Serious Paint Removal Attempt #1: Too Fast!

Stripping paint down to bare metal

I got a 4″ disc wire brush for my angle grinder, thinking it would strip paint a lot faster than the cordless drill. It did — it stripped down to bare metal when I barely touched it to the bus!

I suspect the original primer is a lot better than anything I can buy, and certainly better applied, so I really don’t want to remove it; I want to leave the primer and maybe even yellow paint to cover with my own paint job.

If I did want to strip to bare metal, the brush I was using in the angle grinder would be great. For this job, I’ll see if I can find a finer brush for the grinder.

Also I need to find one with a 5/8″ arbor. Drilling a 1/2″ arbor out to 5/8″ causes separation of the metal plates formerly holding the wire pieces together. Careful application of the angle grinder’s arbor plates gets the wires held pretty securely — and remarkably concentric on the first try — but that’s no way to really do it.

Bus with a few linear feet of purple paint stripped

I switched to the “wire brush on a stick” in my corded drill and got a few linear feet of above-the-rail stripped. Took over an hour and it really wasn’t worth the effort.

Battery Compartment and AC Wiring

Bus battery compartment and AC wiring

I hadn’t leaned down far enough to really look in, so Jonathan was the original discoverer of the AC wiring sticking into the battery compartment. I’m guessing the former owner had an inverter installed in there — which I just read is a bad idea, as the battery acid fumes can eat up the delicate inverter guts. Maybe I’ll put mine in a separate compartment.

But What Will the Neighbors Think?

My neighbors saw the bus this afternoon for the first time. The folks next door think it’s really cool and a great idea. The man of the house from two doors down came over to say that “The Landing Strip” (painted on the front of the bus) is a bar in Aggieville (Manhattan), which gives a clue as to the provenance and likely former owner of the bus.

The best reaction was from the young couple across the street. As they were halfway across, they were already calling out that their curiosity had got the better of them; and they gushed about how cool the bus is and asked all kinds of questions. They let their four young kids explore the inside of the bus, and didn’t mind at all that they were enthralled by the dead baby mice. They’re all very enthusiastic about the project and the prospects and think it’s great!

This was, of course, before I backed into their mailbox, as one of the part-time police officers I don’t know came driving down the street.

4 Responses to “Serious Paint Removal Attempt #1: Too Fast!”

  1. aris says:

    Hi there,

    did you thought/try a commercial paint remover? The paste-like type that you apply on the paint and then remove it all together?

    If you google around there are many products like .

    It might suit your purpose!

    I love your blog BTW :)


  2. neufeld says:

    Aris, what would be the advantage of using a chemical paint stripper, when I specifically don’t want to remove the primer?

  3. John Laur says:

    Didn’t you determine that the outside layer is latex paint? Isn’t there a latex stripper that will leave the automotive paint underneath alone?

    Also, I showed my brother your bus. He is a recent k-state alum. He has been on it and “knows it well” apparently. According to him, most of the tailgaiting buses that are around there are much more purpose-built (professionally integrated cookers and the like).. I suppose that’s a good thing as far as your repurposing goes.

    Personally, I wonder if you can get the grill smell out. Didn’t one of your photos show they had a charcoal grill INSIDE the thing?

  4. neufeld says:

    John, my error — the purple paint is oil-based enamel (or so I believe from a more thorough — but not yet microscopic — examination of the paint can label). It doesn’t come off like latex — my brother and I tried a pressure washer tonight that would have blasted the latex off in a single, giant, bus-shaped sheet.

    I don’t notice a grill smell inside — just a bus / mouse smell. I don’t think the gas grill was used inside, just transported.

    I’d be interested if your brother can provide more information about whether the bus was indeed owned/operated by a bar, how it was used (sign up and get transported to a game, or meet it at the game for the party), and how long it’s been out of service (sitting in a field gathering packrat nests and mice).

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