How Vivilon Clear Coating Inexpensively
Restores Like New Color & Shine to Faded Buses

The average lifespan of a school bus is from 10 to 12 years. During those years, monthly maintenance is – or should be – performed to keep the vehicle both safe and in good running condition.

But what about the outward appearance of the vehicle? After the first few years, the deteriorating effects of daily use and weather can make a fleet of relatively new buses look suddenly worn out and aged. As such, decisions on whether or not to repaint the vehicles must be made. It is a decision that, with the yearly cutbacks in school district budgets, may be postponed due to the high expenses involved.

And the longer such cosmetic preventive maintenance is postponed, the greater the chances are for the lifespan of the fleet to be that much be that much shorter.

However, there is now a solution to this dilemma, a new way of giving the entire fleet a facelift, with little time and money involved. It’s called Vivilon, a spray coating process by Kar Keepers, Inc. Vivilon is a coating material that can be brushed on, sponged on or, better still, sprayed on. It restores faded paint to its original tone and color gloss in a process that takes one person only four and a half hours to complete one vehicle. It is a product that combines a hard and enduring nylon coating and acrylic, which gives it a nice shine and gloss. There are also sunscreens in it to help reduce the effects of sunlight oxidation.

How does it work? According to Bill Rice, president of Kar Keepers, “the product is simply applied to the entire vehicle, save the glass, and the faded paint is restored to its original color tone and gloss – whatever the vehicle had when it was new.

The new effect is that you have an entirely new looking bus rather than one that looks splotchy. Also, the entire vehicle can be repainted very easily. All you have to do is
wash it with soap and water, dry it completely, and then spray any enamel or lacquer that you choose right on top of it.”

The procedure for applying the coating is simple: step one is to go over the entire vehicle by hand with scrub pads and scouring powder, which is then removed with a degreaser mixed with water. The entire bus is then rinsed off and completely dried.

The next step is detailing – the removing of road tar, paint oversprays from previous touchups. Then the bus is once again prepped by hand with chemical solvent. When that is done, and the bus is thoroughly dried, the Vivilon is sprayed on. Because it is a clear coating, only the glass needs to be masked off. Everything else receives a coating – the nose and back door usually get two coatings because they are high exposure areas.
“One man can do two full-sized 71-passenger buses in a day’s time,” said Rice. “It takes four-and-a half hours for one man to do one bus. That is all inclusive – the cleaning, the prepping, and the final spraying.

” While any school district or
contractor can purchase the Vivilon and have its own crew do the work, Kar Keepers, Inc., besides supplying the product, will also do the application as well. “Price will vary, said Rice, as low as $225 for a 24-passenger mini-bus, to $325 for a standard-size 71-passenger on up to  a top price of $395 for a transit style bus.” Considering that the average cost of

repainting a bus is anywhere from $800 to $1,600, it is, as Rice states, a unique alternative to produce a vehicle that is good looking, easier to clean, all at a fraction of the cost of a repainting.”

And, according to Rice, there is also another enhancement to applying a coat:  resistance to graffiti. “You have a hard surface created by the coating,” he said, “that virtually eliminates the porosity of the vehicle’s paint, which leaves nothing for ink or permanent pen markers to absorb into. There is no way they can be permanent and, therefore, it is easy to remove graffiti off the surface.

 “And, in the same way, dirt has   nothing to get a good hold onto.  Thus, dirt is easier to remove either by hand, or by pressure washers, or by fleet wash. People had indicated that our coating makes it easier. Rather than putting the bus through the wash twice, they need only go through it once. This is not to say that dirt jumps off the paint, but it is easier to remove due to the high surface tension created by the coating,” he said.

The coating also protects the paint because the material can stand up to exposure to sulfuric acid or road salt, and it has been tested against both extreme heat and cold.

  “The way we test it, Rice said, “is with temperature variability. We test its ability to stand up to hot and cold by taking bare panels, coating them
with the material, letting it cure, and then taking the panel and putting it in boiling water. We leave it there
for two hours, and then put it in a freezer for two hours. We alternate hot and cold for 24 hours. This was

done to see if there as any flex in the material, any diminution of its bonding to the panel from alternating every two hours from hot to cold. And there was not. 

  “We are more than willing to provide material to do a test like that if someone has a question about it. We have a warranty of the material which basically states that, if the paint should lose its gloss due to environmental exposure any time before the five years from the time we do the work, we will come back and either restore the bus by means of a reapplication of the coating or, if that doesn’t do a satisfactory job for the customer, we will repaint the bus at our own expense.”

And, according to Rice, there is another area which to use the coating: the engine.
  “We also run a shop in San Antonio that does new and used car prep and detailing. We found that, if you clean off an engine and spray the air cleaner, the hoses – the entire engine – it comes back looking new. Unlike the normal coatings for used cars, which come off as soon as the engine is hot, this coating will not. The coating has been on my car engine for three years now, and it stays the same. If you want to clean the engine, all you need to do is hose it down.

“What some people found was that buses that have old ignitions which are susceptible to moisture is that, if the coating is sprayed on an engine, the electrical connections are protected, no moisture gets in, and the bus starts right up.”

As Rice said, the Vivilon coating seems to be a cost effective alternative that produces a “good looking vehicle.”

Page 24
School Bus Fleet
October / November 1985


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