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Old 06-29-2015, 03:40 PM   #1
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Painting a bus - what kind of paint and how to sand effectively?

I've seen a lot of different opinions on painting buses here, so I wanted to lay out a scenario and see what you all recommend:

Let's say I'm painting a 40 ft. Bluebird FE bus. Once I've removed all the reflective adhesive, reflectors, etc., I need to sand the bus, correct?

I've heard that 320 grit sandpaper is best, but should I use an orbital or belt sander to do the "bulk" areas? Or just sand by hand only?

I would be using Rust-Oleum or similar oil-based enamel paint, is that a good choice? I read others recommending acrylic enamels, is that a better choice or does it really matter?

I don't plan on priming, but once I get everything lightly sanded and cleaned with mineral spirits, I'm going to paint the roof white, then paint the body gray. It looks like a sprayer is the best option (once the paint is appropriately thinned). Is one coat realistic or should I plan on multiple coats?

Should I spray the whole body (except the roof) gray, then paint over the gray point with accent colors (for example, black bumpers, red trim might be likely) using hand rollers/brushes? I assume I would need to wait for the gray coat to dry before painting the detail areas (assuming I want to mask those areas before painting and not try to freehand).

I'll be happy to clarify any of this, I'd just like to get some more direct advice; I don't want to have to do this twice! Thanks.

-Dan
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Old 06-29-2015, 03:55 PM   #2
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I've just been using ACE Hardware rattle cans right over the yellow, with no prep work other than reflective tape and letter removal and washing down.
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Old 06-29-2015, 04:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooternj View Post
I've just been using ACE Hardware rattle cans right over the yellow, with no prep work other than reflective tape and letter removal and washing down.
Wouldn't that take a TON of rattle cans? I feel like a paint sprayer would be more efficient but I'm interested to hear what you think.
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Old 06-29-2015, 06:09 PM   #4
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If you have access to a compressor, a little HVLP sprayer can be found cheaply and used with ease. With that you can get Rustoleum by the gallon or quart as needed which can yield a really good looking and pretty durable paint job. Given the price of rattle cans, I'd keep them back for touch up. There are a LOT of square feet on the average bus...more than I would want get after with cans. But one of the big advantages of going with Rustoleum is that you can find touch up paint just about anywhere...rattle can or otherwise.

Automotive paints are far superior if you want a high fashion finish, but personally, I don't plan on spending the kind of dough those paint jobs cost.
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Old 06-29-2015, 06:18 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Tango View Post
If you have access to a compressor, a little HVLP sprayer can be found cheaply and used with ease. With that you can get Rustoleum by the gallon or quart as needed which can yield a really good looking and pretty durable paint job. Given the price of rattle cans, I'd keep them back for touch up. There are a LOT of square feet on the average bus...more than I would want get after with cans. But one of the big advantages of going with Rustoleum is that you can find touch up paint just about anywhere...rattle can or otherwise.

Automotive paints are far superior if you want a high fashion finish, but personally, I don't plan on spending the kind of dough those paint jobs cost.
Thanks for the advice! I definitely thought about automotive paint, but considering the fact that most skoolies and such I've seen (or "party buses") have some sort of uneven-looking flat paint on them, I think Rust-Oleum should look pretty sharp.

-Dan
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Old 06-29-2015, 07:16 PM   #6
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Get a compressor and a paint gun.
Even a cheapo paint gun can do a pretty nice job compared to rattle cans.
I was using cans and switched halfway through the project.

If done right, Rustoleum can look REALLY good. I like that its cheap and easily available.

Paint Your Car With Rustoleum
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Old 06-29-2015, 09:10 PM   #7
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Watch out for cleaning up with mineral spirits. Mineral spirits leave a slight oil film behind which will cause "fish eyes" in almost every top coat finish. If you use mineral spirits be sure to wash off the film with a strong kitchen dish detergent and then rinse very well with water. Jack
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Old 06-29-2015, 09:53 PM   #8
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whole lotta painting here.....

3 pages worth
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/members/157-albums96.html
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Old 06-29-2015, 11:04 PM   #9
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If you use Ace or Rustoleum, be prepared for it to go flat after a couple years. That is unless you clear coat, etc. If I had it to do over again, I would have left mine yellow or just hit it with some rattle cans and called it good.
I didnt do a lot of prep work so I am not unhappy. Its lasted 5 yrs I think. Now, I'd like to blow it all off but I dont think I can do that without a lot of work....yet.
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Old 06-29-2015, 11:41 PM   #10
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We can't legally leave it yellow here in NY. I'm planning on using Rust-oleum over primer. Not sure if I'll clear coat over that or spend a year waxing it.
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Old 06-30-2015, 12:21 AM   #11
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Check with a good auto store for the cost of auto paint if your going to take the time might as well know what it would have cost, if you are spraying it might be worth it. The other thing is maybe prime with auto primer because its cheap then switch to something for the top coat. No matter what spraying is superior.
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Old 06-30-2015, 12:29 AM   #12
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I've thought about going all out and putting some good expensive paint on mine. But I'd feel more inclined to actually spend many weeks perfecting the body panels and then I'd feel even more inclined to wash and wax the bus on a regular basis.

That said, I'd love to go crazy with some sort of bass boat finish.
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Old 06-30-2015, 01:31 AM   #13
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I used spray can clear coat with great results.

5 years alter the blue Rustoleum on the "Haul All" still looks great.

Nat
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Old 06-30-2015, 09:09 AM   #14
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Remember that you can add "hardener" to any oil based paint including Rustoleum. Makes for a little more gloss and a much more durable finish. Likewise..."Floetrol" will make it go on smoother and help eliminate orange peel.

One more suggestion...if you never done much spray painting...do a little practicing BEFORE you start shooting your bus. Just about anything reasonably smooth will do to get the feel of it. Just do it using the same mix formula you plan on putting on your rig.

Who knows...maybe your wife will love the Fridge matching the bus.
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Old 06-30-2015, 11:39 AM   #15
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I'm in the process of refinishing all my windows (all 28 of them), I pulled them all and then used Rustoleum spray can auto primer followed up with rustoleum spray can semi gloss black. The windows are looking great, BUT using those rattle cans sucks and gets expensive!

For the body, I'm going to use automotive primer and paint. I think it will run less than $450 in materials depending on the paint. I only want to do this once, that's why I'm looking at Auto paint instead of just spray Rustoleum.
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Old 06-30-2015, 02:12 PM   #16
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First off you don't need to prime anything. As long as you lightly sand. Only take off the clear coat. If you go past the clear coat and start taking off paint you will NEED to prime. I personally as an ex autobody technician recommend using 180 grit and scotch Brite. So sand the full thing down but don't just sand one direction constantly switch directions with that being said use an orbital sander. And enamel paint is alright to use.
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