Dismantle Fenders and Hood
The next step in the weekend overhaul of your Kubota tractor is to further dismantle the fenders and hood. Remove the fender grab handles, taillights as well as the front grille and headlamps. If you have not dismantled the dash yet, remove the gauges, wiring harness, ignition switch, glow plug indicator, horn, signal and headlamp switch. These switches come off pretty quickly and with them out of the way it’s easier to achieve a better overall paint job – less precision masking to do.
Next, using a heat gun, remove all the decals and tractor operation stickers. Most of the decals are vinyl backed and a few are foil backed but, either way, you will find they release very well after some gentle heating. Any glue residue can be removed with your wax and grease remover or surface prep. Nearly all of your tractors safety and operating decals are available from your Kubota Dealer. You can check your Kubota parts manual under labels to determine the correct part numbers to order. If you decide against replacing the decals then take the time to mask them up.
Now would be a good time to shoot a little semi-gloss black paint onto the muffler and exhaust stack pipe if you removed it when preparing to paint the chassis/frame. You’ll need to re-install it shortly and it might as well look good!
Sanding Fenders, Hood and Dash
Next step is to so some sanding down of the old finish and to feather out any deep scratches. Sanding will also remove any of the loose flaking paint that is so prevalent in early Kubota B and L series tractors. Using a hand-held orbital sander with a 5” velcro pad and a few different grits does an excellent job and requires very little effort so it’s the tool of choice in our shop when it comes to this type of surface prep job.
It is a good idea to take care of the rust, scale and deep scratches first, by spot sanding these areas. Mount up a disc of 60 or 80 grit paper on your orbital sander and concentrate on those areas first. Again, confine your sanding with this heavy grit to just the areas that require the most sanding. The heavy grit will chew through the rust and scale quickly. It’s okay to take these rough areas right down to shiny metal.
Once you have removed and sanded all the rust spots out of the sheet metal, you can then switch sanding discs and begin to work the fenders, hood, and dash in their entirety. Start with a 120 or a 150 grit paper and systematically sand all areas. It’s okay if you sand the odd area right through to metal, those parts will cover up when you prime them. Switch to new discs often when you feel the old one is no longer biting the surface of the old paint. Once you have fully and completely sanded every square inch of the fenders, hood and dash with 120 grit, switch to 180 or 220 grit and make one complete pass around everything again with your orbital sander. Tight spots and compound curves may require a little hand sanding.
Primer’s Role – Not a Replacement for Good Sanding
It’s important to note that new primer and paint is not going to cover and hide anything that you did not remove or sand out during the sanding and prep stages. If you can feel a scratch or an imperfection with your finger tips then you will still see the scratch or imperfection after you have laid down the paint. There is no substitute for taking the time to do this preparation correctly. Look closely at the work while you are sanding and feel the area often to check your progress in achieving as close to a flawless surface as possible.
Now that we’ve sanded the fenders, hood and dash completely down to a 180 or 220 finish, the next step is to remove any dust and sanding debris before applying the primer paint to the metal. Wet a shop towel with Windex and wipe down all the metal areas of each fender, the hood and the dash. Turn the towel frequently to keep it clean, moisten as necessary.
With that done, the next step is to re-wipe everything again, this time with a tack cloth. A tack cloth is just that – a tacky cloth! They’re sticky and are excellent for picking up minute traces of dust that can really show up when painting and they do not leave a residue when used correctly. Press lightly when using a tack cloth – just glide it over the surface being cleaned. It you drop it on the shop floor, get a new one – that one is finished as it will have picked up a ton of particles off the garage or shop floor.
Finally Ready for Primer
It will be necessary to apply at least 2 coats of primer to all fenders, hood, and dash. While it is possible to simply spot prime these parts, the results are much better if you lay down a good undercoating of primer before laying on the top coat of Kubota Orange Paint. You’ll find automotive primer in a few different colors these days, including black, white, and yellow and of course the classics: red oxide and gray. The best results we have had so far are when we use gray primer.
The first coat of primer should be light – spray only enough on to lightly cover the old paint and bare metal under it, using the same application techniques as discussed when we painted the chassis and frame. Let the first prime coat fully dry and then apply a second full coat. By this time, the fenders, hood and dash should all look solidly gray with no visible bare spots or old paint showing through the primer.
Once the second full coat of primer has dried, rub your hand over the fenders and hood and dash. How do they feel? Rough, right? That’s okay. Take out your scotch brite pad or fold a disc of 320 grit sandpaper in quarters and lightly hand sand all the primered parts. As you do,this the finish will begin to feel glassy smooth. Don’t sand too deep, you’re just trying to knock off the rough feel metal gets when you spray it with primer. If you burn through the primer in a spot or two at this stage, touch those areas back up with primer and re sand with the 320 or scotch brite pad when dry. One final wipe down with Windex followed by your tack cloth and you are ready to start laying down that fresh Kubota paint.
First Coat of Paint – “Fog Coat”
The first coat of paint that you lay down is a fog coat. The fender or hood will look pretty spotty after this first coat goes down. Spray each fender, the hood and the dash area completely. Remember, less is more at this point.
Immediately after the first fog coat has flashed off you can start spraying on a heavier intermediate coat. Do not worry about maintaining a level of gloss consistency here as that will come on the final coat. The purpose of this intermediate coat is to build the paint and fill in any areas the fog coat has missed.
The third coat of paint can be applied as soon as the intermediate coat has dried. When you start laying the paint down, you need to be watching for the wet edge the spray can is putting out. By overlapping 50% on each subsequent pass with your spray can, you’ll be able to maintain an even gloss. The purpose of this third coat is gloss, so take your time here. Making use of a work light can really assist in watching the paint lay down. Don’t forget to turn on and turn off the spray at the beginning and end of each and every pass. Be on the lookout for dry, dull spots. These indicate a lack of coverage in that area. Watch the wet edge as the paint is applied and you’ll be in good shape.
Painting your ROPS
If your Kubota is fitted with a ROPS (roll over protection structure), painting it is pretty straight forward as well. Kubota tractors are available with either a single post ROPS, a dual post version, a fixed ROPS and a foldable version. Lightly sand any deep scratches that may exist in the paint. The ROPS will show the most wear in the 3 point hitch area, so sand these parts well. Put the ROPS over a pair of saw horses and undertake painting one side of the structure at a time. It’s a little heavy and awkward to try and paint both sides at the same time. Use your Kubota Gray on the ROPS for an authentic match, although it’s fine to paint it blue or black. Fresh always looks better than worn out.
Follow us to Part 4 of this series where we reassemble our tractor and complete some of the finishing details.