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 painted subassemblies before assembly. Much easier to transfer to paint shop. Same paint as on my 2015 Silverado. Solid white and will add some color later with vinyl decals. Red & Blue. Something similar to USAF Thunderbirds.
I am completing a Zodiac 650B. I did not want to alodine treat my parts, so I have used rattle can etch primer as I built and assembled. I plan to use a local body shop to paint the plane in sections using Imron. However, I did not count on two factors - the fiberglass parts need a spray polyester filler / primer and then a polyurethane primer /sealer before the paint shop.
- The etch primer is not compatible with having two part epoxy primer sprayed over it. Need to use the polyurethane primer to cap the etch primer before paint shop.
Based on good internet suggestions, I am using Harbor freight cheap gravity HVLP gun for the polyester primer that will run on a smaller shop compressor - 6 CFM at 40 psi. For spraying the 2 part urethane primer - DuPont Corlar or other, I purchased a Fuji three stage turbine HVLP system and external breathing air syste,.
I may be able to print the whole plane with this, but even in sections, my 2 car garage space is limited. The auto body shop has more space and time if he can fit me in.
Best Regards, Larry Zepp; N22LZ, Zenith Zodiac; Fort Wayne, IN
BTW, a tip for scuffing the metal before paint:
Presta makes "Scuff Stuff," which is an abrasive compound for surface prep. My painter was worried that just scuffing with a Scotchbrite pad would leave "halos" of unscuffed metal around the rivet heads. So, he used Scuff Stuff with a pad and it worked great! I was concerned it would get in the rivet mandrel holes and mess up the paint, but it washes out easily (and completely!) with water.
I am painting my 601XLB before I attach wings and tail. Mainly doing this so I can paint the edges between the aileron/wing, flaps/wing, tail/elevator etc. If you are not an experienced painter, have a professional do it. I have been struggling for months and invested a lot of cash for paint, spray gun, compressor, etc, and am achieving fair results. Using the Stewart Systems paint to avoid needing respirators and air systems. As far as vinyl goes, I have explored that and found some companies won’t do it anymore - they told me they were having trouble with delamination on some control surfaces. A partial wrap wasn’t cheap either. Hope this helps.
I'm doing all of the painting before flying. The only exception will be the cowl. I will paint after flying. I first want to make sure that I won't have to cut any additional cooling inlets or modify any part of it. So once I put some hours on it and see that the engine temps are fine, then I'll paint it.
Here's my YouTube channel where I show a lot of my painting...
Keep in mind that the Cruzer has balanced flaperons. If you do any flight testing before painting, you will need to Rebalance them after painting and then re-accomplish the high speed flight checks. Not complicated but something not to be overlooked.
Believe rebalancing after painting whether any flight testing done or not.”