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Old 02-23-2006, 04:33 PM   #1
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Painting Top of Airstream

Does anyone know when (what year) Airstream began painting the top of their trailers white? Also what kind of paint is it, is there clearcoat on top of the paint? How much of the top is covered and how effective is it?

Thanks in advance.

Kim
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Old 02-23-2006, 04:42 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lloydnc
Does anyone know when (what year) Airstream began painting the top of their trailers white? Also what kind of paint is it, is there clearcoat on top of the paint? How much of the top is covered and how effective is it?
Kim
I have a 95 Excella and it has the painted top.
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Old 02-23-2006, 04:53 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lloydnc
Does anyone know when (what year) Airstream began painting the top of their trailers white? Also what kind of paint is it, is there clearcoat on top of the paint? How much of the top is covered and how effective is it?

Thanks in advance.

Kim
Kim,
I am not sure when AS started the white tops, with the current crop the metal comes from the manfacturer already that color and AS installs it. Most likely a Kynar finish. IIRC there is not any clear coat being used, the metal is all coated prior to fabrication. Only the top center panel is covered, from what I hear it makes quite a bit of difference. I plan to coat the center panel on mine with a white elastomeric(rubber) coating, if and when I get around to it

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Old 02-23-2006, 05:21 PM   #4
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wahoonc and Airstream25,

Thanks for your reply. I am trying to figure out if I can paint the top of an Airstream I am thinking of buying. There is some peeling and discoloration (darkening) of the metal around the top 20% or so of the trailer.

I thought the remaining area not covered by paint would be much less expensive to have polished and recoated with clearcoat. Any thoughts or ideas? Also how hard is it to polish or buff out a discolored area and recoat it yourself?

Thanks

Kimberly
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Old 02-23-2006, 07:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lloydnc
wahoonc and Airstream25,

Thanks for your reply. I am trying to figure out if I can paint the top of an Airstream I am thinking of buying. There is some peeling and discoloration (darkening) of the metal around the top 20% or so of the trailer.

I thought the remaining area not covered by paint would be much less expensive to have polished and recoated with clearcoat. Any thoughts or ideas? Also how hard is it to polish or buff out a discolored area and recoat it yourself?

Thanks

Kimberly
Reclearcoating (is that a word ...I guess it is now ) is not really a do it yourself propostion. You have to completely strip all the old crap off, clean then spray the clearcoat on...only to have to do it again in 5-7 years because the stuff doesn't stand up to being outside. IIRC to have it professionally done runs about $150 a foot...so for a 31' like mine you are looking at close to $5000...for that amount of money I will just live with the APB (Airstream Pattern Baldness) eventually I might strip mine and either polish or paint. Paint costs about the same as clearcoating but if done correctly will last many years longer. Buffing and polishing is a quite a chore but the end results can be spectacular. Run a board search for Polishing or Nuvite...you will read for days. Also on the new Airstreams only the top center panel is white, it doesn't extend down the sides at all. Probably 15% of the total sheetmetal on the trailer.

Aaron
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Old 02-23-2006, 09:20 PM   #6
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Kim, It was the late 80's or the early 90's when Airstream began to paint the tops of the travel trailers, as well as the vintage motorhomes, with a white coat as it is quite a bit cooler than the silver. White has no black pigment, however, silver does soak up more heat than one would ever imagine. It will help your cooling tremendously.
Now, as for painting yourself. Several of the commercial paint suppliers have 'systems' for painting aluminum, wherein you will not have problems with peeling,etc. First, the old clearcoat will have to be totally removed, whether mechanically (sanded) or chemically (stripped). Then, an etching type primer must be applied to the aluminum which will give it good tooth and adhesive qualities. Then, the white will be applied, also an epoxy style paint, not a base coat/clearcoat combination. Then, with semi annual waxing, it will last many, many years. I personally am fond of PPG paints- I paint motorcycles. Now, the paint requires special equipment for application-spray guns and compressors for application; respirators for breathing applications and large doses of experience for quality results. The white normally extends from the seam on one side to the seam on the other, and from the front cap to the rear. Don't forget to remove TV ant as well as A/C shroud for good looks and paint retention capabilities.
Yes, it can be done, but unless you have the equipment, pay a professional at an automotive paint shop to apply it. You could do the prep work yourself, but DO IT RIGHT. Prep makes the end results!
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Old 03-10-2006, 04:09 PM   #7
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APB on my R-GO-C

Getting very excited to paint my '76 Argosy 20. Last spring I painted the top of my black truck cab and cap with a white, one-part, marine urethane topside paint. A godsend for the trip to SanDiego, although the truck has more than a slight resemblence to Pepe La Pew.
Seems to have worked great with high shine, leveling, and durability (so far.)
Now I want to attack the trailer. Thinking of using the same paint in Hatteras White (cream color.) The end caps have some usual chipping but the rest seems solid, if tired. Does anyone have any particular advice before I get sanding, priming, and painting?
Is common-sense sufficient to do the job? Is gloss ok? Technically? Aesthetically?
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Old 03-10-2006, 08:27 PM   #8
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Roof Paint

I used Snow Roof on ours 3 coats and it worked great. Looks good and makes a good seal over the rivets.
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Old 03-10-2006, 09:06 PM   #9
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White rubber roof

Hi All,

If you are interested in putting a white elastomeric coating on your A/S I would recommend the product by Dicor. I have used it many times to re-coat a diminishing EPDM rubber membrane roofs and the results have been terrific. A complete kit to re-coat a large trailer roof is about $500 retail.

You don't have to remove anything topside and it greatly enhances the seals on the rivets and seams.

While I'm not advocating doing this as it is tantamount to sacriledge on a vintage A/S, if you're thinking of going 'cue-tip' then this is another option to consider.
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Old 03-10-2006, 09:13 PM   #10
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White Roof paint

Getting the roof very clean before painting is very important for adhesion. Several companies offer a good aluminum primer. It is usually solvent based. It can be either urethane or acrylic resin. The white finish coat should be high gloss so you can clean it easily. You could use self leveling urethane enamel originally intended for boats or airplanes. If you use the self leveling kind it stays wet for quite a while so you have to protect it against bugs landing on it or rain. A building or a big tarp will do. The end result is fairly hard and resistant to tree branches but could crack around the seams of the joints if you have not applied sealer beforehand. The rubber based trailer roof coatings do not dry smooth and look like you put them on with a broom. They are easily scared but do not crack and will not leak. The Automotive acrylic finishes are very hard and can crack but last for years. Self leveling laxtex based high gloss bathroom emamel is a compromise that dries fairly flat and a good one will last for up to five years in fair weather before it begins to flake or caulk badly. Alot depends on where the unit will be during the year and how fussy you are about looks. I coat from the awning strip on one side to the major seam on the other side of the roof and do not do the endcaps. You barely see the white as you pass by the unit at normal eye level.
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