Hi Forums Members;
Since some of you have shown interest the details of achieving great and affordable paint job on your Argosy I am happy to help. I need to forewarn you first, Yes, it is cheap. Yes it will look beautiful. Yes, it will be very durable and almost maintenance free, but it will cost you few hundred bucks pending on the present condition of your paint and will require plenty of elbow grease. In the end however, you will be proud of yourself. Since that is a very lengthy subject I will do it in two parts, "Preparation" and second part "painting".
My interest in paint application got me when I was young man some forty years ago, while I was racing wooden sailboats. On our circuit there was a man from Holland who raced what I thought was a Fiberglass "Thistle". But when I got closer to his boat, I have realized that it was made of wood. To shorten the story, I and Jan [was his name] became friends. Jan was a world class wooden boat builder and a craftsman for the world to admire. I have worked evenings with him for free, just to learn how to get that kind of finish on my boat, as he had on his. This is where I spent next six years worth a evenings working for free and loving it. Then we got gel coated fiberglass boats, and the art of brush and roller painting was obsolete.
A year ago we have purchased a 1973 26' Argosy in Vermilion Ohio. Since,
I have build a brand new SS frame and installed new axles. The shell was in good condition and that was a reason for me paying $4831.00 for it on E-Bay. No major dents or damage. Paint had a lot to be desired. Originally I wanted a truck and bus paint shop to paint it. I got two quotes, one at $3550.00 second at $3700.00. From here on, I was determined to spray paint it myself in my shop as half fast spray painter. My wife was of a different opinion. She said she wants me to die from poison she puts in the cookies that she bakes for me [which she does not eat] [our private joke], rather than breathe and eat the paint dust in the shop until it wears out. Light bulb turned on in my head, I can paint it with a roller!
Surface preparation will play a major role in your finish. Galvanized end caps may require special attention around and under the marker lights. Mine had heavy corrosion under the paint. You may have to remove the clearance markers and those areas may have to be spot sandblasted and coated with rust converter first. Pay special attention to any blisters or rough paint spots. Level those sandblasted areas with body filler. If you have any minor dents in the aluminum shell, now is the time to get rid of them. For larger dents use a suction cup type dent removal tool. Smaller dents need to be sanded down to bare metal but just in the dent area. You will need to purchase Evercoat Brand Z-Grip body filler. It is very important that you use only Z-Grip, because it is specifically designed for aluminum. It is lightweight and more flexible than any standard body filler. It sands easily and can produce a paint ready surface eliminating the need for glazing putty. But remember, whatever you skip you will be seeing for years to come.
Pending on the present condition of your paint, you may choose one of the two options. To determine the condition you will need to do thorough visual inspection looking for peeling, cracks and bubbles.
If it appears to be good, you will need to test the condition of paint coating itself. To do this, take a Scotch Brite pad. Rub hard on the paint surface in different areas. If the Scotch pad easily removes the paint exposing dull [not shiny] surface, your paint coating is soft and dried out. If it is soft, flaky and deteriorated, it will not offer you a good adhesion of the new paint and will have to be stripped off.
If after serious scouring with a pad, the paint appears hard and shiny you may be able to skip the priming later. The big job now will be wet sanding the trailer. Since I am not very fond of wet sanding I have purchased a newly introduced by Snap On 3" DA Orbital Sander. 3M makes a 3" "Hook It Gold Disc's" to fit it, in 220 grit. Since your applied paint will be relatively heavy in consistency there is no need for finer grit sandpaper. The reason for 3" orbital DA is that it will allow you to do the job much faster, save you a lot of elbow grease, while the 3" disk sender will allow you to maneuver easily between the rivet heads without sanding them flat. Sand entire flat surfaces with DA held at a very slight angle to the surface. To sand around the rivet cut small pieces of Scotch Brite pad and gently scuff the paint surface around the rivets. If your original paint was good and hard, and sanding it did not expose any bare metal you are 3/4 way done. Now you need to dust off entire surface and wipe it with a clean rag soaked in cleaner made by [Grow Automotive # 4221 JUST B-4 anti-static final wipe cleaner. Be sure your surroundings are free of dust. Wet the floor around with water to prevent the dust from being kicked up while working. Now you can wipe the entire surfaces to be painted, with Tack Cloth [sticky cloth which collects the dust]. However if some areas are showing bare metal you will need to prime those spots with Interlux Marine brand #353 Vinyl-Lux Primewash Base [self etching metal primer] first. This application should preferably be sprayed on because it will produce more uniformity in the application. If the finish coat is applied on top of it between one and twenty four hours, there is no need to sand the applied Prime Wash. However, if spray application is not possible apply the PrimeWash Primer with a short 3/16"nap Mohair roller, such as Wooster Brand. Be sure to apply a very thin coat and go over the rolled areas with relatively dry [not soaked] roller. This will produce a uniform thin coverage which will not require sanding in order to level it. Remember, the first paint coat, will level much of it when applied. Proceed now with wiping the surfaces with anti-static wipe and follow with Tack Cloth. You are now ready for paint. If I have missed anything in the prep section please let me know. Painting process will follow in part two. Thanks, "Boatdoc"