The Red Baron


Restoration – Red Baron Restore

by Jerry Schmitt

I found a Red Baron that was a good restoration candidate. It was complete, and looked like a challenge. Sure I could find a mint loose one for under $20.00, but, I do this for the enjoyment. And, no it’s not getting a white interior.



Here we have the parts after disassembly. It had two loose axles. The plastic “spring bar suspension” used in 1970 & later is often broken on beat cars like this. This is what makes some ’70 & later cars “lowriders”.


In this photo, the parts have been stripped, and sanded. For stripping I use a product called “Spray gun parts cleaner”. It is designed to get the dried paint out of the small parts & passages of professional spray guns. It is very effective, but has very toxic fumes, and will burn skin. Use with extreme caution. It will strip many layers of paint, and even strip the urethane on the newer cars.


After stripping, all the parts were dropped in distilled vinegar. This will brighten the casting removing the surface tarnish, like on the helmet above. After the vinegar soak, the parts are scrubbed with a Scotchbrite. The remaining dark areas, like the fender edges were lightly wet-sanded with 400, 600, and 1000 grit paper in succession.


Sanding & polishing removes the thin zinc plating (where its not already gone), that’s where new plating comes in handy. The zinc plating not only preserves the casting, it also gives the transparent spectraflame paint the “glow” we love. These are the same parts after new plating.

Before painting, I wipe the car with Dupont “Prep-sol” to remove any contaminants (mainly oil from fingers).I use House of Kolor urethanes. I like the durability, and it is usually trouble free. To get a color to look right takes some trial & error, and experience.  I got this red to look right! It is one part Candy Red, one part urethane clear, a few drops of Candy Scarlet (has a little pearl in it), 1/3 activator, and about 1/8th reducer. I only mix a couple ounces at a time, since the activator causes the paint to harden in the same manner as fiberglass resin & hardener. It must be used within a few hours of mixing, but hardens just like a urethane bowling ball! By mixing the clear in the color, I have eliminated the need for clear overcoats. It also looks less “thick”. I can also adjust the darkness of the finish with more or less clear.  I try to get it done in three coats. Here is the first coat. It is a very light mist coat. Don’t worry if it causes droplets. They will fill in on subsequent coats. If you try for full coverage on the first coat, the paint will run & pool. The bottom side has already been finished in the following photos.

1st Coat:


I like to use the sun on a bright, clear, dry day to “bake” the paint. This is not critical, but it speeds drying, and adds gloss.

If you can’t use the sun, or can’t move the car, just leave the room. It is imperative not to rush. 10-15 minutes between coats is good.

Here is the second coat. You may or may not have full coverage now, depending on the color. It looks like a good factory light red at this point. If you are doing a third coat, the second coat should also be a light mist coat. Don’t worry about gloss at this point, but make sure the coverage is even.

2nd Coat:


The final coat should be a little heavier. This is the “gloss coat”. This is where you lay on a couple of light coats in quick succession, to get a little “flow out”. This also takes some amount of experience. Try to err on the light side; if the paint runs you will be forced to start over. Also, on these little cars, you need to pay attention to the sides. The tendency is to lay too much paint on the top surfaces.


Here is the nearly completed car. I was able to straighten the axles, and reinstalled them with 2 part epoxy. I also wet sanded the inside tire edges, to smooth them out. Then I added repro wheel caps. It is reassembled with epoxy only, I do not use repro rivets. Now I just need new “Iron Crosses” for the helmet.

That’s it, I guess. I enjoyed doing this car. It is going right into my display. It represents the best that the current restoration hobby has to offer, and the best of my abilities. I have learned a lot from each project, and also from this board.


We all feel these cars are rolling art. And that is how I feel about fixing them.

Thanks goes out to Jerry for his wonderful contributions!!

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