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Old 03-23-2013, 04:06 PM   #1
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Cool Storage Compartment Handle Paint Project

One of the things I have always hated about my MH is the black compartment handles. My old Winnebago Adventurer came with painted handles so it always upset me that Fleetwood wouldnít at least do the same on a diesel pusher that I paid three times more for. Two years ago I asked my local RV body shop what they would charge me to paint all of the handles to match the various colors of the coach. They quoted me $1100. That seemed ridiculously high, so I decided not to do it. Now that Iím retired and have more time on my hands, I thought I would try and do it myself. I took my time and completed the project over the course of 5 days. I thought I would pass along the steps involved, in case some fellow Fleetwood owners wanted to do the same thing. While this project was time consuming, anyone that can use an aerosol spray paint can, can easily do it themselves.

First and foremost, you need to know the paint color codes of your coach. Fleetwood generally posts a color code sheet on the wall of the bedroom closet. I knew from some body work I had performed several years ago however, that Fleetwood posted the wrong sheet in my coach. Armed with my VIN and Fleetwood ID numbers, I called Fleetwood to see if they could help. They were very helpful and emailed me the below paint chart. I was told that Fleetwood used Sherwin Williams Automotive Paint, and was told that any Sherwin Williams Automotive Paint Center should be able to mix up the paint for me.


Before I called Sherwin Williams, I wanted to make absolutely sure that I ordered the correct colors. Once custom paint is mixed, there are no returns, and I know how expensive automotive paint can be. I pulled out the below page of my motorhomeís original sales brochure and visually matched the colors to the paint scheme of my specific motorhome. Based on the brochure, I confirmed that I had paint option #503. I then referred to the paint chart provided by Fleetwood for the correct color codes for that scheme. My motorhome was painted four different colors, but the handles traversed only three of those.


I called my local Sherwin Williams Automotive Paint Center and was told they could indeed mix the paint I needed. I figured I was probably going to have to ask a friend that owns an air powered paint gun to spray everything for me, but for the heck of it, I asked the guy from Sherwin Williams if they could provide the paint in user friendly aerosol cans. To my delight, he said absolutely. There is a three can per color minimum however, which put my total paint cost at $230. While this sounds expensive for nine cans of aerosol paint, automotive paint is very expensive. They also charge extra for aerosol, but it was worth it in my case, since it enabled me to do the entire job myself at home.


Surface Prep: I removed all of the handles except for the entry door. While I was able to significantly loosen the entry door handle, I was afraid if I used any more force to separate the handle halves, Iíd destroy it, so I left it in place. I cleaned the handle surfaces first with aerosol brake cleaner to remove any residual polish/wax. I then washed them with Simple Green and water and let them sit in the sun all day to dry. The next day I lightly sanded them with 3M Scotch-Brite automotive sanding pads that I picked up at Sherwin Williams. I then covered all of the key holes with masking tape and carefully cut around each tumbler with a razor blade. I then wiped down the surfaces with rubbing alcohol, to remove any oily residue from my handling them.






Paint time: I hit the surfaces with a light dusting spray, and then followed up with two heavy coats, allowing 10 minutes between coats. I let the paint cure for 24 hours. The next day I wiped the handles down again with alcohol and applied clear coat in the same manner. The clear coat can states that the product cures best under UV light, so I allowed the handles to bake in the warm California sun for the rest of the day.


I re-installed the handles the following day. This was trickier than I thought it would be. If you have ever had to replace the cheap plastic plungers on Fleetwood compartment doors, then you already know how to remove and replace the aluminum cover on the inside of the door that allows access to the back of the handles. There is a problem with this design. There are aluminum rods that attach to the back of the handles that operate the plungers. These rods are held in place only by the aluminum back cover. If one of the rods happens to pop out of place while youíre re-attaching the cover, you wonít know until everything is back together and you try and operate the handle/plungers. Hereís a tip: insert the upper left cover retaining screw first, and then move in a clockwise direction. Make sure you check the operation of the plungers BEFORE you close the compartment door. I failed to do this on the driverís side and ended up removing the cover on four doors to re-insert the rod. Also, be careful when tightening the screws. They can very easily be inserted at an angle that would cause them to strip the back of your freshly painted handle, so some fine manipulation is needed to assure this doesnít happen.




When I partially disassembled my entry door handle, I realized how much the interior door panel had yellowed from age and sun exposure. It also had some stress cracks in the curvatures of the window frame. I decided now was a good time to address this, so I removed the panel and took it to my local auto upholstery shop where I had it covered with imitation leather, in a color that somewhat matched my dash and front seats. I had to be very gentle with the panel as it was brittle. I applied JB Weld plastic epoxy putty to the cracked areas on the back of the panel and allowed it to cure overnight before I took it to the upholstery shop. The upholstery shop charged me $90 to cover it.


Although this entire project took me the best part of a week, it was fairly simple and Iím very happy with the results.

Below are some before & after photos.








Craig
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:33 PM   #2
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Wow. Great job. Thanks for posting the project.
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Old 03-23-2013, 05:33 PM   #3
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Craig,

Great professional looking job and well done!
I have just finished repainting my handles black and found the exact sized adhesive dots, that mask the tumblers, at a dollar store.
I loosened the 4 screws on the inside storage door lock covers which allowed the handles to raise from the door and I slipped newspaper, as masking paper, under and was finished in less than 5 hours.
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Old 03-23-2013, 06:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
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Great professional looking job and well done!
I have just finished repainting my handles black and found the exact sized adhesive dots, that mask the tumblers, at a dollar store.
Thanks.

The adhesive dots would have saved me a little time, great idea!

I thought about re-painting them black, but I figured I have to just do it again in a few years. I like the way the color matched handles blend in with the paint job better anyway.

I forgot to mention that before I decided to do this, I contacted Tri-Mark, the makers of the handle assemblies, to see if they offered my same handles in chrome. That would have been easier and would've looked just as nice. I was told no, the newer chrome handles are different and wouldn't fit in the same size door cut-out.

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Old 03-23-2013, 06:23 PM   #5
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That looks excellent! Nice work!
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Old 03-23-2013, 06:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Craig P. View Post
Thanks.

The adhesive dots would have saved me a little time, great idea!

I thought about re-painting them black, but I figured I have to just do it again in a few years. I like the way the color matched handles blend in with the paint job better anyway.

I forgot to mention that before I decided to do this, I contacted Tri-Mark, the makers of the handle assemblies, to see if they offered my same handles in chrome. That would have been easier and would've looked just as nice. I was told no, the newer chrome handles are different and wouldn't fit in the same size door cut-out.

Craig
I agree that you gave the handle assemblies a touch of class.
Let us know of any further bright ideas you may have.
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:08 PM   #7
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I agree that you gave the handle assemblies a touch of class.
Let us know of any further bright ideas you may have.
Thanks.

I already have one for ya. After seeing how well my buddy''s Tiffin Bus docking lights lit up his campsite when setting up camp in the dark, I decided I was going to install something similar. I painted these up at the same time I painted the handles. I'll get around to installing them in a month or so.

Unpainted


Painted


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Old 03-24-2013, 12:00 AM   #8
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Your Bounder is starting to look like an American Eagle.

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Old 03-24-2013, 09:30 AM   #9
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Your Bounder is starting to look like an American Eagle.
Thanks Steve, except it's not a Bounder...

Craig
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:47 AM   #10
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Craig, great job! I had an O3 Excursion that needed body work so went the Sherman Williams way, it can get expensive but nothing compared to the $1100.00 you were quoted! The faux leather on the flimsy door panel is a brilliant and inexpensive touch of class!
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:54 AM   #11
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Really nice job
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Old 03-24-2013, 10:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Thanks Steve, except it's not a Bounder...

Craig
Bounder Diesel + an extra $100,000 = Providence
I guess I was dreaming.
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Old 03-24-2013, 11:31 AM   #13
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Great job.
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Old 03-26-2013, 12:32 PM   #14
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Outstanding results! Better go answer the door now, UPS is there with my handles that are in need of paint....
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