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#126 - 10/07/12 07:22 PM Repairing Bad Paint on Slide Trim - P1
Muniac Administrator Offline
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Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
INTRODUCTION:

We've had paint blisters and bubbling on our slide trim pieces that started several years ago. Like all these things it only gets worse until someone repairs it. You could take it into a body shop and pitch out between $1200 to $1500 to have someone do the work. It will also mean staying in the yard for several days perhaps. If you full time this can be a real hassle. Certain shops specialize in these repairs and are set up to provide hook-ups which eases the pain. We haven't been near any.


The finest motor coaches in the world. The words don't cost anything, however.

Several weeks ago I decided to tackle this repair myself figuring I could do a reasonable job of it. This article chronicles the procedure I went through and lists the materials I used to deal with the various phases of the repair. It also provides some helpful hints and tips to get things looking properly. This project was difficult and I wouldn't recommend it as an entry level undertaking. If you have any reservations, take it to a body shop. That said, the experienced DIYer can knock this job out, get good results, avoid an inconvenient layover and save some money in the process.

This work is indeed detailed and time consuming. There are many traps to fall into some of which will ruin the job completely. I haven't sprayed auto body paint in many years and I never did any multicolor work so progress was slow. I learned as I went along, fixed mistakes and thought about how to do better the next time around. I have three more trim pieces to paint and the one chronicled here was the first. Not knowing how this would turn out or if it would turn out at all, I started small with just one trim piece. If you have the confidence, doing all the striping at once followed by performing the same tasks on all the pieces would certainly save a lot of time.

As a parking lot auto body exercise I had to deal with sun, wind and temperature swings. One night it even rained. Starting off small and working piece meal just seemed to make the job more manageable for me. This turned out to be a good decision. Luckily I have the time to devote to it so efficiency and speed aren't high priorities.

The Basic Problem:

Country Coaches have aluminum, fiberglass, sheet steel and Owens Corning body panels to paint. These materials react in different ways and require special preparations to make them paint ready. Poor metal prep or no metal prep at all dooms a paint job to certain failure as it ages. Examples of this are clear coat being directly sprayed on Owens Corning panels which proceeds to peel off. Check cracking is another common problem and an example of paint failure. Our bus has all these paint problems to a greater or lesser extent. This article, however, covers just the aluminum trim pieces.

Because of how it corrodes, aluminum requires special preparation before painting. The bottom line is Country Coach just didn't bother with putting in the extra effort to do the job properly. Sad but true. Anodizing or chromate coating would have helped avoid these problems. The responsibility for correcting these problems now falls squarely on the shoulders of the owner and his wallet. My vote would be to spend less money on splashy painting patterns, four color artistry and over the top graphics in favor of three colors, reasonable graphics and perfect preparation. In short, I want a paint job that lasts and continues to look nice year after year.

As for aluminum, the slightest crack in the finish which allows water to enter will cause corrosion which continues to spread. Primer can't adhere to this corrosion. Evidence of this condition is small blisters or bubbling of the paint. Left untreated, it progresses to the point where entire shards of paint just come peeling off. There are no quick fixes after the fact either.


Early warning signs of paint problems. Not easy to fix either.

Repair Procedure:

Since this is somewhat of a long involved process, I'll outline basic steps here and expand on each in subsequent parts.

- The first thing you'll need to do is remove all the paint
and get down to the raw aluminum.

- Once you have raw aluminum, you'll need to clean off the
oxide followed by applying a chromate coating.

- Spray your primer over the prepared aluminum.

- Spray each of your color coats, pin stripe first.

- Spray the clear coat.

- Fix problems if any occurred.
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#127 - 10/07/12 08:21 PM Re: Repairing Bad Paint on Slide Trim - P2 [Re: Muniac]
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Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
Stripping The Old Paint:

This part is time consuming and requires careful attention to masking. The aluminum trim pieces are extruded shapes which are pressed onto the slide border. There is an interface/transition between these pieces and the body panels. This has been filled with a small bead of silicone caulk. Make sure your masking tape is tight here but doesn't block the painted aluminum you're working on. That to include the top lip. The idea is to keep the chemical stripper from contacting the good paint but allow it to work on the aluminum areas. Mask the back side area too if your paint is shot there. Mine was. Once everything is masked, try to keep the stripper off the masking as much as possible. I was careful about this and didn't damage any of the good paint. The 3M masking tape I used formed a good barrier.


Carefully mask out what isn't involved in the repair. Shown here after primer coat.


Professional body shop supplies. Don't buy junk.

I used both mechanical and chemical methods to get rid of the old paint. A razor blade mounted in a handle works well to get rid of loose paint. In my case, long sections of paint just peeled off with the razor blade. Get all the easy stuff off first. I worked front, sides and back given this is where the paint was shot. Make sure not to slip with the blade and damage the masking and/or good painted surfaces. Once the mechanical removal has progressed as far as it can, Zip-Strip works well for removing the remaining stubborn paint. And it will cut through the clear coat and everything underneath down to bare metal. Again, YOU MUST carefully and tightly mask out the good paint to protect it. Mask any other areas that might get splashed. Brush the Zip-Strip on in one direction. In other words don't go back and forth. Let the product work and don't expect everything to come off in one application. Loose paint will wrinkle and shrivel up. It took me 5-6 applications plus using the razor (for light scraping) to get completely down to bare metal. Be patient and be thorough making sure to remove all the paint. That to include even the slightest bits that are stubborn. Poor and/or incomplete preparation means flaws in the finish later on. Scuff sand with 300 grit wet/dry paper as a final cleaning.

In severe cases the aluminum might be pitted. Not much can be done about this other than to clean the pits well and possibly use a small amount of body filler right before the primer coat is sprayed.


Zip-Strip will burn your skin. Be careful and follow the instructions on the can.

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#128 - 10/07/12 08:34 PM Re: Repairing Bad Paint on Slide Trim - P3 [Re: Muniac]
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Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
Preparing Bare Aluminum:

Once you're down to the bare aluminum you'll need to clean off all the oxide.


Henkel makes Aluma Prep 33 and Alodine 1201 (plastic bottles). Good for dealing with aluminum.

I used Henkel products the first of which is Aluma Prep 33. This contains mild phosphoric acid which cleans away aluminum oxide. For heavy deposits, mix it 1:1 with water. Brush on and help it with a scouring pad or metal brush if required. Flush the metal off with clean water.


Chromate coated and ready for primer.

Next apply Alodine 1201 by brushing the solution on full strength. Keep the metal wet with this solution for 3-5 minutes. A chromate coating will develop that protects the metal from further corrosion. This coating is delicate so be careful not to damage it. Make sure all the bare metal has been coated.

In my case I had bad paint on the back side of the trim piece too. Don't forget to coat this also. It isn't as easy to access as the front and side areas. It's a bit awkward to say the least. Aluma Prep and Alodine won't harm the existing clear coat. Do wipe these chemicals off with water as soon as possible, however. Make sure the top lip gets chromate. It's this thin bit of metal that faces up and receives all the rainwater. Again, coat all the bare metal properly!

You are now ready to spray on the primer. Before we get into that let me provide some insight on spray painting and the paint products I used.
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#129 - 10/07/12 08:50 PM Re: Repairing Bad Paint on Slide Trim - P4 [Re: Muniac]
Muniac Administrator Offline
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Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
Spraying Paint

You'll need something to spray on the paint. Preval makes an interesting cheap sprayer that can spray all kinds of things. Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see. This cheap sprayer won't work. I know because I tried it. It's now in the garbage.


The Preval sprayer is no good. Use a touch up gun instead.

You'll need an air atomizing touch up gun. The inexpensive HVLP gun shown above cost me $35 and worked like a dream. I have a small compressor that ran this gun perfectly. You can also use the air supply in your bus. The gun will be spraying for 5-10 seconds tops so you won't need much air. Search the internet for devilbiss spray techniques and read about how to spray paint. There is a ton of information/videos on the internet about how to spray automotive paint. Practice on a sheet of cardboard to get comfortable with handling the gun.

If you're going to spray outside, make sure to avoid high winds, high humidity, insects, direct sunlight, cold temperatures and dust. Also keep in mind that overspray will carry many feet away in a wind. Even a light wind. Mask accordingly and take precautions. It's best to work on a calm day if possible.

A local body shop is a really good place to get supplies, equipment, help and advice. Eastwood is another place on the internet to check out.

You'll be dealing with professional auto body paints which are designed to spray in an air atomizing gun. Make sure that's what you have and it's hooked up properly. Again read the internet for tips on setting up the gun and making adjustments to get the correct spray pattern and air mixture. If you don't have the correct spraying equipment you are simply wasting time. Good equipment doesn't necessarily need to be expensive. It just needs to be suitable for spraying automotive paint. Air supplying the gun needs to be clean, oil free, dry and delivered at proper consistent pressure.

Make sure to spray plenty of lacquer thinner through the gun after each paint product is used. You want to make sure the gun is completely clean. Also watch the overspray of lacquer thinner which can make a mess. Spray it into an old rag to avoid this.
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#130 - 10/07/12 09:08 PM Re: Repairing Bad Paint on Slide Trim - P5 [Re: Muniac]
Muniac Administrator Offline
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Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
Getting The Paint:

Our 2006 Country Coach Allure has Sikkens paint on it. This is a base coat clear coat lacquer system. All the coatings need to be compatible with one another or you risk problems down the road. The color codes for the paint are on the underside of the lid on the documentation box. Lesonal is the Sikkens paint products you'll want to use. Most likely you'll need to go through an auto body shop or automotive paint dealer. Expect to pay between $30 and $45 for each pint of color.


Lesonal Paint by Sikkens. You'll need clear coat and lacquer thinner too.

These paints are base colors and will spray on flat and flash off in about 5 minutes. Make sure they are thinned properly for spraying. Allow proper drying time between coats. Usual practice is to spray 2-3 light wet coats. You'll also need and finish with clear coat which requires a temperature adjusted activator. Medium for room temperature and fast for colder temperatures. Tech sheets for all these products can be found on the internet. Make sure to read this information and follow the instructions. I used U-Tech 4.0 clear coat and it worked fine.

A gallon can of generic lacquer thinner will be required to clean up the gun, paint spills and mixing cups. Dump spent thinner in an empty oil container for recycling later.

You'll also need some primer that is compatible with the paint system being sprayed on top of it. I bought a pint (light grey) of this from the local body shop. It too requires a hardener which mixes 4:1.


An irrigation bulb syringe helps transfer paint. Don't forget the mixing sticks.

Plastic graduated mixing cups are convenient. You'll need these to work with the two part systems. Most mix 4:1 and these cups will help you get those proportions accurate. Plus they are a good place to mix ingredients together before pouring it into the gun's feed cup. The Lesonal color coats were mixed ready to spray. They can go directly into the gun's feed cup.

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#131 - 10/08/12 09:00 AM Re: Repairing Bad Paint on Slide Trim - P6 [Re: Muniac]
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Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
Spraying The Primer:

At this point the aluminum should be ready to prime. I used a light grey primer which worked fine. Using a tack cloth clean the metal carefully to remove dust and lint. Check all your masking tape and masking paper. Make sure surrounding areas, gaskets and objects are protected from overspray. Mix 3-4 ounces of primer and spray this on as the first primer coat. I sprayed the back, sides then front. Let the paint flash off and spray a second coat. Make sure coverage is complete and consistent. You don't want to see any aluminum exposed, runs or sags.


Aluminum trim ready for masking and primer coat.


Primer coat has been sprayed. You'll need more masking in surrounding areas than shown here.

You can lightly sand the primer if you have too much orange peel. Keep in mind that sanding removes paint. If you break through the paint and sand off the chromate coating you've defeated the purpose. This is really easy to do at the corners. If you plan on sanding, it's best to spray an extra coat or two of primer. If you spray the paint properly you'll get a smooth consistent finish right off. Before sanding let the paint dry completely. Use wet/dry sandpaper with plenty of water to avoid clogging and paint balls.
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#132 - 10/08/12 08:44 PM Re: Repairing Bad Paint on Slide Trim - P7 [Re: Muniac]
Muniac Administrator Offline
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Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
Color Base Coats:

Once you've got your primer coat sprayed on and fully cured, you can begin spraying the color coats. Our bus uses four different colors. Actually five if you include the pin striping which derives from the native panel color. It's an off white color with no color code and not enough area to scan it (scanner requires 2 square inches). Instead of hassling with this I decided to substitute Chevy white (code supplied). For me it's close enough for a small pin stripe that doesn't represent a prominent feature.


I used Chevy white for the pin stripe. Not an exact match but very close.

Typically colors are sprayed from light to dark. Plan on 2-3 coats for each color. You could shoot Chevy white in small patches behind where you want the pin stripes to be. I just sprayed the whole trim piece to give some extra thickness to the paint. In other words, everywhere you see grey primer you will now see Chevy white. In my case I also needed to spray the sides, bottom and back (under slide). You'll need to let the Chevy white coat thoroughly dry before adding more color coats. I waited 24 hours for this. Things from here on get a bit tricky.

I worked from right to left across the trim piece. You'll need to carefully mask out the lines that continue the pin stripe borders (outside edges) across the trim and down onto the bottom edge. Look at another slide to see how the pin stripe wraps around. My repair required masking in two places on the horizontal trim. And two places on the vertical trim. Basically you are masking off the black (sandwiched between grey brown metallic) and both pin stripes plus what isn't getting painted above on the vertical trim. My next color is grey brown metallic. Once everything that doesn't get grey blown metallic is masked off you can spray that color. Apply 2-3 coats. Let dry for 24 hours.

As for the masking, make sure it is pressed hard against the trim piece. You want a clean crisp accurate edge not something that bleeds paint back under the tape. Also remove the tape by pulling it back away from your color coat edge. Let the paint flash off and dry slightly before removing the tape. If you let the paint dry fully you risk ripping the edge. Pulling the tape at the wrong angle can also damage freshly applied paint. Obviously make sure to mask all the surrounding panels to avoid paint and over spray.

My last color was black. I adjusted the masking to exclude all the grey brown metallic and pin stripes again from the inside. What the spray gun now sees is only the black area along the horizontal trim. Spray this color per the instructions previously given. Remove the masking. If you've carried this out correctly your colors should be completed at this point and the pin stripes should look correct in width and trajectory. Let everything dry completely. Now you can spray the clear coat.
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#133 - 10/10/12 08:47 PM Re: Repairing Bad Paint on Slide Trim - P8 [Re: Muniac]
Muniac Administrator Offline
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Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
Spraying the Clear Coat:

This is the last coat you need to spray to complete the job. Clear coat gives the colors depth and shine. More importantly it protects the paint underneath and gives it U/V protection.

I used U-Tech 4.0 which requires mixing with an activator. Refer to the technical bulletin for mixing instructions and using the correct activator for the temperatures you'll be working in. In most cases, the medium activator will be fine.

Mask out all the areas that haven't been previously sprayed in your repair. You may want to allow a little overlap of clear onto existing surfaces to avoid exposed gaps. Gaps being where new and old paint meets.

Add the mixed clear coat to the gun and spray two wet coats allowing proper flash off time. The clear coat won't dry to the touch as quickly as the colors so dust and insects will be more of an issue. Protect the paint from this as best possible.

Remove the masking paper well before the clear coat is cured. In other words while the paint is still soft and can flow. Make sure to not get loose masking tape or masking paper in the paint. It's an easy mistake to make. This completes the repair.
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#134 - 10/10/12 09:01 PM Re: Repairing Bad Paint on Slide Trim - P9 [Re: Muniac]
Muniac Administrator Offline
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Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
Paint Problems:

The most common problems are excessive orange peel and/or runs/sags. If you encounter this you'll need to sand out the imperfections. It's much easier to avoid these problems in the first place. But no one is perfect. The lacquer paint system is pretty forgiving and errors can be corrected within reason.

Keep in mind that sanding on an edge or corner will remove paint very quickly. You don't want to sand down to bare metal. Work with 300 grit first followed by 600, 1000 and 2000 until the finish is smooth. Paper needs to be used wet to avoid clogs and paint balls. If you are correcting a run or sag in the clear coat you'll need a final polish or buff after the sanding to restore the shine. Try to work only on the affected area and avoid removing anymore paint than is necessary. In severe cases you'll need to remove all the paint and respray the job from scratch. Something to avoid if possible.

I have a small run in the clear coat which needs to be sanded. Not a big deal. Like I said, it happens.


A screw up. I'll need to sand and polish this small run out.
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#135 - 10/10/12 09:08 PM Re: Repairing Bad Paint on Slide Trim - P10 [Re: Muniac]
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Registered: 11/12/08
Posts: 247
Loc: Livingston, Texas
Reference, Comments and Thoughts:

Here are the places I dealt with to get supplies, help, advice and paint.

Montrose Auto Body
1320 Airport Rd.
Montrose, CO 81401
(970) 249 - 5151
Sheila Blakeman, Owner

Hightower Supply
400 North Townsend
Montrose, CO 81401
(970) 249 - 5846
Marc Danjou, Assistant Manager

The Color Wheel
740 Pitkin Avenue
Grand Junction, CO 81501
(970) 245 - 6088
Dan or Steve

You can get Alodine 1201 and Aluma Prep 33 HERE.

On the internet Eastwood might be a place to consider for some supplies.

DeVilbiss has lots of training information on the internet about guns and spray painting technique. Search for this as required.

Lesonal and U-Tech 4.0 have technical PDF bulletins about using their products. They include mixing instructions, temperature considerations, thinning and re-coat times.

There are also endless videos showing just about every aspect of automotive painting. These are very educational so watch as many of these as you can.

Practice adjusting your gun settings and spraying paint on junk pieces before going "live". Get comfortable first with this and build up your technique.

Some auto body supply shops can scan paint to mix their own in house brand like PPG. I decided to go for OEM Sikken paint mixed from the color codes. It's close but not an exact match. I suspect the old paint has lighten a bit and the new paint will do the same thing in a couple of seasons. If you go the scan route, you'll need something about 2 square inches. You can take a bay door off which has all the colors for scanning. If you do this, please let me know how it works out.

If you need to make new plastic corners you can do this with Plastidip and a piece of marble tile (Home Depot) used as a form. Put some grease on the tile as a release agent. Plan on dipping about 4 times.


Making a new corner bumper from Plastidip.

As previously mentioned, this isn't an easy repair job but it can be managed if you are willing to do your homework and put in the time. Plan on spending between $300 - $400 on paint and related supplies before you're done. This will get you through all four slides if the damage is like mine.

Don't be irresponsible with the paint, tools and supplies. Read all the instructions, follow them and be safe. Use appropriate safety gear, glasses, masks, etc. If you have any reservations or uncertainties about doing this project, take it to a pro.

Complete slide show HERE. (26 frames w/captions)
Second slide repair and compressed air connection HERE.
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