Sarge paints his M820

Sarge

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Preface: This is Sarge’s first really long post on Steel Soldier’s. Those of you who read my account of Hurricane Katrina know that I tend to talk a lot. If you are not interested, well just enjoy the photo’s. Tis a short story about painting my M820.
 

Sarge

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part1

So today Sarge is going to talk about paint jobs. I’ll talk about the real deal, as done in the military and also the much better paint jobs as done by MV collectors. After blathering on for a bit, I will treat you to many photo’s showing how Sarge does a paint job. Both how and why.
I’ll show my photo’s of my M820 from before I picked it up, right up to today, ready for the next parade.
Let’s discuss the ‘why’ of a paint job. Almost anything you get from DRMO, GL, GSA or any other government source has been abused, misused and is just plain beat up. In fact, pretty much unless you buy from a collector, you really are going to have to paint it. The older it is, the more likely it is to be rusty and require some serious sheet metal work. I’m not going to cover that aspect, because my M820 was almost ready to paint when I bought it.
Okay, now the ‘how’ of the paint job. Sarge does not own a million dollar paint facility, in fact, everything gets painted outside in the Texas heat. Or dust. Sarge has no painting skills, just knows basics like, if the gun is too close, you’ll get runs and sags. If the paint is too thick, it won’t shoot, simple stuff like that.
Time to rant.
I recently attended my first MVPA national convention. What an eye-opener! For every bad thing I saw, there were 50 good things. I’m just going to talk about one bad thing. Paint jobs. I served in the military all of my adult life. I have seen paint jobs on brand new delivered from the factory trucks. I have seen paint jobs on trucks just back from depot level refurbishment. I have seen paint jobs by Private Pyle in the back of the Motor Pool who has obviously sniffed too much Xylene. I have seen every kind of paint job in between.
I have never seen paint jobs like those at the convention. The vast majority of the vehicles looked better than any military paint job in existence. Then there was the Humvee. Ah… The Humvee. It was so stupendous that the guy restoring it must work for Orange County choppers or something like that. It was truly magnificent. What it was not however, was a military vehicle. Nothing like one. Not even close. No surprise, it won at least one major award. For what? It belonged in a custom car show, not an MV event. Do I sound jealous? Not at all. If I won the lottery, I would love to own it. I would drive it around the Ranch like a maniac, (as I do with all of my MV’s) scratch the heck out of it, and laugh the whole time. Wait a second…. That’s exactly how I behaved in the military.
Well I guess that there are different awards for different classes of MV’s at these events. I would never allow one of my MV’s to be judged. Unless I was assured that all of the judges were retired military who were vehicle mechanics. Since that will never happen, the only person that my MV’s have to please is myself.
And now I have blathered long enough, what I was trying to do was to explain to you why I paint the way I do, and not like some others who do magnificent frame off restorations like the guy currently restoring the M139. Even if I had the facility, the money, the time and the expertise, I would still paint them the way that makes me happy.
So sit back and enjoy….
The first two photos were taken at the Police Auction where I bought the M820. Pretty rough.
 

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Sarge

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The first thing I did was power wash the truck using a very high power jet very close up. I used a razor blade to cut off major runs and sags from the previous paint jobs. Very little sanding and the small areas of rust were down to bare metal. Phosphoric acid on them.
This photo shows the truck after a Gillespie red oxide primer coat. Then Gillespie ‘CARC’ 383 green on top of that.
 

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Sarge

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part 3

A couple of years ago, I was visiting Mark at RAPCO. He was kind of surprised at the amount of green that I bought. I told him that when we painted trucks in the military, we primer the entire truck, then we painted the entire truck green as a base coat. He said that most of his customers primer just the rusty areas and then just paint the 3 colors where the particular colors belong. I thought that was false economy, if you primer the whole thing, the green is more even. Then if you paint the whole thing green, the other two colors are more even, less patchy looking. He thought that was great, well, of course he did, he sells more paint that way.
I don’t think I mentioned this before, I decided to paint this the same way we painted our trucks in the military.
So these two photo’s show the truck completely green, ready for masking.
 

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Sarge

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Before beginning to mask, let me explain the color scheme. My best memories in the military were when ‘Uncle Ronnie’ was at the helm. We got pay raises, we got training, we got equipment, we kicked ass. The world knew that if you upset Ronald Reagan, he probably wasn’t just going to send you a nasty letter. All of my MV’s represent this time period, the mid to late eighties. If you don’t want your MV looking like a redneck smoking crack painted it, then get the right book. The right book for my M820 and that time period is Technical Bulletin TB 43-0209. It shows great line drawings of your vehicle from every angle. It’s just like those paint by numbers kits you had when you were a kid. To keep it simple for Sarge, there are only 3 numbers. If you read the first couple of chapters, it will even tell you which color is which number.
So, how do you begin? The book also explains different methods of marking the pattern on the vehicle. One favorite is to make templates. That’s really only practical if you are painting lots of trucks, like they do at depot. The most common method used in the field is chalk. I never liked it mainly because you can often see the chalk after the paint has dried. So how about the old fashioned masking tape? There are pros and cons. Since Sarge is a doddery old fart, he tends to overspray way too much. Also his equipment is from the fine folks at Harbor Freight, meaning it’s good for painting aircraft carriers, but nothing requiring finesse, like a military vehicle. So, masking tape it is. Buy the BLUE stuff. If you buy regular tape, you will be sorry. The blue stuff comes off with all of its glue attached and leaves the paint on the truck.
A word about flat black paint. If you want it to be flat black, pay attention to how much thinner you use. Spray it thinly with several passes and keep your distance! Or else it will be semi-matte or even gloss.
Without further ado, here are two photo’s of the truck masked and with the black paint applied.
 

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Sarge

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These two photo’s show the black paint with the masking tape removed. Oops! Notice how sharp the lines are where the black and green touch. The military does not use sharp lines ever. We’ll fix this problem a bit later.
 

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Sarge

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Remove the masking tape. If you have to break up this sequence by a couple of weeks for any reason, don’t leave the masking tape on. That goes double if you live in a really hot sunny place. Ask me how I know this. No, don’t.
 

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Sarge

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Now this is what I meant by sharp lines look bad. If you have a $200 paint gun or even if you have basic painting skills, you can avoid this by not using masking tape at all. Just adjust your gun, turn your Orange County Choppers baseball hat around, and do it like they do on TV. If you have no painting skills and look like Homer Simpson, then follow along as Sarge messes up his M820.
 

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Sarge

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part 10

Wow! The sharp lines between the green and the black are gone! Harbor Freight sells a very cheap ($5) air brush kit with 5 plastic bottles. Use exactly the same mix of paint and thinner and adjust the air brush to shoot a ¾” circle. Using green paint, follow the sharp lines overlapping ¼” onto the black. Point the brush slightly away from the black. Any spatter or overspray will be on the green where it is invisible. Do the same thing on the sharp lines between the green and the brown. You now have fuzzy lines between the black and the green.
 

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Sarge

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Now do exactly the same thing using brown paint, but this time you only need to paint along the black/brown lines. This process sounds a bit complex, but the truth is, I painted the all of the lines on the M820 in under an hour.
The photo’s tell the story.
 

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Sarge

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part 12

Now it’s time to identify the vehicle. I know that there are some wonderful guys in the MV field who sell great stencils. I also know what we used in the military. We had two methods. The first method used brass stencils that slid together and had the correct spacing. You can find these on the internet, they are not cheap. We did not use them very much in the military because we would always misplace some letters and numbers. The method we liked best was the large rotary stencil cutting machine. Armed with that and 50 large file folders we could stencil anything. You can find those machines on E-Bay for $500. Or you can do what I did, go to Office Depot, buy 6 packets of 2” cardboard stencils and make them yourself. The lettering is correct, but the spacing is all wrong. One hour with a pair of scissors and a roll of Scotch tape, and you’re ready to stencil. Attach them using blue tape. Go nuts and use a ruler to make sure everything is lined up.
 

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Sarge

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Now spray. Better to do 3 or 4 light coats than one heavy one. You can use a spray gun or cans of spray paint. Again, Mark at Rapco sells the spray cans. I’ve seen him fill them, he uses the same paint that goes in the gallon cans. You can go cheap and buy any flat black grill paint from Home Depot. I don’t recommend it because it will fade at a different rate than the Gillespie. One of the photo’s shows how to paint a stencil in two colors when the stencil has to cross over a camo line.
 

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Sarge

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part 14

Wait several minutes then remove the stencils. Most MV collectors live elsewhere than Texas. Texas has some really MV friendly registration laws. My favorite is the registration number law. You can use any number you choose (as long as it’s not already in use) and stencil the MV in a manner consistent with the original military markings. The number must be at least two inches high and contrast the background. I chose 72K33 as one of the trucks I drove in Germany. I told the DMV that I wanted 72K33, they checked that it was not already in use, ten seconds later, that’s my number. $10 a year registration, $92 a year insurance. Gotta love Texas.
 

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maddawg308

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RE: part 15

WOW! I mean, WOW! That was the best paint-in-progress series of pics I have ever seen done, of a correctly executed 3-color camo paint job! Fantastic work on that, Sarge! Once again, you set the high water mark for the rest of us Steel Soldiers!
 

gimpyrobb

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RE: part 15

x2! Did you drive that truck onto the plastic ramps and they survived?!
 

clinto

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Great pics and write up! :beer: The truck looks great.

It also appears that your dog became more intelligent as the day progressed rofl

"Hey, it's hot out here, I should find some shade"

It's all good until your wife says "Why does the dog have a green tint?" :shock:
 

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DMgunn

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Sarge, you really have a way with words. I really enjoy your storytelling....

Kinda reminds me of the VanNatta M123A1C story (Google it, well worth reading). Very imformative, but quite amusing at the same time.

Thanks for the posts, and nice work on the truck!
 
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