The Airstream Re-paint Part 2

The Airstream chrome tester

The chrome tester in place.

Part 1 of the story ended with us waiting for the customer to come and have a look at what the team had produced.  That day came and the owner arrived accompanied by his daughter.  He was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.  That was all well and good but we needed a decision on how to proceed as well as how far we were allowed to go.

My idea was to copy a design that we had already done and then to add more blue colouring, this would hide some of the repairs.  The owner was not completely convinced, I had to keep re-assuring him that we would not turn out a bad job. I won in the end with my idea and the owner left LAS Motorhomes completely reassured and happy that I had a good plan.

The main concerns I had were on the left hand side of the vehicle, this was where the bare aluminium was heavily damaged due to a hail storm that it had been in.  While the right side was pretty much undamaged, the left side was rather bad.  My concern was that the damaged panels would take your eye off the rest of the vehicle, spoiling the whole effect.  I was not too worried at this stage as it was an idea that was still in the early progression stage.

Preparation work started by removing all the dents on the lower panels whilst leaving the upper panels in their original state. Two days later I was at home reading the daily paper, I saw a picture of  a chrome coloured car, straight away I realised it had been wrapped in a plastic film, this gave me a wonderful idea.

Next day I started my investigations. I managed to get hold of a sample of chrome wrap so I could try it to see if it would go over the Airstreams rivets and still look good, it worked.  The next thing I did was to contact the company we had used in the past to wrap the Monster Energy vehicle and ask them for an estimate. At this point I was feeling really good, I was then told that the chrome wrap marks very easily and will only look good for about one year, this meant this idea was a none starter.

Then I asked if I could have a look at their sample book (I was clutching at straws at this point), until I came across a brushed aluminium effect wrap.  I asked about its specifications expecting negative reviews but have to say I was pleasantly surprised with their reply.  My thoughts were to get the left hand upper panels repainted, then wrap over the repairs with the brushed aluminium effect.  I asked them to give me a quote for this work, it was not cheap at all. I telephoned the customer with my idea and told him the price, half expecting a “No”, but to my surprise I got the thumbs up and “Yes please”.

This decision has now changed the whole feel of the vehicle, now the end product will have the full 100% appearance instead of just 70%. A lot of filler work is now required to get the body work good enough to be painted and wrapped.

One thing that we had concerns with was that when fitting the wrap the material would be put on and then pulled off to get it into the correct position, this process could cause the primer to pull off.  The answer we came up with was to use an epoxy based primer and leave it for a fortnight to dry.

When all the damaged areas had been repaired we were ready to give the whole body a coat of primer. Once the primer had been applied we needed to give the whole vehicle time to dry.

I must admit that the Airstream looked good in primer, without adding any colour. Next step was to flat down the primer and repair any damage that had been missed, or where the primer had made it more visible.

Once we were all satisfied the grey was applied, then all the wrap was done after the lengthy timescale that was needed for drying.

After a good wipe down of the complete body with panel wipe the grey was applied followed by the top coats of lacquer.

The Airstream Re-painting

This shows the left side with the base colour applied.

The Airstream Re-painting

The right hand side with the base colour applied.

 

As you can see the Airstream looks good, as we removed the masking tape it gave the motorhome a completely different look.

Airstream masking tape removing

With the masking tape removed.

The Airstream Re-painting

With the masking tape removed.

 

Once the vehicle was at the base colour stage it was left for a two week period allowing the paint to harden.  Following this came the time to commence the wrap process.

As with all of the projects that LAS becomes involved in we always seem to make it difficult for ourselves.  The easiest way to wrap the vehicle would be to apply it just like you do with wallpaper, vertical drops.  This effect was not really what we were looking for, wrapping the vehicle with horizontal strips would look much better and would also allow the aluminium brush affect grain to be horizontal.  As you would expect the horizontal fitment was the way it was fitted.  This stage of the project took two people four days to complete and was not an easy process, once it was done it looked fantastic.

This project has still got a long way to go, the next step being to add the blue and then all the trim has to be re-fitted.  I will keep you posted when the next stage is completed.

If you are considering having your vehicle exterior painted or wrapped to give it a new look ring LAS Motorhomes a ring on 01604 861999.