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Author Topic: OK I Hate Bodywork I need bus painting 101  (Read 6736 times)
Dallas
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« on: June 03, 2009, 01:02:22 PM »

As the title says: I hate bodywork. I've always hated bodywork. I'll always hate bodywork. Sooooo....

I'm going to paint the old 4103 this summer. The temps are going to be in the high 80's to mid 90's. Humidity, if history is reliable will be in the 70 to 90% range.

I've looked at all kinds of paint systems, and it looks to me like a single stage acrylic enamel will be the easiest for me to deal with.

I've painted before, many years ago and used a brand of paint called Western Enamel or something like that. But, it was under the watchful eye of my ex father in law, and he was in charge of mixing and timing and showing me how to make good strokes. That was over 25 years ago, and I only did 3 different vehicles, all Arctic White.

Now, I am planning on doing a minimal paint removal, in the clear areas down to the aluminum, and selectively using a stripper around the rivets, although a bunch of those will be replaced because there are about 8 different sized rivet heads on the same side.

How about some of you really good painting experts give me a auto-painting 101 course here. Assume I don't have any idea what I'm doing, (which I don't), and that the only real painting I've ever done was with a brush or roller or a rattle can, (almost true).

I don't know enough to know what I don't know. I also don't know what questions to ask. Help me out?
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2009, 01:59:02 PM »

Ok. I'll start. 
1.  As you know,  surface prep is most important.  Sand well.  Use a scotchbright pad ( red ) around the rivets. If its not sanded, it won't stick.
2.  Temps in the high 80's is high.  Enamel reducers (thinners) are sold in various speeds to match the ambiant temp ( fast, slow, etc).  Buy a extra slow reducer.  Maybe even a retarder.  I prefer not using a retarder, but it may be necessary.  Stop by a local body shop and talk to their painter.  The problem with the high temps is the paint does not flow out enough creating orange peel texture and a dry spot when you are blending panels.  Start early in the am. 
3.  Solid colors tend to be more forgiving than metallics.  You can get 'zebra' stripes from overlapping paint strokes with the metallics. 
4.  Reds tend to be most expensive and require a sealer to prevent the base color from bleeding through. 
5.  Bare Aluminum needs to be spot primed with special primer. 
6.  I would wipe the rear bus panels with a degreaser before sanding to remove all oily film.  Oil creates fish-eyes in the paint.  By the way buy some fisheye remover to add to your paint.  .... cheap insurance. 

Good luck.
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2009, 02:18:09 PM »

I have alway used the best epoxy primer/sealers.   In the end they save your bodywork sins.

PPG  DP 40 is the standard green/grey used by many shops.   Omni is a decent enamel system.
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2009, 02:20:08 PM »

Here is a link, buy Kevins video on painting a car, it is a great tape and you will learn all you need to know.  There are also places on the net that rent it, but you will be much better off having it so you can reference back to it.
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2009, 02:27:16 PM »

Dallas,

Well, Its a lot of work.... I have 2 Eagles in primer right now.... (Only one is mine, I am just helping with the other one). Primer is a good thing! It lets you take your time as you work for perfection and you can have a unit all the same color too. You can also get the paint store to tint it any color if you want. Cheated the rivits on my 20. I used a wire wheel on a big grinder motor and stripped about 2 inches around leaving solid paint in a pretty much straight line up and down the panel. Used a paint brush and matched the paint height with fiberglass resin, loaded primer over that and finish sanded for smooth. Seems to work and the glass will do the best job of sealing the rivits I can think of.

The local marine paint supply sells very high quality paint in 5 gallon buckets that are rejects for inexact color and over production for a buck a gallon. I will have about $5 in paint. I wanted white and they had alot of that in alkyd enamel. They also have alot of various colors as well as 2 part paints that can be used above or below the water line. Maybe I'll try some of that on the shop floor!

The biggest problem I have is taping. Even with the tape machine it takes along time and in humidity the tape can't stay on long or it becomes somewhat permanent. Guess when the 20 is all in primer and perfect it will get finished by the panel!

You pretty much have to do the roof first... Can't drag hoses etc. over new paint. I almost fell yesterday, but a very good ladder saved me.  I should have brought a 40" flatbed home, really should have brought 2 home to work off and just do it outside, still should, Guess I'll put the help up for the rest of the job, I'm to old to fall, so I strongly recomment a very tall A frame ladder or a scaffold setup to work from..

Start out with a very clean shop floor, grease and paint don't look good. A good gun is very important and the air supply has to be moisture free.

Paint thinner is for gun clean up etc, Laquer thinner is for thinning paint and wiping down the surface before painting. I don't use acetone for anything. I also wipe my hoses with laquer thinner so they don't contaminate the skins. Don't thin your paint with paint thinner it will never dry.

I chose the Alkyd Enamel because it will cover the old paint no problem, its something I can touch up myself any time I need to, and it won't turn into cement on me and in my paint equiptment.

Had to thin my primer about 20 percent to get it through the gun. Says on the can not to but the real painters say it needs to be about the consistancy of water before it sees the gun.

Chris and I took the 05 and the 20 to Bakersfield to buy a toilet, (It was $50 cheaper!), in April for a couple weeks fun and started sanding the 05 down there. We didn't have air and I bought an oscilating 5 inch pad sander that works just like a DA but is electric at Home Depot. Its a Milwaukee tool and I like it very much. It uses hook and loop pads. I have 3 DA's, 2 stick on and 1 old glue on. I grab the electric most of the time, its a great little sander. I have used mostly 60 and 80 grit to get into primer and will likely finish with no more than 100 grit.

I hope your not sorry you asked!!!!!!!!!!!! The hardest part for me is the enormity of the project. The damn thing is just overwelming in size and sometimes it gets to me, but it really is comming along pretty well.

Chris bought a professional airless like they use for houses in Tracy and it only took about 1 1/2 hours to shoot the whole bus in primer and it looks real good. I  have a decent HVLP paint gun here at the home shop and will likely do the entire job with it, but the airless really kicked butt, it just takes alot of thinner, (have been told I can use motor oil also with enamel), for machine clean up every time its used. (Like about 2 gallons). We also had to thin with laquer thinner with the airless. If you use the airless, the 15 nozzle worked real well.

I had hoped to do the entire paint job with one taping, but the pros have told me I can't leave the tape on that long. Oh, 3M is the favored tape. Damn, I hate to tape. Oh well, I can only do this in my so called spare time so thats how it will have to be.

I have shared my experiences with you, I am sure others can help us both, because I ain't no pro at this, so come on everyone help us out a little here. If anyone knows what to use for a projector for art work, graphics, etc, I could use some help on that also. Think I want a warbird on the side with a full weapons load under the wings or something like that on the sides. Help.

Dallas, wish you wouldn't have brought this up, Now I'm way behind with my day!!!!!
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2009, 04:16:19 PM »

Wow, you are in for some fun!

I'm not a paint expert by any means, just look at mine! Roll Eyes After discussing my redo with a paint expert I'm going to go with basecoat/clearcoat this time. I used single stage PPG and it's OK, would have been better for me if it had been a solid paint, no metallic. It's all about the prep as was said before, scratched and clean is important. I also used an electric orbital sander, uses 5" hook and loop pads, mine was a Sears model. It does work good, and you get to get dirty!

Paint an old hood or body part first before you lay any paint. I didn't do that and used the bus as the experiment, not the smartest thing to do. Sure wish I would have painted a small project first to get the hang of it, cause the bus is a big canvas!

Good Luck and if you get yours like you like it you can do mine next! Grin

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Airbag
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2009, 06:11:19 PM »

I will just give a word of advise and not get into what type of system or to clear coat or not because if you ask ten different painters you get ten different answers.

I will say wipe the bus with Super Kleen or Prep-Sol before you sand, it is a pre sanding silcone and wax remover and  wipe things down with it just before Tac Rag ing. My two cents and good luck with the job.  
« Last Edit: June 03, 2009, 06:14:08 PM by Airbag » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2009, 06:58:56 PM »

I dont like painting or bodywork, I can do the bodywork, just dont like it. The painting I cant stand, I dont like the smell, I dont like cleaning up, I dont like the mess. Then the job looks crappy.
 After much debate, I did the prep work and hired the painting done.
It would seem in these times that you should be able to find an experienced painter for a resonable amount of money. Ask around, check the local tech center, ask where you are going to buy the paint, you know the drill. Sometimes it is better to just bite the bullet and spend a few bucks.  HTH  JIm
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2009, 07:14:04 PM »

Does anyone use Alodine on the bare aluminum? I need to paint my bus as well. The steel parts are what worry me. The old paint is oxidized pretty bad and there is some rust. I painted a lot of aluminum overseas containers once with an airless and it worked great. It took about 3 gallons for one coat on a 40 foot container.
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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2009, 07:53:22 PM »

Even though I have had a lot of experience with guns doing cabinet work, the automotive paint is still really different.  I goes on completely different from any of the precats that are used for wood finishing. At about $200 for 2 gallons for the automotive, after the paint, hardeners, and redusers, you don't want to make any mistakes.

I practiced on the roof.  No body will ever see it up there.  Then I broke all the other areas down into small areas.  I masked off every other bay door and painted each one separately.  You can mask to every seam on the siding and paint theses smaller areas individually.  This is really important in the heat.  Yes, it took a long time doing it this way, but it avoided dry spots, streaks, and running out of paint before an area was completed.  The paint in the pot can be dead in 30 minutes if it is hot.  Mix small batches. Don't paint in the sun.  Get good strong lights and point it at the area you are painting,  even outside in the light. Don't apply two part paint over spray can primer.  It will wrinkle. Three thin coats laid  over a tack dry surface are better than one thick coat.  There is a very fine line between enough and Toooo much paint. Sand paper will fix anything. Wipe down the area with cleaner just before shooting.

I got to learn with metallic.  Sagging flakes are a real drag. 

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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2009, 08:03:23 PM »

I went to the mexican community and found a crew to finish bodywork and paint my 04 with clear coat three color for $1200.00. I am happy and they had a big party when completed at my airport.  One busnut calls it the
margurita bus down in the islands.
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« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2009, 08:16:10 PM »

Charles in SC.
Oxidized paint is not a problem.  Actually it sands easier than shiny paint!  Just be sure it is well adhered to the metal. If is is flaking or otherwise not bonded well, then you need to sand to bare metal and primer.

Dallas,
Not sure if I would go with an airless.  A regular spray gun ( compressed air ) really atomizes the paint well and shoots in a wide even fan.  This makes for a nice final finish.  Just my experience.  

One more thing when actually painting.  Patience!  The trick is to not put it all on at once.  And when you are spraying, don't try to make it look good with each pass.  In other words, if you lay it on thick so it is smooth, wet and shiny you will always get a run or sagging paint.  Especially around a hard edge like a rivit or a crease in the panel.   As mentioned, there is a fine line in how much you apply with each coat.  

It may take 3 coats to cover so don't rush it.  The first coat will be at a pressure and distance to lay down a thin light, smooth wet coat.  If you move too fast and get a dry spray area with texture..... the final finish will have this texture.  No amount of extra paint will make it flow out.  Think of this coat as providing the 'tooth' for the next. 

Now the hard part--  Wait!   The next and subsequent coats will go on after the prior is tacky.  Touch a masked area with your finger.  If the paint is sticky and barely transfers to your finger you are ready for the next coat.  The next coats may be a tad thicker...... careful. ..

When you have everything covered and there are no spots showing through, hang up your gun.   (3-4 coats)   There is no benefit for a thick coat of paint.  ( If you are painting a show car or covering stripes or airbrush art with clear, well that is a different story and technique)  It will have a little orange peel or texture but should be quite wet.  Not wet or thick enough to sag,  just right!  Now as the paint slowly drys it will move and smooth out nicely.  

Ideally you should do the painting in a booth or inside a building.  For dust control, no bugs, and better visibility.   Turn off anything that will make a spark.  Including the compressor.  Hopefully is located outside.  And of course, use a good mask with new or newer filters.  

Mix up a pint of paint and practice on a junk panel or hood.  Some spray booths have windows in them and maybe you could watch a painter and get a good head start.  

One more thing on masking.  It is easier to mask than clean overspray later.   Both primer and paint.  Run wide paper like a curtain below the skirts and around wheel wells.  The spray gun will blow and draw dust and dirt from the underside into your new paint.  Tape behind doors and cracks.  ....

Window rubbers should be wiped with lacquer thinner to help the masking tape stick.  Shiny or Armor All  rubber will not allow tape to stick.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2009, 08:20:51 PM by Hobie » Logged
Dallas
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2009, 08:39:45 PM »

Thanks guys, I'm taking all this down in hand written notes.

A lot to think of and a lot of work to do just to get ready, but I hope it'll look at least a little better than it does now when I get finished.

Are you sure I can't use a good ol' white wash brush to get a smooth finish? LOL  Grin

Dallas
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Airbag
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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2009, 09:48:39 PM »

Does anyone use Alodine on the bare aluminum? I need to paint my bus as well. The steel parts are what worry me. The old paint is oxidized pretty bad and there is some rust. I painted a lot of aluminum overseas containers once with an airless and it worked great. It took about 3 gallons for one coat on a 40 foot container.

I use it in the airplane biz. It is very toxic but gives the best paint adhesion. It is a conversion coating and would be difficult to use on a large surface such as a bus because you can only leave it on for two to five minutes before you have to rinse it off. And normally you use a brush when you rinse to get the excess off. The aluminum has to be free of all contaminates and corrosion and requires an etch before you apply the alodine. Take it to an airplane paint shop where they have the equipment to do large areas of aluminum. If it is done properly it leaves a beautiful gold color on the aluminum and is the closest thing anodizing you can get.

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« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2009, 03:59:27 AM »

Yes Dallas you can use a wide white wash brush. But not the junk they sell at Harbor Freight! You will need to buy a top quality brush, you get what you pay for.   HTH  JIm
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