Monday, February 15, 2010

Putty and Paint

I'm sure it would be better to do all the demolition, then all the prep, then all the primer and then all the finish painting. But I'm impatient and it is my rig, so I wanted to see how well the paint would clean up the back of the coach and the cabinets.

The luan and Styrofoam that make up the walls were full of holes from an old shelf and repeated re-fastening of the tension cords for mini-blinds. Luan is so thin that it just won't hold a screw for long and the Styrofoam is obviously hopeless as a substrate, so fasteners just tear right out as you bounce down the road. I'm thinking curtains will be the best bet going forward since, for the most part, they can be mounted to the overhead cabinets.

I used some expanding foam to fill in the larger holes left by the wall anchors from the shelf. The cans of foam have the wonderful attribute that they either deliver 'not much' or 'a heck of a lot' so it was a messy process. Once the foam cures it can be trimmed, leaving a little divot for a final layer of putty to smooth out the surface. Because the screws tended to pull up a lip around any hole, it took a few rounds of putty-sand-putty to smooth things out to a reasonable level. I'm sure more attention would yield an even nicer surface.

Next step was a liberal application of Kilz oil-based primer. It goes on thick because it is so full of solids. I probably should have thinned it out a bit more but after curing for 24 hours it sanded down just fine and provided a reasonable surface. It seems to adhere fairly well to the laminate surfaces of the cabinets too (after some sanding and a clean-down with acetone to get some of the 20 years of gunk off).

For the walls, the final coats will be in a pure white with an eggshell finish. The cabinets get a gloss coating in 'Dolphin Fin' grey. I'm hoping that sticking to some light tones will look a little more contemporary and give a more open feeling to the back of the coach. I'm dreading painting the cabinet doors and may cheat and buy some grey spraypaint in a slightly darker tone.


This morning Duncan and I trekked over to chat with Mike at Tri Valley Auto Interiors. He'll be restoring the front seats, recovering the door panels, installing a new carpet kit in the cab and building new cushions for the back seats in the coach. I'm probably going to ask him to carpet the bunk too -- what would be a day or two of work for me is probably only minutes for him, and the outcome will be most assuredly nicer. His work should be some of the last done on the rig, so it is good motivation to get all the repairs and paint done quickly.

The front seats will have a black center panel with a grey-over-black cross weave for the side bolsters. The sides and back will be black vinyl both because it saves money and it is easy to keep clean. Mike will be building up the padding on the seats to make them a bit more supportive and contemporary, as the 1990 base-model seats are pan-flat. We picked an ebony carpet for the cab, which will come molded to fit the floor pan perfectly. That alone should prove a huge upgrade from the ambiguously-colored shag that originally covered the floor.

The rear cushions will get the same style cross weave as the fronts but with black as the base color and grey as the highlight, a nice contrast to the light walls and cabinets in the back.

The Stove

I'm still undecided about the stove. It had a couple of loose screws that can only be accessed when the stove is removed, so out it came. The rattling was a showstopper, as the back vent cover would chime in over every little bump on the freeway. The coach isn't particularly quiet to begin with, especially with all the carpet pulled out and a bunch of tools jangling around, but the stove was among the biggest culprits.

Now it is fixed and with a good cleaning it actually looks pretty sharp. It is in good working order and the oven is pristine. So on the one hand it is a good candidate for re-installation. On the other hand, it is rather heavy and cumbersome and I've wondered whether a simple 3-burner cooktop might be a nice way to modernize, save some weight and gain back some storage space. The fact that the oven is pristine says to me that maybe it won't get used. We'll see. The microwave is tiny, so having another option is a good way to start. For now, that will wait for the future. Somewhere down the line the whole sink and stove cabinet will get replaced. Particleboard is cheap and reasonably strong but after two decades the cabinet is tired. A coat of paint will help it look a lot nicer, but the structure is what it is and patching it will take more effort than simply building a new face frame out of plywood or hardwood. The plywood would be quite a bit stronger too. Maybe for next winter. I'd like to replace all the countertops too.

The Shag

The shag carpet is the bane of my existence. First off, I have to say its color is ambiguous. Parts of it are orange, parts brown and others a sort of sickly avocado. The fact that it is contiguous speaks either to the dramatic impacts of solar radiation or a colorblind quality control officer. The carpet is also a filth container of unbelievable capacity. Had i planned better, i would have bagged it all together and weighed it. I'm sure the rig will weigh substantially less than when I got it once it is restored, simply because of the dirt contained in the carpet.

Lastly, it's everywhere. More like a tenacious mold than upholstery. It is stuffed in every crack and crevice and covers any part of the coach that isn't straight. The adhesive that held it in place isn't particularly difficult to overcome by force, but the combination of sticky with an inch or so of carpet stuffed behind the luan with a 90 degree bend makes for challenging removal. The carpet was wrapped almost all the way around the two steel roof supports. I understand why -- I'm sure it keeps things from squeaking and clanking while underway. It just takes a lot of patience to get it out. At this point, I've crunched the edges of quite a bit of the wall board. Fortunately, it will be covered over with new carpet during the restoration. But what a pain. I will be glad to see the last of it go.


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