Friday, 12 April 2019

It's A Wrap

Real Time

Well, you sure won't miss us on the road now! 

This is what has been keeping us in the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel area for the last month while we waited for a special order of vinyl to arrive from overseas. Over the last 3 and half days 'Out There' has been vinyl wrapped along both sides, had the graphics replaced and the pièce de résistance, one of my photos added to the back! 

Some of you may remember a blog I did last September regarding the dull bloom developing on the van and David polishing it. Well once again, and sadly after all his hard work, the bloom returned within a few months. While we love the darker colour of our rig, it does obviously show up marks & fading a lot more than white motorhomes. We decided that after 7 years, 6 of them on the road fulltime and in all weathers, it was time to paint the van. 

For most of our lives we have never followed the norm and we weren't about to now either. After a lot of research, David had decided on 'wrapping' the van instead of painting it, if it ever needed to be done. We had recently visited a company in Henderson and were very impressed with what we saw and then through a chance meeting at the NZMCA Park at Waihi Beach we met another Ultima owner who happened to have a relation at the Mount who did vinyl wrapping. 

Craig from Wrap It Signs- located in Newton Road, Mt Maunganui- came and saw us while we were parked at the Mount campground. David also visited him at his workshop and we were both very impressed with his attitude and quality of work. We also liked his sense of humour!  We were finally sold on the idea when he showed us a car that had just been completely wrapped in black. Until you opened the door you could not tell that it had once been totally white. 

Much of wrapping that Craig does is in primary and/or bright colours so once we'd chosen our colour- as near as possible to the original- he had to order it in from overseas. Hence the reason David had some fishing time in the Coromandel while we waited. 

The vinyl duly arrived and with our home out of bounds, we de-camped to a lovely Airbnb at the Mount for a few days.

It was a tight fit but with good instructions from Craig & I, David managed to back the 5th-wheeler through an impossibly tight doorway into the workshop. I know you're thinking ('cause I was too) 'How the heck are they going to wrap that left hand side?' Well they did and it included a bit of Kiwi ingenuity/#8 wire thinking, David re-hitched and maneuvered the front of the van over while Craig and Dylan used their weight to push the rear over; their weight and the very slippery backing paper that came off  the vinyl, placed on the floor under the tyres.

David helped out each day working alongside the guys (or was that hindering). He removed and replaced all the hardware that could be taken off the van and helped tidy up as they progressed. He also took photos for me on his phone.

Dylan set about removing the old graphics using a steamer similar to a wallpaper stripper.

They seemed to peel off very easily. You can clearly see the fading that has happened in these photos.

Initially we'd chosen a metallic vinyl similar in colour to the van but unfortunately that wasn't available, the suppliers only had a similar matt colour. To overcome this Craig added a top glossy coat of clear material to the vinyl which gave it an added sparkle and the extra benefit of double the thickness. The colour is quite deceptive in these photos and in real life, under different lights and from different angles.

The vinyl is laid out on the work table and cut to length and then- this is where the expertise and skill comes into it- stuck on the van side, sealed, window holes cut and everything maneuvered into place. It's just about impossible to see the edge and no masking is required!

Once both sides had been wrapped and the pièce de résistance applied- Craig was crafty, we didn't see him add that, it was there in all its glory when we arrived the next morning- 'Out There' was put outside so the slide-out sides and graphics could be done.

The most amazing part of the whole job, for me anyway, was how the graphics were done. Craig had taken a couple of photos on his phone of the rig outside on the road before we delivered it to the workshop. And from just these non-descript photos he was able to reproduce the exact same graphics (give or take a couple of minor details we decided to leave off) and then place them on the rig with no measurements whatsoever. Just a keen eye and some pretty awesome talent. 

This section of wrap was replaced after a small imperfection was spotted. How's this? The graphics were peeled back, the section removed, the new piece stuck on and then the graphics went back over it like nothing had happened! Is that amazing or what (can you tell I'm impressed?) I know how much fiddling and worry goes into sticking the flamin' red NZMCA Wings on the van let alone all these dashes & swirls!

David had suggested we could put a photo on the back of the 5th-wheeler when he was originally looking at the wrapping process and we had toyed with the idea but had pushed it to the back of our minds as we couldn't decide what photo and how big to have it, amongst other things. But once the job was on track and we'd spoken to Craig we thought we'd re-visit the option.

Initially I was thinking of just having it over half the wall, down to the bottom of the window, or 100mm or so further on but Craig suggested filling the whole space as the window edge would detract from the photo and the box on the back was going to cover a lot of it anyway. So that is why we now have a larger than life 'muriel' on the back of our house!

But how to decide on what photo to use? Well David had one in mind and I had several so over an evening (while Craig patiently waited for the file), I put together a few very basic mock-ups.

1) Whangarei Falls- (Craig was most impressed, he's from Whangarei & he'd never seen them looking so spectacular) but we decided it was a bit too busy and imagine that driving down the road in front of you, it would be like someone stole half the bush.

2) Poolburn Dam- Nearly my favourite, I just love the ruggedness, the fishing cribs and the two tone ice and the fact that it's not a part of NZ you usually see. But let's face it, I just love Poolburn full stop.

3) Aoraki/Mt Cook & the Hooker Valley- again very busy and hey, most of New Zealand has seen a photo of Mt Cook.

4) Kea, our cheeky endemic mountain parrot- David was keen to see the mock up of this one although it wasn't his favourite. We dismissed it straight away; it would be quite scary with Big Bird looking down on you as we drove along.

And the winner was-

5) Ahuriri Valley, MacKenzie Country- where it was minus 16c and I had myself a mini hoar frost this particular morning. This was both our favourite photo and family also picked it when I sent out an SOS. It was the only photo that had our van in it too, and I liked the way the river leads your eye into the scene.

The photo just happens to have appeared on the TV weather back when I took it and also was a NZMCA Motor Caravanner magazine cover, now it'll be forever famous travelling around New Zealand on the back of our van! Here's the blog I did on our visit to the remote Ahuriri Valley.

The photo above & below are comparison shots; above with no storage box on the back and the slide-out side still to be wrapped. And below with the box on and side wrapped.

All finished and ready to go...

...and just in time as a heavy rain storm swept in.

Then it was just a matter of turning the rig around, pausing for some photos and heading out. Job well done. We thoroughly enjoyed dealing with Craig and would highly recommend Wrap It for any job you may want done (and don't worry if your rig is bigger than ours, Craig has access to another larger workshop)

Here are another couple of comparison shots of before & after. Click the photo to see a larger version and then scroll back & forward to see them side by side.

The only visual difference I can see, compared with paint, is a slightly raised join where the vinyl overlaps the next drop. In the photo below there's one down the right hand side of the window on the left and another at the bottom of the awning arm. Nothing to write home about. 

And I know some of you will be thinking how about the cost compared with painting. While we didn't have an exact quote on painting, all indications were that wrapping would be approximately half to two-thirds the cost of painting. Then there is the time factor, which can be an issue when you live in your van fulltime and need to vacate it while work is being carried out. Our job was completed in three & half days so accommodation costs were kept to a minimum, and we had a mini-holiday! Well I did anyway, David worked his butt off.

Oh, and by the way, did I tell you we are absolutely wrapped?

Update- we returned to have the front wrapped too, here's the blog post.


  1. Replies
    1. Sure will, not sure that's a good thing. I'll let you know in time :)

  2. It looks amazing, yes we will know who you are when we see you on the road thats for sure.
    Love seeing your photos, keep up the good work

    1. Thanks, pleased you like it and enjoy seeing my photos. If you see the photo on the road you'll be eating our dust so I may not get to say hello :)

  3. Looks fabulous. Love the mural on the back. We enjoy your posts. Will catch up with you in the road one-day soon.

    1. Thanks, pleased you like what we've done. The photo on the back is taking a little getting used to but I'm sure we'll be fine with a few more miles under our belt. Look forward to meeting you on the road one day.


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