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Nicely done!  Looks like you are ready for another project.  I volunteer mine!!

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Really impressive work. I appreciate your comments about boomers passing skills on to kids. I did that with mine too and now they can outdo me.

Regarding your paint job, it looks like you may have used a mask. If so, how/where did you get that laid out and cut? I have the dreaded spider cracking on my rear cap and will need to grind it down below the graphics to fix it. I would like to restore the graphics to near original. A custom mask would make that much easier.

Thanks in advance for any info/ hints/suggestions.


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RE: Paint Masks for RV

Hi Roy,

Yup, the mask is the way to go.

I used a company called Graphics RV. http://graphicsrv.com/

Contact Steve Messenger: stevem@graphicsrv.com

Things I learned:

  • The masks (4 rolls per side + front/back) are expensive, but worth it.
  • Contrasting Outlines around the large graphics (“1/2 Pins” in Steve’s vernacular) are an interesting issue: I had to paint them first before applying the mask, without knowing exactly where the pins would be (Steve can explain the problem better, and probably has a better solution than mine). This simple method would be to prime everything, then paint the entire area where any of the outlines will be with the outline color, BUT that wastes a lot of *very* expensive paint. And, in complicated graphics, the pins are different colors (drop shadow areas, contrasting overlapping pins, etc).
  • So instead, I hung the masks, marked underneath them where the pins would be, removed the masks, painted large (6”) swathes of the pin color(s), re-hung the masks, then painted the rest.
  • It really helped to have 4 strong people on ladders and scaffolding to hang (and re-hang) and peel the masks.
  • There is a reason a Prevost paint job costs >$80k minimum...
  • The masks are first taped together to make sure they align - tricky even on the ground, impossible in the side of an RV by a non-professional.
  • Each taped together side mask weighs almost 80 lbs. The tape you use to align the masks as well as hang them from the roof must be really strong. I used gorilla tape.
  • There are no do-overs. Our masks costs > $600.
  • You paint in the opposite order than you think you should.
  • Things that are really easy to do in photoshop ( gradients, fades, drop shadows ) are MUCH harder to do with automotive paint.
  • Good automotive paint, with good UV rated clear coat is ungodly expensive. My cost for 3M triazact sand paper, tape, grease remover ( judiciously at every step), primer, paint, clear coat, reducers, hardeners, tack rags, masking paper and paint cleaners was >$7000 in materials (Sherman Williams top of the line, with a professional discount).
    Labor was cheaper because College kids understand slave wages vs tuition 🙂 
  • a good big paint booth with a big compressor, lighting, and down draft ventilation is a must. Hard to find too. I lucked out and found an unusual situation and paid $200 a month for two months.
  • Rolling scaffolding is a must. Can’t do It with ladders alone. Home Depot and Lowes have a $200 unit that will work.
  • Even pros get orange peel. I am far from a pro. The difference is in the final sanding of the clear coats (2 thick ones). Trizact sand paper (1500, 3000, 5000) then two grades of polishing compounds will take you longer than the prep and painting. On a 40’ coach, that comes out to 1100 sq ft of polished painted surface.
  • Spraying metallics is much harder than solid colors. MUCH HARDER. Everything on my rig that is not black is a metallic. 
  • There are 200 shades of black at Sherwin Williams. Save your paint codes.
  • Two good HVLP guns are a must, each with multiple tips and needles - Large surfaces, and small things like trim, awning parts, stuff.
  • a portable 5 stage HVLP unit will work, but expensive (>$1000 + guns, filters). Otherwise the minimum compressor tank size is 60 gallon. I had a 300 gallon air tank that came with the booth.
  • Protect your lungs, skin and eyes from everything involving paint and sanded gel coats.

Airbrushing the details make a huge difference:

Re: gel coat checking:

  • Roy, originally, I had no checking on mine, primarily because it was all white gel coat with lighter color graphics. BUT, after painting parts of it it black (rear cap “window” for example) and having that area exposed to the sun for several years, there are now gel coat cracks and spiderwebs. And, I’ve been told they will return even after filling if you use dark paint.
  • Many of our coaches of that vintage had the same issues gel coat issues.
  • I plan on addressing them when I repaint some lower baggage doors that jumped out and hit the neighbor’s bumper 😞 

Regarding air brushing:

  • airbrush the drop shadows and any other fancy stuff after paint, but before clear coating. I am pretty good with an airbrush, and it was still hard.
  • Your local college will have art students who are excellent with an airbrush, and cheap. Commission them to help with the fancy stuff.
  • Little details that you can do with an airbrush make a huge difference. Not hard to learn, but if you want to do it yourself, you’ll want to practice. A lot.  
  • Painted cardboard is a great way to learn. Tape, masks, stencils and rulers make even an amateur look great.
  • Below are photos of two projects I did for my youngest son (Jackson, now 21).
  • Time Machine: He volunteered me to make a “Time Machine” for a school event. All the flat areas are airbrushed. The whole things is cardboard. All the other stuff is just hot glued on to the cardboard. I am now good at painting fake rivets 🙂 . Gears are done with a stencil I got online.
  • Caboose Bed: Every kid needs a Caboose Bed, right? All of the 3D stuff is airbrushed on flat cabinet grade plywood. I used 1" round stickers and 1" hole stencil to do many, many rivets. Drop shadows were done with a piece of cardboard as a straight edge. Diamond plate is with a $10 airbrush stencil I got online.

Hope this helps. Let me know if I can provide any other details.

- John






Caboose Bed - 4.jpg

Caboose Bed - 8.jpg

Caboose Bed - 9.jpg

Caboose Bed - 2.jpg

Caboose Bed - 1.jpg

Caboose Bed - 3.jpg

Caboose Bed - 5.jpg

Edited by StellaTariche
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Here is where I got the custom Uberbounder logo done.  They can make anything that you can draw, or they have standard fonts and icons.


(Running joke:  Our first RV was a 1997 Bounder.  Not quite "Breaking Bad" looking, but not a Prevost either. So obviously the Re-done Diplomat had to be named "Uberbounder", right?    🙂 ) 

- John

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Thanks John,

Fortunately I only have the rear cap to do and the only area with spiderweb cracks is the black swoosh. I know it might crack again after painting but it’s impossible to get a good finish without sealing the area well enough to cover over the cracks. Otherwise the cracks get amplified. 

I’ve painted before so am familiar with the application of 2 stage finish. I bought Diamont paint at Space Age in Pheonix and previously repaired blistered clear on the tops of both caps. I glassed over the seams and repainted down to the windshield and the camera in the back. I also previously repainted half of my 99 Winnebago including duplicating the decals. But manually masking the rear graphics on the Monaco looms as a little more difficult. 

I do have a nice gun and a 175psi 2-stage 80gal compressor with a fairly good filter/regulator setup. But will probably paint it outside under my rv cover. That’s what I did before and it went ok. The weather here in Sacramento can be ok for outside painting. 

But I am in no way an expert and I sincerely appreciate all your hints and insights. I know I will need to sand down as deep as possible to get as much of the cracking out as possible. Space Age recommended I then try squeegeeing some resin into the remaining cracks followed by epoxy primer. I doubt this will totally solve the problem but hope it will at least let me get a smooth topcoat. 

thanks for all the detailed information. I’m also intrigued by your camera setup. I may do something like that as well. 

Have fun with your boys. I’ve done a bunch of remodeling, car maintenance, furniture building, etc. with both my son and daughter and it is very rewarding to work with my kids.






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Hi Roy,

Apologies for my overly detailed posts and replies.

My thinking was, with the various levels of expertise on the board, more experienced people like you will just skim through it, picking up what you need.

And those that want more details (or want to know the answer to “that looks easy, How hard could it possibly be” get fair warning from those of us with the scars.


And yes, that camera system is truly amazing.

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