Restoring a 1946 Ford 5 Passenger Coupe using Paint Stripper with Safenol™

April 25, 2019 | Posted by Lexie Bragg

Removing vintage automotive paint comes with its own unique set of challenges, so when Ralph Tarras was looking for an effective, non caustic and safer paint stripper to help remove 5 layers of paint from his 1946 Ford 5 Passenger Coupe, he was excited to try BLUE BEAR’s new Paint Stripper with Safenol™.


BLUE BEAR Paint Stripper with Safenol™ & Vintage Automotive Paint

Automotive paints have changed a great deal over the years. In the past, lacquer, enamel and polyurethane paints were common car coatings, which faded and chipped over time.  With inventions like clear coat and electroplating, today's' automotive paints are more durable than ever before. Because of this, BLUE BEAR Paint Stripper with Safenol™ does not work on cars produced after the 1990s, or cars that have been repainted using modern paints in the past 30 years.


There are two common ways to remove vintage automotive paint: sanding and using chemical strippers, both of which may come with their own dangers. Lead was a common paint additive in old automotive paint, especially vibrant colors like orange, red and yellow tones, where concentrations of more than 20% are typical (Lead in Auto Paints). Sanding vintage automotive paint can release lead particles into the air, which if breathed in are hazardous to your health.


Many chemical strippers release noxious fumes and use dangerous chemicals. Because of a heart condition, avoiding paint strippers with strong fumes is very important to Tarras.  Such fumes can cause irregular heartbeats, which can lead to heart palpitations, blood clots, heart attack and stroke (Air Pollution and Control).


BLUE BEAR Paint Stripper with Safenol™ is the perfect match for this project.  Paint Stripper with Safenol™ removes multiple layers of coatings in a single application, breaking the bonds between coatings and the surface.  BecausePaint Stripper with Safenol™ is gelled, there are no airborne particles within the removal process; in this way the stripper traps lead paint without releasing any lead particles into the air.  We recommend following any local regulations for disposal of lead paint waste. Paint Stripper is also safer, with no NMP or Methylene Chloride, it is low odor, non caustic, and can be used indoors and without a respirator.  


The Project

Ford: Closing the Years of Tradition 1946-1947-1948 Sales, Data, AccessoriesFound in rural Central Wisconsin, Tarras has been working on the 1946 Ford 5 Passenger Coupe on and off for eight years.  “The car was in very good shape,” Tarras explains. “The body is mostly original, though someone in the past did their own restoration attempts,” which left the car with a pink velour interior and 5 layers of paint.  The vehicle was stored in a barn for over a decade. “I know they had chickens because I had to pull dozens of feathers out from the undercarriage,” Tarras laughs.


The Tarras workspace is a heated garage, allowing him to work all 12 months of the year; finding a paint stripper he could use all year round indoors was also something that caught Tarras’ attention about BLUE BEAR Paint Stripper with Safenol™.  Paint stripping began on the trunk.  After applying the stripper, Tarras allowed the paint stripper to sit for two hours, returning to find that the paint stripper had only lifted two layers of paint.  “I wasn’t sure how much paint was on the car, so I decided to let it sit longer and see what happened.” Near 36 later, Tarras returned to find that the stripper had worked all the way down to the metal.  “I had covered the stripper with a layer of plastic as recommended, and was amazed when I lifted the plastic and found that the paint came right off with it.” Tarras guesses there was 5 layers of paint in all, including two layers of primer and several other coatings.  Using a metal scraper, Tarras was able to remove the remaining paint with ease.


Tarras is very excited to recommend Paint Stripper with Safenol™ to his fellow restorers.  “There is no doubt in my mind that this has saved me hours and hours of work, and I will definitely be using it everywhere I can,” Tarras explains.   

Tarras is working to restore the car to its original state, only updating for safety.  “It’s going to be a street car; one that I can drive around the city with my family.” Though it is unclear how long the restoration will take, the Tarras family is looking forward to having another road-ready classic car to add to their garage.  


Before starting complete restoration on any car, do a test area and become familiar with restoration practices.