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Old 08-13-2016, 10:54 AM   #1
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What is Defference between Lacquer and Enamel Clearcoat

I've been to the automotive stores looking at touchup spray cans to experiment on some spots on the trailer. I want to buy the spray but use a brush to apply. Now I notice that they sell 2 kinds: Clear Coat Acrylic Lacquer and Clear Coat Acrylic Enamel. What is the difference, if any, when I use it to touch up.

Also, I saw some posts that explain how the aluminum once exposed is grey and may need to be touched up with a silver paint. So I notice (Duplicolor brand) a variety of silver and grey paint sprays. Any recommendations on these shades?
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Old 08-13-2016, 11:20 AM   #2
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I don't think you want to do this without some Real Expert Advice. If you insist i would go to an auto body paint supply house and a good auto paint shop for information.

The can of worms is bigger than you think.
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Old 08-13-2016, 11:25 AM   #3
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I don't think you want to do this without some Real Expert Advice. If you insist i would go to an auto body paint supply house and a good auto paint shop for information.

The can of worms is bigger than you think.
Funny that you said that. I went to the NAPA automotive paint store in Albuquerque and asked the question. They really didn't help me. The "expert" said either one would work, but you can't put one on top of the other.

So....I decided I might get better advice off the forum than from the paint store.
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Old 08-13-2016, 11:29 AM   #4
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Unless you have some seriously large and unsightly spots, I would leave it alone.

The silver spray paint is a bad idea, and the spray clear has the potential to look very bad too.

That said, the lacquer is a lot easier to work with and will dry harder and much faster than any unactivated enamel.

I have used spray lacquer on some of my interior pieces, but over time I have become disappointed in its UV resistance.


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Old 08-13-2016, 12:02 PM   #5
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Keep in mind while NAPA may sell paint they are not an auto paint supply house. There is a difference.

There also is a difference between opinions and expertise. Opinions are free you might have to pay for expertise.
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Old 08-13-2016, 12:38 PM   #6
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Keep in mind while NAPA may sell paint they are not an auto paint supply house. There is a difference.

There also is a difference between opinions and expertise. Opinions are free you might have to pay for expertise.

An automotive paint supplier who sells DuPont finishes should be able to get him guided the right direction......In my experiences, lacquer finishes are a lot more forgiving than enamel....

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Old 08-13-2016, 12:44 PM   #7
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Ok so...I have some spots just below the belt line trim and some around the upper lights. I am told it is corosan and I too would like to hide them in some way....Our AS is a 2003 Classic 30 and other than these few spots the outside and inside look new. What caused them and what cam I do to stop them from growing??? Thanks for your help.
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Old 08-13-2016, 01:07 PM   #8
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To Tanker and Idireland: a quick lesson below. For detail info, look for other "how to" posts in that same "corrosion" thread.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f142...ml#post1726310
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Old 08-13-2016, 02:14 PM   #9
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Lacquer dries extremely fast and is easy to work with, if you spray it, it will appear somewhat dry when it has set up but it can be buffed to a high luster if wanted. Enamel is slower to dry but the finish will remain as is when dried. Keep in mind that you can spray enamel on top of lacquer at some point later if needed but you can not put lacquer on top of enamel or it will "lift". Most body shops now are using urethane clear coat which is very durable and easy to use. Hope this helps. Rob
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Old 08-14-2016, 05:54 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TankerIP View Post
I've been to the automotive stores looking at touchup spray cans to experiment on some spots on the trailer. I want to buy the spray but use a brush to apply. Now I notice that they sell 2 kinds: Clear Coat Acrylic Lacquer and Clear Coat Acrylic Enamel. What is the difference, if any, when I use it to touch up.

Also, I saw some posts that explain how the aluminum once exposed is grey and may need to be touched up with a silver paint. So I notice (Duplicolor brand) a variety of silver and grey paint sprays. Any recommendations on these shades?
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You get one inexpensive chance to be right and many expensive chances to be wrong. Call Jackson Center and ask to talk with someone who is an expert on repairing the finish on Airstreams. Tell them the year of your AS. Aluminum has a different rate of expansion and contraction than steel, so many finishes may not be up to the coefficients of expansion that Aluminum has. If Jackson Center doesn't have time to talk to you, call P&S Airstream Repair in Helena, OH. They refinish one Airstream after another day after day, month after month. Don't rush into this. Acting on a wrong answer could really be a mess.
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:28 PM   #11
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Laquer paint is a cellulose based paint in a volatile solvent that forms a film when the solvent evaporates - it is considered less durable than other types of paints but it was common on autos (especially popular for the old Corvettes)

Acrylic paints (or clear coats) are mixtures of acrylic resins and melamine resins, the resins crosslink after the solvent flashes forming a hard shell finish. They often have a catalyst added to enable the resins to crosslink after the solvent flashes (or evaporates) Many chemists consider the final film one large molecule, that is usually very hard and long lasting. This process is not curing or drying but rather a chemical reaction.
Years ago most resins were solvent based and insoluble in water however recent technology has produced resins that can be mixed with water, the water based acrylics are almost always finished with heat to flash the water and complete the cross linking reaction. Both clear coats and pigmented materials are similar except for the pigment.

Soda cans and beer cans often have acrylic coatings to protect the logos. After graduation from college I was a research paint chemist for several years 1970 - 74 and responsible for creating new types of coatings for drink containers, including water based clear coatings - after smelling like a solvent for 3 1/2 years I went back to college for 2 more degrees just to make sure that I could stay out of the paint business.
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Old 08-14-2016, 09:17 PM   #12
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Very good write up Ram!

I have to take exception to one point though, to the best of my knowledge, there has not been any nitro-cellulose lacquer available for decades.

The industry switched to acrylic based lacquer in the 60s or 70s.

I will add to this that I am not a real fan of uncatalyzed enamel, it cures way to slowly, and way too soft for my taste. I do however like catalyzed enamel.


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Old 08-15-2016, 09:57 AM   #13
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Very good write up Ram!

I have to take exception to one point though, to the best of my knowledge, there has not been any nitro-cellulose lacquer available for decades.

The industry switched to acrylic based lacquer in the 60s or 70s.

I will add to this that I am not a real fan of uncatalyzed enamel, it cures way to slowly, and way too soft for my taste. I do however like catalyzed enamel.


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Correct about Lacquer being unavailable for a long time - guess I will have to work on my spelling too.
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Old 08-15-2016, 03:16 PM   #14
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Thanks to All

Thanks to all who gave me some advice and words of caution. I do have some more research to do before taking action. But if I want to do a touch-up, I suppose the clear acrylic lacquer will be it.

Truth is I have about 4 types of finish problems. Each one may take different approaches:
1. Peeling clear coat - a couple of these are now 4 inches long 1/4inch wide.
2. Filliform corrosion. Several, but only two or three are getting big enough to bother me.
3. Long scratch - Caused by tree limb or something else. A couple. The scratches may or may or may not be all the way through the clearcoat.
4. Front end "dings" in aluminum area outside of the rock guards. These are plentiful and I worry about it growing to a bunch of filliform corrosion. Not sure if can really deal with this large area.

I assume that many Airstream owners have dealt with one or more of these problems. I've been searching through forum for some "how-to" posts, but haven't found much yet. Howard L. pointed me to one post where they actually sprayed on the finish. I was hoping to confine my approach to just a little touch-up with a small brush by spraying lacquer into the top, or jar, and picking it up with the small brush.

If anyone can point me to other "how-to" step by step approaches, I would appreciate. My campground wifi service for the past month has been miserable, making browsing through long forums most miserable. Thanks
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