'92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

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'92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 1st 2008, 10:18 am

Hi all,
Thought I'd contribute to this forum after lurking here for a while. It's been a great source of info!
I recently bought a '92 Mazda MX-3 with 114000 kms (71000 miles) on it. She's got the 1.8L V6 (no, not a misprint - it held the world record for smallest production V6), 5-speed, new brakes, cat-back exhaust, newer tires, newer clutch, mechanically in great shape. The interior was clean and missing nothing except the ash tray and one small button blank by the shifter. All the power goodies (windows/sunroof/locks/etc.) work great. The bolsters on the seats aren't even worn. Not bad for $1850 certified/e-tested, I think.
However, it lived its life around Toronto, and even though it wasn't winter driven, the body needed attention from years of playing Toronto Bumper Cars. There isn't much rust at all, only two spots, but just about every panel is dented/dinged/scratched/scraped, poorly touched up by Maaco, or faded original paint.
In this shot she doesn't look too bad...

...but that's right after washing (so its wet and shiney) and at a 15 foot distance. When you get closer, you can see the big dent in the front fender (with matching scrape across the bumper):

Moving across the front bumper, note the quarter-sized black dot under the headlamp. That's part of a 6" long crack in the bumper that needs to be repaired.

Moving around the car, on the passenger door there are two large dings that are down to the metal (but I won't bore you with those) and on the rear quarter panel, a *nasty* scrape, down to the metal in many places.

Here's one of two rust spots (the other being on the drivers side, exact same spot).

With these cars, and many others, over the years leaves, sand, dirt and moisture accumulate behind the wheel well liner within the fender well. If you remove the plastic liner and peer inside with a flashlight, you'd be amazed at the amount of forestry packed in there. From both front fenders, I pulled a grocery-bag-full of wet compost out, thoroughly rinsed with the hose, and hit it with ample amounts of Rust Converter to at least slow the decay of the fenders.
On the roof, there was a head-sized dent (hmmm....) which didn't show up in the photos well, but will be fixed.
On the bumper, there was three cracks (two minor, one major), all kinds of paint missing, spider-webbing, paint peeling, you name it. If this wasn't a beater-daily-driver, I would probably replace it with a good used one, but after some patching it'll be good enough for this old girl.

On the drivers side, there was a deep scratch down to the metal. The drivers door was repainted at some point, and whoever did it didn't prep it at all. You can see the paint flaking off in large chunks around the door handle/trailing edge of the door. It'll come off with just light rubbing with your fingernail. Or the hose. Or the flapping wings of a butterfly in Tokyo.
You can also see the difference in glossiness and lustre between the new (poorly done) paint on the door and the faded original paint on the quarter panel.

Next post: Bodywork begins...
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 1st 2008, 11:04 am

After I pulled away the wheel liner and removed the mud guards, I could see the guards were hiding a lot of the rust problem (but that wasn't unanticipated). The silver-dollar-sized bubbles turned out like this after grinding the rust/paint away:

The other side of the car was similar. There were holes of course, so the fender was repaired as follows:
-Ample amounts of Rust Converter, inside and out of the fender in the areas where it was rusting
-fiberglass cloth/resin kit to cover the rust-through holes, 2 layers
-2 layers of short-strand "Bondo Glass" for extra reinforcement (this is the bondo with the fiberglass strands in it).
-1 skim coat of Bondo light filler to smooth out the repair
-Scratch filler primer
-Coat of paintable rubberized rocker guard in aersol spray can
Here's a shot of the repair before the primer/rocker guard:

This repair should last the usable life of the car, as long as I check the inner fenders a few times a year and give them a cleaning.

Next I moved on to the drivers door. I tried a few different methods to remove the bad paint - sanding (tedious), paint removing wheel on the drill (burns down to bare metal too fast) and a plain old metal putty knife (worked surprisingly well). I want to keep as much of the original paint/primer intact as possibe, so I'm not sanding the door completely smooth down to the metal. Nor am I removing ALL the Maaco paint, just where it didn't adhere properly (there is a very definative line, strangely enough - must have been improprer prep for half the door). This will create a door with a lot of visual textures, exasperated by the high-gloss paint I'm using, but I'm not shooting for concours. I want to maintain as much of the original primer as I can, because that will lead to a longer life of the door. Plus, I'm lazy. Razz


Where the bumpers were cracked, I used a two-part epoxy from Canadian Tire called "Bumper Repair Kit", astoundingly enough. When the two tubes are mixed together, you have 2-3 minutes working time max (the package says six - the package lies.) When it dries, it forms a flexible, rubbery surface that will bend with the bumper. Absolutely great for stopping further crack propogation, terrible for trying to sand it smooth (it just gums up your sander and balls up with the heat of sanding, even light hand sanding). If anyone has any suggestions on how to smooth it down, please let me know. It doesn't bother me for this old girl, but for future projects it'd be nice to know. Oh - remember to drill a small hole at the end of the crack as a stress reliever, or the crack will continue to grow. See, univeristy did come in handy for something.


Head dent in roof filled in with bondo (not too deep), and primed. Lots of people don't bother with priming over bondo when they do these roller paint jobs, but a $5 can of scratch-filler sandable primer will save you lots of paint down the road, as bondo really sucks up the paint and you'll need to go over it a few times with the top coat otherwise.


For the dent in the front driver fender, I popped it out from behind (after removing the battery and coolant overflow bottle), and discovered the metal was too badly stretched to form a smooth contour (it had raised areas now, instead of low spots), so I hammered it part way back down and did a skim coat of bondo to smooth it out. Here she is after sanding the entire car down with 400 grit paper in order to have something for the new paint to adhere to (I haven't primed quite all the bondo in this step).


I think at this point my wife thought I had ruined the car forever, LOL.

Now, not often in life is "cheaper better", but when it comes to washing down the car before painting, it is. *Don't* use automotive car wash. Use the cheapest liquid dish soap you can find, something that says "degreaser" on it. You don't want anything that softens hands, contains moisturizer, etc. like the more expensive soaps do. The goal here is to take all the grease/oil/leftover wax off the car. (Note - this is the only time in life I'd recommend dish soap to wash your car!!)
Even after a really thorough wash, run a tack rag over the car (especially if its been sitting for a while) to grab any settled dust/dirt/bugs/etc. Check out what my tack rag looked like, this is 12 hours after the car wash with the car drying inside what I thought was my ultra-clean garage.


One of the best things about the roller job (other than the low price, great feeling of doing-it-yourself, and watching your neighbours eyes bug out when they see you painting with a roller) is not having to mask off the car excessively. Overspray is a pain in the arse. Rollering eliminates that. All you have to mask off is any trim you can't remove easily.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 1st 2008, 11:36 am

Painting begins...

The technique I used is from this summary:
http://carpainting.wetpaint.com/page/Rollering+Interlux+Brightside+Polyurethane+Paint?t=anon

Like the author, I found it was easier to use rollers to assist with self-leveling.

I chose Interlux for all the same reasons outlined elsewhere on this forum (better gloss, coverage, and fade-resistance), which I got at a marine store. The rest of this stuff can be found at Canadian Tire.

The mason jar is to store leftover pre-thinned paint. Remember to try to find mineral spirits that are NOT odourless - it'll help with the process.

Although I had read online about how bubbles in the paint will pop by themselves (and those that don't will pop when you assist the paint in self leveling with the clean brush/roller) but still, it was scary to see this for the first time!


Now, at this point I got busy paint and put down the camera, but here's the result of one coat, no wet sanding/polishing/etc.
Under the garage lights, reflecting my ceiling:

Outside, at dusk:


Finally, here is the whole car with one coat. The variations in the colour are normal where the brown primer is showing through - the first coat is not to achieve full coverage! If you try to, you'll just get sags and runs. Lay it on thin.



Definately pleased with the results so far! Everything says go for it. I'll post more as I go, but you're all up to date thus far.

If the pictures aren't coming up, let me know, servimg.com seems to be crapping out today.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by retired plumber on November 1st 2008, 1:39 pm

Outstanding write up. Thanks for that. LOOKING GOOD. I will also add a go for it. Amazing what a tack rag will pick up from a "clean car" isn't it?
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Fastmover on November 1st 2008, 5:09 pm

Thanks for the great write up and the all the photos. Your photos show the advantage of how little masking you had to do.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 1st 2008, 5:36 pm

Thanks guys. Are the photos showing up ok? I get 75% of them on my computer, and then some red X's. Let me know if you can't see any of them and I'll try rehosting.
Cheers.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by megaglow_z on November 1st 2008, 11:22 pm

on the bumper. wet sand the patch. use the same grits you would get the bondo smooth with, just use wet/ dry sandpaper.
Soak the paper in a bucket of lightly soapy water..1 or 2 drops of dish washing soap. and rinse the area while you work with fresh water.
this is all done without any power tools of course..
you will want to wrap the sandpaper around a small block of either wood or like a hard rubber block body shops use.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by retired plumber on November 1st 2008, 11:57 pm

Good tip on drilling a hole at the ends of the cracks on the bumper. I forgot to mention that earlier thumbs up .
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Techmaven on November 2nd 2008, 9:14 am

Looks great so far. Question, when the guy in your link saysthinned 10%, does that mean 10 parts paint to 1 part thinner?

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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 2nd 2008, 9:18 am

megaglow_z wrote:on the bumper. wet sand the patch. use the same grits you would get the bondo smooth with, just use wet/ dry sandpaper.
Soak the paper in a bucket of lightly soapy water..1 or 2 drops of dish washing soap. and rinse the area while you work with fresh water.
this is all done without any power tools of course..
you will want to wrap the sandpaper around a small block of either wood or like a hard rubber block body shops use.

I've give that a go, thanks! I was dry-sanding previously, should have tried the water...
I'll report back later today to tell you all how it went. Right now its 0 deg C, so I'm staying inside until that changes...
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 2nd 2008, 9:27 am

Techmaven wrote:Looks great so far. Question, when the guy in your link saysthinned 10%, does that mean 10 parts paint to 1 part thinner?

Hmmm, good question. I believe that's what the author of that link meant.
Yesterday I decided to mix it slightly thinner (it was 9 degrees, just under the minimum recommended temperature for Brightside) in a 9:1 or 9.5:1 ratio, and it seemed to help it flow a little better. Weather forecast calls for temps of 15+ C all next week, so I might take a break today and wait for Monday before I do the full 2nd coat.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 4th 2008, 12:59 pm

Update: Wet sanded lightly with 600 grit in between coats 1 and 2 just to knock down some areas where I didn't quite have the technique right. In these shots, this is after the 2nd coat with no wet sanding after it was laid. Still not 100% coverage (but close), I'm avoiding temptation to speed it along and lay thicker coats (although I can't wait for the finished product) so the end result will be nicer. Despite no sanding yet, I'm still impressed with the glossiness level of the paint.




BTW, wet sanding the bumper patches worked way better than dry sanding. The water/soap lubrication helped the paper to glide over the patch, rather than get gummed up/ball-up the patch. Thanks again for the tip.

Since its supposed to be nice all week here (especially for November!) I think I'm going to lay 5 coats instead of 4. We'll see how it looks after coat 4 anyway.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by megaglow_z on November 4th 2008, 9:27 pm

Grimace wrote:

BTW, wet sanding the bumper patches worked way better than dry sanding. The water/soap lubrication helped the paper to glide over the patch, rather than get gummed up/ball-up the patch. Thanks again for the tip.

NP man! just drop the car off here and we will call it even!...lol

Good to see it looking so nice!
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 5th 2008, 10:12 pm

LOL, sure sure, as they say, "cheque's in the mail"... Razz

Got four coats on it now, this is before wet-sanding. I forgot to take a pic of coat number three, but by now you guys are getting the idea.




A few tips I've learned:

(1) Always start painting from the top down. For some reason on coat #3, I did the doors first, then leaned into the wet paint while doing the roof... duh... Fortunately it was easy to wet sand out the lint from my jeans (although the jeans will never be the same, LOL)

(2) You might consider discarding the roller used to lay the paint on, rather than clean it. Squeeze it out as hard as you want, and it still holds a ton of paint, so you go through a huge amount of thinner trying to clean it out. Paint thinner is $10/gallon, one roller is $1.25, and it takes about half a gallon to clean your main roller... you do the math! Sure, it seems wasteful to throw the roller away, but its better for the environment that tossing a lot of thinner down the drain.
Its pretty easy to clean the flattening rollers though, so they are worth rinsing out.

(3) When they say don't paint in direct sunlight, they mean it! Oh, its not impossible, but you have to be quick with flattening the paint with the second roller, or else it dries too fast and you get roller marks. Not a huge problem, they come out easily with light wet sanding, but if you can avoid it, try to get out of the sun.


I've decided to do at least 5 coats, and probably 6. The weather is supposed to stay warm until the weekend, so I've got plenty of time to get a good, durable finish and do it right. Besides, I'm having too much fun watching my neighbours jaws drop to stop now.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Fastmover on November 6th 2008, 12:35 pm

How long is it taking you to do a coat?
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 6th 2008, 1:19 pm

Roughly 2.5-3 hours per coat. Rolling the paint is is fairly quick, its the detail work with the foam brush (like around the mirrors, crevices, etc.) that takes the most time.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 16th 2008, 10:14 pm

Sorry for not updating for a while, life got busy for a little while...

During one of the colder days we've had here in Ontario (temperatures too low to paint), I decided to see if I could take the scrape out of the drivers front turn signal, which as you can see in the 2nd pic at the top of the page was damaged by the previous owner. I hit it with 400 grit wet sanding until any sign of the scrape was gone. I decided to take it a step further and take all the raised SAE writing off the lense. The raised lettering on the exterior lighting gathers wax and turns white and generally just looks untidy. After the 400 grit, I moved up to 2000 to take out the scratches caused by the 400 grit, then I polished with Meguires polish and a small orbital buffer. (Plastic polish would probably be better, but I used what I had).
On the left is the formerly-damaged lense, on the right is the passenger side which hasn't been touched yet.



Now the sandpaper and polish you should already have for your paint job, so shaving the lenses is a "freebie", and makes a surprisingly big difference for ~10 minutes labour for each bit.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 16th 2008, 10:26 pm

Now to skip forward a bit. My last set of pics was from the 4th coat of paint. I ended up doing a total of seven coats (!). I was still seeing shadows in the paint right up to about coat #5 under certain lighting. I think the reason for that is two-fold:
1) I was rolling on the paint very thin. My 7 coats are probably equivalent to 5 or 6 coats for most people.
2) Red is a real pain in the a** to obtain full coverage with. I remember a co-worker did a red accent wall in their house, and it took 11 coats of paint for it to look even, with no shadowing or colour variation. I guess cars are no different! Razz
I imagine with some other colours (i.e. white) many less coats would be necessary. If I had to do it again, I would make sure the undercoating wasn't such a varied mix of brown primer, white original primer, black bumper repair resin, etc. I should have grabbed a can of red Tremclad and just evened it out a little. Ah well, I know with seven coats the car body will last until the apocolypse.
Here it is with seven coats, just prior to the beginning of wet sanding:
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 16th 2008, 10:41 pm

On to the wet sanding. I used a combination of 600 and 800 grit for the first sanding (800 for the most part, 600 on a few spots where I had some worse-than-average orange peel). After that I moved up to 1000, then 1500, then 2000 grit, using plenty of soapy water to lubricate the paper and paint. After the sanding, I applied Turtle Wax rubbing compound (the coarser stuff for "severely weathered paint") with a cheesecloth. This was followed by Meguirs polish with the orbital buffer, then by Meguirs Carnuba wax applied by hand.
Here's what it looked like after wet sanding, note the overall dullness of the paint:

Note the shiney spot on the hood is my test case, where I did just a little polishing. I decided I needed to be more aggressive with the wet sanding once I did the test spot, so I recommend everyone do a test panel to see if you are satisfied with the results before you go too far down the wrong path.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 16th 2008, 10:51 pm

Finally, here she is after the rubbing compound/polish and a quick wax. It was an overcast day, one of those grey November days, and this was before I washed down the car (all the rubber and glass bits are still caked with dust and dirt) but I think she looks pretty good! I'll try to get better pics the next sunny day we have here. Third pic I put the flash on, since it was nearly dusk, the other pics are just the gloomy afternoon lighting.









I'm really happy with the results. I couldn't have got a better paint job for the cost (I'll give the breakdown details in the next posting I make). People I show the car to can't believe it was a roller job. If you've got a cheap car that needs paint, and you've got a *lot* of spare time and don't mind manual labour, go for it!
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 16th 2008, 11:15 pm

So what would it cost you to do this sort of body work and paint job if you were starting from scratch? That was a question I was asked by someone whe I was showing off the car. Assuming you had absolutely no supplies to start off with (unlikely if you are a car guy), here's what it would cost you:

Auto body work

$14
Fiberglass repair kit (cloth, resin, hardener, mixing stick, tray)
Amount used: All

$12
Long strand Bondo
Amount used: ¼ can

$10
Light Bondo
Amount used: ¼ can

$9
Rust converter
Amount used: ¼ bottle

$8
Scratch-filler primer
Amount used: ¾ can

$9
Paintable rubberized undercoating (aerosol spray)
Amount used: ½ can

$4
Sanding blocks

$3 x 2 = $6
Rough-grit sand paper multipack
Amount used: About half can be reused

$9 x 2 = $18
Wire brushes, cone and wheel shapes, for drill

$6
Paint stripper wheel

Total for body work, worst case scenario- $96

---------------------

Painting/finishing

$44 x 2 quarts = $88
Interlux Brightside marine paint (Fire Red)
Amount used: All but roughly 100 mL for touch-ups

$4
Non-odourless mineral spirits, 1L
Amount used: ½

$5
Blue painters tape (14 day quick release)
Amount used: 1/3rd roll

$6 x 2 = $12
Painting kits (tray, two high density foam rollers, handle)
Amount used: Two rollers were good enough to be saved for touch-ups, and the trays/handles can be reused.

$10 x 2 = $20
Paint thinner, 1 gallon jugs for clean-up
Amount used: All

$2
Cheap foam brushes, 6 pack
Amount used: None were worth saving

$3 x 5 = $15
Wet/dry sandpaper: 400, 600, 800, 1500, 2000 grits
Amount used: About half can be re-used.

$6
Rubbing compound
Amount used: 1/3 of a tub

$8
Polish
Amount used: 1/8 of a bottle

$8
Wax
Amount used: 1/8 of a bottle

$1
Cheese cloth, small package
Amount used: all

$1
Bottle of cheap grease-stripping dish washing liquid
Amount used: ¼ bottle

“Free”
Terry cloth rags
Amount used: Can be reused or discarded, your choice.

$5
Terry cloth bonnet for orbital polisher for polishing
Amount used: Can be reused

Total for finishing, worst case scenario - $131

***GRAND TOTAL (worst case) - $227***

Now those are Canadian prices, and thats assuming nothing you bought was on sale, and it also doesn't take into account the things you can reuse have a value to them. In my case, I had everything on hand from past projects except for the paint, the rollers and some grits of sandpaper, so this project cost me personally just a touch over one hundred bucks. It would have been around $50 if I had gone with the cheaper Tremclad rather than Brightside. But honestly, for the price it can't be beat.

Let me know if you folks have any questions that I missed! Cheers and happy rolling.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by retired plumber on November 17th 2008, 2:06 pm

NICE looking car. I know what you mean by the different colors to paint over. I always tell people to have a solid one color (no black, white, red,etc spots) base to start painting over. A lot less paint is needed (less work Very Happy ). Thanks for the lesson on how you did it and that is a real good list of material and what it cost. thumbs up for the list. I would also add the cost of the drill or buffer and a backing pad since this is a from scratch cost. I think the $50 paint job is a misnomer because of everything else you have to get. Granted, if you are into cars you have a lot of the stuff but still.............. Thanks for pointing this out.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 18th 2008, 9:14 am

Thanks Mike, that's a good point. I used a grinder as well as the drill and buffer. I've had those things so long I forgot they don't come standard with every garage. Wink

With the power tools, you can spend as little or as much as you want. My drill and buffer are cheapies, probably total $100 for both, and the grinder was bought at a huge discount but would normally have been $60. So you could probably safely at another ~$160 to the total if you are starting from scratch.
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re. '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by markw on November 26th 2008, 9:20 pm

Since you kept the same basic color I assume you didn't paint the door jambs or other hidden areas. Were there any areas you didn't use the roller on and had to use a brush? Were there any areas you couldn't get to with a buffer? I'm just curious if the paint goes on smooth enough to not need sanding and buffing. I'm going to change colors on my car and I don't know if I can buff under the trunk lid or in the door jamb areas. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us. There aren't too many people you can ask about this stuff.
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

Post by Grimace on November 27th 2008, 9:00 am

That's right Mark, I didn't do the jambs, under-hood or areas like that because the colours were so similar. But there were areas I couldn't get to with a roller. In particular, the front bumper cut-outs for the radiator were done almost entirely with the foam brushes. The brushes require a little more attention to get a smooth finish, and it won't be quite as nice as the bits you've rolled on *until* you wet sand - then you can't tell a difference between areas you've rolled, and areas you've brushed (as long as you spend the time to wet sand it right.)
I couldn't get to some areas of the front bumper with the buffer, so I did them by hand with a variety of cheese cloth, terry cloth towels and polishing rags. It takes a little extra time to do it by hand, but it's "character building". Wink These areas you can't get to with the buffer are usually not high-visibility areas, so you might be fine with leaving it unsanded/unbuffed. Here's a close-up pic of my paint before I started to buff or wet sand:

(Let me know if that image isn't showing up, and I'll re-host.)
You can see some texture to the paint, minor orange-peel, but its not too bad and the paint has great shine.

Now when you do the door jambs/underhood area, you have to clean *very* carefully, because of grease and oil in copious quantities that exist in these areas; Door locks and hinges get lubricated, and inevitably some will get on the paint. And of course, under the hood there will be a lot of built up grease, grime, etc. from over the years.
Hit it first with a product called Simple Green, undiluted, and give it a good scrub with some brushes (an old toothbrush works well for the crevices). Rinse really well. Note - Simple Green will dull your paint - don't do this unless you are sure you are going to go the distance. Follow up with dish soap/water and a really good rinse, then prep as normal.

If you don't get all the oils off the paint, it will "fish eye" and not adhere properly. There's a gentleman on this forum that had that problem with his Grand Am hood, you can see an example of what it looks like here about halfway down the page.
http://www.rolledon.com/projects-f2/1994-grand-am-t262-50.htm

It would help if you could get the hood/doors removed I suppose, is that a possibility for you?
Cheers,
Jason
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Re: '92 Mazda MX-3 GS project

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