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Old 07-09-2005, 08:02 AM   #1
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1979 31' Excella 500
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What's your floor plan?

Hi, folks,

I was wondering how many different floor plans were offered in the 1979 Excella 500. Mine is a front gaucho, side bath, rear twin model with a curbside stove and sink.

I have the owner's manual and 1979 service manual, and neither one of them shows this floor plan or an interior shot that looks like this trailer.

I've been told that some Excella 500s were built with the following year's floor plan. The data plate on the the front of this trailer says it was manufactured on "1 24 79." Maybe I need to be looking at 1978 floor plans instead?

Guys, what floor plan does YOUR '79 Excella have?

Thanks,

Lamar
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Old 07-09-2005, 09:59 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeHarbor
Hi, folks,

I was wondering how many different floor plans were offered in the 1979 Excella 500. Mine is a front gaucho, side bath, rear twin model with a curbside stove and sink.

I have the owner's manual and 1979 service manual, and neither one of them shows this floor plan or an interior shot that looks like this trailer.

I've been told that some Excella 500s were built with the following year's floor plan. The data plate on the the front of this trailer says it was manufactured on "1 24 79." Maybe I need to be looking at 1978 floor plans instead?

Guys, what floor plan does YOUR '79 Excella have?

Thanks,

Lamar

Lamar,
There was a thread a while back about the Excellas and manuals...IIRC it was under the 74-75 Excella headings. For some unknown reason the Excella's use the next year manual...ie; 1974 Excella's are covered in the 1975 manual the 1975 Excella is covered in the 1976 manual and so forth. So I suspect you may need to look for a 1980 manual to find your floor plan....

Aaron
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Old 07-09-2005, 10:26 AM   #3
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1979 31' Excella 500
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Hi, Aaron,

It figures... the PO gave me the 1979 owner's guide AND the 1979 service guide. I thought I was very lucky. Still, they're useful.

I'll go find that thread. Thanks!
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Old 07-09-2005, 10:40 AM   #4
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Interesting question, Lamar. I'm certainly not an expert, but we've got a '78 Excella 500 and I'm always seeking out more information on others. Ours is also a front gaucho but with a rear bath and our stove and sink are curbside. I think there are the following major variants which might be considered (but I have no idea which specifically might or might not have been offered at any given model year):

1. Bath (rear or mid)

2. Twins or Double (rear or mid)

3. Front guacho, side gaucho (street or curb side), L-arrangement

Davidz71's '77 Excella from here on the forum shows a streetside gally with couch on the curbside.

I believe the '78 and '79 Excella's were pretty closely related except for external features such as the solid window next to the door and the tail lights which were a flatter square type used through the 80's and 90's. The layout of the '31 foot trailers really varied little during most of the 70's, the main distinction being the center or rear bath configuration, and then the arrangement of the front gauchos as well as the twin or double beds.

From my observations, the Excellas were almost identical to their Sovereign bretheren of the same year in terms of interior layout. They were distinguished by certain appliances such as the Dishmaster and Nutone appliance center, pull out hose and electric reels, built-in vacuum, doorchime, different interior color selections and furniture (e.g., the "china cabinet" built into the galley of our '78, solid partition doors, addded special lighting, and "secret" lockbox) and, of course, the all-important blue stripe! The sideplate of ours mentions "Excella-Vac" brakes, but I don't believe these were exclusive to the Excella, at least vacuum brakes are often found on non-Excella Airstreams. I wonder if the Excella was the original test bed???

I have the 1978 Excella 500 Owners Manual and it does not show the floorplan for my trailer. It shows only the streetside gaucho arrangement. Startrekker2001 has the L-arrangement in his and you can see pictures at RJ Dial's website under 1978 Excella (be careful there are actually two different coaches shown under the same page--the other one's a rear bath). I have the 1978 Service Manual and I believe it only shows the front gaucho arrangment.

From RJ's website it would appear that the serial numbers only decode the center/rear bath and twin/double bed arrangements. The gaucho configuration is not decoded! RJ must need pictures of a '79 Excella. You should send him pix of yours! There are pix of a '79 Sovereign there that show the streetside gaucho/curbside kitchen/stove.

I'd be interested in seeing pix of your '79 Excella. Up to this point, I've not come across many. There are pictures of a '79 Excella 500 up for sale at American Way RV's website right now. Overall, the color of the woodwork is similar to our '78 and the other '78's I've seen. This is called Koa wood (which is patterned off of the koa wood that grows in Hawaii and is used to make guitars). You can see the solid window next to the door. There is a window inset in the door which may have been unique to the Excella. I have found other '79's did not have this! There is a china cabinet above the refridgerator and microwave in the galley. These doors appear to open out. On our '78 the are all glass and slide past each other like the doors of a jewelry store display. There are small lights flanking the gaucho that stick out of the wall. Our '78 does not have these. They may have been added by the owner of this coach, or taken off of ours. I'd like to know if anyone else has them!

I could go on and on! I'll try and insert pictures of the '79 Excella 500 from the American Way RV Website before they disappear...
-Dallas
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Old 07-09-2005, 11:36 AM   #5
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1979 31' Excella 500
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Hi, Dallas,

Mine looks very much like the pictures you posted, except that there's a digital clock in the center of the front, flourescent lights over the gaucho as well as the two magnetically retained spotlights, but without the two side lights.

My trailer has a spice rack with tambour over the stovetop that I haven't seen in other pictures yet. The streetside part of your imported pictures looks otherwise like mine, including the parquet floor, which is noticeably lighter than the exposed portions, but still in remarkably good condition.

Where those side lights are, mine has the "Auto-Skyliner" control panel on streetside. (The antenna was removed at some time. The Winegard foldup that is has now is not as sensitive or directional as the old style Skyliner that my Argosy has. I'm not very happy with this antenna and may replace it.)

The trailer apparently came with the disk brakes, but it has electrics now.

Mysteries to me are are the cargo compartment under the streetside front window that goes nowhere.. and a boxy hump hanging down behind the spare tire. I've been wondering what lives down there.
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Old 07-09-2005, 02:09 PM   #6
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Is there a difference between the Excella 500 and Excella 1000? Were they just offered in different years or were they different trim levels offered at the same time?
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Old 07-09-2005, 04:09 PM   #7
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Lamar, ours also has a digital clock in the center of the console, the Autoskyliner antenna controls and the magnetic spotlights. Our Skyliner is in fully manual mode, though. The controls do not work.

I've included a picture below from when we painted the endcap. You can see the features we discussed behind the plastic sheeting. The front gaucho has been removed in this picture as we were having it reupholstered and I was re-inforcing the frame for the gaucho and doing some work on the fuse panel wiring, too.

We have the spice rack over the stove as well. I've sent a picture of it. Unfortunately ours is broken in a couple of places as you can see. I believe this spice rack was used over several years through the late 70's and early 80's. It makes it nice because they are interchangeable. I've been on the prowl for a nicer one.

I like the little outside storage compartment you have! If there were space inside that would be very handy. I have no idea why it would go nowhere! I've never seen one like it before. I only have one which has an identical appearing door and it's located under bed on the curbside. My 1972 Sovereign has one on the opposite side, but in the Excella this area is taken up by the cord and hose reels. Outside storage space is at a real premium! With my front gaucho all of the space underneath the very back is eaten up by the battery compartments and the univolt, and there's storage accessible from the inside under the front part of the sofa. I would imagine there would be a space in there about 1 foot in depth and several feet in length under the gaucho...

As far as I can tell ours had carpeting throughout--a lovely 70's rust color originally. We've replaced it with brown that blends in with the koa wood. I'm interested in finding out was the parquet floor came that way from the factory or was it added by a later owner?

We had to remove the disc brakes and replace with electric, too. I believe that the box you mention under the trailer may have held some sort of vacuum reservoir. There was an actuator mounted on the A-frame of ours which contained the master cylinder for the vacuum over hydraulic setup. We have same box still under ours behind the spare tire. I've been itching to take it apart and see what's inside.

Minnie's Mate, I don't know when the Excella 1000 came on the scene but I believe it was sometime in the 80's. I'm not sure when the Excella 500 came on the scene, but it was probably early 70's. It would be nice to know, too.
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Old 07-09-2005, 05:23 PM   #8
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Hi, Dallas,

The front end of your trailer looks just mine to the room divider, but I don't have the good-looking model in mine to frame shots around. (That must have been an expensive option.)

I'm thinking about mounting a small LP-fired generator like a Campmate behind the compartment door, which would make the dinette stay extended in the folded position, but it could still be opened out to a full table. I would then get rid of the gaucho and go with a real couch, custom version.

My trailer has a compartment at the rear that opens into the cabinet between the beds. There's also one beneath the rear window that accesses the space under the curbside bed. There's a matching space under the streetside bed that is basically wasted. There is a sheet-metal storage bin under each bed. The beds tilt up to get to them, and they have very sharp edges. I think they probably must have, or least, should have had, molding trim around them originally.

The rearward inside bins under each bed are basically useless. It's occured to me that if I opened up the sides of the rear cabinet (the vacuum is missing), I would have access to the full width of the rear from the back compartment cover.

I removed an fifty-pound bike rack from the back of the Excella after reading about tail sag here.

I haven't found any trace of rust-colored carpet in here so far. The parquet is under the fixtures, too. I found this in the Owner's Guide: "Treat your parquet wood galley floor just as you would any fine hardwood floor in your home."

I think it's original.

Lamar

PS - It's good to see discussion in this section of the forum.
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Old 07-11-2005, 11:35 AM   #9
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Dallas, I know only two folks with Excellas, one has a late '70's Excella 500 (I think it is 1977) and one that has a 1995 Excella 1000. The '77 has a silver-blue themed interior with dark flat wood cabinets and Nu-tone built-in blender and the '95 has a taupe-beige themed interior with light oak paneled cabinets. Of course there is nearly 20 years of difference in the other details, too.
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Old 07-11-2005, 12:27 PM   #10
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Yep, there were many changes between the 70's models into the 90's. I'm starting to study the 80's models and look for the transition points such as from tambor to solid doors and eventually to heavier constructed wood cabinets. They also learned lessons from the 70's trailers and started to add the Frame Rail Reinforcements from the factory and at some point started to make the frame rails 6" instead of 4". Of course, the trailers got a lot heavier in these years, too, as using a family car to tow became less practical.

Lamar, thanks for the comments on my wife (Pam). She's also a great cook!

Good luck with utilizing that space! I hope the generator works out. I know someone else with a 70's model and they created an extra compartment in the rear streetside closet next to the water heater for thier generator.

It sounds like you were blessed with much more outside storage than we have on our '78 Excella rear bath. I have one in the very back that is mostly taken up with plumbing and used to hold the central vac which would have really made things crowded!

I use those metal bins under the bed to hold my flag poles! It's a little bit of a pain to get them in and out, though. Ours do not have molding trim around them either and do have a sharp edge.

A lot of people would agree about taking off the 50# bike rack from the back bumper. Why take a chance on damaging the coach?

Ours is going to be going to the factory soon to have the frame rail reinforcement kit added. Since we've used the trailer more I'm starting to notice that the back end seems to be drooping and there are flexural areas starting to form around the wheel wells.

I sure sounds like the parquet floor was factory! That's a neat fact I didn't know about. I wish ours had it!

-Dallas
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Old 07-11-2005, 06:15 PM   #11
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Hi, Dallas,

I've started posting some interior shots of my trailer in my gallery section.

Do you have two lower, two-way reflectors above the bumper on each side? I saw an Excella 500 in a rest area in Tennesee that did not have these at all, and I'm wondering if they might indicate some repair.

Thanks,

Lamar
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Old 07-11-2005, 06:57 PM   #12
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Hi again Dallas, and anybody else,

I thought of a couple more...

My trailer has the dual pane windows with some of the little bradlike retaining tabs fallen down into the bottom. I don't imagine there's an easy fix for this, but does your trailer have dual pane windows, too?

My front end cap is patterned to match the the vinyl-clad alumunimun sheet metal that runs back to the back end cap (except for in the side bath). I'm surprised that you would want to paint it.

Hi, Aaron,

I have the service manual in front of me. It has a blue cover with blue plastic retaining circular tabs. It's clearly labeled "1979 Excella Service Manual." I found that other post and read it. The service manual definitely does not show my trailer's floorplan.

Again, this trailer was built in January, so I would like to see a 1978 floor plan to see if they were still building it by then. I don't think that a front gaucho, center bath, thriple hall closet, rear dual beds model is anything unusual or odd, but I'm impressed that they put a HUGE living area in a trailer this size.

Compared to my Argosy 28, the extra room is in the distance from the gaucho to the fridge. That "credenza" goes a long way, and there's a lot of distance from the fridge to the stove.

I imagine that the L-shaped couch sofa and dinette may not emphasize this as much, but this is one SPACIOUS travel trailer.

Thanks, folks,

Lamar
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Old 07-11-2005, 09:00 PM   #13
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We also have the dual pane windows throughout the trailer. Ours also have the little white tabs stuck into the gooey grey gasket. They must act as spacers for the two panes of glass. A few have slipped out of place and fallen down. You're right, I don't know of an easy fix for this. I suppose we could replace the windows with salvaged single pane windows. All of the new replacements are tinted. The windows were originally tinted with silver reflective tint which is peeling on some of our windows.

The end cap was terminally yellowed and looked bad. It had to be painted! I was originally going to repaint it white and sponge paint on a color to match the aluminum panels. I didn't like it pure white once I painted the base layer. It was just too glaring. Then I painted it an off-white and really liked it. In fact, I decided not to sponge paint the contrasting color. I liked the solid color look. I think it's called Canvas White.

Lamar, I have some other pictures from a 1979 Excella that I found at Jackson Center last year. I was wondering if your windows looked like these. There is an extra aluminum trim channel around the outside of both the opening window and the portal window below it. So far I've only seen this pattern on 1979 models. I've also included a picture of the coupler from this trailer. It's unusual to see this style on an Airstream. I was wondering if yours had one like it.

I checked out your pictures, Lamar! Great looking screen room! I'm jealous! Your trailer looks great.
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Old 07-11-2005, 09:55 PM   #14
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Lamar-

On your question about the reflectors. There are two reflectors off to the side on the lower curved section of aluminum facing the rear. If your two reflectors are directly over the bumper then they are likely covering patches made to repair a frame/shell separation problem. Other trailers may or may not have them. You may also see the "elephant ears" repair to fix this problem, too.
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Old 07-11-2005, 11:00 PM   #15
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Thermopane window replacement

Hiya, Dallas (and other Excella 500 fans!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
I don't know of an easy fix for this. The windows were originally tinted with silver reflective tint which is peeling on some of our windows.
The fix is *gulp* easy. The OEM replacement windows are still manufactured in California, although the Thermopane variant is no longer available (too bad, I say). Jackson Center says $250 per window installed.

The riveted front windows (three of these, of course), curbside "picture window," and the two lower roadside vista views priced the same as the (cheaper to install, more expensive to manufacture) swing-outs on the two roadside salon windows, one galley and two bedroom windows, and the rear bathroom window for (let's see, carry the eight, square the drag coefficient...) something like $3k for replacement of all the nasty Thermopanes in a rear bath model. Your remaining (upper) vista views are not Thermopane.

Worth it, I say, but (for me) one of the last projects to undertake. It takes about six weeks to order the windows.

There is one other alternative that I won't consider myself but you may breaking out the inner window panes in the Thermopane units and dealing with some other issues. There are detailed postings elsewhere in the forums. The windows are one of my favorite features of this model, and I don't really want to take a hammer to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
The end cap was terminally yellowed and looked bad. It had to be painted! I was originally going to repaint it white and sponge paint on a color to match the aluminum panels. I didn't like it pure white once I painted the base layer. It was just too glaring. Then I painted it an off-white and really liked it. In fact, I decided not to sponge paint the contrasting color. I liked the solid color look. I think it's called Canvas White.
I'm dealing with this very issue now (have already masked twice and tried two colors I cannot abide... a brite white and a grey) but I have felt I was limited to colors available in Dupont Krylon because of plastic bonding issues and a desire to not remask/repaint as frequently as some other vintage owners need to do. Now I'm remasking/repainting a third time in a few short weeks anyway, so...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
I've also included a picture of the coupler from this trailer. It's unusual to see this style on an Airstream. I was wondering if yours had one like it.
I don't have this type of coupler either, but I do have the screen room (apparently unused). I did have to move the screen room couplings to the new awning roller bar when I replaced the awning and bar last year.

seeya in the neighborhood,

Johnny
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Old 07-12-2005, 09:37 AM   #16
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Johnny-

Thanks for joining in the thread! It's good to hear from another late 70's Excella owner out there!

I agree with you about the windows. I love the thermopane concept, but hate the fogging and delaminating of the inside reflective tint layer. I started moving my windows around and took the bad ones and tinted them and then moved them to the bedroom area where we mostly keep the curtains drawn all the time in the bedroom. You don't tend to have the eye drawn to the problem with the silver reflective tint that I used! If you look closely, the flaws are still visible. But your mind kind of shuts out the fogginess and says "that window's not clear because it's tinted". At least, that's what I'm hoping for! My wife enjoys having it darker in the bedroom because she likes to sleep late in the morning. I'm toying with doing the back window, but I like being able to see through the trailer when I'm driving.

I've seen posts about breaking out the inner pane on the oval windows (Vista View and portal windows down below) but I've never heard of this being done for the opening windows. Is this what you meant? If so, I'd like to see results of that. I'd be concerned about the structural integrity of the window/frame unit after that.

I ended up using the Rustoleum "Paint for Plastics" "Shell White" for the endcaps. I also repainted our screen frames in a closely matching color which was Rustoleum "Canvas White." I tried the Krylon Fusion in a white satin and it just wasn't to my liking--too dull a texture and of course, too stark white. The Rustoleum for plastics worked very well. I'm happy with the results. I've seen others sponge paint to get the original look back and I don't think I'd have the patience to do a good enough job, and from what I've seen, if it's not done right it can end up looking kinda tacky. I'd like for it just to blend in, not draw attention to itself. I painted the white tambor doors to match. Replacements of the white tambor are not available to my knowledge. My doors work fine, they're just yellowed, so the paint really freshens things up. I did a lot of masking and repainting. Let me tell you, I also learned to wear an N-95 mask! I came home with white nasal hairs the first time when I didn't inspite of having fans on to circulate air through. The paint particles also go everywhere. Be sure to cover every surface you don't want painted and even move stuff out of cabinets where it can drift in. I masked and remasked a few times, too!

I need to keep going back through the galley repainting the yellowed plastic and the tambor. I'd like to take out our spice rack which has some broken areas, mend those broken spots and repaint that, too.

You guys with screen rooms make me jealous! Do have any idea how expensive those are!?! I wish my prior owner would have just handed me one! At least I got some Zip-Dee tire covers...

Pics of the windows (Galley and Bedroom) with tinting below.
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Old 07-12-2005, 11:15 AM   #17
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Hi, Dallas,

Looking at the picture of your Excella below, I notice that your side marker lights are above the beltline. On mine, they're below. Also, the two-way reflector is actually above the bumper side trim that goes forward to meet rear curvature on mine. It looks like your's is higher up if I'm looking at the right thing. (Somebody got enthusiastic with the Vulkem on mine where the bumper cover meets the shell, but poking around inside doesn't show any discoloration or soft spots.)

This trailer lived in Arizona before it moved to Michigan. In the cabinet between the beds, I found some silver heat-reflective bubble-like strips cut to fit the rear access door. I wonder if it once had a full set of them?

I theorize that the little tabs loose in the windows might have just had a function in holding the glass together until the stuff cured. My glass feels intact when I squeeze the edges, so I don't think I've lost any structural integrity. Also, I don't have the extra framing around the main and lower windows on the streetside. Their frames are separate and don't touch each other.

Annoyingly, the top strip between the glass on the picture window is sagging in the middle where the ends meet.

If these windows were Thermopanes, I think they have long since peeled.

Lamar
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Old 07-12-2005, 11:59 AM   #18
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1979 31' Excella 500
1974 27' Overlander
1974 27' Overlander
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 48
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Hiya Doc!

Thanks so much for the welcome. It's especially nice to be here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
I agree with you about the windows. I love the thermopane concept, but hate the fogging and delaminating of the inside reflective tint layer.
Delamination is not an issue for me (one year later, and much darker factory tint from a different process) but the "fogging" caused by moisture entering the air gap, and the streaks caused by moisture transport certainly remain even if you do have to look more carefully to see it.

Thermopanes are not just a concept, though. Their greater R-value really does help with a huge source of heat loss, and they are still much more effective a thermal barrier than single-pane installations even with the loss of their seal efficacy.

It's a feature that is in sad disregard among AS owners. Airstream corporate took this disregard as encouragement to simply drop the feature rather than improve the Thermopane installation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
If you look closely, the flaws are still visible. But your mind kind of shuts out the...
Ain't that how it is!

I remember how, once, a body shop painter explained to me his system for rating a particular paint application. "Thirty feet, twenty feet, ten feet, three feet, and 'on contact' are the ratings," he explained. "It's how close you have to be to see the flaws."

Of course, that system was developed for the calibre of work he was doing at a body shop performing Ferarri warranty work. Over the years I have found many more folks who rate such work by the number of alcoholic beverages you must ingest to make their work look acceptable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
I've seen posts about breaking out the inner pane on the oval windows (Vista View and portal windows down below) but I've never heard of this being done for the opening windows. Is this what you meant? If so, I'd like to see results of that. I'd be concerned about the structural integrity of the window/frame unit after that.
Me too, actually. Dunno if the applications included the "opening" windows. Sorry. I didn't look all that closely at those posts. As I said, I don't really want to take a hammer to them (or automatic center punch, or any other process that is accompanied by the sound of breaking glass).

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
I ended up using the Rustoleum "Paint for Plastics" "Shell White" for the endcaps. I also repainted our screen frames in a closely matching color which was Rustoleum "Canvas White." I tried the Krylon Fusion in a white satin and it just wasn't to my liking--too dull a texture and of course, too stark white. The Rustoleum for plastics worked very well. I'm happy with the results.
In addition to trying two colors, I also tried both finishes (gloss and satin). I guess I actually had to try four different remaskings/repaintings.

I know what you mean about the satin finish. It was actually gritty to touch. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll try the Rustoleum products later this week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
Let me tell you, I also learned to wear an N-95 mask!
Considering the high incidence of occupational respiratory illness for painters (and users of solvents with MDSs that almost promise cancer), I'm surprised that you are not using a N-99 mask with organic solvent cartridges.

I do.
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Old 07-12-2005, 12:17 PM   #19
Troubs Roady Emeritas
 
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1979 31' Excella 500
1974 27' Overlander
1974 27' Overlander
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 48
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Hi Lamar,

Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeHarbor
My glass feels intact when I squeeze the edges, so I don't think I've lost any structural integrity.

If these windows were Thermopanes, I think they have long since peeled.

Lamar
I think the "loss of structural integrity," as used by Dallas, refers to any issues which may result from the removal of the inner pane of glass.

"Thermopane" refers to a branded process used to fabricate windows with two (or more) panes of glass separated by an "air gap" and without regard for any tinting (whether laminar plastic or incorporated into the glass). So, if your windows were Thermopane, then they remain Thermopane until you try the hammer/center punch route or replace them with new, single-pane units.
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Old 07-12-2005, 02:17 PM   #20
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1962 19' Globetrotter
2001 31' Excella
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 245
Images: 3
Ive been trying for years to find someone with an excella 500 safe to lend/copy me keys for their safe. My trailer didn't come with keys for the safe, so I've never been in it.

If someone lends me a set of keys that works, I'll split whatever is in the safe with you....

Craig
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