When the coach goes to the paint shop one of the first things that must be done is sanding. This gets all of the rough spots and blemishes out and prepped before it goes into actual paint.
While sanding in itself doesn’t seem that interesting, it is a vital part of the paint process. I am sorry we were not around for this step as the times were kind of up in the air. The best part, they took photos for us, even without us asking, and the above “Thank You” image was just a great surprise to find! (Outstanding Guys!) :)
The sanding team actually sands the coach three times to make sure it’s nice and smooth.
After they are satisfied with the sanding of the coach, it then gets moved to the prep area.
The prep area is just that. Prepping the coach for paint.
This means masking and taping off all doors, windows and openings of any kind where they don’t want paint to go.
The tires get “Slimed”. Even though the tires get covered during the painting process, they also “Slime” them to prevent any penetration from the paint.
The roof gets taped and completely covered in plastic. All antennas are also covered.
There is not a crack anywhere in this taping process. Everyone is real careful to make sure everything is covered. An inspector is constantly looking over any areas that may have been missed.
In she goes to the paint booth.
A team inside the paint booth go over everything again to make sure it’s all good. Another set of guys are outside getting the paint ready by putting it into the smaller canisters for the spray guns. Seeing this is special paint, they were using a different spaying system then normal. So all the paint was loaded a number of quick change cans for the painting process.
Fun Fact: It takes 11-12 gallons of paint just for the base coat of an Allegro Bus 45LP.
David get’s the GoPro in position for the time lapse video. He’s not allowed to place the camera inside the booth for various reasons. (Even the risk of explosion if you can believe that one. They can not even have a battery operated clock in their. Oh my!) Aldo when they are done spraying the paint, they bake it on, and that happens at 170 degrees. Not sure we want our camera in there then.
Base Coat Being Applied
Nothing like sitting around and watching paint dry. David takes a break.
Once the coach is done with the base coat, it’s ready to get prepped for it’s stripes.
This is where the time lapse gets interesting so make sure you don’t miss it at the end of this post. The girls on this team, and their are a lot of them, descend onto the coach and start to work.
Boy are they quick! At one point I counted 7 girls just on one side alone. Now picture that same amount on the other side of the coach at the same time.
The yellow that you see is a vinyl graphic that gets applied by hand with these giant sheets. It takes three girls alone just to place one of these giant graphics on the side of the coach.
Once they are placed, they smooth down the yellow part (the vinyl part) and peel off the other side of the plastic.
Once all the vinyl is applied the team then goes around and starts masking off other smaller areas and connecting various yellow lines together. You see, the yellow vinyl is great, but it only does some of the job. Everywhere that you see the green tape is added by hand by the team to complete the striping.
Once the inspector is satisfied with this job, we are ready to paint the stripes in!
However, it’s the end of the work day.
So into another paint booth it goes.
Sitting and waiting until tomorrow when it will start to get color to it’s stripes!
Here is the time lapse video of todays work. If you enjoy these, please feel free to share!
Here are the images from today of the small army it takes to pull off such a paint process. Please remember to click on Show PicLens for best viewing experience.
I use to wonder why they charged so much for painting a coach. Now I don’t. The detail is remarkable. Thank you for letting all of us see what goes into building and painting a Quality coach.
It’s not just the labor – automotive paint is about 5 times the cost per gallon of household paint and you use far more of it per square foot. Even a small car will use at least a dozen gallons of primer, paint and clear coat combined across all the layers of each. The 11-12 gallons cited here for the RV was just for the base coat alone. That doesn’t count the primer layers and the 3 layers of clear coating. The paint job is probably over $8000 in materials alone (body filler, primer, sanding materials, paint, masking materials, clear coat, cleaner, etc.), not counting labor and energy costs to bake the paint and vent the fumes in such a large booth and run the air compressor(s).
Of course, labor matters a lot in the quality. Poor application of material or poor surface prep will make for a poor paint job regardless of the quality of paint.
Even new vehicles (especially ones as big as this one), will often need some amount of body filler to smooth out material imperfections and correct little dings and scratches that occur in the building process or any time the bus is taken outside. For smaller vehicles, the entire body is often acid dipped to remove any contaminants from the bare metal. It’s easier to avoid needing to correct imperfects with a car since it spends the entire build inside, unlike an RV.
Next, there’s the primer base followed by regular primer. The base is used to reveal thin spots in the primer since it’s a different color than the primer and shows through after sanding. Once the base no longer appears anywhere, a proper primer coat has been achieved. Final sanding creates a smooth surface for the paint to lay on.
After the primer comes any paint. This could be a single color or several, as with the coach. This requires careful masking of anything you don’t want paint on since paint will get into any tiny gap it can find. Usually at least 3 layers of paint will be applied for each color. Masking is required prior to applying each and every color. Fine sanding will remove any bumps, drips, orange peel (that crinkly texture like on the surface of an orange from improper spraying) and smooth over anything trapped in the paint.
Finally comes the clear coat. Paint is actually not all that shiny and is a bit dull. The clear coat is what creates the shine and deepens the color. This is the most critical step since any contaminants at this point will be stuck in the paint forever like a mosquito in amber short of stripping and starting again. A fine grit wet sanding job will bring it to a high polish. The clear coat is like the difference between a bare paper photograph and one behind glass in a frame. The glass really brings out the contrast in the image. The same goes for the clear coat. Like glass in a frame, the clear coat also protect the paint from scratches, sun exposure as well as providing the means to buff out minor damage.
You should wait at least 1 to 2 weeks before waxing to ensure the clear coat fully cures, though baking it speeds up the process. The wax is what protects the paint from acids, salts and dirt in rain and snow.