Painting 230


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Painting turned out to be more of a challenge than I had ever imagined.  The paint on this coach was far worse then I had originally thought and there was more body work than I had thought.  One lower side panel had a big dimple 18" x18" about 1 inch deep.  it could be popped out from the inside but as soon as pressure was released it would pop right back in. The paint had literally thousands of pock marks and small blister on all surfaces, whether they were aluminum or fiberglass but were worse on the upper half of the coach. I was relocating the Furnace so the holes for the existing furnace needed to be filled.  There were some major damage to body panels (Missing body back of passenger front wheel} that needed to be replaced plus other holes in the glass that were covered with Good Sam stickers. Needed to build box behind license plate for water fill and power cord. Need to close up original power cord and water door.

In addition to the actual work there were decisions to make on brand and type of paint.  I had originally intended to use PPG since that is what the body shop used to paint mine however after talking to several automotive paint stores I was going to have almost $2500 in paint alone.  One paint store suggested a cheaper line of Dupont paint and would give me a good price and the cost for all the paint, sandpaper, taping supplies cost me just a shade over $1100 dollars and this was a base coat clear product.  I will say the paint store went out of their way to provide me with information whenever I called.

Several critical items came up while talking to the paint shop.  One was that the new paints might not be compatible with the old paint so the coach should be totally stripped or a barrier coat should be applied. All bare metal patches larger then a quarter should be primed with an etching primer before applying any other paints. A sealer primer was required under the base coat.   The total paint package included an etching primer, an epoxy barrier coat which was then scuffed with a red scotch bright pad then a coat of sanding primer followed by a sealer primer then two coats of the primary base coat then 2 coats of each of the graphics colors then two coats of clear coat.

Initial body work (mostly fiberglass and body fillers was done then the whole coach was sanded down to almost bare metal and fiberglass.  All bare metal was then painted with the etching primer.  The dimple was removed by first removing all the insulation in that area and then using a 2'x2' piece of plywood on the inside that had kerfs cut in it on the table saw about 1 inch apart and most of the way thought the plywood so that it would bend.  This plywood was then coated with a polyester bonding putty from a marine shop and pushed into place using long boards braced against the other side until the dimple was out and left to cure.  After curing the long boards were removed and the dimple was gone.

Missing fiberglass body parts were repaired by grinding the edges around the missing areas to a feather edge then gluing ridged urethane foam insulation in place behind where the panel was missing and then shaping the urethane with sandpaper until it was the shape of the missing part and the glass was put over the whole thing.

The rest of the work was done by sections since I did not have the ability to paint the whole coach at one time, the roof was done first followed by the front then the back and finely each side.

The first thing that I quickly found out with the first application of epoxy primer was that the painting outside as originally planned was not going feasible for a number of reasons.  One was the existence of  small gnats that would appear out of no where and land in the fresh paint.  The second was finding the appropriate weather, On sunny days the surface got to hot to paint and for obvious reasons rainy days were not suitable, and this year we went from hot sunny days to rainy days in a single transition with none of the overcast days that I was hoping for.  Also painting the roof was appearing as more and more of a challenge the more I looked at it.  a ladder did not really give access to the whole roof even with my long arms and trying to paint the roof while on it was not going to be feasible where multiple coats of paint were required.  As a result of these realizations I put together a paint booth in my shop using 2 100 foot rolls of plastic sheeting complete with a traveling platform over the coach that allowed reaching all the roof without getting on it. I was fortunate that my shop is divided into two parts, one used for coach and boat storage and the other a working area.

Shortly after getting everything set up I was able to successfully paint the roof then the weather got cold and foggy which did not make for good weather since with fans running to evacuate the overspray and fumes the cold damp outside air was drawn into the painting area and this was not considered suitable for painting.  Then temperatures dropped even further and when thing dried up it was only getting up to the mid 40s during the middle of the day and the base coat stated that it was to be sprayed at temperatures above 50 degrees.  Even though I could heat the shop to 60 as soon as the fans started I was quickly down to below 50.  I ended up borrowing propane heaters and getting more firewood for the wood stove and using an electric heater then by getting every thing ready before turning on the fans and then painting up a storm for a few minutes and then closing up I was able to get the job done.

I refer to the results as my 5 foot paint job, if you stand at 5 feet it looks great but real close inspection will reveal the flaws, many of which can be solved by some light wet sanding and buffing but that will be left to my son and I bet it never gets done.

Now I need to paint all the accessories and get them installed including window frames and tinting the windows before they go back in.

If you did not notice before reading all these pros there was a link at the top just under the pictures that will take you to a short picture gallery showing this whole process.