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tyhuck

Repainting Fiberglass Camper???

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OK, I bought a used camper over the winter and it was in nice shape, except that it has a horrible paint job. It also has spots on it where the paint has chipped off down to the fiberglass. The spots that still have paint are loaded with orangepeels, and other spots (especially the top) that look more like overspray than a paint job.

 

So, Im gonna use this thread to work through the process of refinishing and repainting the camper. Im a novice painter with some fair quality tools and moderate experience painting equipment like trailers and other fabricated shop projects.Im also working on a budget of ACAP (as cheap as possible) and plan on using only what tools I have and trying to save my money rather than buying new stuff. If I wanted to spend the money (or had it to spend) Ide pay to have it refinished. I am by no means a pro, so I dont expect my finished project to be show quality, but I still want it to look good. Thats where you guys come in. Hopefully you can help me work through the process and answer my questions as I go. Then when Im done, maybe the thread can help someone else with a similar project.

 

To begin,

 

I bought some buildable primer to fill the chips in and then I plan on repainting it eithe in red to match the truck, or maybe sticking with the black that the camper has on it now. Either way, I know it needs to be sanded down before I can do anything. That brings me to my first question.

 

I have a DeWalt electric orbital sander that I plan on using to sand it down. I know its not an ideal tool, but its what I have and Im working on a budget. Using that tool, what grit sanding disks should I get to rough what paint is there, smooth out the orangepeel some, and prep the chipps for some primer?

 

Also, do I use the same grip to knock down the primer between coats?

 

What about before topcoating?

 

And finally, what grit between paint and clear?

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Interesting I am going to follow this thread and learn something.

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I paint aircraft for a living, and painted my shell on my truck as well (just try finding a used Taupe Grey Metallic shell for an extended cab).

 

To knock down high spots in your spot primers, start with about a 220, and be very light with it. Then use a 300 on the whole shell and finish with a 400. As long as what paint is left behind is not too rough or coming off the fiberglass, just shoot on top of it, you dont neccesarily have to sand the whole thing down to bare fiberglass and then prime it. Mine was blue but in good shape, I just scuffed it up with 3/400 and painted over it, matched my truck perfect.

 

For paint, I liked Dupont's Nason line. Call a local paint or auto boddy supply house, and they can mix you a quart of it, color matched to your truck. Its really about the cheapest, quality paint. Mine was about $170 for the paint and clear, your will likely be cheaper without the $$ metallic in it.

 

Nason did not require any sanding in between coats or between the base/clear. Mine took two medium coats of base about 15 minutes apart, then about 15 minutes later got two coats of clear. Wetsanding the clear took some time to remove any small imperfections or swirls, I worked all the way to 1500 grit before polishing and waxing.

 

 

Tips: Adjust your times for painting according to the directions, and follow them to the letter. I had the luxury of a climate controlled paint booth and was able to go a bit faster.

CLEAN! It cant be overstated...prep work in sanding and making the surface perfectly clean with wax/grease remover (also from your paint/body shop) can make or break your paint job...takes some patience for sure.

 

If you can, and you are not using a booth, pick a day that is not very humid or cold.

Do you have any spray gun equipment?

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I have a spray setup, but its a fairly cheap one that we use to paint shop projects.

 

I wasnt going to sand down to fiberglass, just gonna rough up wat paint is there and smooth out the imperfections so they dont show through the new paint.

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is it gelcoat or paint? when you say "fiberglass" does that mean it is through the color layer?

 

how deep are the "chips"? if it is through the gelcoat, you will want to fill them with gelcoat agian. the gelcoat seals the fiberglass layers from water.

 

I would consider using a marine finish like algrip or similar to an automotive paint. it will hold up better and should be more compatable with the fiberglass.

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I wasnt aware that they had a gelcoat. Im not sure if its through the gelcoat, but I can see white. They dont appear to be any deeper than a stadard paint chip on a vehicle paintjob.

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I began sanding it today and did notice that there is a white coating under the black paint that doesnt have any distinctive fiberglass pattern to it. I assume that this is the gellcoat.

 

Is that a safe assumption, that if I dont see any fiberglass fibers that there is a layer of gellcoat on it?

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Yep, they all have a gelcoat to get the smooth finish, just like what is on a boat. Just don't sand down into it if you dont have to.

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I sanded the whole thing with 120 grit. I knocked the shine off of the paint, and most places never cut below the paint. But, on the corners and such I tried to stay as light as possible since is cut through the paint pretty quick there. I think it turned out OK. Im gonna start putting some buildable primer on it tomorrow.

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that should work. that is the gelcoat.

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OK. Here is my problem. I have painted the stupid thing twice, but didnt get it right so I had to sand it back down. The good thing is that it is nice and smoothed with all the scratches and chips filled rather nicely. But, Im about to the point of despiration. I cant decide wether to go with red, or with a flat black. The red would look nice, but the flat black would be much easier and show less flaws. The gloss red could be waxed and polished after I scratched it all up in the woods, and the flat black may just show scratches badly. Im gonna give the red one more shot, but if it doesnt work this time, Im going flat black.

 

Keep posted to see which one prevails.

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Primed and painted, again. Looks good this time. I didnt have any drips or runs and the coverage was really nice. I did have to paint it outside so there is lots of dust and a few bugs in it, but Im gonna take care of those later.

 

Ill let it dry for a day or so, wet sand it with super fine grit (I think I bought 1000 or 1500, but cant remember) and then move it back into the shop. Then its a coat of clear and some buffing.I know it wont be perfect, but I think it will look much better at a distance than a scratched black camper would.

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I thought about it, but never got around to it.

 

It looks pretty good without the clear on it. Its kinda got a textured look to it. Im gonna wait to sand it and clear it till later (if at all) to let the paint really dry. Im gonna go ahead and put it back on tomorrow. Its a real 20ft piece. It looks great from 20ft, butif you get any closer, the shine isnt as deep as the rest of the truck.

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Heres the pics.

 

Then

 

DSCN1256.jpg

 

Now

 

DSC_1340.jpg

 

 

I like it. It still needs to be polished to get that deep glossy shine that the truck body has, but I want to make sure the paint is good and dry before I start scuffing and wet sanding.

 

Here are the steps I did to get it here.

 

1. Sanded entire shell with 220 grit on a random orbital sander.

 

2. Used air compressor to blow all loose dust off, then wiped the whole thing down with acetone.

 

3. Masked the windows and trim with blue painters tape.

 

4. Primed with Rustoleum buildable automotove primer (you can get it at Wal-Mart). I used 2 cans total. I covered the entire camper with a coat of primer, then used the remaining primer to coat the sides good and thick, using many lights coats as per the instructions on the can. This was only to smooth the surface and remove the blemishes.

 

5. Wet sanded the sides with 220 grit paper to level it out and hide the chips and let it dry. At this point there are splot that the black paint show and others that are taken all the way to the gelcoat.

 

6. Wiped with acetone again.

 

7. At this point I should have reprimed with a heavy coat of primer, but I thought my paint (regular oil based Valspar paint that we use on trailers) would cover better than it did. It didnt.

 

8. I put 3 coats of red down and since it didnt cover like I wanted, I sanded it all back down with 220 grit on the orbital sander, blew it off again, and wiped with acetone again.

 

9. Then I reprimed it with Valspar red oxide primer (its what I had from painting trailers), and let it flash for 2 hours in th sun.

 

10. Finally I put 2 coats of red paint on it, allowing it to dry 30 minutes between coats.

 

It dried all afternoon and night, and now it looks pretty good for a novice with the wrong materials. Because of the paint I chose, it left kind of a textured surface that give an appearance of a matte finish in some light, and a semi-gloss in other light. Also, depending on the angle you look at it, the color isnt an exact match, but I like it better than the black.

 

What do yo uguys think?

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