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Old 03-23-2021, 06:23 AM   #1
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1976 31' Excella 500
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Painting my '77 Excella 500 with Tropicool roof coating.

My old girl has a very tired clearcoat and is hot as a tin can in the summer, even with a new a/c unit. I'm thinking of painting her with 2 coats of white Tropicool down to the belt line. Painting below the belt line with Grey Tropicool and painting the vinyl belt line insert with blue spray paint. I have new '1/2 banding to go in the insert tracks. I know this is an Airstream, but not an Argosy. I think the White silicone roof coating will help cool the camper even better than a full polish job that I don't want to to spend a week or so doing. It will also give a sealing layer of solid silicon. I also know doing this may harm the resale value, but resale is not something I'm worried about.
How much hate am I going to get from Airstream purists, lol?
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Old 03-24-2021, 11:33 AM   #2
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FWIW, every "real world" study I've seen shows that white is cooler than mirror (temperature, at least). ;-) Personally, I prefer a well designed and executed paint job to a mirror finish (neither would be factory original, and the paint is easier to maintain). The biggest issue is getting the paint to adhere to aluminum. Obviously it can be done, but aluminum is a tricky substrate for paint. I would also be interested in seeing a study on which is easiest to care for: original aluminum or painted. We known for a fact that a mirror finish takes a LOT of upkeep.
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Old 03-24-2021, 12:42 PM   #3
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I would love to see how this turns out.
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Old 03-28-2021, 05:36 AM   #4
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Right now, I am readying the supplies and ordering the parts I'll need. It should only need a rough sanding with 220 grit and a thorough wash down, in order for the coating to stick. I'm going to install secondary vent covers over the original vents, so that I can leave the vents open without getting rain in the camper.
I will take before and after temperature readings and pics along the way of this project. This old camper has some dents and dings in the aluminum that won't polish out. I'm hoping the white covering will help hide some of that. I can't make this 44 year old girl look young again without injecting a huge amount of time, effort and money. And I'm not willing to do that. Good enough, but still nice, I hope,(and mostly COOL enough) will have to do. 😀
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Old 03-28-2021, 09:57 AM   #5
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Looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

Have you considered some kind of "undercoating" paint for the belly/banana wraps? If it's being painted anyway, I wonder how that might work for defense against the road.
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Old 03-30-2021, 08:32 AM   #6
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Well, it turns out that, after talking to a tech at Henry Company, Tropicool roof coating is just that. Roof only. He said it would not work well for vertical surfaces and their other roof coatings made with acrylic would not work either. I guess I will coat the roof and polish and reclear coat the sides, lol.
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Old 03-30-2021, 01:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarge12212 View Post
Well, it turns out that, after talking to a tech at Henry Company, Tropicool roof coating is just that. Roof only. He said it would not work well for vertical surfaces and their other roof coatings made with acrylic would not work either. I guess I will coat the roof and polish and reclear coat the sides, lol.
I haven't done much research, but some of the other forums members were talking about some of the new ceramic coatings. You might check into those.
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Old 05-05-2021, 01:11 PM   #8
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Over the last 3 days, I finally coated my Airstream rooftop with the Trop-i-cool white silicone that I had originally posted. Before, you could fry an egg on the roof! Now I can walk around up there (carefully, lol) barefoot. It's 91° and sunny here in St. Augustine. The camper in sitting in full sun, zero shade. The A/C unit is running on low cool. It's maintaining 73° inside, which is huge! Before, it would be 85-90 degrees in there. Basically a big silver sweatbox! Henry Trop-i-cool is 100% silicone and stuck like crazy to the silver silicone caulking that I had previously covered the rooftop rivets and seams with. Don't buy a full bucket, buy it by the gallon, as I still have almost half a bucket left.
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Old 05-05-2021, 01:17 PM   #9
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Thanks for the update, especially in regard to temperature and coverage. I will be looking into this product!
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Old 05-05-2021, 01:25 PM   #10
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For others seeing this thread, Tropicool 887 is currently $60 per gallon at Home Depot, and has a 4.57/5 star rating on their website.

One of the reviews had this information, which may be useful if you're at a store where the product has been sitting around a while:

Quote:
The product has a shelf life of 2 years. On the cans I bought there's a small sticker with two sets of numbers. The top number is the manufacture date code and is 8 digits in length. I had to call Henry's to decrypt to code, which is proprietary, to figure out when it was manufactured.
I'm not sure how new this product is, so I'm not finding much information on longevity, and how easy it will be to remove or repair if it starts to fail with age.
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Old 05-06-2021, 05:01 AM   #11
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Eventually, the camper got up to 80° inside as the afternoon sun hit more of the unpolished side (clearcoat is shot). Temps also climbed to about 95°. I'm planning on a full 3 step polish job soon, so that should help.
As for the product, I'd have to give it 5 stars.
After scrubing and washing the roof (as opposed to pressure washing, Is that a good idea on an Airstream?) and letting it dry out, it rolled on like a very thick paint using 3/4 nap rollers. I did not sand or rough up the aluminum surface as the directions and the service tech at Henry Co. did not say that was needed. The product is designed to withstand air flowing over it at highway speeds, so delaminating from the roof isn't a real concern. It has a lifetime warranty. Being silicone, it should never chaulk up, adds an impermeable layer of leak prevention (as opposed to just paint) and I can always just add another coat or 2 if need be.
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Old 05-06-2021, 08:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarge12212 View Post
Eventually, the camper got up to 80° inside as the afternoon sun hit more of the unpolished side (clearcoat is shot). Temps also climbed to about 95°.
Man... 80 inside on a 95 degree sunny day is pretty freakin' fantastic.

Quote:
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The product is designed to withstand air flowing over it at highway speeds, so delaminating from the roof isn't a real concern. It has a lifetime warranty. Being silicone, it should never chaulk up, adds an impermeable layer of leak prevention (as opposed to just paint) and I can always just add another coat or 2 if need be.
Yeah, it sounds like this stuff is basically rollable caulk. I do wonder if simply putting more on over stuff that is wearing will be as effective as an application to bare metal though (what do do if it starts to peel or bubble). I also wonder how easily it can be removed if it turns out to *not* work in a couple years.

The instances of it failing in the reviews seemed to be mostly from flat applications where water was able to pool. Also applications where people hadn't done a good job of cleaning the substrate, or trying to apply it to something that wasn't ideal and might deteriorate on it's own in the first place (wood, asphalt, etc.).
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Old 05-07-2021, 04:40 AM   #13
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It IS basically rollable caulk. I did a lot of research before putting it down because getting silicone back up off a surface it's well adhered to would be difficult. You have to be committed! I used a clean, new bucket and brush to "cut in" around the vents, antenna mount and A/C unit. It peeled right off the bucket in one piece and felt remarkably like a latex mask. Supposed to be fully cured in 48 hours. I have a feeling it will stiffen over time to a harder rubber-like consistency. I'm not at all worried about it's long-term durability. If I had a concern, it would be in the coatings ability to adhere along the leading edge of the camper. If it delaminates there, it could catch air and lift off in a big white sheet, lol. I will be testing that this weekend as we are leaving for Arkansas tomorrow morning.
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Old 05-07-2021, 11:32 AM   #14
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Another temp update. It's 81° outside, full sun, no shade, 1:30pm, 62° inside the Airstream, fairly new 13k btu A/C unit on low cool. I'm fully amazed!
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Old 05-26-2021, 12:27 PM   #15
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Got back Saturday from my trip to Arkansas. No problems with the Tropicool coating. Didn't try to peel off or delaminate. Speeds were normally held to 70-72, but I caught myself going 78 once, lol. It wasn't that hot there. In fact the heater got used more than the a/c. I would put that coating on again in a heartbeat. Wondering why I didn't do it years ago. We suffered some on a trip to Corpus Christi, Texas once because it was freaking July. I think it would be a more pleasurable trip today, if we went there, because of the Tropicool roof coating. I give it 5 stars ����
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Old 05-26-2021, 06:24 PM   #16
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Thanks for the update! We're headed to the Midwest for Father's Day, so I may try and get mine done before then. I'm already dreading the humidity, so every little bit of heat mitigation will help!
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Old 05-27-2021, 05:52 AM   #17
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Another thing I did that helps. My camper has the little windows above the regular windows. I think they call them Vista View windows, but I could be wrong. Anyway, they are not in good shape and are never opened. But they contribute to the heat factor in the camper immensely. I made some inserts for those windows out of foil covered bubble wrap. 2 layers per window, just tuck them in and close the cover. Helps a LOT!!
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Old 06-06-2021, 06:47 PM   #18
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So I did some prep work on the roof today, and I'm heading to Home Depot in the morning to buy Tropicool. I spent the last hour scouring the boards to see if I could find others who've used it, and there definitely are some, but I couldn't find any reports of how it has held up over time (multiple years).

I'm still a little wary of how it will look in five years and then how I would get silicone off the aluminum if I needed to (to reapply or use something else). Perhaps just reapplying over the old stuff at that point will be OK, but I would love to have some "real world" reports from people who've actually done it.
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Old 06-07-2021, 06:01 AM   #19
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I actually think you will be quite happy with it's performance. In 10 or 15 years, if my roof starts to show any type of deterioration, I'll just give it another coat or two. This stuff may outlast me, lol.
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Old 06-07-2021, 11:29 AM   #20
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From what I can tell, more people have used the "enviro white" (really the only reason I keep asking questions). The tropicool is silicon and meant for "high moisture" situations (can withstand *some* pooling -they say up to 50 hours, which our curved shells eliminate) and the enviro white evidently cures a bit harder and is what they call "dirt and dust repellent" (but won't hold up to any sort of extended pooling).

I assume the Tropicool has some "squish" to it (rubbery)? Can you tell me what the cured texture is like? It seems like if it's at all tacky (like caulk when it dries) it will be harder to keep clean than a more hardened surface (which is supposedly how the enviro white cures). For instance, the silicone around a bathtub is usually the first place that dirt/stains start showing as a bathroom ages.

Henry's recommends the tropicool for "RV's," but I think that's because they think RV's are fiberglass boxes with flat roofs.

I know I'm being nit-picky; just trying to be sure of my choice for best performance in the Colorado sun, longest lasting, and least upkeep.
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