No, I haven't cashed in my retirement savings or gone into debt for a new model. But, for only about 5% of the cost of a new 2017, I took my tired-looking 2007 View to the master craftsmen at Mike's Custom Painting (in Bremen, IN near Elkhart), and 4 weeks later, this shiny new-looking RV was ready to roll!
Before I show you all the cool before & after photos, let me step back and explain what lead up to this decision.
When I first bought my View in 2013, I was so excited about finding this floorplan on a 5-cylinder Sprinter (perfect for Mexico travels as it has none of the U.S. emissions controls of the newer models), I had failed to notice all the cosmetic exterior problems until I'd already brought it home.
The previous owner did not drive this View very often. That was great for a low odometer reading, but a very bad thing for the exterior gel coat. It was parked in the same position for years, and either never waxed, or waxed with something horribly destructive. After consulting with a few pro detailers, the verdict was in-- the gel coat was completely gone on 2 sides of the coach, and very minimal on the other 2 sides. The worst areas were getting chalky with tiny gray spots of oxidation all over.
If I wanted to keep this View, I'd have to do something very soon to save the exterior fiberglass!
In addition to the faded, peeling decals of a now nearly 10-year-old RV, I inherited a few "boo-boos" from the previous owner's driving adventures-- a big dent on one of the rear corner trim pieces, a torn front awning cap, a small dent beneath one headlight, and various other scrapes and scratches. In fairness, I must admit to adding a few additional scrapes to the plastic skirt panels myself.
In the end, I was left with 2 decisions-- sell the coach for a different one, or invest in a major exterior makeover.
Selling was never really a consideration-- lose all my interior upgrades and known systems for a coach with completely unknown systems? Likely, that'd be a few thousand dollars right there to just make a same year/model trade!
So, about 6 months ago, I began researching a new paint job in earnest.
I looked at just getting a new gel/clear coat, just getting it repainted white with new decals, and even looked at Mexican versus U.S. paint shops. In the end, the cost savings were minimal, as the biggest labor cost by far is simply getting the coach sanded, primed, and prepped.
Why Mike's (MCP)?I first heard about MCP from Howard's blog at RV-Dreams.com. In 2014, Howard and Linda had their 2006 white 5th Wheel painted by MCP, and I remember how "wow'd" I'd been from their before and after photos.
Then, last year, on the Yahoo View-Navion forum, I read that a couple of fellow View owners had recently gotten their rigs painted-- one at the shop in Forest City, IA that paints new Winnebagos, and another painted by MCP (for a few thousand dollars less).
At the start of this year, I began emailing with Livia at MCP who patiently and thoroughly answered all of my questions. I also reached out to Howard and the fellow View owner-- both had glowing praise for Mike and the folks at MCP, and both were still very pleased with their paint jobs.
So, by late January, I booked my rig for the month of May at MCP. No deposit necessary to hold my spot on their schedule, and no contracts to sign with draconian penalties. They're a small business who trusts that customers will treat them as fairly and honestly as they treat you!
DesignThe biggest decision in a job like this is selecting a design (and colors) you'll be happy with for years to come. Most older RVs getting full body paint jobs are Class A's and 5th Wheels. So Mike's didn't have a lot of "canned" Sprinter Class C designs to show me, but suggested I send them photos of RVs I liked, and they'd use that to start a custom design for my coach.
Thankfully, Winnebago has a great online resource of all their paint designs from the 1970s up to 2013. I found a 2010 View design that I liked, and then fired up Google Image Search to find as many real-life RV photos as I could.
For awhile, I toyed with the idea of a silver base color like this one (rather than white):
But, ultimately decided on white for two important reasons-- 1. It would match the screen door better (and avoid the complexity of painting the screen door) 2. It would not raise the heat levels in the engine compartment (which already struggles to pull my overloaded RV and 3000-lb toad over steep mountain passes).
In the end, this was the finalized design I went with:
PreparationLike any major home remodel, for the project to run smoothly without delays, lots of detailed planning and preparation has to be done upfront. Nearly everything screwed or glued onto the exterior of the RV must be removed, so if you want to upgrade those items or change colors, logistics must be handled for all of these in advance.
Here are the things I purchased beforehand:
- New awning end caps (my friend Hans was able to install these ahead of time and fix the alignment problems thus saving me the cost of buying a whole new awning. Thank you again, Hans!)
- New black slide-out topper (MCP installed this after painting the RV)
- New rear corner trim piece and LED brake light from Winnebago (MCP was able to repair all other cracked and scratched plastic trim parts saving me considerable expense)
- Black flip-up door hanger (too difficult to paint these, but they're easy/cheap to buy)
- Black porch light (MCP would have painted my old white one, but it didn't seem worth the trouble as new ones are less than $10).
- New plastic "chrome" trim for the front bumper
- Replaced the Dodge grill with the Mercedes version (I did most of the install myself, but left the more difficult hood adhesive removal for MCP to clean up. MCP painted the u-shaped black metal trim that came with this kit to match my custom paint).
- A few tubes of NuFlex 311 caulk that Winnebago recommends for the roof (MCP had to remove/reinstall the rear top cap trim and rear ladder during the job).
The screen door was a major dilemma - paint it or leave it? MCP would have painted it for a few hundred dollars, but that would have added lots of complexity (i.e removing the door), and less optimal aesthetics on the inside (clashing window shade, and wraparound trim pieces). So, I decided to just leave it "as is."
At the beginning of May, I arrived at MCP with my sad old Winnie and finally got to meet Mike and Livia in person. We did a detailed walk-around the rig to discuss every nook and cranny, and I then headed to the office with Livia to review paint colors and some needed design tweaks.
While they have a few paint chip samples in the office, they don't have the hundreds I thought they would. Instead, Livia offered to get samples of any specific paint colors I wished. Leaving it up to me to decide the best color combinations just seemed too risky, so in the end, I chose to go with the same Sikkens color combination that Winnebago used on one of their 2010 Views.
While I got to see a couple of these color swatches the next week, I didn't end up seeing all the colors together until it was completely finished. Quite a leap of faith! So, I'm very happy that I stuck to Winnebago's recipe card.
At the start of Week 3, Livia called to see if I'd like to come review the masking before they started painting. The design software could only create masks for an '08+ View, and with the cabover and front end of the '06-'07's being slightly different, the masks needed some adjustments up there.
It was extremely helpful to see the rig in-person and talk to the shop manager at this critical stage, as there were, indeed, a few slight changes I wished to make to what he'd laid out.
In hindsight, I wish I'd also seen the Winnebago lettering mask on the cabover beforehand. They'd not yet completed that step when I visited, and the design software ended up spitting out a lettering mask that was a bit larger than I'd anticipated.
All in all though, MCP did a really fabulous job with the coach, and even got it finished a couple days early. Money very well-spent!
Before and After
So enough of me blabbing-- you want to see these before and after shots!
Now, let's take a look all the way around:
MCP painted the awning and rooftop accessories (AC cover, fridge vent) to match the dark gray top colors. The roof itself stayed unpainted, and MCP did a great job at leaving my rooftop solar panels and wiring undisturbed.
The view I most worried about-- what the original coach door and screen door would look like with the new colors. Not bad at all! Glad I went with the white base color (thanks Ed!).
FYI-- the steel wheels still need to be refurbished. A set of new aluminum wheels would cost almost as much as the whole paint job, and it's too difficult to check tire air pressure with the original wheel simulators installed. So, I'm hoping to get the steel wheels sandblasted and re-painted as soon as I can find someone to do the job.
I had thought about a continental kit (chrome ring with a paintable white plastic disc) to replace the vinyl Winnebago tire cover, but $300 for just a tire cover seemed a bit rich. I'll probably go for a custom designed soft cover of some kind....or just leave it as is and remind myself "it's only a damn tire cover!"
Now for the thing I love most about the new paint job-- the painted slide-out walls! I could sit on this side of the RV and stare at that slide-out for hours!
and here's the front of the painted slide-out wall...
I was really impressed by all the added extras that MCP provided. Not only did they repaint the coach steps, they also painted the generator and RV tailpipes, the mud flaps, the hitch, the windshield wiper hardware, all door handles, all window frames, front sides of each mirror, the bumper, and even the step wells below each headlight!
Now it's time to get to some prettier places and find me a background for a new home page header photo that's nicer than this ugly 18-wheeler in a parking lot!