So after a few years and while staring at my grill (also I had nothing to do waiting for my engine bits to come back from the machinist):
1) I wanted more contrast between the gloss and background,
2) the cracks were getting worse,
3) and the chrome hoop that goes up into the hood looked terrible and was really bugging me.
So I bought a crusty grill from another member on here. It was from Michigan (I think?) so there was some decent corrosion but the price was right and I planned on painting it the same way as before anyway.
For anyone painting one of these pignose grills, there are basically 4 finishes on them. There is the dark silvery paint that goes on the background and behind the grill, there is the a chrome like super thin paint, a flat black on some of the chrome foil, and then the thick foil like chrome that is polished. On the grill I bought A LOT of the dark silvery paint and super thin chrome like paint was peeling off.
You can really see where it is peeling off on the back
Here you can see a ton of it was removed
So the first step (conducted in a hotel room on a business trip) was to polish the outer chrome strip and remove all the peeling finishes I could. To polish the chrome strip I used some 0000 steel wool and this metal polish I bought at the Pomona Swap Meet in the mid 90s. There are 2 spots on the grill where the chrome is damaged. I don't care about them since they sit behind my lights on my bumper. Here is one of those spots of damage
Here you can see after the outer chrome has been polished
I kept using some coarse steel wool, a razor, a pair of tweezers, and whatever else I needed to keep removing peeling finishes. I get it pretty well cleaned up and rinsed it off in my hotel shower. I am about 4 man hours into this grill at this point:
Next up was to fix all the cracks and re-enforce the weak spots. All these pignoses fail in the same place, the upper center support. It cracks, and then the chrome foil peels. There were about 6 different areas that I had to fiberglass over but the top center bracket was the worst. I cleaned the crack up with some 120 grit, the alcohol and this is how it looked. Notice it is cracked on the top AND bottom.
I used the tools I had on hand (hotel trash can filled with water) to push that crack shut and fiberglassed it together.
I only show the 2 spots on the top center bracket in these pictures, but there are about 5 other spots that needed fixing. Once the fiberglass had hardened, the grill felt MUCH more solid. It was pretty nuts how much of a difference it made.
Then I sanded the chrome I was planning to paint with 220 grit and used some body glaze to fill the cracks (every step included continuing to remove peeling finishes). You can see many of the little red blobs of areas I needed to fill.
Next, I sanded it all down with 220 grit, masked all the areas I wanted to leave chromed and got it ready for primer.
Here you can see there are 5 different areas on just the upper bar that needed filling. I will bet if you have an original pignose, you have little cracks in the same places. On the back of all these places there is fiberglass reinforcement. I am about 12 hours into this grill and my business trip is over.
That weekend I sprayed it with 1 coat of self etching primer, let it dry, then sprayed it with 2 heavy coats of sandable primer. Then I stuck it back on the shelf for a couple months waiting for another business trip where I could bring it with me.
Flash forward to about 3 weeks ago. Here is the grill after being blown off and brought back out.
You can see the cracks are pretty much gone. The filling worked! Wooo Hoo!
Spent a couple hours wet sanding it I think it was 400 grit? Might have been 600, though.
Then I re-masked and took it out to paint it. We had a day that was killed because someone in our group got the 'Rona so I found a place out in the hotel parking lot to spray the Rustoleum Painters Touch 2X Gloss black. I think I did 2 light coats and one thick coat. Gave it 8 hours in the warm'ish Novemeber Ontario CA sun.
I unmasked it and stuck it on the shelf again when I got home. I wanted the gloss black to be fully cured before I touched it again.
Last night, I took it down off the shelf, and re-masked again. The green tape is 1/4" masking tape I bought the first time I painted my grill. I masked everything I wanted to stay chrome or gloss black.
I spent a few hours trying to find the FLATTTEST black that would last. I did quite a bit of reading on flat black paints and ended up with this:
Here is how my grill ended up:
SUUUuuuper stoked on it!
Check out the contrast between the gloss and flat black:
Now, is it perfect? NOPE!!! but my truck is a turd and if the grill was too nice, it would stick out. It looks pretty darn good, though! I hope to install this on my truck sometime this week; those pictures will go on my build thread. All in all, probably about 30 man hours in this used grill. Probably a total of about $60 in paint, filler, and sand paper.