Refinishing the Gills
The Problem.

My car looked a little sick around the gills! They were not refinished when the rest of the car was painted, it appears they were either removed and reinstalled or simply taped off and painted around.  After thirty-five years there were several chips evident as well as some bubbling caused perhaps by a slow acting reaction between the paint and the primer beneath, the gills are made of pot metal so there was no rust on them nor on any other surfaces.  I'm sure that this project could be better accomplished by removing the gills ( remove the rear tires, remove the inner fenders, reach up inside the B pillars and remove the three bolts which hold the gills on the car (being careful not to break off any of the molded on studs), I didn't have time or lift access that direction would have required, thus this project was done in place on the car over a period of three nights.

The Finish.

I decided to go with a wrinkle finish ( later I may have the gills sent off and plated

in black chrome), it will match the engine compartment's wrinkle finished valve covers, when the car is displayed the rear deck is almost always open.  I also didn't want some pimpy looking high gloss black (aside from fingerprint issues) , the various differences in flat, satin, eggshell, low sheen, low gloss and standard black paint was just simply mind numbing.

This is a "Before" view of the Passenger's side gill.
This is an "After" view of the Passenger's side gill.
This is a "Before" view of the Driver's side gill.
This is an "After" view of the Driver's side gill.

A List of the tools and supplies needed.

1 Dremel Rotary Tool

2 packages of Cleaning Wheels #511

1 3M Sandblaster Sponge 60 grit

1 3M Sandblaster Sponge 320 grit

1 Razor Tool

1 Pair Sissoors

I Can Primer

1 Can Wrinkle Paint

1 Roll Painter's Tape

1 Stack of Newspapers

1 Bottle Isopropyl Alcohol ( not shown )

3 Lint Free Wiping Cloths ( not shown )

Step 1.

Use the Dremel  tool to sand and feather the edges of the chipped areas as well

as to break up the raised or bubbled areas.

Cut several speed line sized strips from the 3M Sandblaster Sponges
Step 2.

Wet sand the gills in a back and forth motion working within the "speed lines".

Step 3.

After sanding the gills to a satisfactory level of smoothness, wash the area

very well and then wipe it down with alcohol to remove any finger prints

and hand oils.

Step 4.

Tape off the area to be sprayed and cover the rest of the car.  One fail-safe trick

to use is to paste wax the areas around this work zone and leave the dried wax

in place, should any over spray make it past the tape/paper/covered areas you

can just wipe it away later with no damage to the paint.  The gills do have a small

area between the end of the speed lines and the painted part of the surround, just big enough to slide in a piece of paper to make the masking job a little easier.


Step 5.

Wipe down the area with alcohol again and let it dry. Apply the primer in

several coats, after applying enough primer coats to get complete coverage,

let it it dry and then lightly sand. The object here is to completely cover

and prime the metal as well as to build up an even surface using layers of

sand able primer as the base for the finishing paint.  90% of a good paint

job is always in the preparation of the surface area,

Step 6.

Continue to sand and re coat with primer as many times as needed to get a

smooth surface, the last primer coat should be lightly sanded to create a

freshly sanded surface so that the finish coat has something to "grab". 

Clean the area with alcohol again and let dry one last time before painting,

make sure that the cloth that you use is lint free.

Step 7.

Apply the Wrinkle Paint according to the instructions on the can, mine

instructed me to start with three fairly heavy coats and then add additional

coats as needed until I had achieved the degree of wrinkled effect that I

was seeking.  I did apply three heavy coats and came back after two hours

and applied one additional heavy coat.

Step 8.

Let it dry overnight and then remove the tape and paper carefully from the

work area. Buff away the paste wax safety areas and carefully remove

any small areas of over spray with the appropriate tools.

Step 9.
Step back and admire your Gills.