The eighteen months of our Land Rover restoration project brought us into contact with many people who in their own way contributed to the successful outcome. We met mechanics and electricians, welders and painters, upholsterers and air conditioning specialists. After returning from our trip one of our last Saturday afternoons in Ghana before departing for Canada was spent saying thanks to many of those individuals by inviting them to Opere’s shop for pizza and beer. We set up the Defender in full campsite mode, filled the fridge with beer and soft drinks and brought some pizza from Frankies and meat pies we bought from Rejoice at the High Commission.
The turn out was not bad, if devoid of female presence. Despite that, on request we put an Ebo Taylor CD in the stereo and the boys even danced.
It was our way of saying thank you and farewell to some people who helped realize a project that was, when you think about it, rather unlikely and against the odds.
So we finally delivered the Defender to Bernard at Sikkens (Kolours) for painting on November 19, complete with the roof rack and ladder because they are also part of the deal. That was two weeks ago and they are working hard, but no actual paint has been applied yet. There is a popular misconception is that a “paint job” is a simple, individual step, but actually painting comprises numerous steps before the real painting of the car can be done. I knew this but think I stumbled into the misconception. I have been by a few times and they are always working on it, but not painting. I know that a great paint job is the outcome of many hours expended sanding and readying the body perfectly smooth before the paint can be applied, this is essential to get the look you are expecting, but I am starting to get restless. I told Bernard that he can take the time needed to do a good job, but I did not expect that it would take this long. The first time I went by the vehicle was not at the paint shop at all, but rather “at the seaside” which, piqued my curiousity. The shop is only a couple of blocks from the shore, and I imagined somewhow they were doing some environmentally egregious work at the tide-line. I went looking and found that in fact Kolours has a second location where they do the body prep work: puttying, filling, sanding. It is closer to the shore, but not on it at all,
They are doing the putty and sanding work both to the outside of the vehicle and the inside, which is completely stripped except for the old drivers seat. That does make for a rather large area to cover and adds to the time. They are now getting quite close to actually applying paint. I insisted they not paint around all the various appurtenances on the body (ie. lights) and was there to see them remove them.
Kolours have now invested well over two weeks in careful pre-paint prep work. I can’t quite figure out the pricing, Ghana is not that inexpensive. They seem very professional and thorough, although my close monitoring has yielded some benefits. In the picture to the left you can see they have just masked the rear license plate and left it on. However, I will have to change that plate and I think the new one is going to be a different size than the old one. I had asked Benard to remove it but they must have forgotten. Fortunately I went by and caught this and they have now taken it off. Which is not an easy thing to do – the plate is actually riveted to the vehicle. I also see they had not taken off the tdi decals from one of the front fenders, which would have either been painted around or over, either one of which would have looked messy.
We have now actually passed the ‘getting ready to paint’ stage, the roof has been painted, and the next time we see the Defender it will be sporting the new NATO Lightstone caramel colour. The wheels, roof rack ladder, and underside also have yet to be done, but once they start spraying it will happen fast.