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Old 05-18-2004, 12:59 PM   #71
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Most of the past week was spent caulking and sealing. However, it isn't that simple! It started with replacing the caulk at the top of the roof gutters. While cleaning the joint, I discovered the caulk had failed around the sewer vent, so I started to clean it up only to discover the vent cover was cracked and had to be replaced. It had been leaking water directly into the interior of the trailer. The factory installed the vent pipe so close to the refrig vent that the cover from the refrigerator vent and the sewer vent cover were trying to be in the same place, so I had to trim the sewer vent cover big time to get it to fit.

While I was up there at the roof, I decided to inspect the skylight above the living room. The skylight is held in place by 8 screws. The screws weren't installed with fender washers or gaskets, and 6 of the 8 screws had popped thru the skylight flange. I read on another post on skylights about a guy who had stopped at a rest stop and was standing next to his trailer when the skylight blew off and landed at his feet. Mine was about to do the same thing. The skylight (like mine) had been installed without a metal mounting flange. Mine had cracked in the areas around the screws and would need to be replaced. After considerable searching I finally found a suitable alternative here in Corpus Christi. It was a lexan double dome self flashing curb skylight. I was able to remove the curb and just use the domes and mounting flange. The lexan double domes were clear and I preferred they be bronze in color, but you take what you can get. The installation was fairly easy and it was good to know the result is much much better than the OEM solution. I also had to replace the acrylic in the center rock guard on the front of the trailer. The panel had warped big time, evidently from the heat of the sun. Instead of replacing it with the same acrylic, I used lexan. The lexan was only $1 per square foot more than the acrylic and it is much more durable and protective.

The amount of caulking and sealing on one of these trailers is mind boggling. I find I don't like the Alcoa Gutter seal at all for exposed joints. It turns golden in color after it dries and it is very hard to get a smooth joint. Parrbond is better and easier to use, but not by much! I always mask every joint then apply sealant, tool and remove the masking. With Parrbond, you must work very very quickly otherwise, you'll get stringy pulls along the edge of the joint when you remove the masking.

In the caulking and sealing, the SeamerMate I found at Home Depot is far and away the clear standout! It guns easy, tools easy, doesn't stick to the masking tape, doesn't dry too fast, is self leveling, is UV resistant and has a very long life expectancy. One more time: this stuff is incredible! And it only costs $3.94 per tube. If I were starting all over, I'd use the SeamerMate in all the locations where I used the Alcoa Gutterseal and the Parrbond. As it is, I used nearly 4 tubes of the SeamerMate. Besides being easy to work, in is nearly a perfect match to the silver color!

Other than the sealing/caulking, I've been busy doing the color sanding and polishing . The original plan was to wetsand with 1200, then with 1500, then 2000, then polish with rubbing compound, and then polish with the glazing polish. I paired it down to just sanding with the 1500, then use the rubbing compound, and then the glazing polish. This system works well! The key is moderation. When wetsanding, you want to knock down the high spots, the orange peel, but not go thru the clearcoat. You watch the color of the sanding residue to see if you go thru into the base coat. It is supposed to change color if you break thru (so far I haven't). If you do break thru it just means you will need to spot shoot the clearcoat again. No big deal! Although my Makita polisher is variable speed, I almost always use it on the slow setting. Being an amateur, I would rather take longer and get reliable results. I probably have two days of color sanding and polishing left. It goes quickly!, but summer's here and it's hot!

I've ordered the blue striping tape I will need for the exterior graphics from Beacon Graphics in New Jersey. The tapes should be in within 2 weeks.

The attached photos show the wet sanding, the rubbing compound application, the glazing polish (grey), and the reflective qualities of the finished product. Enjoy!
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Old 05-18-2004, 01:55 PM   #72
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1978 31' Sovereign
Texas Airstream Harbor , Zavalla, in the Deep East Texas Piney Woods on Lake Sam Rayburn
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What a great job!


Do you have an approximate number of hours you have in the project to date?


"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 05-18-2004, 02:09 PM   #73
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Sorry, but I have no idea how many hours I've spent. When I retired, I gave away all of my watches. It seems like just a couple weeks ago, I was water blasting the paint stripper, and now, the trailer is painted and nearly complete. There's been other work going on as well! I've gutted the bedroom and living room and have been rebuilding both. I removed the twin beds that were there, and used the components to build a short queen island bed instead. From the rear, I've removed the drapes and some of the upper cabinets. I've removed and replaced the wall coverings, made new drape valences and cabinet soffits, and am just about ready to put down new vinyl flooring and carpet.

In the front, I've removed the couch and replaced it with a pair of Ekornes leather lounge chairs ( ). This involved putting the two batteries in one box in the middle, then building an end table around the batteries as a separator between the chairs. Part of this required replacing that noisy humming power converter with a new solid state one.

Doing the outside was a matter of necessity. The trailer's outside leaked like a sieve. I had to get it watertight so I could get the floor plywood to dry out so I could apply wood preservative before installing the new floor. Maybe new flooring will go in at the end of this week.
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Old 05-23-2004, 01:32 PM   #74
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As mentioned earlier, I had a leaking skylight so I thought it might be helpful to post pictures of the OEM and my solution. In the first picture, you can see where the OEM screws were installed. The factory installed the skylight without a metal flange and without washers. The screws pulled right thru. The second photo shows my double dome lexan solution. It screwed directly to the OEM curb.
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Old 05-26-2004, 08:21 PM   #75
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Tonight, the color sanding and polishing is finally finished! And, I gotta' say it looks pretty good! The color sanding has removed almost all of the overspray and orange peel texture and the polishing has brought out the lustre in the paint. If you look closely, you can still see a faint hit of orange peel texture is a few spots, but no worse than you see on most new cars. It's great to look down the side of the trailer and see very clear reflections in the paint.

As for the amount of the materials consumed, I used one each of the foam pads and they would still be in near perfect condition if I hadn't bumped each one against a sharp edge sticking out. The light colored rubbing compound pad, I bumped against the edge of the roof gutter and in the flick of an eye, the foam edge was slightly shredded. The grey colored glazing pad got bumped against one of the hinges for the rock shields and had some slight damage. Both are still usable. Part of the key to making the pads last is to rinse them out when they get loaded up with compound. To do this, I put the pad on the driveway, foam side up, spray it with the water hose until only clear water comes out, hand sling out the major portion of the water, then mount the pad on the polisher and spin it on high and the rest of the water will be slung out by centrifugal force, and it is ready to use again. Since the pads came in packs of two, I still have one un-used pad of each model. As for the polishing compounds, I used about 2/3 of each quart container, so I still have 1/3 of the rubbing compound and 1/3 of the glazing compound remaining.

The color sanding is pretty easy and fairly fool proof. When you are sanding an orange peeled area, you can feel the roughness thru the sandpaper, and you can hear the roughness being sanded. When you feel nothing but smoothness and you hear no roughness, it has been sanded enough. You can also tell by how the water sheets afterward. If it is smooth and the water sheets evenly, it is ready to polish. I was lucky to not break thru the clearcoat into the base coat so no touch-up was needed. With the polisher, almost as soon as you start to polish, the wet sanded look disappears and the lustre starts to come up. The polishing goes fairly quickly.

I read where swirl marks can be a problem if you're not careful. Evidently I was careful enough, because I never saw any.

In the next day or so, the graphics tape should be in and once I get the stripes on, I'll post a number of pictures. I must say, I'm pleased with the results so far!
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Old 05-27-2004, 06:59 PM   #76
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Absolutely an incredible job !
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Old 06-25-2004, 12:26 PM   #77
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Painting *part* of a trailer

I was referred to this forum from a Vintage Shasta group, and have gleaned a lot of valuable information. In my situation, I have a '62 Shasta that is two-tone (white above, blue below) with a 2" polished aluminum "Z" stripe between. How do I proceed with prepping, masking, painting while two-toning the trailer and preserving the polished aluminum stripe?
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Old 06-25-2004, 01:40 PM   #78
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I have a question reagrding Painting. What I have learned here is worth a fortune as I am about to embark on a respray of my RV. It is not , however,Airstream (they let just anybody in here :~)).

I have a 1970 Ultra Van (The Corvair Motorhome). It's skin is a mixture of Aluminum and fiberglass. The main body skin is rivited aluminum..the nose and tail sections are fiberglass. The surface prep and materials recommendations for Aluminum as found in this thread are good for a large lart of my job...but what about the fiberglass? Can I use the same materials to paint that or should I treat this as two separate jobs, prepping and painting the glass and aluminum areas separately with different materials.

Thanks for any input

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Old 06-28-2004, 09:39 AM   #79
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Hi Everybody, please accept my apology for being away for the past month. My mother, who lives near Seattle, suffered a heart attach in early May so I threw the trailer together and made the 2500 mile drive to Seattle with trailer in tow to spend some time with her during her recovery from heart bypass surgery. She's not out of the woods yet, but she is making progress .

This was our first outing in the Airstream, and it was quite a shake down, but overall, we loved traveling in it, just need to make a bunch of revisions to suit our needs. Our route to Seattle was from Corpus Christi to El Paso, to Gallup, to Provo, to Boise, then to Port Ludlow, near Seattle. We spent a little more than a week there then returned via the Oregon coast, to Arcata, Ca. (thru the Redwood Nat. Park) then to Redding, Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, El Paso and home.

Back to the task at hand. As mentioned in an earlier post, I ordered the graphics tapes from Beacon Graphics in New Jersey. On the internet, I found the company "Universal Products" who make striping systems and ordered their catalog. When the catalog arrived, it had Beacon Graphics listed as an authorized dealer. When I stripped the clearcoat using the power washer, the water pressure blasted the chrome finish from the vinyl belt molding around the center of the trailer and I decided to put a dark blue tape back in its place. I ordered a 150' roll of #082 (dark) blue 1" wide tape, half of which I used to recover the vinyl insert for the belt molding. The other half I slit into two equal pieces 1/2" wide by 75' long for other pinstriping.

Redoing the belt strip was tough work. I first had to remove it from the trailer then remove the adhesive backing. To get the adhesive backing off, I coiled it in the bottom of a bucket, just covered it with mineral spirits and put it aside to sit for 3 days. The mineral spirits softened the adhesive and with an hour of cleaning, I was able to remove all residue from the vinyl insert. Next, I peeled off the old tape from the vinyl insert by loosening one end and peeling to the other end. With my wife's help I put on the new, dark blue tape. This was a tedious task and close attention had to be paid to the technique to keep air bubbles from being trapped under the tape.

To reattach the vinyl insert, I went to Ebay and found an auction for a 1/2" x 150' roll of 3M double sided molding adhesive tape which I purchased. Reattaching the vinyl insert went smooth.

In the same order from Beacon, I ordered a 2" x 150' roll of #057 Olympic Blue tape. The two rolls of tape came to about $165 with shipping. I installed the 2" tape just below the belt molding, then used the slit tape from above to complete the pinstriping. One of the keys to installing the pinstriping was to use masking tape as a guide to keep lines straight and parallel as seen in the first photo.

The other photo's are of the completed work. I hope you enjoy them!

There is still more details to take care of on the outside, like Zoop sealing the polished aluminum parts, but this concludes the chronology of painting my Excella. The work has been quite challenging and satisfying, and I must say, I am quite pleased with the results. To quote a phrase from a movie "what one man can do, another man can do!" And I did it!
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Old 06-29-2004, 06:01 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by Bob Thompson
...There is still more details to take care of on the outside, like Zoop sealing the polished aluminum parts, but this concludes the chronology of painting my Excella.

Thanks for sharing - Your Excella looks great!
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Old 06-29-2004, 08:41 AM   #81
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
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Great Job Bob

Want to do another one?
My 24' is ready for paint.

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Old 08-06-2004, 07:46 PM   #82
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It seems the time is right for a post script about the comments I've received and my thoughts in general about the project.

Since the painting, we've taken the trailer on two trips. As mentioned, one was a 3 week odessy to Seattle and the other was a 3 day trip to Waco to attend a wedding reception. On the way back from Waco I pulled into a gas station to fill up and as I am doing same, a guy walks over toward me, eyes fixed on the trailer and says, "Is this the new model Airstream just brought out and how do you like it". I say " We really like it, but it's not the new model, it is a '97!" He says, "You mean this is not a brand new trailer, the model that just came out?" I said, "No, but I've been busy fixing it up." He says,"Well, it looks brand new, I've always wanted one of these!" Then I tell him I recently painted it and he says,"No way! Really? Well, It looks great, like brand new! I thought it was the new model!"

Thats about typical of the comments I receive.

Not for even a moment have I regretted painting the Airstream. For me, it was the best way to go!

Now my thoughts on the finished product. Can you believe it, the Parrbond is already drying and cracking and it hasn't even been on there 3 months. Talk about a mediocre product! I'm going to throw the 3 remaining tubes in the trash. What a lousy solution to sealing an Airstream! To me, Parrbond is a bad joke! The SeamerMate is doing absolutely great and looks as good as it did the day it was put on. Other than turning gold colored, the Alcoa seal is holding up fairly well and the Vulkem is doing just what it is supposed to do.

Since I've seen other posts on painting Airstreams I've given considerable thought to my using the Alumiprep and Alodine verses just sanding with the 120 grit to create a physical bond to the primer. I've read several posts saying the Alumiprep is bad and the rivets will start falling out in the next year or so. But, at the time, my research on painting airplanes all said without exception, the Alumiprep and Alodine was the way to go. I really don't have a clue why it was being recommended by airplane painters, but rejected by Airstream painters. If it eats up rivets, it would seem the airplane painters would stay clear of it. I guess time will tell if I errored by going the extra mile. If I did, I'll fix it! I'll put airplane rivets in!

Other than that substandard, mediocre, junk-ass Parrbond , everything is looking great. I've promised myself to wait 6 months for the paint to cure before waxing the trailer, just like the paint manufacturer recommended. I am anxious to see how it will look all waxed up.

Also, I purchased a bottle of Southern Shine for polishing the aluminum and I am totally in love with the stuff. It works great! Nothing I had tried previously comes even close to SS. It makes aluminum bright as chrome!

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Old 08-09-2004, 01:35 PM   #83
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Thanks for sharing a labor of love. I am going to have my 65' Airstream painted and would appreciate any prep tips. I have some clear coat on the side, topside is dull. a little filiform in some areas. Prep, primer, paint, clear coat brands or type?? Any information is accepted with a big THANKS!
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Old 08-09-2004, 06:17 PM   #84
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The answer is pretty simple on this one, go with Andy and Inland RV's paint system if he is willing to sell the products to you. His system has a history of success which is very important. Things have evolved in the short time since I painted my trailer. At the time, if I wanted his paint system, the only way to get it was to take my trailer to California and leave it with him for up to 5 weeks then go back and pick it up. It would have been cost prohibitive.
From what I have read, Andy may now be willing to sell the necessary materials. Its hard to beat a proven winner!

In lieu of that, I would now go with the Dupont Imron 2-Phase system. It differs slightly from the original Imron used as OEM paint on the Argosy's in that it is 2-Phase or basecoat/clearcoat. From what I've read, the OEM paint on Argosy's was 1 phase Imron , no clearcoat. I would discuss your project and intentions with the most informed person you can find at the place which will mix the paint. Tell them you plan to sand with 120 grit paper, then apply 2 coats of flexible epoxy primer, then 2 coats plus 1 "fog" coat of color paint, then 2-3 coats of their best clearcoat. Use only their best products! When I painted mine, I talked with the Dupont people, but they didn't seem to know their product, so I went with PPG. They didn't know how to mix the Honda color I wanted so I went with a chip from their color book. That color was GM 3822 and is just a shade darker than the Honda color.

I would lightly wet sand between the last coat of epoxy primer and the 1st coat of silver. Make sure the trailer is completely dry before painting the 1st coat of Silver. Us an air nozzle to force any water out from under any masking.

As for Alumiprep and Alodine, I would pass on it and instead use the best possible flexible epoxy primer and rely on the physical bond created by the 120 grit sandpaper.

As for color, I would use the light metalic silver from the Honda Accords of the past couple years. Go to a Honda Dealer, find a light metallic silver Accord and get the paint code numbers off the driver's door post. Have the paint mixer use that code. If they can't mix it, go to someone who can! Do not rely on a small chip paint sample from one of the color books at the paint dealer. You want to see what the color looks like on a large object like a car.

As for stripping the paint, I'm not the one to give you directions other than remove anything you don't want destroyed, then do the best masking job ever on what can not be removed! Don't copy what I did for stripping the clearcoat. The stripper I chose was a poor choice!

You have to appreciate, when I was in the process of painting my trailer, I didn't have an example to follow like the one I have presented. And, I was having a hard time getting reliable precise information for the process. Even Ted at PPG gave me some poor directions on some things and he runs the local PPG store. About the biggest thing I had ever painted before this was a windsurfer, and that was 4 years ago, so I had to step up several notches to do the job properly.

I hope this helps.

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