Finish Painting - Now we're Havin' FUN!
Added 10/30/2005 - 1261.2 approx. Total hours (1071.1 By Me)
This is one of the bigger milestone days I was
working so hard and waiting for! We finished painting the trim
paint. You'll see below, there is a bit of preparation that goes
into the trim paint. Be prepared to spend a bunch of time on this
step, just trying to perfect ever line. Also, you'll be spending
quite a bit of money on fine-line tape, masking tape, masking paper,
masking plastic, and misc. materials. I now have probably between
$1200 and $1800 in paint related materials cost. I haven't really
kept a great record of that, but will dig it up later.
The paint we used was PPG Deltron 2000 DBC, a Basecoat/Clearcoat paint. For the Clear, we used PPG DCU 2042 Low VOC Speed Clear.
Follow those links for product sheets. It took almost 2
quarts of Blue (GM 2006 Daytona Blue) which surprised me, but only 1
quart of Silver (GM 2006 Satellite Silver). It also took 2 quarts
of the DCU 2042 Clear. Thanks, by the way, to Sam's Paint, who
was the dealer I purchased all of the paint from. Those guys were
very nice to deal with. The letters were done using a vinyl mask
template that I had done by a local sign shop (Jay's Sign Shop).
It cost $72 inlcuding taxes for the 2 vinyl masks. We
specified 12" high letters, including the .35" outline. They made
it from a thick, easy release vinyl. You'll see in the photos we
spent a lot of time on the fuselage and tail, laying out the lines with
3m Fine-Line tape. We had rolls of 1/8", 1/4", and 1/2"....using
lots of the 1/2" and 1/8". My advice on tape is, the tan fineline
stuff is extremely nice when doing the epoxy on the windshield, as it's
very tough and not as stretchy, but, for the finish painting, stick
with the vinyl, it's easier to work with.
You'll also probably notice the deluxe paint booth we used. We
had planned to go to the same booth that we painted the fuselage in,
but the weather was supposed to be nice (in the high 50's and low
60's), and the booth owner didn't get back to us in time, so we changed
plans and decided to set up in the 3 car garage at home. We had
to occasionally heat it between coats on the 2nd day, when it was about
55 degres, but other than that it worked really well. There was
more space available than in a booth. Less light though. I
will say, it's almost impossible to have too much light. We set
up a couple of double-headed floor lamps, and some single headed ones
too. We moved them around as necessary, but it really helped to
actually have someone carry one around all the time. I became
extremely good at seeing the qualities of a good coat of paint in this
adventure, and I could easily tell by looking at a reflection in the
paint if it was a good covering coat or not. Even in the booth,
with plenty of light, (and especially with the white!), it's very hard
for the painter to tell in all cases that the coat is covering good.
I think a helper is an extremely valuable and prudent thing to
have for a job like this. Painting a plane is much more
complicated than painting a car. There are many different angles,
many more parts, much more masking work to do, and in my case, more
colors and wild striping. Bob said this project was like doing 4
cars. Oh, and if you are in a bug-free time of year as we are
now, and use filters and ventilate your garage, painting at home can be
very successful indeed.
Before taping the stripe pattern off, we held up the lettering template
to choose our line for the numbers. Decided to go with a line
that matched the longeron skin seam for the top skin of the tailcone.
We then laid out all of the stripes for the fuselage and tail.
This took a about 3.5 hours to get right. You'll see some
of the earlier photos don't match the later ones, as we shot these
while doing the work, so it's not the finished product in some cases.
For the fuselage striping, the side-to-side match was done
basically by laying out one side, then the other, trying to match it
with a ruler. But, the 2nd side came out nicer, so we tore off
the first side and reworked it, trying to be as similar as possible.
The stripes do come back on the tail and go underneath, meeting
in a "V" at the bottom of the tail.
When it came time to mask off the wings, we first laid out one side,
top-side, and got it just the way we wanted. Then I used some of
Van's shipping paper to create a template, lining up with rivet lines,
and the leading edge. We cut the outer edge of the template to
match the stripe, and then drew a line on the template for the inner
line. We could then flip the wing, and flip the template and
make a bottom side mirror image that was very close. The same
template was used for the opposite wing, so there is only very small
error side to side.
After that was done, it was masking time. 3M makes a lightweight
plastic that worked out well for covering many areas. Don't use
regular hardware store plastic....the 3M stuff is designed to hold the
paint so it doesn't flake off when you move it later. I used
hardware store stuff on some parts previously and had bad luck with
We sprayed the silver first, which worked out best, as that was the
bottom stripe. It made it easier to mask off when we went to
paint the blue. After the blue, we rolled into the clear right
away, and as soon as the clear was on, we started pulling the tape to
allow the clear to flow out and reduce the sharp edge to the paint
line. The technique worked really well. We did damage 2
small areas of clear during the project. One was hit by a
flapping piece of plastic, and that one will be an easy fix to polish
out. The other was caused by hitting the clear with some of the
masking tape and paper when pulling it. Be VERY careful doing
that! That one will be taking a bit of sanding and repainting and
clearcoating to get looking good. It's on a bottom panel though,
so it'll be very hard to notice in most cases.
To wrap it up, I'm VERY happy I chose to paint the plane myself (with a
skilled painter doing a lot of the spraying). I learned a lot and
know that I could spray the next project just fine. Even the pros
have a hard time with white. Bob had a tendency to go light, and
I have a tendency to go heavy, but with 2 pairs of eyes, it worked out
great. Painting myself also saved a lot of money, but did cost
me a couple hundred hours of time. Probably close to 100 man
hours even after all finish filling and sanding was done. I
probably have at least 200 hours into the fiberglass filling and all
related body work in this paint job. Also, when choosing to go
with single-stage or basecoat/clearcoat, I think it doesn't matter
much. The single stage was nice to just spray and leave, but it
took much longer to dry between coats, and will never be quite as shiny
as clearcoat. The clear too more thin coats, but was easier to
mix, and after clearcoat it looked fantastic. All in all, I'd do
it all over again the same way. Oh, and the N-Numbers....those I
really like. I spent a lot of time at the computer a few months
ago, laying out a good paint job. This is where it all came
together, and that computer model really helped. The N-Numbers
also were well worth the effort to paint on. They look fantastic.
I'll be eternally grateful to Bob too, who had lots of hard work
invested into this job. He's definitely earned himself a
right-seat into OSH 2006. Thanks Bob!