by Gerald Carter
My experience with sandblasting is that it's very messy and slow. To me, the best use for sandblasting is to clean up rusted and pitted areas. Believe me, sand gets everywhere and is hard to clean out of recesses and hidden pockets.
If it were me, I would sandblast the rusted areas, clean, and prime. For the rest, sand the paint down with a DA sander and 80 grit paper. You don't have to go to the metal as long as the underlying paint or primer is not cracked. Sanding will reveal high and low areas of the body panel that need attention, ie, bare metal will show up on high areas and paint will be left on the low areas. You can then tap down the high areas with a pick hammer and pull and fill the low areas.
Work these areas with a flat sanding board and 80 grit paper. When they are close to what you want, prime with a good primer such as Dupont's Variprime or PPG's DP40 or DP80.
Then, begin applying several coats of filler primer. I prefer Dupont's Uro Prime. Then you can begin sanding with a flat sanding board and 120 grit paper. Before sanding, get a can of flat black spray paint and lightly dust the whole Bus with black paint. As you sand, the black specks will be removed from high areas and left in the low ones. You can then continue to work these areas with a pick hammer and glazing compound (a very smooth type of plastic body filler) until you are satisfied.
Apply three or more heavy coats of filler primer and then begin to wet sand with 400 or 500 grit wet or dry paper and a block or flat sanding board. While wet sanding, I dry the area I'm working on often and keep a drop light in front of me. As the wet sanding makes the filler primer shiney, the light will reveal minor imperfections.
Depending on how good of a final paint job you want, keep working with filler primer and wet sanding until you are satisfied. Your shiney new coat of finish paint will reveal high and low spots you never thought were present.
A really good paint job is achieved in the preparation. I know now why good body shops are expensive, it takes a lot of hand labor to get good results. Its hard work, but well worth it when your done.
Another list member writes:
My body/paint guy has access to cross references of all original VW colors in either Dupont paint or PPG paint, I'm not sure. I do know that BASF carries a line called Glasurit, which has a "21 Line" that supposedly contains almost all original VW colors. Their phone number is (800)825-3000 and they can tell you where the closet dealer is to you. I was originally going to go that route until I realized my paint guy had the color chips himself for *modern day* paint.