Online Community of Zenith Builders and Flyers
How are people going about painting their airplanes? Are you waiting until you've finished flight testing and then painting (which I assume involves a lot of disassembly)? Or are you painting parts as you finish them and then install them?
What about the interior? A bunch will be covered by upholstery, but a lot won't.
Lastly, anyone done a vinyl wrap? Is it lighter or cheaper? I watched a video of a 750 being wrapped and it didn't look like much disassembly was involved at all.
Sorry for all the questions, this is a part I have virtually no familiarity with.
I built my 701 kit components, assembled the aircraft, then took it apart and painted the individual components in a homemade paint booth. I’m gradually reassembling it as I do the engine, electrical and fuel systems.
I’m sure there are lots of opinions on painting and it probably boils down to what works for you. Hiring it done can be expensive and doing it yourself takes lots of time, lots of work cleaning, etching and masking, but at a very reasonable cost.
l painted parts as I completed them, including the interior and am happy with the results, but it’s just an average job. I have a large shop so that also was a factor for having the space to do it myself.
I did a partial vinyl wrap with polished metal. Most of it was very easy for a beginner. This is not your grandfather's vinyl! Of course any compound curves can be challenging. I went the vinyl route to save weight - but ending up liking the look.
Total cost for partial wrap including the few tool's required was about $600.
Forgot to add, inspired by Jan’s video, I built a rotisserie for the fuselage by repurposing the two wing stands. As far as the interior, I only painted the seating area and instrument panel. I plan to cover the floors, cargo area, and sides with lightweight carpet and matching carpet panels to conceal the cabling and fuel lines routed along the floor and sides.
Another thing 1.fabricating sub-assemblies, 2. assembling, 3.rigging, 4.disassembling to paint, then 5. reassembling for electrical and fuel system installation does- is provide you with the opportunity to find issues you missed had you stopped at step 3.
I completely assembled my 750, then broke it down for painting (hired a pro - epoxy primer/catalyzed urethane top coat). I had the wing root top skins painted separately so I could reassemble the plane, fuel it (used 100LL - the blue dye helps find leaks!), and watch the senders (mounted per plans) for a couple of days for leaks. No leaks (and none in 570 hrs and 6+ years!) were found, so I then riveted the top skins and touched-up the rivets. I also deferred painting the cowling until the Phase I was about finished to be sure no modifications would be necessary for cooling the Jab 3300 (none were required).
John, I didn’t mean for my pictures to show up like that so it’s obvious I’m a dummy with computers! Anyway, I started building a 650 this year and plan to do the paint job more as you and Jim have said. My paint job on my
750 is average, at best, and I want the 650 to be like show condition so I will have a Pro painter friend paint it.
For me, the painting process was as challenging as building the plane and I’m sure I breathed too many toxic
fumes, even with a good mask.
John, I didn’t mean for my pictures to show up like that so it’s obvious I’m a dummy with computers!
Absolutely not! I think your pictures look just fine! However, if you don't want them full-size and want to make them a bit smaller, when you upload the picture, just change the width/pixels to about 300-350 to get them about 1/2 page width.
OK, John Austin; 3 part question:
How did you touch up the rivets:
1. brush or spray (using a mask)
2. was the touch up a brush/jar you had available for use anytime, or did you have to mix up a batch of 2-part?
3. how'd you make the touch up "presentable?"
1. I brushed the paint on. Actually, since the rivet heads are so tiny, "brush" is a misnomer, I actually sort of "daubed" it on. I don't remember now, but I may have even just used the tip of a cotton swab! They do make, however, small foam brushes for "daubing" paint (craft store).
2. I used the same 2-part catalyzed urethane paint (DuPont "Nason"). I got a small jar of touch-up from the painter when he was mixing some to paint my cowling (which I had deferred till later). If you keep it in the fridge, it'll be usable for about 2 days before it sets up.
3. If the paint is still fairly fluid and not about to set up, it'll flow-out enough to be "presentable." I just was painting the rivet heads - the panel was already painted. It really is not that critical - after all, they're just tiny rivet heads on top of the wing and I'd bet the casual observer wouldn't even notice if they were painted or not! ;>)
I was thinking of painting the assemblies before it’s all put together. That would be a lot of rivet heads to touch up!!