Days 12 and 13 Campervan Conversion Leave: Painting Pt 2, Priority Reassessment

So, I screwed up the metal bar-ish thing that I painted in the last post.

I had done a first coat of black paint, undiluted as an experiment, the result (when it was still wet on day 11) was orange-peely and gross.  That was in the last blog post. The result when it had dried was unsurprisingly orange-peely and not very good:


On day 12, I wet sanded it back with 600 grit (barely exfoliated the paint), then tried 400 grit (still barely scuffed it up, this is tough paint!) then 220 grit.  That worked and I was able to get some of the bubbly bits smoothed out a bit, but it also took off all the paint in some of the bits where it was thin (or the metal was high and my sanding technique was not good?).  Then I smoothed it out with 360 then 400:


For the second coat of paint, I thinned it out this time with the appropriate Rust Guard thinner.  Surely this second coat would look better than the first.

Erm, entiely wrong. MUCH worse.  I could see it puckering and cracking like a dried up lake bed before my eyes.


It seems that where I went wrong was in being frugal.  Hmmm. I now know that I can’t reuse paint that was sitting in the roller tray overnight, even if it still looks a bit fluidic, and even if I add thinner to it.  Oops.  There was just so much paint left in the roller tray from the day before, because I didn’t know how much to pour in!  *embarassed*

Moving on…. So this turn of events gave me a reason to crack out my girlfriend’s girlfriend’s random orbital sander with the badass 60 grit (that’s it there top left):


I sanded back to bare metal for a while…


Then I got bored with doing that, and decided to have a go painting the first coat on the ceiling support beams.

This time I used fresh white paint straight from the can, and spent ages thinning it til it was runny enough that it took exactly 3 seconds to go from a stream of paint (running off the stirring spoon) to drips of paint.  I used this youtube video as a guide for how to thin the paint:

For me this was about 1 part thinner to 2 or 3 parts paint (I put a whole 250mL can of paint into a container, then filled the empty paint tin 1/3 full with thinner, swilled it around to get all the paint left in there, mixed that in, tested and it was 4 seconds to drips, then added a bit more of a slosh of thinner, mixed it, and got 3 seconds to drips).

Ahh fresh paint :D

Ahh fresh paint 😀

Success at last!! (Mostly).  I got the first coat on the back of the three ceiling supports, and it looked mostly ok.  The air bubbles that were there from the roller had ample time to pop before the paint got too dry, so I’d say the runniness was just right.


I think it is ok for a first coat, but I’m still a bit concerned that I’m not doing something right, because the finish was still a bit spotty/lumpy/stipply:


The first coat is always going to look bad with the paint this thin, I know (everyone says so on all the web forums about painting a van with a roller, particularly this club 80-90 one that I am relying on heavily).  I just don’t know if it is meant to look bad in THIS way.  I think this calls for more experimentation.

So I have decided to change my plans a bit, and put painting the inside of Kevan off until I have had ample time to practice.  I’ll finish the ceiling supports, but then I will do some practicing on this funky vintage Kelvinator that we have:


It was painted like this when we acquired it, we used it as our fridge until it died, and now it is on our deck.  I’ll see how I go sanding it all back and painting it before I do the inside of Kevan.

In the meantime, and in order to prepare Kevan for my sister’s arrival (now less than 2 weeks away, and me back at work so only time in the evenings and weekends to work on the van), I am going to focus on:

  • finishing the painting of the ceiling supports
  • install the ceiling panels
  • install the flooring
  • install the curtain wires
  • finish the first curtain and get that up
  • do as many more curtains as I can before she comes
  • trim a mattress to fit around the wheel arches

At least then it will look like I have achieved something, even if I have to pull it all out later to finish painting.

Well, that’s it for my two weeks of campervan conversion leave.  I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked, but I did get some good weeding and Harry Potter watching done.