With the primer coat complete, we could turn our attention to the more gratifying task of giving our bus some color. We had decisions to make such as what paint color to use, how much of the trim we remove, and how to protect the windows. Again Dick had advice along with his wife Nettie who suggested we paint a sunset mural over the back of the bus. I grew excited at the possibilities of decor, but my private, introverted husband was having none of it.
We toiled over what color to paint the bus. Michael wanted to be very incognito, to not let anyone know we were a private coach, so no one would want to rob us. This informed me I needed to bring back a bunch of samples in grays. I had some in gray blues and Michael was actually drawn to it! I was so excited that we might have a more interesting bus. But we ultimately decided on Massey Fergusen Gray because of the nostalgic value it had with Michael. It had been his favorite color for tractors when he was a kid.
Aware of our final paint color, Michael decided to put on a gray primer on the starboard (un-Gigi-fied side) panel. The swatch of “color” you see in the photo above is the infamous Massey Fergusen Gray.
All metal trim we could unscrew, we did. I unfortunately was unaware of the value of the associated rubber edge trim and transitions. I cast them aside haphazardly like the Happy Meal toys that my children neglect, but we luckily found them later. Let this be a warning to fellow bus converters: label your shiz and tell your spouse if something is important!
The fun thing about being a newbie converter is thinking outside the norm of the construction industry. When one browses for drop cloths, there is this thick roll or brown paper lumped with the bunch. Painters traditionally use it for covering the floors. For the windows, they usually use plastic sheets, rarely paper. Well, we’re here to tell you that paper is the better way to mask windows and other parts of the bus that you do not want sprayed. It’s sturdiness allows you to reuse it for when you have to spray paint on the inside! It is also easier to handle in the wind than a flimsy sheet of plastic. Another benefit of using the brown roll is that paper is much easier to recycle than plastic.
The Art of Masking
Just as I knew nothing about applying primer, I knew nothing about masking surfaces. Call me the Jan Snow of Painting. To the rescue comes Michael with his instructions on layer masking. First, cut the masking paper slightly smaller than the window size and set it aside. Lay masking tape at the very edge where you don’t want the paint to cross. Smaller strips of tape (for me, it was about 12″ – 14″ long) allow you to be more precise.
The next phase involves your attaching longer strips of tape to the masking paper with medium wild abandon. As long as the tape sticks to the paper and leaves enough sticking surface to attach to the first tape, you’re good. If you’re being anal, you will now apply the second tape’s free edge right down the middle of the first tape. A person pressed for time will casually stick it somewhere on the width of the tape. This last part is not meant to be precise – it’s meant to cover fields.
Learn How to Spray Paint
As I mentioned in the post about priming a surface, the slickest way to apply any paint or primer is with a pneumatic air spray. It quickly and smoothly distributes the paint and it saves on the amount of paint needed. We used only a gallon for the two coats we sprayed on the bus’s side panels and stripe above the windows. Did we know how to spray paint before this project? Not at all. Can YouTube provide videos to help? Yes!
Another source of knowledge was our friend Jeff. After describing our goal to him, Jeff suggested we use a get a valve regulator to transition from the air compressor to the tube leading to the spray gun. I have no idea if the lack of this gizmo would have deterred our progress, but I can tell you that the outcome looked great!
How was your painting experience? Did you use rollers or brushes? Share below and spread the knowledge!