The lockdown saw our tuk tuk photo booth being stood up for almost 18 months. Now, you might think that means 18 months less wear and tear right. Only what it actually meant was that it, along with some of the older vehicles, which were not the best constructed in the world, pretty much fell apart.
Our Indian Tuk Tuk photo booth had a few bubbles in the paint when Covid struck. By the time we were looking at using it again, the rust bubbles had turned into massive holes. In fact, at one point it looked like we might have to scrap it.
Plan Of Action
In the end, we decided that as we had time on our hands, with lockdown restrictions still keeping events pretty much closed, we would undertake a full nut and bolt restoration.
We completely stripped the vehicle down into its individual components. The steel that was badly corroded, we cut out completely, and replaced it with new. This was heavier gauge than the original steel work so hopefully would be more resilient to future problems.
After getting the shell to bare metal, and adding the new parts, we treated it with an anti rust wash, coated it in a zinc primer, then two coats of epoxy primer to seal it and hopefully stop it flash rusting whilst working on it.
The plastic trim etc was stripped to base using a chemical stripper, and all the individual brackets and smaller parts were shot blasted to bare metal.
Cleaning it back to bare metal did create another issue. The original construction was what could only be described as utter crap. The panels were deformed, bent, had lumps in them where they had been welded to the frame. In short we had cleaned about a tonne of fibreglass filler off the panels, which had been used to ‘skim’ them creating a flat surface.
Luckily one of the team is quite handy with a tin of fille. Comes he claims from always owning clapped out vans. He spent a week refilling the panels and flattening them back to a nice shape.
Whilst this was being done, I nipped the seats and side panels into a local upholsterer to be recovered, and we ordered a replacement top cover.
Putting It Back Together
After assembling the bulk of the frame we had it ready for spraying. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a local spray shop that could fit it in anytime soon. So decided that we would do it, or more precisely, I would. In the past I have done plenty of priming. Even some base coating, but applying the lacquer always seems to end up with runs covering every surface.
To try and give myself a fighting chance I decided to treat myself to a new spray gun. After looking at a few of the more typical HVLP (high volume low pressure) which I had used in the past, I decided to try a nice looking LVLP (yup, Low Volume Low Pressure) system. I hadn’t used one before, but felt our compressor was a touch small for the high volume type gun. We settled on a BURISCH GTR500 LVLP from GTAir which I have to say, impressed me greatly.
Paint Colour Choices
We also looked at the paint we were going to use. Originally it had been covered in a white Pearl colour. It looked nice, but I was never happy with the amount of pearl effect. We spent a week looking at different pearls, and eventually settled on a pearl white from Specialist Paints of Sheffield. We have used their stuff before and always liked it. I also decided to try their 2K show lacquer.
In the event the gun worked like a dream. The Show Clear Coat went on like a layer of glass. The only run I ended up with was when I switched from vertical strokes to horizontal and neglected to twist the end of the spray gun to orient it correctly. That left a nice long run, but luckily in a part of the bodywork that is covered up.
The trim we covered in a pearlescent color from Ford called Panther Black. The rear bumper and number plates were finished in a fabulous yellow pearl, again from Specialist Paints.
It’s first outing was to a private party in London. The pearl effect was stunning in the sunlight, and the client was over the moon. So if you want a nearly new Tuk Tuk Photo booth get in touch.
GT Air Supplies https://gtair.co.uk/
Specialist Paints Sheffield https://www.specialistpaints.com/