Spray Gun (1688 bytes)  Everything You Wanted to Know About Painting  Spray Gun (1688 bytes)

O | Rudder Control | Max Points in Novice | Contests/Results  | Building Techniques | Fuel Facts | Links

Filling Pin Holes - 2 methods Mike Harrison on Painting
Topics from the Web Eliminating Fisheye in Paint
Does Color Scheme Make a Difference

Paint Gun Setup - Painting Light NEW! Sep 2014  
           Good articles on setup and painting light (PDF file for easy printing)

Spray Gun (1688 bytes)  Painting Fixtures 

Return to Building/Flying/Engine Techniques  

Spray Gun (1688 bytes)  Filling Pin Holes

Back to Top of Page  -  Return to Building Techniques

First get the wax out of the pin holes. Use Prepsol or a good 100% alcohol bath. This keeps interacting with your primer coat.  Ed Clayman

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)  I have a sure-fire way of filling pin holes.  Mix up some lightweight balsa filler, often called spackle (make sure you get the light stuff - Editor) by those who don't fund their local hobby shop :-) , into a creamy paste with water. Rub it all over the fuselage with your hands. It will dry in ten minutes when it is this thin. Let it dry for 1/2 an hour an then sand the whole thing down with 150-200 sandpaper. Not the wet-and-dry stuff (well, you can use the wet-dry sandpaper, just don't use it wet - Editor). It must be dry. The filler will come off as a fine powder. Vacuum the whole thing and then spray on the primer. All of your pin holes should be gone. You will probably only need one coat of primer. The primer seals and hardens the filler which never shrinks or lifts. Got some ten year old spray jobs that are still just fine. The scale guys taught me how to do this one. Eric Henderson  (I've used this method and it works - Editor)

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)  I filled the seams with automotive Bondo. It comes in a light weight white color formula.   After sanding that down, I lightly spray the seams with paint to bring out the pin holes . Believe me paint will bring them out . Then get a product also made by Bondo called spot putty. It comes in a tube and is one part . Just take a little on your finger and rub it in the holes, let dry, wet sand with 600 grit and paint away .You will never see those holes again. DO NOT USE THE SPOT PUTTY IN A HOLE LARGER THAN A PIN HOLE IT WILL NOT STAY AS I LEARNED THE HARD WAY.   Kirk Sutherland

Spray Gun (1688 bytes)  Painting - Mike Harrison.

Back to Top of Page  -  Return to Building Techniques

I paint the entire aircraft because I enjoy the beauty and the consistency of a painted aircraft. When you practice with the same airplane day after day its nice to have it smile back at you so to speak.

Surface preparation is the key to a quality finish. This is not technique sensitive or complicated but it is very labor intensive.  I calculate a minimum of 60 hours for a good finish on a pattern plane. 

First, glass all balsa with lightweight glass(.05-.06oz.)cloth. Use an epoxy that can be thinned to the consistency of water and will cure so that it will sand dusty, not gummy. I apply the cloth with the epoxy using cheap throwaway 2" brushes. Remember to thin the epoxy to the consistency of water. I use 91% isopropyl alcohol from Walgreens as my thinner. Typically I mix half and half epoxy and thinner. (I normally build my wings and stab first,, glass them, and let them cure while I finish construction of the fuse. They will be cured for weeks that way). I let the first coat cure a day or so, then sand the rough edges and spots smooth with 220. I just dry sand these with regular sandpaper and it doesn't take long.

The second coat is the same consistency as the first brushed on the same way. This is a very easy step and takes very little time, but let this cure a few days. This is where the labor gets really tiring and long. Do an excellent job sanding for lightness and smoothness here. Lots of 220 sandpaper. You can still dry sand.  I normally sand the wings by hand and the control surfaces with a padded sanding block. This where you learn some craftsmanship and some technique in sanding. Most of this comes with experience. I've been flying pattern for 20 years and I've built every single plane I've flown. I've averaged at least 2 planes a year.

The third step is the primer step and I BRUSH this on so that I can massage and work it into the pinholes and crevices. It is also very thrifty and easier than spraying. This is absolutely the hardest and most critical sanding phase. Wet sand using 400 wet or dry. Sand ALL the primer off! The parts should often times be as light or lighter than before the application of the primer.

At this time you must decide if you want an award winning finish or just a very nice paint job. I typically settle somewhere in between. This is where I patch all the sand through spots, the botched corners, ill-fitting parts,etc. If I've sanded thru to raw wood then I coat it with thin CA+ and paint a little primer on it. After all the little patchwork is done then if it looks pretty bad then spray a light coat of primer on the structure. Wet sand it all off and it should start looking really slick.

I spray a light coat of white on the entire craft. I wet sand it and fix those imperfections and you'll find a bunch of them. Then I spray the to-be white areas until the white is just opaque. Note: it may not be quite opaque; that's o.k. leave it. As it cures it will become sufficiently opaque. Now wet sand that with 600 just to get the orange peel off. Now mask off and spray the trim colors.

Wet sand the whole thing with 1000-1200. Shoot a very light coat of clear and compound and polish.


Paint- My favorite is PPG CONCEPT acrylic urethane.
Primer- PPG K-36 with K-201 hardener
Reducer (thinners) these come in a variety of temperature sensitivities.
Compounds-3M Imperial microfinishing compound (rubbing compound)&3M
Finesse It II polishing compound.
Pearls:  Instead of using stick on letters use stick on stencils and spray paint the lettering on. It is actually simpler and easier and far more attractive.

Minimize the use of metallics. You can never touch up metallics nicely.

Several companies make acrylic urethane paints. PPG is Concept, I think DuPont is CronarII, R-M is Solo. There are others. This is not what is called a base coat clear coat system(2 stage) . I tried the 2 stage systems, but found them to be very heavy and not fuel proof. A lot of modelers use it because the colors dry quickly but it requires a thick clear coat to make it fuel proof. Once the clearcoat is penetrated by fuel you're in trouble. It becomes a gooey hard-to-repair mess. By contrast, every layer of Acrylic urethane is very fuel resistant.(Contrary to popular opinion I've found nothing to be absolutely fuel proof.) The K-36 primer is almost white, easy to sand, and fuel proof.(the acrylic lacquer primers are not).

Having talked about painting the whole plane. I actually recommend painting the fuse and rudder and monokoting the wings and stab. Do not honeycomb the wings and stab here. Use quality 6-8 balsa for sheeting with a good grain. Also, epoxy the skins on-not contact cement.

 Back to Top of Page   -  Return to Building Techniques

Spray Gun (1688 bytes) Painting - taken from the WEB

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)  If you happen to like the Deltron, Deltron 2000 or Concept formulations, then consider using the 2-stage (aka Basecoat/Clearcoat) system. A single-stage paint has color and clear mixed in it. Spraying a single stage color and then clearing it is like adding extra layers of clear. Stage 1 of the 2-stage system is just flat color, the second stage is your clear. Stage 1 paint dries tack free in 5 minutes, tape free in 15, and can be over sprayed with clear in 45 minutes. So, you could shoot 5 colors in less than 5 hours (shoot, wait 15 minutes, unmask, remask, repeat), apply decals, and clear in one day! One more thing about the Deltron, Deltron 2000 and Concept formulations - they do not require the very expensive DXR-80 urethane hardener that Delstar requires. Also, the 2-stage colors come in pints. That's only an issue if your local shop does not do custom quantity mixes.

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)  If you fog on a coat of epoxy primer -then use a basecoat clearcoat setup, you will find that the heaviest coat is typically the clearcoat. On my EMC2 (Big fuselage) --the total buildup for a very glossy finish--totals at 4 ozs.. We have been testing this procedure using high resolution gram scales.  Dick Hanson

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)  I used the PPG Deltron basecoat with Concept 2020 Clear over PPG epoxy primer on my Storm EX last year. Everything you said is correct about it being quick and easy to put on. **However**, if you have any imperfections or leaks in the clear coat and get fuel under it, you'll have a mess. I ran into this in 2 places. The first was the chin cowl. There was a tiny imperfection in the seam and fuel residue penetrated and reached the basecoat. Instant UGLY, WRINKLED mess! The clear coat was still fine and intact, but the basecoat shriveled up like a prune. The second occurred when my fuel tank sprung a leak-- due to my own lack of foresight in the installation. Anyway, fuel squirted out through the hole for the wing retainers and got under the edge of the cleat coat. Same ugly situation, only a larger area this time. So I have personally made the decision to change to the Concept urethane - and it uses the same DU-5 catalyst as the Concept 2020 Clear. I have also changed to K36 Prima for exactly the reasons Sam Turner mentioned. And since the color if in the urethane, the only thing you need to clear coat is your decals. After that, rub it out and it's gorgeous. My $.02! -- Exiting the Box! Jim Johns

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)   I'll answer this one, too...... The Concept is very user-friendly, but you must keep the stuff out of your lungs due to the isocyanides in it... Remember Imron?
Surface prep.....fillers, seam sealers....
-- Any way you want to prep it just as if for K&B will work fine....
-- Primer if any...epoxy, regular....
-- Use PPG K-36 2-part primer, light grey in color....brainless application. Application of PPG concept...thinning...pressure...gun
-- As opposed to the instruction sheet which is written for painting cars, I've found that you can thin it as much as you like with equal results...you should use the reducer based on your temperature for one of the regular or touch-up guns and whatever pressure that particular gun likes to spray at....for an airbrush (always paint trim colors with an airbrush) it's best to use the reducer for one temp range warmer than you would use with the regular gun...that's to let the small volume applied flow out better in the thin film and spray it at the consistency of water.... 

Typical weight gain...
-- Depends on how much paint you spray on it. That's one reason for putting the colored trim with an airbrush...that you use much less paint.
-- This paint is the easiest there is to use. I've found it as fuel proof as epoxy, it doesn't pick up dust after the first ten minutes, is non-critical to precise mixing, can be rubbed out, and can be repaired.


 Back to Top of Page  -  Return to Building Techniques

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)   Just checked my notes from last year. The following apply to the glass USA Star I built last winter:
-- 31 oz. Fuse sanded with all internal structure installed (tube sockets, servo trays, etc)
-- 31.7 oz. opaque coat of K&B primer (sanded and ready for color)
-- 35.45 oz. color coats and decals sanded and ready for clear
-- 36.58 oz. fuse with clear coat ready for final assembly (wish I was there now - just getting ready to lay-up the fuse)
As you can see, the opaque coat of primer was far and away the lightest. Paint used was PPG Deltron Acrylic Enamel and the clear was PPG DAU-75. The Star is big as fuses go with lots of side area which naturally contibutes to the weight. It would be interesting if others ran similar tests as this for comparison. The overall ready to fly dry weight of the plane was 10 lbs - 6 oz..

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)  If you have (PPG) colors mixed they are mixed to match over a gray primer. Therefore you will use less color (and weight ) if you go over gray.
-- I use PPG K36 to prime all projects it fills well and sands great. Then I use PPG DP50/ 402 reduced as a sealer (1:1-1/2). You shoot one coat and do not sand before color.
-- If you are going to use the PPG base system, try the new DBC base. It covers better, it is lighter, and you can use the 860/870 reducer. This is the same reducer that is used in the 2020 or 2001 clear.
-- Using this method I pick up aprox. 3oz start to finish on an average 2M fuse.

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)   You are right on. I have a PPG technical guide and the heaviest paint (per some unit-per-part) is Yellow followed by White. And how many times have you heard people say, "...after priming spray a base coat of white..." -michael

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)   Sometimes you have to. If the primer is gray, white paint or yellow doesn't show up well over primer due to the low pigment. If the primer is white (K&B for example), no basecoats are necessary. Evan Chapkis

Does Color Scheme Make a Difference

Back to Top of Page  -  Return to Building Techniques

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)   Has anyone, other than myself, had any problems with color schemes causing confusion during maneuvers? My ship, Runaround. is all red with white wings. The white wings have a broad red stripe which is slanted inwards toward the fuselage located halfway out from the fuselage on each side. I have noticed a tendency for my eyes to want to align the airplane with one or the other of the slanted lines when doing maneuvers which have the A/c high over head and inverted. Notice it most in poorer visability conditions. Dave Gundling

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)   No question color schemes affect perspective. But there are consistent things that can help....The best thing to do is watch at your next contest. The planes that YOU can see easily and in any attitude have the color scheme that's "easy" for your eyes....After they land, go take some photos....then decide what to try... I don't know of any "general" guidelines about this other than making the lines / stripes on the plane accentuate straight lines, lengthwise or spanwise....easier to judge. Bob Pastorello

 checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)   One thing that makes sense about color schemes is that you don't want to use those colors that are already in the sky so I stay away from light shades like light blue. Also, I saw a show on cable a couple of years ago that was all about camouflage and one point that was presented was that lots of small areas of different colors aid in the camouflage effect, so I don't use small areas of color on my planes. Just my $.02 worth. Sam Turner

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)   Having a color scheme that is visible is obviously extremely important. I once had a beautiful Merdian that was Red, White, & Insignia Blue, and the wings were done, aka Chipmunk style. Couldn't see the damn thing in the air. Red and Yellow show up the most in 95% of flying conditions. All my planes are Red and Yellow, and the 3rd and sometimes 4th colors will chamge, but usually are Metallic Purple, Sky Blue, or Royal Blue. These colors are usually accent colors only, or on the bottom of the fuse, which always turns dark anyway. Another good combination is Yellow and Orange. I have a picture of my Sequel on my web page, http://members.aol.com/EChapkis Take a look and you'll see what I mean. Evan Chapkis

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)   There is almost no such thing as "a good color", and very few bad ones. Colors work because of contrast. Large patches of contrasting colors (only two kinds: DARK and LIGHT) that highlight the alignment of the plane are the goal. A major oversight in many schemes is the need to be able to pick the wingtip out of the wing/fuse side and from the wing LE, viewed from the front. The disappearance of small detail, and of weak contrast at a distance allows you all kinds of artistic freedom. Try to shoot for 50/50 light/dark. Bob Noll once wrote a real nice article for FLYING MODELS entitled "paint for performance" (5years ago?) Regards, Dean Pappas

 checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)   I recently got into the habit of using Microsoft PowerPoint to design my colors schemes. At first, I was just trying to get a combination of colors that looked good. Then I accidentally triggered the "gray scale" option and noticed that some of the colors essentially faded to the same shade of gray. I lost all the contrast that I was trying to achieve and as well as the pattern distinction. By experimenting with different shapes and color combinations, I was able to come up with a color scheme and pattern scheme that when displayed as Grey scale, continued to provide me with good contrast and distinction. Since all colors basically become some shade of gray under various lighting conditions, it was easy to zero in on the pattern that worked best for me by viewing the gray scale display from across the room. Michael McEvilley

checkmrk.wmf (758 bytes)  I agree that we don't see the color as much as we see the contrast (especially when facing the sun or flying on cloudy days).  Dark on light seems to matter much more than specific color on color.  The trim schemes that I've been able to see most clearly are the ones with spanwise dark/light separations on the top and chordwise separations on the bottom.  My eye catches the 90 deg. change top to bottom moreso than the color difference.  I also use a chordwise strip at the wingtip on top - the spanwise scheme inboard leading to the chordwise scheme at the tip creates a point of contrast at the tip and helps to pick them out.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that there's a sort of visual hierarchy with contrast ahead of color - i.e., your eye picks out the contrast (shape) before the color.....Richard Ames

Spray Gun (1688 bytes) Painting  -  Eliminating Fisheye

I had the good fortune of being warned of this problem by Charlie Williams who suffered through it building three Integrals for Andrew Jesky. That got me started on some research on wax and grease removers.

The first thing you need to know is that DX330 (which I use), Prep-Sol, and other similar products don't dissolve the contaminant, they float it up off the surface of the part. If you take a paper towel and just rub it around, the only thing you accomplish is to redistribute the contaminant. You can only use the paper towel for one wipe in one direction and then throw it out. 

The best method I had described to me is to transfer some DX330 into a clean pump sprayer bottle. Tear off 3 or 4 sections of paper towel and have them folded and ready to use. Spray a section of the surface you want to de-contaminate and then wipe it off, always making only one swipe with the towel and always going in only one direction. After you've done this a couple times, you'll see that the back side of the paper towel never absorbed anything so you can flip it over and get one more swipe before you toss it. You'll go through a whole roll of paper towel getting the mold release off. I played it safe and did everything twice. 

After you've tried spraying the DX330 on instead of pouring it on a towel and wiping it on, you'll never go back. It's way more efficient and actually makes the DX330 work as intended. I'm building my second Integral right now and will be degreasing the fuse tonight. Hope this helps! Now if we could just get Comp-Arf to tint their mold release so we could see it....

Verne Koester


  Back to Top of Page  -  Return to Building Techniques

Pattern Home Page | Rudder Control | Max Points in Novice | Contests/Results | Rebuild Fiberglass Fuse | Building Techniques | Fuel Facts | Links