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Old 12-16-2003, 01:29 PM   #1
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Painting the Exterior of an A/S

Has anyone tried painting the exterior of an A/S, not with Rustoleum, but with a clear metallic acrylic?
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Old 12-16-2003, 01:51 PM   #2
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You can see a 25 foot Airstream painted metallic silver on our web site, http://inlandrv.com

Andy
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Old 12-16-2003, 02:03 PM   #3
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That is EXACTLY what I had in mind.
Is the paint available, or propriety information. Its a long haul from DE to CA.
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Old 12-16-2003, 04:45 PM   #4
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We have friends here in Bowling GReen who had there AS painted-looks great, although I can't decide whether I like it enough to spend thta much money on it. They also had the windows tinted pretty dark and that makes it look cool, too.
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Old 12-16-2003, 04:45 PM   #5
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Navigator.

The paint is available.

The process is proprietary, but can be obtained under certain circumstances.

The process does require professional application, by an experienced spray painter.

Andy
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Old 12-16-2003, 04:56 PM   #6
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There are several earlier threads that discuss painting Airstreams...

Check out "Silver Paint Trailer" in the search of the archives...good luck in whatever you decide to do!

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Old 12-16-2003, 04:56 PM   #7
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Andy,
OK, I have a professional spray painter lined up at a body shop here in DE.
Pray tell, what are the "CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES?"
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Old 12-16-2003, 05:18 PM   #8
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If you have a pro he should know how to prep aluminum. They paint airplanes, aluminum boats, aluminum cars every day. I painted my mh and it was a lot of work but only because of the size.

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Old 12-16-2003, 06:53 PM   #9
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From what I have been able to gather and asimilate Painting is about equal in cost to: Stripping and Polishing or Stripping and Re-Plastikoting. I also gather that the Plastikote only has an apparent life span of 5 years or so. It seems to me that a high quality paint job might be an improvement, if you don't want the high gloss shiny look along with the required maintenance

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Old 12-16-2003, 07:06 PM   #10
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With all due respect sir, that does not answer the question.

After appropriate sanding with____?grit, random orbital or linear stroke?

Do we phosphate? or chromate the bare metal? Etch or no?
Now lets discuss primer. Neoprene? Nitrile? Other? Coating thickness?

Metallic Paint: Acrylic? polyester? PPG Delstar DAR34363?
Coat weight?

Top Coat sealer? We all know that UV inhibitors are yellow.
Thats bad if you want a faint blue tint. How do we manage that?

I cannot understand others recommending urethane as the top coat, because a high molecular weight linear acrylic is far superior to any urethane for UV and weather resistance.

I do not expect any professional body shop to have the answers to the above.
If I am shelling out my hard earned bucks, I would like to
be assured that the proposed application is technically sound.
Respectfully,
Dick

In retrospect, I think that I will just withdraw the question and do the testing myself.
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Old 12-16-2003, 08:05 PM   #11
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Navigator -- You would need a very sure way of removing all plasticoat or whatever the specific product was in your vintage. I've seen that in threads, though you could guess keywords for a search as well as I.

Surface prep...? ASForums are a bit slow this time of the season but keep this up there -- don't go away with the topic yet. A number of aircraft workers keep mentioning their profession in the forums now and then.

You probably don't want your Airstream to be anything but silver. One product was recommended in an Argosy paint thread -- probably just the wrong color.
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Old 12-16-2003, 08:11 PM   #12
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A quick search and this thread I think answers some of your questions.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...+and+airstream

About half way down. I also remember somewhere reading that the color coat that Andy uses is a custom blend that he spent many hours of development time and testing with DuPont to get it so it would last. Thereby making it a custom proprietary mix. Sounds like you may be able to get some depending on what those "special circumstances" are.
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Old 12-16-2003, 08:14 PM   #13
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Okay, here is a link to another forum mentioned previously. This isn't nearly as organized as airstreamforums.com. Good luck finding anything. I can't offer much personal experience there, though many browse it now and then -- http://www.tompatterson.com/VAC/Archives/maillist1.html

Some areas of interest indexed elsewhere on the site: http://www.tompatterson.com/VAC/List.html

And I will say you are pursuing an interesting idea. Come back to this thread and let us know how it went. Thanks!
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Old 12-16-2003, 08:22 PM   #14
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FWIW, my 72 Overlander had been professionally painted at some time during its life. It is a metallic silver, flecks and all. Very nice job. I have the usual dings, dents and scrapes that I plan to fix at some point and then have the trailer painted again.

Based on the information I got from notes left in the manual, (reciepts and such for various repairs,) I am guessing that the paint job had been on there well over 10-15 years. Not bad longevity for a trailer.

I know I'm not helping with any of the real questions asked, but a decent body shop knows how to prepare an aluminum surface for painting, and what kind of paint to use. My next door neighbor is in the automotive paint business, and some of his clients regularly paint aluminum wheels that have been clear coated, with excellent results.

I would check with the automotive paint companies and get some reccomendations for some good local painters. It is beyond my current capabilities, but I'm sure not a big problem for professionals.

Let us know what happens!

Painted... can you tell? (I know, I know. It hasn't been washed or waxed in years!)
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Old 12-16-2003, 08:35 PM   #15
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As I understand it the issue with the paint is the same as the issue with the clear coat. The Aluminum has a high degree of dimensional change based on the ambient temperature as well as the heat created by the sun shining on the unit. I know all of my Airstreams have had popping noises as they heat up in the first light that hits the ends This was part of the problem with the later clear coat failures after the EPA make Airstream stop using some of the additives. The product would not bond to the skin as well and the elasticity factor was much lower so it would harden and craze, then fail.

This expansion and contraction has to be allowed for in the make up of the paint along with the proper preparation of the skin itself. At least with paint you can use etching primers that are not available with the clear coats.

An aluminum wheel will have some change in size associated with heat, but I would bet that it is not the going to undergo as large a change as the skin on your or my coach. This is a factor of the ability of the wheel to absorb more heat due to the amount of aluminum vs the skin. The thinner skin will get hotter and expand at a higher percentage than a cast wheel would.

Most automotive paints are flexible for the first 90 days then they really get hard. This is how most manufacturers get the car to keep that shine along with a good clear coat.

I am lucky that for the most part my paint is good. When I have it done I know I will be taking it to a shop that understands how to paint Aluminum so that the paint will hold up for many years.

I am not an expert, but I did sleep at a Holiday inn express last night I have asked many a service manager about this and the above info is how it was explained to me. YMMV
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Old 12-16-2003, 10:04 PM   #16
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Sneakinup,
Looks good!

Thenewkid64
Your point of thermal expansion is a good one. That signifies an intermediate molecular weight resin with a touch of plasticizer, which sublimes after full adhesion is attained, as in your clear coat reference.
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Old 12-16-2003, 10:16 PM   #17
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Coefficient of expansion works in proportion to linear dimension. The aluminum skin spans significantly more distance than an aluminum wheel's diameter. A trailer's skin also heats quicker than the underlying frame, so that expansion produces some flexure in such a thin material.
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Old 12-17-2003, 11:55 AM   #18
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Paint the trailer exactly the way light aircraft are painted - strip off the current clear, alodine, alumiprep, chromate primer, and polyurethane. The metal is not sanded. No clear coat is used. This finish will only last 10 years before it starts looking ratty. See .Aircraft Painting

This is a serious commitment to having a painted trailer. I would think it would reduce the market value of your trailer (if that matters). For similar or less money you could strip and recoat the clear, or strip and polish.

Store the trailer indoors and any properly applied finish will last nearly forever.
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Old 12-17-2003, 12:58 PM   #19
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In many circles, a "silver painted" Airstream sells for more money than a plasticoated coach.

Why? Properly done, the silver paint, waxed once a year, will last at least 20 years. We have documentation that bears that out.

That type paint job costs about 50 percent more than a plasticoat job, but out lasts the plasticoat by at least four to one, if not more. Therefore, it is by far more cost effective.

"ACID" of any type, is "NEVER" applied to any Airstream product, without having deleterious results in a year or two, depending on the climate. There is substancial information to document those results as well. I know that some will take exception to that, but facts are facts and not ought to's.

It is true that some aircraft are made with the same metal that some of the older Airstreams were made with, but aircraft are not exposed to the same envirornment. However, aircraft do not used the same metal that Airstream has since 1982 1/2.

As with any paint job, the surface preparation and the quality of materials used, are the key to longevity.

We are not trying to be evasive, but our method and materials took many years and considerable money to develop, AND, have the custom mix approved by Dupont.

Perhaps it is time for us to make available the materials as well as the printed proven method available, as a package, for others to use.

Andy

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Old 12-17-2003, 01:12 PM   #20
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dmac,
A ray of sunshine.
Thanks for the input.
Hagerstown, thats not too far away; worth a trip.
I thought chromates (an enviromental no-no) were banned. I guess these guys figured ouy how to get around that. We were forbidden from using it, but thats MD, and we were in Chgo.
Dick
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