Need advice on painting a John Deere Gator

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2021 10:54 am
The organization I volunteer with was fortunate enough to receive a donated six wheel Fire Engine Red John Deere Gator Fire/EMS response unit several years ago from one of the local City Fire Departments. This Fire Department had the Gator painted red unfortunately, with age and the fact that it doesn’t appear that the body of the Gator was properly prepared, large and small sections of paint have begun flaking off revealing the shiny green body underneath. Since the plastic body underneath is still shiny, this leads me to believe that no sanding or even deglosser was used nor does it appear that they applied any type of primer (my understanding is city yard and not the FD performed the painting). Since the paint will need to be stripped prior to applying the new paint and since our paint scheme is white with red and blue stripes, my plan is to repaint the unit white. About the only thing I know about painting is, if it’s shiny, it’s necessary to take steps to scuff the surface (sanding or deglosser or both) in order to give the new paint something to stick/bond to. That’s it !, that’s the extent of my painting knowledge. So far, none of the local auto body & paint shops are willing to repaint the Gator and if I luck out and eventually am successful in finding one to agree, I’m being told that the price will most likely be sky high. With that in mind I’m left with no other option but attempt this myself. I want to do the best job possible for looks and so that the paint job will last many years. I’m not trying to make this showroom perfect but again, I want to do the best job possible. I don’t have access to a paint booth but I do have the option of taping plastic all around the inside of my garage and painting it in an enclosed building. I also have an air compressor if needed. What is the best affordable option of paint, best method of preparation and best method of application ? Sorry for the mini novel.
If anyone is local to the Daytona Beach, Florida area and wouldn’t mind assisting me, that would be AWESOME but I’m not holding my breath that this will happen. So any guidance, suggestions, tips, tricks etc would be greatly appreciated.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2021 9:11 pm
You are about to undertake a job you know nothing about. I would suggest finding someone with the equipment and experience necessary to get the job done properly.

Pictures would help, since we don't know if your are only painting a couple of removable panels or undertaking an entire repaint.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2021 11:09 pm
Yeah, I'd agree with that^^^^^^^^^^^ There are at least ABS. polycarbonate, and polyethylene plastics on that thing and maybe more types. There are reasons beside just economy of manufacture that manufacturers cast their colors in many of these plastics rather than painting them. Paints in many cases have problem sticking to them because of their literal "non-stick" properties. Pic.s would really help.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2021 4:43 am
Gator2.jpg
Gator1.jpg
'68 Coronet R/T & DarrelK,

Thank you both for your reply and no disrespect meant however, the both of you pointing out what I am already well aware of and stated so in my initial post isn't really helping me solve the issue, As already stated, I have attempted to hire a local shop to do this work but I was unsuccessful as all but one turned me down and the one shop that said they could perform the work stated the amount they would need to charge for the labor alone (not including the actual paint job) was too embarrassingly high to quote and as a result, ended up refusing to take on the project as well. I had the staff post a plea for experienced assistance on the organization's Facebook page, even stating I was willing to do all the work necessary if they would supervise and tell me every step that I needed to perform, thinking this would possibly prompt someone who has the knowledge and experience might be willing to help if they didn't have to perform the physical labor and just guide/supervise the process but I received No (0) inquiries, not one. So, while I am painfully aware that I am in way over my head, I think you would have to agree that I really don't have much of a choice. The Gator has to be repainted so that only leaves myself. This is the reason I joined this site and reached out to the professionals for guidance. If I have misunderstood the intent of this site and it's forums, please let me know and I'll continue searching for the appropriate site. Otherwise I am reaching out to the community for help.



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2021 4:54 am
I have added the only two pictures I currently have on my phone. These are over five years old and if you look closely you can see the a few small areas where the paint started to flake, five years later and it is way worse and continues to decline by the day.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2021 7:52 am
I start all projects by taking pictures of everything. Since you will need to completely dismantle the Gator, to remove all the parts that need painting, having pictures helps with reassembly. You will also find taking pictures of damaged areas helps us greatly in giving proper advice as how to repair them.

Darrell is the resident expert on Fiberglass and Plastic so once you get every thing disassembled he can provide advice.

To start I would clear a fairly good sized space in your shop to work in. Plastic walls work but they need some support to keep them from blowing in the breeze. You don't want dust, debris, over spray or chemical fumes filling the shop. Give some thought to how you will provide ventilation and filtration so clean fresh air is traveling through your work area/paint booth.

Paint spray guns need a decent amount of air to work properly. They will have a CFM requirement at a certain pressures. Example: 10 CFM at 30 PSI. Your compressor will need to provide at least that with more being the better option.
You will need a clean air hose (one that hasn't been contaminated with oil) and a water separator/air regulator and a filter to provide clean air to the spray gun.

Personal protection like gloves and a proper mask and filters. Today's paints contain some very nasty chemicals.

You mentioned spraying it white with red and blue stripes. This will require proper tape and masking paper and involves multiple steps when applying the different colors.

For now, I would recommend approaching the project one step at a time so it doesn't get overwhelming.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:13 pm
Greetings '68 Coronet R/T,

I greatly appreciate the break down explanation on a good starting process, the things I need to make sure I have in place (in advance) and ready to go and I especially appreciate your suggestion to break this down in segments, I won't lie, this scares me to death but it is necessary that this is done so all I can do is give it my best attempt along with the fantastic help and guidance from members like yourself. I'm already starting to feel like I might stand a chance at success. Posting with written word as well as photos showing closeups makes sense. I wasn't thinking about fresh air since I'll be wearing a respirator and the taking pictures prior to disassembling everything is a fantastic idea, I'm sure I'll find referring to the pics while putting it back together invaluable. I ordered a disposable pair of paint overalls that includes the hoodie, boot covers and elastic around the wrist and ankles and although I have an inline moister filter installed about 1 foot from the compressors discharge I ordered a second one designed to be placed on the end with the paint sprayer connecting directly to it as an extra precaution. My compressor will perform up to 125 psi so I'm hoping this is sufficient. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your guidence, thank youy !

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2021 3:48 pm
Okay then, let me add a few things..... Air movement in a shop is critical to keeping your respirator functioning and not "loading up" to become toxic. Respirators can fully load and be useless in as little as 18 minutes if you don't have good air flow. Next, forget air pressure and read what CFM your air compressor has....many guys do poor paint work because their compressor cannot supply enough air "volume." If you don't have enough CFM for the gun then your compressor starts running constantly and making massive amount of moisture which your filters will not handle. Luckily this is a small project and you'll be more like just spraying parts here. Personally, I would recommend that you stay with solid colors for this project.
And so here is how I would approach this thing....since it is a John Deere I would get a shop manual for this model. You should find it online, especially look for any exploded diagrams of the body assembly and any possible mentioning of what's what with the plastics on it. I'd probably DA off all the old paint, trying to avoid cutting into the plastic. This may take some acquired skill....I mean, I can do it but I've been around fiberglass and plastics for more than 50 years now.....
So this thing is kind of a rough and tumble kind of piece.....ever thought about doing a bedliner style finish? A lot of the off road crowd is doing this especially to the lower areas of wear. Upol Raptor is a fully tintable product that can be easily controlled with minimal spray equipment. It has a lot of flex to it especially if applied over an epoxy primer..... just some thoughts......
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2021 12:18 am
Darrelk, thank you for your advice, it is greatly appreciated.

Here are some additional pictures of the Gator currently. I just moved the unit to my house today. Unfortunately, I have to put the project on hold while I travel out of state for a relative’s funeral and to assist in settling the estate so I’ll be gone for several weeks. In the meantime I hope these additional pictures help shed some light on what I’m dealing with. Also, my apologies for not being more clear when referring to the striping. This will be done after the painting is complete, using reflective vinyl striping and lettering (not paint). Sorry for the confusion. I’ve included a couple of pics of a completed golf cart (mine) to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2021 12:20 am
And here are the last pictures.
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