After some googling I came across 2 really good articles on painting your own vehicle with "Rustoleum", so I figured I was game. The two sites are:
The $50 Paint Job
A Cheapskate’s Paint Job
I used the $50 paint job for reference and Cheapskate's for moral support.
Please keep in mind this did NOT cost $50. It ended up costing me about $175, and 2-3 weeks of "spare time". I wanted to do a 2-tone paint job, so my time investment was doubled.
Apologies, but I did not track individual material costs closely, only the total.
Two quarts of Glossy white Rustoleum
Two quarts of Sunset red Rustoleum
4-6 high density foam rollers and handles
4-6 touch up brushes
2-4 paint tray inserts
1 gallon of mineral spirits.
A few tarps or drop-cloths
A small container to put brushes in
Automotive masking tape
Orbital Sander (or by hand if you're a masochist)
60-grit wet/dry sand-paper
80-grit wet/dry sand-paper
100-grit wet/dry sand-paper
220-grit wet/dry sand-paper
800-grit wet/dry sand-paper
2 Tack cloths
10-12 paint stir sticks
Step 1: Prep work
I decided for a bevvy of reasons that I was not going to do a lot of body work on it. Mostly for the same reasons I'm doing a cheap paint job: utility. Keep in mind, blemishes will show up quite nicely if you choose not to address them. Anyhow, with that being said, after you have the body in the shape you want, it's time to begin sanding off all of the old paint.
I began with some 60-grit paper and an orbital sander. MAKE SURE YOU WEAR YOUR DUST MASK.
It took me about 10 hours and 15 beers to get the paint off. After the 60-grit I went over it quickly with some 220-grit and it came out nicely.
(For what it's worth, I sanded out about 80% of the bondo that was already on it. Id rather have ugly and honest than a sculpture)
Next I did a small amount of bondo to clean up some pin-holes where I had some welding done, then cleaned the whole thing off with a tack cloth.
Step 2: Masking and Paint Prep
To prepare my paint, I poured about a fist-sized amount of paint in a paint tray. I added approximately the same amount of mineral spirits to the paint tray and stirred it up. The consistency of the paint should go from very thick to about like watery milk. This will help the paint to level out and also it will go a little farther in surface area.
Step 3: First Coat
As mentioned in the "Cheapskate's" article, the scariest moment in the whole ordeal is the first roll of paint. It's going to look terrible.
Stay strong. Stay the course.
The first coat is thin and will not cover at all. The vertical surfaces are going to be difficult. Watch for runs and try to get the coverage even. The horizontal surfaces will be much easier in this regard, but still watch for runs.
After laying down a coat, let it dry for at least 8 hours (in warmer climates) before rolling another coat.
I did not start to see real coverage until 3 or 4 coats into the job.
Note in the photos that I painted the top (white) first, and did not work on the bottom (that comes later...)
The first few coats took me almost 2 hours each including cleanup. Later coats got down to about an hour.
Step 4: First Wet Sand
Make sure you work in sections (so you dont miss any), and be sure to take breaks, this is hard work.
Take your spray bottle and lay a fairly heavy mist of water on the surface, and rub it down with 220-grit paper.
Try to get out any runs or goobers you find at this stage. It will only be harder later as you progress to finer sand paper.
In the earlier wet sands I started with 220, and for the laters I used 800, and for final, 1500.
Step 5: Eight Coats
Step 6: Red Paint
The first coat took me about 3 hours. In some of the shots the color looks orange, but that's just the lighting.
Step 7: Complete
After 8 coats, I spent 6 hours buffing by hand.
Here's a tip for you: buffing by hand WILL NOT GET OUT ORANGE PEEL AND SWIRLS.
You need an electric buffer and lots of patience, and perhaps some polishing compound.
I decided to leave mine for the time being until I have a spare weekend to really buff it out. In the meantime, I am very pleased with the results. It's not perfect. It's not even fantastic, but it's about 1000x better than it was, and I wont cry if it gets scratched.
Considering the cost: all-around win!