TRUE COLORS TAKE SPECIAL TRAINING Facility teaches auto refinishing


JESSUP -- For a car owner, few things are more aggravating than sending a blemished chariot to a body-repair shop and getting back a two-tone vehicle.

One part has the beautiful, original color, but the other has some awful pigment that appears as if it was applied by a blindfolded technician. Although the difference may actually be barely discernible, it takes only a tiny contrast in hues to elicit a highly colorful response.

BASF Corp. has more than a passing interest in the problem, since the international chemical manufacturer supplies paint to many auto companies. This week, BASF opened a Jessup training center where auto paint refinishers will be taught the science of matching and applying paint correctly.

Science is an appropriate term, since an integral part of the training involves a computer that weighs the pigments to be mixed and determines how much of each is needed to produce the proper hue, said Paul M. Sheffer, a BASF employee who works in the Jessup facility.

The main reason auto paint refinishers need special training is because of new technologies used in the manufacture and application of auto paints to increase their luster and longevity, said James K. Warren, special training developer.

BASF has 10 centers in the country and has plans to open two more.

"Considering the cost of staffing, supporting and outfitting a modern training center and the investment BASF has already made, we would not be opening this or other centers if the need for training did not warrant them," company spokesman George Auel said.

The training center occupies 8,000 square feet of space at the Baltimore/Washington Industrial Park, and contains a classroom, a refinish preparation area, a booth for drying cars and two walk-in spray stalls.

BASF will graduate its students following classes of one or two days, depending on the skill being taught.

The first class of automotive Rembrandts is scheduled to get its high-technology instruction Tuesday.

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