Mutt Gets a Paint Sprayer, Bertha Gets a Paint Job!

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in so long!! I’d love to use the excuse- “Life is crazy!”- but isn’t that just always true? Instead I’m going to send out my deepest apology, I hope you all can forgive me! Here’s a good one for you.  The learning never stops and the adventures keep on rollin’! Mutt and I are having a blast figuring things out, may we never stop growing and learning!

Spring has sprung, the temperature is rising, the days are getting longer, and besides the little bit of snow, and mostly rain they are calling for in the next few weeks, the weather is looking beautiful and its time to start building! Like every house, we are starting from the foundation up.  For a house being built on the back of a truck that means under the hood and with the body and bed of the truck.


the beginning of the taping process

Bertha, our 1970 International Farm Truck is running very well these days.  Mutt put in a new alternator and a battery a few months ago and she’s running like new (I still need to post a video of her horn for you all!).  Her paint however, needed a little facelift.  When we got Bertha she was painted a shade of yellow, maybe school bus yellow?  Being an old truck there were many scratches and rust spots. We knew we needed to have the truck sanded and painted before we could start building, once there’s a house back there it would just be more difficult to tape off and protect the house from the paint being sprayed.IMG_20150319_124829575

Using a pressurized spray painter to paint a vehicle isn’t something Mutt or I had ever done before so it was going to be one of the very few jobs we had to outsource.  In keeping in the spirit of trying to build the house economically and responsibly, we put an ad up on Craigslist asking if anyone would be willing to trade some work.  The idea is they help us paint the truck, and Mutt helps them with whatever job they need done, carpentry usually.  This way of working is a part of the community of this project, we use Craigslist as a platform to reach people who embrace this way of living, embracing synchronicity in our lives. We work every day to embody this lifestyle more and more in our daily lives, and in this project to fully embrace the power of working hard, and working together.IMG_20150319_124908580_HDR

We had a few bites, some sounded really promising.  People are very interested in our project and love the idea of being able to contribute and help us out.  After a bit of communication back and forth with a few possible options, they all fizzled out. The deals usually failed when it was time to set up an actual date to get the job done.  We are on a pretty tight time schedule and can’t afford to mess around with people who aren’t serious or committed to the project.  We started to think of some different options, maybe going with a professional company, until one night a few weeks after we posted our original wanted ad, Mutt got a very vague text message from a person saying that they were a painter and could help us paint our truck.  Mutt exchanged a few text messages with the interested craftsman, we’ll call him John to protect his privacy, and he seemed really excited to help us. John said he had years of this kind of painting experience.  His parents owned a paint company back in his hometown and currently is working for a paint company here in Denver. John, just looking to make some extra cash, was willing to take his payment some in cash and some trade, our ideal situation.  Because of his current position, he would be able to buy us the paint and rent a sprayer through his company.  He was able to talk intelligently with Mutt about paint options, and realistically, we thought, about time and price.  They both seemed eager to move on with the deal.IMG_20150324_151933384

Mutt had him come to our house to check out Bertha.  John came over to asses the job, let us know what kind and how much paint to purchase, let us know when we could start. When he was at our house he seemed very competent and confident in the job.  He and Mutt talked shop for a bit. He, along with our AWESOME neighbor kids, even helped Mutt move a HUGE piece of granite we’re going to use for our counter tops(or at least some of it!) from Mutt’s van to the garage.  He obviously won points in my book for that, I was NOT sure how Mutt got it into the van by himself and was SURE we were never going to get it out 🙂 Anyway, at the time we felt the meeting went well.  Now looking back, there were maybe a few red flags.  One was, John expected some of the money he quoted us upfront.  Mutt kindly explained to him that it wasn’t going to work that way.  We are relying on people we don’t know to do a job for us for less than retail cost with no contract and no guarantee.  To some people that sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, for us we are trusting that we do the right thing, and there are other people out there who want to do the same. With that being said, we can’t go into these situations blindly.  It is because all of those ricks I listed, that we also have to be very cautious, and smart not to get the wool pulled over our eyes. Doing things the unconventional way doesn’t always go as planned.  So in the spirit of protecting ourselves, Mutt let John know, we would cover the cost of the paint and we would gladly pay him for his time, when the job was done.  We had planned for this to be a one day job.

In the days leading up to the truck being painted, Mutt had some help from a friend, Steve, in getting the truck ready.  They took off all of the hardware, mirrors, and hood.  We had to wait for a day with good weather conditions, not too windy with plenty of sunshine.  We painted in our driveway so wind was a huge factor.  When we finally got a good day, John headed over to our house in the morning and the boys spent the morning taping the truck and by mid morning it was time to prime! We were so excited, I was thrilled to see progress happening on the truck, I’m totally an instant gratification kinda girl, and Mutt was thrilled because he knows every little step is a step towards the final product!  John got the first coat of primer on and then it was time to wait.  It was our understanding that the primer would need just a few hours to dry and the next 2 coats could be laid on after, the truck would be done in one day, maybe the next morning if we really had to.

IMG_20150319_132411980It became apparent to Mutt almost immediately after the primer layer was painted that John didn’t actually know what he was doing.  Mutt assumed that he had some experience painting external metal surfaces with a paint sprayer but that he had never painted a vehicle before.  Mutt decided to keep good faith and gave the primer some time to dry.  It was when; the primer was taking twice as long to dry as John had insisted it would take, and the drips and unevenness became more and more apparent, and the time on the 24 hour- $100- sprayer rental was running out, that Mutt decided this deal was not acceptable.  John didn’t actually know what he was doing, and we were now wasting time instead of making progress. Mutt paid John for his time and told him that we would be handling the job ourselves from now on.  We had the paint but needed to return the rental sprayer.  John couldn’t come through on using a sprayer from his employer, as was promised, so it was now costing us $100 a day.  We did some calculating and decided that it would be more economical for us to buy a sprayer and for Mutt to do the job himself.  He had watched and learned from the mistakes John made and felt confident in doing the job.  He has also started a pretty steady flow of handy-man jobs from this experience so the access to a paint sprayer really means he has the ability to do more jobs in the future. IMG_20150326_100659529

I am so proud of the way this truck’s paint job turned out.  It wasn’t the way we intended the job to go down but, all in all, it worked out for the best, as life always does!  We have a beautiful Army Green truck for our house to sit on.  Mutt has another skill in his arsenal and, because he owns the paint sprayer, he is able to secure more jobs and is excited about the building business he is producing as a result of this project.  It’s really a dream come true for him, and us!IMG_20150401_163005851_HDR

The truck has been painted for a week or two now and we’ve run into the next little hick-up we hadn’t anticipated.  When we took the bed apart to move it back the two feet we originally thought we would be moving it, we found that the metal frame of the truck is not as sturdy as we thought it was.  So now we are facing the decision, can we still build on it safely, do we build a new one ourselves, do we pay to have it done? With flexibility as the name of the game in the project, we are rolling with it and will keep you all posted! We hope to have this figured out in the next week so we can move on with building!



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2 thoughts on “Mutt Gets a Paint Sprayer, Bertha Gets a Paint Job!

  1. Thanks for sharing that. It is not about the destiation, but the journey. Reminds me of many long car rides where we had more fun just getting there. I am inspired by you two.




    Hi James and Mapes- thought you two might want to see this cute house that just sold on Craigs. listed under 2014 Tiny House – I was searching “Ikea door” and this was in the mix. Hope you are well. Sue/Lady in Arvada


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