Cleaning and painting the interior of a military truck-mounted shelter

This article describes part of a privately undertaken project for the Texas State Guard, 3rd Battalion, 19th Brigade.
The contact for this project is CPL Patrick Jankowiak

The purpose of cleaning and repainting the interior of a shelter is to provide a clean space for the electronics equipment, and to provide a smooth, sealed surface which is easily cleaned.

When the shelter was first examined, it was found that numerous mud dauber nests, a thick layer of dirt and dust, and extremely worn paint was found. Additionally, some of the metal surfaced were oxidized and lightly corroded. The shelter had been used as storage for junk, and had been exposed to high humidity for several years. The air in the shelter was very poor due to much old mildew and mold. Fortunately, the shelter is made of aluminum, so any corrosion was confined to a few metal fasteners and a large copper plate which tops one of the tabletop work surfaces.

The shelter interior required a thorough cleaning, and then painting.

The shelter was cleaned using this procedure:

The old ceiling lights were removed. They were rusted, missing lenses, and of the old-style flourescent type which uses starters and T-8 15-watt lamps which are now costly.

The desk drawers were opened and all 'junk' items removed and put aside for later review.

The floor mat, a covering with a boilerplate pattern, was removed and cleaned with antibacterial/antifungal detergent, and hung to dry out.

The entire inside surface of the shelter was swept out including the walls and ceiling, to remove the heavy dust. 20-year-old mud dauber nests were scraped out of crevices wherever found.

A shop-vac was used to blow out all the loose dust and small debris, and then vacuum up whatever remained.

The ceiling and walls were cleaned with detergent, wiped with wet rags, followed by a thorough wipe down with ammonia bleach-soaked rags. After this was dry, pure denatured alcohol was used to scrub down and dry out all surfaces.

Interleaved with this work, the air conditioning system was mounted for comfort and a work light was set up inside for visibility. Painting

The interior surfaces were taped off and the ceiling was painted with two coats of high-gloss white rustoleum enamel.

Once this was dry, new electronic-ballasted high efficiency flourescent lighting was installed.

The interior was swept out again, and this time, the ceiling perimeter and wiring chases were taped off with masking tape. Nomenclature on the walls was taped off. Tape was placed over the lettering, and then cut square with a carpet knife. The wall outlet escutcheons were removed and the interior was given 4 coats of battleship-gray rustoleum latex paint. 4 coats were applied because the paint was unusually thin for some reason. The electrical rack was not painted due to a multitude of nomenclature, circuit breakers, and instruments. It will not be perfect, but will be more than acceptable. The wall outlet escutcheons will be repainted later.

The image shows the upper wall outlets and wire chases taped off. Above and below each outler is a small square of tape to prevent the nomenclature from being covered by the paint.

The image shows a view of the the unused vents which would have served the military air conditioning system which were previously painted white to match the ceiling. The edges of these were taped off since the shelving will receive a coat of gray paint. The aluminum brackets holding the power supplies in place were similarly masked.

The image shows the masking off of the aluminum cargo rail which is at the back of the desktops. There is about 1/2" clearance between the and the wall, so the wall will be pained but the paint will stop there.

The image shows the wall after painting. A great improvement, and a new, easy to clean surface. The masking tape over the outlet nomenclature has not yet been removed.

The image shows the outlet escutcheons, which look alot better with a fresh paint job. The large outlet which is disassembled for examination used to have a green plate. The green plates denoted 28VDC power. Instead of green, they were re-painted gray. As can be seen, some gray paint got splattered on the outlets themselves. It will be cleaned off later.