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Low effort, mangled tailgate scratch repair

190 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  manbearpig
1996 Sonoma 70xxx miles

I have 2 - color-matched, but beat-up tailgates. I want to use materials on hand to make one of them look pretty good from 15-20’ away. The chosen tailgate for this project is beyond my ability to return to like new condition. It was bowed out ~2-3”. I removed most of the bow along the top, horizontal edge, but the tailgate is still bowed a little both horizontally and vertically at the R edge. The outer panel is far from “straight”. There is a small amount of rust showing in the panel seems.

Below are some photos of the scratches on this tailgate for reference. Depth varies, but only in a couple very small spots did the scratches go through the primer. There are more scratches than shown in these photos.

Automotive parking light Automotive tail & brake light Automotive lighting Hood Amber

Window Wood Building Fixture Floor

Automotive parking light Automotive tail & brake light Automotive lighting Hood Motor vehicle

These are my materials on hand. I have no automotive spray equipment.
  • 10 – 11.8oz aerosol cans SprayMax 2K clear (urethane)
  • ~1.5 - ~12oz aerosol cans 1K Martin Senour base (marginal color match; urethane-like)
  • A whole bunch of Dupli-color acrylic lacquer base & clear aerosol cans (very good color match)
  • 1 – 13.3 oz aerosol can SprayMax 2K epoxy primer
  • <0.5oz Nason Ful-Base® Basecoat (very good color match)
  • ~16oz moisture cured urethane rust encapsulator (MasterCoat; old, likely thick)
  • MasterCoat reducer.
  • Bondo glazing & Spot Putty
  • Bondo® Metal Reinforced Filler
  • Acetone, mineral spirits, grease & wax remover.
  • Phosphoric acid.
  • Lots of abrasive and polishing materials and equipment.

I want to use up some of the 2K clear aerosol cans, as they are getting old. I would like to limit labor to no more than 3-4 hours total, preferably less. I do not intend to concern myself with the seam rust beyond Fluid Filming inside the gate after painting. I am not spending any more time on straightening the panels or using any significant amount of body filler.

Given my modest requirements for end result, I am considering something like the following. Debadge. Dewax/Degrease. 600grit wet sanding entire outer panel and edges only. Spot spraying with the Martin Senour base any remaining scratches not removed w/ 600 grit. Careful wet sanding to remove all newly-applied base except that within the scratches. Possibly repeat last 2 – steps few times. Shoot the entire outer panel with aerosol 2K clear. Possibly wet sand and buff/polish.

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No. This is just a budget, “temporary” solution. IMO, the tailgate in question is trash. I am ok continuing to wait for better tailgate that can be a permanent solution.
If it is a temp solution why even bother? Get some touch up paint that is close with the little brush and go ham on the big scratches. Make it a 20 footer. By the sounds of things you are gong to have $150 plus in materials on a trash gate. That same money can be spent on a new / used gate. Brawndononomics 101
I am not certain how long the materials will remain useable, especially the 2K clear and Martin Senour (NAPA) custom-loaded cans. They are left over from other completed or abandoned projects. I am trying to get some value out of them. If the result looks ok, I can attempt similar with the 2nd tailgate if I muster the effort. It is much "straighter". I do not know how to paint an entire broad panel like a tailgate with the custom-loaded Martin Senour (NAPA) cans because of the narrow, conical fan pattern, and would need to purchase more of them as is. The 2K clear cans produce a much better fan pattern, and I am comfortable using them. Re-clearing the entire panel after “touching-up” in some manner the scratches seems an upgraded solution to just “touching up” the scratches. I was hoping for some suggestions on that general approach

Though the rest of the truck’s body has almost no rust, the overall body and paint is not good enough to justify much expense in the tailgate IMO. If the rest of the body and paint was better, I would likely approach this differently. Lots & lots of dings and clear coat damage from careless wipe down(s) and long term contact with fruit (crabapples?) and/or bird droppings. I was only able to remove ~60% of the scratches and etching with a bottle of rocks and aggressive microfiber disc on my Porter Cable 7424XP with many, many passes.
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