Ahhh… it’s finally happened. The big project that we came to Master Tech RV for, a new paint job for our 1961 vintage bus conversion.
Here’s a quick video overview we took over the past few days following the paint job – which includes some cool action clips of the paint going on:
A Quick Summary of the Painting Process:
Step 1: Prep – Sanding & Priming
Zephyr had already gone through one round of preparation back in June & July. It started with media blasting the original paint off the body, which of course resulted in the new damage to the aluminum (done by a contractor, not Master Tech staff).
Before the shop decided to halt the paint job to pursue replacing the aluminum panels, the paint team did start the sanding & priming process.
They also painted the roof white, with a single process paint that would be less slippery than the clear coating the rest of the bus would receive.
To resume the painting now that we’ve nixed the aluminum replacement option, the team spent a long two days continuing the preps. They did some extensive sanding to the surface, re-primed where needed and masked off anything that would not be painted white.
They also continued some minor body work on spots they wanted to clean up before applying paint.
Step 2: White!
Most of the work in a paint job is the preps – all the sanding, priming, body work and masking is meticulous work, and essential to a quality paint job.
The actual spraying of the paint part, as we learned, goes incredibly quick!
Our paint team is awesome, they just TXT us when they need any input from us to clarify our wishes (which was a fabulous break for us to get some work done) and we pop into the shop to consult.
But if we didn’t poke our heads in every so often, we might have easily missed the actual painting.
We happened to catch them applying the 3 white coats on Saturday afternoon (they love working when the shop is closed – the choice to work over the weekend was theirs):
They let the white completely dry for a day before resuming, and taking a well earned day off after several long days.
Step 3: Blue!
Monday morning the team was back in bright & early to start the masking process for the blue portion of the paint. This involves again meticulously masking off everything that won’t be painted blue.
And then again, applying multiple coats of the blue paint went super quick and we just happened to catch some of it:
Step 4: Clear
The final paint layers are the clear coating. It provides the high gloss that really makes the colors pop, and provides long term protection to the paint job.
It’s also much more toxic and requires additional protection & ventilation for team applying it. At Master Tech, they only do clear coating at night when the rest of the shop is closed.
We happened to catch a glimpse of it happening as we were out for a late night stroll and snuck a photo in from a distance (this pic is a zoom):
All and all, the team tells us that Zephyr got 4 coats of clear. That should keep us happy for many years to come!
Step 5: The Disrobing
After letting the clear set overnight, the team came in on Tuesday and started the big reveal. It felt like they should have been playing sexy stripper music over the shop’s sound system – because it was downright tantalizing.
Moment by moment, you start to see a bus re-emerge:
A huge thank you to our paint team – Chris & Don. In our minds, they are true artists and masters at their craft. They work together in partnership, and it’s beautiful to watch. Thank you for allowing us to peek in on the job, agreeing to be in the photos and sharing this process.
And we couldn’t be happier with the results!
We can’t wait to get this shiny girl out in the sunlight and really see these colors – because the fluorescents of the shop make for photos that don’t do it justice.
But before we can do that, a LOT of re-assembly has to happen. All of the trim pieces have to come back on, windows need to go in, air conditioners need to be installed, solar panels, awnings and a heck of a list of projects buttoned up.
We’re hoping (hey, we can hope, right?) that we might be able to move into the bus for Labor Day weekend to give it a shakedown in the Master Tech campground, and then do any tweaking needed next week. Then maybe, just maybe, hitting the road with an initial shake-down at a local campground?
We do have Plan D, E and F all lined up in case that doesn’t come together. But we’ll play it by ear and what we feel comfortable with as things come together.
In the meantime, Master Tech has made arrangements with a local dealership to loan us a trade-in RV to continue living in onsite. It’s a pretty spartan (lacking a jacuzzi hot tub and massage chair) 2014 38′ Class-A with 3-slides, but I think we’ll tough it a-ok.
We fielded some questions as we shared photos on Facebook over the past few days, so I’ll try to cover some of them here.
How many gallons of paint did this take?
Don & Chris estimate that this took about 5 gallons for the white coats, and about the same for the blue. They estimated the would use 10 gallons of clear. (We haven’t had a full run down with them yet to get the specifics.. these were just estimates they gave me off the top of their heads when I asked.)
Why’d we stick with the original paint scheme?
So yup, we’re pretty unoriginal here – we have pretty much the same colors and lines, just new and shiny. It might seem silly to go through all this expense and effort to pretty much end up looking just like before.
We actually were quite happy with the original paint scheme of the bus, and really want to preserve as much of the classic 4106 bus look as is practical. Which is why we are NOT polishing the aluminum (it came from the factory with a sweet satin anodized finish).
After looking at hundreds of 4106 paint jobs to get ideas – we decided we really liked what we had. It was just a 25+ year old paint job.
Bus Updates & Info:
Zephyr’s Summer 2015 Renovation Hit List – the original project list, including our decision points for various items (such as why we’re going propane and not diesel on the hydronics & generator).
Bus Renovation Progress Report: A Riveting Tale of Why We’re Way Behind Schedule – Our first report onsite back in Elkhart.
Bus Renovation Progress Report #2: Week of August 17 – Getting the project back on track.
Bus Renovation Progress Report #3: Roller Coaster Week – August 22-27 – Last week’s progress report.
All about our Bus – A little history on our bus from start to now.
I imagine we’ll do a lot of wrap up posts after this is said and done, so for now we’re letting our team carry on with getting us on the road, instead of pestering them with lots of questions to answer. If we learn anything further worth sharing, we’ll follow up later.