Your tractor is the most used, hardest-working piece of machinery on a farm, so it may not shine as bright as it once did. A paint job, however, can make it look practically new again.
To start, take the tractor apart and mask off any areas that don't need painted. Using an 80-grit pad on an orbital sander, sand scratched or rusted surfaces down to the bare metal.
Once all sanding is completed, prime all areas that have been sanded down.
Apply at least two light coats of primer, letting each coat dry for at least 24 hours; otherwise, the finish may blister or crack.
When applying primer — either by brush or spray — make sure each coat is no more than 3 millimeters wet. Making it too thick will slow the drying time.
After each application is dry, sand the entire body with 350-grit sandpaper and a sanding block.
The primed finish should be completely smooth. If you feel bumps or scratches, they will show when painted. Use additional coats of primer and sand to smooth out any problem areas.
Now, it's time to choose the color for your topcoat. You can apply up to two coats of the topcoat by brush or spray.
You'll want to add hardener to your paint, which improves mar resistance, reduces dry time, and slightly increases gloss.
Remember, apply light coats no more than 3 millimeters wet so that it dries efficiently.
Let each coat dry a minimum of 24 hours between applications under ideal weather conditions of 77 degrees and 50 percent relative humidity. The higher the temperature and humidity, the slower the dry will be. The painted surface is ready for additional coats when your fingernail will not penetrate the paint coating.
Once you're sure each topcoat is completely dry, lightly sand between coats using 350 grit sandpaper or a Scotch® pad.
For best results, don't paint or allow the tractor to dry in direct sunlight, because the metal will become too hot, which can affect the finish. Also, don't expose still-damp paint to rain or dew, because moisture could reduce the gloss.
Done properly, painting your tractor yourself will save you time and money and your tractor will shine like it's brand new.
Kathy Streng is a vice president for Yenkin-Majestic Paint Corp.