The other day I was able to finally get my fuselage moved to my paint booth for priming and painting the interior of the cockpit. I loaded up my air compressor and appropriate tools, and Squire and I were off!
Squire has a blast running around at the farm. This post covers two days. I did a fair amount of prep work on Saturday, and then the remaining prep, priming, and painting on Sunday. Due to the fumes, I left Squire at home on Sunday.
My good friend Chad helped me make an in-line dryer for the air supply. There are commercial solutions available for this. DeVillbiss sells a dryer for about $175 that uses proprietary cartridges to dry the air. My solution cost $40 for copper, $15 for desiccant, and about $40 for galvanized steel fittings. Here’s the basic idea. I found a quart of re-usable desiccant on Amazon. A little math allowed me to covert a quart into the volume of a cylinder. Using a 2″ diameter copper pipe, I would need a length of 18″ for 1 quart of desiccant. The copper dryer has a permanently attached screen in the bottom, and a removable screen in the top. Air flows from top to bottom, and there is a ball valve at the bottom to drain any condensation should there be any. The air flows up in the hopes that condensation moves down. I utilized the galvanized steel so that this can one day become part of a permanent installation in my garage. Here’s a diagram to show you how it is set up. Additionally there is a filter on the compressor and a disposable filter before the paint gun. I’m quite certain I will have clean dry air for my painting. Now, strictly speaking this is probably overkill. Certainly for the interior paint it is, but when it comes time to do base clear, the better my setup, the easier the task will be. There will be no worry of fish eyes!
I didn’t take any photos of the next stage; cleaning. I scuffed all the interior surfaces with scotchbrite. I also used 400 and 600 grit sandpaper where appropriate (powder coated items, the floor, and high traffic areas). I then cleaned the surfaces with acetone.
Next up it was time to tape the areas I didn’t want painted. The firewall is stainless steel and generally shouldn’t be painted for a couple of reasons. First and fore most it’s a FIREwall. In the event of an engine compartment fire, this is the only thing separating you. As such, it can be subjected to high heats and paint can give off very toxic fumes when burnt. Stainless is corrosion resistant by itself. Paint doesn’t stick easily to stainless. And finally, it looks good bare! Taping it off was a real pain in the rear.
The rudder cable is installed and I simply covered it with newspaper.
I wrapped plastic around the remainder of the fuselage.
Here is the result after priming.
Next it was time to ensure I mixed the paint correctly. I added a flattening agent to reduce glare and shine. My first try was 6 parts paint to 1 part hardener 1 part activator to 2 parts flattening agent. 6:1:1:2 or 8:2 (mix:flattener). That was too shiny. I doubled the amount of flattener. 8:4. This was too dull. I split the difference and found just the result I was looking for. 6:1:1:3 or 8:3.
There are a few spots that could use a bit more paint. However, I’m not sure it’s worth the time. They are all in very difficult to see locations.
Here is the firewall.
The next two photos make it look like serious orange peel. In reality it looks uniform and slightly textured. However, this did come out as the most textured portion of the paint. I am likely going to sand it slightly with 400 grit sandpaper and reapply the paint. When I first saw the plane after the paint dried for a couple of days I was very happy. However, when I got home and looked at these photos I became dismayed. I shared the photos with a couple folks and they agreed they didn’t like what they saw. I asked my buddy Mike to come take a look. Immediately as I walked in the paint booth, I thought “wow that looks way better than it does in the photos,” and he agreed.
So in the next sessions I should be repainting the back turtleback, and then painting the remaining interior parts.
Session time: 14 hours