Painting your tractor makes it look nice and helps to protect it.
For instance, tiny scratches eventually turn into large rust patches. Rust patches get worse over time and eventually cause structural problems.
Painting can help avoid these types of issues.
Make sure to take the time and do it right. Anybody can grab some spray paint and cover a tractor in 5 minutes. While spray paint is excellent for doing minor touch ups, it is only a patch, not a cure.
The painting process is not complicated --- just time-consuming. Take your time, be thorough, think quality, and you will be very pleased with the results.
Here are the components that go into a great paint job:
Time: You need to allocate a fair amount of time to do this right. The worse shape your tractor is in, the more time you will need to put aside.
Respirator: Paint fumes and paint dust can kill you; they can be lethal. Don't take unnecessary chances. You can find respirators at any home or automotive store. Buy a good charcoal mask.
Sandpaper: Get 60 grit, 80 grit, and 350 grit wet/dry sandpaper. You will also need a sanding block. If you have a $60+ budget, purchase a random orbital sander.
Paint: Purchase custom matched paint for the frame, grills, and wheels. You want to make sure to get the color shade perfect. Also, buy good quality, so the paint does not quickly deteriorate. You will also need to buy the correct paint thinner for whatever paint type you choose.
Paint Gun: A good paint gun will save you time and provide a nice and even coat without running.
Air Compressor: If you own a tractor, you likely have one, or need one. Get a nice 5hp model.
Spray Can Primer: Use a sandable, lacquer-based primer.
Masking Tape: Buy good quality, 2” tape.
Ok, it is time to… GET STARTED.
Before you do any painting, you need to remove all the old paint and sand down any scratched or rusty surfaces. You must sand everything you intend to paint, down to the bare metal.
This will not only make the tractor look better --- you will also protect the body.
Use the 60 or 80 grit sandpaper on a random orbital sander and work the metal. Be careful not to overheat and warp it.
If there are areas that you are not going to sand down to bare metal --- then simply rough up the surface with the 350 grit sandpaper or use coarse steel wool.
Sand down everything you are going to paint. The new paint will not stick to the smooth original paint.
For removing the decals, use the 60 grit sandpaper. You can also use a heat gun and a putty knife. Be sure you remove all the adhesive, or it will look bad when it is painted. Also, make sure to order a tractor decal replacement kit.
Keep in mind that bare metal will "flash rust" very quickly if not covered with paint or primer. Any moisture from rain, or even morning dew, will cause it to rust in a matter of minutes. This means that once you start sanding, you will need to be ready to at least prime it. Remove the fenders, emblems, lights, handles, etc. This will make it easier to paint quicker, with no obstacles getting in your way.
For prepping the tractor --- use masking tape to completely cover anything you do not want to be painted. This will include fenders, lights, the dashboard, and anything else you did not remove. Make sure the tape is covering the area 100%, as any gaps will be painted. You can use plastic trash bags to cover the tires and engine.
Marhyde makes a coating that dissolves rust. Use it on areas that you cannot reach when sanding. This would include the frame, engine area, or in the body panel creases. It is pricey and worth it. Use it wisely and let it dry for the recommended time.
DupliColor makes a good lacquer-based primer. It is typically ready to sand within 20 minutes. You can apply 5 coats to all the areas that you sanded to bare metal. Also, give the entire body 1 good coating. Let it dry and sand the entire body with 350 grit sandpaper using the sanding block.
If you keep the area wet with a squirt bottle, the paint will not ball up in the paper. Sand the body until you can barely see the original color at all. You want a completely smooth look, and you should be able to run your hand over the body without feeling any bumps or scratches. If you can feel anything, it will look bad when it is painted. You may need to give the body several more coats of primer until you can sand it completely smooth. Keep in mind that if you prime it, you will have to sand it, before you can paint it. Prime anything that you cannot reach.
Regardless of what tractor paint you choose, you should use a good hardener to "activate" the paint. This produces an extremely glossy and durable paint. It goes on flat to hide any scratches that you might not have sanded out properly.
As far as the paint --- mix it as recommended on the can. Let stand to "sweat." The paint will be good for roughly 8 hours. Therefore, you need to keep going.