As Paul has noted I am in the middle of painting my 102A3. I started about two weeks ago by removing the windows and installing a cold roll skin in place of two windows on each side of the bus. I made a drawing of the shape I needed and had the cold roll laser cut to the proper shape. I then made up tubular cross pieces to fit inside the window openings to give more support to the new sheeting. I dry fit the pieces to check for proper alignment and then drilled for rivits. Removed the skin, deburred, cleaned everything up with laquer thinner, applied Fusor two part epoxy adhesive (112B) and positioned the skins in place with clecos. Removed one cleco at a time and installed 3/16" stainless rivits. Turned out really nice.
We then moved to sanding the side panels and the fiberglass surrounds at the front of the bus. I spent approximately 12 hours sanding these components and then applied the first coat of laquer primer. Sanded with 320 and checked for any areas that were not flat. I then applied another coat of primer and once again sanded with 320. This area is now very nice. I am impressed with how smooth it came out.
We will leave this area alone and move to the roof and the back of the bus. Same process, DA sand with 80 grit, fix any bad spots with filler, clean very good with laquer thinner and then primer. Sand with 320, apply second coat of primer and check for flatness/smoothness. Adjust any bad areas as required.
This bus had originally stripes running down the sides. These were painted on and when you ran your hand across the side panel you could feel the edges of the stripes. Really bad! These panels are now smooth as a baby's butt. I think this paint job will turn out good. Your final product will only be as good as the prep work.
I plan on painting the roof with the automotive paint up over the drip channel approximately 12". I will then apply a layer of Bus-Coat primer and then two layers of Bus-Coat paint. This get rolled on with a roller and then covered with a clear final coat. This material has some insulating characteristics and my plan is to use it on most of the roof.
We will paint the bus with a PPG 2 stage paint using a base color. Then we will tape off for the graphics and paint three additional colors. After all of the colors are applied we will apply 3-4 coats of clear. Then we will buff the clear to finish.
As of today we probably have about 65 hours in installing the side skins and preparing the sides and front for paint. I estimate we will spend about another 20 hours getting the roof and the back of the bus in primer and ready to paint. I think it will take about 20 hours to apply all four colors and the clear and another 16 hours to buff out the clear.
Here is the problem with a project like this. Once I have the paint finished the stainless sides will look bad and then I have another project?
In summation I would say this:
1) The cold roll sheet metal (14 ga) went on very well.
2) The Fusor panel adhesive product was very easy to use and had a 70 minute work time. I will use it again as I am replacing the skin on the rear blower door to get rid of the rivits.
3) The preparation of the side panels actually was easy. there is just a lot of area and mine were really bad with all of the stripes.
4) The laquer primer is very easy to work with and the final finish is like glass.
5) During this process I have removed some of the components from the bus, like the drip rail above the windows and the entrance door. I have also removed some of the sealant between panels that did not look good quality. I will replace this with an automotive seam seal that is paintable after priming but before paint.
6) It is very hard to decide on a color combination. There is just too much to choose from. I borrowed a PPG book from the paint store and after much indecision we have decided on the four colors. Very difficult process.
7) It pays to have the proper equipment and a good building to work in as this process would be difficult outside.
Other than the large size the bus is actually really easy to paint. Nice flat panels at eye height?
9) The nice thing about the base coat - clear coat paint is that it is easy to correct mistakes. If you have a run you can just sand it out and proceed.
When I have the project completed I will post some photos.
Good luck to you with your paint project.