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Old 02-12-2012, 11:22 AM   #1
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1977 28' Argosy 28
Jamesport , New York
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Painting the 1977 Argosy Motorhome Roof

Painting the roof of an Argosy Motorhome: Part 1

After reading numerous threads on the Airstreams Forum and fretting over what to do about the paint that had been peeling off in sheets and the rusting endcaps, I decided on a plan of action to repaint the roof. The roof and upper sides were the worst - much of the paint was missing - even the undercoating. The endcaps (galvanised steel) were pitted and beginning to drool rusty streaks down the sides of her. I read and reread about different methods and finally arrived at a plan of sanding the entire roof - steel and aluminum - down to bare metal, etch, prime and finally paint the whole thing. Not having access to a sprayer, and being limited in space - doing this in my sister and brother-in-law’s cramped driveway - I chose a Petit marine paint system: 1 gallon of Petit brushing thinner, 1 gallon of 6455 Metal Primer, 1 gallon of Easypoxy 6149 White Undercoat and final coats of Easypoxy Platinum #3711. Although this paint would not match the silver on the sides of the Moho, it was the closest I could find, and since it would just be used on the roof - not as noticeable.

I had already painted one wooden boat (36 foot) and two fiberglass boats (23, and 28 foot), so I knew the drill of sanding, filling, priming and painting. and, I was comfortable using epoxy paints. The difference with the Moho was the metal. I assembled the sanders, vast amounts of sandpapers, gloves, masking tape, plastic sheets, masks, old clothes and a couple of ladders, and began. I chose the end of October and early November because the weather would be cooler in southern FL - but I didn’t bet on having numerous torrential rainstorms. During the painting project this region of Florida had over 8 inches of rain in three weeks, so I kept an almost continual eye on the weather reports dodging the rainstorms. This made the 1-2 week project into a 3 1/2 week job. When it wasn’t raining, the sun was out and blazing down on that bare metal. It was very hot and glaring - so I wore long pants and a long sleeved baggy shirt, shoes and socks, a wide brimmed hat and good sunglasses for protection. (more to come if you're still interested)
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:24 AM   #2
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1977 28' Argosy 28
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Painting the 1977 Argosy Motorhome Roof Part 2

Painting the roof of an Argosy Motorhome: Part 2

Preparing:
I carefully ran a strip of 1 inch green painters/masking tape around the entire body just under the panels to be painted. Along the sides and back where the awnings stuck out, I covered them and another 2 feet below them. I kept about 1/8 of an inch free so that I could caulk the seam. I used the green 3M tape knowing it would be on for some time exposed to heat and moisture for a few weeks, and I did not want issues with it becoming brittle and leaving a residue when I removed it. I had some problems with this using the blue tape on other projects. Around the vista windows I taped off the glass/plastic leaving about 1/8 inch again, for caulking. The windshields and side windows were first taped with green painters tape along the edges of the glass right up to the rubber gasket. Plastic sheeting was attached using another strip of blue tape placed on top of the rubber window gaskets butting up the edge of the metal roof.

The Work Bucket:
Before going up to the roof, where I often spent 4-5 hours, I brought two extension cords - one for the small shop-vac, the other for the electric sanders, orbital and palm sanders, rubber hand sander, sandpaper, sponge sanders, dry and damp rags, dustpan and brush, broom, masks, large brimmed hat, sunscreen, water and snacks placed into a large, square, high-sided plastic bucket. Later the sanding equipment was replaced with painting supplies.

Sanding:
Using primarily the orbital sander with 80 grit paper, I removed the remainder of the paint on the endcaps and the roof. The electric palm sander and hand block sanders were useful for getting into narrow or confined spots. The areas protected from the sun, including underneath the crank up TV antenna, under the overhang of the air conditioner and around the vents, had a well protected layer of top and undercoat paint, so I brought them down to primer/undercoat only. Everything else came down to shiny aluminum or steel. I ended up using 6 pads of 60 grit, about 40 pads of 80 grit, 8 sheets of good quality black 80 grit for hand sanding, and two 80 grit sponge sanders to remove the old paint. I tried to keep the dust to a minimum by brushing the dust and vacuuming regularly, then wiping the surface down with damp rags. Just before etching or priming I lightly went over the entire surface using 220 grit sponge sander and several 220 sandpaper sheets to hand sand, followed by another wipe down with damp rags.

Etching and Priming:
I divided up the etching and priming into 2 regions. I began at the front half of the roof, applying a layer of etching liquid, followed a day later by the first coat of primer. Meanwhile, I moved to the back half and began the same process a day later. After giving the roof yet another wipe down with the damp rag, I mixed up the 2 parts of the etching liquid very well and applied it with a 3 inch brush. Anywhere I had not sanded down to bare metal, just got a coat of primer. A few spots of the galvanized steel I could not remove all of the reddish pitted spots, so I dabbed on Rustoleum’s Stop Rust primer with a small brush. I was careful to not to brush the etching liquid onto the primer. Once everything was covered with a layer of primer or etcher, the entire roof got two more coats of primer. I lightly sanded between each layer using the 220 sanding sponges. Because there was a lot of heat, the primer and topcoat thickened very quickly, so it necessitated continual thinning with the brushing liquid. I mixed this about half half with the paint or primer.

Caulking:
Before the etching or priming process I scraped with sandpaper and/or used a thin steel brush to remove old loose caulking (of which there was very little) and to make a clean surface. I then cleaned the area with mineral spirits, then put a thin bead of caulking around the vista windows, around the edges of all the running lights where they met the body, and along all the rivet seams using Parbond. Parbond has a very small opening in the tube leaving a nice neat bead of caulk.

For caulking over the top of the windshields and the side front windows gaskets I moved the plastic sheeting covering the windshields and side windows down to the edge of the glass so the rubber gaskets were exposed. Above the gaskets I ran a strip of blue painters tape along the edge of the metal roof, leaving only the gaskets around the top of the windows exposed. I then applied a thicker layer of Tremco Vulcan caulking. The Tremco needed a caulking gun, and I found it challenging to get a smooth even cover. Both products were slightly more “soft” compared to most of the household caulking I’ve used in the past. One and a half tubes of Parbond and less than a full tube of Tremco were sufficient. (Still more to come if you're still with me)
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:33 AM   #3
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1977 28' Argosy 28
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Painting the 1977 Argosy Motorhome Roof Part 3

Making a Dent - literally!
I was afraid to lay a ladder up against the windshield to reach the front endcap in case it broke. The middle support between the left and right windshields was too narrow for the ladder, I couldn’t reach from the sides, so I tackled the front endcap from above by sitting on it. I spent several days sitting and laying on the endcap sanding, then caulking around the lights and windshield before etching, priming and finally painting. As could be predicted - and I had read warnings about - I made a nice, wide butt sized dent. It was very convenient to sit in as it prevented me from sliding off the roof. I could even say it was nominally comfortable. This caused me many hours of concern, and I quizzed several service and body shops before I was able to find a “dent removal” specialist who used his special suction cup from above as my tall friend pushed on the headliner from inside. The dent popped out partially from the perimeter first, then with a large pop, the middle reverted back to its original shape. Big relief on my part - best 50 bucks spent.

Walking on the Roof:
Luckily I’m not a very big person so I was able to carefully keep to the roof supports where the rivet lines were on the rest of the roof with no give at all. The rear endcap was considerably easier to reach by ladder because of its more vertical angle. I made sure to wear rubber soled shoes and brought a thick stiff rubber bottomed mat to sit on to help distribute my weight somewhat. A nice security, and safety feature are the full length awnings that run long both sides of the Moho. Not only did these serve as a foot brace for me at times so I didn’t slide off the roof, but it caught the runaway tools and protected the sides from debris and dripping paint.

At last, I was ready for the final coat! After 3 1/2 weeks of prep and waiting for rainstorms to abate, I was ready to paint. After lightly sanding the entire roof using the 220 sponge sander and wiping it down carefully with damp rags I mixed a quart of paint, poured it into a shallow paint tray, which was placed into a square plastic tray in case of spillage, and took it up the ladder. The work bucket now contained brushing liquid, mixing sticks, several different sized brushes, plastic containers for mixing paint, rags, paper towels and paint pads. I originally tried to paint using a roller, then tipping with a brush, but as with my past projects, I’ve had much better results using the paint pads, then tipping with a brush. Like etching and priming, I divided up the job into the front half and the back half - front first. As with the primer, the paint thickened rapidly, so it required regularly diluting with brush thinner. This was mixed thoroughly in a separate container before pouring into the paint tray. I was able to do the entire roof in a couple of hours. I ended up getting three coats on. What a difference!

The Finale!
The most satisfying parts were peeling all the painters tape and plastic sheeting off. Then I gave the old girl a really good scrub down. She looked pretty darned good. (Of course, I still have lots of touch up on the sides to do when I match up the silver, and one more section of the roof paint along the upper right side just below the awning to do......) Sigh!


Curtain Clean and Repair:
For all those lonely night after sanding all day, I decided to remove all 14 curtains for a wash and replace the dried out rotting elastic curtain slides. Each curtain had about 20 slides that fit into a small groove that were hand sewed. I figured 14 curtains X 20 slides = 280 elastic tabs. No wonder it took 2 weeks! If ever I do this again I will label each curtain, so I know where it came from, and I will iron them before putting them back on. They look clean, but wrinkled, and some I know are in the wrong location. Oh well, another project!
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Old 02-12-2012, 06:38 PM   #4
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Great report! Do you have any pictures to share?
Sometime in the future I will definitely have to do my endcaps. the whole motorhome could use a paint job but for now that is not high on my list of things to do.
Thanks for the post.
Jo
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Old 08-06-2013, 07:53 PM   #5
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1987 27' Argosy
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Wow, Gill, what a great report! How is the paint job holding up? Share a photo with us Argosy folks, eh?

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