Replacing the old hatches brightened things up, also. Although the original hatches are still available, Theyre no longer available in dark brown. We matched one of the original parts with an aerosol we found at Lowe’s. We bought all 3 new hatches from RVs Plus online. Total investment for the hatches, paint, and sealer was about $60.
Here’s one thing we did to brighten up the look of our camper. Not too difficult, but a bit tedious and time-consuming. We think it was well worth the effort and expense. There are other ways to approach this that certainly look good, as well, but we’re shooting for the original 1973 look to go with our old truck. Any thoughts and opinions are welcome!
As it looked the day we bought it. The original woodgrain was still there, but in bad shape, hiding under a couple different coats of paint.
If you want to replicate the original faux wood, 3M DiNoc is the only way to go. In my opinion, anyway. This is what it had originally, and what was used on all of the old station wagons in the 60’s and 70’s. It won’t shrink. The adhesive sticks like death, and it is supposed to have a 5 year lifespan outdoors, without any maintenance. indefinite life indoors, or if protected. The look-alike shelf paper (Con-Tact paper) you can buy for a fraction of the cost will look ok. . .for a short time, until it sits in the sun. It will shrink, peel, and fade. Don’t waste your time, effort, or hard-earned dollars.
I was too busy with a heat gun, scraper, steel wool, and goo-gone to take pictures of the blue removal. It can be done, but be prepared to use a lot of elbow grease. Rubber gloves are highly recommended. And patience. Lots of patience. If your surface had been previously stripped of the woodgrain + properly prepped and painted, you might get away with just a thorough cleaning without stripping down to the gelcoat. Be sure to use something like denatured alcohol to scrub the surface. You don’t want to run the risk of poor adhesion with your expensive DiNoc.
Here’s the cleaned surface, ready for the fun to begin! I love the grease pencil markings left by the Starcraft inspector in 1973. I was careful not to wash them away. You can also see the area where the original American Road decal once was.
A sidenote, here. After 40+ years, the screws holding the lamps to the body were rusted and rotten. Every single one had the head break off while attempting to remove it. I discovered that I could heat the stub with my soldering iron and carefully grab it with vise grips. Twisting the broken screw back and forth, it broke free and I was able to back the remains out. This worked on 7 out of 8. I had to drill one out. Without the heat, they wouldn’t budge. They just twisted and broke off closer to the surface.
When Michelle wasn’t busy taking pictures, she was helping hold the new woodgrain transfer up against the surface. This really is easier with 2 people. This stuff sticks like crazy, so you want to get it right the first time. DO NOT REMOVE THE PROTECTIVE BACKING FROM THE WOODGRAIN, YET! We positioned the transfer which had been cut to 9 1/4″ in width, in place on the prepped surface, allowing extra material at each end. This gets trimmed later. We used some masking tape to assist in holding the transfer in place. Once we were happy with the positioning, I carefully started peeling the backing at one end, while using my other hand as a squeegee to press the transfer in place. If you work it right, you shouldn’t get air bubbles or wrinkles. A cooler day without a hot surface will make this much easier. I might also mention that the 3M primer is not mandatory, but at the price of this stuff, I didn’t want to risk an adhesion problem. Without the primer, this is a little more forgiving to apply. If you haven’t squeegeed it down, you should be able to lift it back off and reposition, if needed. With the primer, it sticks like mad the first time. no room for errors. But you won’t worry about it flying off while driving down the road. If you have never done anything like this before, take some scraps of the DiNoc and practice a bit to get a feel for how it works. Some people have used a slightly soapy water solution to apply the transfer with. It allows more time for positioning. I prefer the dry method, but do whatever you’re most comfortable with.
Well, what do you think? :)