic paint stripper and the stuff still wouldn't come off. I will have to totally soak this in water to get rid of the paint stripper and remove it wall mechanically. The oem bumper were the same way. As you can see there is primer on there and that primer wanted to stay. If I thought metal paint stripper wouldn't eat the plastic I would use that and I bet it would work as it is much stronger. Never tried to see if it would eat poly propylene. They will not be used so I might try. The point is, the bmw paint was very high quality and the stuff under it was as well. I bought new bumpers and side skirts because I was being lazy and just didn't want to strip the old ones. Reason.....I tried to strip them and they wouldn't chemically strip. Look at a 330ci bumper.....too many tight spots to mechanically strip. Not worth it in my opinion....has to be spray blasted.....I don't have one of those yet.
I bought the skirts in addition because.....in my opinion.....if you buy an m3 or mtech II front bumper and not the skirts. The body lines don't flow well.

Original bmw side skirts......the paint and primer would just not die when chemically stripped

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I started with epoxy primer.
Self etching primer is like buying a television from the 1980's when you can get a nice flat screen tv that covers your whole wall. Self etch is old school, out of date and has little use anymore.

Self etching primer has acid in it that eats into the metal. The acid dissipates and becomes dormant
You have to wait for this to happen or the acid gets trapped if you put high build on before the acid in self etch does what it needs to. I have used self etching primer and it works fine. Works well in fact. It's just old school. It's also not water proof like epoxy is.

To do body work with self etching primer. You can't....You have to take it off down to metal and do the body work on the metal and respray it with high build on top of the filler work. You should not do body work on top of high build either.....or put filler on top of paint for that matter. Filler work should be done on bare metal or on top of (epoxy before 4 days).
You can wait 7 days and put filler on top of epoxy but it should be scuffed with red scotch Brite pad. Or filler work should be done on bare metal. Epoxy is sticky and the longer it sets endless sticky it is. After 7 days it's not sticky any more. A good body man says to always do it over epoxy and if you don't.....the car gremlins are going to eat your car and storm clouds will gather just over you and rain on you for life. This is nonsense.....even they put bondo on bare metal for the past half century. It's now considered a no no. It's complete bs. A new guy doing this will sand down that bondo right through the primer a thousand times before it's right. I tried and tried,.....wasted a lot of time and money trying to do it over the epoxy primer. If you can.....great. If you can't......just seal the filler work over with epoxy to keep moisture out.

After a while you ask enough questions to understand and you finally understand. The reason restoration guys like to put filler over the epoxy is the fact that filler.....or bondo as you know it. It contains talc. Powder that is almost like powdered chalk. The talk really absorbs moisture if left exposed for long periods....or even short periods. Look at how fast my car rusted.....2 days of moisture to rust. Well......the filler will absorb that moisture. If enough gets through it will rust the metal on the back side of the filler. Then you have rust under your filler.

A restoration guy takes his time and puts down epoxy first which seals the metal. He can leave filler exposed forever and the epoxy underneath will protect the metal. Restoration guys use bondo in many areas and sometimes cover the entire car with it. They then sand it all off and what's left fills imperfections. This way they don't miss any spots on a $10,000 paint job. Bondo has a bad rap and that comes from the past when it was junk. It's now use all the time even on new cars

Looking back on this and taking that advice

Here's the problem. There are guys on forums that are so knowledgeable......like my brother in law. Who started out slow and stupid like everyone else. Once they got good they forgot how slow and stupid they were. My sister told me he was slow and made a lot of mistakes. Well.......they become body work rock stars and forget that your new to this and don't know a damn bit of what your doing. Listen to them but don't take it personally. They have the tips and tricks.......but they are so good that you need time to get that good. The stuff they know is so second nature to them that they forget to even tell you something trivial. You need the paint gun in your hand multiple times and you need to make mistakes to see what happens. Bondo over epoxy is an example of this. Some guys act like its a sin not to.

What I'm trying to do here is make this as idiot proof as I can. There's so much that you need to know to do this work. It should be a testament. At this point I'm much better than when I started. I wanted to write this while I was still stupid at it. I'm also going to write in the stupid and costly mistakes I made. There were many........I've painted 3 cars and a bike. This car is my 4th. I've never taken one to bare metal before......or taken one down this far. This was my paint job of mistakes. Painful time consuming I want to quit mistakes. I learned more from this paint job than any of the others.

This car was difficult to do and one of the hardest colors to paint. As I write this I'm dealing with the many runs I got in the clearcoat
On the first coat the gun pressure which was adjusted to 30psi ended up at 40psi. I looked down and saw this after the runs.

Air pressure is run control.....too much and it runs. Mine ran bad

768 Posts
Epoxy primer......it is waterproof and body work can be done on top of it. It seals the metal.
The only correct answer

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
After the car is stripped and the metal is rust free and perfectly clean you spray epoxy primer.
2 coats gives you waterproof protection

......you need to mix the primer and wait 1/2 hour to let it mix......a must
......must wait at least 1/2 hour between coats
......7 day window to put paint or other primer on top of this.
................a. if after 7 days you must scuff with gray scotch BRITE pad.
................b. I scuff after 3 days to open up the surface and get the wet primer underneath.
......primer needs at least 70° to cure. Even 90° will do
......primer has a 24 hour pot life. As long as it hasn't cured in the pot I stir it even at 2 days.

......after 7 days you didn't top coat. You scuff it....and you need to recoat you can reduce the primer for stickiness and flow. I do this and prefer it. I didn't at first.....

......after 24 hours I do filler work on top of the epoxy.
......The filler needs to be almost perfect before I put more epoxy on it.
......I seal the filler with epoxy

WHY: restoration guys take their time. Filler has a lot of talc.....chalk like that absorbs moisture and gets trapped. Goes to the metal and rusts over time. It takes a while to absorb this moisture ....like weeks. They like to put epoxy on the metal first so it doesn't rust when it does trap the moisture. It's just the extra mile. You can still put filler on the metal. Or......if you sand through the filler work to the metal while working it to perfection, just leave that spot metal and put more filler over it if you need to. This drove me nuts. I was told to do the filler work on the epoxy and would be committing body work sin if I didnt. So when I went through to the metal I would recoat it and wait two days. Took forever.......forget it. Filler can still be put on metal. Now you know why they do this and how much it matters.


Some orange peel on this. you can flatten it out but don't bother. High build will hide this orange peel. -

...........Seam sealer can be put on top of epoxy and should be. Put seam sealer on top of epoxy after the epoxy has dried for 24 hours......the epoxy is water proof and creates a seal for the metal. Then you put the seam sealer on top of it to seal the gaps where the metal is spot welded together. When bmw made your car they put the seam sealer right on top of the metal, instead of sealing the metal first with epoxy primer. They then put regular primer and paint on top of the seam sealer. The only thing protecting this metal is seam sealer and it gets brittle over time and starts to dry out and crack. You would think the paint covering it would water proof it. Well.....that's not water damage, it's moisture damage. I don't know how the doors rusted like this......but they rusted under the seam sealer. The strange part is that my car had 1 original door and a door from a different car. Both were equally rusted. It almost makes me assume this is a common problem on all of them. You be the judge of that. Take a look at this mess......it was difficult to get all the rust out.
To add to this, there is seam sealer on the trunk that I did not replace. I have no idea if it has the same problem.
To add even more, I replace the seam sealer on the ski rack and tail light housings. It was not rusted in either of these places.
To remove that rust......I used a wire wheel on an angle grinder, a flat head screw driver, a knife, sand paper, and whatever else to get the rust out of the edges and seams. It was difficult.

-rusted doors under seam sealer-

Seam sealer over epoxy. See how it's taped off for clean lines and a good pattern. It's unnecessary to do this but it looks nice. Don't tape this off until I post how. If you do it wrong it's a mess. My seam sealer dried before the tape came off. I'll say why later.....I would have used fine line tape if I thought about it.

-seam sealer over epoxy........the correct way-

This was pretty hard to do because of the tabs that stick up. When the sealer comes out of the tube it's thick and high building. Usually higher than the shallow tabs in the ski rack channel. The self leveling helps with this. Do these ski rack channels one at a time. You will have to work the sealer on this one.

-ski rack seam sealer-

Sprayed with 2 wet coats high build 2k primer. Sprayed it dry......what happens is the primer shoots out in micro gobs......somewhat like small buck shot. The tiny balls of primer just land wherever and creat a ridiculous texture. This texture was so bad I had to flatten the whole thing. I probably could have scuffed it with a red scotch Brite pad but I didn't trust it. The dry guide coat found its way into the texture pores and could not be removed. I hit it with 180 grit on the da sander till it was flat again and sprayed 3 more wet coats. I also threw away the gun. The guns adjustment in this case wasn't the problem. The gun was just trash and leaking air but not knowing the result of this.....I used it anyway and sprayed texture. It was a real mess getting it all back out. I replaced the gun with a much better gun and redid the whole thing. Here it is sanded a lot already. When it went on it looked like rhino liner. Took forever to correct this mess over the whole car. USE A GOOD GUN AND ADJUST THE GUN ON A TEST PANEL it's in caps because it's very important to do this. There were several time in learning how to adjust the gun that I didn't do it right. I always ended up with a time consuming mess.

-dry sprayed high build with guide coat-

Should have sprayed 3 coats but I ran out. Had to spray more on there anyway so I should have put 3 on there to begin with, probably 4 because I was new. 3 coats is for people who know what they are doing. I also would just pray like 2 in the tail light housings and places it doesn't matter....you really put this high build on for imperfections to be filled in and then sand it smooth and the imperfection go away. You put less in the non important areas because your not going to sand those much of at all. All the build you put on there will stay. If it's too thick it will chip or crack over time or with the slightest hit. I already have chipped a spot in a non noticeable are due to too much in the areas I really didn't sand.

You see the yellow on top of the gray epoxy primer. The gray is showing through because I sanded the yellow off. These gray spots are high spots in the metal. At this point the whole thing is probably blocked even and the surface is flat. I put more high build on there and blocked it again and very little gray showed up the second round. That gray epoxy is for sealing the metal. You want to keep it thick so it will do its job. You shouldn't be sanding it. It's ok to sand it but that's really what the yellow high build is there for. Of you find yourself going into the gray primer. Just stop and put on another coat or 2 of high build AFTER scuffing the high build. High build MUST BE SANDED FOR ANYTHING TO STICK TO IT.......sand the high build with 180 for adding a coat.....or if it's not too textures.....scuff it with a red pad.........Will post pictures later of the chip from having too much build primer.

[/url]image by -glhxturbo-


2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)

this clear coat was block sanded flat with 400grit because I dry sprayed the coats. I incorrectly adjusted the gun and I was spraying too far from the surface.
Notice the dull color on there.....clear turns dull when sanded with any sandpaper no matter what it is. Why sand with 400? Anything above 400 is used for sanding out scratches and making things smooth. 400 and down to 80 is used for cutting layers off and making the surface even. You can still have a flat surface that is wavy. You just make the highs and low spots smooth. The 400 cuts everything even to give you a flat plane. If you sand with 400 You have to spray more coats on there to fill the scratches........I sprayed 3 more coats after sanding with 400.
I sprayed it so dry it needed to be cut with 400....,I wasn't going to do this but whatever. I sanded out a lot of waves and dirt.....texture....and stuff like that. It also took forever to get the texture out. Even though it sprayed it dry I still had enough clear on there to be able to hit it with 400 and not go through to the base. You never want to cut through to the base coat.......or you have to respray more base and Reclear the whole panel over again......on the smaller parts......I went through almost all of them in spots, all 30 of them. Had to rebase all of them in spots and reclear the whole piece. Even after I put 3 more additional coats of clear on them. Out of 30 pieces I only went through 3 the second time. Once on and edge trying to get out a run....2 times getting out clear coat runs on flat parts....The windshield sprayers though small are hard to paint and clear.

-car with 3 coats of clear on it.....sanded with 400 to make it flat-

-400 scratched clear. Look at the oval where I sanded through the clear.....had to spot base and reclear whole panel-

These are the tools to sand out swear coat runs. They are good in all stages of sanding. I bought them when I was having,problems with clear coat runs. I wish I had seen them earlier in the process. The motor gard blocks would have been nice in all stages of e process. Blocking the primer in tight spots and such.
(nib file also called a run file) that's the tiny square tool. They have coarse and fine...made by speck

The motor guard run block sander......3 of them in different patters. Also good for blocking it tight places. The flat one is nice for that. The rounded one is best for the run as it centers on the run well. The last one is good for blocking tight curves and edges. Should have bought them sooner

The cut paint stick.....take a paint stick and cut it down. Wrap sand paper over it. Good for edges and tight spaces as well. Psa paper works best. These stay flats and can work runs well.

clear coat run block sanders....very useful -

Block sanding a run........or block sanding anything else.-

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
If I can remember how......it's been in pieces for 16 months as I write this post .....July 23 2014

330ci headliner........Stripped of upholstery. Most of the old glue was scraped off already. -

When stripping the headliner I used a metal scraper to get the dirty orange foam dust.
You don't have to but you can use a gray or red scotch BRITE pad on a roloc disc/air grinder.
You can also use a red scotch BRITE pad to remove the dust and old glue..
This piece is pretty forgiving when stripping hit.

After stripping it you spray some headliner adhesive on there.
Wait 5 minutes for it to tack up and put the foam backed headliner on it
Press the headliner down. work it into the shape of headliner.
Try to keep the cloths grain pattern in the direction you choose.

Don't soak the headliner in glue.....if the glue gets through the foam the fabric on top of the foam will stick onto the headline card board and creat a dent in the headliner. It's pretty forgiving so do t worry.

Make the headliner material big as to cover the whole cardboard piece AND FOLD OVER the edges of the cardboard at least 1"

I used a cheap paint giun with yellow stick trim adhesive I got from an upholstery shop. The gun sprayed way way......better than the 3m spray can stuff. I used a whole quart on the headliner and EVERY SINGLE part that is covered in cloth.

When putting on the cloth to can hope you get it right putting it in all at once but I wouldn't. I did but it was more difficult. I would set it on there with NO GLUE to get the pattern lines correct. Hard to do because they are facing the floor. Then I would take set it up and spray it. Start in the corner and roll it from that point so it gets into all the dips

See how big the material is compared to the cardboard. I sprayed both with the adhesive. See how clean it is compared to the picture above. -

See the folded over headliner. Look at how I cut the slits for holes and folded them in.. The factory did this as well. I cut x pattern to start with. I was very careful around the edges. The parts that filled these holes cleaned the job up a lot.

finished product-

The 1999-2001 b-pillar for e46 coupe changes in 2002-2006.
Check out ebay or even here for these on sale and sometimes you will see a problem. They look very similar but they are very different and not interchangeable. Sellers do not know this and post these for sale as fitting a 2001-2006. Obviously, they don't interchange.

A 2002 seat belt won't retract with a 2001 b-pillar very well. This poses a problem.....if you need a seat belt you need to know what year car it's from.
I bought a seat belt from a 2001. It does retract but not well. Because my b-pillar guides it and it's a 2002 B-pillar. Maybe I'm wrong in the seat belt case and I just got a defective belt. I will replace it but with one from a 2002 and up. Look at them closely

On the left...1999-2001 b-pillar.
On the right is 2002-2006 b-pillar. -


2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Finishing it up

Look at the shine already. 5000grit trizact does this and makes polishing much easier. The headlights are very clear at this point. They will be more clear with 3 rounds of polishing going from coarse to ultra fine.
The lights above show the amount of urethane wave. Straight reflection shows the quality of the paint job. This car will get 3 more rounds of polishing. Orange peel is non existent.

Sanded to 5000 grit trizact-

Headlights haven3 coats of clear on them. They ewe sanded down so it probably has 2 coats now.
These are at 5000 trizact and have not been polished yet.

5000grit trizact. -

These headlights no longer have those foggy projector lenses with the line. They have an oem zkw upgrade and are clear. More on headlights later. Complete teardown and reference pictures. As always there are more pictures in Flickr than are on here

2,016 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
The reason I stripped it all the way down.

I,would never in my right mind have done this on any other occasion unless I knew something was up

A lady crushed the passenger corner with a lifted f350 when she turned to narrow. She ripped the fender completely off the car.

I replaced the fender, fixed the hood and re welded the fender mount

Was going to blend the fender and fix the chips in the paint.

NOT HAPPENING......the car was previously hit and repaired. It was repaired half assed and painted poorly. Total production job.

So in fixing the chips and sanding them out ,,,,paint peeled off in blocks
....clear coat was peeling from all the edges. The door was replaced with a silver door and painted black. The door handle area was scuffed badly and breaking paint off. The quarter panel was from a white car and put onto my car,......repainted black. They did not weld some areas and spot welds were too far apart. There was a leak in the trunk right over the battery where a hole was left unplugged. I welded it back up. The leak drove me nuts for a year.

Paint bubbled from the trunk because it was painted too fast and solvent underneath was trapped. Trunk was from an 04 ......my car is an 02. I'm keeping it....I like the 04 trunk better........and on and on and on.
All repainted stuff was cheap paint.....whole car was cleared with cheap clear.
Everything in a paint job is only as good as the base under it.

So....what else can you do. I had to strip all the panels and had no idea what was what under it. Some of it was cheap.....some of it wasn't scuffed....rust in the seams....

Really.....I should have thrown a fender on there and driven the car, but all the premaintained money spent wouldn't warrant that.

Do I sand all the panels until I'm at good base. Do any of these panels have good primer on them?

I had no idea.

So I stripped the whole thing and used high end paint from the ground up
I only use spi primer
Ppg paint and spi clear.

The reason for all spi.....newer company.....catering to restore work only.
A $682,000 GTO Judge ram air IV was just sold painted with only their products.

In the picture......every bit of that is peeling paint. If you rush painting over primer before all the solvents have evaporated off. The solvents will rise to the top and settle under the paint. The paint in its own structure will hold together and sit on top of the solvent....it will not stick. Paint sticks to sand paper scratches.....not solvent.

The paint will also be weak and chip easily. It is the paint AND THE PRIMER that give paint chip resistance.

This picture shows what happens. A chip caused all this. The primer was still wet and I could smell it still. After a year and a half. On a hot day if this was covered in plastic and not allowed to air out. The expansion of heat with no place to escape would have finally made it bubble up.

Look at the small chip on the quarter panel. These were all over the place. I bought an Unmaintained car with 100k and turned it into a nice car with about everything maintained. I can never sell it as I wouldn't even get close to a return on what I have in it. So I stripped it down moving forward intending on keeping the car. I swear a week after I bought it every light was on. Now.....no lights are on. The abs module used reprogram was the toughest one to get rid of.

I mean......really. The whole cAr had solvent pop
image by -glhxturbo-


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