It's Monday and the plant is back in action.
The last time I was in Red Bay I did not get a chance to visit the painting
facility where they paint the busses so this time I put it on my must see list.
After leaving the assembly line the newly minted bus travels about 5 miles
to Belmont, Mississippi to the Tiffin Paint Facility.
Upon arrival, the first step is sanding, more sanding, then dusting,
and finally the bus gets masked to protect from overspray.
Proper masking is critical and it is detailed work. Too little and paint gets on mirrors,
window trim etc... too much and some surfaces do not get painted.
The people who mask these busses are craftsmen in their own right.
The amount of masking is incredible. The entire roof, all the equipment on the roof,
the antennas etc... it all gets protected from paint overspray first.
There are 3 production rows with 4 paints booths along each row and a baking
room at the end of the row. The paint booths are actually massive rooms about 70 feet long,
30 feet wide and 20 feet tall. Each one has a massive ventilation system and automated
scaffolding that the painters ride up and down and forward and backward as they spray.
In between these three production rows is clear space from end to end for busses
to move about the building and undergo QC checks etc.
In all there were about 60 busses inside the facility undergoing the painting process.
Here you see a bus in the first paint booth getting the first two coats of base color.
This buses main color will be silver with stripes.
After the 2 base coats, the bus moves to the next station in between two paint booths.
It is here where the masking is applied to allow the next color - the first of two or
three additional colors that will be applied for striping.
After the stripe masking is applied the bus moves forward into another paint booth and
the first accent color is applied.
When it leaves this booth, more masking will be applied to allow for the next
accent color to be applied.
Here, on another line, you can see the masking being removed from a bus that
has 3 colors applied,.. The white basecoat and black and grey striping.
After all the colors are applied, the bus then goes into an oven and gets baked
at 150 degrees to harden the paint.
After baking, the bus then enters the first of two clear coat booths.
The colored paint when applied is flat (not glossy). The clear coat
both provides a deep gloss finish plus UV protection for the paint.
After the first two clear coats are applied, the bus moves to a sanding booth
where a light sanding of the entire bus is completed to smooth any imperfections and help
deepen the shine and depth of color.
Finally, after light sanding and dusting, the bus enters the final booth
where 2 coats of super clearcoat are applied.
There are Quality Control processes at each station, and other processes that I have
left out as there were no units at those stages when I visited, but after 5 days in the paint shop
out of the other end comes that bus you saw in the fist picture.
My visit to the paint shop gave me a greater appreciation for the product own.
Getting back to CRB I was settling in for a day or two waiting for the windshield shop
open up and just a short while after arriving my phone rang and they told me to come
on over to bay 46.
So after closing up the slides and disconnecting my utilities, I pulled into my assigned
bay. As soon as I did the windshield guys went to work. By the time that I
managed to grab my camera and get outside to take a photo, they had already
removed the windshield. It took them about 4 minutes to take it off.
Within another 10 minutes or so, the gaskets were cleaned, re-positioned, and
the new windshield was put in place.
Below they are adjusting the positioning and setting the seal in place.
Within about 20 minutes they had the windex out and were cleaning the new windshield.
Like all the other stations... It is well stocked with all the parts needed for
servicing the over 65,000 Motorcoaches that Tiffin has produced over the years.
Having competed my trip to bay 46, I was now done with my list for
Red Bay. The bus is at 100% perfect condition and its time for me
to start planning my re-entry path to home.
On the way home I am going to take a slightly different route this time and
enjoy some of the scenery. I plan on making it a 3 day trip home
rather than two.
With the bus at 100% its time to start thinking about or next adventure.
In August we will be going up to NY for work, and then continuing up into Canada
to visit Quebec, and the Canadian Maritimes and perhaps take the ferry
The cooler weather will be a nice treat.