The Camper is ready for the big paint job!
What a lot of work to get here! First fixed both rear storage compartments for wood rot. Then I resealed both edge joints with butyl tape and replaced the alunimum seams using many, many new #6, 1″ zinc plated, pan head sheet metal screws (many of the old ones were rusty.) Next I sanded the whole bloody thing with farily fine grit, #330 sandpaper to smooth over the old primer coat plus roughen up the bare alunimum roof that never got primed or painted. Then, and I thought this was clever if I do say so myself, I blew off most of the sanding dust using my lawn blower! Great clouds of primer dust came off. Still I had to wipe it all down with a tack cloth to remove the fine particles that remained. Next I carefully washed any remaining grimy areas with soap and water, and then used a naptha and isopropol alcohol cleaner/degreaser on the whole thing. To my delight and surprise, the degreaser disolved and removed the remaining black gunk from the roof seam that I couldn’t scrape or sand off. Worth buying! Then came masking and taping. With two people, not hard. I used painters paper and 2″ blue tape. I recommend the paper because it doesn’t crinkle and is easier to handle than plastic. Also I taped both the inside and outside edges just to make sure everything was carefully masked. Finally, my water inlet on the outside was fused to the internal water tank. The old water tank is nasty alunimum and I was going to replace it anyway, so I used a Sawzall with a metal cutting bit and cut the short piece of threaded pipe right off.
They say 90% of painting is the preparation. Well, they’re right!
Now came the big paint job! I got all the supplies to do this at TCP Global.
They’re located in San Diego. Everything came by mail order, was a good deal, and the right stuff. I’d use them again, so I can recommend them. It took a little longer to ship the paint than I expected, but when I called I learned that they often mix the colors at the time of ordering, so I thought that was acceptable. Besides, I was still prepping and not ready to paint anyway.
I used the Single Stage Acrylic Urethane product. Urethane is the most durable stuff you can use–the same that modern cars are painted with in the factory, only this product is a one-step application. There’s no basecoat followed by clear coat. I’m painting aluminum which will never have quite the finish of a heavier automotive panel, and it’s 60 year old alumimum skin at that, so some imperfections will exist no matter what. Plus the two-step product is more expensive and time consuming. I’m delighted with the finish I got, and didn’t need the extra step. The other lacquer and enamel products are for specialty antique car applications and don’t have the durability of urethane. The colors are where we went retro. The top is Wimbledon White and the bottom is going to be Petty Blue. Facinatingly, while sanding I uncovered the original line of the stripe on all four sides, and it was a similar blue! This has to be Karma. We’re excited now to be able to match the original stripe design including the chevron in front, and practically the same color scheme. The old top color was also a creamy white. I love the authentic detail!
You have to be diligent using this stuff–it’s nasty, dangerous and harmful. It’s a two part urethane. They package the hardener in a kit for you with the paint. You must use long sleeves and pants, chemical resistant gloves, safety glasses and an OSHA-approved, cartridge-type breathing regulator. Even still, if you’re indoors there must be very good ventilation. I was painting outside, so ventilation was less of a concern. Nevertheless, visitors said they could smell it all the way around the house and down the street. So be careful–it’s nasty stuff.
I bought the cleaner, primer, two colors, measuring cups and an HVLP spray gun kit all from TCP Global. The specialty measuring cups are crucial. The primer is a 3:1 primer:hardener mix, and the paint is 4:1. The cups come graduated so you just poor in the right amount according to the mix you want as marked on the side–no calculations to do. They also throw in paint filters, which is also crucial. Tiny particles, or clumpy paint can easily clog the sprayer, which would be a bummer to clean in the middle of the job.
Using the HVLP (High Volume, Low Pressure) paint gun is probably a post in itself–I’ll work on doing that. But I bought a kit that included three spray guns with different nozzle sizes for $99, and it’s working great. The extras included like the pressure regulator and water trap are crucial and not something you can find easily at home depot. (I looked)
Spraying the primer was quick with the biggest nozzle gun (1.8mm). Spraying the white color took 7 hours using the medium nozzle (1.4mm)! I was covering a lot of surface area (the roof included, which isn’t evident in the pictures) and 2-3 wet coats are needed for complete coverage, but that was still a long time. The results are fantastic however! The urethane paint and spray gun is definately the way to go. It’s smooth, hard, shiny, and appears very durable. The off-white is fantastic and looks really great on the vintage camper.
Obviously I ran out of time last weekend to do the blue on the bottom, but masking and painting that is the next step! Then polishing the alunimum windows and reinstalling them (another post on how-to.) Stay tuned!