Somehow it's been two years since an update on my project. Work was real slow during that time... brief paint removal tasks once in awhile, but mostly a long hiatus. Lots of things get in the way... family, work... but lazy too. Not to mention that the main task at hand was stripping the paint, which by far has been the least enjoyable part of the whole process for me to this point so it was easy to not be motivated. The paint is finally off now though as you can see below. Glad that PITA is over!
Media blasting, chemical stripping and mechanical stripping were the methods I considered before getting started. They all have their own pros & cons... no one way is perfect for this car in my opinion. I decided against media blasting for a few reasons. For one, I couldn't find anyone near me experienced with Corvette's. But even if I had, the common method of soda blasting as a gentle approach for fiberglass would still have had me concerned since any soda residue not neutralized and left behind can alter pH thus affecting the quality of a final paint job. I decided against chemical stripping for the same reason. That leaves mechanical stripping which alleviates the concerns about soda or chemical residue affecting final paint. However, it takes much more time and for me was mind-numbing labor at its worst! I used two different approaches: heat gun & scraping with a razor blade and sanding.
Paint Stripping - Heat Gun & Razor Blade
I first learned of the the razor blade technique on the Corvette Restoration website. This site has been an excellent resource for tips & tricks. (video link of it in action) It worked ok, but would usually just take off the top layer of white paint. My car was war bonnet yellow in color originally though, so more layers of primer and paint were underneath. Eventually, I tried my heat gun to heat up a small area and then scrape with the razor blade. The addition of the heat usually helped to remove all the layers when scraping. Gouging the fiberglass was really easy to do though, and I did so more than I care to mention. Also it still would frequently leave stubborn patches of paint that could not be scraped, and some of the contours of the body didn't mesh with the scraping process as well.
Paint Stripping - Sanding
Eventually, I switched to sanding as my primary approach to mechanically stripping the paint. My dual-action sander with 80 grit paper worked pretty well. Harder to reach nooks and crannies of the body were attacked with a sanding disc on a die grinder and even a Dremel. The process creates lots of dust, so I was careful to suit up accordingly and moved outside as well. All in all, this was the most effective for me, but you have to be careful to not sand too deeply though into the fiberglass fibers. I did so more than I care to mention again and added more work for myself at the end to be sure those fibers are sealed before final paint... sigh.
Unfortunately as the paint came off, more & more fiberglass repair needs were discovered. Some pics of the major needs are below. Looks to me like my car has had at least a couple accidents... a rear bump to wreck the tail light panel, and a LH front bump to mess up that area. I hope to get much of it repaired in the next several months as time permits. Some parts & supplies are on order right now. I think I'll get started with the rear and then work my way forward since the front end is most heavily damaged... save the 'best' for last!
Rear End Work: Replace Tail Lamp Panel & Repair Seams, Repair Crack in Rear Deck Lid, Repair Ding In LH Rear Wheel Well
Interior Work: Repair Floor Under Driver's Seat
Front End Work: Repair/Replace LH Front Quarter Panel & LH Front Inner Skirt & Repair Seams, Repair LH Headlight Surround, Repair Ding in Nose, Replace Front Valence & Repair Seams (also entertaining the idea of instead just getting a new one piece front clip... what do think? Let me know in the comments!)