Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Repainting Front Faux Window Panels

Those faux windows on the front of LD's (up until a few years ago) all seem to suffer from severe fading over time. A number of folks have re-painted the panels, but until Ron B. took the time to document his project, we didn't have any good guidance on to best accomplish this. Here is his report, along with some comments from Larry Wade.

I recently finished re-painting my front 'windows'. Years ago I went through a sleet storm, and the front faux windows were pretty eroded. Their looks went downhill from there.

Getting to it to mask it off was the hard part. First I cleaned it with alcohol, then gently roughed it up with Scotchbrite, then more alcohol.  I used Home Depot Rustoleum gray primer, about one can. I decided to switch to Duplicolor high buildup primer, sanding in between each coat in an attempt to level off the surface. About  two cans. Maybe 10 layers of primer. Then I followed with about two coats  (1 can) of satin black primer. Light sanded 400 grit paper. I could have put some coats of Rustoleum gloss black enamel, but I had some gloss black Appliance paint. It dries to a really shiny hard coat. After I was done I asked some friends why the appliance paint said to not paint over primer and they said that the dried film was meant to be over a hard steel surface and that it would eventually crack by itself over primer. Well it hasn't cracked yet, but I have a can of black gloss enamel in case it does. I had a breeze blowing dust on the surface during painting, and some dusting in spots. (The solvent vehicle evaporates before the paint droplets hit the surface, and leave a poorly adhered 'dusty' coating. Rubbing compound, and wax cleared up that spot. A little sanding of the edge to take off the lip where the masking tape was. Good thing you can't get too close a look at it but I think it looks almost as good as new.


 Masked and taped - ready for primer

 Final primer coat
 Final coat spray black

Larry's comments: Watching our 2003 LD's front 'windows', and many others, decay within years of purchase, leads me to think that the  black paint used was just something out of a cheap rattle can, not the long lasting, two-part polyurethane paint used on the coach.

The results from repainting the the windows with anything from Home Depot or any other home center is going to decay rapidly. For a more durable finish, use a high quality, two-part spray paint, available through a auto paint shop or online

Some auto paint shops custom mix two-part paints and package it in a special spray can.
This type of spray paint is known a 2K and is sold under the Spraymax brand.
The can has two separate areas, one with paint, the other with the curing agent.  A button on the bottom the can is used to pop an internal bag, releasing the curing agent. Shake the can hard for several minutes. The paint is now ready to use, having a 48 hour pot life, more than long enough for a window job.

2K clear coat: Spraymax
This is what I use for repairing small sections of damaged LD exteriors. It goes on nicely and is easy to use. To match body colors, I remove an exterior hatch cover and take it to the paint store for custom matching.

Or you can buy two-part, gloss black from Eastwood, in a pre-mixed Spraymax can.
2K Aerospray HT Ceramic Engine Paint Gloss Black

2K paints are harmful to breath. Painting should be done outdoors, in well ventilated spaces and you MUST wear an approved respirator. For each job, I buy a new, organic solvent-rated, respirator. I find these 3M respirators to be widely available.
Amazon.com: 3M 07193 Paint Spray Resp. Large: Automotive

When wearing the respirator, if the respirator is properly fitted, there should be absolutely no smell of solvent. The filters have a limited life,  keep them in the Factory sealed bag, until ready to use.
Partially used respirators are handy to wear when dealing with any solvent but if there is any smell of solvent, immediately discard the respirator or change the cartridges, if the respirator has replaceable ones.

And then there is the simple approach used by JOTA: 

I redid mine about 5 years ago. I sanded down the panels to give a rough surface, then taped around the edge, which is a little difficult with the rounded edges. Used Rustoleum semi gloss paint, 3 coats, no primer or sealer. It still looks pretty good after 5 years.